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10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008

It’s amazing what you can find! These unbelievable discoveries of 2008 make it exciting to be a collector, and for many of these lucky finders, provide quite a nice cash reward as well. Maybe it is finally time to dig your old metal detector out of the closet (doesn’t everybody have one of those?) and think about building some extra income this year – with some kind of awesome discovery! Avast, matey, buried treasure!

1. Gold Coins found in Jerusalem

1 gold coins 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008

The Israel Antiquities Authority reported a thrilling find Sunday — the discovery of 264 ancient gold coins in Jerusalem National Park.

The coins were minted during the early 7th century.

“This is one of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem — certainly the largest and most important of its period,” said Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, who are directing the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Researchers discovered the coins at the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which started at sunset on Sunday.

One of the customs of the holiday is to give “gelt,” or coins, to children, and the archaeologists are referring to the find as “Hanukkah money.”

Nadine Ross, a British archaeological volunteer, happened onto the coins during the dig just below the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

“To be honest, I just thought, ‘Thank God I didn’t throw it in the rubbish bucket,’ ” said Ross, who had taken four weeks off from her engineering job in England to work at the site. “I was just glad I sort of spotted it before I disturbed it too much.”

The 1,400-year-old coins were found in the Giv’ati car park in the City of David in the walls around Jerusalem National Park, a site that has yielded other finds, including a well-preserved gold earring with pearls and precious stones.

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2. A Hobbyist with a Metal Detector Strikes Gold… and Silver!

2 celtic coins 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008AMSTERDAM, Netherlands —  A hobbyist with a metal detector struck both gold and silver when he uncovered an important cache of ancient Celtic coins in a cornfield in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht.

“It’s exciting, like a little boy’s dream,” Paul Curfs, 47, said Thursday after the spectacular find was made public.

Archaeologists say the trove of 39 gold and 70 silver coins was minted in the middle of the first century B.C. as the future Roman ruler Julius Caesar led a campaign against Celtic tribes in the area.

Curfs said he was walking with his detector this spring and was about to go home when he suddenly got a strong signal on his earphones and uncovered the first coin.

“It was golden and had a little horse on it — I had no idea what I had found,” he said.

After posting a photo of the coin on a Web forum, he was told it was a rare find. The following day he went back and found another coin.

“It looked totally different — silver, and saucer-shaped,” he said. Curfs notified the city of his find, and he and several other hobbyists helped in locating the rest of the coins, in cooperation with archaeologists.

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3. 300 Morgan Silver Dollars Found in Backyard Treasure

3 silver coins 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008The Case of the Missing 300 Silver Dollars, or What In The World Is Something Like That Doing In A Place Like This, likely will never be solved. That they were actually uncovered is astonishing enough, but to find out why 300 Morgan silver dollars from 1887 in mint condition were under a foot of hardened soil on former Amarillo Mayor Jerry Hodge’s property, well, let your imagination be your guide.

Our story begins June 11. Plumbers were digging a trench to run utilities for a pool house and swimming pool on property Hodge had purchased adjacent to his home on Oldham Circle in Amarillo. Randy McMinn had a backhoe about a foot deep when on one particular scoop, mixed in with the dirt, was found a bunch of dingy little objects.

Whoa, time out. Work came to a halt, and closer inspection revealed them to be coins – old coins from 1887. Careful digging found a lot more in some kind of fine plastic, what Margaret, Hodge’s wife, described as sort of an old version of Saran Wrap. Lest anyone think plastic is a recent invention, plastic was used as early as World War I.

The coins had Lady Liberty on one side and the American eagle on the other. A little bit of homework found them to be Morgan silver dollars, which were minted from 1878 to 1904. A count of the coins totaled 100 … 150 … 200 … 250 … 300 of them.

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4. Treasure Hunter Discovers Gold Ring with Rare Black Diamond

4 diamond ring 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008A treasure hunter was stunned when  he unearthed a beautiful and historic gold ring with a rare black diamond set inside it in a muddy field.

John Stevens, 42, couldn’t believe his eyes when he rubbed off the soil and saw lettering indicating the ring was from the early medieval period, possibly the 11th century.

It is believed the ring would have belonged to a wealthy person either from the Church, or possibly even royalty.

Black diamonds are rare today and would have been even rarer nearly 1,000 years ago, having come from Africa.

The ring has not yet been valued but is thought it could be worth tens of thousands of pounds.

It is currently being examined and will go to an inquest where it will almost certainly be recorded as treasure.

Mr Stevens, a businessman from Hinckley, has been metal detecting for 30 years, and this find in his home county of Leicestershire is his most valuable yet.

After discovering it he contacted antiquities specialist Brett Hammond from Time Line Originals.

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5. Amateur Hits Gold Unearthed Golden Collar Valued at over $500,000

5 gold collar 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008An iron age gold collar worth more than £350,000 that was found by an amateur metal detectorist in a muddy field in Nottinghamshire was described yesterday as the best find of its kind in half a century.

“I was only in the field because a customer kept me late,” Maurice Richardson, a tree surgeon from Newark, said yesterday. “Normally I’d never want to go into this field because a plane crashed there in the last war, and the whole place is littered with bits of metal.”

The first beep from his detector was indeed a chunk of wartime scrap metal, but as he bent down to discard it, his machine gave a louder signal. Expecting to find a bigger chunk of fuselage, he instead discovered the 2,200-year-old collar.

The piece, a near twin of one already in the British Museum, was the most spectacular of 1,257 finds reported over the last three years. Treasure reports have increased every year since the Portable Antiquities scheme was set up to record finds by the public in England and Wales.

“It’s a fabulous thing, the best Iron Age find in 50 years,” said JD Hill, head of the British Museum’s iron age department. “When I first saw a picture of it I thought somebody was pulling my leg because it is so like the Sedgeford torc in our collection that it must have been made by the same hand.

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6. Treasure Hunter Finds Rare Gold Coins

6 carausius coins 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008A treasure-hunter could be in line for a small fortune after unearthing two rare coins that shed light on a little-known rebel Roman emperor.

Derrick Fretwell’s finds, which date back to AD286 and the reign of Carausius, have been hailed “priceless” by experts at the British Museum. Mr Fretwell, 57, was digging in a field near Ashbourne, Derbys, when he uncovered the coins, which are at least 90 per cent gold.

The discovery of these two gold coins sheds light on a little known ‘British’ Emperor.

Gold coins of Carausius are extremely rare, until now only 23 being in existence. The last example found was in 1975 in Hampshire and it is quite possible that we will have to wait for over 30 years before another one sees the light of day.

Carausius was a Menapian (from modern Belgium). In the AD 280s he was the commander of the Roman Fleet (“Classis Britannica”) that patrolled the English Channel and North Sea. The fleet was commanded from Boulogne and one of its major functions was to defend Britain and Gaul (France) from Saxon raiders. Carausius fell foul of the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian, supposedly because he allowed the Saxons to RAID and only intercepted them afterwards, keeping the stolen loot for himself! Rather than hand himself over, Carausius declared himself emperor of Northern Gaul and Britain and set up his own mini-empire.

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7. 72 Year Old Woman Uncovers Roman Treasure

7 gold leaf2 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008A 72-YEAR-OLD woman found a piece of Roman treasure on farmland near Clifton.  Alice Wright found the small gold leaf while using her metal detector in the Clifton area on March 23.

The leaf was declared as treasure trove, meaning she may receive a reward for her find, at an inquest in Nottingham.

Mrs Wright, from Littleover in Derby, has sent the object to the British Museum, and another museum is interested in acquiring it.

The Roman votive leaf is believed to date back to sometime between the first and fourth century.

Coroner Dr Nigel Chapman said: “The object was incomplete and folded to suggest that it had been removed from its original temple context.

“It is characteristic of Roman votive plaques that were dedicated at temples and shrines in Britain.”

He congratulated Mrs Wright on finding the treasure and sending it on to the British Museum.

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8. Viking Hoard Discovered in Sweden

8 viking hoard 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008Hundreds of ancient coins unearthed last week close to Sweden’s main international airport suggests the Vikings were bringing home foreign currency earlier than previously thought, archaeologists say. Buried some 1,150 years ago, the treasure trove is made up mainly of Arabic coins and represents the largest early Viking hoard ever discovered in Sweden.

Archaeologists from the Swedish National Heritage Board unexpectedly found the stash of 472 silver coins while excavating a Bronze Age tomb near Stockholm’s Arlanda airport.

Kenneth Jonsson, a professor of coin studies at the University of Stockholm, has independently dated the hoard to about A.D. 850.

“That date is very early, because coin imports [by the Vikings] only start in about [A.D.] 800,” Jonsson said.

The discovery contains more coins than Sweden’s only other known large Viking hoard from the period, which was discovered in 1827, Jonsson added.

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9. Metal Detector Enthusiast Finds 6000 Roman Coins

9 roman coins 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008

One of the largest deposits of Roman coins ever recorded in Wales, has been declared treasure trove.

Nearly 6,000 copper alloy coins were found buried in two pots in a field at Sully, Vale of Glamorgan by a local metal detector enthusiast in April.

After the ruling by the Cardiff coroner, a reward is likely to be paid to the finder and landowner.

It is hoped the coins will be donated to National Museum Wales, which has called the find “exceptional”.

Two separate hoards were found by the metal detectorist on successive days, one involving 2,366 coins and the other 3,547 coins, 3m away.

The 1,700-year-old coins dated from the reigns of numerous emperors, notably Constantine I (the Great, AD 307-37), during whose time Christianity was first recognised as a state religion.

Derek Eveleigh, 79, from Penarth, who came across the hoards in a field of sheep, has kept his find a secret until the outcome of the inquest.

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10. Bus Driver Digs up £80,000 Worth of Bronze Axe Heads

10 axe heads 10 Amazing Uncovered Treasures From 2008

Bus driver and metal detector fanatic Tom Peirce is in for a bumper pay day after unearthing 500 Bronze Age artefacts – one of the largest ever ancient finds.

Amateur treasure hunter Mr Peirce started combing a field after dropping off a school coach party at a farm – and now he could have a haul worth more than £80,000 on his hands.

Within a few minutes, the device began beeping and the 60-year-old dug 10 inches into the ground to find a partial axe head.

He realised he had struck it lucky when he dug deeper and found dozens more.

Over the next two days, he and colleague Les Keith uncovered nearly 500 bronze artefacts dating back 3,000 years.

The find prompted a Time Team-style search of the area by excited archaeologists.

The hoard, which included 268 complete axe heads, is one of the biggest of its kind found in Britain.

Mr Peirce, 60, will have to split any proceeds with landowner Alfie O’Connell.

Mr Peirce said: “We are extremely thrilled and excited because this was a once-in-a-lifetime find. It’s like winning the lottery – you don’t think it is going to happen to you.

“If you speak to other detectorists, they will find a nice coin or something in 20 or 30 years of treasure hunting.

“You do it as a hobby – you don’t do it for the money but if you strike it lucky then so be it.”

Mr Peirce stumbled upon the field after taking a group of schoolchildren for a day out at the farm near Swanage, Dorset.

He asked farmer Mr O’Connell for permission to search the two-acre field and later returned with Mr Keith.

The hoard was found up to 2ft down in three holes spread 50ft apart.

It is believed there was a Bronze Age settlement nearby where the axe heads would have been manufactured.

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5 Comic Superheroes Who Made a Real-World Difference

1. Superman Defeats the
Ku Klux Klan

superman0 5 Comic Superheroes Who Made a Real World Difference
In the 1940s, The Adventures of Superman was a radio sensation. Kids across the country huddled around their sets as the Man of Steel leapt off the page and over the airwaves. Although Superman had been fighting crime in print since 1938, the weekly audio episodes fleshed out his storyline even further. It was on the radio that Superman first faced kryptonite, met The Daily Planet reporter Jimmy Olsen, and became associated with “truth, justice, and the American way.” So, it’s no wonder that when a young writer and activist named Stetson Kennedy decided to expose the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, he looked to a certain superhero for inspiration.

In the post-World War II era, the Klan experienced a huge resurgence. Its membership was skyrocketing, and its political influence was increasing, so Kennedy went undercover to infiltrate the group. By regularly attending meetings, he became privy to the organization’s secrets. But when he took the information to local authorities, they had little interest in using it. The Klan had become so powerful and intimidating that police were hesitant to build a case against them. Struggling to make use of his findings, Kennedy approached the writers of the Superman radio serial. It was perfect timing. With the war over and the Nazis no longer a threat, the producers were looking for a new villain for Superman to fight. The KKK was a great fit for the role. In a 16-episode series titled “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” the writers pitted the Man of Steel against the men in white hoods. As the storyline progressed, the shows exposed many of the KKK’s most guarded secrets. By revealing everything from code words to rituals, the program completely stripped the Klan of its mystique. Within two weeks of the broadcast, KKK recruitment was down to zero. And by 1948, people were showing up to Klan rallies just to mock them.

2. Popeye Helps America Survive the Great Depression

popeye0 5 Comic Superheroes Who Made a Real World Difference
Everyone knows Popeye’s secret. Whenever the cartoon sailor is on the verge of losing a fight, he squeezes open a can of spinach, pours the greens down his throat, and uses his supercharged muscles to pummel opponents. But fewer people know that the U.S. government is directly responsible for his dependence on canned vegetables.

In the 1930s, America was mired in
the Great Depression
, and the government was looking for a way to promote iron-rich spinach as a
meat substitute. To help spread the word, they hired one of America’s favorite celebrities, Popeye the Sailor Man. It was a smart plan. In all of the comic strips to that point, Popeye’s superhuman strength had never been explained. But with the government’s campaign in place, Popeye was suddenly more than willing to share the secret to his strength. Sure enough, soon after Popeye took up spinach,
American
sales of the mighty veggie increased by one-third. Better still,
American
children rated it their third favorite food, right after turkey and
ice cream.

But it wasn’t just spinach the government was endorsing. They were also pushing the merits of canned food. U.S. officials wanted Americans to know that cans were the perfect way to stock up on emergency rations.

While Popeye should be applauded for persuading a nation to eat its greens, he did mislead people a bit. The government’s enthusiasm for spinach was based in part on the calculations of German scientist Dr. E von Wolf, who’d discovered in 1870 that spinach contains iron. When calculating the results, he misplaced a decimal point, thereby making it “official” that spinach had 10 times more iron than it actually did. Not until years later were these figures rechecked. But by then, everyone was downing their spinach, hoping to be as tough as Popeye.

3. Captain Marvel Jr. Saves the Bad-Hair Day

capt marvel jr 5 Comic Superheroes Who Made a Real World Difference
Like most
American
kids in the 1940s,
Elvis Presley fantasized about growing up to be like his favorite comic book superheroes. But it turns out that The King might have been more interested in their fashion statements than their special powers.

During his early teen years, Elvis was obsessed with Captain Marvel Jr., known as “America’s most famous boy hero.” A younger version of Captain Marvel, the character sported an unusual hairstyle that featured a curly tuft of hair falling over the side of his forehead.

Sound familiar? When Elvis set out to conquer America with his rock ‘n’ roll ways, he copied the ’do, thus making it one of the most famous hairstyles of the 20th century. But that wasn’t all. Captain Marvel also gets credit for the short capes Elvis wore on the back of his jumpsuits, as well as The King’s famous TCB logo, which bears a striking resemblance to Marvel’s lightning bolt insignia. Of course, Elvis never tried to hide his love for the Captain. A copy of Captain Marvel Jr. #51 still sits in his preserved childhood bedroom in an apartment in Memphis, and his full comics collection remains intact in the attic at Graceland. Plus, the admiration was mutual. Captain Marvel Jr. paid tribute to The King in one issue, referring to the singer as “the greatest modern-day philosopher.”

4. Donald Duck’s Scientific Breakthrough

donald duck 0 5 Comic Superheroes Who Made a Real World Difference
In 1966, Danish engineer Karl Krøyer developed a method for raising sunken ships off the ocean floor by injecting them with polystyrene foam balls. However, when Krøyer tried to license his invention with the Dutch patent office, he was denied. Donald Duck had beaten him to the punch by 22 years.

Indeed, Krøyer’s concept could be traced back to a Donald Duck comic conceived by Carl Barks. In addition to being the most celebrated artist of the Donald Duck comics, Barks was known for his scientific prowess. So in a 1944 story, when Donald got a bump on his head that turned him into a genius, the duck managed to mumble, “If I mix CH2 [a methylene compound] with NH4 [ammonium] and boil the atoms in osmotic fog, I should get speckled nitrogen!”

Although it sounded like nonsense, it wasn’t. In 1963, chemists P.P. Gaspar and G.S. Hammond wrote a technical article about methylene that included a reference to the Donald Duck story. The final paragraph read, “Among experiments which have not, to our knowledge, been carried out as yet is one of a most intriguing nature suggested in the literature of no less than 19 years ago.” A footnote revealed that “literature” as the Donald Duck comic. It seems the web-footed children’s hero had deduced the chemical intermediate long before it had been proven to exist.

But why were these top
American
chemists looking to comics for inspiration? Apparently, Dr. Gaspar had been a lifelong Donald Duck fan, and he’d rediscovered Donald’s early reference to methylene while collecting old copies of the classic adventures. Gaspar never disclosed how much his work owed to Duckburg’s most famous resident, but then again, how many scientists would confess that they used comic books to bolster their research?

5. A Spider-Man Villain Keeps Folks Out of Jail

kingpin 5 Comic Superheroes Who Made a Real World Difference
In a 1977 edition of Spider-Man, Peter Parker has the tables turned on him. The villain, Kingpin, tracks down Spidey using an electronic transmitter that he’d fastened to the superhero’s wrist. Although Kingpin loses in the end (he always does), one New Mexico judge saw beauty in his plan. Inspired by the strip, Judge Jack Love turned to computer salesman Michael Goss and asked if he could create a similar device to keep track of crime suspects awaiting trial.

In 1983, Goss produced his first batch of electronic monitors. Authorities in Albuquerque then tested the devices on five offenders, using the gadgets as an alternative to incarceration. Today, the transmitters are a common sight in courtrooms across
the country
, usually in the form of electronic ankle bracelets. Most famously, Martha Stewart donned one while she was under house arrest in 2004. Perhaps she would have felt better knowing that the gadget had once nabbed Spider-Man, too.

SOURCE

Mystery of the screaming mummy

It was a blood-curdling discovery. The mummy of a young man with his hands and feed bound, his face contorted in an eternal scream of pain. But who was he and how did he die?

On a scorching hot day at the end of June 1886, Gaston Maspero, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, was unwrapping the mummies of the 40 kings and queens found a few years earlier in an astonishing hidden cache near the Valley of the Kings.

The 1881 discovery of the tombs, in the Deir El Bahri valley, 300 miles south of Cairo, had been astonishing and plentiful. Hidden from the world for centuries were some of the great Egyptian pharaohs – Rameses the Great, Seti I and Tuthmosis III. Yet this body, buried alongside them, was different, entombed inside a plain, undecorated coffin that offered no clues to the deceased’s identity.

It was an unexpected puzzle and, once the coffin was opened, Maspero found himself even more shocked.

screaming mummy 1 Mystery of the screaming mummy

There, wrapped in a sheep or goatskin – a ritually unclean object for ancient Egyptians – lay the body of a young man, his face locked in an eternal blood-curdling scream. It was a spine-tingling sight, and one that posed even more troubling questions: here was a mummy, carefully preserved, yet caught in the moment of death in apparently excrutiating pain.

He had been buried in exalted company, yet been left without an inscription, ensuring he would be consigned to eternal damnation, as the ancient Egyptians believed identity was the key to entering the afterlife. Moreover, his hands and feet had been so tightly bound that marks still remained on the bones.

Who could he be, this screaming man, assigned the anonymous label ‘Man E’ in the absence of a proper name?

An autopsy, performed by physicians in 1886 in the presence of Maspero, did little to shed any light on the subject.

One of the physicians, Daniel Fouquet, believed the contracted shape of his stomach cavity showed he had been poisoned, writing in his report that ‘the last convulsions of horrid agony can, after thousands of years, still be seen’ – yet his science was unable to help him ascertain why.

Even marrying these findings with historical documents only allowed experts to speculate. Some believed ‘Man E’ was the traitor son of Rameses III, who’d been involved in a coup to remove him from the throne, others that he was an Egyptian governor who had died abroad and been returned to his homeland for burial. Some believed the unconventional manner of his mummification showed that he was not Egyptian at all, but a member of a rival Hittite dynasty, who had died on Egyptian soil.

All explanations were possible, yet Man E’s true identity seemed destined to remain a mystery.

screaming mummy 2 Mystery of the screaming mummy

As Dr Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, puts it, ‘We’d never seen a mummy like this, suffering. It’s not normal, and it tells us something happened, but we did not know exactly what.’

Until now. Today, nearly 130 years after his body was first uncovered, a team of scientists has brought the wonders of modern forensic techniques to bear on the enigma.

Using sophisticated-technology, including CT scanning, Xrays and facial reconstruction, to examine the mummy, they uncovered tantalising new clues that could reveal his identity, all under the watchful eye of Five’s TV crew, who are making a series of documentaries hoping to unravel some of Egypt’s great secrets.

Their findings suggest that Man E is indeed Prince Pentewere, elder son of Rameses III, who, with his mother, Tiy, had evolved a plan to assassinate the pharaoh and ascend to the throne.

Certainly, the theory has a number of supporters. Among them is Dr Susan Redford, an Egyptologist from Pennsylvania State University, who points out that an ancient papyrus scroll details a plot by Tiy to dethrone Rameses III in favour of their son, even though he was not the nominated heir.

The plot was apparently supported by a number of high level courtiers, suggesting that they felt Pentewere had a legitimate claim, even though the accession was usually thought to be divinely ordained.

screaming mummy 3 Mystery of the screaming mummy

‘The scroll tells us that the coup was very quickly discovered and the plotters brought to trial,’ she explained. ‘They were sentenced to death, but the papyrus also tells us that Pentewere was spared this fate. Perhaps because of his royal status he was allowed to commit suicide.’

He would almost certainly have done so, she says, by drinking poison.

Yet other findings from the 1886 postmortem seemed to dispute the body might be that of Pentewere. It suggested that Man E had been buried with his internal organs intact, which was extraordinarily unusual, even for a traitor, and a boost to theories that the body had been mummified elsewhere at the time – or had not even been Egyptian at all.

Some academics believed that the body may have been that of a rival Hittite prince, basing their theory on a letter written by Tutankhamun’s widow Ankhesenamun.

The pharaoh died without leaving an heir and, in her letter, his wife had appealed to the then King of the Hittites that he allow her to marry one of his sons, who would become king and ensure her own continuing power.

Man E, some academics believed, was just such a prince, one who had travelled to Egypt to meet with his new bride and befallen a cruel and murderous fate.

Yet today’s forensic findings seemed to dispute this theory: a modern 3D scan showed the mummy had been completely eviscerated, as was customary for important Egyptians.

screaming mummy 4 Mystery of the screaming mummy

Moreover, new analysis of the condition of his joints and teeth also appeared to overturn earlier theories as to the mummy’s age at the time of death: Fouquet had believed him to be in his early 20s, too young for Pentewere. Now, it seemed, he could have been anywhere up to the age of 40, consistent again with Rameses’ son.

Equally revealing was a full facial reconstruction. Using modern forensic techniques, a 3D image of Man E’s skull was created, revealing what would have been a strong and handsome face, with a prominent nose and long jaw – features which do not correlate with a Hittite background.

Egyptians had a long lower face and an extended cranium from the forehead to the back of the head, as did Man E, suggesting he’s a ancient Egyptian.

There are, of course, still anomalies – the sheepskin covering, the unorthodox way the body was preserved without a name.

The passing of the centuries has ensured that some of the Screaming Man’s secrets are destined to remain unsolved, and as Dylan Bickerstaffe, an eminent Egyptologist, puts it, ‘With some questions we found the answers to be more ordinary than we thought,’ he says. ‘But we’ve also answered others and found the answers to be much stranger.’

It is certainly enough to convince Dr Hawass, who now believes that this most enduring of Egyptian mysteries has been solved.

‘It seems to me this man has been sitting in the Cairo Museum waiting for someone to identify him,’ he says. ‘Now I really do believe that this unknown man is not unknown any more.’

Idiots You’ll Meet on the Internets

If you fall into one of these Internet stereotypes, kindly choke on your caps lock key.

interdouche 1 Idiots Youll Meet on the Internets
The IMDB message board name-dropper
Sites affected: IMDB. Also popular on other movie and music sites.
We love IMDB for its ridiculously thorough catalog of TV and movie knowledge, but stepping into their forums is like walking into a video store with a million pretentious and insecure clerks behind the counter that cast judgments on your taste in movies. But by far the worst part is the throng of unconnected schlubs who do nothing but mention how they don’t agree with some of the choices Marty made in The Departed, or how they can appreciate how Quentin and Robert must feel about the general public not understanding the three-hour inside joke they called Grindhouse.

The people who post “FIRST!!1!” in every comment thread
Sites affected: Perezhilton.com, Break.com, just about any site with comments.
Making a post like this is basically like coming right out and saying, “I have nothing better to do than sit at my computer and wait for someone to update this blog.” What’s worse is when a bunch of people get in on the act and the first 10 comments on each post are the same useless word. In fact, if this article gets posted anywhere with comments (we don’t have them for a reason) some smart guy will try to pull this. You can be sure that that person has never seen the bathing suit area of the opposite sex.

The guy that gives something everyone loves a one-star review
Sites affected: Amazon.com, any site where grumpy users are allowed to write reviews.
A world where everyone completely agreed on every subject would be boring, but it might be slightly better than our current world in which contrarian blowhards can’t resist the call of the one-star review button. Check out this example on Amazon.com. Irate user, Jabber, is mad because the characters on South Park are badly drawn. Is it a valid point to be made? Maybe. Is it reason enough to go on a public forum and rant like a maniac? Probably not.

interdouche 2 Idiots Youll Meet on the Internets
PeOplE ThaT Typ3 lIKE ThIS
Sites affected: Craigslist.com, eBay.com, any site where 13-year-olds are allowed to type.
We can understand ignoring some grammar, punctuation and capitalization for the sake of laziness, but typing like that travesty of a headline actually takes longer than just typing normally. Just think about how much you have to use your friggin’ pinky. Plus, you have to factor in all the time it takes thinking, “Should it be ‘InSANe CloWN PoSsE’ or ‘INsanE ClOWn PoSsE’?” Add in these knuckleheads’ tendencies to end everything with a Z and use words like “wut” and “dat” and you have the perfect method for making people think that you’re a total asshole with nothing of any value to say. Unless you’re on the My Chemical Romance forum, in which case you’re golden.

Facebook poker
Sites affected: Facebook.com
You don’t call people on the phone if you have nothing to say to them. You don’t send your friends e-mails that are completely blank. So why would you poke someone using Facebook? It makes so much more sense to just send a message or, better yet, don’t do anything. If poking was a real-life conversation, this is how it would go:
Some jack-off: Hey, I’m looking at Facebook.
Us: Oh. Cool, I guess.
Some jack-off: Yep.
Us: Did you have anything to tell us, or…
Some jack-off: Nope, just poking you.
Us: Fuck this, we’re going to lurk professional sports cheerleaders that are well above the legal age of consent (let’s see you take issue with that, lawyers) on MySpace.

interdouche 3 Idiots Youll Meet on the Internets
The guy that posts, “This is old” or “Not news”
Sites affected: Tech blogs, Digg.com, Fark.com
When you work in a field as timely as technology reporting, getting scooped is a bad feeling. What’s worse is the feeling of getting called out for being late on something by a guy who has nothing better to do than get fatter and check japanesecellphonesnoonehaseverheardof.com 200 times a day. If you’re so up on your shit, why not start a news site and get in on some of that sweet Google AdSense money? Because you have too much integrity? Probably not. Because you’re too busy getting fatter and watching Battlestar Galactica? That sounds more like it.

The MySpace comment beggar
Sites affected: MySpace
Believe it or not, almost no one is as excited about the picture you took of yourself in the bathroom mirror—holding your arms above your head so you look a lot thinner, of course—as you are. Sending a bulletin begging for people to comment on it is just going to make them even less pumped. If you’re dissatisfied with the amount of love that your MySpace page gets, you’re either a person whose friends prefer traditional methods of communication or a completely insecure douche with lots of huge, sparkly word GIFs all over your page.

Useless forwarder of urban legends and chain letters
Sites affected: E-mail, MySpace, Facebook
We can deal with the endless amounts of penis enlargement and bank notification spam we get every day, but getting a useless and often completely ludicrous message from someone we were nice enough to trust with our e-mail address is a betrayal of the most heinous variety. No, Mars is not going to appear as big as the moon in the sky tonight. No, my crush’s name will not appear if I send this message to 10 people. No, I don’t want your inbox-clogging bullshit making us just that much dumber.

Grammar sticklers
Sites affected: Every site with words.
We’ve already expressed our distaste for purposely nonsensical typing practices, but you can be sure that you’ll never find us going online to criticize people about dangling a participle every now and again. We barely expect the average Internet commenter or message board poster to be able to finish Green Eggs and Ham, let alone know the difference between further and farther.

25 Best Intramural Sports Team Names

Once out from the oppressive administration at colleges and universities, those partaking in somewhat organized co-ed sports leagues are forced to come up with their own creative and usually offensive or crude team names. Co-Ed Sports are a past-time for the quarter-lifers and is even called out as #65 of Stuff White People Like. Girls enjoy the opportunity to participate in sports for the semi-competitive atmosphere or their boyfriends are making them do it. Guys love the competitiveness no matter how much the other team doesn’t care and it’s also their last hope at getting discovered for the MLB/NFL/NBA/PBA/MLS.

Gone are the simple team names from your adolescence, like “Wildcats,” “Bears,” “[Local Professional Sports Team Name],” and “Yankees.” Balls, poles, bases, bats, runs, and scoring, are turned into euphemisms for male genitalia, male genitalia, female genitalia, male genitalia, fecal matter, and mom jokes. Put a couple of these together and you have yourself a pretty clever team name.

we’ve come up with our list of favorite team names below.

25 – I Scored With Your Mom (Baseball/Softball)
24 – Freebasers (Baseball/Softball)
23 – Back Dat Pass Up (Football/Soccer)
22 – Multiple Scorgasm (Any Sport)
21 – Triple Penetration (Bowling)
20 – Masterbatters (Baseball/Softball)
19 – Suck My Kick (Kickball/Soccer)
18 – Long Poles and Deep Holes (Golf)
17 – 2 Balls 1 Cup (Golf)
16 – Kick Tease (Kickball/Soccer)

15 – Bowl Job (Bowling)
14 – In One Ear And Out Your Mother (Any Sport)
13 – The Run Guzzlers (Baseball/Softball)
12 – We Got the Runs (Baseball/Softball)
11 – I’d Hit It (Any Sport)
10 – The FOREskins (Golf)
9 – 2 Fingers 1 Thumb (Bowling)
8 – My Dixie Wrecked / My Dixie Normous (Any Sport)
7 – Booze on First (Baseball/Softball)
6 – Premature Shooters (Basketball)
5 – Superman Dat Throw (Anything with throwing involved)
4 – We Like Balls Flying at Our Heads (Anything with balls)
3 – Where My Pitches At? (Baseball/Softball)
2 – Our Lesbians Are Better Than Yours (Any Sport)
1 – Touchdown My Pants (Football)

Exorcism – The Facts

The Laity and Deliverance

HOW DO DELIVERANCE PRAYERS DIFFER FROM EXORCISM PRAYERS?

Today solemn exorcism is limited to the priest who prays in the name of the church. There are three requirements in order for this rite to be performed; the person must be possessed, a priest must perform the exorcism, and finally an exorcism could only be performed with the permission of the bishop (see signs of possession).

With private exorcism a lay-person or religious can pray in his/her own name (not in the name of the church). What this means is the laity cannot use the Roman Ritual of Exorcism to pray in the name of the church.

HOW DO EVIL SPIRITS ENTER US?

Evil spirits enter us through many ways as indicated in the examples below.

Innocent Victim :

* In some cases, evil spirits enter an innocent victim. The victim may be an unborn baby who is cursed from the mother’s womb. The curse can be from a jealous relative, friend, enemy, or even the child’s own parents.
* Innocent victims may also include children who are not loved, who are mistreated or abused or rejection by other children, siblings, parents, etc. The abuse can range from sexual abuse, mental abuse, or physical abuse.

Those who Choose Evil:

In other cases, an evil spirit may enter us because of involvement in evil practices such as the occult, The occult is any practice that involves ceremonies, rituals, chants, magic, or activities that are obviously not God centered. These activities or rituals can change the course of nature, the the lives of those who are involved in such practices, and of course, the innocent victims.

* The Ouija board is a popular occult board game and there is also Dungeons and Dragons. Satan’s main target in Dungeons and Dragons game is our youth. With Dungeons and Dragons, the most powerful and successful players are those who use magic. There is a Dungeons Master Guide that even teaches new beginners how to communicate with the dead, cast spells, and learn to chant.
* The use of magic revolves around evil spirits, psychic abilities and contacting spirits. Magic is a power that does not involve God. It is a power that is derived from such things as voodoo, sorcery, primitive religions and Satanism. Most witches who use magic swear that they do not worship Satan but worship the gods and goddesses of nature (The gods and goddesses of nature are hardly Jesus Christ! Of course they worship Satan! Do not let someone who practices this occult tell you otherwise!). Many of these individuals are unknown because they blend in quite well. They can be found attending church services in every denomination and they practice their magic on the side. If someone tells you white magic is ok–don’t believe them!!
* Use of new age tools such as crystals, divination, astrology, tarot cards, crystal balls, reincarnation, pendulums, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation
* Those who make a pact with Satan or attend Satanic services or rituals.
* Going to Séances, fortune tellers, Horoscopes, or spiritualist meetings for the purpose of contact the dead.
* Those who use alcohol or mind changing drugs such as LSD, cocaine, marijuana
* Sex out of wedlock, active homosexuals, masturbation, adultery
* Those who have an abortion
* Those who try to commit suicidal or have suicidal tendencies. [Read more…]

Questions I have never been able to answer

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?

Why do banks charge a fee on “insufficient funds” when they know there is not enough?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Whose idea was it to put an “S” in the word “lisp”?

What is the speed of darkness?


Why is it that people say they “slept like a baby” when babies wake up every two hours?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it’s going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

Do married people live longer than single ones or does it only seem longer?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Did you ever stop and wonder……

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, “I think I’ll squeeze these pink dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?”

Who was the first person to say, “See that chicken there… I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its bum.”


Why do toasters always have a setting so high that could burn the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?


Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?


Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don’t point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is?


Why does your Obstetrician, Gynaecologist leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway?


Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They’re both dogs
!

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Stop singing and read on……. Yes, it caught me too!

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?

The Bermuda Triangle

001 The Bermuda TriangleThe Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a region of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean in which a number of aircraft and surface vessels have disappeared in what are said to be circumstances that fall beyond the boundaries of human error or acts of nature. Some of these disappearances have been attributed to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings by popular culture.
An explanation for some of the disappearances has focused on the presence of vast fields of methane hydrates on the continental shelves. Laboratory experiments carried out in Australia have proven that bubbles can, indeed, sink a scale model ship by decreasing the density of the water. Airplanes may also be susceptible to any freak methane releases. Methane also has the ability to cause a piston engine to stall when released into the atmosphere, even at an atmospheric concentration as low as 1%.
An explanation for some of the disappearances pinned the blame on left-over technology from Atlantis. Reputed psychic Edgar Cayce claimed that evidence for Atlantis would be discovered just off Bimini in 1968. New Agers view the Bimini Road as either a road, wall, or pier meant to service ships bound for Atlantis from Central and South America, or a breakwater built to protect fishing boats.002 The Bermuda Triangle
The wall may also have a natural origin. Some theorists claim extraterrestrials are the reason of disappearances by abducting ships and aircraft. This was given a boost when topics like ESP, telekinesis, clairvoyance, and the like flowered in the middle-to-late 1960s, and was used as storylines for popular films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The UFO Incident.
The proponents of this theory state that the many ships and planes entered a time warp to a different time or dimension on the other side, meaning that their crews could still be alive there, living new lives in another time period of the past or the future – or even possibly in a parallel universe. Usually, the ship or aircraft in the story enters this dimension by way of a cloud. This has been a popular subject in science fiction.

Nuclear weapons

Fission weapons
A few words about nuclear weapons technology..

Nuclear weapons exploit two principle physical, or more specifically nuclear, properties of certain substances: fission and fusion.

Fission is possible in a number of heavy elements, but in weapons it is principally confined to what is termed slow neutron fission in just two particular isotopes: 235U and 239Pu. These are termed fissile, and are the source of energy in atomic weapons. An explosive chain reaction can be started with relatively slight energy input (so-called slow neutrons) in such material.

Pu239Ga11111111 Nuclear weapons
An actual 239Pu ingot, alloyed with gallium for improved physical properties

Isotopes are ‘varieties’ of an element which differ only in their number of neutrons. For example, hydrogen exists as 1H 2H and 3H — different isotopes of the same chemical element, with no, one, and two neutrons respectively. All the chemical properties, and most of the physical properties, are the same between isotopes. Nuclear properties may differ significantly, however.

The fission, or ‘splitting’ of an atom, releases a very large amount of energy per unit volume — but a single atom is very small indeed. The key to an uncontrolled or explosive release of this energy in a mass of fissile material large enough to constitute a weapon is the establishment of a chain reaction with a short time period and high growth rate. This is surprisingly easy to do.

Fission of 235U (uranium) or 239Pu (plutonium) starts in most weapons with an incident source of neutrons. These strike atoms of the fissile material, which (in most cases) fissions, and each atom in so doing releases, on average, somewhat more than 2 neutrons. These then strike other atoms in the mass of material, and so on.

If the mass is too small, or has too large a surface area, too many neutrons escape and a chain reaction is not possible; such a mass is termed subcritical. If the neutrons generated exactly equal the number consumed in subsequent fissions, the mass is said to be critical. If the mass is in excess of this, it is termed supercritical.

Fission (atomic) weapons are simply based on assembling a supercritical mass of fissile material quickly enough to counter disassembly forces.

The majority of the energy release is nearly instantaneous, the mean time from neutron release to fission can be of the order of 10 nanoseconds, and the chain reaction builds exponentially. The result is that greater than 99% of the very considerable energy released in an atomic explosion is generated in the last few (typically 4-5) generations of fission — less than a tenth of a microsecond.*

This tremendous energy release in a small space over fantastically short periods of time creates some unusual phenomena — physical conditions that have no equal on earth, no matter how much TNT is stacked up.

Plutonium (239Pu) is the principal fissile material used in today’s nuclear weapons. The actual amount of this fissile material required for a nuclear weapon is shockingly small.

Below is a scale model of the amount of 239Pu required in a weapon with the force that destroyed the city of Nagasaki in 1945:

Pu32inch Nuclear weapons

In the Fat Man (Nagasaki) weapon design an excess of Pu was provided. Most of the remaining bulk of the weapon was comprised of two concentric shells of high explosives. Each of these was carefully fashioned from two types of explosives with differing burn rates. These, when detonated symmetrically on the outermost layer, caused an implosion or inward-moving explosion.

The two explosive types were shaped to create a roughly spherical convergent shockwave which, when it reached the Pu ‘pit’ in the center of the device, caused it to collapse.

The Pu pit became denser, underwent a phase change, and became supercritical.

A small neutron source, the initiator, placed in the very center of this Pu pit, provided an initial burst of neutrons — final generations of which, less than a microsecond later, saw the destruction of an entire city and more than 30,000 people..

Nearly all the design information for weapons such as these is now in the public domain; in fact, considering the fact that fission weapons exploit such a simple and fundamental physical (nuclear) property, it is no surprise that this is so. It is more surprising that so much stayed secret for so long, at least from the general public.

A neutron reflector, often made of beryllium, is placed outside the central pit to reflect neutrons back into the pit. A tamper, often made of depleted uranium or 238U helps control premature disassembly. Modern fission devices use a technique called ‘boosting’ (referred to in the next section), to control and enhance the yield of the device.

Today’s nuclear threat lies mostly in preventing this fissile special nuclear material (often referred to as SNM) from falling into the wrong hands: once there, it is a very short step to construct a working weapon.

What we do now to keep these devices out of the hands of groups like Al-Qaeda is vital to civilized peoples.

abomb Nuclear weapons

A schematic of a hypothetical ‘boosted’ fission weapon (showing unnecessary 235U)

trinity Nuclear weapons The gadget device used in the Trinity test: the world’s first nuclear weapon test. Note spherical geometry and the HE detonator arrangement. New Mexico, 21KT, 1945.

grable Nuclear weapons Typical fission weapon, shortly after detonation at the Nevada test site, with roughly the same yield as the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima. Reddish vapor surrounding the plasma toroid includes intensely radioactive fission fragments and ionized nitrogen oxides from the atmosphere. (Grable, 15KT, 1953)

Fusion Weapon

Fission weapons discussed above are ultimately limited in their destructive capability by the sheer size a subcritical mass can assume — and be imploded quickly enough by high explosives to form a supercritical assembly. The largest known pure fission weapon tested had a 500 kiloton yield. This is some thirty-eight times the release which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. Not satisfied that this was powerful enough, designers developed thermonuclear (fusion) weapons.

Fusion exploits the energy released in the fusing of two atoms to form a new element; e.g. deuterium atoms fusing to form helium, 2H + 2H = 4He2 , as occurs on the sun. For atoms to fuse, very high temperatures and pressures are required. Only fusion of the lightest element, hydrogen, has proven practical. And only the heavy isotopes of hydrogen, 2H (deuterium) and 3H (tritium), have a low enough threshold for fusion to have been used in weapons successfully thus far.

The first method tried (boosting) involved simply placing 3H in a void within the center of a fission weapon, where tremendous temperatures and high pressures were attendant to the fission explosion. This worked; contributing energy to the overall explosion, and boosting the efficiency of the Pu fissioning as well (fusion reactions also release neutrons, but with much higher energy).

Because 3H is a gas at room temperature, it can be easily ‘bled’ into the central cavity from a storage bottle prior to an explosion, and impact the final yield of the device. This is still used today, and allows for what is termed ‘dial-a-yield’ capability on many stockpiled weapons.

Multistage thermonuclear weapons — the main component of today’s strategic nuclear forces — are more complex. These employ a ‘primary’ fission weapon to serve merely as a trigger. As mentioned above, the fission weapon is characterized by a tremendous energy release in a small space over a short period of time. As a result, a very large fraction of the initial energy release is in the form of thermal X-rays.

These X-rays are channeled to a ‘secondary’ fusion package. The X-rays travel into a cavity within a b28.jpg (8660 bytes)cylindrical radiation container.

b28 Nuclear weaponsThe radiation pressure from these X-rays either directly, or through an intermediate material often cited as a polystyrene foam, ablates a cylindrical enclosure containing thermonuclear fuel (shown in blue at left); this can be Li2H (lithium deuteride).

Running along the central axis of this fuel is a rod of fissile material, termed a ‘sparkplug’.

The contracting fuel package becomes denser, the sparkplug begins to fission, neutrons from this transmute the Li2H into 3H that can readily fuse with 2H (the fusion reaction 3H + 2H has a very high cross-section, or probability, in typical secondary designs), heat increases greatly, and fusion continues through the fuel mass.

A final ‘tertiary’ stage can be added to this in the form of an exterior blanket of 238U, wrapping the outer surface of the radiation case or the fuel package. 238U is not fissionable by the slower neutrons which dominate the fission weapon environment, but fusion releases copious high energy neutrons and this can fast fission the ordinary uranium.

This is a cheap (and radiologically very dirty) way to greatly increase yield. The largest weapon ever detonated — the Soviet Union’s ‘super bomb’, was some 60 MT in yield, and would have been nearer 100MT had this technique been used in its tertiary. Again, to control the yield precisely, 3H may be bled from a separate tank into the core of the primary, as shown in the hypothetical diagram on the left of a modern thermonuclear weapon.

This primary/secondary/tertiary or multistage arrangement can be increased — unlike the fission weapon — to provide insane governments with any arbitrarily large yield.

bravo Nuclear weapons

Rare photo of the actual shrimp device used in Castle Bravo. Note the cylindrical geometry, and the emergent spherical fission trigger on the right. Light pipes leading to ceiling are visible near the fission trigger and at two points along the secondary for transmitting early diagnostic information to remote collection points, before they themselves are destroyed. Note the ‘danger, no smoking’ sign at lower left. 15MT, 1954.

Fusion, or thermonuclear weapons, are not simple to design nor are they likely targets of construction for would-be terrorists today.

Many aspects of the relevant radiation transport, X-ray opacities, and ultra-high T and D equations-of-state (EOS) for relevant materials are still classified to this day (though increasing dissemination of weapons-adaptable information from the inertially-confined fusion (ICF) area may change this in time). Keeping such information classified makes good sense.

romeo Nuclear weaponsTypical appearance of a thermonuclear weapon detonation — from many miles away.
(Castle Romeo, 7MT, 1954)

Special techniques were required to record the fleeting moments of a weapon’s initial detonation. One such method was the Rapatronic camera, developed by Dr. Harold Edgerton. The images it created are bizarre. Check out our collection of Rapatronic photographs.

Banned Cartoons

1 Banned CartoonsIf you squint your eyes long and hard enough, any fictional character on any animated cartoon begins to develop its own offensive, socially improper qualities. Even the dynamics inherent to seemingly innocent cartoon settings and situations can appear sinister when scrutinized by qualified armchair cynics.

Belgian cartoonist Pierre “Peyo” Culliford’s Smurfs, for instance, copyright 1958. Two hundred tiny blue males harmonizing amongst themselves in a woodsy, European hamlet polka-dotted with mushroomy phallus cupcakes. The setup alone might be sufficient enough cause for concern – but the fact that there’s only one female to pass around? That can’t be right. Never mind the fact that Peyo also wrote and drew a short-lived comic called “Poussy”.

And hey now, what about Inspector Gadget’s bulbous, nodular profile? Doesn’t that lead some people to believe he’s ten times the Jew SpongeBob’s Squidward Tentacles ever was? Even though we all know in our heart of hearts that Mr. Krabs is in fact Bikini Bottom’s primary penny pincher?

Between 1928 and 1950, America’s premiere animators across the Walt Disney Corporation, Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Merrie Melodies, Looney Tunes and R.K.O. Radio Pictures painstakingly assembled brilliant and offensive animated vignettes requiring no undue stretchery of the imagination. Hundreds of reels, thousands of cartoons, millions of individual frames sketched and watercolored by hand – and more often than people care to admit, content which directly ridiculed the behavior and appearance of blacks, homosexuals, southerners, the mentally ill, Arabs, Candians, Eskimos, Italians, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Germans, Russians, Australians, Indians, the Scottish, the French, the Irish – and yes, even Martians. [Read more…]

Hell – The Ultimate Deterrent

Once upon a time, there was the world, and it was good. Then peophell1 Hell   The Ultimate Deterrent le got all pissed off about everything, and there was violence and sin, and that was bad. Then people decided they needed a device to stop people from doing so much violence and sin, and there was Hell, and it was good.

Hell is the ultimate deterrent — an eternity of pain and suffering. You can’t come up with a much more brutal retribution than that. The only catch is that the deterrent only works when people a) believe in it, and b) fear it so much that they lay off the violence and sin.

There are a number of problems selling Hell to the public at large. For one thing, eternity is a difficult concept to get your head around. For another, everyone has a different idea about how the cosmos works morally. For Hell to succeed, it has to be horrific beyond belief, and ideally it needs to be drilled into the heads of children at a very early age, so that the fear will stick even after the intellect has grown past the concept.

The earliest concepts of Hell were less punitive than nihilistic. Early humans had to come to terms with the concept of death, and a number of ideas were developed along these lines.

The most optimistic viewpoint was reincarnation, present in many cultures around the world, but the ancient Jews were not the most optimistic lot, so they added a layer of unpleasantness to the Great Wheel of Life.

Before being reincarnated, they believed, the soul made a pit stop in Sheol, a depressing underground place where every day is Monday, and it always looks like it’s just about to rain but it never quite does. No eternal pit of fire, but the good times are definitely over. Some Jewish sects believed that reincarnation came after a spell in Sheol, others just kind of left souls there to rot (or whatever souls do).
Other early religions hell2 Hell   The Ultimate Deterrent had various concepts of a bad place where dead people hang out. The ancient Hindus believed in Hell before switching over to reincarnation. Egyptians believed in an underworld, where souls traveled through trials before returning to their bodies. The Romans and Greeks shared a version of Hell called Hades, which heavily influenced later renditions. But the Judeo-Christian Hell was the one that really stuck.

The Jewish Sheol eventually evolved into Gehenna, which roughly equates to purgatory — a place where souls are punished or cleansed of their sins — but the concept was never “proven” as an established teaching, leaving the matter of an afterlife largely to individual believers.

The coming of the Christians changed all that. When Jesus Christ arrived on the scene, a new set of contradictions arose. On the one hand, Jesus taught of God as a loving father figure, in sharp contrast to the vengeful God of the Old Testament. But love and hate are a double-edged sword. Although the Christian God had a whole lotta love on hand for believers, sinners were condemned to the fiery pit.

As the Christian church became more complicated, so too did the vision of Hell. By the middle ages, Hell was a rather well-defined place. The ultimate map of Hell was drafted by Dante in his epic poem Inferno, part of his inappropriately named “Divine Comedy.”

Dante famously divided Hell into nine concentric circles of increasing nastiness, behind a gate with the logo “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here”:

  • Circle One: Almost every student struggling through a Catholic school education inevitably arrives at the theological question: What happens to innocent people who are not baptized through no fault of their own? The Church invented “limbo” for this concept; Dante made it the first circle of Hell, a sort of Hell Lite. The first circle of Hell offers a kinder, gentler repose for noble pagans born before Christ and other generally cool historical figures who happen not to be Christians, such as Homer, Ovid, Socrates and presumably figures like Ghandi and maybe Malcolm X. Captives in the First Circle of Hell were subjected mostly to the ravages of generalized anxiety disorder without the benefit of Paxil but with all the side effects (nausea, asthenia, constipation, infection, dry mouth, yawn, diarrhea, sweating, decreased appetite, sleepiness, dizziness, insomnia, tremor, nervousness, and sexual side effects).hellmap2 Hell   The Ultimate Deterrent
  • Circle Two: Lust! As the most understandable of the major sins, lust only makes circle two of Hell, where lustful lovers are tossed about by stormy winds and forbidden from making wild monkey love. It’s unclear whether they’re allowed to jerk off. Home to Cleopatra, Tristan and Isolde, the Marquis de Sade and eventually Larry Flynt.
  • Circle Three: Gluttons live here, and are punished for their gluttony by being subjected to bad weather. Seasonal affective disorder is a bitch! There’s also a big dog. Captives include Chris Farley and Divine.
  • Circle Four: You don’t hear a lot about avarice these days, but the medieval mindset classified it as a major sin. The greedy are condemned here to working for the man every night and day, doing pointless and menial tasks. Future residents include Bill Gates and Martha Stewart.
  • Circle Five: The angry spend eternity duking it out here, naked in a vast river of jello (or possibly water, my Italian is a bit rusty). Look for Sean Penn, Dick Cheney and Jerry Falwell.
  • Circle Six: This circle of Hell is filled with “heretics,” by which Dante mostly means Muslims (though to be fair, Hell has several Popes in residence as well). This circle would technically also include figures like Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons, Martin Luther and Rael. Rumor has it John Ashcroft is planning random sweeps through the Sixth Circle in search of Terrorists. Everyone in the Sixth Circle is just an ordinary guy, BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE.
  • Circle Seven: Ah, violence! You gotta love violence! Dante classified three kinds of violence — against self, against others and against God. Inhabitants spotted by Dante included Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great. Since this category includes warmongers, George W Bush is a potential future inmate. Dante’s definition of “violence against God” inexplicably includes sodomy, which he classes as a more serious crime than murder, so the Seventh Circle could potentially host Robert Mapplethorpe and Oscar Wilde, who would be flayed on burning sands, while Adolf Hitler would merely be turned into a tree for the crime of Suicide. There is no justice.
  • Circle Eight: If the Shell3 Hell   The Ultimate Deterrent eventh Circle offended your sensibilities, the Eighth is simply baffling. In the next worst circle of Hell, the sufferings of the damned would be inflicted on those who have committed the following sins (all of which are deemed more evil than murder and warmongering). In order of increasing severity: Pandering, flattery, hypocrisy, fortune telling, theft, giving bad advice, instigating trouble, alchemy, impersonation, counterfeiting, lying, and being a giant.
  • Circle Nine: The Ninth Circle is for betrayers of every stripe, with all the big names in betraying thoroughly represented. Judas, Brutus, Cassius, Benedict Arnold, John Wayne Bobbit, Big Pussy from the Sopranos, Cain, Lando Calrissian, Jim Bakker, Richard M. Nixon, the Rosenbergs, Randy Savage, and finally, frozen in hell’s center, Satan himself. Judas, Cassius and Brutus are actually being eternally chewed by Satan, who has an intense dislike for Shakespearean characters.

In his play “No Exit,” Jean Paul Sartre said simply that “hell is other people,” while Pat Benatar claims “hell is for children.” This no doubt provides a meaningful highlight to some of the major differences between Americans, Italians and the French. Just don’t ask what.

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