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Benign Masochism

The content below is from Episode 113 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you watch We Own This City on HBO Max
    • If you liked HBO’s The Wire, then you will like this.
      • Many consider The Wire to be one of the best series ever made.
      • I watched the first season and can understand why. It is a slow show, but phenomenal writing.
    • Well “We Own This City” is made by the same people, in the same location (Baltimore), and has a very similar plot.
    • Like The Wire, “We Own This City” is based on real events. It follows the events of the most corrupt team in US Law Enforcement history, the Gun Trace Task Force.
    • Starring John Bernthal as one of the crooked cops who goes out to make arrests and illegal gun busts, but winds up treating each bust like his own personal visit to the bank to withdraw more money.
    • This show feels EXACTLY like The Wire.
    • John Bernthal was made to play the role of Wayne Jenkins. I think this 6 part mini-series is going to boost his career and I couldn’t be happier about that because he is a great actor.
    • Go check it out. Three episodes are out now at the time I write this so by the time you are hearing it the only episode you should have to wait a week for is the finale.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • I was having trouble finding a topic I felt like exploring for this week’s episode, so I decided to just watch some of my favorite YouTube channels.
    • As I sat there watching The Hoof GP, a channel created and run by Graeme Parker, a full-time, professional cattle hoof trimmer, living and working in South West Scotland, I realized “this is rather odd isn’t it?”
      • I started to analyze my own behavior. I get satisfaction from watching this guy trim cow hooves and uncovering bloody hoof cavities. Why?
    • Why do I also get a sense of satisfaction from watching the YouTube channel Durham Hearing Specialist where a Brit named Connor extracts ear wax?
    • Let’s find out.
  • Aside from the YouTube channels I watch for this bizarre fascination, there is a hit TV show on TLC called Dr. Pimple Popper
    • It is hosted by the charming Dr. Sandra Lee. She is a dermatologist out in California. She got her start posting videos on YouTube to advertise her practice and it took off.
    • Her videos get 5 million views a day and have been watched almost 3 billion times on YouTube.
    • Dr. Lee’s content is bizarre right off the bat. Here is the gorgeous Asian woman with a whole lot of charisma and charm and she co-hosts her show with some of the most grotesque skin conditions you can imagine.
    • I found myself wondering why her show was so popular. It isn’t just the shock value. She is attractive and does a job that most would find gross. Yet if they tried to make a show where an Ambercrombie model goes around cleaning Portable Toilets in public parks it wouldn’t be nearly as popular.
      • On second thought, that probably wouldn’t be that bad of a show lol.
    • Yes, there is that shock value that hooks people in and also gets them to tell their family and friends about the weird and gross pimple-popping show on TV. But that just brings people in, what keeps them watching?
    • Like most things that keep people hooked, there is a well-timed reward system going on here… at least for some of us.
    • A board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist Dr. Amy Wechsler says that some people get a rush from watching the show. They vicariously experience the pleasure of having these skin conditions healed.
    • IDK about anyone else, but popping my own pimples is satisfying. Makes me feel like I have fixed a problem. Dr. Wechsler says people get satisfaction from seeing something that doesn’t belong in the body come out. She also tries to draw a connection between pimple popper fans and people who like horror movies because the two have gross elements to them.
    • A Professor of Dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences named Dr. Adam Friedman points to the fact that gross sells.
    • Humans are curious creatures. We like to see things that are gross. The nastier the better, just as long as it isn’t ourselves that has the gross feature. If there is a distance between the viewer and the gross subject, it becomes a spectacle. Think of the unfortunately named “Freak Shows” with traveling circuses back in the day.
    • Other suggest that watching shows like Dr. Pimple Popper is a form of masochism.
      •  Masochism: the enjoyment of what appears to be painful or tiresome
        • Or – the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from one’s own pain or humiliation
  • A study that came out of West Chester University uses the term Benign Masochism
    • “Benign masochism,” a term coined by Paul Rozin, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, describes how humans enjoy negative sensations and emotions when they’re reassured that no harm will come to them. A “safe threat,” in other words.
    • Have you ever gone out to eat with a group of people and someone orders the hottest thing on the menu knowing full well they are going to suffer? That’s benign masochism.
    • From Esquire.com:
      • “The theory focuses on the negative physical experiences of these actions like your tongue burning from the spice of a red chili or stomach dropping in the loop of a rollercoaster. Interestingly the research found women were more likely to enjoy the depressing effects of a sad film while men more likely to seek out the sharp alcoholic burn from whisky.”
    • I find that difference in how genders enjoy benign masochism to be reassuring to thoughts I’ve had before.
      • I like whisky, thrills, pimple popping, and spicy foods.
      • My fiance Shannon hates rollercoasters and loves a good sad song.
        • But those are personal experiences. They don’t necessarily translate to the population as a whole.
    • So benign masochism can apply to anything from popping pimples or riding rollercoasters to watching Ole Yellar.
      • If you don’t get the Ole Yellar reference then I truly am getting old.
  • These kinds of spectacular events that give people benign masochism, they sell themselves. Think about it: you are gathered around the water cooler at work, the couch at home, or even the firepit with your buddies… everyone wants to tell the most shocking story and disgusting ones works just fine.
    • An evolutionary psychologist from the University of Oxford, Robin Dunbar, suggests there could be a direct link between the pimple popping fascination in humans to the grooming behavior of our Primate ancestors. Monkeys groom each other constantly as an evolutionary advantage of staying free from parasites. Perhaps that is linked to this dermatological spectacle.
  • I might even be one of those people that takes it a step farther in Dr. Dunbar’s point… I don’t just like to watch Dr. Pimple Popper and similar videos on YouTube… yes, I’m a bit embarrassed to say I enjoy popping not just my own pimples, but the pimples of loved ones as well.
    • When I was in High school I played sports and my teammates and I sweated fiercely.
      • I distinctly remember coming into the locker room one morning during Football Hell week and seeing pools of sweat had gathered at the bottom of our lockers… so nasty.
    • I remember one time I saw a bunch of giant zits on my really good friend Mike. Without assessing the social repercussions, I got up and started popping them. It was weird, it was gross, and I immediately felt embarrassed… but Mike was actually cool with it. He couldn’t reach them himself and didn’t want them on his back any longer.
      • That’s one of those memories my mind circles back to when I think of how cringey I can be.
    • And now, once in a blue moon, my fiance Shannon has to swat away my hand when I go for a pimple on her somewhere. It is an impulse I can’t seem to control sometimes… and I know it’s gross LOL.
  • While looking into this week’s topic I found that the doctor recommended treatment for pimples, the official instructions are to see your doctor…
    • I find that a bit ridiculous, going to see your doctor for a pimple, but that’s what at least some docs say. You shouldn’t pop them yourself because it usually causes skin damage, infections, and scarring. They think a doctor needs to remove your pimple with sterile equipment…
      • Nah… just come on down to the Who’d a Thunk It? headquarters and I’ll take care of them for ya!
      • Just Kidding of course. DO NOT come to me to remove your pimples… unless you wanna pay me for it lol
  • I found this inquiry into what makes popping pimples and other benign masochistic acts enjoyable to be beneficial.
    • “Why do people enjoy these certain things?” can be a productive question to answer.
    • Before this podcast, had you ever asked yourself why rollercoasters were fun?
  • As for the channels I mentioned earlier: The Hoof GP and Durham Hearing Specialists, give them a looksy.
    • I think both of these shows spark the same kind of satisfaction I get while watching Dr. Pimple Popper.
The Hoof GP
  • The Hoof GP’s host Graeme Parker helps cattle farms in Scotland by fixing cow’s hooves.
    • He and his team show up and check each cow from the farms by putting them individually into their custom towed stock machine. Once the cow is secured, Graeme hoists their hooves one at a time to get a good look at them. Most cows have hooves that are fine, but his videos show the cows who have cavities in their hooves. It is fascinating to watch, and the cows live better lives afterward.
Durham Hearing Specialists
  • Durham Hearing Specialists is hosted by Connor Boland, a charming English Audiologist who helps people get the blockage out of their ears.
    • Since he goes by Mr. Connor Boland I assume he doesn’t have a doctoral degree. That… and he also says in his videos that some cases require a doctor to take a look at things.
    • He uses equipment that goes inside the ear with a tiny little camera. The videos show tiny little spoon-like instruments and suction instruments getting earwax, puss, dirt, and all sorts of things out of patients’ ears.

CREDIT

Graeme Parker (the Hoof GP) chronicles his life working on farms where he lives, showcasing how to treat and deal with cows who have problems with their feet. The guy makes like $1 Million a year.
Conor is pretty cool. His one historical reference in an episode is what gave me the idea to do my episode on the Pykrete AirCraft Carrier. Check out their website: https://www.durhamhearingspecialists.com/who-we-are
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Thug Animals

The content below is from Episode 112 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • I recommend you watch HBO Max’s Tokyo Vice
    • The show has 8 episodes out now, each lasts about an hour.
    • The story follows Jake, a young man from Missouri as he tries to make his way through a career at the prestigious Meicho newspaper in Tokyo Japan.
    • His Japanese is seemingly flawless as his new employers and co-workers speak with him in fluent Japanese throughout the show.
    • The show is set in the 90’s (when newspaper was a much more relevant medium). It takes a look inside 1990’s Japanese journalism, police, and organized crime known as the Yakuza.
  • Shannon and I loved this show and we enjoyed watching every episode. Our only complaint is that there aren’t more episodes to watch!

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Recently, within the last month or so, BBC Earth released footage of Dolphins engaging in a gang war.
    • The footage was taken by underwater cameramen Doug Allan and Didier Noirot.
    • This video sparked a curiosity in me. I’d heard of dolphins showing thug-like behavior before, but never showing up in gangs. What other thug things do dolphins do, and what about other animals we see as cute?
  • Apparently divers have witnessed this dolphin gang behavior before, but this was the first time it was caught on camera.
    • Science Magazine (one of the most reputable scientific publications on the planet) came out with an article last year that talks about this gang behavior.
    • Ganging up is a regular part of the dolphin’s way of life. It is the males that group together to make advantage of the old saying “power in numbers.” Once they’ve created a unified gang, male dolphins will fight off rivals from their territory and also capture females that are ready to mate.
    • These dolphins use whistles to signal their gang to band together. Once they’ve joined up they can pillage however they chose. They are like Vikings of the sea.
      • I might be personifying these creatures a bit too much, but when you consider dolphins and whales have a remarkable mental ability, engage in group communication, and have individual names for each other, I think personification is warranted.
    • When the male dolphin gangs spot a female with a young calf they will kill the calf to force the mother into heat. The males will use their echolocation to target vital organs and then beat the infant dolphin to a pulp. Once the female goes into heat, she will be forcibly mated for weeks by multiple males. The males will make threatening whistles, movements, and even smack the female with their fins and tails to keep her in line.
      • I use the term forcible mating because there is nothing to suggest dolphins can grasp the concept of consent. Therefore, to use the term rape would be inaccurate.
    • There is video evidence that dolphins pursue humans for mating purposes. Videos of dolphins attempting to mate with human divers have been passed around the internet for years now.
      • A male dolphin’s genitals are shaped in a what that forced copulation with a human cannot be ruled out as a mechanical impossibility. So dolphins aren’t always so nice to humans either.
  • Then there are the sea otters…
    • While mating, male sea otters bite the faces of female otters. This behavior can lead to fatal injuries.
    • When female otters aren’t available, male sea otters have been observed fatally humping baby seals. In some cases, they continue to mate with the corpse for up to a week after killing it. The thought is that they are so desperate to mate they take these drastic measures.
  • Penguins might be the worst
    • Male Adelie penguins seem to reach all sorts of desperation in their quest to mate.
    • During the famous failed expedition of Captain Robert Scott
      • The celebrated explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912) also famously took part in the race to claim the South Pole in 1911. Captain Scott and four others perished after reaching the South Pole on January 17, 1912 – only to find Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it more than a month earlier.
    • But Dr. George Murray Levick was on the boat sent to help Captain Scott and crew. After their ship tasked with rescuing Captian Scott, the Terra Nova, was blocked in ice, Dr. Levick survived with 5 others in an ice cave for an entire antarctic winter.
      • The men battled the perilous polar winter and survived in part by eating penguin meat and seal blubber.
      • They survived despite having been forced to spend an entire Antarctic winter in an ice cave, unaware Captain Scott and four others had died.
      • Their journey was meant to save Captain Scott and during their entire 8 months of survival in the Antarctic they were told Captain Scott’s crew had died.
    • During his time in the Antarctic, Dr. Levick witnessed some groundbreaking discoveries about the mating behavior of Adelie Penguins. He is the only researcher to ever see the entire mating cycle.
    • What he saw shocked him.
      • They mate with other males, injured females, lost chicks and corpses. The most desperate penguins even try to mate with the ground.
      • In one scientific study, researchers set out a dead penguin which had been frozen in its mating posture. The males found this corpse “irresistible”.
      • In another case observers put “just the frozen head of a the penguin” on a rock, just to see how far the male penguins were willing to go. They were not deterred.
    • Back in Britain, he published a paper called ‘Natural History of the Adelie Penguin’, but his findings about the species’ astonishing sexual behaviour were considered so shocking that they were omitted.
    • Dr. Levick’s paper was found decades later at the Natural History Museum in the UK and was published for the world to read.
    • The hypothesis today is that sexual inexperience is to blame. Adelie Penguins gather at their colonies in October to start to breed. They have only a few weeks to do that and young adults simply have no experience of how to behave. Scientists believe the inexperience leads to the odd sexual behavior.
  • So what’s the point here?
    • First off, I wanted shock value. Finding out the animal kingdom, especially the creatures we think of as cute and cuddly, is full of forced mating and other depraved acts is definitely shocking.
    • But I also see value in sharing that animals are different than us. They don’t have the same mental capacities as humans. Their ability for empathy and to understand the concept of consent is either non-existent or much less than our own.
    • Real bears aren’t cute cuddly like little teddy bears.
    • Dolphins aren’t magical beings that only want the best for us humans.
    • Otters are not sensitive and sweet.
    • And Penguins are some of the nastiest sons of bitches out there!
  • No, the main point is that human morality and ethics can’t be put on to animals. We can’t judge animals by our standards. It doesn’t work that way.
    • The wilderness or nature is to be respected and understood as best as we can.

CREDIT:

  • https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/203346/can-dolphins-rape-humans/
  • https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2157129/Sexual-depravity-penguins-Polar-explorer-discovered-century-ago-revealed-time–shocking-print.html
  • https://www.npr.org/2021/04/28/991503885/dolphins-are-considered-sociable-but-have-you-heard-of-dolphin-gangs
    • NPR’s morning edition by Steve Inskeep – People know of dolphins as friendly and sociable. But we don’t often hear the dolphin gangs. A new article in Science magazine says gangs are part of dolphin culture. Male dolphins band together to fight off rivals and capture females in heat. They learn the signature whistles of fellow members. Science magazine writes, quote, “like members of a street gang, male dolphins summon their buddies when it comes time to raid and pillage.” 
  • https://slate.com/human-interest/2009/05/the-dark-secrets-that-dolphins-don-t-want-you-to-know.html
    • The Dark Secrets That Dolphins Don’t Want You to Kno – BY MIRIAM GOLDSTEIn – MAY 13, 2009
    • Dolphins are violent predators with a predilection for baby killing and rape. I feel it’s my duty to warn you, despite the risk of insulting creatures made of hundreds of pounds of muscle and rows of sharp teeth. Throw out your rainbow dolphin painting , and check out dolphins’ low-down dirty secrets:
      • –Dolphin sex can be violent and coercive. Gangs of two or three male bottlenose dolphins isolate a single female from the pod and forcibly mate with her, sometimes for weeks at a time. To keep her in line, they make aggressive noises, threatening movements, and even smack her around with their tails. And if she tries to swim away, they chase her down. Horny dolphins have also been known to target human swimmers -Demi Moore is rumored to have had a close encounter of the finny kind.
      • Dolphins kill harbor porpoise babies. In Scotland, scientists found baby harbor porpoises washed up with horrific internal injuries. They thought the porpoises might have been killed by weapons tests until they found the toothmarks. Later, dolphins were caught on film pulping the baby porpoises-the dolphins even used their ecolocation to aim their blow at the porpoises’ vital organs.
      • Dolphins kill their own babies. Baby dolphins have washed up alongside the dead porpoises, and some scientists think that all the porpoise-slaughter was just practice for some old-fashioned infanticide . For other mammals like lions, killing the babies makes the females immediately ready for the next pregnancy, and maybe that’s the case with dolphins, too.
  • https://nypost.com/2013/10/29/the-cutest-animals-in-the-world-are-evil/
    • -2013
    • Slate also dismantled the unjustifiably clean reputation of the sea otter. Male otters have developed a bad habit of humping and fatally wounding baby seals in their desperation to mate, sometimes continuing to have sex with the seals up to a week after killing them.
    • Not that sex between consenting otters is much better. Males often kill females from their own species by biting their faces during sex.
    • That said, these crimes pale in comparison to the atrocities committed by Adelie penguins. Male penguins mate with other males, injured females, lost chicks and corpses. The most desperate penguins even try to mate with the ground, Slate reports.
    • In one scientific study, researchers set out a dead penguin which had been frozen in its mating posture. The males found this corpse “irresistible”.
    • Then the scientists placed “just the frozen head of a the penguin” on a rock, just to see how far the male penguins were willing to go. They weren’t deterred.
    • Brian Switek, who wrote the Slate article, was careful to stress that we shouldn’t judge animals by human standards.
    • That’s a fair point. Even so, we’ll never look at penguins or dolphins the same way again.
  • BBC Earth
    • Dolphins and whales may appear to be totally alien to us. But with their mental ability, group communication and the discovery that dolphins have individual names, they are closer to us than we ever imagined. 
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Roald Dahl

The content below is from Episode 111 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • My mom did the recommendation segment for this week’s episode. Tune in to the audio version of the podcast to hear what Dee Lantz Carbaugh suggests you spend your time on.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Roald Dahl is a name you should know.
    • Maybe you don’t know him for the extraordinary life he lived or perhaps you won’t know him at all, the name may not ring a bell. But search deep in your memory. His name is likely one your mother or father read aloud just before reading one of the greatest stories your childhood ears ever heard.
    • Some of the stories that have “by Roald Dahl” on the cover include James and the Giant PeachCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryMatildaThe WitchesFantastic Mr FoxThe BFGThe TwitsThe Giraffe and the Pelly and Me and George’s Marvellous Medicine, not to mention he wrote adult tales as well, like Tales of the Unexpected. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide.
    • But the story of Roald Dahl goes beyond his authored works. His famous stories, like all authors, are but the byproduct of his colorful life.
      • He had a rather impressive service record during World War 2. He was a 6’4″ heavyweight boxing champion. And the man lived through more tragedies than one might ever imagine from a children’s author.
image from NPR
  • Background
    • Roald Dahl was born on September 13th of the year 1916, right in the middle of World War 1.
    • He was born in Wales to immigrant parents from Norway. Most of his life was spent in England.
    • Roald Dahl’s dad was a successful shipbroker from Saprsborg Noway. He came to the United Kingdom and settled down in Cardiff in the 1880’s with his wife Marie Beaurin-Gresser, a Frenchwoman. Harald and Marie had 2 kids (Ellen and Louis). But then Marie died in 1907.
    • Roald’s father Harald remarried to another Norwegian immigrant in 1911. Her name was Sofie Magdalene Dahl. They gave birth to Roald in 1916 and named him after the famous Norwegian Roald Amundsen.
    • At a very young age Roald became very acquainted with death.
      • From RoaldDahl.com:
      • In February 1920 Roald Dahl’s older sister Astri dies from an infection following a burst appendix, aged seven.
    • It was a sudden rupture of the appendix. Roald was present when it happened. He watched his sister die.
      • Weeks later, Roald’s father Harald dies of pneumonia at the age of 57. Roald describes his death in Boy, saying: “[Astri’s] sudden death left him literally speechless for days afterward. He was so overwhelmed with grief that when he himself went down with pneumonia a month or so afterward, he did not much care whether he lived or died.”
      • This tragic series of events leaves Roald’s mother, Sofie Magdalene, with five children in her care: Roald and his two sisters, Alfhild and Else, plus Harald’s children by his first marriage, Ellen and Louis. At the time of her husband’s death, she was also pregnant with Roald’s younger sister, Asta, born in the autumn of 1920. 
      • So at the age of 35, Sofie is left to face the prospect of bringing up six children on her own, and at some considerable distance from Norway, the country of her own birth.
    • When his father Harald died he left a fortune to his family. Although raising 6 children alone is no small feat, Sofie inherited £158,917 in 1920. That amounts to £6,526,073 or $8,186,795 United States Dollars today.
  • The schoolboy days
    • With all that casheesh, Sofie thought it best to give her children the best possible education. Roald was sent to the Cathedral School Llandaff in Whales.
    • There he got into all sorts of trouble. When he was 8 years old, he and some buddies got caned by the headmaster for putting a dead mouse in a jar of gobstopper candy at the local candy store. Apparently, the store was owned by a “mean and loathsome” old lady named Mrs. Pratchett. This event, at least among his compatriots, would be known as the Great Mouse Plot of 1924.
      • Gobstoppers were a favorite candy for UK kids between WW1 and WW2. Roald loved them so much he made them a pivotal part of his story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and called them Everlasting Gobstoppers.
    • Roald was then sent to St. Peter’s Boarding School in the English town of Weston-super-Mare. Although he considered it his first great adventure, he wasn’t a fan.
    • The place just made him homesick to the point where he wrote to his mother every week.
      • Roald wrote to his mom but never told her how unhappy he was. It wasn’t until after her death that Roald realized she had kept every single one of his letters. BBC Radio 4 broadcasted an abridged version of them in 2016.
    • Then when he was 13 years old Roald was sent to Repton School in Derbyshire. This is where he got to understand the potential cruelty of his fellow humans.
    • At Repton the older boys preyed on the younger, treated them as their personal servants and lesser than themselves. The hazing went past servitude as the weak were frequently beaten at Repton.
      • This behavior seemed to have been learned from the adults at Repton. Roald watched as a friend of his was violently beaten by the headmaster to the point of injury. In his autobiography  Boy: Tales of Childhood, he wrote “All through my school life I was appalled by the fact that masters and senior boys were allowed literally to wound other boys, and sometimes quite severely… I couldn’t get over it. I never have got over it.” Roald said the violence he witnessed caused him to “have doubts about religion and even about God”.
      • Roald also wrote “Four years is a long time to be in prison…It becomes twice as long when it is taken out of your life just when you are at your most bubbly best and the fields are all covered with daffodils and primroses… It seemed as if we were groping through an almost limitless black tunnel at the end of which there glimmered a small bright light, and if we ever reached it, we would be 18 years old.”
    • While in school, Roald’s teachers didn’t believe him to be a particularly talented writer. One of his teachers said, “I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.”
    • He seemed to be more of a jock in school. He would grow to be 1.98m or 6’4″ as an adult, so he had a competitive edge in sports.
      • He played cricket, football (soccer), golf, and was captain of the squash team.
      • But he always had a passion for literature and photography.
    • Another inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate factory was that the Cadbury Chocolate factory would send boxes of new chocolate test kits to his school. I find it rather cute that a chocolate company sent test chocolates to school students. Roald loved chocolate and would daydream about inventing a new chocolate bar that would impress Mr. Cadbury. In addition to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, chocolate was a reoccurring theme in Roald Dahl’s stories.
      • The example that comes to mind is Brucie from Matilda and how he was forced to eat an entire chocolate cake.
    • For his summer vacations throughout his childhood and teen years, Roald would visit his mom’s family in Norway. Ever the prankster, he once replaced his half-sister’s fiance’s pipe tobacco for goat poop… he wrote about it with pride in his autobiography.
  • Service Record
    • Roald served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during WWII.
    • He was a fighter pilot (one of the most dangerous ways to serve.
      • Bomber Command aircrews suffered a high casualty rate: of a total of 125,000 airmen, 57,205 were killed (a 46 percent death rate), and a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Therefore, a total of 75,446 airmen (60 percent of operational airmen) were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.
    • He joined up in November of 1939. He and 16 other men went into flight training and only 3 survived the war. By August of 1940, he was deemed ready to join a squadron and face the enemy in aerial combat. He was assigned to the #80 squadron flying Gloster Gladiators (the last biplane fighter aircraft used by the RAF).
    • In September of 1940, with little training, Roald was ordered to fly his Gladiator by an area of Egypt. During the final leg of the flight, he couldn’t find the airstrip he was ordered to land on. He was low on fuel and night was coming fast. He decided to land in the middle of the desert. The bottom or undercarriage of the plane hit a sizeable boulder and the plane crashed.
      • Roald’s skull was fractured and his nose was all smashed up. His injuries had left him temporarily blinded, but he still managed to drag himself away from the fiery crash before he passed out. This story would be Roald’s first published piece of literature.
    • After the crash, Roald’s unconscious body was taken to a medical post where he woke up but was still blind. He was taken to the Royal Navy hospital in Alexandria. That’s where he fell in and out of love with a nurse named Mary Welland.
      • An investigation was undertaken about Roald’s crash. Turns out he was given the wrong coordinates. Instead of the airstrip, he was supposed to land on, Roald was sent to an empty patch of desert on the edge of Axis forces. He was lucky to have survived the ordeal.
      • In 1941 Dahl was back in the cockpit fighting alongside the highest-scoring British flying ace of World War II Pat Pattle and Roald’s buddy David Coke. Twelve Hurricane fighters flew into the battle and 5 were shot down, including the talented Pattle.
      • Greek observers on the ground counted 22 German aircraft downed, but because of the confusion of the aerial engagement, none of the pilots knew which aircraft they had shot down. Dahl described it as “an endless blur of enemy fighters whizzing towards me from every side.”
    • That’s when Roald started to get headaches and started blacking out. The RAF wasn’t a fan of one of their pilots passing out mid-flight so they sent Roald home.
    • He tried his hand at training pilots for a while, but that didn’t stick. He met Under-Secretary of State of Air Major Harold Balfour. The Major took a liking to Roald and gave him the title of Assistant Air Attache at the British Embassy in Washington D.C.
    • Roald had come from the UK during WW2 where the Nazis had been starving the nation for years. The Brits had lived off nothing but rations for some time so when he made it to DC he was astonished by all the food and wealth he saw. He liked it at first. The Attache job was like a vacation. But after a week or so he started to feel guilty taking on such a cushiony job during the world’s greatest war.
      • “I’d just come from the war. People were getting killed. I had been flying around, seeing horrible things. Now, almost instantly, I found myself in the middle of a pre-war cocktail party in America,” Roald later explained.
    • While stationed in DC, Roald was tasked with persuading the US politicians and generals into joining the Allies in the fight. While most of America was deadset on staying isolated from Europe’s war, Roald was trying to convince them otherwise. That’s when Pearl Harbor happened and did his job for him.
    • During his time in America, Roald met British novelist C.S. Forester. Forester was tasked with typing up Allied propaganda to help the war effort. American magazine The Saturday Evening Post asked Forester to write about Roald’s time in the RAF. Forester reached out to Roald for simple notes about his service, something he could base his story on.
      • To Forester’s surprise, Roald’s “simple notes” turned out to be a compelling story and Forester decided to send it in to be published with no edits. The Saturday Evening Post published the story with only 1 alteration. Instead of titling it “A Piece of Cake” as Roald wanted, they called it “Shot Down Over Libya,” … even though his plane was never shot down. It was published in August of 1942.
    • It’s worth mentioning that Roald worked with Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series.
    • Before the war was over, Roald also would do some spy work. He worked with Canadian spymaster William Stephenson (code name Intrepid). Under Intrepid’s guidance, Roald gave valuable intelligence to Winston Churchill himself.
      • “My job was to try to help Winston to get on with FDR, and tell Winston what was in the old boy’s mind,” -Roald said.
    • Roald also helped MI6 until his espionage skills were no longer needed and he was promoted to rank of Wing Commander.
    • His performance was noticed by military higher-ups and he became an intelligence officer and eventually an acting wing-commander.
      •  When the smoke of the war cleared, Roald’s record of five aerial victories, qualifying him as a flying ace, has been confirmed by post-war research and cross-referenced in Axis records. It is most likely that he scored more than those victories during 20 April 1941, when 22 German aircraft were shot down
  • Life after the War
    • After the war Roald did what everyone else on Earth did, he got busy living and busy making babies.
    • He married an American actress by the name Patricia Neal on 2 July 1953 at Trinity Church in New York City. Their marriage lasted for 30 years and they had five children:
    • Then came the tradgedies again. In December of 1960 infant Theo Dahl was horribly injured. His baby carriage was hit by a taxi in NYC. He suffered from a condition called hydrocephalus which is excess fluid in the skull.
      • In response to this, Roald got to work trying to prevent similar incidents in the future. He helped develop the “Wade-Dahl-Till” or WDT. It was a medical device, a shunt that helped alleviate the pressure caused by the condition. It helped the lives of about 3,000 children around the world.
    • Then in November of 1962, not even 2 years later, Roald’s 7 year old daughter Olivia died from the measles.
    • The death left the author in a state of turmoil and darkness. An excerpt from a letter Dahl later wrote reads:
      • Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course, I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
      • “Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
      • “I feel all sleepy,” she said.
      • In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
    • Roald became an advocate of vaccines and dedicated his 1982 book The BFG to Olivia.
    • Olivia’s death shook Roald’s faith at least in organized religion. When he asked a church official about his daughter and her dog he was told that his daughter was in paradise, but her dog would never be with her there.
    • He said “I wanted to ask him how he could be so absolutely sure that other creatures did not get the same special treatment as us. I sat there wondering if this great and famous churchman really knew what he was talking about and whether he knew anything at all about God or heaven, and if he didn’t, then who in the world did?”
    • Then in 1965, Patricia, his wife, had 3 burst cerebral aneurysms while she was pregnant with Lucy, their 5th child.
      • Roald didn’t shirk his duties as a husband. For months he helped Patricia rehabilitate, re-learning to walk and talk. This didn’t keep Patricia down, she returned to her acting career. They even made a movie about her called The Patricia Neal Story (1981).
    • Then in 1972, Roald met Feclicity d’Abreu Crosland while she was working as a set designer on a commercial for Maxim coffee with Patricia (Roald’s then wife). It wasn’t long until they began an affair together. In 1983 Roald got a divorce from Patricia and promptly married Felicity.
    • In addition to the awards he received during his military service, Roald was given all sorts of awards from UK’s royal family. His country recognized his contributions to literature and humanity as a whole.
  • The Writer
    • It was in the 1940’s Roald’s writing started to take off.
    • His first published work was the requested anecdote from C.S.Forester about his time in the RAF. Dahl ironically named it “A Piece of Cake.” Dahl’s story of his time in the war was bought by the Saturday Evening Post for $1,000 and published as “Shot Down Over Libya.”
    • The first children’s book he wrote was published in 1943 and called The Gremlins. It was about folklore surrounding airmen in the RAF. Pilots used to blame gremlins for all aircraft malfunctions. During his time in the US, Roald sent a copy to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who enjoyed reading it to her grandchildren. Apparently, Walt Disney bought the rights to make a movie out of The Gremlins, but it was never made. -shame, that would have been a fun one I think.
    • While he is most known for his phenomenal children’s stories, he also wrote books for adults. They were full of dark humor and plot twists.
    • Roald’s last book Esio Trot was released in January of 1990. It was very different from most of his other works. All his life he wrote about cruel adult tyrants while the children in his stories were magical and often the protagonists. Esio Trot was about a lonely old man who had a crush on a woman he loved, but only from afar. In 2015 the story was made into a BBC comedy TV movie featuring Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench.
  • Criticisms
    • Today, Roald Dahl’s legacy is met with an asterisk.
    • There are quotes from his early life that lead people of today to think he was anti-Semitic, racist, and misogynistic.
    • Instead of remarking on these quotes myself, I will read his family’s words:
      • In 2020, Dahl’s family published a statement on the official Roald Dahl website apologizing for his antisemitism. The statement says “The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologize for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements. Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations. We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.”
image from the Wall Street Journal
  • Roald Dahl died exactly 3 years before I was born on November 23rd of 1990.
    • He was laid to rest in the Church of St Peter and St Paul cemetery in Great Missenden Buckinghamshire, England. He was buried with some very good burgundy, chocolates, HB pencils, a power saw, and his snooker cues. To this day, children still leave toys and flowers by his grave.
    • During his life, he held a lasting commitment to donating to the fields of neurology, hematology, and literacy. After his death, those charitable donations were continued by his widow and the Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.  The charity provides care and support to seriously ill children and young people throughout the UK.

A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does.” -Roald Dahl

Nother interesting quote from Roald Dahl that my friend Brian told me about on the Who’d a Thunk It? facebook page:

In a hospital, surrounded by family, Dahl reassured everyone, sweetly, that he wasn’t afraid of death. “It’s just that I will miss you all so much,” he said—the perfect final words. Then, as everyone sat quietly around him, a nurse pricked him with a needle, and he said his actual last words: “Ow, fuck!

CREDIT

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Killer Priest!

The content below is from Episode 110 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I am recommending a video game called Vigor. It is an indie game and free to play.
    • Vigor is a free-to-play online survival shooter game by Czech studio Bohemia Interactive that was originally developed for the Xbox One. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where radiation poisoning and other survivors are the biggest threat. You play as an outlander (or survivor) who must thrive in this harsh environment.
    • The game is now available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 5.
    • It is considered a: Survival game, Action game, Third-person shooter, Adventure game, Tactical shooter
    • The tries to be as realistic as possible with sound. If you are running around you can get places faster, but your footsteps will be heard by every enemy nearby. On the other hand, you can crawl around to make less noise, but your movement is very slow.
    • I always have a hard time explaining how the game works to friends because it sounds like just another Battle Royale game, but it isn’t. This isn’t Fortnite. You don’t have to actually kill anyone in order to be successful in a match. In fact, some players go into matches completely unarmed and attempt to make friends with fellow players.
    • Any equipment you bring into a match (or “encounter” as they are called) will be lost if you die during the match. So bringing bigger guns with more ammo can be helpful, but if you die, you lose all of that valuable equipment. So some choose to just bring a pistol or knife.
    • The overall objective is to go into encounters to find resources that you bring back to your settlement.
    • The settlement starts out as a ramshackle house that you can improve and fix up with more resources you have.
  • Here are some short clips of me playing Vigor
    • The first clip shows me stumbling upon a meadow troll doll that you can collect in the game
    • The second clip is of me checking my map when I suddenly hear footsteps nearby.
    • The third and fourth clips are of other people trying to make friends in the game.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • There once was a boy who everyone thought was queer.
    • He liked to watch the butchers while they killed the pigs and steer.
    • His name was Hans Schmidt, born in Germany 1881.
    • What was odd about him was how he had his fun.
  • Watching animals be slaughtered wasn’t his only passion.
    • A murderer in the making, of the darkest fashion.
    • The Roman Catholic faith fascinated him.
    • He played a priest, memorized every song and hymn.
  • These two childhood obsessions would eventually converge
    • Into a frightening man that this world would rather purge
    • He killed a woman in cold blood, then plead insanity
    • Hans Schmidt the Killer Priest, a story of shame and depravity
  • Ok, ok… enough with the rhyming. This week’s episode is about Father Hans Schmidt, the only Catholic Priest to ever be executed on United States soil.
    • Tis a spooky murder story that I hope you will enjoy. But BEWARE for this material is quite mature. Not for children.
  • Today’s episode is about Hans Schmidt.
    • Hans was born in the town of Aschaffenburg Germany, part of the free state of Bavaria.
    • His father Heinrich was a Protestant and his mother Gertrude Catholic.
      • Heinrich worked on the railroad while Gertrude was busy with 10 children.
      • Gertrude reportedly became depressed and instead of raising their children, she spent most of her time in the Catholic church. This infuriated Heinrich, partially because of the neglect of his children and partially because of Catholocism. Historically speaking the two faiths of Protestant and Catholic haven’t always gotten along.
      • Heinrich would have outbursts of anger which terrified young Hans.
    • And lucky for Hans, both sides of his family tree were riddled with mental illness.
      • His grandfather suffered a mental breakdown and was a chronic alcoholic. A common cause of death in his extended family was suicide.
    • Hans and his sibling were regularly beaten by their father. Heinrich was a respected man to the community, but a quick-tempered wife and child beater at home.
      • All this from his father while at the same time his mother would dress him up as a catholic priest and refer to Hans as “her little priest.”
    • When he was just a boy he liked to hang around the slaughterhouses. He said he was fascinated by the animals’ suffering.
      • He used body parts and blood scraps from the slaughterhouse in his own made-up rituals as he played a priest.
      • He was fascinated with drinking blood and dismembering animals of his own.
      • He and another neighborhood boy liked to sneak into the slaughterhouse and masturbate.
    • At the age of 19, Hans began to study for priesthood in the Catholic church at the same time he was exploring his bisexual nature.
      • It is reported that Hans had an affair with a man who already had a wife and kids.
  • Back in 1904, just two days before Christmas, Hans Schmidt was ordained into the Catholic church at the age of 25.
    • In 1905, Hans got caught making counterfeit diplomas for failed school students. He would continue this hobby of forgery throughout his life.
      • The prosecution on the case wanted to throw Hans in prison, but his father Heinrich hired a lawyer. The lawyer plead insanity (or “mental defect”) and got Hans out of the charges.
    • By 1912 he was practicing as a priest at Saint Boniface Church on Manhattan’s east side.
    • At the same time Hans was at Saint Boniface Church, there worked a young Austrian woman named Anna Aumuller. She was a housekeeper. The two began a most-forbidden love affair.
Anna Aumuller
  • The two were married during a secret wedding ceremony on February 26th, 1913. Hans performed the ceremony himself. But within 1 year of their marriage, Anna told Hans that she was pregnant. The priest knew that if society heard a should-be-celibate priest married and impregnated Anna it would be bad.
    • He would no longer be allowed to be a priest and would most likely be shunned by his community.
    • During their illegitimate marriage, Hans was having an affair with a boy named Ernest Muret. Hans was very passionate about Ernest.
  • It was September 2nd, 1913, the same year that Anna and Hans had gotten married that Hans decided to take things into his own hands.
    • That night, in the Manhattan apartment that he had rented for Anna, Hans took up a 12-inch butcher’s knife and cut through Anna’s throat.
    • He then proceeded to saw off her head with a rusty hacksaw and cut her body in half. Hoping they would never be found, Hans dumped Anna’s remains into the Hudson River.
  • Anna’s remains washed ashore and the authorities were able to trace them back to Hans Schmidt.
    • Almost immediately after police arrived at Hans’s house, he confessed. Not only to her murder but to their illegal marriage as well.
    • supposedly Hans said something like “I loved her. Sacrifices should be consummated in blood.”
A man being strapped into the electric chair at Sing Sing prison in the early 20th century
  • At trial, Hans tried to plead insanity again. He said that Anna had died during an abortion attempt and that her death came as a shock to him.
    • Rather than face the humiliation and shame from the community, he decided to chop up her body and throw it in the Hudson River, but he had no part in her death.
    • The judge refuted Hans’s claims.
    • The jury of his peers convicted Hans of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death by electrocution.
    • On February 18th of 1916, he was executed.
    • To this day he is the only priest to be executed on US soil.

CREDIT:

NOW FOR MORE VIDEOS OF ME PLAYING VIGOR! lol

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Finder Keepers

The content below is from Episode 109 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • I recommend you watch a movie from the late ’90s called A Simple Plan.
    • Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Paxton, and Brent Briscoe this movie is about greed and how it can destroy lives.
    • Here is Google’s plot summary:
    • While in the woods near their small town, upstanding local Hank Mitchell (Paxton), his dim brother Jacob (Thornton), and their friend Lou (Briscoe) discover a crashed plane with two things in it — a dead pilot, and a stash of more than four million dollars. Although Hank is reluctant to keep the money, Jacob and Lou convince him otherwise, and they devise a plan to split the fortune. Things quickly go wrong, however, dramatically affecting the trio and those around them.
    • A Simple Plan directly ties into today’s topic so let’s get right into the main event for this week.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • I can’t remember what class it was or even if it was high school or college (might have been my one philosophy course on ethics now that I think about it), but I remember watching a movie in class one day titled A Simple Plan.
    • IMDB gives a more brief summation: A Simple Plan (1998) – Three blue-collar acquaintances come across millions of dollars in lost cash and make a plan to keep their find from the authorities, but it isn’t long before complications and mistrust weave their way into the plan.
  • The other day I was thinking about this movie and how this situation might apply to the real world.
    • If I found $4million in the woods like this would it be legal to keep it?
      • The short and unsurprising answer is no. Aside from everything else, they found a dead body and didn’t report it. That, I believe, is wrong in both the legal and ethical sense.
    • But let’s say I found $4million just inexplicably lying in a pile in the woods. No name or any other indication of ownership was to be found. Could I keep it then?
      • Ethically I don’t see why not. If you turn that into the police then, according to the inquirer.com, they get to keep it.
        • “Pennsylvania law stipulates that seized money go directly into the coffers of law enforcement agencies, creating what experts say is an incentive to take as much property as possible.”
  • Legally it is not OK to keep this hypothetical $4million.
    • Yeah, sorry to disappoint any of you out there, but Finders Keepers is not a legal precedent for this situation.
    • Even though money doesn’t have the name of its owners on it like a check or a serial number that belongs to a specific individual, it is still property. So technically speaking, found cash still belongs to the person or entity that last possessed it.
    • This applies to all amounts of legal tender, again I am speaking technically. I think everyone will agree that a $1 bill found on the sidewalk won’t be something that anyone will be taken to court over.
      • This sort of reminds me of when a kid opens up a lemonade stand on their front lawn. Technically that is illegal and the kid (or parents of said kid) should have acquired all necessary permits before opening a business. But who rats on a little kid’s lemonade stand?
        • In the instance I linked to directly above, the cops who responded to the lemonade stand call just wound up buying lemonade themselves lol
    • But for amounts of money under $100 it seems the rules surrounding whether you should keep it falls under common law, this ethical gray area. Most people would just keep it.
      • Once again, technically it is illegal to claim any amount of money just because you found it. You should technically report it to the police first.
    • But practically speaking: if you walked into a police office with a $5 bill and said you wanted to report it missing they would probably laugh at you and tell you to keep it, or they’d just wind up pocketing it themselves.
    • Over $100 amounts seem to be more heavily policed.
  • And anything over $10,000 is watched closely by big brother
    • According to the IRS website, Federal law requires a person to report cash transactions of more than $10,000 to the IRS if they received:
      • In one lump sum
      • In two or more related payments within 24 hours
      • As part of a single transaction within 12 months
      • As part of two or more related transactions within 12 months
  • Then I found a nifty little article on Patch.com posted back in 2011 and written by a guy going as Doug Humes. He claims to have gone to law school and to be an expert on law within the state of Pennsylvania.
    • Doug said that back in the hunter-gatherer times of man, disputes surrounding property were settled with clubs and violence, but then the law came around.
    • English common law had made a distinction between property that was on the surface and property that was buried or had become buried by some means.
      • Common law is defined as: is a body of unwritten laws based on legal precedents established by the courts. Common law influences the decision-making process in unusual cases where the outcome cannot be determined based on existing statutes or written rules of law. – Investopedia.com
      • This common law stated that if property was lost or abandoned above ground then whoever found it was entitled to the property. Doug refers to a 1722 case where a young chimney sweep found jewels in a chimney. The local jeweler claimed they were his, but the court ruled in favor of the boy.
      • If property was found underground then the rules changed. If the owner of the buried property could prove it belonged to them then it was rightfully theirs and in this instance the person who found it would not even be entitled to a reward.
      • But if the buried property was found underground with no clue as to whom it belonged to then it was “treasure.” Depending on the time and place where this treasure was found, it could legally belong to the person who found it, the person who owned the land, or the King who ruled over the country it was found in.
    • For the last 500 years, give or take, England is a country where buried treasure belongs to the King or Queen of the land. The US has a similar system called escheatment.
      • Escheatment is the process of a financial institution handing over the unclaimed property to their state. That includes bank accounts, assets, or any other property unclaimed for an extended period of time. And, if a person dies without leaving a beneficiary to their property, it becomes escheated, or claimed by the state.
      • At the very bottom of the blog I’ve included a graph from PatriotSoftware.com that breaks down the time necessary for various forms of finance to be escheated to the state.
      • So if I, a Pennsylvania resident, were to leave a bank account unattended for 3 years and the bank couldn’t reach me or anything, my money would go to the state. I could reach out to the state and let them know “hey, there was a mistake, I need my money back.”
      • If I could prove it was mine (probably by filling out a bunch of annoying bureaucratic forms) then they would give me my money back… supposedly. I haven’t known my government to be very good at giving people their rightful property back as they are at taking it away… but I digress.
    • So in my state of Pennsylvania the common law is as such: if you find something (something of value) then you are entitled to that found item no more or no less than everyone else… except the actual owner.
    • Here is how Doug Humes puts it with his legal jargon:
    • “In Pennsylvania today, the state of the law is that “the finder of lost property has a valid claim to the same against all the world, except the true owner,” and that “the finder of money has title to it against all the world except the true owner.” 
      • Other cases suggest that “the place in which a lost article is found does not constitute any exception to the general rule of law that the finder is entitled to it as against all persons except the owner. The right of the finder depends on his honesty and entire fairness of conduct. The circumstances attending the finding must manifest good faith on his part. There must be no reason to suspect that the owner was known to him or might have been ascertained by proper diligence.’ “
    • If you reach into an unlocked house and “find” some “lost” cash that is sitting on the table then you are not going legally be able to keep that money. If you have a reasonable idea as to whom the property belongs to or how to track him down then that property was never really lost.
      • True story, the day before I was writing this episode my Fiance and I were in Walmart buying a new Trash can for the house we just bought. As we went up to the self-checkout register I noticed two $20 bills sticking out of the cash dispenser. That money was not mine and it was not lost because I saw the last guy who was using the register walking away. I yelled very loudly to get his attention. He smiled, thanked me as he got his cash, and said “you could have kept that.”
      • To which I simply replied “nope.”
      • I could have possibly staked a claim on the cash if I had come upon it and not known seen anyone around to claim it. However, I assume Walmart has cameras pointed at their registers and I bet they could have identified who’s the money it was.
      • If I would have turned the cash into a Walmart employee they could have told me they would track down who it belonged to and then just pocketed it. But I can only control how I would react to the situation and no one else.
    • The law (at least in PA) says that the finder has to have some minimum level of integrity when attempting to find the true owner.
      • Another true story: when I was about 13 or 14 years old I was headed upstate on a hunting trip with my dad and his friend whom we call Doc. We stopped in a grocery store to get some food before we reached our destination.
      • As we were strolling through the bread aisle I looked down and saw a $100 bill on the floor. I immediately pointed it out to my dad and Doc. I will never forget how amazed and then puzzled they were by the situation. I’ll also never forget how the two adults there handled the situation.
      • We first looked around to see if we saw anyone… no one in sight. Then, while the three of us stood around the $100 laying on the floor, Doc said “did anyone lose something over hear?” He was attempting to get the attention of anyone in earshot… no answer.
      • Then my dad and Doc discussed what to do next: “I don’t think anyone is around us and if we turn it in to the staff…” – “They’ll likely just pocket it,” Doc finished my dad’s sentence.
      • “How about this, we’ll stand near it and if anyone comes by and seems to be nervously looking for something we will explain that Zeb found it and give it back.”
      • What followed was quite the comical scene with my dad, Doc, and myself pretending to be shopping for bread while keeping 1 eye on the $100 dollar bill.
      • I can’t remember how long we waited, but after enough time of no one coming to look for their lost money, Doc decided it was rightfully mine since I was the one who found it. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world that night. I felt a little guilty for claiming something that I hadn’t earned, but I got over that by talking through the ethics of the situation with my dad and Doc. They told me to never tell a soul. LOL I’ve never been good at keeping secrets.
      • I ended up spending the money on movie tickets, popcorn, sodas, and Auntie Anne’s pretzels for a big group of my friends one night. I have no idea what movie we saw. Money well spent.
      • But I think it is funny how 19 years later, as I’m looking up the legality of Finders Keepers for a podcast, I realize the way dad, Doc, and I handled the situation was relatively legal.
    • There are some exceptions to this common law of finders keepers. If a government employee such as an on-duty police officer finds unclaimed property then he or she is obligated to report said property as they are not just an individual who found it, they are an agent of the state. If the owner of the lost or abandoned property doesn’t claim it, it does NOT go to the police officer who found it. It is then property that is escheated to the state.
  • So to sum things up: If you find money and there is any form of identification with it or perhaps someone nearby is walking around saying they lost money then NO, you can’t keep it. Doing so, or lying to the owner about finding it would be considered theft.
    • But if you find money and there is absolutely no reasonable way to determine who it belongs to then there is a chance you could keep it…. a very slim chance. Most governments require that the lost or abandoned property be reported and turned in to the state and if no one comes forward after a specified amount of time then it could be given back to the person who found it.
  • While I found myself trying to get an overall rule on finding money very difficult because every state and country is different, HG.org summed it up well:
    • “Obviously, the time and expense of trying to find someone over a few dollars is so prohibitive that, while very technically illegal, keeping these sums is acceptable. As the old Latin saying goes, “de minimis non curat lex:” the law does not bother with trivial things. Of course, if you find this money and someone is walking around looking for it, then you would be breaking the law if you lied and said you had not seen it just so you could keep it.”
    • “For added protection, particularly if you find an unusually large sum of money, you may wish to enlist the assistance of an attorney. Not only will the attorney be able to help you ensure the return of your property by law enforcement should the original owner fail to claim it, they can also guide you through the appropriate legalities and tax consequences for keeping the money (yes, even found money can be taxable income as far as the IRS is concerned). Whatever you do, learn from my mistake and do not give the money to anyone other than the police, no matter how honest they look; you will probably never see it again.”
  • If you find property/money and want to avoid any possibility of getting into legal trouble, you have to report it to the cops.
    • Similar to how the movie A Simple Plan played out, chances are that found money will be more of a curse than a blessing to your life.

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

CREDIT

The table below shows the time required for each state before unclaimed finances become escheated.

StateBank AccountChecks/DraftsWages/Salaries
Alabama3 years*1 year1 year
Alaska5 years5 years1 year
Arizona3 years3 years1 year
Arkansas3 years3 years1 year
California3 years3 years1 year
Colorado5 years5 years*1 year
Connecticut3 years3 years*1 year
Delaware5 years5 years5 years
District of Columbia3 years*3 years1 year
Florida5 years5 years1 year
Georgia5 years5 years1 year
Hawaii5 years5 years1 year
Idaho5 years5 years1 year
Illinois5 years5 years1 year
Indiana3 years3 years1 year
Iowa3 years3 years1 year
Kansas5 years2 years1 year
Kentucky3 years3 years3 years
Louisiana5 years5 years1 year
Maine3 years3 years1 year
Maryland3 years3 years3 years
Massachusetts3 years3 years3 years
Michigan3 years3 years1 year
Minnesota3 years3 years1 year
Mississippi5 years5 yearsNot specified
Missouri5 years5 yearsNot specified
Montana5 years5 years1 year
Nebraska5 years5 years1 year
Nevada3 years3 years1 year
New Hampshire5 years5 years1 year
New Jersey3 years3 years1 year
New Mexico5 years5 years1 year
New York3 years3 years3 years*
North Carolina5 years7 years/5 years*1 year
North Dakota5 years2 years*2 years
Ohio5 years5 years3 years
Oklahoma5 years5 years1 year
Oregon3 years3 years3 years
Pennsylvania3 years3 years2 years
Rhode Island3 years*3 years1 year
South Carolina5 years5 years1 year
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Lava Sharks and a Demon Rock

The content below is from Episode 108 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • 1883 is some of the best writing to come out of the Western Genre in a long time.
    • This 10 episode series is technically a prequel to the Yellowstone show starring Kevin Costner, but because it is set about 140 years in the past you really don’t need to see Yellowstone in order to understand what is happening.
    • 1883 follows the story of a wagon party on their journey across the Oregon Trail.
    • Some of the main characters are
      • the Captain (played by Sam Elliot) is in charge of keeping all the German immigrants alive along the way
      • The Farmer (played by Tim McGraw) who agrees to help the wagon party in hopes it will keep his own family safe
      • And the farmer’s wife is played by Tim McGraw’s real-life wife Faith Hill.
      • His daughter Isabel Dutton is the main character of the show. Her character is heard narrating throughout the series and the audience experience most of the show through her eyes.
  • The show is amazingly written and I binged it within like 5 days.
    • oh, and guest stars include actors like Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Hanks…

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

LAVA SHARKS!

  • This week I will be covering topics that were sent to me by fans, two topics to be precise: Lava Sharks and a Demon Rock.
  • Back in 2005, when I was just 11 years old a terrible movie came out called The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D.
    • Here is the premise: Bullied by classmates, young Max (Cayden Boyd) escapes into a fantasy, conjuring up the action-packed lives of Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley) and Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner). But one day, Lavagirl and Sharkboy suddenly come to life — and their world, Planet Drool, needs a hero named Max. As Max escapes to Planet Drool, he battles aliens and tries to save his new friends’ planet from destruction. He also battles his bullies, who have become villains like the Ice Princess (Sasha Pieterse).
    • With terrible CGI and even worse acting it was a nightmare of a movie, but it was also iconic and was talked about a lot.
    • Why do I bring this up? Well, sharks and lava apparently go together like peanut butter and jelly in the wild.
This is an actual underwater photo of a shark swimming near Kavachi volcano
  • Marine biologists and geologists are stunned by a recent discovery off the coast of the Solomon Islands.
    • The waters there hide a short-tempered volcano known as Kavachi and also sharks apparently.
    • These orange murky waters are bombarded by Kavachi’s frequent underwater eruptions. The concussive force of the blasts alone was enough to make biologists think larger marine life would steer clear of the area, not to mention the toxicity levels from lava-hot rock jutting out from the earth, or the boiling hot water. But the biologists were wrong. What the team of scientists saw with their underwater cameras were schools of reef sharks, hammerheads, and scalloped hammerheads.
    • The sharks seem to be thriving in this underwater hellscape and though we aren’t exactly sure yet, some biologists think it is due to a specialized nose.
    • You see these sharks have pores on their snouts called ampullae of Lorenzini. They think these pores allow them to sense changes in Earth’s magnetic field. Sharks use the information for homing and migration, and may also use them to avoid dangerous situations.
    • While this is a big discovery in the abilities of sharks, it isn’t entirely outside the realm of belief. Recent studies have shown that sharks are able to avoid hurricanes and cyclones. Now biologists are thinking this is linked to the ability to avoid volcanic eruptions.
    • Right now the total mystery is why. Why do these apex predators of the ocean prefer to gather in large numbers near volcanoes?
      • The initial theories are the 2 MAJOR reasons for almost everything in the wild: food or fornication.
    • Biologist think there might be a food source near volcanoes that we haven’t discovered yet or perhaps they prefer to reproduce there.
    • Michael Heithaus, a scientist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University even said “who doesn’t like a hot tub?”
This is some CGI image that popped up when I googled “volcano shark.”
  • Why is this newsworthy?
    • Well, it is behavior in wild animals we weren’t aware of before and it is the behavior we humans didn’t predict because we thought volcanos were dangerous.
    • It also involves sharks which are pretty neat and also involves volcanos which are also pretty darn neat.

THE DEMON ROCK!

  • I like Japanese stuff which apparently makes me a weeb.
    • WEEB: “Weeaboo is a mostly derogatory slang term for a Western person who is obsessed with Japanese culture, especially anime, often regarding it as superior to all other cultures.” – dictionary.com
    • It also means people who know me will send me all sorts of articles and memes that pertain to Japanese culture. The other day my fiance Shannon sent me an article about this Demon Rock that split open and release all sorts of bad JuuJuu upon the world.
    • This rock is said to kill anyone who comes into contact with it and just within the last couple of months it split open like a cantaloupe.
    • The story goes that a beautiful young maiden named Tamamo-no-Mae was part of a conspiracy to kill Emperor Toba who ruled over Japan from 1107 to 1123. This murderous plot was created by a feudal lord and he used Tamamo-no-Mae as a means to his end. When she died her dead body transformed into the Sessho-seki (killing stone).
    • But the legend goes deeper… It is believed that the maiden’s true self was the evil nine-tailed fox demon. Ninetails’ spirit is said to be trapped and encased in lava somewhere in the Tochigi prefecture near Tokyo. This area is famous for its hot springs and sulfur.
    • Many today still believe the stone is deadly and may even spew poisonous gas. So when it was recently discovered that the stone broke into 2 nearly equal parts it made headlines.
    • A lot of people online (mostly Twitter) are saying how this is just another messed up thing to add to the pile of horrible things to happen in the 2020s. But the stone most likely has been cracking for years now and things have just taken their natural course. Rain and wind slowly widened the cracks until the rock split.
    • Since the so-called demon rock has been a major tourist attraction in the area, there is talk about restoring it.
    • My question: are they going to get a Buddhist monk to seal the demon back inside before they seal it up with cement? Or are they going to use Elmer’s glue?

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

CREDIT

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Cats: Angels or Demons

The content below is from Episode 107 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • I recommend you watch the animated show called Stone Quackers.
    • Set in the fictional island city of Cheeseburger Island, the series revolves around the surreal misadventures of two ducks, Whit and Clay (respectively voiced by Whitmer Thomas and Clay Tatum), along with their friends Barf (voiced by Ben Jones) and Dottie (voiced by Heather Lawless), and the incompetent Officer Barry (voiced by John C. Reilly), and neighborhood kid Bug (voiced by Budd Diaz).
    • It is a gem of a show that only have like 12 episodes. I cracked up many times during the 3 days it took me to binge it on Hulu.
    • Among other things, John C Reilly as Officer Barry had me tearing up from laughter.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • I work from home and minus a few drawbacks, it is DEFINITELY much better than driving in to work every day. It saves me about 2 hours of time each day.
    • Another notable benefit to working from home is I get to spend my entire work day with my pets:
      • Rorschach a 7 year old, 18 pound, black Schipperke dog.
      • And Beerus, a 1 year old, chunky farm cat.
  • It is really nice to spend time with them and make sure they are getting attention all day. However, my cat only knows the meaning of personal space if it pertains to his own.
    • The little bugger jumps up on my work desk all day long and begs for attention. And when I’m working I can’t have a cat in between me and the keyboard.
    • But when I finally do brush Beerus off my desk I feel terrible.
  • Well it seems humans have been infatuated with cats for thousands of years. You’ve probably heard that cats were worshipped by the ancient Egyptians.
    • Well that’s what this week’s episode is about: Who worshipped cats, which cultures. How were cats worshipped. When and where were they worshipped. And what makes cats so damn special?
  • When and where were cats first domesticated?
    • An archeological dig in 1983 on the island of Cyprus (located in the Mediterranean Sea) revealed a jawbone of a cat dating back 8,000 years ago. Scientist concluded it was very likely it belonged to a domesticated cat, because who wants a demon hellspawn of a pissed off wild cat on your boat ride to the island?
    • Then in 2004 archeologist found a cat burried with a human. This made scientist reassess the date humans domesticated cats. They pushed the estimate back some 1,500 years, which brought the estimated year of domestication to 7,500 BCE.
    • But then in 2007 a study of the house cats genes was published stating all house cats today can trace their lineage back to the Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris… get it? “Sylvestris”… like sylvester the cat from the Looney Tunes.
    • So now the current thought is that cats were first domesticated by humans some 12,000 years ago.
Sylvester, the American feline deity. Starting in 1930 Americans would sit in their homes and stare at a broadcasted image of Sylvester along with other animated deities, a tradition that is still practiced to this day.
  • That might sound like quite the jump in time estimation just based on a genetic study, but the theory makes sense. The researchers suggested that cats would have been domesticated around the same time humans began to cultivating crops.
    • Dogs were domesticated much earlier because dogs are great hunting companions. So the thought is that they were domesticated when humans were all hunting and gathering as nomads. But once we started to settle down and use agricutlure to feed ourselves, cats became useful.
    • Where there are large storage areas of grain and crop products there are rodents. Rodents are a main food source for cats.
    • The running thought now is that cats domesticated themselves. When we humans started storing our food from farming, the food stores attracted the mice, and the mice attracted the cats. Instead of getting rid of the cats, early humans kept them around because they kept the mice away.
    • Humans favored more docile and friendly cats and those were the ones that stuck around and evolved into the modern house cat.
      • as I wrote that last line, Beerus the cat jumped up on my desk, started purring and rubbing his face on my chin… yeah, I can see how we used to worship these little guys
Bastet
  • The most famouse culture to have worshipped cats was the Ancient Egyptians
    • Cats were thought to embody the Egyptian goddess of love Bastet and whenever Bastet is seen in Ancient Egyptians art she has the head of a cat.
      • Bastet was the daughter of the sun god Ra and moon goddess Isis. In earlier depictions Bastet is shows with the head of a fierce lion or lioness. Then later on she is shown with the head of a domestic cat. She starts to be portrayed as a mother with a bunch of god kittens. She is a protector of her family.
    • Cats were kept as companions to ward off pests in Ancient Egypt and historians believe this contributed to their portrayal of deities.
    • Many paintings found in Egyptians tombs show cats hunting birds, playing, or simply lounging under chairs.
      • A tomb was a continuation of ones life after death so naturally they had depictions of family members and their cats so they could take them with them after they died.
    • Other tomb paintings show cats holding daggers and fighting Apopis. Apopis was a snake deity that threatened Ra (the sun god) during night in the underworld.
    • But cats weren’t just the subject of paintings in tombs. Some cats were mummified and buried along with humans.
      • The thought was that the person could use the cats body as a vessel after death.
    • If you were charged and found guilty of killing a cat in Ancient Egypt it often meant you were subject to execution.
      • The one notable exception to this for mummification.
  • These next fun facts are from a website called Ranker.com. I’m not sure how reliable they are, just as a disclaimer.
    • When a beloved cat died, the family showed the amount of respect they would if a human member had died. They would even shave their eyebrows to show their loss and when their eyebrows grew back, they had finished mourning.
    • In 525 BCE during the Battle of Pelusium, Cambyses II of Persia was up against the military might of the Egyptians lead by Pharaoh Psametik III. Cambyses II wanted to eventually conquer Egypt.
      • Cambyses II used the unconventional tactic of ordering his men to capture as many cats as they could within the immediate area and release them upon the battlefield. When the Egyptian forces arrived at Pelusium they refused to fight for fear of hurting the sacred cats. The Egyptian forces surrendered to the Persians.
    • Archeologist recovered court records from the year 450 BCE that said it was illegal to export cats outside the empire. So instead of illegal drug smugglers you had illegal kitty smugglers. And apparently small bands of warriors were tasked with retreiving any stolen cats.
Cat in an Ancient Roman Mosaic
  • Ancient Rome had a positive view of cats
    • The Romans saw cats as a symbol of liberty. They didn’t hold any religious significance, but were revered all the same.
Li Shou
  • Many Ancient Asian cultures valued cats for their ability to protect scrolls from rodent damage.
    • The Chinese god Li Shou protected crops from being devoured by rodents. There is also a delightful story from Chinese myth about how cats (lead by Li Shou) were tasked by the creator gods to run the world. But they decided they’d rather nap in sunbeams and chase butterflies instead so they gave the job to humans lol.
      • It is adorable and I suggest you click the link I put on the blog and read it.
Ovinnik
  • The Polish people had their own feline deity.
    • Ovinnik was the name of a being from Slavic myth that protected farms. It was sometimes portrayed as a cat, protected crops and livestock, and burned down the crop stores of farms that committed evil.
    • The Ovinnik was also seen as a malevolent creature that demanded sacrifices of roosters.
  • But not all cultures valued cats
    • I’m sure there are plenty of cultures that did or still feel relatively indifferent to the little fuzzballs, but midieval Europe down-right hated them.
    • Where ancient Egyptians saw cats as vessels for the gods, Christian Europe saw them as vessels for satan or witchcraft.
    • Europeans killed cats by the thousands because they associated them with evil. The irony is that in their effort to ward off evil, they got rid of the main predator for rodents… which made the rodent population skyrocket, which brought upon the deadliest plague in human history.
    • It wasn’t until the 1600s that Europeans started to see cats in a more rational light.
Medieval cat, stealing family jewels. Rijksmuseum, 1555… I couldn’t NOT include this pic
  • And what about now?
    • According to Bloomberg’s The Magazine Trying to Bring the Web’s Cat Obsession Offline (which came out in 2015), cats drive almost 15 percent of all Web traffic.
    • We still love cats. They still are an integral part of our society. They still help humans by killing every small living thing in their vicinity.
      • They still keep farms free of rodents and they still make us feel less alone in this world with their smug and adorable demeanors.
    • And now I’m going to go snuggle my cat Beerus because his just so damn cute!

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

CREDIT:

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The Battle of Blair Mountain

The content below is from Episode 106 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Recently I was scrolling through Netflix and saw a movie from the 90’s that I hadn’t seen in ages called Gattaca. And don’t worry, even though this movie came out in 1997, I won’t spoil anything for you.
    • Starring Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman, and a bunch of other familiar faces, Gattaca is a movie I would see scattered scenes of while flipping through the HBO channels on my TV at home.
    • When I did get around to watching the entire movie I was shocked by how deep the experience was.
    • The level of detail that went in to making that movie feel like it was really in the future was astounding.
    • And my favorite part of the movie is how they took a what I thought was a mere subplot, and turned out to be the most important part of the movie.
    • I told Shannon that the one scene in this movie changed how I saw the world afterwards.
    • The movie was a box office flop, but critically acclaimed. It is a hidden gem of a movie and it is on Netflix right now.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • The largest uprising in the history of the United States of America is simply known as the American Civil War.
    • Since then there have been a few uprisings within the states. The largest uprising since the Civil War is known as The Battle of Blair Mountain.
  • This battle was the largest encounter of what came to be known as the Coal Wars.
    • The Battle of Blair Mountain occurred in Logan CountyWest Virginia, as part of the Coal Wars, a series of early-20th-century labor disputes in Appalachia. Up to 100 people were killed, and many more arrested. The labor union United Mine Workers  temporarily saw declines in membership, but the long-term publicity led to improvements in membership and working conditions in the mines.
    • As for the battle itself, it was five days from late August to early September 1921, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers (called the Logan Defenders) who were backed by coal mine operators during the miners’ attempt to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields when tensions rose between workers and mine management. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired and the United States Army, represented by the West Virginia Army National Guard led by McDowell County native William Eubanks, intervened by presidential order.
  • PBS made a documentary on the subject titled The Coal Wars.
    • Their description of the documentary was written very well.
    • It reads: “At the dawn of the 20th century, coal was the fuel that powered the nation. Yet few Americans thought much about the men who blasted the black rock from underground and hauled it to the surface. The Mine Wars tells the overlooked story of the miners in the mountains of southern West Virginia — native mountaineers, African American migrants, and European immigrants — who came together in a protracted struggle for their rights. Decades of violence, strikes, assassinations and marches accompanied their attempts to form a union, culminating in the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War. The West Virginia mine wars raised profound questions about what freedom and democracy meant to working people in an industrial society.”
  • This all started with the coal miners wanting better working conditions from the coal companies.
    • There were unions and big successful coal companies involved here.
      • Now, I am no expert on labor unions. In fact, I consider myself to be quite in the dark on the subject. But I’m aware the topic is quite polarizing and tends to turn into a political issue. I’m also aware that organized crime is heavily involved in the history surrounding labor unions. I won’t pretend to know if labor unions are good or bad.
      • But from what I’ve read about the Battle of Blair Mountain, I’m 100% on the union’s side.
  • These coal miners were subjected to some of the most blatantly immoral working conditions I have ever heard of before.
    • These coal companies owned EVERYTHING in the area. They build entire towns, homes, general stores, schools, etc. So their power and influence was all-incompassing.
    • They even had complete control over the economy by distributing their own currency known as company scrips.
  • The coal companies made it so their stores only accepted scrips. So the miners and townsfolk that lived there were financially bound to the town they lived and worked in…
    • Miners lived in company owned houses, shopped in company owned stores, only allowed to spend company money, and had their entire lives ruled by the company they worked for.
    • They weren’t even given the proper tools to use on the job. They had to lease the mining equipment they used.
    • If that level of influence wasn’t enough, the miners were forced to sign “Yellow-Dog” contracts. These contracts stricly forbid miners from joining a labor union or even associating with anyone in a union. Penalty for breaking these yellow-dog contracts was immediate termination from their job… in a town where you couldn’t find any other type of work.
      • Just imagine trying to find a job in an area where EVERYTHING is owned by the company that just fired you…
      • The miners that were caught joining a union or even caught being seen with someone in a union didn’t just lose their job. They were blacklisted from the company/entire town, and evicted.
      • This was the 20th century version of being banished. It was common for Yellow-dog contract breakers to be beaten by company security on their way out of town.
  • Despite all the companies’ efforts to discourage unionization, the WV coal miners did band together in the effort to improve working conditions.
    • But the coal companies had lots of wealth on their side. They hired men from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to be their muscle. It was the Baldwin-Felts boys who kept the miners in line. But they weren’t official law enforcement and they didn’t abide by any official form of morality or code. They simply did as their employer told them.
    • At any sign of uprising or pushback against the coal companies, the Baldwin-Felts “detectives” would perform drive by shootings at miners’ homes. This didn’t only endanger the miners, but their families as well.
    • Women and children were being injured or killed over this dispute and that escalated things further.
  • Nine years before the Battle of Blair Mountain:
    • A group of miners were on strike. They wanted their union to be recognized by their employer. The striking miners were delt with by the Baldwin-Felts agency.
    • The agents forcibly evicted miner families at gunpoint. They threw all of their property out onto the street. When the miners and their families were evicted this way they resorted to living in tents and even creating tent colonies with other evicted miners.
    • The agents drove an armored train through one of these tent colonies and open fired on the evicted miners with machine guns. At least one person was killed.
    • A few years later the same agents were employed in Ludlow Colorado where they burned women and children alive in a mining camp cellar.
      • These were bad men.
  • In Spring of 1920, shots were fired between the Baldwin-Felts agency and a pro-union group of miners including a West Virginian Police Chief.
    • the result was 10 killed, including the town mayor.
    • Less than 1 year after the shootout, the Police Chief was acquitted of all charges related to the shootout. As he and his deputy left they were gunned down by Baldwin-Felts agents on the courthouse steps.
      • This shit played out like a movie and I haven’t the faintest idea why it hasn’t been made in to one yet.
    • The Police Chief’s name was Sid Hatfield. And he was a friend of the miners of Matewan, West Virginia. He took the role of public servant seriously. He did things like instead of arresting the miners when they got drunk and rowdy, he’d walk them home.
  • The Baldwin-Felts’s blatant disregard for the people’s court ruling was a step too far. I mean, they gunned down a freshly acquitted POLICE CHIEF on the steps of the courthouse.
    • If a coporate security force did that today and no government entity did anything about it, a mob would probably rip them to pieces.
      • Our society is a thing that we all subscibe to and recognizing the law is probably the most important part of that subscription. Individuals or groups disregard the law all the time and for that they are considered criminals. But when a well armed group of thousands assasinates a police chief… they are calling upon the full force of society to show them what it means to go against it… what it means to completey cast aside the law as if you are more powerful than society itself.
    • This was the spark that lit Blair Mountain ablaze with fury.
      • and I’ll admit it kind of got me fired up just reading it
  • A force of about 10,000 miners and unioners took up their hunting rifles prepared for an all-out war.
    • A lot of these men were veterans of the first World War and were prepared for a proper fight.
    • These miners were up against a force of about 3,000 men from the Baldwin-Felts agency, the coal companies, and eventually even the federal government intervened at the order of President Harding.
  • The Smithsonian Magazine summarized the battle as such:
    • The Battle of Blair Mountain saw 10,000 West Virginia coal miners march in protest of perilous work conditions, squalid housing and low wages, among other grievances. They set out from the small hamlet of Marmet, with the goal of advancing upon Mingo County, a few days’ travels away to meet the coal companies on their own turf and demand redress. They would not reach their goal; the marchers instead faced opposition from deputized townspeople and businesspeople who opposed their union organizing, and more importantly, from local and federal law enforcement that brutally shut down the burgeoning movement. The opposing sides clashed near Blair Mountain, a 2,000-foot peak in southwestern Logan County, giving the battle its name.
Miners surrendering their weapons after the battle.
  • What does thi all mean?
    • Well this was a power of the people moment. Those who took up arms knew they were up against those who had oppressed them for so long. And while the Baldwin-Felts agency had broken the law when they killed the Police Cheif Sid Hatfield, the miners were now the ones on the other side of the law. The 10,000 fighting force of the miners were up against society.
    • A historian by the name Chuck Keeney is a descendant of one of the labor union leaders Frank Keeney, and he has a wealth of knowledge on the Battle of Blair Mountain. He says the miners never gave up any leaders of their army due to a vow of secrecy. They wanted to avoid any pinpointed legal retaliation on any man who lead their cause.
    • Though these miners don’t have a name of a general that lead them in to battle written anywhere in the history books, they did consider themselves an army.
    • They had a large force and a uniting cause. They rebelled against the security system that kept them in line all those years, but they were also seeking vengeance for their friend Sid Hatfield. And just becuase they were full of secrets and were officially leadlerless doesn’t make them unorganized. Remember, a great deal of these men had faught in the Great War. They knew how to put up a fight.
    • The Battle included military-grade machine guns and even aircraft was used to bomb the rebels.
    • This was a class war, or at least the closest thing our country has ever seen to it.
      • Forget what you’ve been seeing on the news in the past few years with protests and looting. That all pales in comparison to a force of 10,000 blue collar workers taking up arms and marching across the Appalachian mountains to confront their employers and politicians. COULD YOU IMAGINE THE MEDIA COVERAGE TODAY?
    • After days of marching and taking fire from enemies across valleys and mountain tops, the fighting did end. It was September 2nd of 1921 when President Warren G. Harding agreed to the pleas of WV policitians. Mr. President sent federal troops (the United States ARMY) in to the conflict to break it up.
    • The veterans of the miner army were most likely seen as leaders in all this. So when they refused to take up arms against their own government which they had faught for so recently, it persuaded the entire force to do so as well. Their fight wasn’t against their beloved Uncle Sam. It was against the coal companies, the ones who had made their lives a living hell.
    • In the end men had died. Historians fight it difficult to find an exact number, but somewhere between 100 and 200 men had been killed. Also, 958 of the miners were brought up on charges for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and treason against the state.
    • Some of these men were acquitted by juries of their sympathetic peers, but other spent years in prison. The last miner of Blair Mountain was paroled in 1924.
  • Another mentionable point in all this is the diversity of the miner army
    • Back in 1921 the civil rights had not happened yet. Most towns were segregated (WV coal towns being of no exception). Brown v. Board of Education (the landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that ruled racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional) wouldn’t come across the desks of the supreme court until 1952.
    • From the Smithsonianmag.org’s article:
      • “However, Wilma Steele, a board member of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, says Matewan was one of the only towns in the United States where Black and white children, most commonly Polish, Hungarian and Italian immigrants, went to school together. Other miners were white Appalachian hill folk. Most all were kept apart in order to prevent organization and unionization. It didn’t work. Keeney recalls one incident during the Mine Wars, Black and white miners held cafeteria workers at gunpoint until they were all served food in the same room, and refused to be separated for meals.
      • ‘We don’t want to exaggerate it and act like they were holding hands around the campfire, but at the same time they all understood that if they did not work together they couldn’t be effective,’ Keeney says. ‘The only way to shut down the mines was to make sure everybody participated.'”
  • After the Battle of Blair Mountain the Coal Miner unions saw a drastic drop in memberships, which hinted that the uprising had a negative affect on its cause.
    • But that didn’t last long. Soon memberships shot back up.
    • And even though the miners had lost the battle, they had made their plight known to the nation.
    • The years and decades following the Battle saw working conditions greatly improve in the mines.
  • What do I think about all this?
    • While reading about all-out warfare that occurred just 100 years ago within the USA I thought to myself “how have I never heard about this?”
    • I live within just a few hours drive to Mingo county and where this all went down. How am I just now hearing about it as I look up obscure topics for podcast episodes?
    • THIS WAS A BIG FREAKING DEAL
    • Then I put on my tin hat and thought that maybe, just maybe, it is the elites of the world that have made this topic seem less important than it is. The same organizations and governments that ban movies like the Battleship Potempkin.
      • A story about sailors on the Russian ship Potemkin that revolt against their harsh conditions. The sailors kill the officers of the ship to gain their freedom. The people of the nearby city Odessa honor the sailors as a symbol of revolution. Tsarist soldiers arrive and massacre the civilians to quell the uprising. A squadron of ships is sent to overthrow the Potemkin, but the ships side with the revolt and refuse to attack.
      • This film was banned in so many countries around the world for fear that it would call their citizens to revolt.
    • But who am I kidding? the elites didn’t bury the story of Blair Mountain. I mean, I was able to find it myself with a simple google search. Dozens of credible sources documented the battle with great detail. Perhaps it is us, the people who chose to forget.
      • One thing I do know, the miners of Blair Mountain took a stand and made a difference in this world. And for that I am grateful.

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

Until next week.

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The Elephant’s Foot

The content below is from Episode 105 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I strongly suggest you watch HBO’s mini-series Chernobyl. It is one of the greatest non-fiction miniseries I’ve ever seen.
    • I think I have recommended it before. But it directly ties in with this week’s episode. As I was looking in to this week’s episode I found myself picturing scenes from that show.
    • Aria Bendix from Business Insider wrote in regards to the show’s level of accuracy to the real-life events:
      • “For the most part, it’s hauntingly accurate — with the exception of a few artistic liberties.”
    • If you watcht he series I think it will give you a very good base of knowledge to go by whenever the topic of Chernobyl is brought up in your life…. like when you listen to a small podcast episode!

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • And this week’s is about the Elaphant’s Foot
    • The Elephant’s Foot is the most dangerous radioactive waste in the world. It is a solid flow of corium that came from the nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986.
    • Now let me briefly summarize some topics surrounding the giant deadly blob of radioactive ooze before I explain further:
  • Nuclear Power
    • Nuclear Power Plants heat water to produce steam. The steam is used to spin large turbines that generate electricity. Nuclear power plants use the heat produced during nuclear fission to heat water.
    • In nuclear fission, atoms are split apart to form smaller atoms, releasing energy. Fission takes place inside the reactor of a nuclear power plant. At the center of the reactor is the core, which contains uranium fuel.
    • The uranium fuel is formed into ceramic pellets. Each ceramic pellet produces about the same amount of energy as 150 gallons of oil. These energy-rich pellets are stacked end-to-end in 12-foot metal fuel rods. A bundle of fuel rods, some with hundreds of rods, is called a fuel assembly. A reactor core contains many fuel assemblies.
    • The heat produced during nuclear fission in the reactor core is used to boil water into steam, which turns the blades of a steam turbine. As the turbine blades turn, they drive generators that make electricity. Nuclear plants cool the steam back into the water in a separate structure at the power plant called a cooling tower, or they use water from ponds, rivers, or the ocean. The cooled water is then reused to produce steam.
      • It is a pretty nifty power source for us humans, although the risks CAN BE pretty high… Those risks are the major topic of today’s episode.
  • Chernobyl
    • Chernobyl was the site of a nuclear power plant in Soviet Union Ukraine, but then there was an accident.
      • A tiny little whoopsy moment that had the potential to turn a huge part of the globe in to an uninhabitable waste land for thousands of years.
    • Early in the morning of April 26th of 1986 a reactor in unit 4 of the Chernobyl exploded during a routine test of the plant’s turbine generator system. This sent clouds of radioactive smoke in to the air above the Chernobyl plant.
    • Winds that day carried the toxic cloud for hundreds of miles.
      • Some 150,000 square kilometres in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine are contaminated and stretch northward of the plant site as far as 500 kilometres. An area spanning 30 kilometres around the plant is considered the “exclusion zone” and is essentially uninhabited.
    • This was a major public health catastrophe like the world had never seen before. Entire communities were being exposed to varying degrees of radiation.
    • The Chernobyl accident in 1986 happened because of a flawed reactor design and because the operators employed to run things were undertrained.
    • The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the environment, with the deposition of radioactive materials in many parts of Europe.
    • Two Chernobyl plant workers died due to the explosion on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation syndrome.
    • The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has concluded that, apart from some 5000 thyroid cancers (resulting in 15 fatalities), “there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident.”
    • Some 350,000 people were evacuated as a result of the accident, but resettlement of areas from which people were relocated is ongoing.
      • Things were pretty bad at Chernobyl, but it could have been WAY worse.
  • The Elephant’s Foot, like I mentioned earlier, is a byproduct of the Chernobyl accident of 1986.
    • While the radioactive cloud was spreading to the surrounding areas, the fuel rods within the reactor had melted through their protective container.
      • This was bad. Very bad. It was basically lava, but SUPER radioactive.
    • The fuel rods melted at 4,091 degrees Fahrenheit (2,255 degrees Celsius) and remained above 3,022 degrees Fahrenheit (1,660 degrees Celsius) for over 4 days.
      • It was basically super hot lava. Most super-heated red and yellow lava that we see on the surface of the planet like in Hawaii is around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 degrees Celsius).
    • The melted fuel rods melted at such a high tempurature that they became a material known as corium.
  • Corium
    • Corium, also called fuel-containing material (FCM) or lava-like fuel-containing material (LFCM), is a material that is created in the core of a nuclear reactor during a meltdown accident. It resembles natural lava in its consistency.
    • It consists of a mixture of nuclear fuelfission productscontrol rods, structural materials from the affected parts of the reactor, products of their chemical reaction with air, water, and steam, and, in the event that the reactor vessel is breached, molten concrete from the floor of the reactor room.
    • Corium has been created outside of a lab (or unintentionally) 5 times. Once at 3-mile-island in 1979, once at Chernobyl, and 3 times in the Fukishima Diiashi meltdown of 2011. The reason why the Elephant’s Foot is so special is because it is so large, and because it is the only instance where the corium ate through the reactor core and “escaped” to the environment.
  • So by this point in the Chernobyl accidentthere was the largest deposit of corium known to man oozing across the concrete floor of the reactor. It was eating everything in its path, including the concrete floor itself.
    • During the Chernobyl disaster rescue and containment crews were busy with trying to clean up the mess above ground to worry about any corium deposits so the Elephant’s foot was free to grow and spread for months before nuclear reactor inspectors.
    • By the time it was discovered the Elephant’s Foot had grown so large in unit 4 that it had eaten through the concrete floor and fallen to a lower level. When the inspectors first laid eyes on the blob it had grown to a staggering 11 tons of deadly mass. It was nearly 10 feet (3 meters) in width.
      • Wikipedia says: It is one small part of a much larger mass that lies beneath Reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The Elephant’s Foot is located in Room 217/2, several dozen feet to the southeast of the ruined reactor and six meters above ground level. The material making up the Elephant’s Foot had burned through at least 2 m (6.6 ft) of reinforced concrete, then flowed through pipes and fissures and down a hallway to reach its current location.
      • The mass was quite dense and unyielding to a drill mounted on a remote-controlled trolley, but able to be damaged by a Kalashnikov rifle (AK-47) using armor piercing rounds. By June 1998, the outer layers had started turning to dust and the mass had started to crack. As of 2021, the mass has been described as having a consistency similar to sand
      • LOL I love how Russian that is… they couldn’t peirce it with a drill so they shot armor peircing rounds out of an AK47!
  • They named it the Elephant’s Foot because of the size and its outward appearance was gray and like tree bark, much like the skin of an elephant.
    • At the time of its discovery, about eight months after formation, radioactivity near the Elephant’s Foot was approximately 8,000 roentgens, or 80 grays per hour, delivering a 50/50 lethal dose of radiation (4.5 grays) within five minutes. Since that time the radiation intensity has declined enough that, in 1996, the Elephant’s Foot was visited by the Deputy Director of the New Confinement Project, Artur Korneyev, who took photographs using an automatic camera and a flashlight to illuminate the otherwise dark room.
    • Regardless of how much Wikipedia says the radiation has disipated since 1986, there is still a big Mr. Yuck sticker stapped on the side. That’s because the Elephant’s Foot is still very deadly.
  • Now this massive 11 ton blob of extra deadly lava is already mysterious because it is inherently off limits.
    • We want what we can’t have and this thing is so much in the “can’t have” category that people crave more information about it, even though it is just a big blob of rock in a basement.
    • If someone aske me if I wanted to go see a big blob rock in a basement I would probably say no. Exception being if I was a teenager because back then I didn’t care what I was doing as long as I was doing it with some friends.
      • But if you told me the blob was deadly I would become more interested.
    • But its connection to one of the biggest events of the 20th century and deadliness aren’t the only things contributing to the Elephant’s Foot popularity.
  • Back in 2013 a journalist was working on a piece about the Elephant’s Foot for a magazine. In an old archive of photographs from the Chernobyl accident he found the image that I used for this episode’s cover. It is very creepy.
    • The photo shows a man in a full-body cleaning suit and hard hat hunching over the Elephant’s Foot. But the man in the photo doesn’t look normal. His body is translucent like some sort of ghost and there seems to be a copy of himself standing directly behind him. There are also bright orange streaks of what appears to be lightning in the photo. It isn’t just creepy, it is haunting. Especially when you realize how deadly it is to be in this room.
    • It is peculiar that this photo emerged in 2013, so long after the Chernobyl accident. It is particularly mysterious when you consider the layers of secrecy that Russian and its allies placed upon the Chernobyl accident.
    • At first people thought the photo was taken soon after the Chernobyl accident and that surely the man in the photo and the photographer had died of radiation poisoning.
    • But then it was discovered by another journalist that the photo had a caption “Artur Korneev, Deputy Director of Shelter Object, viewing the ‘elephants foot’ lava flow, Chornobyl NPP. Photographer: Unknown. Fall 1996.”
    • Who is Artur Korneyev?
An article in the New York Times covered Artur’s story
Chernobyl: Capping a Catastrophe
By HENRY FOUNTAIN. Photographs by WILLIAM DANIELS
  • An article in the New York Times covered Artur’s story
    • The title: Chernobyl: Capping a Catastrophe
      • By HENRY FOUNTAIN. Photographs by WILLIAM DANIELS
    • Artur was about 40 years old in the photograph. He was a radiation specialist from Kazakhstan. He is an expert on the Chernobyl accident, especially the waste that was left like the Elephant’s Foot.
    • A lot of people were tasked with cleaning up the Chernobyl accident. It was Artur’s job to go in first, find the fuel that was left over, and document the level of radiation it was still giving off.
      • His safety was NOT garaunteed, so that those who followed after him might have a more safe working environment.
    • Artur went where the corium went. Through air ducts, drainage pipes, melted concrete floors, and so on. He said the corium looked as if it was water gushing from a flood, but stopped in time. Whenever he and his team encountered the much more radioactive solid fuel, it was there job to move it away, either with shovels or by kicking it with their boots.
      • Artur visited the Elephant’s foot many times. He is most likely the person to have seen the most in person.
      • It is believed that the famous photo that shows Artur Korneyev standing with the Elephant’s Foot was taken by a drone of some sort, and not a human photographer.
    • In 1995, Artur was one of the people to tell other countries in the west that the underground area under Unit 4 (or the sarcophagus as they called it) was not in safe. Because of his reports a group of 7 countries agreed to pay to have Unit 4 made as safe as possible. By 1995, Ukraine was an independent country and had decided to close the remaining reactors that were still operating. The last reactor was shut down in the year 2000.
    • The New York Times took a picture of Artur in his home back in 2014 at the age of 65. He has cataracts and other health issues that some beleive were brought on, not just by age, but his career of engaging with high levels of radiation.
      • I tried to see if he was still alive, but the best I found was an article from 2016 that wrote “he is probably still alive.” Just goes to show how little us westerners get to hear about Russia and the Eastern Block area lol.
    • Although Artur lived (or is still living) to an old age, experts say that being near the Elephant’s Foot for mere minutes could give someone radiation sickness, an hour would most likely be lethal.
    • While there have been many successful efforts above ground to contain the radiation at Chernobyl such as creating the sarcophagus and the giant concrete dome that was created just as recently as 2015, the Elephant’s Foot poses a threat in the opposite direction.
    • The fear is that the Elephant’s Foot could continue to eat through the concrete and sand beneath it and contaminate drinking water. This would be bad news for the population surrounding Chernobyl and all those within the same watershed.
    • However, this is an 11 ton blob of cooled radiation lava. It is sealed by the concrete sarcophagus and nestled within the labrynth of Unit 4’s concrete basement, each room, vent, and pipe also containing dangerous corium material. It ain’t going nowhere.
    • It will just sit there, potentially forever.

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

Tune in next week.

CREDIT

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Michael C Rockefeller

The content below is from Episode 104 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Shannon recorded the recommendation segment this week. Tune in to the audio podcast to hear what recommends you check out.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Micheal Clark Rockefeller was the youngest of 5 children raised by Mary Todhunter Rockefeller and Nelson Rockefeller.
    • He was born on May 18th of 1938.
    • Mike’s father Nelson was a New York Governor and former U.S. Vice President.
    • He was the grandson of American financer John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the great grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller
    • Basically Mike was American Royalty.
      • His story is one of those bios I read and can’t help but self reflect by saying to myself: “look at all the amazing crap this dude in his life by the age of like 25… what am I doing?”
      • But then I realize I wasn’t born in to one of the top 10 most wealthiest familes to have ever existed. Also, I realize I’m a happy person and that’s what matters most to me. … MOVING ON! lol
    • After attending The Buckley School in New York, and graduating from the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, where he was a student senator and exceptional varsity wrestler, Rockefeller graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a A.B. in history and economics.
    • Though his father expected him to follow in his footsteps and help manage the family’s vast business empire, Michael was a quieter, more artistic spirit. When he graduated from Harvard in 1960, he wanted to do something more exciting than sit around in boardrooms and conduct meetings.
  • In 1960, he served for six months as a private in the U.S. Army and then went on an expedition for Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology to study the Dani tribe of western Netherlands New Guinea.
    • It was then known as western Netherlands or Dutch New Guinea. It is a massive island off the coast of Australia.
      • Today, New Guinea (the worlds 2nd largest island) doesn’t all fly the same flag.
      • New Guinea is administratively divided into two parts: its western half comprises the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (collectively, formerly called Irian Jaya); and its eastern half comprises the major part of Papua New Guinea, an independent country since 1975.
      • It is an island of immense cultural and biological diversity, it’s known for its beaches and coral reefs. Inland are active volcanoes, granite Mt. Wilhelm, dense rainforest and hiking routes like the Kokoda Trail. There are also traditional tribal villages, many with their own languages
  • Michael Rockefeller’s expedition filmed Dead Birds, an ethnographic documentary movie produced by Robert Gardner, and for which Rockefeller was the sound recordist.
    • “Michael said he wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before and to bring a major collection to New York” said Karl Heider, a graduate student of anthropology at Harvard who worked with Michael. By collection he was referring to a art or “primitive art” as they called it at the time.
    • Michael’s father Nelson Rockefeller was a prolific art collector. He had recently opened the Museum of Primitive Art, and its exhibits, including Nigerian, Aztec, and Mayan works. And this seemed to captivate young Michael.
  • Rockefeller and a friend briefly left the expedition to study the Asmat tribe of southern Netherlands New Guinea. After returning home from the Peabody expedition, Rockefeller returned to New Guinea to study the Asmat and collect Asmat art.
  • Michael’s upbringing had already given him ample experience with travel.
    • He had traveled extensively already, living in Japan and Venezuela for months at a time, and he craved something new: he wanted to embark on an anthropological expedition to a place few would ever see.
  • By the 1960s, Dutch colonial authorities and missionaries had already been on the island for almost a decade, but many Asmat people had never seen a white man.With severely limited contact with the outside world, the Asmat believed the land beyond their island to be inhabited by spirits, and when white people came from across the sea, they saw them as some kind of supernatural beings.
    • When Mike Rockefeller and the other white people with him wondered in to their territory they were an unwelcomed curiosity.
    • The locals put up with the team’s photography, but they didn’t allow the white researchers to purchase cultural artifacts, like bisj poles, intricately carved wooden pillars that serve as part of Asmat rituals and religious rites.
    • Michael was undeterred. In the Asmat people, he found what he felt was a fascinating violation of the norms of Western society — and he was more anxious than ever to bring their world back to his.
    • At the time, war between villages was common, and Michael learned that Asmat warriors often took the heads of their enemies and ate their flesh. In certain regions, Asmat men would engage in ritual homosexual sex, and in bonding rites, they would sometimes drink each other’s urine.
    • His journal read: “Now this is wild and somehow more remote country than what I have ever seen before.”
    • When the initial scouting mission concluded, Michael Rockefeller was energized. He wrote out his plans to create a detailed anthropological study of the Asmat and display a collection of their art in his father’s museum.

“It’s the desire to do something adventurous, at a time when frontiers, in the real sense of the word, are disappearing.”

Michael C Rockefeller

He spent his time in Netherlands New Guinea actively engaged with the culture and the art while recording ethnographic data. In one of his letters home he wrote:

“I am having a thoroughly exhausting but most exciting time here … The Asmat is like a huge puzzle with the variations in ceremony and art style forming the pieces. My trips are enabling me to comprehend (if only in a superficial, rudimentary manner) the nature of this puzzle…”

Michael C Rockefeller
  • Although adventure seems to fill those of us who crave it with a imense sense of purpose and thrill, it is also dangerous.
    • In fact, the danger is what makes it so damn fun.
    • While attributes such as experience, grit, strength, and intellect can partially negate the dangers of adventure; even the most battle-hardened adventurers are still mere humans and therefore can fall victim to these dangerous circumstances.
    • Mike was very intelligent, strong, and had all the resources imaginable at his disposal, and yet he did fall victim to the dangers of adventure.
  • On November 17, 1961, Rockefeller and Dutch anthropologist René Wassing were in a 40-foot (12-metre) dugout canoe about 3 nautical miles (6 kilometres; 3 miles) from shore when their double pontoon boat was swamped and overturned. Their two local guides swam for help, but it was slow in coming.
    • After drifting for some time, early on November 19, 1961, Rockefeller said to Wassing: “I think I can make it.” He then swam for shore. The boat was an estimated 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi) from the shore when he made the attempt to swim to safety, supporting the theory that he died from exposure, exhaustion, or drowning.
    • Wassing was rescued the next day, but Rockefeller was never seen again, despite an intensive and lengthy search effort. At the time, Rockefeller’s disappearance was a major world news item. His body has never been found.
    • Rockefeller was declared legally dead in 1964.
  • Rich and politically connected, Michael’s family ensured that no expense was spared in the search for the young Rockefeller. Ships, airplanes, and helicopters scoured the region, searching for Michael or some sign of his fate. Even his parents flew to New Guinea to help in the search for their son.
    • The Dutch interior minister was quoted saying “There is no longer any hope of finding Michael Rockefeller alive,” just 9 days after he had gone missing.
    • His official cause of death was written down as drowning.
Asmat people today
  • While that is the official story, it is not the end of our story.
    • and could you imagine if it was?
      • Rick boy goes on an adventure and disappears, never to be seen again. The end. Thanks for coming. Good night… no. Now we delve into what most THINK happened to Michael C Rockefeller.
    • In 2014, Carl Hoffman, a reporter for National Geographic, revealed in his book Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art that many of the Netherlands’ inquiries into the matter resulted in evidence that the Asmat killed Michael.
    • Apparently there were 2 dutch missionaries that had lived among the Asmat people for years. They spoke their language well and were told by Asmat people that they had killed a white man around that time. Based on the Missionaries’ description, the Asmat people beleived their own had killed Michael Rockefeller.
    • There was also a police officer by the name Wim van de Waal who also was convinced Michael had been killed by the Asmat people. He supposedly was given a skull by the Asmat that they claimed was Michael’s.
    • But the police report was classified and never shown to the Rockefeller family. They were told anything beyond his disapearance was mere rumor.
  • How Michael Rockefeller Died At The Hands Of Cannibals according to Carl Hoffman… over 50 years later.
    • Carl travelled to New Guinea, specifically to Otsjanep.
  • Apparently his guide overheard a couple of locals say something like “don’t talk about the white American that died here,” or something like that.
    • I find this a bit hard to beleive because who talks about something that happened 50 years ago? … but whatever, I wasn’t there.
    • Carl asked his interpreter to pry. The interpreter asked who the man was that the locals were talking about, and he was told it was Michael Rockefeller. He learned that it was common knowledge on the island that the Asmat people of Otsjanep killed a white man, but they shoulnd’t talk about it for fear of revenge or whatever.
  • But Carl and his interpreter also learned more about Michael’s supposed murder.
    • Just 3 years before Michael arrived on in Otsjanep there was war between the Asmat people. The Otsjanep people were having it out with the Omadesep and dozens of men from each side were killed.
    • The Dutch had just recently taken control of the island and wanted to keep their new land as colonizable as possible. So the Ducth colonial government tried to put an end to the violence… (because when foreigners try to put an end to age-old wars it always works out just fine lol).
    • The Dutch tried to disarm the Otsjanep tribe, but it didn’t go well. The two cultures were so different that communications were bound to break down. It ended witht he Dutch open firing on the Otsjanep people.
    • This was one of the Otsjanep people’s first time coming in to contact with white people and western cultures. It was definitely their first time with firearms. And what happened? The village watched as 4 of their jeus (war leaders) were shot and killed.
    • Try to imagine what their impression of white people was at the time. Just 3 years later and a young Michael Rockefeller was swimming ashore right up to these people…
  • Well according to one of those Dutch missionaries, the Otsjanep tribespeople who first saw Michael in the water thought he was a crocodile, but quickly realized he was a Dutch colonizer or a tuan as the locals called them.
    • These first people on the banks to see Michael were jeus themselves, but not just any jeus. They were the sons of the men who were gunned down just 3 years prior. They had a score to settle. “People of Otsjanep, your’ve always talking about headhuting tuans. Well, here is your chance,” cried one of the jeus.
    • At first the villagers were hesitant, probably for the consequences of their actions. But it wasn’t long before their spears were thrust in to the exhausted Michael who had just swam 12 miles.
    • Then it got pretty gruesome. Once he was dead they cut off Michael’s head, cracked open his skull and ate his brain like a coconut. They cooked his body on a spit over a fire and ate his flesh.
    • No part of his body went to waste. His thigh bones were used to make daggers and his tibias were sharpened to make fishing spear points.
    • His blood was drained. The Otsjanep tribesmen bathed in it while they performed ritual dances and sex acts.
      • This all sounds like some sick and evil act. And maybe it is in some objectionabley kind of judgement that we humans don’t have access to.
    • But in the minds of these tribesmen this was the right thing to do. It was their beliefe, their theology. The Otsjanep people believed in a balance of the world and that they should restore this balance. To them: the “white man tribe” had killed 4 of their highest ranking warriors. It was setting the balance of the world back to normal when they took Michael’s power. They consumed his body and absorbed his energy, the very same energy that had been taken from them.
      • Again, this is all according to Carl Hoffman in his book written in 2014 from a translator who was talking to Dutch missionaries.
      • That is quite a long line for this information to pass along (kind of like the telephone game). Also, 50 years is a long time for information to be distorted or fabricated all together. So who knows if this really happened.
      • Though many Asmat people told this story to Hoffman, no one who took part in the death would come forward; all simply said it was a story they had heard.
  • Aftermath
    • Of course the Otsjanep people didn’t just forget about it the next day. They couldn’t because it wasn’t long at all before the search for Michael came to their doorstep.
    • Remember, his mom and dad scoured the area with every ship, plane, and helicopter the Rockefeller fortune could buy. And for the Asmat people this must have seemed like the equivalent of a UFO army landing on the White House lawn. They had never seen these types of vessels before.
    • Not long after, cholera swept through the Otsjanep village and surrounding area. These villagers probably connected this sickness to the murder of the white man.
  • Then, one day when Hoffman was in the village, shortly before he returned to the U.S., he saw a man miming a killing as part of a story he was telling to another man. The tribesman pretended to spear someone, shoot an arrow, and chop off a head. Hearing words relating to murder, Hoffman began to film — but the story was already over.

Hoffman was, however, able to catch its epilogue on film:

“Don’t you tell this story to any other man or any other village, because this story is only for us. Don’t speak. Don’t speak and tell the story. I hope you remember it and you must keep this for us. I hope, I hope, this is for you and you only. Don’t talk to anyone, forever, to other people or another village. If people question you, don’t answer. Don’t talk to them, because this story is only for you. If you tell it to them, you’ll die. I am afraid you will die. You’ll be dead, your people will be dead, if you tell this story. You keep this story in your house, to yourself, I hope, forever. Forever…”

  • Does Carl Hoffman’s story read like complete mullarky? Yes. To me it does. It seems too sensational to be true. However, I wasn’t there. Sometimes sensational and horrible things happen.
  • Should I have saved this episode for Ocotober and make it part of the Who’d a Thunk It? FRIGHTFEST where I post only spooky stories all month? Perhaps, but I couldnt’ help myself. This story surprised me.
    • I couldn’t believe I had never heard it before. Michael C Rockefeller was practically American Royalty and a lot of people believed he was eaten by cannibals?!
  • Anyway, THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!
    • until next week

CREDIT