It has transpired that from August 3rd to 19th 1998, a team of cryptozoological types shall be flocking to the Seljord area of Telemark, Norway to track down the Lake Seljordsvatnet ‘monster’. Rather than hunting down some gargantuan B-Movie beast, Jan-Ove Sundberg, the leader of the project, feels that their prey is more likely to be a previously unknown eel species. At least that’s what Agence France-Presse (via The Nando News) announced on February 25th. The project’s official website goes a smidgen further, pointing out the likeness between the Seljord creature and the prehistoric (and presumably extinct) mosasaurus.
According to the website, the 250-year spate of reports concern animals 10-15m long, with 2-3 humps of about 1.5 height. Their backs are grey or black, with a lighter belly, and the skin seems ‘wrinkled or scaly. The head is seen to be proportionately small, supported on a long 20-50cm neck.
The Agence France-Presse report quotes zoologist Torfinn Oermen at Oslo’s Zoological Museum, who reckons that there’s no large eels, or any other large *sea creature* in the lake. ‘The Seljord Lake is too far from the ocean for a sea animal to have remained there since the ice age’.
The article ends rather pointlessly, telling of Oerman’s debunking of a monster at Suldal Lake in nearby Rogaland in 1893 (I would gather he did this retrospectively). It was apparently a ‘black, smelly monster’ which rose from the water, and was never seen again. Oerman somehow explained this away by pointing out the proximity of a sawmill to the lake. Now maybe I’m missing something here (or more likely, the news report is), but if not, then I shall propose that my wearing of a red shirt today will spark off a flurry of UFO sightings in Dublin. Jan-Ove, are you out there, and would you like to comment?
THAT FLORIDA SUPER-SARGASSO SEA CONNECTION
In previous ravings this Blatherskite has expounded upon the wonderful subject of Charles Fort’s wryly hypothetical Super-Sargasso Sea, most notably in ‘Sargasso Sea Stuff‘, ‘Skies Alive‘, not to mention my moonlighting expedition to The Anomalist’s website. within these paltry works I mentioned (with some concern) the frightening number of people who have fallen out of the Florida skies.
An interesting addendum to the Florida weirdness has teleported onto my plate, courtesy of Blathersubber Pat Marret. On February 22nd 1998, a fish farm worker by the name of Freddie Padgett was hurled from his ‘recreational vehicle’ (which I gather is really a mobile home of some persuasion) when it was hit by one of the tornadoes which recently devastated much of Florida. Despite having worked on the fish farm for 18 years, Padgett ‘suffered from such a pathological fear of drowning that at the slightest warning from the weather service he was in the habit of sleeping in his life vest’.
Rather fortunate for Mr. Padgett, as he landed in a nearby lake where he managed to stay afloat for several hours, with broken ribs and other injuries. He was eventually found about a mile away by a sheriff’s helicopter (UPI). Can’t be too careful, I suppose.
WE ARE NOT ALONE …
…in the west. UFO researchers in China and Taiwan are being driven demented by UFO cults, hellbent on swindling money from the naive, according to The Observer (UK) of February 22nd 1998. Not that they’re doing anything *that* weird — just ‘promising trips to nirvana in alien craft’. Matters have reached such a crisis point that the President of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui, has called for a campaign of “spiritual modernisation” to ‘immunise the country against gurus and mystics offering salvation for cash’. I won’t go through the entire article here, as it’s quite lengthy, and unfortunately not online (as far as I know). It makes for interesting reading however, as it shows an active positive response by a few governments to both UFO and cult issues.
Rather than simply raiding cult premises or defaming them through media scaremongering, it would appear that they’re trying to educate people with regard to spiritual swindling. Of course, in Ireland, we have ex-Prime Ministers hanging out with the Moonies, and UFO cult leaders appearing on primetime TV.
Nando News of February 24th 1998 informed us that ‘New Mexico telescope observations of distant galaxies suggest that the universe may be curved, like a potato chip’.
Ari Buchalter, a doctoral astronomy student who is analysing the telescope data was quoted as saying that “It’s not inconsistent with a sphere, but right now the best fit is a saddle or potato-chip shape”.
Blather proposes that all science students should be subjected to a mandatory course in analogy construction before getting *anywhere* near the media…
URBAN LEGENDS POKING THROUGH INTO REALITY
As reported in Blather’s ‘Where’s Me Kidney‘ and on the Snopes Urban Legend’s archive, the fear of getting one’s organs stolen has spent the last few years permeating our culture via newspapers and the ‘net. These stories are generally regarded as having no substance whatsoever, but on Monday 23rd February, two Chinese nationals were arrested in New York for allegedly trying to sell corneas, kidneys, skin and lungs to an FBI undercover agent posing as head of a kidney dialysis center. The organs are being harvested from Chinese political prisoners, according to Chinese dissident Harry Wu, who performed the undercover sting.
The Chinese Government have denied that the the ‘medical use of the organs of executed prisoners is common. It has said it is done on a limited basis only when the prisoners or their families agree to donate the organs'(The Irish Times).
If the allegations are true, they will surely serve to add fuel to the fire — and if they’re not true, are the FBI falling prey to an urban legend?
Dave (daev) Walsh
27th February 1998