In This Week’s Show, episode 206, we visit Russia’s North Carolina for broomstick riding homeopathwhiches.
Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while Saint-Fiacre (the patron saint of gardening and plowboys) hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying his patience!
Shea’s Life Lesson
This week I learned that Vampires can’t have babies, not because their sperm is dead like them but because they can’t come inside without permission.
Jenn’s Actual Lesson
You probably already knew that humans are genetically similar to pigs (everything from stem cell research, to donor organs, to forensic pathology use piggy parts), but did you know that Chinese geneticists have crossed pig genes with those of a jellyfish, producing piglets whose tongues and trotters glow fluorescent green in UV light? I’m planning a liberation movement, but don’t tell the Chinese.
But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!
This Week’s Beer
Long shadow India pale ale
Donated By:Bryce Snow
This Week’s Show
Round Table Discussion
New Patron: Lindy!
Also, we’re glad to hear that we could help bring some normalcy to a difficult time – or at least our version of it – and we’re especially happy to hear that your mum is doing better! Thanks for supporting the show but also for letting us know that it’s had a positive impact. Podcasters in our niche I think all have a few stories like this and every one is humbling and motivating, so, despite your kind words of appreciation, I must insist that it is indeed our very good pleasure to thank you!
Thanks to Eric S., who is either a railroad spy or modern outlaw, and says train plundering is still pretty common. Per Eric “lots of containers with expensive small items” are frequent thefts.
Message from Freethinker215
Basically, don’t whizz on your food Steve.
Before we dive into hotshots we have a brief correction – for Jenn! It turns out that pre-Viking nordic countries weren’t the rainbowlific fjords of shirtless Thor-y fabulousness she accidentally lead us to believe. It seems Vikings mostly came from Norway and Denmark, not Sweden or Sweden 2, which I’m given to understand is called Swizz-Ur-lend because of a 10,000-year-old decision New Zealand-Batman made. Also, this is why Jenn does emails.
The Woman from Methlehem – bit.ly/2yodcXD
This story isn’t real and we had to cut it. Which is what happens when Jenn Snopeses something and Shea doesn’t. C’est la vie, but the headline was too good not to include. “Methlehem”, well played Shea.
All that said, this story will air. It was funny as hell if a bit short on the count of being super fake. If you’re interested – and you should be – I’ll be adding it to the outtakes of the next episode of our patron exclusive bonus show, 4 More Beers, Episode 24! Available soon at Patreon.com/W4W
Dehydrating Your You
I think we can all agree alkaline water won’t cure cancer. But I’ve recently discovered what can!
That’s right, Dry Fasting, which is apparently a thing new-age woos are doing now has become a fad, or at least faddy enough to inspire millions of youtube views and thousands of followers in groups like Hellville to Wellville on facebook. See the idea is to not drink water for like 3 days.
Now, some of you who passed 3rd-grade health-science, or you know, are living people, will note that going days without water is fucking dumb. And you’d be correct. The idea here is detox by way of ignoring headaches, sleeplessness, and other warning signs. As proponent Carol said to a man who had been fasting for 65 hours and was worried about passing out at the wheel of his job that requires a conscious person to operate motor vehicles:
Turns out this is the wrong name for the screenshot and quote, but whatever, all this crazy word-soup is the same.
Good news though, that kidney pain, yeah that’s just them “filtering heavily” which is a funny way of say “filtering dust because you’re dying” or as an actual doctor from the Bay area, Dr. David Melk, puts it “Death cures everything, in an absolute sense. There’s no evidence such silliness could ever help you… It’s at the very least irresponsible, and could quite possibly endanger your life.”
Witches Coming Out Of The Woodwork
A bookstore in Brooklyn is holding a public event to put a hex on newly-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh next Saturday night.
Catland Books, in the Bushwick neighborhood of the New York City borough, says that Kavanaugh will be the focus of the event, but it will curse “all rapists and the patriarchy,” too. To promote the “Ritual to Hex Brett Kavanaugh,” the bookstore has sent out invites online. “[Brett Kavanaugh] will be the focal point, but by no means, the only target, so bring your rage and all of the axes you’ve got to grind,” the invite reads. The event will embrace the powers of witchcraft to bring justice “to those of us who have been wronged by men just like him.”
Dakota Bracciale, the event organizer, has a history of putting on hexing events as she organized three events to hex President Donald Trump last summer and is considering adding more public hex events later this year due to of the high volume of interest in the sold-out event.
The mystical bookstore event will also hold a second ritual after the main hex, called “The Rites of the Scorned One,” to support women and men who no longer want to stay quiet about the issue of sexual assault.
“We’re raising visibility and letting people know they’re not alone with the monsters,” Bracciale said. “Even the witches are coming out of the woodwork to stop this.”
Tickets to the Oct. event will cost $10 and half of the proceeds will go to the Ali Forney Center and Planned Parenthood
Dum Dum Dum Dum Dummm
Edwin Smith is the star of the hour? Minute? Moment? Bigoted asshole, Edwin Smith, got caught it his own trap. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t just a leg trap, although I’m sure he’d be fine with the use of those too. No, this genius was in his backyard feeding the squirrels when he decided to enter his house via the back door, which apparently wasn’t his usual way. As a result, he shot himself with a shotgun. Now, that kind of begs the question of just how he managed to ‘accidentally’ shoot himself with a shotgun. Well, the answer to that is that he had it rigged it into a booby-trap to fire through the door, like a fucking crazy person. Crazy (I don’t mean a person with a mental illness, I mean an asshole/dipshit) doesn’t mean he deserves to be dead, and as his luck would have it, he only managed to shoot himself in the arm, though it was described as a bad injury. I’ll finish this off with a quote from his 911 call, “I have a tripwire and I opened up the door and the tripwire went off and blew my arm off,” Smith told dispatchers. “I’m gonna die! I’m in the driveway. I’m gonna die. Tell everybody I love them, okay?” bit.ly/2ynxIY7
Robber Comes Back Around
A 31-year-old man tried to rob a Shell outlet in Tarragindi, south of Brisbane in Queensland, last week. He walked in and threatened a worker with the weapon, which is traditionally thrown by Indigenous Australians for hunting. But, without the space to properly launch the wooden weapon — which would have returned to him if launched correctly — he was forced to flee empty-handed. The weapon being a boomerang… Cops were called and officers recognized him as being from the nearby suburb of Moorooka. He was found soon after and arrested, before being given a notice of public nuisance. He was later arrested but was not charged. He appeared in court in relation to public nuisance bit.ly/2ymy15G
Russian Pussy Wrangler
One of the most coveted jobs on Russia has recently been claimed. It was an unusual job advert. Wanted: Cat chief. Location: Zelenogradsk, Russia: Duties: Tending to the town’s approximately 70 stray cats.
Some 80 applicants applied for the new role with the municipality in the small town in the Kaliningrad region, which has also erected a cat statue and added a feline to its emblem in a bid to rebrand itself as Russia’s foremost cat-loving community
In the end, local resident Svetlana Logunova was appointed guardian of the town’s felines. To help her with the task, she was given a bicycle and uniform, including a bright green jacket, black bow tie and hat. She has been given a budget of 5,700 roubles ($85) a month to ensure all the seaside community’s cats are happy, dishing out food, strokes and free rides in the basket on her bike.
“I alone cannot care for every single one and a helping hand would go a long way,” Logunova said. bit.ly/2yrkTMw
This Week’s Stories
Love Shadow | Brewery Vivant
Donated by: Bryce Snow
- BA Link: bit.ly/2ymy29K
- BA Rating: 4.33/5
- Style: : American Imperial Stout
- ABV: 12%
- Jenn: 2
We’ve laughed at homeopathy before, and rightfully so, but how does it keep coming up?
Aside from woo’s and quacks there are a few folks who conduct what, at first glance, appears to be actual research into the area. Ars Technica reported on one of these recently. Not that they’re a safe place for woo of course, this story has made the rounds for a different reason that usual – it actually got published. In a credible journal no less. Or at least a now less credible journal.
The study—titled “Ultra-diluted Toxicodendron pubescens attenuates pro-inflammatory cytokines and ROS-mediated neuropathic pain in rats”—was published September 10 in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal run by the Nature Publishing Group
Some of you might recall that Nature is generally considered to be a top of it’s field journal. Unfortunately, they’ve been making the news in less than ideal ways lately. This is no exception. The problem here, aside from fake medicine, is that this is a fairly well regarded journal with strict academic gatekeeping. So the real question is … how the hell did this get printed?
The study, which is obviously horseshit, claims that homeopathic dilution of atlantic poison oak can, somehow, reduce pain in rats as well as the prescription drug Gabapentin (reduces inflammation and pain). Which is useful to people, if those people are rats. “It’s worrying that a major journal like Scientific Reports didn’t pay close attention to a study that claims to show that homeopathy works,” Enrico Bucci told Nature News (which is owned by the same company as the journal, but editorially unrelated). Enrico outlines some of the reasons this is so worrying on his blog. I’ll do my best to humorously outline those here…
The first thing that probably should have been noticed is the figures in the study. Typically speaking, when one makes a bar graph, each bar varies in height based on the data it represents. In this study, however, while the bars vary, the labels on them do not. Likewise each caption should show the formula used to arrive at the values of each graph, however, the authors of this study took the bold step of printing a generic, meaningless, formula … for every caption. That is to say, all the figures use the same math to arrive at very different results. Now, I know I’m an art student and all, but my understanding of mathing is that if the same equation gets wildly, categorically different results, you probably forgot to carry a one… or do math.
Of course, the expected validity of those graphs would require valid data. Which, conveniently, is also something this study left out. The study inconsistently reported data and test results for treatment dilutions, which were themselves conspicuously identical data points throughout all the figures and results. So, copy and paste figures showing poorly conceived data incorrectly… a trait that would normally get an F from a grade-school teacher, was peer-reviewed and published.
Homeopaths worldwide have welcomed the study, because why would they want data in their research when they don’t even want active ingredients in their medicine? The study has sparked fierce debate in Italy where there is a proposal to call homeopathic nonsense “preparations” rather than “drugs”, which, if we’re being honest is a better term as most real drugs will advise you to take them with water… but back to the study.
It was as rigorous a study as I’ve ever reported on, using a total of 8 rats in an unblinded study whose pain levels were “observed” by watching to see if the rats withdrew their paws from heat or cold. Which is a lot like doing science, except not. Oh, and they were “tested” with different levels of “medicine” ranging from 10x-30 to 10x-8 mixtures… so… you know… widely, widely, uncontrolled for.
To all of this, when asked by the journals apparently illiterate reviewers, author Patil suggested that the errors were the result of typos… lots, and lots of typos. Basically, everything but his name was a typo. As evidence of his inability to word, Patil offered a 2016 paper that was, also, basically entirely one big typo with equally unreliable math, figures, and words. Patil asserted that “this does not change the scientific conclusions in any way.” adding that the study was done “with utmost integrity.” And, given that English is almost certainly his second language, perhaps we can forgive not knowing what “scientific”, “conclusions”, and “integrity” mean.
For their part, a spokesperson for Scientific Reports said “we take our responsibility to maintain the accuracy of the scientific record very seriously” not adding “now that we’ve been caught publishing horseshit.”
The Vampire of Lugano aka The Least Sexy Vampire Story Since Twilight
And the scary hits keep on coming, this week with something that is part historical, part current discovery and ALL creepy nightmare: The Vampire of Lugano, who was just discovered this year in Necropoli Dei Bambini aka The Cemetery of Babies. Yep.
A press release from October 12th by David Soren (head of a team of archaeologists and researchers from the University of Arizona) details an “extremely eerie and weird” discovery his team made earlier this year. And yeah, he wasn’t overselling it.
First, a bit of information on the charming setting, a fifth century burial ground near an abandoned Roman villa (this time period was just after the collapse of Rome, so when Trump is finished with us, this will be what we have to look forward to). Until recently it was thought only to be the resting place of miscarried fetuses, infants and toddlers. The eldest child over the course of 50 excavated graves was a three year old girl.
But that burial itself showed that something was amiss about the normal funerary rites, according to the experts. Because that body had stones weighing down her hands and feet—something traditionally associated with occult practices believed to keep the dead in the dirt.
Now if that’s just a little too tame and you prefer your millennium and a half year old cemeteries with a bit more ‘oomf’, how about this: a list of items buried with and around the tiny skeletons include raven talons, toad bones and bronze cauldrons filled with the remains of sacrificed puppies.
Now that we have the setting in place, what exactly has been found that would cause someone like David Soren, who has been excavating this area since 1987, to say “I’ve never seen anything like it” and “it’s extremely unsettling”? How about the skeleton of a ten year old child buried with a stone shoved into its mouth, with imprinted teeth marks in its surface, which is still lodged horrifyingly in the skull?
How’s that strike ya?
It’s speculated by the archaeologists that the child died of malaria. The 10-year-old child (the gender has yet to be determined) had an abscessed tooth—a symptom of many malaria cases, and other skeletons in the graveyard also displayed symptoms of the disease. The body lay on its left side within a makeshift tomb created by two large roof tiles propped against a chamber wall, according to the experts.
“Given the age of this child and its unique deposition, with the stone placed within his or her mouth, it represents, at the moment, an anomaly within an already abnormal cemetery,” said David Pickel, an archaeologist who is now a doctoral student at Stanford. “This just highlights how unique the infant—or now, rather, child—cemetery at Lugnano is.”
Now, the stone-in-mouth may be unique for this particular absolutely terrifying cemetery, but finding bizarre burials that were hoped at that time to prevent a vampiric rise from the dead is not unheard of. Previous burials have shown the stone-in-mouth symbolism. The remains of a 16th-century woman referred to as “the Vampire of Venice” was found in the namesake Italian city in 2009 with a brick in her mouth.
Last year, a man from the third or fourth century was dug up from England, buried face down, with tongue removed and a stone inserted in its place.
In 2014, anthropologists solved a mystery of bizarre burials in Poland by realizing the victims had died of cholera and were buried with their returns as vampires suspected.
In their local lore, a person was at risk of becoming a vampire after death if he or she was unbaptized, died a violent death, was the first one killed in an epidemic or was an outsider from another locale. Legend at this time didn’t require blood sucking as an integral feature; instead, the undead could slay living people with just a glance. At this particular site in Poland, dating from the 17th to 18th centuries, victims were buried with sickles under their necks or rocks under their jaws, to prevent them from reanimating. (The sickles were intended to decapitate the people if they tried to rise from the grave, while the rocks pinned their jaws shut so they weren’t able to feed on the living.)
So I guess to wrap things up, if things don’t work out for the good of humanity in 2020 and anti-vaxxers and climate-deniers take over the planet, be prepared to be buried with a science text shoved in your ass to prevent you from haunting the ignorant masses.
Next Week’s Beer
Red Lodge Ale – Bent Nail IPA
- BA Link: bit.ly/2yt06Ix
- BA Rating: 3.77/5
- Style: American IPA
- ABV: 6.30%
Faith In Humanity Restored
He Said Yes!
Gay Teen Asks Straight Captain of the Football Team to Homecoming – bit.ly/2ymy4hS
A gay student at Valley High School in Santa Ana, Calif. asked his friend, the straight captain of the football team, to Homecoming on National Coming Out Day. His friend said “yes” in order to “set an example” for the school and the community, according to Instinct.
Standing behind a banner that read “I know I am gay but can I take you straight to homecoming,” the gay student, Alexander Duarte, watched his friend Erick Pineda walk a gauntlet of cheering students toward him before Pineda agreed to be his date.
For Pineda, saying “yes” to his friend meant stamping out stigma around friendships between straight and gay men.
“It’s very important for me to be going to Homecoming with Alexander because I’m setting an example for not only my school, but also my community,” Pineda. “I was definitely excited to be asked to homecoming because I knew how important this was for my friend and seeing the support from the staff and students was amazing.”
“I’m very grateful to be the captain of the football team. The team is very supportive and multiple teammates have approached me to congratulate me and have given me ‘RESPECT’ for my actions,” he added.
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