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Facts About State Dinosaurs: Meet the 12+ Official State Dinos

Did you know that some states have adopted state dinosaurs as symbols representing their natural wonders? Most of us have heard of a state bird, which are technically extant dinosaurs (dino descendants). Often, states have an official fish, flower, flag, or tree. 

In some states, there are state symbols such as:

  • nicknames
  • bats
  • insects
  • snakes
  • boats
  • languages
  • spirits (alcohol)
  • mottos
  • songs
  • stones
  • shells
  • vegetables
  • fossils 

Notably, it’s just a sampling of all the official state symbols.

Also, some state legislatures have passed bills brought forward for state dinosaurs as well. Sometimes, state symbols are changed by vote, as was recently done with Mississippi’s state flag. 

Other times, lawmakers file bills designating new official emblems. In such cases, the process can educate students on the legislative process. In addition, the new symbols can or highlighting local culture and history.

Massachusetts Votes On Possible State Dinosaurs

Recently, a Massachusetts Democrat, Rep. Jack Lewis, offered a poll for designating a state dinosaur. After consulting with paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts, he arrived at two top picks.

“Twelve states have already designated an official “State Dinosaur,” and with your help, maybe Massachusetts will be next,” wrote Lewis.

Which dinosaur will claim the official title, millions of years after it went extinct? It’s up to the voters.

Contestant Number One: Podokesaurus holyokensis 

“The dinosaurs up for consideration are Podokesaurus holyokensis and Anchisaurus polyzelus. While they aren’t the largest dinosaurs to roam the planet, they begin to tell the story of how dinosaurs came to rule the Earth,” he continued.

Voters can choose between the “Swift-footed lizard of Holyoke” (Podokesaurus holyokensis) or the “Much sought after near lizard,” Anchisaurus polyzelus. In the former case, a Massachusetts park features genuine footprints made by Jurassic Period dinosaurs at Holyoke.

According to ABC27, the dinosaur was 3 to 6 feet (around 1 to 2 meters) in length. Although it could weigh 90 pounds, it ran up to 12 mph. In comparison, Anchisaurus could be over 6 feet long and about 60 to 75 pounds. 

By the looks of it, this guy was streamlined like some half greyhound, half-lizard! We’re also getting Roadrunner vibes.

Restoration of Podokesaurus holyokensis by FunkMonk via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
Restoration of Podokesaurus holyokensis by  FunkMonk via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Mignon Talbot

In 1910, Geologist Mignon Talbot became one of the first women to find and describe a dinosaur: Podokesaurus holyokensis. Talbot discovered the first Podokesaurus fossil near Mount Holyoke. In 1916, a fire destroyed the only specimen in the science hall of Mount Holyoke College.

Contestant Number Two: Anchisaurus polyzelus

Meanwhile, excavation superintendent William Smith saved fossils of the “much sought after near lizard,” Anchisaurus polyzelus, in 1855 in Springfield. Smith found the fossils when workers were blasting a well at the Springfield Armory. At the time, the word “dinosaur” was only 13 years old. Thus, the specimen wasn’t recognized as a dinosaur until years later.

Anchisaurus by Nobu Tamura via Wikipedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
Anchisaurus by Nobu Tamura via Wikipedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Related: Giant Lizards Called Argentine Tegus are Invading the American Southeast

State Dinosaurs in Twelve States and D.C. (And Counting)

Keep in mind, some fossils are also dinosaurs, so it appears some states have two official dinos in some cases. However, we’ll focus only on the official state dinosaurs.

Arizona – Sonorasaurus thompsoni, adopted in 1988

See more from the Pinal Geology Museum:

Arkansas – Arkansaurus fridayiadopted in 2017

See more from Exploring Arkansas:

California – Augustynolophus morrisiadopted in 2017

See more from Animals: The Definitive Guide:

Colorado – Stegosaurus armatusadopted in 1982

See more from igpcolorado:

Connecticut – Dilophosaurus, adopted in 2017

See more from Brian Engh Peleoart:

District of Columbia – Capitalsaurus, Adopted in 1998

The unique dinosaur may have been a 40-foot long carnivore. In 1998, a D.C. public school teacher and a group of fifth-graders successfully lobbied City Hall. They advocated for designating Capitalsaurus, the District of Columbia’s official dinosaur. However, the species remains mysterious until more fossils are discovered.

See more from E.D.G.E.:

Maryland – Astrodon johnstoni, adopted in 1998

See more from Maryland Milestones:

Missouri – Hypsibema missouriensis adopted in 2004

See more from Nine Network:

New Jersey – Hadrosaurus foulkii, adopted in 1991

See more from HoagL:

Oklahoma – Acrocanthosaurus atokensis, adopted in 2006

See more from the Museum of the Red River:

Texas – Paluxysaurus jonesi, Adopted in 2006

Paluxysaurus jonesi replaced Pleurocoelus, which was the state dinosaur beginning in 1997. A paleontologist disputed the Texas dinosaur’s true identity, causing a state member of Congress to file a resolution to correct the name.

Utah – Utahraptor ostrommaysorum, adopted in 2018

See more from Brigham Young University:

Wyoming – Triceratops horridus, adopted in 1994


Featured image: Restoration of Podokesaurus holyokensis by FunkMonk via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Is There a Connection Between Petroglyphs in Georgia and Bronze Age Europe?

Petroglyphs found in Georgia show a possible connection between some of the earliest archaeological sites in the United States and Bronze Age Europe.

Symbols found etched into stone are remarkably similar. At one ancient site in Savannah, Georgia, some also point to possible connections with the Mesoamericans. Nevertheless, today, those sites are obscure and, in one case, merely relegated to the side of a desolate highway overpass.

The Uchee or Yuchi Tribe

The Uchee (also spelled Euchee, Outchee, Uchi, or Yuchee), Creek, and Seminole tribes that created these sites long ago were uprooted and all-but-destroyed when Europeans arrived in the late 1600s. The name the Uchee gave themselves was Tsoyaha or Coyaha, “Children of the Sun.” 

These Native Americans spoke a unique language unrelated to any other, which is endangered today. However, remaining ancestors are working to restore their heritage before it’s lost forever.

# 787 We celebrate the Tsoyaha Yudgiha for many reasons… Today, they are a very much forgotten Indigenous people that…

Posted by Yuchi (Tsoyaha) Indigenous People on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

One of those ancestors is Richard L. Thornton, who describes himself as an author, architect, and city planner with Creek and Uchee Indian heritage. Thornton is the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial in Tulsa.  

The Home of the Sun

Thornton points out that the Uchee believe their ancestors were from across the ocean. 

“Since their first contacts with the Georgia colonists in 1733, the Uchee have consistently stated that their ancestors came across the Atlantic Ocean from the “home of the sun” and first landed at the mouth of the Savannah River,” writes Thornton.

If true, his theories mean that the Uchee descended from people living some 4,600 miles across the Atlantic.

Sun Lords Petroglyphs
Sun Lords Petroglyphs, image via YouTube, People of One Fire

Signs Almost Forgotten 

After studying the petroglyphs and ancient sites, Thornton believes ancient mariners from Scandinavia traveled to Georgia thousand of years ago. In the pursuit of gold in the Georgia Gold Belt, they interacted with Native people, leaving behind signs. Signs they left behind:

  • Language similarities
  • Cultural symbols
  • Petroglyphs
  • Burial mounds
  • Other ancient sites

For example, Thornton suggests the Tugaloo River’s name may have been derived from the Gaelic word, Togha-re, meaning “Best, Great, or Principal People.” In Creek Indian, the similar word, Tokahle, means “freckled.” Afterward, the 18th century Cherokee version, Dagalu, became the one that is recognized.

Ruins of Ancient Culture

 Pioneering archaeologist Charles C. Jones Jr. described the ancient sites in the Southern US in his book, The Antiquities of the Southern Indians. The book was published in 1873.

Jones described the sites that English-speaking settlers found when they arrived in the south.

“When English-speaking settlers came into the Georgia Piedmont and Mountains, they also encountered many stone structures throughout the landscape. There were many stone-walled terraces, stone altars, and even the ruins of ancient stone buildings.”

However, within a generation, the mysterious structures were gone and almost forgotten. Thinking the Native Americans primitive, they believed the structures were the Spanish or Welsh Prince Madoc’s work. 

See more in the video from People of One Fire below:

Petroglyphs Pointing to Far Away

Previously, we shared Thornton’s story about 4,000-year-old petroglyphs found in Georgia. While studying in Landskrona, Sweden, Thornton was shocked when he recognized symbols on Ven Island, Sweden. 

Although mainstream archaeologists may quickly call it pseudo-archaeology, we share it with our open minds for your consideration.

Bronze Age petroglyphs in Sweden featured the symbol of the Sacred Fire by the Creek and Uchee. Also, the Swedish burial mounds called gravhöger looked like the burial mounds in the Southeastern US and Ohio.

“I immediately noticed that all of the symbols on the boulders were also sacred symbols of the Creek Indians. I am Creek. This disturbing discovery has been at “the back of my head” in the decades since then,” he wrote.

At first, he avoided discussing the similarity between Scandinavian Bronze Age and Creek art. However, after many years of contemplation, he began actively researching the subject. From there, he began sharing what he found on the “People of One Fire” YouTube channel and “The Americas Revealed” site.

Shared Petroglyph Symbols 

One example of the petroglyphs is concentric circles, like ripples in water. According to Thornton, these ripples were considered time portals by Uchee priests.

By looking at them, the priests could determine the past and the future. Notably, these symbols are seen all over the world, with some similar ones dating back 40,000 years. However, they also closely resemble Newgrange’s spirals in Ireland, dating back to 3,300-2,900 BC.

Thornton points out the ripples from the Reinhardt Boulder in Georgia are identical to those found in County Kerry, Ireland. In addition, he found symbols of stars, hexagons, and the Solar Cross called a Sun Wheel in Europe.

To us, it calls to mind the “Camunion Rose” from Lombardy, Italy.

Communion Rose

The Metcalf Stone

The Metcalf Stone found in central Georgia near the Chattahoochee River bears symbols resembling the Linear A script. However, that language originated in the Minoan civilization from Crete during the Bronze Age. 

Dr. Joseph Mahan from Columbus State University theorized the Creek were descendants of people from Crete. Many critics discredited the finding as “bad archaeology.” However, take a look for yourself and decide what you think.

See more about the Metcalf Stone via People Of One Fire:

Track Rock Gap Petroglyphs

Located in Blairsville, GA, the Track Rock Gap site is quick to point out there is “no archeological evidence of any Mayan connection.” Thornton is quick to point out that most of the glyphs are not Mayan. However, he discovered symbols that resembling Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec/ Mayan God on Boulder Six.

On other boulders, he saw many symbols that reminded him of Scandinavian Bronze Age symbols. 

Track Rock Gap Petroglyphs
Image via YouTube/People of One Fire

The Tugaloo Stone

At the rear of the Traveler’s Rest State Historic Site, the Tugaloo Stone features an unmistakable boat. Originally the stone was located near the Tugaloo River on a major trade path. Thornton notes the stone was moved and place upside down for over 200 years. 

When rotated, the Tugaloo Stone features what looks identical to Bronze Age Minoan and Phoenician boats. On the other side, symbols that appear to be constellations and a UFO appears.

Tugaloo petroglyph

Tugaloo Petroglyph
Tugaloo Petroglyph, image via YouTube, People of One Fire

See the petroglyphs below via People of One Fire:

 

Morgan Falls Stone Boat

The Morgan Falls Archaeological Zone is found East of Roswell, Georgia, on the Chattahoochee River. There, a large stone boat burial monument resembles those found in Scandinavia. (see in the video)

The Roberts Petroglyph

At the Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs, Georgia, a 600-pound stela (carved monument) features a striking figure. Named the Roberts Petroglyph, the stela exactly resembles a Caribbean Taíno(Arawak) zemí spirit symbol.

Roberts Petroglyph, Sweetwater Creek
Roberts Petroglyph, Sweetwater Creek, image via YouTube

Mow Hill Petroglyph

At Long Swamp Creek, east of Jasper, Georgia, archaeologist Robert Wauchope found an unusual petroglyph in 1939. To us, it seems to resemble a UFO, but Thornton notes it may resemble an Itzamná calendar, with notches like a sundial.

Mow Hill Petroglyph
Mow Hill Petroglyph, image via YouTube, People of One Fire

Bilbo Mound, Savannah, Georgia

Today, sites that could date back to 3545 BC are found near downtown Savannah, Georgia. The oldest of these, the Bilbo Mound, is now all-but-forgotten. From the air, Google Earth photos show that it could be a geoglyph seen from the air, similar to Serpent Mound, Ohio. Notably, the design seems to point to a Mesoamerican Rain Goddess.

See more about the Bilbo Mound below from the Looters Revue Show:

Seeing Ancient Sites with New Eyes 𓂀

These are just a few of the sites that Thornton and People of One Fire have researched. Certainly, there is more to the story than meets the eye. These ancient sites and petroglyphs deserve new eyes to see them without restrictions imposed by conventional timelines, don’t you think?

Ancient cultures give us invaluable insights, and we are only just beginning to fully understand and reconcile with our past. We hope that modern archaeologists and researchers will do more to preserve and understand Uchee sites like those in Georgia.


Featured images: Screenshots via YouTube, People of One Fire

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Trumpeter Barry Perkins Shares Performances on YouTube After Live Audiences Disappeared

Like most musicians over the past year, Barry Perkins, principal trumpeter for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, found himself without a live audience. Like many other artists today, he found a new way to reach people quarantining at home.

As a youngster, Perkins learned trumpet from his father at age five. Then, at his first recital in the fifth grade, he played Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars. From there, he went on to eventually play for the soundtrack to recent Star Wars films

Describing the moment he and fellow musicians got to play in Star Wars to ABC7, Perkins said, 

“We all just had chills. I can’t believe we’re here. I can’t believe we’re playing the main title,” said Perkins.

You can hear his trumpet in many blockbusters like Aquaman, Deadpool 2, and Hidden Figures. 

From World Stages to YouTube

With the symphony, Perkins played for the most prestigious concert stages in the world. However, for months on end, the symphony, like most performers today, was stalled indefinitely.

That’s when Brant got creative on YouTube. The musician was always curious about filmmaking. So, while the symphony postponed performances, he had the time to explore making movies. The cast? His wife and 14-year-old son, who he taught about filmmaking in a home studio as he went.

“I gotta use the folks in my bubble,” Perkins said. 

While diving into making movies for YouTube, he gained a new appreciation for how much work goes into the creative process.

“I didn’t realize how involved it was for video productions,” he said. “Until you really dive in, it was like, Wow, there’s thousands of hours here that’s involved in the creative process.”

See Perkins via ABC7 News below:

Getting Creative at Home

First, he started by entertaining his neighbors, playing outside his California home with his son Noah, who also plays trumpet. Then, he performed Taps to honor fallen service members on Memorial Day.

Next, he teamed up with Juan Carlos Meza, the Orquesta Sinfónica De Costa Rica Principal Trumpet. The two played together in a virtual performance across thousands of miles. After that, he continued to get creative with his filmmaking, inserting himself into movie scenes. 

In one case, he pays homage to the 2010 film, Inception, about a thief who enters people’s dreams to steal their subconscious secrets. Joining the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Principal Trumpet Michah Wilkinson, he acts and plays his own original music.

The Pacific Symphony blog described the innovative video used in an assignment for students at a Florida university. 

“‘Inception Reflection’ is a thought-provoking video, especially in the middle of a global pandemic when reality can, at times, seem like a dream and dreams can be even more unreal than usual.”

Reaching Through the Computer Screen

In another video, Perkins takes a humorous take on ZOOM Trumpet lessons. This time, he uses some special effects to reach beyond the computer screen to play his trumpet.

Perkins also created some beautiful videos to celebrate the magic of the holiday season. In one scene, he gives a virtual performance for Santa. As you can see, the videos keeping getting more polished and creative. Who knows where these new skills will take him in the New Year?

Artist Are More Important Than Ever

Artists like Perkins are more important than ever as we get through these difficult days. Even though we can’t participate in live events like we used to, creative people have offered an outlet and relief in so many ways.

Like many professions we once took for granted, artists are struggling to make ends meet.

California Arts Council Executive Director Anne Bown-Crawford notes:

“Whether people recognize it or not, the work of artists and creative individuals has helped us all cope with these unprecedented times,” she said. “Listening to music, watching films, writing, dancing, making art — this helps us process feelings of loss and hopelessness, to reflect, and stay connected to our shared humanity.”

Nevertheless, many dancers, musicians, and other performers may not return, even when the pandemic is over. About 42% of arts organizations in California have laid off or furloughed artists, while 13% are not confident they’ll survive the pandemic. Hopefully, one day not too far away, audiences will return.

We don’t know about you, but it sure sounds exciting to attend live events again one day! As we begin to get back to normal, we can all help support the creative people who helped us get through it all in so many ways.

We leave you with an incredible performance by singer Annie Lennox. She and the London City Voices Choir released a profound video performance of her arrangement of Purcell’s “Dido’s Lament.”

The video captures how we’re at once isolated and together, thanks to technology and thousands of creative souls.


Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube/Barry Perkins

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Quotes from 3 of the Best Films that Helped Us Get Through the Year

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, watching the year’s best films in theaters became dangerous. So, we watched from home. Our smaller digital screens became a connection to the outside world and a necessary escape. Entertainment, art, and music take us to the world we’re all missing right now, which is invaluable.

Despite the rapid changes in society, film critics continued finding ample inspiration from the cinema. However, the way they watched them changed. Instead of viewing films as intended on the big screen, critics had to stream them from the sofa.

It remains to be seen how streaming will impact the movie industry in the days to come. Personally, we can’t wait for a return to seeing movies on the silver screen again.

As in many years before, many of the films that critics are celebrating this year may not be familiar. We’ll look at a few of the quotes that stand out. Hopefully, these films will be a welcome escape as we continue watching on our small screens –for now.

David Byrne’s American Utopia

This renowned concert movie from Spike Lee is an adaptation of the show, which closed on Broadway a month before many American cities went into lockdown. It’s based on legendary Talking Heads frontman David Byrne 2018 solo-album, American Utopia. 

Rolling Stone called Byrne “one of pop music’s greatest chroniclers of creepy disorientation.” Thus, his quirky voice is particularly timely in a year of often dark and surreal moments. However, the album has a balance of light and dark, “transforming uneasiness into bliss.”

The Times notes the idea is “blissfully simple” as the barefooted, but uniformed performers cover 20 songs on a bare stage. Lee uses a variety of intimate camera angles to give you a view of the theater crew and the cast.

In a sobering moment, Byrne covers the Janelle Monáe protest song “Hell You Talmbout.” The song asks, “what the hell are you talking about?” with the contraction “Talmbout.” The song calls listeners to say the names of African Americans who died due to racial violence, including law enforcement encounters.

See the performance via YouTube:

Everybody’s Coming To My House

Another one of the standout and fitting songs is “Everybody’s Coming To My House.” Byrne and guest performer and host Stephen Colbert performed the song on The Late Show. It celebrates a gathering at home, something we’re all hoping for again sometime as soon as it’s safe.

David Byrne quote
David Byrne, Stephen Colbert, and performers,  image via YouTube

Related: 12 Happiest Movies That Will Make You Smile

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Borat as one of the best films of 2020? Maybe not, but the sequel to the 14-year-old classic Borat movie has been called “the most 2020 movie of all time” by the Times.  

Sacha Baron Cohen and his collaborators, like Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, deliver an often hysterically funny movie.

However, the movie made during the first months of the pandemic also reveals many disturbing realities of current America.

As the Times describes it:

“Once again, Cohen’s friendly, idiotic alter ego arrived on our shores from Kazakhstan to show Americans as we really are: Which is appallingly bigoted, ignorant, and paranoid, but also disarmingly polite and kind to strangers.”

Despite pointing out much horror, there are also strangely touching moments. For example, unknowing participant Jeanise Jones, 62, genuinely tries to help Borat’s daughter Tutar escape from his misogynist constraints (literal and figurative). Thus, she acts as the “moral compass” of the film, while thinking she was taking part in a legitimate documentary.

In one scene, Jones lovingly tries to persuade Tutar not to go through with getting breast implants to please her father. As a result, Tutar decides to change her life and become a journalist.

Jeanise Jones quote
Jeanise Jones as “babysitter” for Tutar, image via YouTube

Recommended: 24 Famous Movie Notebook Quotes with Images

Breakout Star Jeanise Jones

Following the “moviefilm” release, the internet rallied to raise funds for the breakout star Jones, crowdfunding $100,000. Then, Baron-Cohen matched an additional $100,000.

“I think this has been the hardest year in living memory for most people,” Baron Cohen said. “Jeanise is this incredible figure in the movie. She helps Tutar find her own beauty and helps her stand up for herself and value her independence as a woman.”

The money helped Jone’s Oklahoma community overcome a string of natural disasters. Meanwhile, on Twitter, the hashtag “JeaniseForPresident” began trending.

See more about Jeanise from ET Canada below:

Soul

In a year when everyone is missing the hustle and bustle of daily life, Soul sends a message that “it’s good to be alive.” Originally, it was slated to open in theaters over the spring. Instead, it began streaming on Disney+ on Christmas Day.

The animated film features Pixar’s first lead black character, a jazz pianist named Joe Gardner. Actor Jamie Foxx lends Gardner his voice.

“To me, Joe represents a lot of people who aren’t being seen right now,” said Foxx. “Joe is in all of us, regardless of color. To be the first Black lead in a Pixar film feels like a blessing, especially during this time when we all could use some extra love and light.”

The story centers on Gardner’s experience in New York as a middle-school music teacher and musician. However, it soon enters new territory exploring afterlife concepts in a limbo state of “The Great Before.” 

Joe and a cynical soul named 22, voiced by Tina Fey, conflict over their opinions on returning to human form on Earth. For Joe, there’s nothing like the sensory, musical cacophony of city life and his beloved jazz. On the other hand, 22 doesn’t share the zest for earthly life.

For us, it’s a timely reminder of all that we took for granted before the coronavirus pandemic. Also, it’s a welcome “spark” to visualize a time when we can enter the world as we remember it again.

Even though life presents many hardships, we’re thankful to be alive and sorry to have lost so many souls in 2020. 

Pixar Soul quote by 22
22 quips with Joe about Earth life, image via YouTube

See the official Pixar trailer for Soul below:


Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube

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Homeless Man Risks Life to Rescue Over a Dozen Animals from Shelter Fire

A heroic homeless man living in Atlanta, Keith Walker, 53, sprang into action, risking his life to save over a dozen animals from a fire on Friday evening, December 18.

A fire had engulfed the kitchen in  W-Underdogs, a nonprofit animal shelter, and youth organization.

Founder Gracie Hamlin told CNN that Walker bravely faced the fire to save ten cats and six dogs. One of the dogs was Bravo, his pet, that stayed at the shelter.

“He is my guardian angel,” Hamlin said. “Even the firefighters didn’t want to handle the dogs. They called animal control, but Keith was already in the building pulling out the cats and dogs until they were all safe.”

In a Fox5 interview, Hamlin stated:

“Animal control is talking to us on the phone, and they’re saying he’s just rushing in getting one dog at a time,” Hamlin said. “Animal control was able to grab a couple from him.”

Facing the Fire

Walker described what happened as he decided to face the fire.

“I was nervous as hell; I’m not going to lie. I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals,” Walker told CNN. “If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world. My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn’t be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs.”

Thanks to Walker, all the animals got out in time. Fortunately, W-Underdogs was in the process of moving to a new facility, so they all had a safe place to go. Volunteers from the shelter soon arrived to help move them to their new home.

According to W-Underdogs’ Facebook post, the owner was out picking up supply donations when a call came in alerting them of the fire. Then, fire officials let them know a homeless man had rushed to the scene to bring the animals to safety.

Hamlin knew Walker, saying she allowed him to keep Bravo at the shelter overnight. Sadly, she says he has been homeless for 40 years since 13-years-old. Over the years, the shelter had given him various jobs but faced constraints as a youth organization, unable to provide him lodging in the facility.

W-Underdogs shelter
W-Underdogs shelter, image via Facebook

Donations Pour in For Walker and the Shelter

Following the reports of Keith Walker’s heroic animal rescue, donations have poured in. NBC News reported on the GoFundMe created for Walker three days ago. So far, over $55 thousand has been raised for him by the organizer. 

“To everyone who has contributed to this campaign or any other, you are what makes this world a better place, and you make me feel hopeful that we can repair this broken and struggling country. Thank you so much,” wrote Frank Cote.

Meanwhile, the shelter has also received donations topping $10 thousand.

“We are so lucky all the animals were able to be evacuated and no lives – animal or human – were lost. Our animals and youth are scared and confused and we are pouring love into them to help them recover,” wrote Hamlin.

On the page, she explained that W-Underdogs helps at-risk youth learn compassion and empathy by caring for the animals.

“The mission of the W-Underdogs is ‘To empower youth through service to animals and communities.’ Working with at-risk youth, we rescue animals and help the kids learn empathy and compassion and to pay it forward in our communities. We see change, one child and one animal at a time.”

W-Underdogs shelter
W-Underdogs shelter, image via Facebook

Advocating For a Homeless Hero

Following donations, the shelter was planning on the best way to advocate for Walker, who struggles with addiction.

“Our motto is ‘your friendly neighborhood superheroes’ and that is how the kids in the program are seen in their community. Keith embodied the spirit of W-Underdogs when he saved our animals in their time of need. We value the relationship we have built with him this past year while helping him to care for his dog, and we will continue to work with Keith according to what his wishes are,” states W-Underdog’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Fox5 Atlanta spoke to Walker, who explained how much Bravo meant to him.

“Hey, I love my dog, and my dog’s my best friend, for real,” Walker said. “If God wakes me up and I got my dog, I’m good.”

When asked about what he did, he was humble, saying, “Probably anyone would have did [sic] the same thing I did.”

However, pictures of the shelter after the fire show extensive damage to the place. Walker was indeed a hero, jumping in to save the animals even when fire officials held back.

Keith Walker and Bravo
Keith Walker and Bravo via GoFundMe

See more from Fox5 Atlanta:


Featured image: Keith Walker via Facebook/ W-Underdogs

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Facts About Human Hibernation: Our Ancestors May Have, Will We?

A preliminary study suggests our ancient ancestors entered hibernation. During the cold winter months, they took to hibernacula in caves and slept through the winter. Now, their fossilized remains have left behind clues showing they may have suffered considerably while hibernating.

This year, most of us might warm to the idea of hibernating through the winter. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re socially isolating and cooped up indoors. So, the concept of just sleeping until the pandemic subsides might sound ideal.  

However, judging by the scientists’ findings, hibernation was dangerous, leading to many health problems. Nevertheless, scientists are researching hibernation, suggesting that one day we might hibernate. In the future, hibernation could enable us to survive a new challenge: space travel.

Sima de los Huesos, the Chasm of Bones

The Sima de los Huesos is a cave in north-central Spain in the Atapuerca Mountains Translated; it means “the chasm or pit of bones.” The caves have revealed 28 individual hominid fossils now firmly dated to 430,000 years old. However, archaeologists found thousands of hominin skeletal remains.

Thus, it’s the largest and oldest collection of human remains in Europe discovered. Long before modern humans, Homo sapiens, evolved, early hominids such as Neanderthals and Homo heidelbergensis lived in the caves.

In March 2008, a jawbone dating to 1.2 million years ago was found in the area. The jawbone belonged to the species Homo antecessor, or the “pioneer man.” The species might have been a common ancestor of the Neanderthals and modern humans. 

See more about the archaeological site of Atapuerca from UNESCO below:

Hibernation in the Glacial Period

When our early ancestors inhabited the caves, it was during a glacial period. For months, they struggled to get through long, dark winters. Upon studying their remains, the researchers found signs they may have been able to survive through hibernation.

If primitive mammals and primates can hibernate, then perhaps the early hominids could also.

“The notion that humans can undergo a hypometabolic state analogous to hibernation may sound like science fiction, but the fact that hibernation is used by very primitive mammals and primates suggests that the genetic basis and physiology for such a hypometabolism could be preserved in many mammalian species including humans,” the researchers write.

During hibernation, mammals’ heart rate, breathing, and metabolic rate slow down. During this time, no water is required, and the body temperature is lower. By entering hibernation, mammals survive by expending the least amount of energy possible. Sleep continues without breaks to drink or look for food.

Evidence of Hibernation Preserved in Bones 

Although the early humanlike ancestors are long gone, their bones tell their story. After hiding out for months in the caves, abnormalities caused by disease and nutritional deficiencies left their mark.

Studying the bones required many techniques such as macrophotography, microscopy, histology, and CT scanning. 

Some of the health problems indicated:

  • renal rickets
  • brown tumors
  • osteitis fibrosa
  • rotten fence post 
  • beading of ribs 
  • secondary hyperparathyroidism
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • renal osteodystrophy 
  • Mineral and Bone Disorder 

In adolescents, there was evidence of annually intermittent puberty and healing due to “non-tolerated hibernation.” While they might have a growth spurt in the warmer months, their bodies didn’t fare well for the cold months.

Thus, it appears that hibernation proved challenging but allowed survival during an inhospitable glacial period. After hibernating, there was damage to bones and the onset of diseases due to poor nutrition and no sunlight exposure. Without the sun, there were vitamin D deficiencies.

Torpor, Brumation, and Estivation

Every year, warm-blooded mammals like bears get through the winters through long periods of extended torpor. During this time, it’s like a long winter nap rather than true hibernation. Usually, bears can respond if disturbed and occasionally takes breaks to drink or eat. On the other hand, hibernating mammals may only awake sporadically until warmer weather arrives.

Nevertheless, if the period of torpor lasts longer than 24 hours, it’s generally considered hibernation. 

Torpor

Some animals involuntarily go into torpor when the weather turns cold. These periods may last only a few minutes or for hours. Animals like birds, raccoons, skunks, and rodents can survive the winter through torpor. Bears are also considered to enter a state of torpor, though most people think of them as champion hibernators.

When animals awake from torpor, they may need to shake to get the muscles working again.

Below, a hummingbird sleeps in a state of torpor via Barticuno:

Brumation

Some cold-blooded animals brumate during the winter. Unlike hibernators, these animals rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. So, they go into brumation and wake up depending on the outside temperatures. If it gets warmer, they will wake up for a break, regardless of the time of year.

Examples of species that brumate include many frogs, snakes, turtles, and reptiles like the Argentine Tegu and bearded dragons.

Today, reptiles like the Tegu are spreading throughout the American south, brumating in the colder months.

Estivation or Aestivation

What makes estivation, also called aestivation, different? It’s a survival strategy for conserving energy and water during hot and dry months. Thus, the period of dormancy tends to happen in the summertime. By going into estivation, animals can stay cool and prevent drying out, called desiccation.

Diverse animals take advantage of estivation, including some examples of:

  • Crocodiles
  • Snails
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Crabs
  • Moths
  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Salamanders
  • Mosquitos
  • Tortoises
  • Dwarf Lemurs
  • Hedgehogs

As with torpor, animals estivate can wake up faster than if they were hibernating. Sometimes, they can reverse their short nap in only a few minutes.

Should Humans Revisit the Whole Hibernation Idea?

Through hibernation, torpor, brumation, and estivation, animals can survive. Now, it appears our ancient ancestors may have done the same.

Now, scientists must answer the question: Why did our ancient ancestors, which may have hibernated, die out? What allowed Homo sapiens the evolutionary advantage, though we can’t hibernate today? Maybe it’s time we revisit the whole concept?

For example, if we begin journeys into space, hibernation could prove a key advantage. Today, scientists are studying animals like bears to see how they do it. One day, it’s possible they may apply what they learn to induce humans into a state of hibernation.

By hibernating, humans could travel to new worlds.

See more about possible human hibernation during space travel from WIRED:


Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube/WIRED

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What’s the Significance of the Worldwide Monoliths?

Today, many of us wondering, why do we see stories of monoliths almost daily?

After an excruciating year of divisive politics and a global pandemic, entering a new year is a relief. As if to mark the welcome changes to come, stories of metal monoliths have been a lighthearted distraction. All over the world, the anomalies have been appearing and disappearing.

The Utah Monolith

It started on November 18, 2020, in Utah’s “Red Rock” Country. A state employee counting wild sheep in a helicopter spotted a 3-sided metal monolith standing 10 to 12 feet tall in a remote area of public lands in southeastern Utah. By November 27, the monolith disappeared, and only a triangular piece of metal that used to be on top remained.  

See the Utah monolith via the Guardian below:

Later, a video via Instagram indicated four men removed the structure, saying they wanted to discourage a flood of traffic to the area. Nevertheless, a Reddit user soon pinpointed the probable coordinates to the inhospitable canyon location. Using Google Earth, it seems the unauthorized monolith could have been in place since 2016.

Monoliths Appear All Over the World

From the get-go, people on social media compared the story to the monolith in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. From there, similar monoliths began appearing all over the world, starting in Romania on November 27. There are so many appearances that Monolith tracking has become a thing. Daily, there are more, but as of December 20, the count was at 87 globally.

Monoliths in Utah
The Red Rock Utah Monolith via YouTube

Overall, the incidences appear to be unrelated copycats. In some cases, the creators came forward to take credit, and journalists have pointed out it may be part of a viral marketing scheme. 

While many monoliths, like the recent 7-foot-tall “Gingerlith” monolith in San Francisco, are pranks, others remain mysterious. The edible gingerbread structure appeared on Christmas, a fun distraction for the holidays.

Welcome Distraction in a Dismal Year

Why did so many people catch monolith mania this year? For a group of men in Australia, it was a way to escape the otherwise dismal news.

“We thought, ‘Oh, 2020 is such a dire year,’ so we decided to do something about it,” said prankster artist Alex Apollonov. 

Apollonov and a group of friends hired builders for the monolith they placed in Melbourne. 

Meanwhile, monolith maker Travis Kenney from California created the structure in Atascadero, California. They drew inspiration from Space Odyssey.

“If you know ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ you know there were three monoliths,” Kenney told Insider. “I’m like, you know there’s gonna be a third. It’s gonna happen. So why don’t we build it?”

The monolith was a fun way to generate some excitement.

“Everybody’s been kind of just in a shit world,” said Kenney. “Our town got super excited about it.”

2001: A Space Odyssey

The classic movie from the summer of 1968 was far ahead of its time. Now, it’s suddenly back in the spotlight, thanks to all those monoliths. Thus, many of us are wondering, what did the monolith represent in the Stanley Kubrick film?

Monoliths, 2001: A Space Odyssey
A scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey via YouTube

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the film, you might not want to continue.

In the movie, monoliths are central to the story. First, the US government discovers a monolith on the Moon in 2001. It’s found buried 40 feet below the surface.

The monolith, dubbed Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One, or TMA-1, emitted a magnetic field. After a group of astronauts tried taking a selfie in front of it in the Tycho crater, a ringing noise drove them away.

Monolith Causes Apes to Evolve

When people discovered TMA-1, it alerted extraterrestrials called the Firstborn, letting them know we had left Earth, suggests Fandom. 

Four million years ago, the Firstborn conducted experiments in many star systems. Now, they are alerted humans have progressed and are ready for space travel.

After the discovery, four monoliths appear, with different functions. 

In one scene, a group of chimpanzees congregates around the monolith called “New Rock.” It’s thought the monolith is the catalyst that rapidly evolves man’s intelligence. 

Monolith Marking a Milestone

After sunlight touched TMA-1, a chain of events took place. People detected that TMA-1 was sending a signal to a “Big Brother” monolith orbiting Jupiter. This massive monolith is dubbed the Jovian or Jupiter monolith. 

The discovery compelled joint US-Soviet missions to venture deep into space. Long-distance space travel became routine with “hibernaculum pods” for hibernating passengers.

While the crew sleeps, a talking supercomputer, HAL 9000, takes the helm, eventually turning on the human crew.

Related: Who Put The Mysterious Monolith On Phobos?

Monoliths Turn on Humans

Now the self-replicating monoliths began forming enormous clouds to create Lucifer, a small sun. TMA-2 functioned as a Stargate, attracting thousands of other monoliths, which eventually merged with Jupiter to form the sun.

Once created, Lucifer would sustain new life on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. However, the monoliths later became intent on wiping out the human race to protect life on Europa.

After 1,000 years, the monoliths were back and ready to deal the death blow. They formed two clouds to block out light from the Sun on Earth and from Lucifer to a human base on Ganymede. In response, humans unleashed a computer virus to destroy the monoliths.

Humans overcoming monoliths with a virus seems like a curious connection today. The year 2020 sees humans facing a deadly viral pandemic as monoliths appear worldwide.

What Does it All Mean?

So, what do all the monoliths in 2020 mean, if anything?

If we look at 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s a lesson about the creation of the universe not constrained by any religion. The monoliths ultimately represent a god figure, the work of incomprehensibly advanced beings.

Kubrick’s film was a masterwork with a mysterious, thought-provoking, and ambiguous ending. The evocative film saught to evoke and “open up” and inspire the mind, not give definitive answers.

The only human survivor of the trip to Jupiter, Dave Bowman, overcome HAL’s dangerous AI. Then, he makes it to Jupiter and enters the Stargate.

 From there, Bowman is kept in a sort of “human zoo” by godlike beings of pure energy and spirit. Upon death, he transforms into a superhuman Star Child.

Kubrick once said the advanced aliens in the film would seem like gods to humans as we might appear godlike to an ant.

As the Star Child heads back to Earth, a new enlightened era can begin.

See more in the synopsis from The Take below:

A Shift in Worldview

In 2018, computer scientist Stephen Wolfram described how the Kubrick film had correctly predicted some aspects of the future half a century earlier. Today, developments in advanced AI and routine space travel seem to be on the horizon. 

For Wolfram, the monoliths might, by their very appearance alone, inspire evolution. 

“No ape 4 million years ago had ever seen a perfect black monolith, with a precise geometrical shape. But as soon as they saw one, they could tell that something they had never imagined was possible. And the result was that their worldview was forever changed. And—a bit like the emergence of modern science as a result of Galileo seeing the moons of Jupiter—that’s what allowed them to begin constructing what became modern civilization,” wrote Wolfram.

Humans Have Become the Aliens

For American journalist Jody Rosen, the monoliths signal the tombstone of a terrible year. However, they are symbols of our alienation from the world due to the pandemic. As we look at the new year ahead, we are all hoping to enter a new, more enlightened era.

“It is too early to know if the homemade monoliths rising in streets and parks around the world are totems of a passing craze or lasting landmarks in the making. But it is surely not a stretch to read symbolic significance in their proliferation at the end of the most dreadful year in living memory: a collective desire to mark a transition, to post figurative headstones commemorating the demise of 2020,” write Rosen.

As in the Kubrick film, humans ultimately become extraterrestrials.

“Or perhaps the better metaphor comes from the Kubrick movie. The year has turned us, earthlings, into aliens, wanderers on an unfamiliar planet. Who among us doesn’t want to leave this place behind and go hurtling through space-time, into a new year, and back to another world?” writes Rosen.

Ultimately, marking the end of 2020 with a sighting of worldwide Kubrick-inspired monoliths seems hopeful. They signal that we’ve never been more collectively ready for change, progress, and evolution. We’re entering a crossroads where we can choose our path.

Perhaps the monolith appearance alone is all that’s required to inspire a new worldview? One which will help us realize new possibilities as we face many new challenges ahead?

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Questionable Quotes of 3 World Leaders Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

This year has been devastating for people around the globe as we all face the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic approached, world leaders reacted with determination. However, they also reacted in many other interesting ways, recorded forever in the history books.

Thankfully, we’re now seeing the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Vaccines are making their way to the vulnerable, health care and front line workers we’ve depended on to survive. May the New Year be one of healing, hope, and better days for us all.

President Xi Jinping

When the coronavirus first emerged in China in February, President Xi Jinping made the statement:

“The outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia will inevitably have a relatively big impact on the economy and society … For us, this is a crisis and is also a big test.”

He couldn’t have known what an understatement that would be. Today, over 1.6 million have died globally.

More recently, President Xi Jinping responded to accusations from President Donald Trump. At a September 2020 UN session, President Donald Trump states the UN should “hold China accountable” for the pandemic.

In a pre-recorded message, the Chinese president said:

“Major countries should act like major countries,” he said, calling on international cooperation to “join hands and be prepared to meet even more global challenges.”

Xi Jinping went on to say the coronavirus was a reminder that globalization is an unavoidable reality.

“COVID-19 reminds us that the economic globalization is an indisputable reality and a historical trend,” Xi said. “Burying one’s head in the sand like an ostrich in the face of economic globalization or trying to fight it with Don Quixote’s lance goes against the trend of history. Let this be clear: The world will never return to isolation.”

Thus, the virus has exposed just how connected people and life truly is across the Earth. 

President Xi Jinping coronavirus meme
President Xi Jinping, image via Reuters

President Donald Trump

As noted, President Trump called for holding China accountable for the pandemic. In March, after months of downplaying the threat posed by the virus, a reporter asked if Trump took any responsibility for a delay in distributing tests for the virus. He responded by pointing at the previous Obama administration.

Trump replied:

“No, I don’t take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances that we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time.”

‘I Didn’t Do It.’

Before Trump’s statement, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, acknowledged that the federal response had failed.

At the same press conference, Trump also dismissed responsibility for disbanding the White House’s pandemic office. 

“When you say me, I didn’t do it. I don’t know anything about it,” he said.

In April, Trump shocked the world by suggesting the use of disinfectants to stop the virus.

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that.”

President Trump meme
President Trump discusses disinfectant to combat COVID-19, image via YouTube

Related: A Few of the Dumbest Quotes from Powerful People in 2020

See him say it from CBS This Morning:

At a later White House news conference, Trump faced questions if he took responsibility for a spike in improper disinfectant use.

Asked about the increase during a White House news conference, Trump said: “I can’t imagine why.”

When asked if he takes any responsibility for the spike, Trump answered: “No, I don’t.”

Recommended: Quotes from 2020’s First-Elected Women and Minorities in the United States

President Vladimir Putin

In late March, Russia was boasting about having fewer cases of the novel coronavirus than Luxembourg. Then, Putin came into close contact with a doctor who tested positive for Covid-19. Headlines on Russian TV stated, “No one is safe,” not even Putin. It must have come as a shocking realization.

From BBC News:

Quarantine or 7 Years of Jail

By April, the Russian leader Putin called for citizens there to “remain within four walls.” Those who broke quarantine rules could face jail for up to seven years.

As in China, official data about the impact there was in doubt. According to Foreign Policy, anyone who expressed doubts could be labeled as enemies and traitors.

Nevertheless, the Russian leader called for home restrictions, although compliance from doubtful citizens was likely “considerably worse than even in the United States.” In many cases, people may have believed the threat wasn’t real or exaggerated.

“Everything passes, and this will pass. Our country has gone through serious trials more than once: the Pechenegs tormented it, as did the Polovtsy – Russia coped with everything. We will also defeat this coronavirus infection. Together we will overcome it,” Putin said.

 

“I understand fatigue has built up as well as a serious burden of financial, domestic, and other everyday problems. Your normal rhythm of life has been broken. For most people, it is dreary and nauseous to constantly remain within four walls. But there is no choice now.”

Certainly, seven years of jail would tend to do make one think twice about leaving the house.

A Vaccine Experiment

The early downplaying of the Covid-19 threat is one of many ways that Putin’s response was similar to Trump’s.

However, by August, Putin claimed Russia had developed the first coronavirus vaccine. One of the first to receive it was one of his daughters.

“In this sense, she took part in the experiment,” Putin said.

Although he lauded the vaccine’s effectiveness, he claims that he did not take it himself. Days ago, he said he did not receive it because he’s older than the recommended age group approved for the vaccine.

“The vaccines that go into civilian circulation are currently provided for citizens in a certain age zone, and vaccines have not yet reached people like me. I am a fairly law-abiding person. I listen to the recommendations of our specialists. So I haven’t had the shot yet,” he said.

On December 22, 2020, a prominent Russian scientist working on the vaccine was found dead with a stab wound. Previously, several coronavirus doctors mysteriously fell from windows.

Putin quote coronavirus
Putin discusses coronavirus vaccine, image via YouTube


Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube

 

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Neighbors Line the Street to Thank UPS Driver Delivering During Pandemic

Anthony Gaskins, a UPS driver in Chesterfield County, Virginia, is a hero to the people on his route. That’s why neighbors in the Hallsely neighborhood recently came together to cheer on the essential worker. He’s made all the difference to them, as have drivers all across America!

According to WTVR, the neighbors are calling him “Santa in a different suit.”

The driver’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Instead, his daily deliveries have been a highlight for people like Patty Friedman. In fact, she had been carefully keeping count of how many times he delivered packages.

From WTVR Richmond:

“Through COVID, Anthony has continued working, delivering packages at our doors, record numbers of them, over 180 times to date,” Hallsley neighbor Patty Friedman wrote in an email. “I wanted to thank him personally for how much he helped me feel welcome when I moved in during a pandemic. It was terribly lonely, and he was always the highlight of my day. Mentioning this to a few people and the response I got was all I needed to know I was not alone.”

See more from CBS News:

Hundreds Line Up to Cheer the UPS driver

Friedman and her neighbors decided they wanted to show their support for Gaskins. So, on Tuesday, December 15, hundreds of people lined up on the street. Each person carried a handmade sign expressing thanks to the reliable driver.

The crowd lined the streets in more than 75 cars, waiting for him to appear on his route. When they spotted him, they started to cheer.

“A humble man, he needed to be coaxed, but eventually, slowly drove his truck down the road while children and adults held up signs, screamed his name, honked their horns, and rang bells,” wrote Friedman.

UPS driver Anthony Gaskins
Hundreds of people line the street to show support for UPS driver Anthony Gaskins, via YouTube/@Lexihanrahanphotography

As a big bonus, Gaskin’s supervisors were also waiting with a surprise gift.

Neighbors expressed their deep gratitude for their neighborhood UPS driver. In response, he was moved to tears. After he thanked them all, he got right back to work. 

Related: Artists Create HOPE Quilt to Comfort Frontline Workers, Honor Victims of COVID-19

Neighbors Express Support

Comment show just how much they all appreciated their UPS driver. All through the pandemic, the tireless driver arrived with essential packages. As he did, he made a huge impact, connecting and supporting families while they must remain apart.

“Anthony always delivers our packages with a wave and a smile,” one appreciative neighbor wrote about the UPS driver. “Sometimes, he is the only outside face we see during the day. We appreciate his hard work and dedication during the pandemic, which delivered food, supplies, and even holiday gifts to a high-risk family.”

 

UPS driver Anthony Gaskins
UPS driver Anthony Gaskins moved to tears by support from neighbors. Images via YouTube/@Lexihanrahanphotography

Brightening the day

“Anthony always smiles, waves, and goes above and beyond to deliver packages with care,” another neighbor wrote.

“He makes you feel like a friend when you see him. [Anthony] brightens our day whenever he drops off a package, which is frequently at our house! He stands out from ALL other delivery drivers, and we love him! Cheers to Anthony!”

Related: Artists Across the Country Share ‘Rock Art’ to Help Get Through Pandemic

UPS driver Anthony Gaskins
UPS driver Anthony Gaskins presented with gifts by his supervisors, Image via YouTube/@Lexihanrahanphotography

Keeping families connected

“Thank you, Anthony, for all you do,” a third neighbor added. “My six-year-old daughter hasn’t seen either set of grandparents in over a year. This has been very hard on everyone. Many of the packages you deliver are from them. The joy the packages bring makes it worthwhile. Thank you for always delivering them with a kind smile and a friendly wave!”

See more in the wonderful video from WTVR CBS6 below:

Delivering Vaccines and Hope

Today, UPS drivers are delivering life-saving coronavirus vaccines. For example, 37-year UPS veteran Todd Elble said he was making the most important delivery of a lifetime to the Louisville, KY area on December 20. 

Unfortunately, Elble’s father Paul died of COVID-19 at age 78 in November. Now, the UPS driver honors his father’s memory by helping save others.

From WDRB:

“When I was asked to do this, I couldn’t think of a better honor to do for my father than to do this today,” Elble said. “… I felt dad was in the truck with me today.” 

Today, UPS drivers like Gaskins and Elble are delivering hope for millions around the country. 

Meanwhile, in Indiana, UPS package handler Demeatres Ralston has been unloading boxes of vaccines going to area nursing homes.

“I’ve seen billions of packages every day, (and) we don’t see things like this,” said Ralston, who started working at UPS in 1994. “To be a part of this, to help in any way we can, is a privilege.” 

A big thank you to all the frontline workers delivering mail, packages, groceries, and so much more to Americans throughout the pandemic. We appreciate all you do, and you are truly heroes!


Featured image via YouTube/ CBS News/@Lexihanrahanphotography

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Conspiracy Theories that Continue to Dredge Up the Titanic

This time, we’re looking at facts about a Titanic conspiracy theory.

One hundred and eight years after the Titanic sank, it remains the most famous maritime disaster ever. After all this time, conspiracy theories and ideas about what caused the wreck remain ongoing.

One particularly wild but compelling conspiracy theory: The Titanic never actually sank on April 15, 1912. Now, there is no dispute that a ship did sink, killing some 1,500 passengers. At least everyone can agree on that part.

However, as the conspiracy theory goes, the real ship’s identity was the slightly older Olympic. Why? A name swap was made so that the builders could collect a tidy insurance payoff.

The Worl’s Largest Luxury Liner in 1910: The Olympic

The Olympic and the Britannic were the sister ships of the Titanic. White Star Line, in competition with Cunard Line’s Mauretania, began building massive British luxury liners. These ships promised more comfort and luxury and focused less on the Mauretania’s impressive speed.

Thus, on October 20, 1910, the Olympic launched for the sea. From there, it remained in service from 1911 to 1935. It was the world’s largest and most luxurious liner, able to carry 2,300 passengers. At the helm was Captain Edward J. Smith, the same man who would go to a watery grave aboard Titanic.

In September 1911, the ship was on its fifth commercial voyage when it collided with the military vessel HMS Hawke. Both ships sustained serious damages. Thankfully, the Olympic was able to limp back to port for repairs. After that, the liner required extensive repairs, returning to service in November 1911.

See a simulation of the crash below from Blue Star Line:

Surviving Traces of the Olympic 

When the Titanic sank in 1912, the Olympic required additional safety improvements. (And lifeboats!) By April 1913 was it ready for another transatlantic voyage.

Over the next two decades, the ship became known as “Old Reliable.” In 1918, it survived an act of war, sinking a German U-boat by ramming it. Previously, in 1915, a German U-boat sank Cunard Line’s ship, the Lusitania, prompting the United States to enter World War I.

Unfortunately, a year before retirement, the Olympic sank another vessel by accident. On May 15, 1934, the liner ran into a lightship off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, killing seven crewmen. After that, the ship became scrap metal. However, hotels in England repurposed many of the ship’s fixtures.

Some of the Olympic’s furnishing and fixtures remain in the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, Northumberland. They give an eery look at what the Titanic likely resembled. 

See some of them in the video from WaterWorld below:

Titanic: Largest Movable Human-made Object in the World

When the Titanic’s hull was positioned in the River Lagan, Belfast, on May 31, 1911, it was the world’s largest moveable human-made object. Watertight bulkheads operated by a switch on the bridge inspired Shipbuilder magazine to dub the ship “practically unsinkable.”

Almost a year later, on April 10, 1912, the Titanic set off on its maiden voyage in Southampton, England.

As we know, the bulkheads were fatally flawed, allowing water to enter the ship’s compartments as it sank. Since the ship was thought unsinkable, the planners included lifeboats for only one-third of the passengers.

Notably, financier J.P. Morgan planned to be on the maiden voyage but canceled at the last minute due to “business matters.” However, accounts also suggest he was ill at the time.

Fire and Ice Sink the Titanic

Upon departure, a small coal fire was discovered in one of the Titanic’s bunkers. The captain and chief engineer deemed the fire inconsequential and ordered the fire stokers to control it while at sea.

Today, this coal fire is the subject of a documentary. Instead of being a minor inconvenience, it’s though the fire may have weakened the ship’s hull after all.

As the documentary suggests, the Titanic was recklessly speeding in icy waters to burn off the coal fire. Thus, it struck the fateful iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland.

See about the documentary from CBS Evening News:

Titanic or Olympic?

Now to the strange conspiracy theory: White Star Line swapped the ships, and the Olympic was the ship that went down. As you’ll recall, the Olympic was badly damaged when it struck the HMS Hawke on its fifth voyage on September 20, 1911.  

After a trial, White Star Line was found responsible for the extensive damages. Therefore, the ship was an enormous liability for the company and not eligible for any insurance coverage.

So, the theory posits the company swapped the ships’ names, and the Titanic became the new name for the Olympic. The intent: to allow the Olympic, masquerading as the newer Titanic, to have a convenient accident. Thus, the White Star Line could collect insurance as if it was the brand new Titanic.

Before that could happen, an unintended catastrophic accident arrived in the shape of an iceberg.

A Nefarious Plot That Ran Into an Iceberg

When the Titanic struck the iceberg, we all know what happened next. The ship was lost, and 1,500 people died, including Captain Smith, who was on the bridge during the 1911 Olympic accident.

Surely this couldn’t have been the idea? Well, from there, the conspiracies grow much darker:

According to Popular Mechanics:

“Other conspiracy theorists claim a more nefarious reasoning for the sinking: J.P Morgan was behind the switch, eager to use an inferior ship to drown his enemies onboard.”

Perhaps, that’s why the Titanic wasn’t allowed a public inspection before its maiden voyage? So that nobody could discover its true identity? That’s one theory…

Connecting the Dots

According to another theory, we can find evidence of a ship-swapping very easily. Just examine the portholes on the vintage photos of the two ships.

On Reddit, a popular thread examines the old photographs of the Titanic and Olympic. By counting the portholes on the top row near the white railing, it appears the Olympic had a series of oddly spaced portholes. However, the Titanic’s portholes were evenly spaced. Strangely, by the time the Titanic set off for its maiden voyage, the portholes matched the Olympic. Aha! The ships had been switched.

The Olympic before and after the Titanic
The Olympic before and after the Titanic, images via Reddit (captions added)

Holes in the Porthole Theory

As compelling as the photographic evidence may seem, Titanic researchers Steve Hall and Bruce Beveridge debunk the idea:

“The Olympic,” they write, “like the Titanic, was fitted originally with the same 14-porthole arrangement on the port side of her forecastle, but two additional portholes were later fitted; they were there in March 1912.”

Thus, the disparities are due to portholes later added, say the researchers. 

Questionable Insurance Payoff Plot

Similarly, historian Mark Chirnside addresses the likelihood that J.P. Morgan wanted to collect an insurance payoff:

“…the Titanic’ cost $7,500,000′ – and was insured ‘for $5,000,000, I understand.'” This is backed up by the IMM’s American Vice-President, Philip A. S. Franklin, who confirmed that the insurance policy was $5 million.

 

“Were there a conspiracy, one would expect that the insurance policy would have been changed to cover the entire value of the ship,” Chirnside writes. “As it was, White Star could only expect to recoup two-thirds of the ship’s value.”

Nevertheless, J.P. Morgan died not long after the Titanic sank on March 31, 1913, at age 75. He passed away due to ailing health at a hotel in Rome, Italy.

Pointing to Plates 

Other irregularities making the Titanic conspiracy doubtful: The builders improved and enlarged the Titanic’s café and restaurant. So, it was unique in more ways than peculiar porthole arrangements. For verification, one could look at what’s left of the Olympic in the White Swan Hotel today.

Also, builders added reinforced steel plates to the Olympic after the collision with the HMS Hawke.

Notably, those steel plates were still there in ship inspections through the 30s. The British Board of trade found no such plates when they investigated the Titanic.

Consequently, the evidence for the conspiracy theories is dismissed by experts and historians. Regardless, J.P. Morgan died one of the world’s wealthiest Americans, leaving behind a massive fortune.

See more facts about J.P. Morgan below from Alux.com:


Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube and image via Reddit