Every year at the New Year, fearsome monstrous mountain demons called Namahage visit children in Japan’s Akita Prefecture on the Oga Peninsula.
There, at the northern tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu, people continue the ancient customs. Although the tradition nearly died out, it has seen a rise in popularity in recent years.
With parent’s permission, men in groups of three come house to house in costume as oni-like demons carrying giant ritual knives and asking:
“Are there any crybabies here? Any kids who don’t listen to their parents?”
“Are there any naughty kids around?” the ogres scream.
“Are there any lazy daughters-in-law here?” they cry.
The Namahage warns against laziness, threatening to eat naughty children. However, they are also seen as mountain spirits that descend on the village to ward off evil. Thus, like the fairies of Ireland, they can be depicted as good or evil.
While the screaming creatures are often horrifying for kids, many parents find them a harmless and hilarious spectacle. According to the folklore, the lesson is meant to instill obedience and good morals, a tradition handed down for hundreds of years.
Carrying flaming torches, the Namahage scream as they come down from the mountains.
See scenes from the Oga Namahage Festival:
Emperor Wu of Han and the Namahage
Legends say Emperor Wu of Han arrived in Oga from the sky with five bat-like creatures over 2,000 years ago. By one account, he was in pursuit of an elixir of immortality made from a plant.
Then, the bat-like creatures transformed into demons and began kidnapping young women and stealing crops from the villages. After wreaking havoc, the villagers made a deal, hoping they could trick the demons into leaving with a difficult task.
They asked the creatures to build a giant stone staircase of 1000 stairs. It would connect the beach to the Goshado shrine in the mountains.
If the demons could make the stairs before the rooster crowed in the morning, the village would agree to turn over a young woman each year. The beasts agreed to the deal, finding it all-too-easy to move the stones.
However, on the 999th step, a villager tricked them.
Crowing like a rooster, a villager made the ogres believe daylight was upon them. Thus, the demons left feeling they had been defeated. In another version, it is an imitation demon who tricks the others, becoming the Namahage.
The Namahage custom sounds terrifying but shares some elements of Western rituals. For example, the Namahage carries a book to write down whose been naughty or nice. Then, to appease the ogres, the parents will offer them food and send them on their way. Indeed, these customs immediately invoke Santa Clause and Trick or Treaters at Halloween.
Today, the creatures appear all over the town of Oga on souvenirs. There’s also a Namagage Museum. Besides, the ritual is becoming famous in part to a new short film by director Sato Takuma.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Namahage are adopting new safety protocols. Instead of coming into homes and partaking of food offerings, they will instead roam the streets screaming from afar. Now, volunteers will wear masks as well as the ogres. Nearby, people will enjoy seafood as they watch from a safe distance.
It may be quite a relief for many kids in the town of Oga!
Each year on December 5, the Krampus arrives to beat people into being nice instead of naughty. While St. Nicholas brings sweets, the Krampus swats misbehaving kids with a switch, stuffs them into sacks, and takes them away.
Like the revitalized pagan festivals of Samhain, the Krampus and Namahage have been scaled back in 2020. However, all of these ancient rituals have been growing in popularity in recent years.
See more about the Namahage last year from The Speakeasy:
In this post, we’ll look at the hot toys from the last decade.
With the holidays upon us again, many parent’s minds turn to gifts. What will the kids want this year? Each year, toy manufacturers dream of securing the coveted title of the most popular toy.
Once the year’s hot toy is declared, parents rush to secure it, often resulting in demand exceeding supply. Soon, these toys are selling for outrageous sums on the secondary market. It’s all part of the now-traditional holiday craze.
For the prime example, who can forget 1996, the year Tickle Me Elmo hysteria was in the news? Demand for the red interactive Mupet was so intense it resulted in the trampling of a Fredericton Walmart employee.
Before the incident, more than 300 people lined up outside the store for five hours. According to AP News, assistant manager Randy Hitchcock said he hadn’t “seen such a toy craze since the days of the Cabbage Patch Kids” from 1983. Meanwhile, desperate parents who couldn’t find Elmo paid up to $1,500 on the internet to get one.
Humorously, a video showing Elmo with the fur reveals that underneath the hype was a kind of disturbing collection of plastic and various parts. Now, remember, this is what parents were willing to do anything to get their hands on.
Who wants to tickle this?
Nevertheless, every year since Elmo, Americans have come to expect a shortlist of the hot toys of the year. Now, let’s take a look at some of the top toys from the last decade. What will it be this year? Chances are, it’s not Elmo, but another famous brightly-colored animatronic creature.
2010: The iPad Takes Over
In 2010, the so-called hot toy of the year wasn’t a traditional toy at all. That year, Apple introduced a touchscreen tablet called the iPad. It was the late Steve Job’s last major innovation before his death the following year.
Ever since then, these hand-held devices have remained common in homes everywhere. However, the first iPad went obsolete fast after the 2nd generation came out in 2011. Today, Apple has released over 104 different models.
In 2010, Apple sold an astonishing 15 million iPads. It worked essentially like an oversize smartphone capable of playing games, movies, and around 140,000 apps. Since the screen was interactive, it paved the way for new video game experiences like playing air hockey with your finger.
However, the first iPad wasn’t a cheap toy, starting at $499. Interestingly, the apps cost about $10 each when the iPad first came out. Now, most are available for free on Mac or the iOs operating system.
See more about the iPad over the last decade from 91Tech:
2011: LeapPad Explorer
Following the iPad’s year, a niche quickly opened up for a touchscreen tablet made for kids. Thus, the company LeapFrog introduced the Explorer, durable enough to give to little kids age 4 to 9. By then, kids were readily using touchscreens and a stylus already!
Unlike the iPad, the Explorer was just the right size for tiny hands and much less costly to replace at $100. Consequently, it was the perfect way to lure kids away from Mom and Dad’s iPad!
Indeed, they could make their own home movies using the camera and microphone. Today, these videos are like finding a time capsule back in time!
Furthermore, the LeapPad Explorer offered educational games, music, and books. Thus, less guilt for parents since these games helped kids learn for hours. Plus, you could use cartridges or download new apps.
See the 2011 LeapPad below from The Toy Spy:
2012: The Return of Furby
By 2012, the LeapPad2 remained popular. Also, the Nintendo Wii U was hot, the first new game console from a major gaming industry company in six years. With a starting price of $299.99, this hand-held gaming device sold more than 3 million units in 2012.
However, another iconic toy, first introduced in the fall of 1998, came back in 2012. It was the Furby, the strange talking interactive furry owl-like creature for age six and up. Furby was the first successful domestically-aimed robot. It also spoke its own language, Furbish, until it gradually learned to speak English.
Fourteen years later, the 2012 edition was $54, a bit pricey for a toy that could irritate the daylights out of you? But, the new Furby had more personality, expressive LCD eyes, smartphone app compatibility, and less predictable behavior.
Amazingly, Hasbro sold over 1.8 million Furbies in 1998 alone. In three years, over 40 million were sold. In 1998, Furby cost less, around $35. However, the demand was so high they sold for hundreds on the secondary market. Today, vintage collector Furbies are worth hundreds of dollars.
Notably, Furby was once accused of being a spy by US Intelligence. The NSA banned the toy in 1999 on its premises over concerns it was possibly a Chinese-manufactured spy. Later, Tiger Electronics issued a statement that “Furby is not a spy!”
See the 2012 Furby from Tx TechDad:
2013: Flutterby Flying Fairy Doll
In 2013, Furby remained popular, while a toy called the Flutterby Flying Fairy Doll by Spin Master was one of the year’s hot toys. Strangely, a toy very similar in concept, the Sky Dancer by Galoob, was recalled in 2000. The company recalled 8.9 million Sky Dancers after 150 reported injuries to kids and adults.
Although the Sky Dancers could shoot off unpredictably, the Flutterby was supposed to be guided by your hand in flight. The lightweight fairy could stray but wasn’t likely to cause injury or damage itself when it fell. Nevertheless, it required 6 AA batteries in the base to charge up and fly for a few minutes.
Today, the Flying Fairy dolls remain popular with advanced features like light and automatic sensing.
See the Flutterby Flying Fairy Doll below from Gearshift Productions:
2014: The Hot Toys Are All Frozen
Disney’s Frozen animated musical movie was introduced in 2013, going on to box-office success. The Oscar-winning song by Snow Queen Elsa, “Let It Go,” could not be escaped, whether you liked it or not.
As a lesson about accepting the things that make us different, the song became an “Anthem of Acceptance,” per NPR.
Dolls and figures from the movie were the hot toys of 2014, including a light-up singing Snow Queen Elsa doll that sang in English and Spanish. Olaf, the animated snowman, castle sets, and other figures sold out everywhere.
See Elsa sing her heart out (again) from Barie Video World:
2015: The Droid We Were Searching For
One of the most popular toy franchises of all time, Star Wars was back in 2015 with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” From 1977 to 2005, audiences came to love the comic droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO. Then, Disney introduced a new rolly-polly droid, BB-8. The round, orange, and white droid somehow stole the show amid all the special effects.
Thus, BB-8 was one of the hot toys of 2015, selling out when it hit toy shelves. This toy was app-enabled and could be paired with your smartphone or tablet. Unlike anything seen before, the droid rolled with a removable magnetic head.
Like Furby, BB-8 was interactive, responding to voice commands with expressive sounds and motions. By 2016, the makers at Sphero introduced a Force Band device. Then, users could control BB-8 with a wave of their hand. Even better, in 2017, they introduced an app-enabled R2-D2.
In 2016, a new hot toy from Spin Master hatched onto the scene in October 2016, looking quite familiar. Hatchimals, interactive robotic furry animals that looked much like Furby, could “hatch” from colorful spotted plastic eggs. More accurately, Hatchimals seemed a cross between a Furby and a Tamagotchi, the small digital pet.
Upon hatching, the Hatchimal could then learn to walk, talk, and play games through five stages of life: egg, hatching, baby, toddler, and kid. However, it never became an adult. Color-changing eyes indicated emotions, hunger, and the need to burp.
Also, like Furby, the toy became an overnight hit, selling out as the demand far exceeded supply worldwide. Parents were shelling out more than three times the retail price of $59.99 to get one for the holidays.
Industry analysts estimated that over two million Hatchimals were sold in 2016. Interestingly, you didn’t know what your Hatchimal would look like until it left the egg, but that made for a fun surprise. Another surprise: some parents reported Hatchimals they thought were uttering vulgar phrases.
See a Hatchimal unboxing below from Waterjet Channels:
2017: Interactive Toys for Your Fingers
Following in the footsteps of Furby, 2017’s hot toy was called a Fingerling Baby Monkey. Small enough to fit on your finger, these interactive monkeys could respond to sound, touch, and motion. Sensors on the head could sense its position, causing the animated monkey to respond with sounds.
Priced at $14.99, the 5-inch-tall Fingerlings were affordable. However, the demand was so high; they sold for much as $70 on the secondary market. The month before Christmas, eBay reported that one Fingerling was sold every minute. Following the monkeys, WowWee introduced sloths, unicorns, and glitter monkeys.
See the Fingerings from WowWee:
Fingerlings were hailed as the Hatchimals of 2017, but new smaller, more affordable Hatchimals called Colleggtibles were also popular.
Like Hatchimals, a toy called L.O.L Surprise hid the toy inside a plastic sphere. Thus, half the fun was opening it to reveal one of 50 surprise toys like dolls and accessories. Indeed, thousands of unboxing videos of these toys remain popular today –each a bit of free marketing for the manufacturer.
See more about L.O.L. Surprise from Tech Insider:
2018: Bigger, Softer Monkeys That Hug
Fingerlings were a breakthrough toy in 2017. Then, the following year, they introduced Fingerlings that no longer fit on your finger. With Fingerlings HUGS, they grew to 24 inches with a plush body. Thus, they were huge in comparison but soft with long arms for cuddling instead of hard plastic.
You could also record your voice and listen as your Fingerling repeated what you said–but in their voice. Along with the monkeys, WowWee introduced large-sized sloths, unicorns, lions, and narwhals. Like the smaller versions, they could be rocked to sleep, blow kisses, and make funny noises (like farts!) when you move them.
After Hatchimals the L.O.L. Surprise dolls, toy manufacturers jumped on the ever-popular unboxing trend. Kids loved the surprise of getting a collectible toy with an element of surprise. Thus, they introduced blind-box toys with more creative reveals. In 2019, the Skyrocket Blume Doll was one of the year’s hits.
When you buy the toy, it looks like a plastic flowerpot. Using the included watering can, a doll seems to grow from the dirt magically. Slow-rise foam grows to reveal a big head of hair. Sometimes, the hair looks like hair, but some toys feature hair that looks like crystals, cake, or other things. After it grows, the hair is removable and interchangeable with other Blume dolls.
When you have revealed the dolls, the flowerpot serves as a custom playset to decorate with stickers and accessories.
See the 2019 hot toys, Skyrocket Blume Doll from The Toy Buzz:
2020: The Year of The Child?
In 2020, the hot toys of the year will almost certainly be any featuring “The Child” from Disney+’s popular The Mandalorian streaming television series. Based on the Star Wars movies, the Child is more commonly called “Baby Yoda.” Today, even while avoiding stores due to the pandemic, you can’t avoid seeing Baby Yoda merchandise everywhere.
A Hasbro animatronic version of “The Child” will certainly be one of the hit toys for 2020. Reportedly the animatronic toy for ages 4 and up makes baby noises like in the series. Also, it can attempt to use the Force, requiring a nap to recharge afterward.
Suppose you can’t find the animatronic version –no worries. There seem to a million Baby Yoda items covering just about any product you can imagine. However, it’s interesting that almost nobody calls the toy by its proper name.
Jon Favreau, the creator and head writer of the series, explained the Child is not Yoda, but the same species. Further, The Mandalorian timeline takes place after Return of the Jedi, in which Yoda passes away to become a Force Ghost. Nevertheless, the moniker “Baby Yoda” isn’t likely to pass away -ever.
See more about The Child from Good Morning America:
Carrie Fisher is an indelible part of American popular culture. She’s most known for better or worse as the rebel leader Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise.
Later in the films, she became General Leia Organa, the founder of the Resistance. As such, Leia is a hero, while Fisher remains admired by untold millions of people worldwide.
Fisher passed away at age 60 in late 2016, but Leia’s prominence in the culture only grew from there. Even after her passing, she appeared in “The Rise of Skywalker” in 2020, thanks to complex visual effects.
Although her movie role as Princess Leia is iconic, Carrie Fisher was also an accomplished actress, author of multiple novels, and a screenwriter. Since her teenage years, Fisher was acting on Broadway with her famous Hollywood mother, Debbie Reynolds.
So, what made Princess Leia so compelling? The New York Times put it this way:
“Ms. Fisher established Princess Leia as a damsel who could very much deal with her own distress, whether facing down the villainy of the dreaded Darth Vader or the romantic interests of the roguish smuggler Han Solo.”
Leia was a leader: tough, and anything but helpless. Offscreen, Carrie Fisher poked fun at the character, which she didn’t take too seriously. In her memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” Fisher remarked on her dual-bun hairstyle and makeup:
“And who wears that much lip gloss into battle? Me, or Leia, of course.”
A Comic Genius
In reality, Carrie Fisher was hilarious with a biting wit, and it comes through in all her interviews and appearances. For example, in 2005, she roasted Star Wars creator George Lucas at his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.
During the roast, she poked fun at Lucas and her appearance in the Star Wars films.
“George is a sadist, but like any abused child wearing a metal bikini chained to a giant slug about to die, I keep coming back for more.”
“You have owned my likeness all these years, so every time I look in the mirror, I have to send you a check for a couple of bucks.”
“You had that unmitigated gall to let that chick, the new girl who plays my mother, Queen Amadillo, or whatever her name is, she wears a new hairstyle and outfit practically every time she walks through a door. I bet she gets to wear a bra, even though you told me I couldn’t because there is no underwear in space!”
See the genius roast below from the American Film Institute:
Real-Life Affair with Harrison Ford
In the memoir, Carrie Fisher revealed an affair with fellow actor Harrison Ford, though he was married. The affair was short-lived during the filming of the first movie. Not even co-star Mark Hamill knew although the two were extremely close.
Thus, she preferred to call it “a very long one-night stand.” She was nineteen at the time and recorded in her journal, which later became the basis for her memoir. Notably, Fisher had forgotten writing the journals until finding them in late 2014.
See Fisher discuss her affair with Ford from TODAY:
Carrie Fisher’s Friendship with Mark Hamill
Today, actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, keeps Fisher’s memory alive on social media. Since her passing, he continues to share tributes to her regularly, celebrating her rebellious real-life persona.
Below, Hamill shared a canonized Carrie Fisher, flying the bird, as she was often humorously seen doing. Here, she holds her therapy dog, Gary, who now lives in Florida with Fisher’s former assistant, Corby McCoin. Gary helped Fisher with bipolar disorder, which she was very public about.
Fisher was active on social media with feisty, often snarky comments. For example, after seeing how critical people were of her appearance in The Last Jedi, Fisher unapologetically called on people to stop commenting on her age.
Please stop debating about whetherOR not👁aged well.unfortunately it hurts all3 of my feelings.My BODY hasnt aged as well as I have.Blow us👌🏼
In the movie, Luke Skywalker is assumed to be the last of his kind. However, according to Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, the original plans were quite different. Leia would emerge as a “fully-fledged Jedi warrior.”
“She was going to be the big payoff in the final film,” Todd Fisher said. “She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak,” reported CNET.
Instead, Leia trains Rey to be a Jedi in The Rise of Skywalker. Thus, she hands off the baton to the future, in this case, her lightsaber. The film reveals why Leia sets her lightsaber aside long ago.
Embracing Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, she says, “Rey, never be afraid of who you are.”
Today, a quote between Leia and Han Solo remains as popular as ever.
In The Empire Strikes Back, the Princess finally professes her love for the smuggler, Han Solo. (Harrison Ford) As he is about to be frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader, she says, “I love you,” to which Solo replies, “I know.”
It’s the last line Solo speaks to Leia in the film. According to legend, Ford changed the line from the scripted, “I love you, too.” However, the shooting script reveals both actors changed their lines.
“After Han kisses Leia, she says, ‘I love you. I couldn’t tell you before, but it’s true.’ But he doesn’t say, ‘I love you’ — his line is ‘Just remember that, ’cause I’ll be back.'”
On the day of shooting, Ford and director Irvin Kershner agreed to change the lines because Ford thought, “If she says, ‘I love you,’ and I say, ‘I know,’ it’s beautiful and it’s acceptable and it’s funny.” Ford also suggested reassuring Leia by saying, “I’ll be back,” but the director cut the line.
Interestingly, Fisher was annoyed that Ford changed the lines without her input. When they filmed the scene, Fisher was not speaking to Ford over the dispute. Later, Fisher came to appreciate the humor of Ford’s line.
“When they first showed the dailies to the cast and crew, they used the live sound and so when I say, ‘I love you,’ I was body-miked and it was at the right level,” Fisher tells Rinzler. “But when Harrison replied, it came out a loud echo: ‘I KNOW!’ Well, the cast and crew laughed for about 15 minutes.… But it works because they actually can make the transition from that laugh into the fact that is something very sad.”
Forty years later, the line is considered one of the best actor-improvised lines in film history.
Fisher knew that she had achieved a rare status of enduring fame thanks to Leia.
“Perpetual celebrity — the kind where any mention of you will interest a significant percentage of the public until the day you die, even if that day comes decades after your last real contribution to the culture — is exceedingly rare, reserved for the likes of Muhammad Ali.”
Indeed, Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher are permanently part of our culture. Although she passed too soon, she will always be the fearless leader of the Resistance in our hearts. As with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we must pick up where they left off.
In Ireland, stories about the fairies persist today. However, they aren’t like the fairies depicted in America at all. 🧚♂️ 🧚♀️
Rather than looking like the winged creatures of myth, Irish farmer Pat Noone says faires look like people. He’s seen them often playing music, drinking, and dancing.
“The fairies [are] the very same as us. Not quite as tall,” he says. “They are not tall people. They’re dressed in green and red,” says Irish farmer Pat Noone. However, they may also change appearance, taking on the same height as observers.
The Aos Sí Fairy World
Speaking plain English or any other language you prefer, the aos sí (fairy world) members live an congregate.
At the Green Hills Farm in Kilconnell, Noone has been farming for 40 years. There, he has become well-known for his connection to the fairies on ancient sacred land. The 17-acre farm is the site of a fairy field and a porthole to another world.
“A lot of people come here to see the fairies in this field, and they get great experiences here.
“I have the porthole to the fairy world, where the blackthorn meets the whitethorn.”
Noone says that his farm was built on a “massive ley line,” where massive ancient stones were arranged. Noon estimate the megaliths could be 7,000 years old, but nobody can say for sure.
One of the standing stones he calls “the fertility stone,” which he says draws in people sensitive to energy fields.
“There is healing from the land,” Noone says.
A large Bronze-age burial mound is the resting place of an ancient Chieftan. Noone estimates the burial took place two-and-a-half to three thousand years ago.
During construction of a railway on the farm, workers found seven halberds, ceremonial swords used by the Celts. After the sword’s discovery in 1840, the blades reside in a museum in London.
Not only does the land have a healing force, but the farmer also considers himself a healer. Using copper wire, he lowers it around volunteers.
“I can feel the weight of the wire lifting the bad energy off your body and freeing you up,” he says.
Does he claim to cure illness? No, but instead says he can release healing energy in the body and third eye.
“I don’t proclaim to cure anything. You cure yourself, but I free up your mind, and I free up your body; and your third eye and all that, I release the energy. Everybody has good energy in their body,” he says.
On occasion, the farmer has been invited to America to perform healing rituals.
“A guy from America came in here two years ago; he was a Puritan; he wanted me to do land healings in America. I was flown out to America to do land healings on up through New England.
Further explaining, he said “I do land healings for people that the land is cursed and has no luck – I will bring back the luck. I get photographs; people ring me from as far away as Scotland, Wales, and England if they’re doing land reclamation, or anything with land, to see if there’s fairy trees if they don’t want to disturb them.”
Keepers of the Sacred Land
Standing in sacred places on the land, Noone says there are portals to other worlds, which sometimes give visitors a sense of inner peace. For a generation, his family has been careful not to clear away whitethorn bushes, associated with the fairies.
Even though clearing the ground would offer more grazing for cattle, the family leaves the bushes undisturbed.
“That’s the way it should be. They were keepers of the land; they kept the land sacred,” Noone says of his father’s refusal to touch the whitethorn bushes.
Also, there are fairy trees, which visitors attach pieces of material as a “thank you or a wish to the fairies.” Now, he prefers to offer rushes because the trees were becoming totally covered in strands of cloth.
Thread: An ancient Irish tradition is a Sacred or Holy Tree. Some are said to be healing & others had roles in demarcation, divination & identity. Many were appropriated by the early Christian Church & Celtic Gods turned to Christian Saints. pic.twitter.com/LRzihtgKpK
See Pat Noone discuss the fairies below from Ronan Kelly’s Ireland:
Serenity and Terror
In 2011, Noone’s brother was on the bottom floor of the Twin Towers on 9/11. During that frightening experience, he focused on an image of the serene farm and his brother at an old ash tree. Thinking of this, the memory helped him get through the terrorist attack.
When asked what kind of things people experience at Green Hills, Noone says:
“They have found a great peace here, a great peace of mind. That’s what they have found; they have found emotions,” says Noone. “They have found a lot of other things, but I won’t put it into your mind. You’ll have to come to experience it.”
Although many people report having a sense of peace, others have been scared out of their minds. Visitors to a “fairy fort” created near an old tree have attempted to stay the night.
However, during the night, they have left in terror, refusing to say what they experienced. Other places at the farm are off-limits, as it would upset the fairies to see campers or cutting down trees.
Encounters with Fairies
Noone himself describes occasional disorienting moments where he has lost all memory of where he is. Others driving along the road have forgotten where they are for a few moments, which he calls “the fairy stray,” a trance-like state.
“The old people used to say when you go out in a fairy field; you should bring a pocket of stones. Nobody ever knew what the pocket of stones was for,” says Noone. Now, he believes the stones were needed to throw at the ground. Otherwise, one could mistake a river for a road.
Although they may be tricksters on occasion, Noone claims they are also good and want to be respected. In some cases, one might ask for a favor. However, then, they will ask for one in return.
“I’ve never asked them because I’d be afraid what they’d ask me back,” he says. “You don’t know. They could ask for another life. It could be one for one, so you never ask for something that you don’t know anything about. I wouldn’t ask the fairies, but they have serious power.”
On popular bus tours, Soskin tells visitors first-hand stories about her earlier days as a 20-year-old African American in the Richmond shipyards during World War II. During the early 40s, she worked as a file clerk in a segregated union hall.
Today, the pandemic forced the park to temporarily close. However, October 24, 2020, marked the 20th anniversary. In her 70s, Soskin personally took part in the early planning of the park. At early meetings, she was the only person of color in the room.
A Park Ranger at Age 85
By age 85, she unexpectedly became a park ranger at the park she helped design.
“My fingerprints are all over this park,” Soskin recalls.
The historic park on the San Francisco Bay is the flagship site telling the untold story of Rosie the Riveter.
Today, the popular image of Rosie, flexing her muscle with the caption, “We Can Do It!” is forever a part of American culture. In 1942, it was a popular song praising female assembly-line workers, an optimistic rallying cry.
Rosie the Riveter and Segregation
As Soskin remembers, Rosie the Riveter was always depicted as white due to segregation.
“Rosie, the Riveter was a white woman’s story,” Soskin tells visitors. “There were no black Rosies. Segregation still prevailed in California in the 1940s, and blacks were forced to work menial jobs.”
During World War II, Richmond was a boomtown as 100,000 people migrated overnight to the city to support the war effort. Suddenly, the bay was home to 56 different war industries, including bomb production and homebuilding.
In Richmond, thousands of women and men worked together to build some 747 ships at record speed between 1940 and 1945. It was more ships than any other shipyard in America.
“… Richmond’s women workers weren’t in fact riveters, since Kaiser’s new method of ship construction used welding over riveting. They were really “Wendy the Welders,” along with machinists, drivers, shipfitters, electricians, carpenters, and all kinds of other workers.”
At the time of segregation, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser hired African American workers from the South for low-level positions. Employees enjoyed rare social support programs for workers, such as childcare and pre-paid health plans.
“The Rosie the Riveter park was originally planned as an homage to the women who had worked on the home front, and it was situated in Richmond because of the enormous war effort that mobilized there, including four Kaiser Shipyards, during World War II.”
“But the park eventually became much more than that, because it was clear that women of color were involved in many of the aspects of the home front. It was not that the park planners had an approach that was wrong, it was just that the story was incomplete without my part of it. Because the story as I was telling it had not existed before.”
Following the war, African Americans were the first to lose their jobs and benefits after the war. The building where Soskin had worked as a clerk was torn down immediately. With no records left of it ever standing, Soskin tells the missing story.
Still Making History at 99
Today, Soskin tells the stories that might have otherwise been lost forever. On her tours to the scattered park sites, Soskin says people are often astounded by the untold history.
“And as I began to introduce my part of the work, it was very clear that many of the stories of Richmond during the war were not being told. There were other stories, such as of the 120,000 Japanese prisoners that had been interned in America and the Port Chicago disaster which destroyed two ships, and killed 320 people, including 202 African Americans. And these stories have now been incorporated into the park.”
Well past the average retirement age, Betty Reid Soskin started a new career. In 2015, she introduced President Obama at the National Christmas Tree Lighting. By 2018, she published her memoir, Sign My Name to Freedom, a Memoir of a Pioneering Life, and sang withthe Oakland Symphony.
Her advice for others who hope to have such a long, incredible life;
“I think that maybe if I could offer any advice, it would be to stay involved. To do anything less than that is to not measure up to one’s potential. Because you never know when you throw the spaghetti against the wall, what’s going to stick. When you’re making history, you have no idea that’s what’s happening. You don’t realize until later,” she said.
Now, although she feels like she’s “done it all,” she’s remains ready for anything.
More about Soskin from Manufacturing Talk Radio below:
We’re saying thank you to the Postal Service for all they do! Since before America claimed independence, there’s been a form of postal service. Today, they’re more essential than ever.
It’s been more than two centuries since Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775. By 1896, people in rural areas received free delivery, which today, we have generally taken for granted until recently.
Notably, more than 200 federal laws protect the sanctity of the U.S. Mail. Further, the laws are enforced by one of the oldest law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The USPS shaped how our country came to be in many ways. (see video below)
In 1847, Congress authorized United States postage stamps, and one featured Franklin. They were five cents and had to be cut apart with scissors. Another ten-cent-stamp featured George Washington, who appears on more stamps than anyone in history.
“The history of the United States Postal Service is rooted in a single, great principle: that every person in the United States – no matter who, no matter where – has the right to equal access to secure, efficient, and affordable mail service.”
The USPS Mission Statement
The USPS is an independent establishment of the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States. As such, it operates in a business-like way but is written into the U.S. Code in Title 39, the Postal Reorganization Act.
The USPS mission statement, as written in Section 101(a) of Title 39:
“The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.”
Below, see a vintage instructional film called “The Mailman” from 1946:
Postal Service Unofficial Motto
The famous unofficial motto is still commonly used today, dedicated to mail carriers’ heroic daily efforts serving Americans.
Though not official, the motto is chiseled into the granite over the entrance to the New York City Post Office on 8th Avenue. (Now the James A. Farley Building) The words come from Greek historian Herodotus in The Persian Wars.As far back as 500 B.C., the Persians had reliable mounted postal couriers.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Today, the Postal Service is delivering in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, hurricanes, earthquakes, snowstorms, and wildfires. As they carry out their duties, they keep an eye out for communities.
For example, last week, mailman Fernando Garcia ran to help a man cut by a chainsaw in California. Garcia sprang into action and used his belt as a tourniquet, saving a Norwalk resident.
“I was a little panicky but at the end of the day…did what anybody else would have done, which was to try to stop the bleeding,” Garcia said. “I was just fortunate to be there, to help him out.”
EVERY DAY HERO-A male accidently cut himself w/a chainsaw. Luckily Mail Carrier Mr. Garcia heard the family's screams & sprung into action using his belt as a tourniquet 2 stop the bleeding on the man's arm. Man has good prognosis due 2 Mr. Garcia's actions. pic.twitter.com/mzO7AzY9No
A Quote from the Former Washington D.C. Post Office
You’ll find a lesser-known inscription carved into white granite at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum. Before it became the museum, it was the D.C. Post Office.
It’s a beautiful tribute to mail carriers written by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University. Originally entitled “The Letter,” it was edited by President Woodrow Wilson before the version below was carved into the Post Office:
Today, receiving the mail has never been more important as we get through a pandemic. Postal workers are links to the world during the pandemic, delivering more packages than ever.
To thank USPS employees for putting their lives on the line for us every day, one might be tempted to give them money. However, mail carriers must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. Thus, they may not accept tips or gifts worth greater than $20 and o gifts worth more than $50 from a customer per year.
Today, digital currency stands to eliminate paper money one day, possibly. As people can now transfer money electronically on their smartphones, governments are moving to eliminate cash.
Today, business professors say that using digital currency could help eliminate the spread of viruses like Covid-19.
Whatever the eventual fate of paper money, it’s interesting to look at alternative forms of currency throughout history. So, we’ll look at two strange currencies from medieval times.
One of these forms of money lost popularity after a pandemic, the Black Plague. The other currency may have helped stop the spread of the same widespread pandemic.
Finally, we’ll look at one odd paper money with a fascinating story. (But not plague-related for a happy change!)
Eels as Currency
In medieval England, one common form of currency was eels. Recently, a Ph.D. student in Medieval Studies from Cornell University, Dr. John Wyatt Greenlee, explained how the eels were used.
So may great questions! I’ll try to get to them in coming days. But, briefly:
There were LOTS of eels in medieval England. People ate them, traded them, wrote about them, & paid taxes in them. In 1200 there were 500k+ eels being paid in in-kind taxation each year. Here’s a map! pic.twitter.com/tHlHqDCDKZ
Greenlee shared a map showing where people paid taxes in eels. In 1200, people paid as many as 500 thousand eels. Landlords received payments from their tenants in “sticks” of 25 eels. On the other hand, the English called a bundle of ten eels a “bind.”
“Many landlords collecting rent payments in eels were monasteries; being paid in eels meant the monks would have enough fish to eat during the Lenten season when they couldn’t eat meat. The fish was thought to be the perfect food to eat to suppress sexual thoughts during this fasting season.”
Dr. Greenlee, now an eel historian, says that an Amazon Prime subscription would cost between 150 and 300 eels today. However, European eels are critically endangered. Thus, Greenlee is trying to show people why endangered animals like eels are worth saving today.
Eels After the Black Death
In 1348 and ’49, the Black Death outbreak led to a rapid 90% decline in rent payments made in eels annually during the 13th century and the 14th century. Unfortunately, the human population declined rapidly. At the same time, other forms of protein became available, and it seems eels were no longer as essential.
Next, we’ll look at another animal form of currency that seems to have protected a country to some extent from a plague.
As we’ve seen, eels were an extremely popular currency in England until the Black Death. Meanwhile, in medieval Russia, one popular form of money was squirrel pelts. The pelts were a form of currency. Also, people used parts like ears, claws, and snouts. Today, we speculate those parts were to make change.
Pennsylvania Bank executive David Doty collects odd forms of currency from around the globe. In a CNBC interview, Doty speculated about a possible benefit of trading in squirrels during the Black Plague.
By reducing the number of squirrels, it stands to reason it also could have reduced the exposure to infected fleas.
“During the Black Plague, Russia didn’t get hit as hard as everybody else. By making their currency the squirrel pelt, it may have reduced the number of disease-bearing parasites,” Doty explained.
However, today Russia is cracking down on hunting another rodent, the marmot. Officials suspect the hunters on the border with Mongolia and China could be spreading bubonic plague carried by the animals.
Red Squirrel Currency
In medieval Europe, red squirrel pelts were a form of currency and appeared in currency exchange charts until 1926.
In Finland, the word for money, Raha, translated to ‘dried fur,’ comes from squirrels. If you had ten pelts, it was called a Tikkuri, while 40 pelts were called a Kiihetelys. With 100 pelts, you could buy yourself a cow.
Seeing how we can now trade in digital currency, could it be going the way of the squirrel soon? That’s the topic of this video from VoxCreative below:
Cook Islands Bill Featuring Ina Riding a Shark
Now for something totally unrelated but fascinating. One of the weirdest paper currencies may be a bill from the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.
On the note, which can be 3 or 20 dollars, a naked woman rides a shark into the sunset. As she rides, she holds a coconut, which she has opened by cracking it on the shark’s head, per the legend.
Per the island myth, she’s the loved one of the Eastern Polynesian God of the Ocean named Tinirau. The sea God lived on a floating island called the Sacred Isle Motu-Tpau.
On a journey to visit Tinirau, Ina travels by shark, aided by Tekea the Great, the king of all sharks, per the Cook Island News.
Ancient DNA Tied to Ina
Interestingly, an American man from Montana, Darrell Crawford, was found to have the oldest North American DNA ever tested last year. Astonishingly, his mitochondrial DNA was traced back 17,000 years to an ancient female ancestor: Ina, one of four ancient ancestors, including Ai, Chie, and Sachi.
The four women were among the earliest colonizers of North and South America. The ancient women’s mitochondrial DNA was passed through generations until today as discussed in the Seven Daughters of Eve by Oxford genetics researcher Bryan Sykes.
As another odd footnote: The Cook Islan $3 bill featured Ina is by artist Rick Welland who died in 2016. Little did he know, his artwork and the bill became one of the country’s most sought-after souvenirs after it was adopted in 1992. Before he died, he was surprised to learn the bills were going for $300 on eBay.
Footnote: Last year, the island’s government reportedly provided $450,000 in the budget to reprint more of these bills.
Guy Daniels from North Kingstown, Rhode Island, added 21 new all-female feathered family members in April. He and his wife decided to try his luck at raising chickens in his back yard, and it was going great after building a large chicken coop.
“We used to have some years ago and decided to do it again,” he said.
After many months, the chickens were finally old enough to start laying. That’s when Daniels decided to set up a roadside stand to sell the eggs.
Along the road by a fence, he set up a table and refrigerator with a sign that read, “Fresh Organic Eggs.” Using the honor system, he allowed the community to pick up the eggs and leave just $3 for a dozen.
“It’s just for fun,” Daniels explained.
An Egg Thief
Almost two weeks later, Daniels discovered that someone had stolen the refrigerator, the eggs, and the money. A new sign was added to the fence that read, “Sorry, no eggs today. Someone stole fridge, eggs, & money” with a frowny face. 😕
A frustrated Daniels took to social media, reporting what happened to the page for the town. After describing what the thief took, he wrote, “Really? Did you need it so bad, you had to steal from us? I can’t afford to buy another fridge so I’ll try using a cooler. What a discouraging way to start the day.”
That’s when the community came to the rescue within minutes!
“It was the dark-heartedness that really bummed us out, but the response we got just blew us out of the water,” Daniels said.
Faith in Humanity –Restored
Hundreds of people started posting messages of support. Then, a woman named Deb Lynn decided to offer Daniels a mini-fridge to replace the one stolen.
I thought, that’s terrible, in these trying times somebody is trying to sell eggs to make a little bit of money,” said Lynn. “I had an extra mini-fridge, so I posted on there I have an extra one I had one I can drop it off at your house after work.”
Later, the kindhearted woman from nearby Exeter stopped by and delivered the fridge in person. She had never met Daniels before but wanted to help.
“When this guy needs the fridge. I’m like good karma, what goes around comes around,” she said. “I don’t need money that bad I give things away all the time; I’m a giver,” she told NBC.
“That was really wonderful and generous of her. We appreciate her,” said a thankful Daniels.
Soon, another person came by to donate a second refrigerator. Even better, dozens stopped by to express interest in buying eggs.
“Make you want to give, makes you want to pass it on or pay it forward,” said Daniels. “It’s wonderful to know that the town supported us that fast and that generous,” he said.
On social media, people commented on how touched they were to see their community rallying together.
“As disheartening as this was…it is uplifting to see the outpouring of support for you as well as the offers to replace your fridge. So sorry this happened to you.”
Daniels responded after seeing hundreds of supportive comments:
“I can’t cover everyone, but thanks for all the kind words, The two replacement fridges, the offering to chip in to buy one, It is very encouraging. My day was turned around by you wonderful people. I love NK. And thank you all!!!”
North Kingstown sounds like a great community! Plus, they also know how to enjoy themselves, judging by the Halloween festivities at nearby Wickford Village. Witches and Warlocks took to the harbor on paddleboards!
The Carolinas are a hotbed of documented UFO sightings. In fact, the Queen City of Charlotte has been rated among the top 10 large North American cities for UFO sightings. So far, there have been 153 sightings of mysterious lights, discs, and orbs in the sky since 1910.
Last year, we shared the story of a man from Liberty, North Carolina, who caught a UFO on a Facebook Live video. Now, there has been another similar UFO sighting reported in the Charlotte Observer.
This time, an 88-year-old Korean War combat veteran and 45-year pilot came forward with his UFO account. Charles Cobb of Morganton once served on a Navy destroyer during the Korean War. Thus, he’s certainly familiar with aircraft, but at 11:18 a.m. on June 12, 2020, he saw something unlike he’d ever seen before.
“None of my flying friends have any idea as to what it was,” he said.
Zooming Orange Orb UFO with Kite-like Tail
Cobb makes daily visits to Silver Creek Airport in Morganton, where he keeps a 1940 Piper Cub. On Friday, the 12th, he was sitting at the airport and spotted a strange object in the sky.
An orange-tinged orb was moving in the sky. As it shot up and down, it moved in the direction of Table Rock, a popular tourist spot with a panoramic view. For 15 to 20 minutes, he observed it flying.
After all his years around aircraft, he hadn’t seen one that could “zoom up almost out of sight” as it was doing.
Definitely Not a Comet
The longtime pilot described a round, irregular orb shooting thousands of feet into the air. Then, it would plummet back down and soar back up again. Cobb estimated it was some 30,000 to 40,000 feet high with an exhaust plume trailing behind it. At times, it would vanish and then fly paralell to the ground.
As a pilot, he knew how to identify aerial phenomena such as comets, and this was no comet.
“Comets come toward you,” he said. However, this object “always pointed north.”
At first, he thought it appeared to be “a huge kite with a tail.” In the middle of the orb, it appeared to be “opaque.” After watching a while, he took out his iPad and snapped photos of the object, which he later shared with the Observer.
The Observer confirmed with the nearby Astronomy Club that the object was almost certainly not a comet. Bernard Arghiere, the board director of the Asheville group confirmed:
“There is no reported astronomical object, certainly not a comet, in the sky that would appear that bright on that June 12, 2020, date,” Arghiere said in an email. “There were no comets then that would be that bright, so they would be visible in the daytime sky.
“It really looks to me more like sunlight reflected off a distant jet and its related condensation trail; typically, that would disappear from sight in less than 20 minutes.”
“Good luck getting a definitive answer on this one,” he added.
Veteran Pilot Says It Wasn’t a Plane or Reflection
Notably, Cobb pointed out that he viewed the orb for an extended period and was convinced it was not a plane reflection.
“No reflection off a jet,” he said. “This object, while zooming to incredible heights, and coming back down, was always heading in a northerly direction as the photos show, yet it remained in the general area that I was viewing.
“A plane of any sort passing through my viewing area would have been out of sight in a matter of a few minutes,” he said.
More Sighting Nearby
Going by reports to the National UFO Reporting Center, we can see that similar reports took place around the time of Cobb’s sighting, the morning of June 12.
About ten hours after Cobb saw the orb, Huntersville’s witness reported seeing “bright light flares” turning 90 degrees in the sky.
Then, in nearby Salisbury the following morning, someone reported a “spear or teardrop structure streaming across the sky with a vapor trail and cast off glare from the rising sun.”
In Arden, NC, someone reported a “Glowing orange inverted teardrop silently flying low overhead,” on June 29. Alos, orange orbs were reported in Ocean Isle Beach on the same day and previously on the 25th over North Myrtle Beach.
Indeed, the reports about orange flying orbs are very common. Below, see a couple of the posts we’ve made about these UFOs.
The International Business Times shared the story about Cobb’s UFO sighting. Also, they noted that “UFO sightings in various parts of the globe have increased drastically.” The rise in reports follows the 2017 Pentagon admission that they have secretly been studying unidentified aerial phenomena for years.
Cobb decided to come forward with his account after seeing the video below about an airline pilot who reported a UFO. The object came dangerously close to the plane he was piloting as it traveled from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte in 2003.
When you think of the word Chimera, you might think of the mythological beast. In Greek myths, the Chimera was a female fire-breathing monster with three different animal appearances.
A Strange Mythological Beast
From the front, a Chimera had a lion’s appearance. However, the middle was that of a goat. At the back end, the Chimera resembled a dragon. Nevertheless, artistic representations are widely different. Sometimes, the lion has a bizarre goat’s head in the middle of its back with the tail of a snake.
Today, Chimera can describe any imaginary beast seen in architecture. More broadly, the word conjures a fanciful illusion, fabrication, or unrealizable dream, according to Merriam-Webster.
Apart from the mythological beasts, Chimeras are also very real. In fact, it’s possible that many people are Chimeras, to some degree. Also, it’s known that many mammal species are a type of Chimera due to the ancient process of childbirth.
What does that mean?
A Chimera describes a person or animal with two different sets of DNA in their bodies. Sometimes, the DNA is from the same species, but today, Chimeras can also feature genes from different species.
Artificially Created Chimeras
How does this happen? Chimeras occur naturally but can also happen as a result of genetic tinkering. (Hence, the possibility of more than one species.)
Today, due to advances in DNA gene editing, scientists can create Chimeras in the lab. Firstly, in 2015, Chinese scientists first edited human embryos’ DNA using a gene-editing technique. By 2018, a Chinese scientist announced Chinese girls named Lulu and Nana had been successfully born with edited genes.
Ethically, creating Chimeras in a lab is, of course, extremely controversial. The practice, along with CRISPR gene-editing in human embryos, sparked a global outcry from scientists. It remains illegal in most parts of the world.
More recently, the researchers who developed the CRISPR tool won the Nobel Prize. The technique has transformed responsible genetic science, but an international team concluded it wasn’t mature enough to alter human embryos. Nevertheless, it’s already happened.
See more from ABC News Australia below:
Naturally Occurring Chimeras
Historically, most Chimeras occurred naturally. For example, a woman pregnant with fraternal twins can give birth to a Chimera.
If one embryo dies in the womb, it can be absorbed by its twin. Thus, a baby is born with two sets of DNA. Most of the time, the person won’t ever know they are a Chimera. The New York Times dubbed it a “pregnancy souvenir.”
Also, a pregnant mother can become a Microchimera when she absorbs cells from a fetus that migrate into the blood and organs. Interestingly, this type of Chimera could be “very common, if not universal,” according to experts.
In addition, there have been studies that show Microchimeras are common. Unfortunately, mothers lose twins at a relatively high rate, as much as 21 to 30% of the time. It’s referred to as the “Vanishing Twin Syndrome.” In such cases, it’s possible the mother may absorb the cells.
Researchers can detect Microchimeras by finding mothers who have a Y chromosome found only in males. In such cases, they know for sure that the cells came from a male fetus.
Interestingly, the cells can live inside the mother for a lifetime. In one case, a woman who lived to 94 years old was found to have DNA traces from her male fetus inside her brain. Scientists are just beginning to research how these cells could influence behavior.
Rare Documented Human Chimeras
Cases in which a person is a documented Chimera remain exceedingly rare, with as few as 30 documented cases worldwide.
In one case, a mother named Lydia Fairchild almost lost custody of her children when Social Services discovered her children didn’t share her DNA. Then, she was accused of abducting the children!
After many accusations, a court officer witnessed her giving birth to another child, immediately testing the baby. Even so, the test showed the child wasn’t hers, and officials still suspected she was a surrogate.
Finally, a similar case from Boston tipped off her attorney that she could be a Chimera. Following testing, Fairchild was found to be her own twin and not an imposter.
See more from Facts Verse below:
Organ and Tissue Transplant Chimeras
When a person receives tissue or organs from a donor, that can technically result in a Chimera. A donor’s bone marrow retains the donor’s DNA. Sometimes, the recipient has 100% donor DNA in their blood cells. In this case, it’s called “complete chimerism.”
In other cases, there’s a case of “mixed chimerism,” with DNA from donor and recipient mixed.
In nature, sometimes, a Chimera can exhibit the genetic traits of both males and females. Recently, one such specimen was found in Pennsylvania. There, a beautiful songbird called a grossbeak was found exhibiting male coloration on the right and female on the left. In 60 years of bird collection, only five cases have been recorded.
Amazingly, the grossbeak was perfectly split down the middle as male and female. Consequently, it’s a case of bilateral gynandromorphism, a type of genetic chimerism.
The condition has been found in lobsters, crabs, shrimp, ants, butterflies, moths, spiders, and bees. However, it’s exceedingly rare. In humans, it’s thought that hormones that determine sex rule out cases of bilateral gynandromorphism.
The researcher who captured the bird alive said finding the bird was like “seeing a unicorn,” a “once-in-a-lifetime discovery.” The rare bird’s discovery delighted the biologists who found the bird as part of a routine banding program. Afterward, the researchers released it back into the wild.
See the bird below in the video from LiveScience:
A Chimera Cardinal
Last year, another male/female songbird was spotted in Erie, Pennsylvania. This time, it was a northern cardinal. In appearance, it had the female colors on the left and the red male colors on the right.
A homeowner who set up a bird feeder described how the bird behaved, singing with a male companion in courtship behavior.
“It does seem to be traveling with a male. Every time we have seen this bird, there is a male cardinal as a companion. They always fly in and out of our yard together,” Caldwell told Forbes.
Although both a male and female, the Cardinal may be able to produce eggs. On the left side, it could have one functional ovary.