The Sixth Greatest Mystery of All Time:  Who killed the Lindbergh baby, the Black Dahlia, Nicole Simpson and Jon Ramsey Benet?

MurderMysteryLogoAre you a “Crime Voyeur?”  Do you religiously follow all of the “Crimes of the Century?”  Can you hardly wait for the next tidbit of evidence or the suspect interview?  Do you spin your own theories based on conjecture rather than facts?  Do you get exasperated with the police, relatives, witnesses, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and jurors who are all so biased that they would not know the truth if it hit them between their eyes?  Of course, “who done it” is so elementary “My Dear Watson”, that Sherlock Holmes would not waste five minutes on the case.  But even though the case is elementary to all but the blind, you succumb to the newspapers and lurid TV stories with full knowledge that the media is selling RED.  If it’s red, it’s read!  Gore sells more!  When it bleeds, people read!

(Murder Mystery – Scouting For Girls)  Listen to the song as you read my blog.

So okay, I confess, mea culpa, I am a junkie for crime cases.  I too am one of the ones to spin theories and suspects out of thin air and “hardly facts.”  Alas, if only we were forensics specialists or the lead detectives, we could have these cases wrapped up as fast as they do on Glades or Midsomer Murders or Bones.  In less time than it takes to sweat a suspect, we would have the murder weapon, confession, body, motive and a jury screaming for blood.  Hang em high!  If you do the crime, you pay the time!

Why is it that no one else but us (and of course TV detectives) can figure out the obvious?  The clues are staring the police in the face but they don’t see them.  How can they miss the connections that are so apparent to us?  If only they would ask for our help.  We could easily solve the case.  But no, they are the professionals and they don’t want our help.  Thus, the case drags on and on and all the time we sit here knowing full well “who done it.” columbo

So you want to know who killed Nicole Simpson or Jon Ramsey Benet!  Well, you probably already know but either you do not want to believe it or you want Moses to come down with the perps name written on two tablets along with a confession.   If so, you have watched too many TV detective crime solving stories.  Understand that in TV crime solving procedure, everything is black and white.  There are no politics in TV murders or missing bodies.  The suspect only needs a little persuasion done by our intrepid crime fighters and a full confession is forth coming along with the motive and murder weapon.  The body has already been found or you would not have much if any story.  Most TV dramas start off with the discovery of the gruesome remains of a cadaver followed by much flippant analysis between the Medical Examiner and the lead detective or between the lead detective (LD) and the forensic pathologist (FP).

LD – They found the body about 11 PM in the park under the Cypress tree. 

FP – You mean with anyone else but me? (Laughs)

LD – That mean you want to tell me where you were between 10 and 12 PM last night? (Smirk)

FP – If you don’t remember, I’m not telling you. (Giggles)

LD – I suppose we should go over that again tonight, but right now we have a murder mystery and only 60 minutes minus 30 minutes of commercials to solve it.  (Serious)

FP – You bet.  Don’t think our advertisers and sponsor would want us to go over our time slot.

Did you pick up the “subtle” innuendoes about sex between our crime fighting team?  Did you notice how nonchalant they were over the body that was torn limb from limb or left in a reeking vat of sulfuric acid?  It takes a lot of fortitude to be a TV dick.  I am sure that most real life detectives wish they had these abilities.  Of course, if they did, they would be making closer to a million dollars a year and not under a hundred thousand dollars a year.  Real life is not fair.  Not only do TV dicks solve crimes faster they make a whole lot more money doing it.

off_beat_detective_stories_195905It seems like in the “good old days” (Whenever they were), it was much easier to solve crimes.  You did not have to waste as much time on procedure, facts, evidence and suspect rights.  Things started going south when the Miranda decision was rendered and suddenly suspects were entitled to their rights.  It is a lot easier to solve crimes when you can bypass this legal roadblock.  I mean really, why should I need a search warrant to look through your house or car?  Why should I need probable cause to wiretap your phone?  Why can’t I search you without consent or your lawyer being present?  How can anyone expect me to solve the crime if these legalities are tying my hands?  What ever happened to good old country justice?  Back when we knew they were guilty but couldn’t prove it and hung em anyway?  What a waste of time these trivial legalities are.  Real cases take years to solve and on TV they do it in less than 60 minutes and that often includes the trial.  Maybe we should be hiring more TV detectives on the real police force.

TV detectives are able to get warrants in less than five minutes and when they don’t have them, they break in anyway.  Ever notice how good TV dicks are at picking locks?  Real detectives never come out of a suspect interview with a confession whereas TV dicks get full confessions in less time than it takes for their coffee to go cold.

TV Dick:  We know you did it. (Nonchalant)

Suspect:  You can’t prove a thing. (Smug)

TV Dick:  You think you are clever, but you left the coffee pot on right after you stabbed your ex-wife to death. (Smile)

Suspect:  So what? (Perplexed)

TV Dick:  Well the water ran out and the butler had to refill the pot (Serene)

Suspect:  You don’t mean to say? (Worried)

TV Dick:  Right, he found the gun in the bottom of the coffee pot that you stashed there when you heard him coming and it had your finger prints all over it. (Resolute)

Suspect:  Dam – never thought anyone would look in the coffee pot.  (Chagrined)

TV Dick:  Next time you murder your ex, turn the coffee pot off.  (Fading laughter)

Did you notice a disconcerting fact that was overlooked during this repartee?  The wife was stabbed to death but the gun was the murder weapon.  Well, such contradictory facts often come up in TV dramas but you need to suspend belief or least put all logic on hold while you watch these crime stories.  Better to save your logic for the real life crimes.   Let’s look at a few of the most famous cases from the last century.  We will thus put a lie to the idea that there is ever a single solitary “crime of the century.”

Who killed Nicole Simpson? 

Well, we know from the facts (Forget the DNA) that he was big, strong, fast and angry.  That rules out just about everybody but O. J. Simpson.  Now if you are a White person you are puzzled by the fact that so many Black people felt O. J. was innocent.  Actually that was not the case.  Every Black person I knew thought O. J. was guilty.  The real question was who was guiltier:  The Police, Nicole or O. J?  Simpson represented a good many things to the Black community.  He was successful, good looking, famous and rich.  He was a Black man who had become respectable and admired in White society.

Oj and GloveThe L.A. Police department was racist, racist and more racist.  Nicole was a White woman taking advantage of her looks to marry a rich Black man and then trying to take him to the cleaners for alimony and child support while screwing as many other guys as she could.  So we have a three way triangle here.  Who is guilty?   Who was in the wrong place at the wrong time?  Who falsified evidence and clearly overlooked any semblance of objective police procedure?  The answers to these questions are as obvious as the lines in your palm.  The MAN who killed Nicole is now doing time for another crime.  Justice will out one way or another.

Who killed the Lindbergh baby?

What wonders about the conflict or confusion in this case?  You are found with the money.  You are spending the money.  You have motive and opportunity and ability.  You have wood from a ladder used in the murder.  You have a witness who recognized your voice.  What is the problem?  Bruno Hauptmann was so guilty it was a crime to even have a trial.  However, did he do it himself or have an accomplice?

The evidence suggests someone else got away scot free.  But I suggest you not worry about it.  Detectives are out to close cases not necessarily find all the guilty parties.  You cannot bring back Baby Charles by finding the other killer.  The parents were satisfied that justice was done.  The courts were satisfied.  The cops were satisfied, so what is the problem?  People seem to hate cases where conspiracies and great complexity do not exist.  Perhaps we are watching too many TV shows where the TV dicks generally have a dozen or more suspects and through mind boggling forensic and analysis techniques gradually narrow it down to the one whom you least suspect.  In real life, the one who you most suspect is probably the guilty party.

Who killed the Black Dahlia?

black_dahliaLong before Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, we had the Black Dahlia:  Beautiful aspiring actress trying to break into stardom by spending time in bed with the right people.  Was the killer a jilted boyfriend or simply some sick psycho?  Her body was found cut in half and posed in a manner either to provide ultimate humiliation or ultimate revenge.  There was no shortage of suspects or people who confessed to the murder.

“The Black Dahlia murder investigation was conducted by the LAPD. The Department also enlisted the help of hundreds of officers borrowed from other law enforcement agencies. Owing to the nature of the crime, sensational and sometimes inaccurate press coverage focused intense public attention on the case.

About 60 people confessed to the murder, mostly men. Of those, 25 were considered viable suspects by the Los Angeles District Attorney. In the course of the investigation, some of the original 25 were eliminated, and several new suspects were proposed. Suspects remaining under discussion by various authors and experts include Walter Bayley,[14] Norman Chandler, Leslie Dillon, Joseph A. Dumais, Mark Hansen, George Hill Hodel, George Knowlton, Robert M. “Red” Manley, Patrick S. O’Reilly, Woody Guthrie, Orson Welles, and Jack Anderson Wilson.”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Dahlia

Which one of her many boyfriends could it have been?  Which one of the many “Avengers” could have done it?  Since she was a gold digging fame seeking femme fatale, each of them probably had plenty of motives.  The evidence suggests that whoever did it had a very sick mind and enjoyed the mutilation more than the murder.  Will we ever know?  Experts say probably not.  But that will not keep us from speculating.

Nothing is more fascinating that a sexy woman, lurid killing, and plenty of suspects.  Once upon a time, we had the antics of the Gods to keep us engrossed.  Greek God stories abound with twisted tales of murder, incest, rape, infanticide, parricide and imaginative revenge.  Today, we have serial killers and an endless series of stories about them.  There are biographies, autobiographies, TV shows, interviews, documentaries, movies and a zillion fictional novels about serial killers.  Type in “serial killers” on Google and you will get over one million hits. Type in “serial killer books” and you will get over two hundred thousand hits.  Who killed the Black Dahlia? Who really cares?  As long as the murders keep coming we can stay glued to the tabloids.  Next please!

Who Killed Jon Ramsey Benet?

Jonbenet-ramseyJon Ramsey Benet was a cute little six year old girl; beauty queen pageant winner at the age of five.  She was found strangled and bludgeoned in the basement of her own upper middle class home.  Suspects:  Parents or Kidnapper?  Initial police investigation focused on parents.  Shoddy forensic work, poor crime scene investigation and perhaps two killers smarter than the police all lead up to a tangled web of “who done it.”  Accusations went back and forth and forth and back.  Parents or kidnappers, kidnappers or parents, parents or kidnappers?

Let’s start from the three basics:  Motive, opportunity and ability.  Who had the motive?  Was it the parents or the kidnappers?  Jon’s mother was said to be high strung and pushy.  She had no apparent motive to kill her daughter but if it was an accident she did not seem like the kind of person to just admit it and take the consequences.  Together with her husband, they had plenty of motive to hide the crime and try to make it look like someone else did it.  The ransom note seems like a pretty farfetched piece of logic for any real kidnappers to have written.  It seems highly unlikely to have been written by anyone who did not know the family well.  If it was a kidnapping and they knew the family well, it stretches the imagination to think that they could have believed they could get away with it.  If Jon knew them and they needed to kill her then how could they follow up the ransom demand for the money?  The kidnappers would only have one motive and that was money.  But money was never taken or put on the table and how could they expect to get any money once Jon’s body was found?  If the kidnappers were really killers solely out for revenge, then why the bit with the ransom note?  Not a good way to get revenge. If you are out for revenge, you want the victim to know it.

Let’s move on to opportunity.  Kidnappers would have had far less opportunity for this crime than the family had.  They would have had to burglar the house, find their way around in the dark, make little or no noise and kill Jon silently so they did not wake her parents up.  If they were going to kidnap the child for money and by some unlucky chance they accidently killed her, then why not take the body and at least go through the charade of ransoming the child for money?  They did not take the body and it does not make sense to think that if they were prepared to take a live child away that they could not have taken her dead body.

Finally, who had the ability to kill Jon?  This is an easy question.  A six year old child could easily be killed by either a male or female adult.   Either by intention or accident, small children or killed every day by negligent parents.

Approximately fifteen children under the age of fourteen die every day in this country as a result of unintentional injuries, totaling more than 5600 children per year.  Although surely not all, many of these deaths were undoubtedly caused by parental negligence.  Yet despite the prevalence of these fatalities, almost no research explores the treatment of these cases by the criminal justice system.  Commentators often assert that parents are rarely prosecuted in cases involving deaths due to parental negligence, but they completely fail to cite any authority for that proposition.  In addition, prosecutors are relying on the common perception that a failure to prosecute is the norm when making charging decisions in individual cases. — CRIME AND PARENTHOOD: THE UNEASY CASE FOR PROSECUTING NEGLIGENT PARENTS Copyright 2006 by Northwestern University School of Law, Northwestern University Law Review, Vol.  100, No. 2

According to data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), 49 States reported a total of 1,593 fatalities.  Based on these data, a nationally estimated 1,640 children died from abuse and neglect in 2012.  The disparity in numbers between the two studies is created by the different definitions of negligence.  It would seem the 2006 study includes potentially accident deaths whereas the 2012 study only includes confirmed reports of abuse or neglect.

Given the large number of children either accidently or otherwise killed by parents, it does not seem far afield to think that either Patsy or John might have accidently killed Jon and then together engaged in an elaborate cover up.  This seems a more likely scenario then either of them calling the police and saying that they killed Jon by accidently hitting her in the head.  However, since the coroner ruled the main cause of death to be strangulation and asphyxia, it is harder to believe that any loving parents could resort to such a cold blooded method of murder, particularly when any actual motive by her parents to kill her did not exist.

Finally, complicating the question of “who done it” is the DNA found on two separate pieces of Jon’s clothing.

“The match of Male DNA on two separate items of clothing worn by the victim at the time of the murder makes it clear to us that an unknown male handled these items. There is no innocent explanation for its incriminating presence at three sites on these two different items of clothing that Jon Benét was wearing at the time of her murder.”  —- Mary T. Lacy, District Attorney (2008-07-09). “Letter from DA to John Ramsey”.  District Attorney’s Office, Twentieth Judicial District, Boulder, Colorado.  Retrieved 2008-07-09.

If the DNA rules out family members (seems like this is logical to assume), if the kidnappers did not seem to want the child and if we rule out revenge on Jon as a motive, we are left with no suspects.  No suspects, unless, the DNA evidence, handwriting analysis and medical examiner’s report are wrong.  If any of these are wrong or all are wrong, the logic of the case points right back to the family.  Either brother, father or mother may have had the Motive, ability and opportunity.  If the evidence is incontrovertible, then as Simpson’s attorney said “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.”  If the evidence is valid, then Jon’s parents are not guilty and we can assume that another motive which has not been uncovered was the reason.  Perhaps some nutcase parent thought Jon was too much competition for her daughter and decided to take matters in her own hands.  Sounds unlikely, but it has been known to happen.

Time for Questions:

Who do you think did it?  Why?  Can you provide Motive, ability and opportunity or just conjecture?

Life is just beginning.

 

The Fifth Greatest Mystery of All Time:  Where are the tombs of Jesus, Buddha, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Attila?

Grave-Robbing-MainThere is probably no trade as honorable or at least as old (besides prostitution) as the trade of grave robbing.  There are two types of grave robbing:  legal and illegal.  If you think history is impartial and objective, think again.  Archeologists, anthropologists and many other scientists are nothing but legalized and licensed tomb raiders.  There are a few significant differences between tomb robbers and archeologists.  Tomb robbers suffer more from a lack of fame and defamation of character than do archeologists.  Once you have a degree, you have the potential to become famous for looting the right tombs whereas grave robbers will forever remain faceless and nameless.  Furthermore, grave robbers have been the butt of much calumny throughout history.  Witness, the many movies made wherein our heroes (who are invariably famous scientists, i.e. legal grave robbers) are in contention with the bad bandits and crooks (i.e., illegal or at least non-degreed tomb raiders) who are attempting to abscond with the findings of the legal crooks.   (Click to hear the Archeologist Song)

Alex West:
Lara Croft… still pretending to be a photojournalist? Ya know, I think it’s really cool that you can still keep a day job.

Lara Croft:
So, Alex, still pretending to be an archaeologist?
tomb raiders

Alex West:
Lara, do we always have to fight like this? Maybe we don’t.

Lara Croft:
Hmm… maybe we do.

Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass speaks to the media about the newly discovered rare intact mummy at the Step Pyramid of SaqqaraThe good archaeologist or tomb raider always has a beautiful girlfriend or boyfriend who acts as a side kick and someone disposable or at least predestined to be kidnapped and tortured.  Said kidnapping and torture are necessary for a variety of reasons, the bottom line being to get to the treasure first or to get hold of the precious antiquities that are invariably found in the burial vault.  If you are wondering why our heroes or heroines (Lara Croft) have any legal right or even more right to the claim than the bad guys, you should not finish reading this blog.  You need to pick up a copy of Adolf Berle’s famous treatise on power and read it at least ten times.  Here are Berle’s five rules for power.  Notice specifically rules three, four and five.  These three rules give the legitimacy to the anointed as opposed to the rabble who merely usurp power by virtue of want or greed.  Greed doth drive both archeologists and tomb raiders, but only the anointed can rob graves with impunity.

  • The “0th” rule . . . . “Power is always preferable to chaos.
  • Rule One: Power invariably fills any vacuum in human organization.
  • Rule Two: Power is invariably personal.
  • Rule Three: Power is invariably based on a system of ideas or philosophy. Absent such a system or philosophy, the institutions essential to power cease to be reliable, power ceases to be effective, and the power holder is eventually displaced.
  • Rule Four: Power is exercised through, and depends on, institutions. By their existence, they limit, come to control, and eventually confer or withdraw power.
  • Rule Five: Power is invariably confronted with, and acts in the presence of, a field of responsibility. The two constantly interact, in hostility or co-operation, in conflict or through some form of dialog, organized or unorganized, made part of, or perhaps intruding into, the institutions on which power depends.

So why do we common folk care about the tombs of Alexander and Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun?  The fact is that what truly fascinates us is the same thing that drives tomb raiders and archeologists:  Lust!  Lust for buried treasure – the most holy grail of all holy grails!  To stub one’s toe on a golden eagle and to find that it is connected to a hundred other golden eagles is a fantasy that like gold in tresure boxwinning the lottery actually happens to people like us.  People who are average every day citizens going about their 8-5 jobs with hopes and dreams of someday becoming rich.  We have long since given up on the idea that we will strike it rich like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, but we have not given up hope.  It is a hope that we too might just get lucky where hard work and brains have failed us.  It happens every day so why not to us.

Buried gold coins found in California backyard go on sale:  A hoard of roughly 1,400 U.S. gold coins from the 1800s discovered in a Sierra Nevada family’s backyard will go on sale Tuesday night in San Francisco, where most of the coins were minted. –— 2014, Los Angeles Times

However, what distinguishes most of us from archeologists and tomb raiders is that whereas we have merely hope and greed to motivate us and seldom do more than buy a lottery ticket, they take action.  Archeologists even go to college for many years to first legitimize their treasure hunting and gain a leg up on those who would simply head out with a pick and shovel.  Archeologists may also work for prestigious universities and museums which can then take the stolen treasure and display it legitimately.  (Read Berle’s rules for power again if you do not understand how they can get away with it.)  Generally with antiquities, there are no surviving relatives or wills to contest the legality of such actions and since Rule 1 states that “Power invariably fills a vacuum,” it is obvious that legal institutions can get away for years with such theft.

Elgin Marble Argument in a New Light:  Britain used to say that Athens had no adequate place to put the Elgin Marbles, the more than half of the Parthenon frieze, metopes and pediments that Lord Elgin spirited off when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire two centuries ago. Since 1816 they have been prizes of the British Museum. Meanwhile, Greeks had to make do with the leftovers, housed in a ramshackle museum built in 1874. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/arts/design/24abroad.html?pagewanted=all

Now that I have subjected you to this bit of philosophy on the morality or immortality of tomb raiding, which I am sure you did not really want to hear, much less care about, the real reason that you wanted to read this blog was a secret hope that you might get a clue as to where you can find one of these tombs and perhaps usurp your own bit of fame and fortune.  However, it might have occurred to you that if I had the exact GPS coordinates in terms of latitude and longitude of these tombs, why would I share them with you or tomb-ay-luxor-valley-kingsanyone else?   Hope doth spring eternal in the human breast and so you read along this far (putting up with morality and philosophy) in the wishful thinking that perhaps you might just find a single clue, a small shred of evidence, a morsel or snippet of direction which would lead you on to discovery and fame.  You share like every other human being who walks the planet the dream of finding buried treasure. Perhaps, you thought, my blog might just motivate you to pick up your shovel and go out in search of the tomb of Buddha or the shrine for Alexander the Great (or is it the other way around).

“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.”  — ― L. Frank Baum

Of course, I am being silly and frivolous. You are not reading my blog in the hope that you might actually find a clue.  No one could be that gullible or credulous.  You are simply amused by my ideas and writing.  Perhaps though you were just a tiny bit wishful that I might shed a small ray of light on where Jesus and Attila can be found.  Nevertheless, I submit that no amount information or vision of treasure would motivate you to go look for the tombs.  It is much easier to buy a lottery ticket.  We will leave these more perilous expeditions to the tomb raiders who would either legally or illegally undertake such rigorous activities.

However, I will give up the following —- IMHO

Buddha’s Tomb:  Probably found.  No tomb, just ashes buried in a number of crypts in India.  See Secrets of the Dead:  Bones of the Buddha on PBS.

Attila the Hun:  Reports last summer that his tomb was found were false.  It is probably located under the Vistula River someplace in Hungary.  It is best to have a snorkel and swim suit along with your shovel if you want to have any chance of finding it.  http://www.answers.com/Q/Where_is_Attila_the_Hun’s_grave

Genghis Khan:  Most say it is located somewhere in Mongolia close to the Onon River.  Bring plenty of water along with your shovel.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Genghis_Khan

Jesus’ Tomb:  Go to Israel and you will find that they cannot even agree on where he was crucified.  There are at least two places in Jerusalem which both claim that they are the sites of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.  My own personal belief is that the Pharisees wanted to make sure that his bones would never be found and become objects of veneration.  Thus, sad as it may be, his body was probably stolen and buried unceremoniously someplace in the Israeli desert.  The other option is that he was truly a God and he has ascended into heaven.  In the latter case, there would be no bones to be found making your search a waste of time.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Jesus

Alexander the Great:  Most likely his tomb was plundered many times over the years and has now been lost to antiquity.  Without any means of verifying his actual bones, it seems highly unlikely that any conclusive proof could be found regarding his present burial site.  I doubt any treasure remains anyway.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Alexander_the_Great

So there you have it.  Buried treasure, fame, fortune, the adulation of the masses awaits you. Go forth with pick, shovel, fortitude and hope.  Go where others have gone before you but failed.  Who knows, you might just be the one who succeeds.

“I love finding gems. However I’m not talking about ludicrously expensive diamonds, or priceless sapphires. I mean the impetuous, primitive rushes of passion and love we experience so rarely that they become impossible to ignore. That overwhelming sense of selflessness and beauty.  Hope and desire.  Happiness and strength. These are the moments that define us as people. As individuals. Should it be falling in love, playing a guitar for the first time, donating to charity, meeting new people, staying up till three in the morning listening to old Bob Marley vinyls or beating the elite 4 on Pokemon. Whatever it is, it’s moments like these that are worth more than any gem or diamond. Treasure or material goods.”   —  George MacDonald

Time for Questions:

Have you ever dreamed of finding buried treasure?  Do you dream of winning the lottery? How many times a month do you buy a lottery ticket? How many times have you ever gone in search of buried treasure?  Why not more? What if you did find a buried treasure? What would you do with the money?

Life is just beginning.

 

 

 

The Fourth Greatest Mystery of All Time:  Can We Defeat Death and Achieve Immortality?

When, I was young, I remember reading about the Fountain of Youth. For some reason, I found Ponce De Leon’s search for this fountain to be mysterious and magical.  I wanted to search for it when I grew up and to be the person that actually found it.  I have long since realized that I am not the only one enamored with the idea of immortality. The desire to find a secret to immortality permeates literature sheimmortalityand history.  (I also remember reading H. Rider Haggard’s She in which the queen has found the secret of immortality by bathing in the blood of virgins.)  Some say the two trees in the Garden of Eden were the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.  To eat from both trees, was to become not merely Godlike but a God.  Thus, to be all knowing and to live forever are (at least historically, but perhaps this is changing) the characteristics most associated with God-ness.  Humans have been drawn to these concepts as a moth is drawn to a flame.

This blog is best read while listening to Celine Dion sing Immortality (click on link)

Today, modern medicine seeks to provide the “fountain of youth” in portents, elixirs, surgery and drugs designed to stave off death and allow humans to extend their lives.  Some scientists speak of finding the “death” gene and thus bestowing immortality upon humanity.  Others say that this is impossible since there are physical laws that show cells can only divide so many times before they are dead.  They call this the Hayflick Limit

“The Hayflick limit (or Hayflick phenomenon) is the number of times a normal human cell population will divide until cell division stops.  Empirical evidence shows that the telomeres     associated with each cell’s DNA will get slightly shorter with each new cell division until they shorten to a critical length.”  — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayflick_limit

There are proponents and opponents on both sides of the issue.  Each side has worthy advocates to support their positions and points of immortalview.  Statistics show that humans have increased their longevity but a closer look at these facts show that most of the increase has come about from declines in infant and child mortality. These declines have the effect of increasing the “average” age for adults.  This seems to support the position that humans do not have the potential to live much longer than they did four thousand years ago.  The longest lived humans are seldom much older than 100 and throughout history there have been many humans who have reached this age.  We may be living healthier lives but modern medicine has not been able to increase the potential life span possible for most humans.

“For the 2010, the latest data available, the life expectancy for men of all races is 76.2 years and   81.1 years for women.”  —  Life Expectancy at Birth by Race and Sex, 1930–2010

“Richard g. cutler at the Gerontology Research Center, Baltimore city hospital, National Institute on Aging, has calculated the maximum life span for about 150 extinct mammalian species, and has also assessed the genetic potentials and traced the progress of the evolution of the maximum potential lifespan of man.  The first truly human species was Homo habilis which emerged from Australopithecus africanis about 1.8 million years ago.  Homo sapiens evolved about 100,000 years ago.  The maximum potential life span of our species was increasing at a very fast rate until about 100,000 years ago when the increase suddenly stopped, and has since remained fixed at about 120 years.”   http://www.longestlife.com/forever.htm

Immortality-HeaderThe facts of course do not prove that immortality is impossible, but for numerous reasons, I would argue that the probability is highly unlikely.  Scientists can seek the “death gene” while lay people look for the Fountain of Youth.  I think both sets of seekers will be sorely disappointed.  However, I submit that we are not trying to solve the real mystery.   I cannot fathom why anyone would want to be immortal anyway?  A few theories which spring to my mind include either a fear of death or a fear of being forgotten and ignored.  Present circumstances seem to support the latter theory more than the former.

I recently read a blog wherein the author stated that celebrity has become a new religion.  The author David Porter noted that people are obsessed with fame, glamor and stardom.  Like a religion can bestow immortality so does the idea of being a celebrity.  In a world where meaning is ephemeral and people seek it through bizarre rituals and even more bizarre actions, becoming a celebrity can be akin to becoming a God.  You are suddenly worshiped by throngs of admirers and treated as the conquistadors initially were by the Aztecs and the Incas.

“Today, many people believe that the virtual reality they see on screen is the norm. They read and see so much about celebrities, they feel these people are their friends, their lovers and the myths of their red carpets, flashing press lights, big cars and idol adoration are in fact reality and worth sharing and imitating. Psychologists also recognize that despite the drawbacks, celebrities are common currency in our socially fractured world.” — David Porter

If we cannot achieve immortality, at least we can achieve celebrity status.  For many people, the next best choice in life seems to be to become a celebrity. If celebrities are not immortal, they nevertheless share many aspects of the old Greek gods: StardomTitlePic

  • They are exalted and unique
  • They have special powers and privileges
  • They are worshipped and admired
  • Their fame lives on long after they are irrelevant
  • They are glamorous
  • They lead exotic and adventurous lives

To be a celebrity is to be someone who matters. Someone who is on the A list, someone who has the red carpet rolled out for them.  If you are a celebrity, people will listen to you. Your opinion matters. The paparazzi will follow you everywhere. Autograph seekers will dog your footsteps and buy paper cups you have tossed away.  To be a celebrity is the next best thing to God-ness in today’s society.  Celebrities may even experience some sense of immortality in that while fame is fleeting, it can produce a trance-like state in which life and death are forgotten.  The only thing that matters to a celebrity is notoriety and popularity.  How many followers I have is the measure by which I gauge my worshippers.  Elvis Presley makes more money today then he did when he was alive.  Some people would say that a celebrity never dies.  Perhaps we have rechanneled our ancient search for immortality into a search for celebrity as the next best thing.

“We humans are naturally disposed to worship gods and heroes, to build our pantheons and Valhallas.  I would rather see that impulse directed into the adoration of daft singers, thicko footballers and air-headed screen actors than into the veneration of dogmatic zealots, fanatical preachers, militant politicians and rabid cultural commentators.”  — Stephen FryThe Fry Chronicles

Time for Questions:

Are you a celebrity? Have you ever had your 15 minutes of fame?  What would you do with it? What if you became a celebrity tomorrow? How would your life change?  Would it change for the better or for the worse?  Why?

Life is just beginning.  

Ozymandias:  One of my favorite poems by Shelley.

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

 

 

The Third Greatest Mystery of All Time – Is There Life After Death?

No one or at least hardly anyone wants to die.  Suicides included, no one really wants to die earlier than they expect to.  We don’t choose death, we chose life.  We want immortality.  We want to live forever and ever.  Ideally, we would like to live forever in a young, healthy and happy state, surrounded by our friends and loved ones.  Let all our enemies perish and if there is a hell, let them go there, while we go to heaven.

“Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality.” — Abraham Lincoln

lifeafterdeath.headThe question that we all ask at some point in our lives is: “What’s next?”  After this life, is there another life?  Some like Houdini said he would come back if he could.  There is no reported evidence that he managed to succeed.  Thus, even the great Houdini himself could not manage the feat!  Two years ago, I attended a séance in Kentucky.  There were about 20 of us at this séance and two young girls were the intermediaries or mediums.  We were at the old Wickland mansion in Bardstown Kentucky where a young slave woman had once lived along with three former Kentucky governors.  Somehow, these two young local women had found a “channel” to this former slave and were able to converse with her.  We were all there with the expectation that the “channel” could be opened and we could somehow share in this supernatural experience.

This blog is best read while listening to Jonas Frisk sing Wings of Eternity (click on link)

Lights flickered, candles glowed, one of the young girls (they were twins) seemed to go into a trance.  Pretty soon, her interlocutor (an older woman who communicated with the young girls when they were communicating with the former slave) told us that Sally (I am using fictitious names here) was now in touch with Anna the former slave woman.  Sally appeared to be talking to Anna.  Our interlocutor asked if we had any questions that we wanted to ask Anna.  Several people volunteered questions and Sally gave replies that Anna told her in response to the questions.  The séance went on for about an hour with each person taking turns to ask questions and communicate with the dead.  After Anna went back to wherever dead souls go, we all adjourned to the upstairs dining room for coffee and snacks.

“If you were to destroy the belief in immortality in mankind, not only love but every living force on which the continuation of all life in the world depended, would dry up at once.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky

I would guess about half of the attendees felt they had communicated with the dead while half of us thought it was mostly entertainment and acting.  Perhaps the life-after-deathsisters really believed that they were talking to the dead, but believing and reality are two different things.  I saw no evidence of any dead person talking or of any real communication with the hereafter.  Thus, the question “is there life after death.”  The evidence all suggests no. No life. No immortality. No heaven. No hell. No coming back. No eternity no ever after.

“I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return’d to me,
And answer’d: ‘I Myself am Heav’n and Hell”
― Omar Khayyam

But what if we have the wrong conception of life after death?  What if we think that life after death is going to be some continuation of life as we have conceived it on earth.  Whether we return sentience or we morph into frogs or some other species, we are all basing our ideas of the hereafter on concepts we are familiar with.  We are thinking about “life after death” as strictly a continuation of life on earth.  Some of us think we will be sitting at the right hand of God and listening to his or her speeches on ethics.  Some of us think we will be playing around with 20 vestal virgins.  Some us think, Jesus Christ will be walking around and talking about faith, hope and charity with us.  Some of us think, we will be reunited with our loved ones. (If this latter case is true, I feel sorry for Mickey Rooney who had 8 wives).  Some us think we will born again as a prince or frog depending on the life we lived on earth.  Each of these conceptions is a continuation of our ideas of life as we know it now.  But what if there is another type of sentience?

life after death 1We all know that as humans we can only hear and see a small spectrum of the sound and light frequencies.  There are frequencies both above and below our normal hearing ranges.  What if the same was true of our thought ranges?  What if there were ranges of thought well above what we can think and perhaps well below?  Ideas and concepts that are hidden to us because they are out of our ability range.  We cannot fathom what it would mean to think differently because we think as rational human beings.

“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.” ― Carl Sagan

What if there was some other type of thought besides rational thought?  Let me give an example of what this might mean.  Let us go back to Houdini and his inability to communicate after death.  Houdini dies with the desire to commune back to earth if possible.  However, upon death, his thought patterns become vastly different from anything we can conceive of.  Houdini’s life force lives on but his rational thought has been replaced by something else.  Houdini’s new thought processes see no value or reason or desire to communicate with human beings.  We cannot conceive of thought patterns like this because they are beyond our range of understanding.

“There is no such thing as magic, supernatural, miracle; only something that’s still beyond logic of the observer.” — Toba Beta

If such thought patterns can exist, perhaps sentience after the death of our mortal lives on earth can go on.  However, it will not be anything that we long for or 1251950806_Life-after-deathdream of today.  We will not become angels or born again as frogs or toads.  If life after death does exist, it must be something totally alien and foreign to any conception that we have of it now.  Present conceptions of heaven and hell notwithstanding, I believe that  life will go on and must go on, but any continuation of life in terms of immortality and eternity seems well beyond either our desires or ability to understand.   I love the idea that I will meet up with Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and be able to discuss philosophy and ethics with them.  However, I cannot put much faith in such a possibility.  Desires of humans often seem to trump logic.  We all want immortality, but it is either reserved for the gods or life as we cannot begin to comprehend it.

“Oh how wrong we were to think immortality meant never dying” — ― Gerard Way

Time for Questions:

Do you believe in life after death? What kind of life do you think exists after death? How did you arrive at this perspective?  What if someone convinced you that there was no life after death? How would this change your life? Why?

Life is just beginning.

The Second Greatest Mystery of All Time: Is there other sentient life in the universe?

3D_Universe_2Here is my answer to the second of the 12 greatest mysteries of all time.  Is there other intelligent life in the universe?  No!  How do I come to this conclusion?  It is certainly not a conclusion that most rational people would agree with.  I am not going to resort to semantics and say that “no intelligent beings have yet been found.”  That would simply be dodging the bullet.  Although, a strong case could be made that human beings found on the 3rd planet from the sun in this solar system we call the Milky Way are anything but sentient.  Sentient being defined as:  (See Wikitionary)   (Click on The Universe Song by Monty Python)

  1. Conscious or self-aware.
  2. Experiencing sensation, thinking, thought, or feeling.
  3. (chiefly in science fiction) Possessing human-like knowledge and intelligence.

Nevertheless, despite our history of war, degradation, inhumanity, prejudice, racism, sexism, elitism, discrimination, cruelty and too many other horrors to the earth to cover in one small blog, I will concede that human beings are intelligent.  (I will exclude all Right Wing talk show hosts from this inclusion, most Tea Party advocates and many Republicans.)  Grand_Universe

The usual argument given by those favoring the view that “other’ life in the universe must exist revolves around the shear odds that other life could not exist.  For instance according to one source:

Astronomers estimate that the observable universe has more than 100 billion galaxies. Our own Milky Way is home to around 300 billion stars, but it’s not representative of galaxies in general. www.skyandtelescope.com

Thus, if you multiply the number of stars we have in our galaxy times the number of other galaxies we can observe, (assuming the same amount of stars in each galaxy) you would have 3 to the 22 power as the number of total stars and remember that this is the number that is observable.  30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars where there might be other planets circling around and harboring the possibility of life as we know it or even some other reaching_the_universe-1366x768types of intelligent thinking rational life.  If the possibility of other life were even 1 in a million, these odds would mean that at least 30,000,000,000,000,000 other stars would have the possibility of life existing somewhere in their solar system.  The odds would seem to greatly favor the possibility of other sentient life existing.  So why do I say the answer is NO!  Well, consider this.

Let us say for the sake of argument that life does exist on at least 3,000,000 other planets.  This is a small number given the odds that we started with.  Furthermore, let us assume a bell shaped curve of intelligence around these places where other intelligent life exists. Thus, some are going to be less intelligent then we are, some the same and some more intelligent.  A normal distribution would suggest that on approximately 90,000 other planets, we can find life forms more intelligent than we are.  Furthermore, let us assume that on ten percent or 9,000 of these planets they have developed more advanced forms of space travel.  Perhaps, they have developed faster than light engines, warp drives or the ability to use worm holes to travel light years in a split second.  Assuming they are more intelligent and more developed then we are, it does not see much of a stretch to assume they have some form of advanced space travel available.  Which of course, begs the question?  If only ten percent of them or 9000 other sentient beings have advanced space travel, why have we not met any of them yet? History_The_Universe_03_Volume_SF_still_624x352

You might argue (as many have) that we have repeatedly been visited by beings from other planets or even that human beings are routinely abducted by space aliens.  However, the majority of scientific evidence does not support this contention.  We are therefore left with the single overwhelming conclusion that no one else has a form of space travel that can traverse vast light years in a reasonable time.  If we accept that more intelligent beings than we are must exist, then this conclusion is absurd; particularly, if our argument is based on the “odds’ that other intelligent life must exist.

Alien-Ware-ufo-and-aliens-18731299-1502-939Thus, my conclusion is that other intelligent life does not exist.  Somehow, we are alone in the stars.  This is the greater mystery, I think.  Why?  Why us?  Why in the billions of galaxies and the billions of stars and the trillions of planets, has this planet alone spawned life?  Is there some greater sentience that we cannot comprehend who decided to create this sandbox for us to play in?  Are we some type of living experiment or laboratory for creation?  Did something want to see what happens when you put a bunch of sentient beings together?   How long would it take for us to kill each other, or perhaps destroy the planet?  Think of how much fun, it must be watching human beings on a daily basis.  Anyone looking at the absurdity of life on this third planet from the sun would either be extremely appalled or alternately amused by the daily mayhem we inflict on each other.  If a much greater intelligence does exist, perhaps we are simply a fish bowl for their entertainment.  A bowl that they have stocked with stars, planets and plenty of objects to keep us from being bored.

Time for Questions:

Do you think there is other intelligent life in the universe? Why or why not?  How come they have not visited us before?  Have you ever met an alien?  Do you think they might be living among us right now?

Life is just beginning.  Alien

Or is it?

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: