; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Odds & Ends: Notable Skeptic Accused of Sexual Harassment -- Unicorn of the Sea -- National Museum of Mysteries and Research Center

Big Name Sexual Harassment Accusation in the Skeptic Blogosphere

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a popular speaker at atheist and skeptic gatherings throughout the anglosphere. Today, via Scientific American, she posted an important personal essay confronting the ongoing problem of sexual harassment in the skeptic community. In it, she recounts a grim story of long-term harassment by an unnamed skeptic speaker and author. Over a period of four years, she alleges this individual tried to coerce her into sexual activity, and that he eventually progressed to the point of holding her career advancement in jeopardy in an attempt to make her receptive to sexual advances. She also accuses the man of finally escalating to episodes she describes as "sexual assault" on her person.

After "Atheism Plus" aligned blogger P.Z. Myers posted his comments regarding Stollznow's SciAm piece and provided a signal boost on his blog Pharygula, Twitter outed the alleged harasser as Ben Radford, a notable skeptical writer and speaker associated with the Center For Inquiry. Myers soon updated his blog post, stating that in the short time after he had posted, he had received a deluge of emails outing Radford as the accused. His post states he has emails from additional women who claim to also be victims of Radford's unwanted sexual advances.

Radford's outing also gives insight into the institution Stollznow describes as being disinterested in properly addressing her continued harassment. Center For Inquiry is a fairly large, international skeptic nonprofit which came under fire recently after CEO Ron Lindsay made some unwelcoming comments during his "welcoming" address at the Women In Secularism 2 conference held in DC this past Spring. CFI still hasn't apologized or taken action against Lindsay. Here's to hoping they have something more to say now that they are alleged to have been supporting the behavior of an individual accused of tirelessly sexually harassing a fellow skeptic for four years. - Jezebel

NOTE: Further links - “I’m Sick of Talking about Sexual Harassment!” and When your idols let you down

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries

Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore


Unicorn of the Sea

Divers in Australia have captured rare images of the Pyrostremma spinosum, or pyrosome, sea creature off the coast of Tasmania.

It is so rare it has been dubbed the 'Unicorn of the Sea' and can grow up to 30 metres long - the equivalent of two double-decker buses laid end-to-end.

Its hollow, translucent, cylindrical body is made up of thousands of tiny clones called zooids that pull water through its tubes and feed on plankton before pushing the filtered water back out.

The zooids are each connected by tissue and move as one inside the pyrosome's tube structure and each zooid is a few millimetres in size.

Also called a sea squirt, the pyrosomes are classed as pelagic, which means they are free-swimming and live in open water rather than near land.

This means they are rarely spotted and only diving groups are likely to catch a glimpse of the giant creatures.

The long tube consists of a pointed end with a hole on the other that can be as wide as two metres.

Each pyrosome feasts on plankton and according to Rebecca Helm from Deep Sea News, it is a cross between the Borg in ‘Star Trek’ and a clone in ‘Star Wars.’

Helm said: 'They’re giant, terrifying looking, and trolling through the depths of the ocean, waiting for you to swim in one end and get stuck. Maybe. But fortunately, in addition to being slow moving filter feeders, they’re also delicate and fluffy.'

The pyrosome is so delicate one diver is said to have even described it like a feather boa.


Pyrosomes usually live in the upper layers of the open ocean in warm seas, although some are found a bit deeper.

Pyrosomes are cylindrical-shaped colonies made up of thousands of individuals, known as zooids.

Colonies can be less than one centimetre up to several metres in length.

Each zooid is a few millimetres in size and are each connected by tissue and move as one inside the pyrosome's tube structure.

Pyrosomes are classed as planktonic. This means their movements are mainly controlled by currents, tides and waves in the oceans.

Michael Baron from from Eaglehawk Dive Centre recorded the footage of the giant creature off the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania, Australia.

He said it was one of the few areas in the world where a wide range of 'oceanic gelatinous plankton' comes close to shore.

Baron also managed to film salps that are similar to pyrosomes but the individuals inside it are much larger than the zooids inside the pyrosome.

According to Eaglehawk Dive Centre's YouTube page: 'Salps have much larger individuals than pyrosomes, individuals pump water through themselves.

'Colonies are formed of chains of individuals. Salps can form very high densities under good conditions, and are an important oceanic food source for fish. - Daily Mail


Chelyabinsk meteor brought a dangerous virus to Earth?

Scientists are still not very certain about the nature of the meteor which streaked across the sky of Russia’s Chelyabinsk. What they say is that the asteroid was about 1-10m across.

Russia’s Roskosmos space agency has admitted that the object was not detected by telescopes, as they say, it had a peculiar trajectory and was coming from the wrong angle to be spotted.

The asteroid could have brought some type of virus or disease with it that can spread in a new habitat.

But what exactly exploded in the sky over Chelyabinsk?

This space guest which paid us a visit could actually be a Trojan Horse and physical damage from its explosion could be nothing compared to other potential dangers. This canny bolide that managed to sneak away from telescopes might have brought new viruses or bacteria to Earth.

German astrophysicist Illobrand von Ludwiger has been researching odd meteor falls for almost 40 years and revealed that some of the asteroids are not what they seem.

Thus, on November 11, 1956, two Swedish workers Stig Ekberg and Harry Sjoberg were driving when they saw a flattened sphere shaped object.Suddenly it made a sharp turn toward them and started slowly gliding down at an altitude of about a meter. It was illuminating the surrounding landscape with a tremendous amount of light, the witnesses said. The air smelled like ozone and smoldering insulation.

After about ten minutes the object lifted off leaving a small hot shiny rock on the ground. The material appeared to be common tungsten carbide, well-known in the early 1950s. It was pobedit, a sintered carbide alloy designed in the USSR in 1929.

But the shape of the rock was unusual as well as its nature. - Voice of Russia


Eric Altman - Pres. Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society speaking

On August 31, from 1-4 pm Eric will be speaking at the National Museum of Mysteries and Research Center, 301 Locust St, Columbia, PA 17512. The cost is 15.00 per person and includes refreshments. You must register by August 24, 2013. No registrations will be taken at the door. You can call 717-341-7574 or www.paranormalpa.net. I invite everyone to stop by the museum and support PBS member and museum founder / curator, Rick Fisher...and come hear me talk on Bigfoot in Pennsylvania.

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