Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Duck That Won't Die

'Lazarus' Returns From The Dead, Again

It's important to keep in mind when reading the emotion-charged qoutes from vets below that they are all talking about a duck, not a human being.

But it is, now, a very famous duck, so perhaps that played into their reactions as well.

The duck in question was blasted out of the sky by a hunter last week. His wife packed it into the freezer, where it remained for two days until the hunter's wife opened the freezer to find one very alive duck staring back out at her.

But the story doesn't end there. The duck became an instant celebrity and was therefore entitled to top-shelf veterinary care by a team of surgeons and assistants, who battled to 'pluck' the gun shot lead from the duck's wounds in a dramatic life-or-death struggle.

From the BBC :

The ring-neck duck entered surgery with vets confident that she would survive the procedure despite serious injuries to her wing, leg and beak.

But they struggled to fully sedate Perky, who briefly lost consciousness, said Susan May, treasurer of the Goose Creek Animal Sanctuary in Tallahassee.

"The first time she stopped breathing a quick thump on the chest brought her back," Ms May told the BBC News website.

"But once the surgeon started sewing her back up she stopped breathing again, this time for 15 seconds."

When a second thump failed to bring Perky round, veterinary surgeon David Hale tried manipulating the duck's beak, before using a needle to shock her into consciousness.

At one point the duck was given pure oxygen through a face mask, Ms May said.

"At that point the vet turned and said: 'I'm sorry, she's gone.'"

The room fell into shocked silence as those present took in the news, but then Perky raised her head and began flapping her wings.

The relief reduced everyone to tears, Ms May said, describing one of her colleagues as "extremely emotional" as she left the room.

"For the duck to have gone through all of this and then to die at that time was a real shock," Ms May said.

"This duck has taken us all on an emotional rollercoaster," she said, adding that Perky has since recovered well and is staying out of trouble.

Apparently the duck's slow metabolism kept her alive in the freezer for those 48 hours, with the sudden change in temperature, when the freezer door was opened, acting like a wake-up alarm.

The thrice-dead duck now has "volunteers" selling t-shirts in her honour. They hope to raise enough money to "provide long-term care for the bird".

No concern, however, is expressed anywhere in the story for the hunter who is now one duck dinner down.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Blind Child Learns To See By Using Sound

A Mother Who Refused To Believe Her Child Was Handicapped Gave Him The Power To Defy 'Reality'

One of the most inspiring stories you're likely to read for a while.

It is the story of a modern day miracle.

And it is the story of a mother who gave her son the power, belief and commitment to make this miracle into an almost everyday reality. At least for himself, and his family, and now the millions learning about what he has done, and how his mother helped him to achieve the supposedly impossible.

A three year old child had his eyes surgically removed, rendering him blind. But his mother refused to tell her son that he was blind. So he never believed he was.

Then, he learned how to see again.

He defied the limits of the reality he was supposed to live within, and created a new one.

Read on.

From the UK Guardian :
There have been a lot of tough moments in Aquanetta Gordon's life, but none comes close to the moment when her three-year-old son, Ben, came round from the operation to remove both his eyes.

"He was my baby," she says. "And he was lying there with no eyes crying, 'I can't see you any more, Mama - I can't see you any more ... '"

In that moment, Aquanetta admits, she felt the cancer that had robbed her child of his eyes had destroyed both their lives

"Part of me just wanted to keel over and weep," she says. But she didn't. Instead, Aquanetta found a strength she'd never have believed she possessed. "I realised that if I gave in, he would too," she says. "I pledged I'd be strong for him.

"So I took his tiny hand and I held it to my face and I said, Ben, you can still see me, baby. You can see me with your hands: you can touch me. And I put my face close to his and I said you can still see me, Ben, with your nose: you can smell me. And with your ears too, Ben, I said: you can see me with your ears. You can hear me."

What she resolved at that moment, Aquanetta says, was that she was never going to tell Ben that he was blind: that she was never going to let him believe his life would be a lesser experience.

"From then on I treated him exactly the same way I treat my other four kids," she says. "I use the same language and I treat him exactly like a sighted child. When we see something interesting I say, look at this, Ben. Do you see this? I sometimes describe things for him, and his brothers and sister do the same, but basically we treat him exactly as though he could see."

...when Ben was about five years old, something amazing - almost miraculous - happened.

"We were driving along a road in Sacramento in California where we live when Ben said, 'Mom, do you see those big tall buildings over there?' And I said, 'Well, Ben, I see those buildings well enough: do you see those buildings too?"

What Ben had done was to use the sound that echoed off the buildings around him to tell what was outside the car: as they travelled along the road, he could tell by the sounds he was hearing what they were passing.

Aquanetta and her other children had also noticed that as Ben moved around he often made a little clicking noise with his tongue. "I didn't know exactly what he was doing, but I could tell that making this noise helped him to know where things were and helped him get about," remembers Aquanetta. "So when we were out I'd remind him, 'Make your noise, Ben. Make your noise, then you'll see where you're going.'"

What Ben had managed to do was teach himself to use a system called echolocation: the same system that bats and dolphins use to "see" with their ears.

Astonishingly, the little boy with no eyes whose mum had always told him he could see had worked out a way to see all on his own: and in the months and years that followed, he has refined his system so that today...all who meet him, as if he was sighted.

When I arrive at the family home, Ben, now 15, opens the door, looks straight into my face with his prosthetic eyes, and shakes my hand before leading me down the corridor to the sitting room. It's a Saturday morning and Ben is playing a computer game. He doesn't see the characters on the screen, of course, but he uses the sounds they make to locate where they are and zaps them with an extraordinary sharpness.

Ben says he has vague memories of vision - he remembers grass and the sky. But he doesn't consider himself handicapped - no, not at all - and he can't recall when he first realised he could tell where things were by listening. "I've been doing it for as long as I can remember," he says, his face lighting up into a huge grin. "I guess when my mom told me I could see I believed her, and I found a way of seeing and this was it. It's second nature to me now."

An eye specialist, experienced in dealing with children who have lost their vision due to cancer believes :

...the most significant thing about Ben isn't the way he gets around, it's the way his mother brought him up.

"I honestly believe that the really interesting thing here is Aquanetta's approach," he says. "I think Ben has done something extraordinary because of her attitude. I think every handicapped child should have a mother like Aquanetta. Every week I have parents in my consulting room whose kid has some minor eye problem and they want me to make excuses for their child so they get more time to do their exams or their homework, and here's Aquanetta, with a child who has a really serious disability, and instead of trying to get help for him she's raising him to think of himself as completely normal. And look at him: he's a happy kid, having a happy and normal life.

"The hardest part of my job is when I have to talk to parents who've just found out their child is blind ... their whole world has just caved in. Now I can say, your child can have a normal life: look at this boy, Ben. Look at how his mum treated him, and learn from it."

The power of the human mind to define and create reality is something truly awesome.

And it is fascinating that this boy's ability to see came from using a sensory technique essential to the survival of bats and dolphins. One that humans, we are told, are not supposed to have.

But one that we can clearly learn to use, if the practice-to-perfection trial and error process begins early enough.

Friday, January 26, 2007

7 Metre Long Python Eats 11 Guard Dogs

Huge Snakes Seen Wrestling Alligators In The Everglades

Photo from the New Straits Times website

The New Straits Times reports from Segamat that local villagers have solved the mystery of why guard dogs around a farmer's orchard have been disappearing.

A seven metre long python has been eating them.

In three months, the monster 70kg python is believed to have consumed 11 dogs.

The name was so huge it took six men some three hours to catch it. They tied it to a tree until Wildlife and National Parks Department officers came to collect it.

As well as eating dogs, some monster pythons like to wrestle alligators :

In February, a group of tourists at the Pa-hay-okee Overlook in Florida's Everglades National Park stumbled upon a battle between an alligator and a python. The stunned onlookers watched as the snake wrapped itself around the alligator, only to see its opponent counter by rolling over and grabbing the snake in its mouth and swimming off with the snake in its jaw.

It was not the first such battle. In January of last year, a horde of tourists watched another epic contest between an alligator and a python at the park's Anhinga Trail. After more than 24 hours in the jaws of the alligator, that snake broke free and moved off into the marsh.

For now, the alligators in the Florida Everglades are holding their ground against the invading snakes. But the odds may be changing. The park is being overrun with Burmese pythons, one of the world's largest snakes. These pythons can grow to be more than 20 feet (6 meters) long in their natural habitat in Southeast Asia.

The Burmese python is just one of thousands of non-native animal and plant species that have invaded the United States in the last decades.

6 Metre Long Python Strangles Circus Employee

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pig With Two Faces, Four Eyes Born

The past twelve months has seen a truly bizarre assortment of two-faced animals coming into this world. Dogs, cats, sheep, deer, rats.

Now there's a two-faced pig.

The pig was born in China's Quanhouz prvoince.

2007 is the Chinese Year Of The Pig, coincidentally, which begins on February 18, and pigs are regarded as symbols of fertility.

If you can't make sense of the photo above, just hold your hand or a bit paper to one side of the pig's head, so only half is revealed. It is a mirror-image, and quite an interesting effect when you take your hand away again. Almost like an optical illusion.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Jungle Girl Found, Reunited With Father After 19 Years In The Wilds Of Cambodia

But Now She Wants To Go Back To The Jungle

Ro : She came out of the jungle after 19 years. Now she wants to go back.

A remarkable story of human survival in the wilds we mostly abandoned when we chose to live together in communities, and tore down jungles for farmlands.

There's been dozens of these kinds of stories over the decades. From the World War 2 Japanese soldier who hid out on a Pacific Island until the late 1960s, to tales as recent as a few years ago, of lost children being adopted and raised by apes or other animals.

This woman, back in the civilised world, doesn't speak the local language, so nobody yet knows how she managed to survive in the jungle for almost two decades.

But she clearly doesn't like 'our world'.

From the UK Independent :

A woman who disappeared in the jungles of north-eastern Cambodia as a child has apparently been found after living in the wild for 19 years.

The woman - believed to be Rochom P'ngieng, who would now be 27 years old - was described as "half-human and half-animal" by a local police chief.

But Sal Lou, a 45-year-old villager in the Oyadao district in Rattanakiri province, where the woman was found last Saturday, said he was her father.

"When I saw her, she was naked and walking in a bending-forward position like a monkey... She was bare-bones skinny. She was shaking and picking up grains of rice from the ground to eat. Her eyes were red like tigers' eyes," he said.

Rochom P'ngieng, then eight years old, disappeared in 1988 when she was herding buffalo in a remote jungle area...

The woman was discovered after a villager noticed that food disappeared from a lunch box he left at a site near his farm, Chea Bunthoeun said. "He decided to stake out the area and then spotted a naked human being, who looked like a jungle person, sneaking in to steal his rice," he added.

The villager finally caught the woman on 13 January.

"If she is not sleeping, she just sits and glances left and right, left and right..."

UPDATE : This story is now getting some heavy worldwide media attention. I just can't shake this terrible feeling that this is going to end very badly for this woman.

If she wants to go back to the jungle, then let her go.

To deny her this choice, is to deny her the most basic freedom of humanity. The right to exercise her free will.

From the UK Daily Mail :

She speaks in grunts, crawls instead of walking — and now she wants to go back to live in the jungle.

Filthy and naked when she was discovered, with long matted hair and a furtive, hunted expression, she was caught stealing food left under a tree by a villager.

Yet despite the fact that she is only able to speak three words — father, mother and stomach ache — she has been identified as Ro Cham H’pnhieng, 27.

Ro Cham is finding it hard to adjust to life with other humans. “She prefers to crawl rather than walk like a human,” said Mao Sun, a district police chief in the north-eastern province of Rattanakiri, where the girl’s family live.

“Unfortunately, she keeps crying and wants to go back to the jungle,” he said. “She is not used to living with humans. We had to clothe her. When she is thirsty or hungry she points at her mouth.”

Since they found her, villagers have clothed and fed her. But the woman — uncomfortable in her new surroundings — rebuffs their advances, refusing to use chopsticks and fighting off anyone who approaches.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nebraskans Witnessed A Flaming Flying Machine Crashing Down Out Of The Sky...

In 1887

"Fragments Of Cog Wheels...Glowing As To Scorch The Grass.."

I can't verify that the article is real, as I don't have access to the original newspaper files from this period, and they are not digitally archived online. But certainly the style of writing fits the era.

Whatever. It's an amazing tale, and all the more interesting as a possible newspaper hoax story in that it preceded a flood of alien spacecraft science fiction stories (or scientific romances as they were then known) in the US and England by more than a decade.

The follow-up article is even more bizarre. Metal that melts in the rain? Fantastically bizarre.

Read on and enjoy :

The Nebraska State Journal, July 7-9, 1884.


A Startling and Curious Story from the
Ranges of Dundy County.

It is Evidently a Machine of Human

All Particulars that are Yet Learned.

Special to The State Journal.

BENKELMAN, June 7. -- A most remarkable phenomenon occurred about
1 o'clock yesterday afternoon at a point thirty-five miles northwest
of this place. John W. Ellis, a well known ranchman, was going out
to his herd in company with three of his herders and several other
cowboys engaged in the annual roundup. While riding along a draw
they heard a terrific rushing, roaring sound overhead, and looking
up, saw what appeared to be a blazing meteor of immense size falling
at an angle to the earth. A moment later it struck the ground out of
sight over the bank. Scrambling up the steep hill they saw the
object bounding along half a mile away and disappear in another

Galloping towards it with all their speed, they were astounded to
see several fragments of cog-wheels and other pieces of machinery
lying on the ground, scattered in the path made by the aerial
visitor, glowing with heat so intense as to scorch the grass for a
long distance around each fragment and make it impossible for one to
approach it. Coming to the edge of the deep ravine into which the
strange object had fallen, they undertook to see what it was. But
the heat was so great that the air about it was fairly ablaze and it
emitted a light so dazzling that the eye could not rest on it for
more than a moment.

An idea of the heat may be gained from the fact that one of the
party, a cowboy named Alf Williamson, stood with his head
incautiously exposed over the bank, and in less than half a minute
he fell senseless. His face was desperately blistered and his hair
singed to a crisp. His condition is said to be dangerous. The
distance to the aerolite, or whatever it is, was nearly 200 feet.
The burned man was taken to Mr. Ellis' house, cared for as well as
circumstances would allow and a doctor sent for. His brother, who
lives in Denver has just been telegraphed for.

Finding it impossible to approach the mysterious visitor, the
party turned back on it's trail. Where it first touched the earth
the ground was sandy and bare of grass. The sand was fused to an
unknown depth over a space about twenty feet wide by eighty feet
long, and the melted stuff was still bubbling and hissing. Between
this and the final resting place there were several like spots where
it had come in contact with the ground, but none so well marked.

Finding it impossible to do any investigating, Mr. Ellis returned to
his house and sent out messengers to neighboring ranches. When night
came the light from the wonderful object beamed almost like the sun,
and the visitors who went out to see it were entirely powerless to
bear the glow.

This morning another visit was made to the spot. In the party was E.
W. Rawlins, brand inspector for this district, who came into
Benkleman tonight, and from whom a full verification of particulars
is obtained. The smaller portions of the scattered machinery had
cooled so that they could be approached, but not handled. One piece
that looked like the blade of a propeller screw of a metal of an
appearance like brass, about sixteen inches wide, three inches thick
and three and a half feet long, was picked up by a spade. It would
not weigh more than five pounds, but appeared as strong and compact
as any known metal. A fragment of a wheel with a milled rim,
apparently having had a diameter of seven or eight feet, was also
picked up. It seemed to be of the same material and had the same
remarkable lightness.

The aerolite, or whatever it is, seems to be about fifty or sixty
feet long, cylindrical, and about ten or twelve feet in diameter.
Great excitement exists in the vicinity and the round-up is
suspended while the cowboys wait for the wonderful find to cool off
so they can examine it.

Mr. Ellis is here and will take the first train to the land office
with the intention of securing the land on which the strange thing
lies, so that his claim to it cannot be disputed.

A party left here for the scene an hour ago and will travel all
night. The country in the vicinity is rather wild and rough, and the
roads hardly more than trails. Will telegraph all particulars as
fast as obtained.

Here's the follow-up story from the Nebraska State Journal, June 10, 1884.


It Dissolves Like a Drop of Dew Before
the Morning Sun.

The Most Mysterious Element of the
Strange Phenomenon.

Special to The State Journal.

BENKELMAN, June 9, 1884. Your correspondent has just returned from
the spot where the aerial visitor fell last Friday. It is gone,
disolved into the air. A tremendous rain storm fell yesterday
afternoon beginning around 2 o'clock. As it approached, in regular
blizzard style, most of those assembled to watch the mysterious
visitor fled to shelter. a dozen or more, among them your
correspondent, waited to see the effect of rain upon the glowing
mass of metal. The storm came down from the north, on it's crest a
sheet of flying spray and a torrent of rain. It was impossible to
see more than a rod through the driving, blinding mass. It lasted
for half and hour, and when it slackened so that the aerolite should
have been visible it was no longer there. The draw was running three
feet deep in water and supposing it had floated off the strange
vessel the party crossed over at the risk of their lives.

They were astounded to see that the queer object had melted,
dissolved by the water like a spoonful of salt. Scarcely a vestige
of it remained. Small, jelly-like pools stood here and there on the
ground, but under the eyes of the observers these grew thinner and
thinner till they were but muddy water joining the rills that led to
the current a few feet away. The air was filled with a faint,
sweetish smell.

The whole affair is bewildering to the highest degree, and will no
doubt forever be a mystery.

Alf Williamson, the injured cowboy, left yesterday for Denver,
accompanied by his brother. It is feared he will never recover his
eyesight, but otherwise he does not appear to be seriously injured.

There has been a continued stream of investigators here for the past
two days, among them a number of members of the press.

There's something really beautiful about the writing style from the late 1800s. This was before journalism developed a clipped, clinical style. It's chatty, loose and colourful. Curiously, it reminds me a lot of the first person reports that made up the HG Wells 'War Of The Worlds'. Still one of the greatest science fictions stories of all time.

Fantastic stuff.

I've e-mailed two libraries in Nebraska to see if they have these two issues of their newspaper in their archives. Hopefully it won't take too long to hear back from them. While I don't doubt this is an actual article from the late 1800s, it would be nice to get a scan of the original stories.

I'll let you know what I found out.

This is the online source for the articles.


Iran has reportedly had a year long wave of objects falling from the sky over its territory and crashing in fiery heaps.

Here's a few paragraphs from a Fars Agency report :
Eye-witnesses assure that the explosion has been caused as a result of the crash of a radiant unidentified flying object onto the ground.

Meantime, an informed source told FNA that the object has been on fire and there has been thick smoke coming out of it prior to the crash, concluding that the object couldn't have been a meteor as meteors do not smoke.

The source also said that the crash has been witnessed by people in several cities, and mentioned that the rendezvous point is located 100 kilometers from the provincial capital city of Kerman.

He said that people in the city of Rafsanjan also reported to have witnessed a similar incident several days ago.

Similar crash incidents have been witnessed frequently during the last year all across Iran, and officials believe that the objects could be spy planes or a hi-tech espionage device.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How Does A Whale Say It's Sorry?

Man Gets "Good Vibes" Off Whale That Smashed Up His Boat

A man is out on the water in his new catamaran. He ducks beneath deck for a nap (?) and when he wakes up his catamaran has been smashed the tail of a massive whale. It gets weirder :
(Mr Wright) rushed up on deck to find himself staring at a whale's head about a foot away.

"I got good vibes off him. I thought he was trying to say sorry mate, I didn't mean to,"

"When I first saw him I thought he had come back for the coup de grace..."
The whale nicked off after giving him the "sorry mate" vibe. Mr Wright was picked up by a rescue helicopter five hours later.

Clearly if the whale was sorry, he would have given Mr Wright a ride back in to shore.

What exactly is he going to write down on his insurance claim?

Go Here To Read The Whole Story

Friday, January 05, 2007


An amazing image. I'm always fascinated by the mirror-like quality of double/split faced animals, like the calf above.

The calf was created via artificial insemination, and is perfectly healthy, according to the farmer who owns it, Kirk Heldreth. He had hoped the calf born from the process would be of a higher genetic quality than his other stock. The farmer is not complaining, however.

Locals have been flocking to Heldreth's Virginia, USA, farm to see this miraculous creature. Sounds like he intends to keep it alive.

From ABCNews.com :
The animal is normal from its tail until its unusually large head. The calf breathes out of two noses and has two tongues, which move independently, according to Heldreth. There appears to be a single socket containing two eyes where the heads split.

"It's the craziest thing I've ever seen," the dairyman said.

According to MedicineNet.com, the condition is called diprosopus. It happens when twins start to form and don't completely separate. In most cases, the twins are completely fused with one set of limbs, but part or all the face is duplicated.