Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It's all in the game though, right?

Tuesday was a big day as far as news was concerned.

The date for the UK General Election was announced. That’s right folks, on May 6th the homeland goes to the polls to choose which middle of the road politician they want as a fearless leader. Considering the fact that the major topic of discussion at the moment appears to be “We’ve got to somehow try and climb out of the horrible financial mess we’re in.” the Labour party has proposed a tax on National Insurance. Alas when - for obvious reasons - big business didn’t jump all over this idea like Kelly Clarkson and a banoffee pie, the Labour party responding by calling them morons. Which it turns out was a bad idea. So now we have Labour looking rather embarrassed and the Tories looking rather smug. And this is only after one day. I fear it’s going to be a long spring.

More importantly however, the Daily Torygraph Telegraph outdid itself yesterday with the news that, somehow, one of cyptozoology’s most sought after creatures had finally been nabbed. With the breathless headline “'Oriental yeti' discovered in China” the article went on to explain:

The hairless beast was trapped by hunters in Sichuan province after locals reported spotting what they thought was a bear.

Local animal experts now plan to ship the mystery beast to scientists in Beijing who will perform DNA tests on the beast. (Gee Note: In case you hadn’t noticed, this thing is a BEAST. Speaking of which, does anyone remember that episode of He-Man where Beast Man gets thrown out of Skeletor’s clique and then kidnaps He-Man’s father for, er, no real reason at all? God I love that show. Awesome theme tune as well. Dur dur dah dah dahhh dur dah dah dah dah dahhhh dur da-dah dah dah dah dahhhhhhhh. Fantastic)

Sounds fascinating doesn’t it? Well the Telegraph’s readers certainly thought so, as it became the most read article on their website that day. Problem is though, being the crack team of journalists they are the Telegraph posted a picture of the “wee beastie”.

Ummm. OK. Where’s the Yeti? No really. I don’t see it. I mean Yeti’s look like this.

That looks like, as pointed out by Loren Coleman on Cryptomundo, an Asian palm civet with a bad skin disease. Either that or an Asian palm civet with a gambling addiction that’s, quite literally, lost the fur off it’s back (Gee Note: “Hi, my name’s Charlie and I’m a gambler. It’s been three months since my last bet. I guess it all started when I was a kid growing up in the forest. See back then, we didn’t have videogames or mp3 players. I mean we had to make our own entertainment you know? So me and my brothers used to bet on who could eat the most mango without passing out. I mean it was just harmless fun. But then I reached adolescence and things really started to get out of hand, Before I knew it I was challenging tigers to see who could do the biggest poo. Tigers man. What the hell was I thinking? I just couldn’t stop though. I was sure that I was just that one big win away…).

You see the truth is that animals who normally have fur look very weird without it. For example, in old school freak shows in the 1800’s it wasn’t uncommon to find the odd pig-lady or two. Rather than being some mutant human being discovered in the deepest darkest jungles of South America as was billed, these performers were instead bears that had been put in a dress and shaved. (Gee Note: Although imagine for a moment having that guy’s job. “Hey Bill it’s good to s… HOLY SHIT WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?” “Well, put it this way. Joining a travelling carnival isn’t as fun as you would think”). They were then passed off as oddities simply because without their fur they looked alien.

Now it would be pretty easy to get annoyed about the Telegraph using a blatantly misleading headline in order to generate interest in a story about a mangy Chinese racoon (Gee Note: The Raccoons! Another great show. Although why was the evil aardvark pink? And why did his son look older than him? And how the hell did he make all that money? I mean he’s an aardvark right? You don’t see many of them employed as CEOs. You know, I’m not sure the writers thought this through). But the really frustrating thing is that they published an even stranger story that day which, due to the hullabaloo over the whole NOTAYETI thing, was pretty much buried.

Meet Phil Hoyle. Mr Hoyle is a member of the Animal Pathology Field Unit (Gee Note: Or APFU for short. Which, as it happens, is really fun to say out loud. Go on. Give it a bash. Unless you’re reading this in a library or something. Then you might want to wait until you get outside. Actually shouting it out in the street might not be the best idea either if you want to avoid strange looks. My advice is wait until you get home, run a nice bath, pour yourself a glass of wine, and then go mad with it). According to the 53 year old, a heck load of sheep in the Shrewsbury area are being found with missing organs and the like. But what could be causing it? Natural predators like foxes? Weird satanic cults? Godzilla? Well none of those actually, says Phil. Instead he claims these mutilations are caused by aliens. That's right Jack, ET grew up, got himself a laser, probably had a bit too much to drink and fancied a kebab. Maybe.

You may be forgiven for wondering why the Telegraph, a supposedly serious newspaper for serious people, would be publishing such a tale. Well it turns out that the reason is simply because The Sun published it first. And as The Sun is Britain “best loved” newspaper (Gee Note: Although at times it’s easier to love Charles Manson) the Telegraph looks to get any help it can. Indeed all of the quotes and “facts” from the piece are lifted directly from The Sun’s article.

Still it’s a good idea to jump on a bandwagon when you see one coming. After all cattle mutilation is always big news in the paranormal world. Linked with either sinister government experiments, unknown scary predators with red eyes, or them goddam little green men, cattle mutilations are a one size fits all “See? I told you something strange was going on” anomaly that has been doing the rounds since 1967.

On September 9th that very year a young farmhand was working on the family land in Alamosa, Colorado when they discovered the body of one of their horses. Harry King (Gee Note: Not to be confused with Larry King of course. Although it would be fantastic if he attempted to interview the dead animal. “So, I hear you’re in talks for a movie with George Clooney. Tell me a little bit about that” Silence. “Fascinating stuff. Stay tuned because after the break we’ll be joined by Pamela Anderson. Right after these messages.”) found Lady, a three year old horse, after it had been missing for a couple of days. According to Harry the head and neck of the mare were stripped entirely clean of flesh, to the point where the bones were white. King thought the cuts looked to be precise, as if a surgical instrument was used. He also noticed a strange smell, not of rotting flesh but rather one he described as “medicinal”.

The next day Harry and his mother Agnes returned to the scene with Agnes’s brother, Berle Lewis and his wife. Upon arriving they found a lump of skin and horse flesh that was inexplicably oozing a green liquid. When Mrs. Lewis accidentally touched the liquid it burned her hand, displaying acidic like qualities. Searching the surrounding area for more evidence of just what the hell happened to this poor critter they found fifteen "tapering, circular exhaust marks punched into the ground". The medicinal smell, although less pungent, still lingered in the air.

The Kings called the United States Forest Service, who sent Ranger Duane Martin to investigate (Gee Note: It’s a shame his name is Duane really. Because otherwise he’d sound like an action hero. For example how great would it be if his first name was John? Or better yet, Shotgun? “My god, one of our deer has gone missing!” “There’s only one thing for it. Send for Ranger Shotgun Martin”). Martin was quoted as saying “The death of this saddle pony is one of the most mysterious sights I’ve ever witnessed ... I’ve seen stock killed by lightening, but it was never like this.”. He also took a PKE Meter Geiger counter with him which picked up increased radioactivity readings in the area.

Fast forward to about a month later, October 5th, and an account of UFO activity sighted in the area on the day Lady disappeared was published. According to the witness, Superior Court Judge Charles E. Bennett, they spotted “three reddish-orange rings in the sky. They maintained a triangular formation, moved at a high speed, and made a humming sound.”. On the same morning that Bennett’s story was made public, an article about Lady’s carcass written by Mrs. Lewis was picked up by the Associated Press, which steadily gathered steam on the back of others reporting woovy bezerk lights in the Colorado sky.

Intrigued the Condon Committee (Gee Note: Which was basically a brief stab at trying to turn the study of UFOs in to an academic subject.) sent Robert Low and the head of Colorado State University’s Veterinary and Biomedical Science School Dr. Robert O. Adams down there to find out all they could. After some serious study Adams saw "no unearthly causes, at least not to my mind.". Upon noticing that Lady had an infection in her (Gee Note: Obscure “The Wire” reference time) hind parts, he hypothesised that someone had found the animal suffering and slit it’s throat to put it out of it’s misery. Then parasites and scavengers removed the flesh and organs from the body. This satisfied most interested parties. Except for the Kings that is, who asked questions such as “Umm. What about the lack of blood? And the medicinal smell?”. To which Adams and Low responded “La la la la la la la la la la la la. Not listening. La la la la la la la la.”.

Still after Low and Adams’ judgement, it was felt by the authorities that no further follow up was required. Which is a shame as there’s enough, just enough, unanswered questions to make the case of Lady the horse worthy of further discussion.

There is one thing that bothers me about the whole deal however. And that is why would aliens be “lasering” farmyard animals in the first place? I mean these are supposedly super intelligent beings that have the ability to travel across monumental distances, distances we ourselves are not physically or technologically capable of, and they can’t find any other way to study a cow’s brain than cutting it out of the poor sod? I mean they couldn’t, like, take an X-Ray or something. And even if that was the case, why would they want just the brain and organs. I mean a circulatory system is of absolutely no interest to them? Hair growth is a boring biological subject to an extraterrestrial? I don’t buy it.

But hey, if aliens are stealing our sheep’s brains and what not, at least they’re probably not mistaking it for a Yeti.

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