Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Birth Of CSI Investigating...!

Sometimes we overlook the people that did more for modern day crime solving than ever before.

Just imagine how much more difficult things would be without finger prints, ballistics, and the like. If you want to know who to thank, try the man that started it all!

The Forgotten Creator Of Crime Scene Forensic Science
By Debra Kelly on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In the late 19th century, Alexandre Lacassagne was rewriting the way law enforcement looked at crimes and crime scenes. He ushered in a new era of weapon identification and analytical sciences and should be known as the father of modern forensics, but his name has largely been swallowed by unforgiving, cramped history books. A real-life Sherlock Holmes, Lacassagne constructed the first forensics lab and taught countless students how to recreate a crime from the evidence left behind.

For centuries, solving crimes was something of a hit-or-miss field. There was no such thing as forensics, no way to take and compare fingerprints, and no way of analyzing crime scenes or piecing together the events that led up to the crime.

Until, that is, one 19th-century professor teaching at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Lyon decided that his students needed some hands-on experience more than they needed a refresher course on the way things had always been done. Suddenly, for the first time, students weren’t sitting in lectures but they were performing dozens of autopsies every year.

Alexandre Lacassagne single-handedly revolutionized forensic science. He trained his students to look for the pieces that told the story of a person’s murder, from bruises on the body to checking the internal organs of a victim for signs of drowning. He taught them how to use chemical reactions to look for trace evidence, and how to tell the difference between dried blood and rust. He showed them how to examine the insects that were present on a dead body to determine just how long the person had been dead.

Since there was no place suitable for the type of exams and work that he had in mind, Lacassagne created his own laboratory—complete with state-of-the-art equipment, most of which had never been regularly used for police work.

He also constructed a macabre museum of sorts, where students could look at and learn about the human body under different types of conditions. He had skulls that were fractured and broken by different instruments, sketches and plaster casts of crime scene body parts, stillborn babies of different ages, displays of weapons both standard and makeshift. He had vials of poisons and bodily fluids, and even different types of ropes to show students how the rope itself would match the wounds it left behind.

He also developed the idea of ballistics. He’s noted for providing evidence in several cases in which he successfully proved a particular gun was a murder weapon by firing bullets into cadavers then comparing those bullets with ones that were pulled from a murder victim.

Lacassagne even cataloged thousands of different tattoos that were common among the underworld’s unsavory characters. While serving in the military, he became fascinated by the idea of tattoos providing a very visible look into a person’s most innermost feelings. Then he began recording.

If there were any who doubted these newly developed methods, those doubts were erased with Lacassagne’s persecution of a man known as the French Jack the Ripper. Joseph Vacher was a spree killer who raped and murdered his way across the French countryside in 1894 before finally being arrested. Clearly crazy, it was an insanity defense that was making it look likely that he wouldn’t be beheaded for his crimes, but instead committed to life in an asylum.

Lacassagne was, however, able to recreate the heinous acts that Vacher had committed, leaving no doubts that he knew exactly what he was doing. He showed no remorse, was known for torturing and killing small animals, and had all the hallmarks of what we would now call a psychopath. Vacher was deemed culpable and was executed in 1898.

Just think, if it were not for this man and the others that followed in his footsteps, a lot more bad guys would get away with murder...literally!

Coffee in the kitchen again. Heavy rains overnight made the patio a swimming pool!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Annie Oakley On Western Wednesday...!

So many stories and tales have sung the praises of Annie Oakley, but the truth may surprise you just a bit.

Annie didn't look like a cowgirl at all. In fact, she was very lady-like in dress and actions. In case you don't know much about her, this little bit of history may solve that problem.

Aug 13, 1860:
Annie Oakley is born

Annie Oakley, one of the greatest female sharpshooters in American history, is born in Patterson Township, Ohio.

Born Phoebe Ann Oakley Moses, Oakley demonstrated an uncanny gift for marksmanship at an early age. "I was eight years old when I made my first shot," she later recalled, "and I still consider it one of the best shots I ever made." After spotting a squirrel on the fence in her front yard, the young Oakley took a loaded rifle from the house. She steadied the gun on a porch rail, and shot the squirrel through the head, skillfully preserving the meat for the stew pot.

After that, Oakley's honed her sharpshooting talents. She was never a stereotypical Wild West woman who adopted the dress and ways of men. To the contrary, Oakley prided herself on her feminine appearance and skills. She embroidered nearly as well as she shot, liked to read the Bible in the evenings, and favored gingham dresses and demure sunbonnets.

In 1876, a Cincinnati hotelkeeper that heard of Oakley's marksmanship set up a Thanksgiving Day shooting match between Oakley and a traveling exhibition sharpshooter named Frank Butler. Annie managed to outshoot the professional by one clay pigeon. Oakley's skills and attractive appearance impressed Butler, and he continued to correspond with the young woman while he traveled. By June, the couple had married, and Oakley joined her husband's act as "Annie Oakley" the "peerless wing and rifle shot."

In 1885, the couple joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, and Oakley soon became one of the most popular acts. A typical show consisted of Oakley shooting a cigarette out of her husband's mouth or a dime from his fingers. She also did backward trick shots where she sighted her target only with a mirror. Her ability to shoot holes through playing cards led Americans of the day to refer to any free ticket to an event as an "Annie Oakley," a reference to the holes that were often punched in the ticket for validation. When the great Sioux war chief Sitting Bull briefly traveled with the show, he grew fond of Oakley and gave her the nickname Watanya Cicilia—Little Sure Shot.

Oakley stayed with the traveling show for more than 15 years, giving performances around the world. In 1901, a head-on collision with a freight train injured Oakley's back. She returned to performing after a year of rest and toured with several shows for the next decade. In 1913, Oakley and Butler retired, though they continued to give occasional demonstrations for good causes.

In 1921, a devastating auto accident permanently crippled Oakley. She and Butler moved to Greenville, Ohio, her home county, and she lived the remaining years of her life in the quiet countryside. She died there in 1926 at the age of 66.

This woman made quite an impression on many folks over the years, and to this day she is still considered to be one of the better female shooters in our history.

Better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. More rain coming in.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some Spooky Car History For Tuesday...!

We don't do many stories about haunted cars here at the Hermit's, but today we will.

The story of this auto is so strange that it bears a mention, I think. Hard to read about something like this and not feel that something isn't right.

The Cursed Car Of Franz Ferdinand

Graft Und Strift

The Graf & Stift company is one of the unsung heroes of the automobile business. Before World War I, their cars were actually quite successful and had some fairly famous clientele.

Sadly, one of their models happened to be the car Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in.

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was the final straw in the long-building tension between various European nations, and marked the beginning of World War I. Everyone knows the political and historical consequences of the killing, but not many are aware of the strange ghost story that is associated with it. According to legend, the car (a 1910 Graf & Stift Double Phaeton) itself was so shocked by the events that every single subsequent owner met a violent fate.

During the following 12 years, Franz Ferdinand’s car saw 15 different owners. During the same time, it was involved in several accidents that led to 13 deaths. One owner, an Austrian general, became insane and died in an asylum. Another, a captain, fatally ran into two peasants and a tree (despite attempting to avoid the accident) only nine days after purchasing the car. Yet another owner committed a suicide.

And it gets worse. The governor of Yugoslavia had four separate accidents during his possession of the vehicle—one of which cost him an arm. When his friend, a doctor, later bought the “cursed” car for a dare, but it flipped over, and the doctor was crushed. The same fate later met another owner, a Swiss racing driver. A Serbian farmer never even had a chance to drive the car—the car fell over and crushed him during the towing process.

The last owner of the car, a Romanian man, was arguably the most unlucky: while on his way to a wedding with five friends, the vehicle suddenly spun out of control. All five were killed in the crash.

That’s the legend, anyway. The ”jinxed” nature of the car has been called into question since the story emerged in the 1950s. We may never find out the car’s true nature for certain; these days it’s just a broken-down artifact in an Austrian museum.

We had better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. Looks like more rain coming.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Big Balls On Monday Mystery...!

I don't believe that I have had this one here before, but I can't remember! Still, it's another fun one!

Sometimes the strangest stories come from the finds of some ordinary folks. I think this certainly applies to this story.

The Betz Mystery Sphere

When the Betz family was examining the damage of a strange fire that had decimated 88 acres of their woodland, they made a strange discovery: a silvery sphere, about 20 centimeters (eight inches) in diameter, completely smooth except for a strange, elongated triangle symbol. Initially thinking it might be a NASA gadget or even a Soviet spy satellite, they eventually decided it was most likely just a souvenir. On a moment’s whim, they decided to take it with them.

Two weeks later, the family’s son was strumming a guitar in the same room as the sphere. Suddenly, the sphere started reacting to his tunes, emitting a strange throbbing sound and a resonance that deeply disturbed the family’s dog. Soon, the Betz family found the orb had other strange properties. It could stop and change directions when pushed across the floor, eventually returning to the person who pushed it like a faithful dog. It seemed to draw power from solar energy, becoming noticeably more active on bright days.

It started looking like something (or someone) was controlling the sphere: It would occasionally emit low-frequency rattling and vibrations, like there was a motor running inside. It seemed to avoid falling and crashing at all costs, as if to protect something inside it. It even managed to completely defy the laws of gravity and climb up a slanted table to avoid falling.

A media frenzy ensued. Respected papers such as the New York Times and the London Daily sent reporters to witness the miracle sphere, which repeated its tricks to countless people. Even scientists and representatives of the military were impressed, although the Betz family wouldn’t let them take the sphere for closer examination. However, that soon changed as the sphere took a turn for the worse. It started exhibiting poltergeist–like behavior: Doors started slamming shut at night and strange organ music would fill the house out of the blue. At that point, the family decided to find out what the sphere really was. The Navy analyzed it and found it was . . . a perfectly ordinary (if high-quality) stainless steel ball.

To this day, it’s not entirely clear what the mysterious alien sphere is. However, there have been many theories attempting to explain its possible nature. The most plausible of these is, incidentally, the most mundane: Three years before the Betz family found the orb, an artist named James Durling-Jones was driving in the area where it was found. On the luggage rack on his car roof were a number of stainless steel balls meant for a sculpture he was making, some of which dropped off during the bumpy ride. These balls matched the exact description of the Betz sphere, and were balanced enough to roll around at the slightest provocation (the Betz family lived in an old house with uneven floors, so such a ball would appear to behave erratically). These balls could even emit a rattling sound, thanks to tiny metal shavings stuck inside during the manufacturing process.

Although this doesn’t explain all of the reported phenomena, it certainly casts a shadow over all the “mysterious ghost ball from outer space” rhetoric.

While I don't know what this thing is or why it does what it does...I think it would be nice to have one. Not that my life is dull or anything, but it would be cool to have something to scare the cats with!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another Sunday already...!

Of course, Sunday means the funnies, right? RIGHT!

Here are some that you may not have seen for a while. I hope you enjoy them!

These guys were always funny, if you ask me. I still get a kick out of them!

Somehow I don't think that last one was politically correct, so don't tell anyone...OK?

OK...guess that's all we need today. Time to get back to whatever we were doing, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Sausage and biscuits sound good?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Watch Out For Falling Cats...!

This is a case of one crazy idea that actually worked the way it was intended. Imagine that!

The UK Airdropped A Squad Of Cats Into Borneo
By Michael Van Duisen on Thursday, August 8, 2013

During the 1950s, Borneo was overrun with rats, an unintended consequence of huge DDT sprays that aimed to kill malaria-spreading mosquitoes. Unfortunately, many cockroaches were also sprayed and were eaten by lizards, which were in turn eaten by cats, many of which died shortly after. The plan? Gather up reinforcement cats and have the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force drop them into the country by parachute. And yes, it totally worked.


In the 1950s, the Dayak people of the island of Borneo were in the midst of a severe malaria outbreak, which was known to be spread by mosquitoes. In order to combat this problem, the World Health Organization decided to utilize DDT, which was not yet seen for the danger that it is. Yes, it was very effective at halting the spread of malaria but an unintended consequence arose. The cockroaches that infested the area were also covered with DDT, but they survived and spread the chemical to the geckos that ate them. Many of them survived, only to be eaten by cats which, because they didn’t have a strong resistance to DDT, succumbed to the pesticide and died.

With their natural predators weakened, the rat population shot up, spreading typhus and destroying many farmers’ crops. To alleviate the problem they unintentionally caused, WHO called upon the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force to assist them in a plan they called Operation: Catdrop.

The plan was pretty simple: Round up a squad of cats in the United Kingdom and ship them to Borneo. Because there was no way to truck them in from the shore and the villages were quite isolated, the RAF used a helicopter to drop the cats to a particularly hard-hit village of Dayak people by parachute, along with some other supplies. When they landed, the cats had a veritable feast of rats and helped restore ecological balance.

I'm glad that the idea was solved in a fairly humane way, since the problem was caused by man to begin with! Someday maybe we'll stop trying to mess with Mother Nature, but I'm not gonna hold my breath!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Fresh apple pie as a side dish!

Friday, July 18, 2014

No Freaky Friday Post Today...!

Sorry, but I have to take Mom across town this morning. That means I won't have a post.

I shopuld have said something sooner, but I ran out of time. You know how that is, right? Anyway, I'll make up for it at a later date, I promise!

Help yourself to the coffee. You all know where the pot is, right?