Monthly Archives: March 2007

20,000 Leagues Under the Ohio River

A few months ago, local city workers pulled a three foot alligator out of a dumpster downtown near the Ohio River. It was dead, but no one knew for sure how it had got there. It was probably a pet that someone tossed after it died, but I was joking with some friends about the possibility that it had crawled out of the Ohio River and into the dumpster for warmth.

I was wondering if that was even possible, so I poked around online to see if any alligators actually have been found in the Ohio. Not only have people found crocodiles and piranha-like tropical fish in the Ohio River over the years, last August they pulled an octopus out of the river. That’s right, an octopus. And not just any octopus, this octopus was six feet long! It was caught by an Indiana man looking for catfish in the Ohio River across from Louisville.

Octopus from Ohio River

Check out the news article.

According to according to Cincinnati’s CityBeat, there’s an urban legend that a submarine was once spotted in the Ohio River as well. There was at least one eyewitness to the strange event. “Back in 1961, I saw a submarine, honestly,” says Janice Forte of the Cincinnati Historical Society. “We were just standing down by the river and somebody says, ‘My God, look at that!’ It was not submerged, and it was headed north. Nobody wrote about it in the papers, that I saw. It was really strange.”

Turtles all the way down

A teacher tells his student that the earth is supported on the back of a tiger. When the student asks what supports the tiger, the teacher says it stands upon an elephant. When asked what supports the elephant, the teacher says it’s a giant turtle. When asked what supports the giant turtle, he says: “Stop right there. It’s turtles all the way down.”

— Hindu Proverb

Feeding the machine

In the Wired article “We Are the Web“, Kevin Kelly writes:

And who will write the software that makes this contraption useful and productive? We will. In fact, we’re already doing it, each of us, every day. When we post and then tag pictures on the community photo album Flickr, we are teaching the Machine to give names to images. The thickening links between caption and picture form a neural net that can learn. Think of the 100 billion times per day humans click on a Web page as a way of teaching the Machine what we think is important. Each time we forge a link between words, we teach it an idea. Wikipedia encourages its citizen authors to link each fact in an article to a reference citation. Over time, a Wikipedia article becomes totally underlined in blue as ideas are cross-referenced. That massive cross-referencing is how brains think and remember. It is how neural nets answer questions. It is how our global skin of neurons will adapt autonomously and acquire a higher level of knowledge.

Mothman

Beginning in November 1966, the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, was terrorized by sightings of what came to be known as Mothman. The creature was described as larger than a man, a near 10-foot wingspan, with the ability of helicopter-like take-offs and flying speeds of nearly 100 miles an hour. Over one hundred people say they saw him in the span of a year, and the sightings coincided with many strange happenings in the area, including UFO activity and the appearance of men-in-black. Mothman struck fear throughout the region and across the country. The bizarre events climaxed with the collapse of the Silver Bridge in December 1967, killing 46 people. Those 46 people drowned in the icy waters of the Ohio River below. Many say Mothman was an omen of the disaster because he disappeared directly after. But to this day, those associated with the Mothman mystery have fallen victim to his curse, dying each of them in strange and unexplainable deaths.

That’s him in the picture below. No, the other guy. I’m a dork. I know.Mothman & Me

Point Pleasant erected this statue to commemorate the story after the 2002 movie The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere. Each year they throw the Mothman Festival, and believe me that’s the only reason to go to Point Pleasant.