Ghost Towns from Around the World: Monday Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop, or Colemans Hill, was once a small mining settlement located in the Namib Desert in southern Namibia. The settlements name comes from a transport driver named Johnny Coleman, who left his ox wagon on a small hill opposite the settlement. In 1908, when one of the miners discovered a large diamond, people rushed to the Namib Desert in hopes of making a fortune. Within two years, Kolmanskop grew from a small settlement to a thriving town, equipped with a hospital, theater, school, ice factory, residential buildings, casino, and the first tram in Africa.

Kolmanskop

Welcome to Kolmanskop.

Unfortunately, the diamond-fields of Kolmanskop were exhausted roughly around the end of World War I, leading to a swift decline in residents. In 1954, the town was completely abandoned.

Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop’s decline.

Due to the geological placement of the town, almost every house has become infested with knee-deep sand. Kolmanskop has become a very popular tourist attraction, and there are a few vigilant photographers who brave the journey out to Kolmanskop to get a picture of the deserts consumption of this once thriving town.

Kolmanskop

Inside a Kolmanskop house.

Kolmanskop

Another house.

Nowadays, very little remains of the once booming town of Kolmanskop. There are no streets, no gardens, no people, and even most of the buildings have felt the degradation of age. This is truly a ghost town.

Kolmanskop

Come back tomorrow for another ghost town.

The Jack-o-lantern: Or, the Story of Jack the Smith

Several centuries ago, there lived a drunkard known as Jack the Smith. He wandered the many towns and villages of Ireland, drinking, yelling, and making trouble wherever he went. Overtime, Jack became widely known as a deceiver and manipulator; he was a total blotch on society. On one cold, windy night, the Devil heard the stories of Jacks careless, evil deeds. The Devil, astonished that someone might rival his own evilness, set off to find Jack.

Traditional Irish Jack-o'-lantern.

Traditional Irish Jack-o’-lantern.

Jack was drunk, walking through the countryside, when he found a body laying on the pathway. The body, with a grimace across its face, was none other than the Devil. Jack sobered up and realized that his end was coming, quickly. But before the Devil could take Jack to Hell, Jack asked for a final request: a drink of ale. The Devil agreed and the two made their way to a local alehouse, where the Devil supplied Jack with copious amounts of alcohol. Once Jack had his fill, he asked the Devil to cover his tab, but the Devil had no money. So, Jack, using his manipulative tongue, convinced the Devil to metamorphose into a silver coin to pay for the tab. Instead of using the coin to pay for the tab, though, Jack stuck it in his pocket, next to a crucifix, disabling the Devils ability to escape. For his freedom, the Devil struck a deal with Jack: the Devil would spare Jack for ten years, if Jack let him go. Jack agreed and the years passed.

Ten years later, Jack was once again approached by the Devil. Jack feigned acceptance of following the Devil to Hell, but, similar to last time, he asked for one last request: an apple from a nearby tree. Foolishly, the Devil scampered up a local apple tree to get Jack his last and final apple. While the Devil was in the tree, Jack placed numerous crucifixes at its trunk, trapping the Devil in the tree. Frustrated at his entrapment, the Devil demanded a deal for his release. This time, thinking that he could avoid the Devil forever, Jack requested that his soul never be taken to Hell. The Devil agreed and was set free.

As with any living being, Jack eventually felt the tinge of death and he passed away. However, due to his evil deeds, he was denied the entrance to Heaven, so Jack turned to Hell for a place to rest his soul. Unfortunately, the Devil, committing to his deal, denied Jack entrance, dooming him to walk the Earth until the end of days. Taking pity on Jack, the Devil gave him a lantern, so Jack can see his way around the world, even at night. The Devil called it a Jack-o-lantern.

Ghosts: Unknown Aerial Sightings Caught on Film

Since February 23rd, 2010, the National Geographic has been hunting down and documenting paranormal activity in the television series Paranatural. Whether it is a haunted house or a mountain range, they have been scouring for strange occurrences. Unlike most Youtube videos and other questionable ghost sightings, the National Geographic tends to utilize professional equipment and experts within the field of paranormal activity. One such area they have investigated, Lineville Gorge, lies within Western North Carolina.

The Lineville Gorge is well known to the residents living within the vicinity, telling tales of strange lights, dancing orbs, paranormal appearances, and all sorts of ghostly happenings. There have been so many occurrences that the residents have taken to calling them ghost lights, The Ghosts of Brown Mountain, or The Brown Mountain Lights. These lights are described as glowing orbs of bright light that manifest suddenly, float upward, and often move unnaturally quick.

Traditionally, glowing orbs, more commonly known as will-o-the-wisp, can be easily explained. Decomposing flesh can potentially give off the chemicals phophine and methane. Phosphine will spontaneously ignite when contacted with oxygen in the air, thus lighting a small fire above the decaying corpse. This fire continues burning for a prolonged period of time, often until the corpse has completely decomposed and no longer can produce phosphine gases. However, unlike the video above, these lights are not known to move, hover, and change colors. Will-o-the-wisps are merely a natural bacterial byproduct.

The ghost lights in Lineville Gorge do not represent a singular occurrence. There have been countless sightings of dancing, glowing orbs around the world. And even today, in our modern society, we are still trying to figure out where they come from and why they appear. Whether they are the restless souls of the deceased, or the oxidation of phosphine and methane, we may never know. One thing is certain: they have captured the attention of the human race and continue to freak us out.

Sleep well, lock your doors, and keep a camera close by for those late night ghost sightings.



Dispelling the Rumor: Porphyria, or The Vampire Disease.

Some historians, chemists, doctors, and scientists are constantly searching for an explanation for the creation of our human folklore, specifically the origin of vampires, werewolves, zombies, krakens, etc. Unfortunately, one of the by-products of this search is the mislabeling of modern diseases and conditions. Rather than producing a resulting explanation for why we are so fascinated with reanimated corpses and blood-drinking cannibals, we are pointing fingers at individuals currently plagued by severe illnesses and conditions similar to that of a vampire or werewolf.

Vampire Folklore

Traditional vampire folklore.

In 1964, On Porphyria and the Aetiology of Werwolves, an article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, pointed at porphyria, a group of rare blood disorders, as an explanation for werewolf origins. The article went widely unnoticed for twenty-one years, until biochemist David Dolphin created an extremely controversial paper about the origin of vampires, using some of the articles ideas and theses as evidence.

In his paper, David Dolphin claimed that some of the varieties of porphyria have very similar symptoms to that of an individual suffering from vampirism. Pointing out that intravenous haem helps treat this group of porphyria, David Dolphin suggested that vampires were merely porphyria sufferers who were consuming large amounts of blood to simulate this process. However, there is no medical evidence that individuals diagnosed with porphyria crave the taste of blood.

These same variants of porphyria also cause the individuals skin to become hyper-sensitive to light. If the individual is exposed to prolonged sunlight, their skin burns and itches, and the application of Calomine lotion does little to deter the itching and burning sensation. David Dolphin used this as further evidence that porphyria is the origin of our vampiric beliefs. Unfortunately, the original vampire folklore claims that vampires are more active at night, not that they are vulnerable to sunlight. Sunlight as a vulnerability for vampires did not develop until the 19th century.

Porphyria

Photosensitivity reaction in porphyria.

Dolphin also noted the other symptoms of porphyria as evidence of its vampiric ties: anemia, reddish-brown urine and teeth, excess body hair, and the mutilation of the nose, ears, eyelids, or fingers. Depending on the time period, only some of these symptoms match the appearance of a vampire, but none of them are concrete enough to support his claims. To put it simply, David Dolphins whole paper was based off inaccurate information, mixed folklore, and a general misunderstanding of porphyria. This did not stop the media from loving it up though.

After the release of Dolphins paper, the media exploded with talk about realistic vampires. Some individuals suffering from porphyria were said to have been shunned by their friends and family  forced exile, something that is almost unheard of in modern America. There are even rumors of a husband leaving his wife out of fear for being bitten and turned into a vampire.

Before you go rushing out and yelling about how vampires are walking among us, remember, David Dolphin had no idea what he was talking about. Vampires live in castles and drink fine wine duh everyone knows that.

Kittiwat Unarrom: Eat Like a Zombie at the Human Bakery

The Human Bakery, doesnt that just sound nice? Say it out loud with me, The Human Bakery. It sounds so dark, disturbing, and a little cheesy, like its the central plot point of an old 50s science fiction movie – The Human Bakery is people, its people! Well, if you ever take a trip to Thailand, you can venture into the Human Bakery, where you will find hyper-realistic sculptures of bloody, gruesome human body parts. Don’t worry though; all of them are baked lovingly by the infamous Thai macabre artist himself, Kittiwat Unarrom.

Human Bakery

This is the Human Bakery.

Since 2006, Kittiwat Unarrom has been combining his childhood upbringing in a bakery with his fascination of the human anatomy. Upon entering the Human Bakery, you are exposed to a sensory overload of hands, feet, heads, torsos, and internal organs hanging on hooks. To give the body parts a sterilized morgue feel, Unarrom uses a blood-like sugar glaze. That’s right, a blood-like sugar glaze, because you can purchase these sculptures and bring them home for dinner, or a late night zombie snack.

When asked about his art, Unarrom said, Of course, people were shocked and thought that I was mad when they saw the works. But once they knew the idea behind it, they understood and became interested in the work itself, instead of thinking that I am crazy.

Kittiwat Unarrom

Kittiwat Unarrom at work.

So, what is the idea behind sculpting and baking human body parts out of dough? Lets go back to Unarrom for the answer: When people see the bread, they don’t want to eat it. But when they taste it, its just normal bread. The lesson is don’t judge just by outer appearances.

All of Unarroms works are made from dough, raisins, chocolate, cashew nuts, and other traditional baking ingredients, making them edible and grossly delicious. Next time you’re in Thailand, stop by the Human Bakery and taste a human face for yourself. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

Black Eyed Kids: Hide Your Everybody

In 1998, Brian Bethel, a struggling journalist at the time, had a strange encounter with something nearly unexplainable. Brian was sitting in his car in a parking lot when he was approached by two boys. They looked younger than the average teenager, but too mature to be thought of as kids. They were wearing normal clothes and had olive colored skin. Brian later stated, I could feel fight-or-flight responses kicking in. Something, I knew instinctually, was not right, but I didn’t know what it could possibly be.

Black Eyed Kids

Black Eyed Kids.

The boys claimed they were on their way to see a movie and had accidentally left their money at home, and they asked if Brian would give them a lift back to their house. Following his instincts, Brian denied to help them. Immediately, the kids became annoyed and agitated, demanding that Brian let them into his car. For some reason, Brians surmounting anxiety and fear led way to actually wanting to let the kids into his car, as if his thoughts were being controlled by someone other than himself. With his heart pounding in his chest, Brian then noticed the coloration of the kids eyes: completely black, like pure coal, lacking pupils or irises.

Sensing that he was dealing with something otherworldly, Brian immediately reversed his car and drove away. Recounting the event, Brian said, I noticed the boys in my peripheral vision, and I stole a quick glance back. They were gone. The sidewalk by the theater was deserted. Where exactly the boys went, no one will ever know. But, one thing is certain: this is the first piece of documentation involving the Black Eyed Kids.

They approach quietly, yet boldly. They’re young, usually teens or slightly younger. They insist on coming inside your house to use the bathroom, the telephone or just for a drink of water. But for some reason you’re afraid. Why? They’re just kids. Then you notice their eyes black, as if the pupil had poured over its banks.

No one really knows anything about the Black Eyed Kids. Some say they are the ghastly reanimation of murders, sufferers, or sinners; however, others claim they are demonic in nature. Regardless of their origin, Brian Bethels interaction with them is not a singular case.

Stephen Wagner, a marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, experienced a similar encounter to Brian Bethels. He was watching a movie at home when he heard a knock on the door. Upon opening it, he was greeted by two kids matching the same description as Brians. When asked later to comment on the event, he said, “I couldn’t take my eyes of their pitch-black eyes; it was like they were sucking me in. I felt horrible and was suddenly frightened for my life, like I needed to immediately take cover. They just stared at me, with those goddam eyes.”

As stated, no one knows the purpose of these Black Eyed Kids. If you have had an encounter with one, let us know about it. Or, you could dress up as one for Halloween and really freak some people out.

Ghosts: Haunting Your House, Bringing Down Its Value

In 1991, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held the caseStambovsky v. Ackley, where it was determined that a house publicly marked as haunted can bring down the value of that house, and the current homeowner must inform any subsequent purchasers of the houses haunted state. Before you go wondering about how a court can legally rule on such an ambiguous topic, there is a lot of history behind this specific case.

Haunted House

Selling a haunted house may be a nightmare in itself.

Helen Ackley was the original owner of the house involved in the case, and she claimed that both she and her family had interacted with numerous ghosts in the house. Between 1977 and 1989, Helens stories of poltergeist activity were published three different times in her local newspaper and Readers Digest. Naturally, the stories grabbed the attention of countless individuals and the houses haunted fame grew.

Supposedly, the ghastly residents of Helens house interacted with her family on a daily basis. Helen even claimed that a specific ghost woke her up every morning by shaking her arm, and if Helen did not want to wake up early in the morning, she had to inform the ghost before she went to sleep. The ghosts also gave Helens grandchildren small gifts, which disappeared later.

When Helen Ackley went to sell the house, neither Helen nor her Realtor informed the buyer, Jeffrey Stambovsky, about the houses ghastly occupants, and Stambovsky was unaware himself. Stambovsky signed a contract to purchase the house, made a $32,500 down payment, and agreed to purchase the house for a total of $650,000. Unfortunately, the purchase did not go as planned.

Stambovsky soon learned about the haunted stories surrounding his potential home purchase and he immediately filed a legal action to cancel the contract. Along with demanding damages for fraudulent misrepresentation, Stambovsky refused to attend the closing of the houses sale, thus forfeiting his original down payment of $32,500. Stambovsky appealed and the case was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court decided, regardless of whether the house was actually haunted or not, since it was publicly reported as being haunted, the house was to be legally marked as such and the overall value was greatly affected.

So, if you have a ghastly resident wandering the halls of your house, think twice before you start informing your local papers of its existence, especially if you hope to sell the house soon.

Werewolf-Vampire Connections

Before the dawn of our modern society, word of mouth was the main mode of transportation for information and stories. Anyone who has every tried to pass on a piece of information via word of mouth would know that this information often becomes jumbled and misconstrued. Some historians believe this process of orally passing along stories and information is what resulted in our current folklore of werewolves and vampires. But, did you know that some Medieval Europe societies believed there was a very strong connection between werewolves and vampires?

During the 19th century, the Greek culture would completely destroy the corpse of anyone believed to be a werewolf. If the corpse was not destroyed, they believed it would rise in the form of a vampiric wolf, which would stalk battlefields and drink the blood of dying soldiers. To save the lives of their soldiers, they had to destroy these beastly creatures and ensure that they never killed another soul. Now, it is one thing for a single culture to believe this notion, but it gets strange when other parts of the world follow it, too.

Werewolf, by Lucas Cranach der Ältere, 1512.

Werewolf, by Lucas Cranach der Ältere, 1512.

Around the same period of time as when the Greeks were destroying werewolf corpses, Germany, Poland, and parts of France were destroying the corpses of people who died in mortal sin. These countries believed that individuals who perished in this manner would come back as a blood-drinking wolf; however, unlike the Greeks, these countries viewed the wolf as an undead apparition, rather than a living creature. During the night it would stalk and hunt its prey, but when the sunlight returned, the creature would take on a human form, making it nearly impossible to discover the identity of the vampiric werewolf.

To destroy the corpse of a vampiric werewolf found in Germany, Poland, or France, priests were brought in to perform exorcisms. If that failed, decapitation with a spade was the next best option. Once the head was severed from the body, it was thrown into a river, where it would sink under the weight of its own sins, supposedly. If there was no river nearby, the same methods for disposing of a vampire would be used on the werewolf.

In Haitian culture, there is a belief in something very similar to the traditional European werewolf the j©-rouges. Resembling a wolf-man, these creatures stalk the Haitian landscape, looking for mothers of young children. Upon finding one, they daze the mother and ask her to willingly release the child into the custody of the j©-rouges. Differing from their European cousins, these werewolves actively spread their lycanthropic disease to as many individuals as possible, resembling a key trait of the traditional vampire.

If you are anything like me, you love werewolves and vampires, and now you can enjoy both of them together, like peanut butter and chocolate, but more horrifying.

Statistical Analysis of a Zombie Apocalypse

In 2009, led by Philip Munz, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa created an epidemiological analysis of an outbreak of undead zombies. The zombies in the study were based off the Living Deads slow-moving zombies, yet the findings of the study do not bode well for the human race. In fact, the study concluded that – unless dealt with quickly – all of human civilization would collapse. Every single home, business, city, and country would be consumed in a mass of thriving, swarming undead cadavers.

The Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead, by George A. Romero.

The authors of the study also concluded that offensive military strategies would be much more effective than attempting to quarantine the infection, as this would only serve to risk more human-to-zombie contact. However, the study did not definitively determine that a military strategy would work, or even save the human population. It would merely help to deter the constant consumption of the zombie horde.

Now, most zombie apocalypse stories often mention a cure, or a vaccine, for the zombie infection, so the study delved into this idea, too. The study discovered that a cure would do very little to slow the infection rate because the vaccinated individuals can still be consumed they simple cannot be turned. If anything, a vaccination would most likely assist with leaving some humans alive during the initial outbreak, yet their odds of surviving the whole zombie apocalypse would be extremely close to zero.

Viewing the zombie apocalypse as a whole, the researchers determined that every single human would be dead or turned by the end of it. Zombies simply have one thing that humans cannot combat: a population that grows with the death of every human. Where one human dies, a zombie most likely arises; regardless, that is one less player on our team. Neutralizing every zombie would be about as difficult as neutralizing a whole virus strain, like Measles, except it walks around and consumes your friends and family.

In addition, the survival of a generation of humans would only lead to a larger food source for the undead predators. By reproducing and attempting to continue our species, we would be fulfilling their basic need of hunger. If there ever was an example of Catch-22, this would be it.

Remember, this statistical data is all based off the zombies from the Living Dead. If someone reran this study with a different breed of zombies, we may see a whole new outcome for the zombie apocalypse. For now, though, I am happy right where I am zombie-free and not suffering from the fear of being eaten alive.

If you wish to read more about on the zombie apocalypse study, you can find it here: When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection. (Warning: PDF file.)

The Zombie Walk – An Event Massive Enough for Any Zombie Enthusiast

Whether you have ever wished to own a zombie costume, or simply love zombie lore, let’s be honest for a moment, zombies are one of the largest fads currently lurching its way through mainstream media. From books (WWZ, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and movies (Shaun of the Dead, Fido, Zombie Strippers, 28 Weeks Later) to comics (Marvel Zombies, Black Gas) and television shows (The Walking Dead), zombies are here to stay. With that said, have you ever felt envious at the sight of a massive zombie horde shuffling its way through the downtown cluster of cities? Have you ever wanted to cover yourself in the gore of human flesh and walk amongst your undead brethren? Fear not, my fellow cadaver, you are in luck, because you can live out this experience during a Zombie Walk, a massive gathering of blood-thirsty zombies.

Zombie Apocalypse

These zombies come from all around the globe in hopes of sending massive ripples of fright and shock throughout the media. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

As you can see, a Zombie Walk is a huge deal. People put on zombie makeup, they shred up their clothes, they get a bunch of zombie props, and they spend hours practicing their zombie shuffle. The best part? Besides the individuals participating in the Zombie Walk, no one even knows it is going to happen. Imagine walking down the street, or driving your car, and you suddenly find yourself swarmed by hundreds of lifelike zombies! Once the immediate panic has gone away, the sheer entertainment of it all is simply astonishing.

Becoming an actual zombie would be a terrible, terrible thing. The bite, the pain, the fever, the headaches, and then the death, it’s all a little too much to romanticize about. Instead, you can live out your fantasies with your friends, or even your family – (I actually have a friend whose parents dressed him up in a zombie child costume when he was younger). It is an event so massive, so horrifically insane that you simply have to experience it. And getting dressed up in a zombie costume is always a recipe for fun. Take, for example, this photo:

Zombie Kids

Regardless of age, dressing up like a zombie is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s thrashed, torn face.

If you feel that Halloween is still too far away, a Zombie Walk may be just the thing to cure your undead anxieties. I mean, why should you only be allowed to look horrific one night of the year? Life is too short for that kind of logic. So, gather up your friends, tell them all about the oncoming zombie apocalypse, and then find a Zombie Walk in your area of the world. You may be surprised to learn that one is happening pretty soon. Or, maybe you will take the initiative and start planning one out. Whatever you decide, have fun out there and be safe.