Saturday, October 29

Suspended In Space Like Salvador Dali And His Cats

Salvador Dali - Dali Atomicus
The photo above is by an American photographer Philippe Halsman in a collaboration with the surrealist artist Salvador Dali and was taken back in 1948.

The theme of the photo - titled Dali Atomicus - is suspension. Dali himself, the three cats, the water, the bucket and a footstool are all suspended in mid air.

The picture was created as a reference to Dali's painting Leda Atomica - which can be seen to the right of the photograph behind two of the suspended cats.

A copy of the painting Leda Atomica is shown below and depicts Leda, the Queen of Sparta, with a swan - again all are suspended: Leda isn't actually sitting on the pedestal and the swan, together with an egg, stools, a book and set square all 'float' around the central nude figure.

The model for Leda was Dali's wife Gala.

Salvador Dali himself describes his painting thus:

"Dali shows us the hierarchized libidinous emotion, suspended and as though hanging in midair, in accordance with the modern 'nothing touches' theory of intra-atomic physics. Leda does not touch the swan; Leda does not touch the pedestal; the pedestal does not touch the base; the base does not touch the sea; the sea does not touch the shore ..."

As with atomic level particles we do not touch upon other things either unless, perhaps, by a meaningful coincidence or synchronicity.

Salvador Dali Leda Atomica
In mythology Zeus raped Leda in the guise of a swan on her wedding night, while she slept with her new husband Tyndareus. This resulted in two sets of twins where one of each was immortal and the other mortal. Never trust a swan!

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Monday, October 24

Death Has A Preference For Birthdays!

William Shakespeare born and died on same day
I saw in a couple of newspapers articles recently about of a gentleman called Jimmy Newell. He was quoted as being, "partly responsible for computerisation of the bank industry, and is believed to be behind the first hole in the wall cash machine in London and was described as a World War Two computer pioneer." 

But it wasn't this that solely interested me.

Jimmy was born at midday on October 11, 1913 and he died, at the age of 103, at midday October 11, 2016!

 According to the statisticians the odds of dying at the same day and time you were born are approximately 200 million to one. So quite a coincidence.

This interested me as a while back I wrote the following post on the same subject:

I was doing some research on Sir Kenelm Digby, who lived in England in the 1600s. I don't suppose many will have heard of him. Here's Wikipedia's description is:

"Sir Kenelm Digby, (born June 11, 1603, Gayhurst, Buckinghamshire, England - died June 11, 1665, London), English courtier, philosopher, diplomat, and scientist of the reign of Charles I."

What I noticed was that he was born and died on the same day i.e. 11th of June. His tombstone even stresses this fact:

Under this tomb the matchless Digby lies,
Digby the great, the valiant, and the wise:
This age's wonder for his noble parts,
Skilled in nix tongues, and learned in all the arts:
Born on the day he died, the eleventh of June
On which he bravely fought at Scanderoon;
'Tis rare that one and the same day should be
His day of birth, of death and victory.

I also remembered that William Shakespeare was also born and died on the same day: the 23rd of April (though some historians have differing opinions). "So," I wondered, "Is there any meaning to these same day births and deaths?" And this started me going off on a side-track from Kenelm Digby.

The first thing I found was some research done in Switzerland. They headed this: Death has a preference for birthdays - an analysis of death time series. They discovered that you are 14% more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year! How weird is that! Source.

The study says, "We analyzed data from the Swiss mortality statistics 1969–2008. Deaths below the age of 1 were excluded from the analysis. Time series of frequencies of deaths were based on differences between the day of death and the day of birth."

One of their conclusions was: "In general, birthdays do not evoke a postponement mechanism but appear to end up in a lethal way more frequently than expected."

At first you might think that those close to dying might 'hang on' for their birthday for some reason or other - but the researchers found this not to be the case. As they put it: "Something on your birthday kills you." Now that could put a damper on birthday parties!

I must admit I haven't found anything of any great meaning to dying on your birthday but here's a list of some of those who have the same birthday and death dates:

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman: 29th of August
George Washington Carver: 5th of January
Walter Diemer: 8th of January
Allen Drury: 2nd of September
Sir Kenelm Digby: 11th of July
Betty Friedan: 4th of February
Alfred Kazin: 5th of June
George 'Machine Gun' Kelly: 17th of July
Johnny Longden: 14th of February
Levi P Morton: 16th of May
Lawrence Oates: 17th of March
Jean Piccard: 28th of January
Swede Risberg: 13th of October
Kamehameha V: 11th of December

If death does have a preference for birthdays, as the Swiss research shows, it might just pose the question: Can we influence the day of our death? Here's an illustration how we just might.

The economists Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh published a paper in 2006 which examined the effect on death rates following a change in Australian tax law.

 In 1978 the Australian government decided to abolish estate taxes - or inheritance tax. The estates of anyone who died on or after 1 July 1979 would escape tax. The estates of anyone who died before that date would not. The data suggests a significant number of deaths were 'postponed' long enough to avoid paying tax.

"If the very ill are able to move their date of death forwards as well as backwards," says Joshua Gans, "any country that introduces an inheritance tax should expect a spike in the death rate in the week before such a law takes effect."

But, whatever, go careful when it's your birthday!

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Wednesday, October 19

Is Enjoying Life Only A Delusion?


Here's a little something attributed to Zhuangzi of the 4th Century BC. He's the guy who dreamt he was a butterfly but when he awoke he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or was a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Life is full of quandaries!

"How do I know that enjoying life is not a delusion?

"How do I know that in hating death we are not like people who got lost in early childhood and do not know the way home?

"Lady Li was the child of a border guard in Ai. When first captured by the state of Jin, she wept so much her clothes were soaked. But after she entered the palace, shared the king's bed, and dined on the finest meats, she regretted her tears.

"How do I know that the dead do not regret their previous longing for life?

"One who dreams of drinking wine may in the morning weep; one who dreams weeping may in the morning go out to hunt. During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming. We may even dream of interpreting a dream. Only on waking do we know it was a dream.

"Only after the great awakening will we realise that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense!

"You and Confucius are both dreaming, and I who say you are a dream am also a dream.

"Such is my tale. It will probably be called preposterous, but after ten thousand generations there may be a great sage who will be able to explain it, a trivial interval equivalent to the passage from morning to night."

One thing I would query with Zhuangzi is when he writes: "During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming." I have had dreams where I have thought that there was no need to worry as I was only dreaming whatever appeared to be happening. These are usually called Lucid dreams. Aristotle wrote: "...often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream."

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Saturday, October 15

The Murder Coincidences As History Repeats Itself

Barbara Forrest murder coincidenceThis is a remarkable coincidence story which features the murder of two 20 year old girls - but the killings were 157 years apart. Could this be a case of history repeating itself or maybe even reincarnation?

It was May 27 1974, a May Public Holiday, and the semi-naked body of twenty year old Barbara Forrest was found in Birmingham, England on parkland.

In the evening Barbara had been out with her boyfriend to several pubs in the Birmingham city centre. Afterwards she made her own way home by the number 67 bus while her boyfriend caught a bus to take him home in another direction.

Barbara's body was found, just 500 yards from her home, in a shallow ditch beneath bracken. A murder investigation swung into action led by Detective Superintendent Mick Lenehan.

The problem was that no one remembered seeing her on the 67 bus. It turned out that her boyfriend left her at the bus stop, but didn't see her actually get on the bus.

The work by more than 100 detectives appeared to have eventually paid off when they arrested Michael Thornton and charged him with murder.

Seven days into Thornton's trial he was acquitted. The judge ruled that the evidence against him was only circumstantial.

Mary Ashfor murder coincidenceNow we turn the clock back even further to 1817, still in Birmingham, again on the same May Public Holiday. There was another murder, that of twenty year old Mary Ashford.

Mary had been out to a pub, the Tyburn House Inn. As the evening finished she made her own way home. Her body was later found lying submerged in dirty water. She had been sexually assaulted.

A farmer was arrested for her murder. His name - Thornton. He was sent for trial and was deemed to be not guilty.

Mary Ashford was buried in Sutton Coldfield churchyard. The inscription read: "As a warning to female virtue and a humble monument to female chastity this stone marks the grave of Mary Ashford who on the twentieth year of her age having incautiously repaired to a scene of amusement without proper protection was brutally murdered on 27th May 1817."

If we look at the two murders there are many coincidences:

(1) Both Barbara Forrest and Mary Ashford had the same birth-date, though 157 years apart.

(2) They were 20 years old.

(3) They had both been sexually assaulted and then strangled.

(4) Their bodies were found in the same area - about 300 yards apart.

(5) Both bodies were found on the same day: May 27th - a Public Holiday.

(6) For both murders a man called Thornton was arrested and sent for trial.

(7) Both men were acquitted of the murders.

(8) The week prior to her murder Barbara Forrest is quoted as telling a work colleague, "This is going to be my unlucky month. I just know it. Don’t ask me why."

(9) The week before Mary Ashford was murdered she told her friend's mother that she had, "Bad feelings about the week to come".

Are these simply coincidences, as many will claim, or is there something much more to them. Did history repeat itself, maybe for a reason? Was Barbara a reincarnation of Mary? Did they both sense their deaths? There are so many questions, none of which we can answer with certainty.

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Wednesday, October 12

Fossil Roots Over 235 Million Years Old

Fossils in the cliffs at Budleigh Salterton
Fossil roots, or rhizocretions in the cliffs. Photo: Mike Perry
While on a trip away recently we saw the red cliffs near Budleigh Salterton which are millions of years old - this is what can be seen:

About 235 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, ancient plants grew here amongst the shifting streams of a desert river.

The roots of these thirsty plants burrowed down into the soft red sand of the desert, drawing up any water they could find. Minerals that were dissolved in the water grew in crystals around the roots, encasing them.

As time passed the streams moved and the plants died but the modules that encased the roots remained.

What can be seen nowadays, in the cliffs, are fossil roots, or rhizocretions. Budleigh Salterton is one of the only places where they can be seen without having to scale the heights of the cliffs.

Always amazes me to see such things that are so very old. Our lives are but the blink of an eye.

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Sunday, October 9

The Coincidence Of The Purple Car At Woodstock

Purple car

A 67 Not Out reader's coincidence story today, which may also have a touch of telepathy involved. My thanks to Megan T. for sending this to me - appreciated.

Your site inspired me to start writing down some strange coincidences that have happened to me in the past. This one is the oddest/creepiest/coolest:

Just some background, I grew up in Kingston, NY which is about 90 miles from NYC (just for perspective) and about 10 miles from Woodstock, NY.

One afternoon about 11 years ago, a friend and I drove to Woodstock so I could buy my mom a mothers day gift. When we were done, we had nothing to do so decided on a whim to go on a nice drive near the reservoir, which was about 20 miles down the road and in the opposite direction of Kingston.

When we got there, we drove around for a bit then decided on yet another whim to go exploring in the hills behind the reservoir. We drove and drove and at one point, I looked in the rear-view mirror and thought I saw a purple car way behind us. I thought, "That's weird ... the only person I know with a purple car is Ryan," then dismissed it and kept driving and chatting with my friend.

Several minutes later a purple car went flying past us in the opposite direction. This time I could clearly see that the driver was in fact my brother Ryan, and my other brother Seth in the passenger seat. He saw me too and turned around. We stopped on the side of the road to say hi and how weird it was that we'd run into each other in such a remote, obscure place.

When I asked what they were doing way the hell out here, they said they had just left Woodstock, they were there buying mom a mothers day gift at XYZ shop (I forget the name, blame it on aging lol) and when they were done, decided randomly to go for a drive back here.

Turns out I bought mom's gift at XYZ and my brothers were in the same shop minutes after I left.

- Megan T.

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