Birdman's Unresolved Questions

By John "Birdman" Bryant


Here are some questions which Birdman has not been able to find answers for. If anyone has information bearing on these questions, it will be greatly appreciated, and contributions deemed useful will be posted. From time to time we will be adding new questions, so check back regularly! THE NEWEST QUESTIONS ARE AT THE END OF THE FILE.

(1) Richard Hoagland has written a lengthy but impressive article "Did NASA Accidentally 'Nuke' Jupiter?". Birdman has asked several professional astronomers to comment on this article, but without success, and if anyone can obtain a comment, it would certainly be welcome. It may be noted that Hoagland's views on various astronomical phenomena are controversial, tho he has won a certain degree of recognition by being attacked by a CSICOP operative, Gary Posner.


I was going to write earlier, but had assumed others would inform you that the conception of turning Jupiter into a second sun is, to put it bluntly, inane.
I have been an amateur astronomer since I was a teenager, and at at the age of forty five, will gladly inform you that the planet Jupiter, at 88,700 miles in diameter, is too small for thermonuclear reactions to ever occur in its core, let alone its atmosphere. A minimum temperature of twenty million degrees is required to initiate the proton-proton reaction, i.e., the conversion of hydrogen into helium, which powers Sol (our sun) and other stars.
The sun's diameter is 864,000 miles; even mighty Jupiter is tiny compared with our little yellow star.
Generally accepted theory is a body with at least one-tenth solar mass has the capability of becoming a star (a brown dwarf) - Jupiter misses this criterion by at least a factor of 100.
Arthur Clarke is indeed a brilliant science fiction writer, but perhaps should have researched his data regarding such a postulate; he may have in fact, and simply used the idea to spin a good yarn. I reiterate - the mass of Jupiter is too small to ever turn into a brown dwarf, second sun, whatever, either with the help of man, or as a natural occurence.
It's sad to think so many people waste their time dreaming up such ridiculous stories instead of concentrating on the matter at hand - the wanton extermination of the white race.
Should you wish any further supporting data regarding Jupiter, please feel free to ask. --
Frederick P
Birdman comment: No response to the above was forthcoming from the Hoagland people, tho something may yet arrive. If so, I will post.]

Donaldo reaches a conclusion in agreement with the above:

I read your post on the Galileo spacecraft causing a nuclear reaction in
Jupiter's atmosphere. Unlike some posts I have seen on your site, this was
largely scholarly. I did see that some websites predicted a nuclear
explosion before the atmospheric entry. I am not a weapons scientist but do
know a little about this subject.

The Los Alamos government website discusses the plutonium clads at .
Each plutonium power supply on Galileo had 72 of these. (40 pounds total)
Each clad is 1.5 inches long by 1 inch diameter contained 150 grams of
plutonium 238 and generates about 65 watts of heat. Plutonium 238 is a very
poor nuclear explosive and requires enormous pressure to make a small mass
of 150 grams fission. In the oxide form, fission is even more difficult.

My guess is that even the pressure in the center of Jupiter is insufficient.
A Scientific American article within the last couple of years postulated
than there is at the core of Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus a primordial
nuclear reactor operating from Uranium. This explains why each radiates
considerably more heat than it receives from the sun. In spite of this,
Jupiter's hydrogen does not fuse.

The Galileo probe entered Jupiter's atmosphere at 106,000 mph with 152
kilograms of heat shield. About 82 kilograms burnt away during entry.
The shield weighed as much as the probe itself. From memory, deceleration
forces reached 215 g, nearly enough to deform an anvil. (4,000 mph per
second deceleration) Electronics in the probe needed to be able to withstand
launch from an artillery shell.

The Galileo spacecraft itself was a fragile thing that was only designed to
withstand the forces of launch, around five g's or so. When it hit
Jupiter's atmosphere, it came apart instantly at several hundred g's.
Within seconds the aluminum cases of the Radioactive Thermal Generators were
vaporized and the plutonium pellets scattered over hell's half acre. They
likely slowed down rapidly and survived to eventually melt a thousand miles
or so down into the atmosphere. The website that you mentioned did not
consider the scattering of the modules and the fact that they would be
released high in the atmosphere. There the pressure and temperature are
comparable to Earth's

This is a tempest in a teapot. Meteorites far more massive that Galileo
enter Jupiter's atmosphere each second. It is feasible to drop a nuclear
weapon into Jupiter's atmosphere. Even then I think that it is impossible
to compress enough hydrogen to ignite nuclear fusion. It takes gravity to
do that and Jupiter does not have enough. The sun's surface gravity is 30 g
and Jupiter's is less than three.

[End of responses to Question 1]

(2) Does tertiary syphilis really exist, or is it just a sort of epiphenomenon due to the poisonous nature of the treatments which were once used (mercury- and arsenic-based medicines). Note: Brian Ellison and Peter Duesberg, who wrote Why We Will Never Win the War On AIDS, believe that long-term infections are impossible.

(3) Does anyone know where the phrase "I wonder why she swallowed the fly" originated? There is only one reference on the Net.


A recent Daily Reads posting read as follows:

At last we have a definitive answer to one of Birdman's Unanswered Questions -- the origin of the fly-swallowing business - Thanks carson!
There are actually 111,000 references which the title of this song brings up on Google, and the reason Birdman missed it was because he searched for 'THE fly' rather than 'A fly'.

There was also another reader who knew this was from a book, but offered us no further information.

[End of reader responses]

(4) At least two sources I have seen -- one being Gertrude Coogan's 1933 book The Money Creators, the other being HERE -- claim that Benjamin Franklin said that an Act of Parliament which ended the ability of the Colonies to issue their own paper money and forced them to accept Bank of England notes instead was responsible for great economic woe, and was in Franklin's view, the basic cause of the American Revolution. Apparently the legislation which Franklin denounced was the Currency Act of 1764. I have not, however, been able to find good documentation for what Franklin said. He apparently did NOT say anything on this matter in his Autobiography, because this document ended, so I am told, in 1757. If Franklin was right about the bad effects of the restriction on the Colonies to issue paper money, then this is obviously of tremendous importance, particularly because it lays the woes of the Revolution at the feet of the 'international bankers'. It is clear that Franklin was in favor of paper currency as early as 1729, when he wrote "A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper-Currency by Benjamin Franklin", because -- among other things -- he had a contract for printing the stuff. But my interest in exactly what Franklin said is not just to know his view of bankers and war, but it is also to settle a conflict between what Franklin supposedly said and what Murray Rothbard said about the history of Colonial paper money in his four-volume work, Conceived in Liberty, namely, that it was an economic disaster for the Colonies. (I have duplicated Rothbard's chapter on this subject and posted it HERE.) Rothbard's work is so detailed that it seems unlikely that Franklin could have said what he said unless he was an idiot, which he plainly was not. Another reason I want to know what Franklin said is to understand what relevance it has, if any, to the prohibition in the Constitution on 'emitting bills of credit' by the States -- something which sounds like it reflects Rothbard's view, but may only have been intended to insure a federal monopoly on money. (Thanks to gary in preparing this question.)

(5) David Irving declared that the Eichman diaries proved that Germany did
have some kind of systematic killing of Jews. Here is what Irving says, according
to the ADL Have revisionists dealt with this?

Q: What was Irving's response to the discovery of Adolf Eichmann's post-War memoirs?
A: In January 1992 Irving attracted public attention by promoting a copy of Adolf Eichmann's unpublished post-war memoirs. Quoted in the London Daily Telegraph, he stated, "It makes me glad I've not adopted the narrow-minded approach that there was no Holocaust. I've never adopted that view. Eichmann describes in such very great detail that you have to accept that there were mass exterminations."


(6) I know that Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' quotation was lifted from Goebbels,
and his 'We will fight on the beaches' quote lifted from Byron, but I was
wondering whether the 'blood, toil, tears and sweat' quote and/or the quote
below were also lifted from somewhere (I am under the impression that they
were, but cannot confirm):
"If you will not fight for your rights when you can easily win without
bloodshed -- if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not
too costly -- then you may come to the moment when you will have to fight
with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There
may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of
victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

(7) Conrad Grieb, in American Manifest Destiny and the Holocausts, makes the
assertion that the reason why Herbert Hoover was not re-elected is because
he would not 'play along' with the international bankers' schemes regarding
the Depression (tho he does not specify in what way Hoover would not serve
them), whereas Franklin Roosevelt was 'their kind of guy'. This strikes me
as not in accord with the fact, as I understand it, that Hoover's 'Belgian
relief commission' during WW1 was established for the purpose of extending
the war a couple of years, thereby presumably enabling the hawkers of war
material to continue in business longer. Obviously the bankers and arms
manufacturers are not the same, but both profited from the war, and did so
synergistically. So what, then, was the real reason for Hoover's defeat?

(8) [Question removed]

(9) Was the Reichstag Fire a plot by the nazis to create a police state, or
was it merely an opportunity to create one which they made good use of?

(10) The following came from somewhere I do not recall, and I would like to
know whether it is true: "Hitler followed this prescription by organizing
"street gangs" to commit random violence as he ran for election on a
platform of restoring "law and order." As soon as Hitler gained office he
had the constitution changed to give him the power he needed to stop the
violence. He got the power and the "random" violence stopped, although the
"gangs" were incorporated into the dreaded SS storm troopers who continued
the terror against selected targets and scapegoats."

(11) As I understand it, Hitler justified his attack on Poland by saying that
Polish invaders were found in Germany, but others have said that this was
just a set-up by the nazis to provide an excuse for the invasion. (Of
course there were actual good reasons for the invasion -- the Danzig
corridor being the most notable.) Which is right?

A credible answer:

Glen I writes to say that the event which supposedly set off the invasion of Poland, and thus WW2, was the so-called Gleiwitz Incident, described at , and which, according to this account, was a false flag attack on a German radio station supposedly made by Poles, but in fact made by nazis, for the purpose of giving Hitler's forces an excuse to invade Poland. [But see UPDATE below.] But consideration of false flag attacks aside, was Hitler justified in his invasion? According to the accounts we have posted on this website, he was more than justified, for example, see HERE.

What is important is that Poles had gone on an extended rampage attacking Germans who lived in the territory that had been part of Germany prior to WW1, but which had been given to Poland by the Versailles Treaty. The result was that more than 50,000 Germans had been killed. The ultimate cause of these attacks, of course, was the Treaty, which -- tho intended by Wilson's 'Fourteen Points' to permit no changing of borders -- actually cut off huge chunks of Germany and gave them to the surrounding countries as a victory prize. Hitler had tried for many months to negotiate a reasonable settlement on the matter of protecting the German nationals in Poland and the abuse of the Danzig corridor, which had separated one part of Germany from another, but Poland did not respond because it had been reassured by Britain that the British would support Poland should Germany attack. Indeed, Poland was eager for war, because she believed she could crush Germany in a confrontation. What a bunch of Polacks!

And speaking of dumbskis, I checked the updated edition of David Irving's book Hitler's War, and could find no mention of Gleiwitz in the index, either under its own name, or under Poland. Nor did I find a mention of the incident in reading the seemingly-relevant sections of Irving's wooden text. This man claims to be a historian, yet omits mentioning one of the key events of the period he is writing about? Give me a BREAK!!!!!

UPDATE: The Gleiwitz incident has been discussed thoroughly in an article in the Barnes Review (Sept-Oct 2006: 42ff). The author's conclusion is that the incident was real, but the evidence shows that it was a Polish incursion, and only one of dozens made during the several days prior to the 1 Sept German attack on Poland. The author speculates that the false-flag story originated as a post-war attempt by one of the participants to get into the good graces of the Allies, and that the story could not have been a false flag op because its only value to Germany would have been as propaganda, and the Germans did not publicize the incident. Thanks again to Glen for this information.

(12) The Brits declared war on Germany on the basis -- not of a treaty with
Poland, which was evidently concerned that Germans would invade in order to
take back territory lost in WW1 -- but only of a diplomatic 'understanding'
which did not rise to the level of a treaty. This, plus the fact that
Britain did not declare war on the Soviets when they attacked Poland,
suggests strong Jewish-Soviet influence at the highest levels. This is
reinforced by the following quote by AK Chesterton (The New Unhappy Lords
(1969: 25)):
"James Forrestal, US Secretary of the Navy, states in his Diaries that the
American Ambassador in London told him that Neville Chamberlain had
complained of Jewish pressures to force Britain into war. Those pressures
were obviously exerted with decisive effect through the Churchill-Israel
Moses Sieff group [the 'war party', which also included Duff Cooper and
Anthony Eden. Seiff was said to represent 'the interests of International
Finance' (24)]."
The above suggests that the Jews were principally responsible for WW2, and
this, along with the fact that the Jews were responsible for drawing America
into the war, seems clearly to make WW2 a Jewish war against gentiles, and
Germans in particular. But there is also the matter of the responsibility
of the international bankers for the war -- many of whom, of course, were
Jewish. The following suggests their role was a major one:
* AK Chesterton, in The New Unhappy Lords, asserted that 'International
Finance' wanted Britain to enter WW2 against Germany, and he also gives a
reason for this (23) -- an opinion concurred in by IHR's Mark Weber:
"The other danger inherent in the policy of the Third Reich concerned its
firmly held belief that if goods were available for exchange between nations
there was no need for ether party to resort to interntional lending houses
to finance the deal. Instead, the exchange should take placee on a 'swap'
basis. No great insight is needed to perceive that the success of this
system of barter, if employed on a world scale, would mean for most
practical purposes the end of international finance and of the immense
power which confers on its opertors. As though this were not offense
enough, in the eyes of the interntional lending houses, the Third Reich set
to work sedulously to repay its external debt and thereby regain control
over its own economic destiny. One thing alone could quench rebellion of
such magnitude -- war."
A theory similar to the above was repeated by Conrad Grieb in American 
Manifest Destiny and the Holocausts where he stated (p 17): "When Goering
supervised the policy of autarchy undertaken in 1936 he encountered the
hostility of Schacht, the German counterpart of Montague Norman [head of
the Bank of England]. In November 1937, when Schacht resigned as
President of the Reichsbank he termed Goering a fool in economics. Despite
Schacht's contempt, autarchy succeeded. Its success, coupled with trade by
barter, threatened to put an end to the international loan business of the
banking nations whose financial interests would agitate for war to suppress
the revolt.
Now if all this were true, it might be supposed that International Finance
would not lend to Germany. This, however, is not the case, as has been
documented in great detail by the late Antony Sutton in Wall Street and the 
Rise of Hitler, and by others. Indeed, as I recall, one of the Warburgs
was deeply involved with lending to Hitler, as was the Bank of England
before outbreak of the war. Here is a statement which Sutton made on the
matter in an interview taken from the Net:
"Hitler's economic policies were OK'd by the bankers right through the
war...ITT, Chase, Texaco and others were operating in Nazi-held France as
late as 1945. In fact Chase in Paris was trying to get Nazi accounts as
late as 1944. When we got to Germany in May 1945, I remember seeing a
(bombed-out) Woolworth store in Hamburg and thinking, "What's Woolworth
doing in Nazi Germany?" While we were bombed and shelled it was "business
as usual" for Big Business. Try the Alien Custodian Papers. See my BEST
ENEMY MONEY CAN BUY for more information." [Note: BEST ENEMY deals
exclusively with the Soviets, and does not mention the Nazis. I am not
sure whether Sutton meant that Big Business has no morals, or just that
his memory was failing.]
So what is the answer to this -- were the Bankers helping the nazis or
not, and if yes, how much and in what way?
A possible explanation of what was happening is the assertion made in a
videotape produced by that the bankers love war and
lend to both sides, but (1) they require that the winner guarantee the
losing side's debts and (2) they determine the outcome of the war by the
relative amounts they are willing to lend. This same assertion is made in
Jim Keith, Casebook on Alternative 3, p 34, who quotes a Professor Stuart
Crane (not otherwise documented) on the Rothschilds:
"If you will look back at every war in Europe ... you will see that they
always ended with the establishment of a 'balance of power'. With every
re-shuffling there was a balance of power in a new grouping around the
House of Rothschild in England, France or Austria. They grouped nations so
that if any king got out of line a war would break out and the war would
be decided by which way the financing went. Researching the debt positions
of the warring nations will usually indicate who was to be punished."

(13) Quote: "The liberal Weimar constitution imposed on Germany after the war was written by Hugo Preuss, a Jew. The dominant political party of the Weimar period was the Social Democratic Party, founded by Ferdinand Lasalle, also a Jew. The economic devastation of Germany under the Weimar government was extreme. The currency became worthless. Workers were paid with wheelbarrows full of money -- twice a day, because the depreciation was so rapid that your money would lose half its value by nightfall. Eventually, billion-mark postage stamps were printed, and trillion-mark bank notes, but all had the same ultimate value: zero. German workers and soldiers saw their savings and their future turn into nothingness. German children starved. Jewish businessmen, during the same period, bought ancient German estates for pocket change in foreign currency."
--Scott Spencer of the NA in "The History and Significance of the New World Order", Free Speech, Dec 1996

Question: In periods of inflation, the only sensible thing to do is to hold onto real assets, because these -- unlike currency -- maintain their value. Thus it is crazy to assert (as is done above) that Germans would have sold such value-retaining assets in exchange for 'pocket-change in foreign currency', which might itself not have been inflating, but would have no special value above and beyond the real assets which were being exchanged. Would anyone care to disagree?

(14) Why did Roosevelt make the possession of gold illegal? (Note:
Since the Fed had been established in 1913, with power to inflate the
currency, the calling-in of gold would not seem to have been necessary
as a prelude to inflating the currency.)

Terrance responds: The issue here was trying to stabilize international currency in the
aftermath of the Depression and then World War II. The traditional
strong economies of Europe were devastated and the western powers
convened a monetary and financial conferece in Bretton Woods, NH. The
upshot of the conference was to declare the dollar as THE
international currency tied to a fixed rate per ounce of gold. I
can't find the figure but I seem to remember that it was somewhere
around $165 per ounce. (That may be complete fiction.) The price of
gold was standardized. Gold reserves were stored in Ft.Knox and the
value of the dollar was fixed. Other currencies were then pegged to
the dollar. In the 70s, with hyper-inflation in Latin America and the
emergence of OPEC along with the EC the system began to break down.
Nixon removed the gold standard and prices of gold and international
currency were allowed to fluctuate wildly as the "market" demanded.
Consequently, American were again allowed to purchase and sell gold in
the open market with no effect on the value of the dollar.

[Birdman comment: I find this answer completely unsatisfactory -- it doesn't seem to explain anything. I would guess that a correct answer would have to do with removing an alternate currency from circulation which could have been reverted to and used in lieu of an inflating and unstable fiat currency. And of course the currency has been inflated since that time, which is a clever and largely invisible way of robbing people of their wealth.]]

(15) Why did the English rendering of Chinese names change significantly
a few years ago? (Peking/Peiping to Beijing, and Mao Tse-Tung to Mao
Zedong, for example). Note that a similar situation has occurred with
Kadaffi, who is now Quadaffi or Gadaffi.

Terrance responds: The Chinese example is well
documented and the one that has as much to do with "cultural
awareness" as much as anything else. The spelling of the capital as
Peking was established by a westerner, Wade Giles. The Giles system
was the standard system of romanization of Chinese until Mao's
cultural revolution. At that point the Chinese government took issue
that a "westerner" had defined a system that to thier ears was clearly
not conveying the language. The Chinese government blessed the Pinyin
system and the western press soon followed suit.
To directly address your example of the difference between
pronouncing the word Peking and Bejing: A "P" sound is an aspirated
version of the "B" sound. (you hear the breath in P but not in B)The
two are not radically different it was more due to cultural politics
than precision in language.

(16) Why do Polish, Vietnamese and (perhaps) certain other languages
have English renderings which are not consonant with English spelling?
For example, the city Lvov seems to require a vowel as the second
letter, and many other Polish spellings seem to give no clue as to
their actual pronunciation. Similarly, the common given name in
Vietnamese, Nguyen, is actually pronounced "Win".

Terrence responds: This question is
more difficult to answer. In fact, I am not sure that I really have
an answer beyond saying that the romanization of any language--in our
case rendering a foreign language into english spelling that in most
cases try to approximate the sounds--and every language has a unique
history that often tells a story that answers these questions. More
directly, there are a limited number of sounds and symbols in English
language. These limited sounds and symbols must be used to represent
sounds that in actuality don't exist as far as English is concerned.
By way of example of the points mentioned above. We pronouce the
island country that was allied with Germany in the WWII with a J
sound--J-pan. The reason for this is that the first romanization of
Japanese was done by a Portuguese translator--whose name completely
escapes me. The Portuguese, in Latin fashion, use the letter J where
we would use the letter Y. So, if you, as an English speaker,
substitute the letter Y for the letter J and use a Latin prounication
of vowels the word Japan sounds much closer to the word Nippon which
is a modern version of the pronounciation of the island nation.
On another note that may illustrate the complexity, the five romance
languages, those derived from Latin, are French, Spanish, Italian,
Portuguese, and the one most forget, Romanian. Since English shares a
common derivation with German and Dutch it would reason, and in fact
is the case, that the pronunciation of German and Dutch words are more
adaptable to the English alphabet. However, through a host of
historical events (ie the rise of the Catholic Church and until the
1960s its reliance on Latin for Mass) most American children, and
adults, learn Spanish or French so that we have a greater affinity for
and knowledge of languages that from a genealogical sense should be
"foreign" to us and struggle with Germanic pronuciations.

(17) Why did electrical plugs switch from two-way (plug also goes in
when rotated 180 degrees) to one-way (plug goes in only one way).

Terrence responds:

The "one way" plug is the second generation of plugs. The first was the
one that you could plug in either way, however, as use of electricity
increased in the home the liklihood of electrocution also increased
and the complexity of devices that used electricity and their
sensitivity increased. Therefore, the electrical powers that be began
to sink metal poles into the earth and connect these poles to the
complex world-wide electrical system to ground the system and reduce
the very real possibility of a toaster or VCR shooting 4 foot sparks
with the electrical force of lightning. So, the "one way" plug
contains a ground wire in one side that is "grounded" through the
electrical system to one of the ground poles in the earth. This was
second generation thinking and it is not so elaborate since one can
file down the larger prong and use the plug either way. The third
generation is the 3 prong plug that you have to saw off the third
prong to use in a conventional socket and the 4th generation are those
plugs that have red button so that if there is a surge in power the
button breaks the circuit before it can kill anyone.

(18) There are three important clot-dissolving drugs which are customarily stocked by hospitals -- streptokinase, urokinase, and tPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator). When I heard about streptokinase and tPA a few years ago (I know nothing about urokinase), they were being touted as first aid for heart attacks -- stuff to inject in order to dissolve the clots that were presumably causing the attack. (FYI, tPA was touted as an improvement over streptokinase, but is apparently not, and furthermore costs a LOT more -- a couple of thou per injection, I think.) In more recent times, a new substance has come on the scene which is apparently also a clot-buster, and has a strangely similar name: nattokinase. This is an enzyme which occurs naturally in a common Japanese food called natto, and which is said to be heart-healthy by Dr David Williams (, a newsletter writer and natural healing promoter in whom I have confidence. Williams is not very clear about how nattokinase functions, but it is obvious from his remarks that nattokinase is also a clot-buster, or at least blood thinner. The questions are, (1) Is nattokinase also a good first aid for a heart attack, either orally or by injection, (2) Is it also good for stroke, or is it too risky in view of the fact that strokes can occur either because of a clot, where nattokinase would be helpful, or else because of bleeding into the brain, where a blood thinner might be disastrous, and (3) what is the nature of all these kinases that seem to be blood thinners or clot-busters?

(19) Psychometrics is the ability of some psychically gifted individuals to 'read' the experiences or history of an object by touching or holding it. My question is, Can either telepathic communication or psychometrics be used on animals (or for that matter, humans) to gather information, and will this information-gathering be made easier if the animal has some grasp of human language, as do African Gray parrots or trained dolphins?

(20) Can anyone ascertain the origins of the expressions 'on his last leg(s)' and '(last) leg of a journey' and say whether they are related? Birdman's theory is that tracing a journey on a map gives the appearance of straight lines connected together, each of which goes in a slightly different direction, thus looking somewhat like the angular hind leg of an animal, or perhaps from 'leg' meaning 'appendage'. The connection between the phrases comes in that one who is on the last leg(s) of a journey often feels tired, hence on his last legs.

Clyde responds: Given that I'm a sailor, I'm reasonably confident both 'Leg' expressions derive from 17/18th C naval terms. Others even coming down to us from the Viking period. I say this because many obscure terms and sayings from that glorious sea going period are still in use today. For instance, Ahoy! was a Viking battle cry that later became a traditional greeting for hailing other vessels. And, 'scuttlebutt' was the cask from which the ship's crew took drinking water, and hense the place where rumors originated. Port and Star Board, fore and aft are Viking terms still used in navigation. To point then: 'On his last leg' literally refers to that unfortunate sailor whose leg was blown off from enemy cannon fire. It was a common injury for those who loaded cannon. 'On the last leg if his journey' derives from the fact that the ship's spare wooded legs were gone by the time the ship was returning to port. A old British naval glossary would quickly verify this contention.

(21) There was some historical character who, tho a powerful warrior, had a squeaky voice. I think it was Charlemagne, but have been unable to verify. There was another historical character -- possibly the same one -- who died on his wedding night due to (I believe) over-intoxication. Anyone know who these folks are? [Attila is said to have died on his wedding night from overintoxication; but other historians think he was murdered. Thanks Tom G]

(22) REMOVED - Birdman was confused; the matter is now resolved.

(23) There is a very odd phenomenon I have occasionally noticed when eating certain kinds of crackers, namely, that the cracker feels warm on the tongue, even tho it has been in the refrigerator. Even more strange, however, is that I have occasionally experienced an analogous form of warmth when touching newspapers, where the warmth is experienced not by the tongue, but by the fingers. When I experience these feelings it makes me think that the cracker or paper might be irradiated (which is not to say that an irradiated cracker would feel warm); but since this has happened over a period of years and I am healthy, I give no credence to this theory. I wrote about this phenomenon to one of the cracker companies whose product gave this effect, but they had never heard of it, so they said.

(24) The Ardennes forest is said everywhere to be 'impenetrable', and yet Germany's troops penetrated it during WW2. How did they do it?

Matt L offers the following answer:

The main reason why the Germans were able to penetrate the Ardennes forest in May 1940 was because the vast majority of the Ardennes forest region east of the Meuse river was practically undefended. Only cavalry units defended the Ardennes east of Meuse river. Cavalry units are of course no match against massed columns of tanks. The reasons for this debacle follow:

1) The Belgians did not allow French or British military forces into Belgium until after hostilities began on May 10. The reason for this is because the Belgians did not want to antagonize the Germans and did not want to give the Germans a pretext for invasion. The Belgians did not have enough forces to defend the entire eastern and northeastern border regions so the Belgians decided to forfeit, in effect, their territory (including their Ardennes region) east of the Meuse river and concentrate their military forces along the so-called “Dyle” defense line. This “Dyle” defense line was the Meuse river, the Dyle river and the Albert canal. This defense line was well west and north of the Ardennes. The Belgians only had a few cavalry units delaying the German advance in their part of the Ardennes.

2) The Luxemburg region of the Ardennes was not defended at all.

3) The French area of the Ardennes, east of the Meuse, was also only covered by cavalry units. The result was that the Germans reached the Meuse within 48 hours after the offensive began. The French area of the Ardennes west of the Meuse was only covered by a few mediocre divisions, whose troops mostly consisted of newly mobilized reservists, who tended to panic when hundreds of fighters and Stuka dive-bombers bombed and strafed their positions. The Germans also used their tanks in massed formations to punch through French infantry positions west of the Meuse river. The French infantry also did not have the support of French tanks to help defend the Meuse river defense line.

 4) The French basically did an extremely poor and incompetent job of terrain analysis of the Ardennes region and ERRONEOUSLY termed the Ardennes impenetrable, which it was not.   

  I have pasted the following article below which I got from the following Internet site: "The French chief of staff, however, overestimated the deterrent value of the Ardennes. The forest was not as thick as he thought it was, and in reality the mountains were nothing more than a series of not-too-steep hills. Moreover, a good road network traversed the Ardennes between Sedan and the German border".     I have pasted the following article below which I got from the following Internet site:   "the French executed a faulty terrain analysis that deemed the Ardennes impassable for rapid, mobile exploitation and left the region poorly defended. The German terrain analysis was more accurate and they adroitly exploited the terrain and strategic geometry of the battlefield".

(25) Point light sources often appear to have rays emanating from them. Furthermore, these rays seem to have the curious property of having the vertical and horizontal rays (at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock) as the most prominent, with intermediate rays being significantly smaller. (Particularly good examples of rays will be found in the Hubble telescope pictures of stars -- see example below.) How can the existence of these rays and the prominence of the vertical and horizontal components be explained in terms of waves, interference patterns and other phenomena embraced by the laws of optics? Note: In looking at streetlights at night from my window, I do NOT see rays, but only a sort of fog, UNTIL I observe the lights thru a WINDOW SCREEN. This suggests that the rays are an epiphenomenon of the optics involved, and perhaps involve something in the order of polarization.

(26) Most of us have heard that injecting an air bubble into the bloodstream is fatal. Is this true, and if so, why? It would seem that the bubble would simply be absorbed; but even if it weren't, there is no obvious reason why it should cause a problem. Even 'the bends', which involve nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream, is not necessarily fatal, tho it can be painful.

Michael S responds:

I worked as a surgical assistant for over twenty years. I've seen air
bubbles large and small in intravenous tubing. You are correct that a small
bubble or three is absorbed. Anesthesiologists and savvy nurses know how to
remove the larger air spaces in I.V. tubing with a needle and syringe at any
injection port the air hasn't reached. An open hypodermic needle alone
works just as well. I've asked your question of many anesthesiologists and
they all gave the same basic answer, small amounts are easily absorbed into
the blood, air that cannot be absorbed can have negative effects on the
heart, and given enough air would prove fatal.
I am uncertain of precise amounts of air, or even studies of the

(27) [Removed - redundant]

(28) Computer security seems to focus mostly on viruses, but there are also trojans and worms, and perhaps other things. How can we insure security from these? And in particular, on those sites which require you to lower security from 'high' in order to use the site or download its files, how can we be sure we have not picked up something nasty? Are there programs that can either scan for things real-time, or at least after-time?

Hoop responds: A "virusscanner" does not really scan for a virus but for a "signature" that is: any code or a pattern in it that matches that in a (regularly updated) list. That way most of the known baddies can be found.
What popular label the "farmint" (virus, trojan, worm, ....) has or how it works does not matter as long as it is there.

(29) If, during morning or evening twilight, you position yourself near a tree where a large number of birds are roosting, you will often observe that the birds are very noisy in their vocalizations at this time for no apparent reason. (I cannot say that ALL birds do this, but certainly many of them do.) I have designated this phenomenon 'avian crepuscular twitter' or 'twilight twitter', and am curious to know the reason for its occurrence, if indeed it can be said that birds do anything for a 'reason'. I have Googled the net for the relevant terms, but have not succeeded in turning up anything.

(30) Several years ago the USDA droped one of its grades of beef, namely, Prime. The result is that one can no loger buy 'USDA Prime' meat. HOWEVER, one can still go to a restaurant and buy Prime Rib. What is going on here? In particular, where has all the prime meat gone -- has it just been relabeled Choice, or does the butcher take it home at night? And why was the Prime grading dropped, particularly in view of the continued salability of 'Prime Rib'?

(31) The medicos make big noises about how steroids are dangerous, and yet it is obvious that they are being used all over the place by bodybuilders who look - dare we say it? -- EXTREMELY healthy. How can we resolve this obvious disconnect? And beyond this, there is the matter of the impact of steroids on aging. In particular, it is known that testosterone and other hormones important for health decrease as we age, eventually practically drying up altogether. In researching whether steroids in modest (ie, non-bodybuilding amounts) can help this problem, I cannot find a straight answer, which suggests to me that steroids can indeed be a big help, but the Powers-That-Be (read: Medical Establishment) don't want you to know this, because it would put a crimp in the sale of doctoring and medicines. Does anyone have any good info here?

Peter R replies:

As a former steroid user I've done a little research in the area and have experienced side effects first hand.
First, there is a major difference between an average therapeautic dose administerded by an M.D., and the doses taken by most recreational bodybuilders. As the body has certain receptor sites for these drugs, professional (and some recreational) bodybuilders have to continually increase their dosage as their receptors become impermeable to lower doses over time or "drowned", necessitating ever larger doses. Such "abuse" can lead to a variety of short and long term health issues that negate any therapeautic benefit one may derive from these drugs, and indeed may deleteriously impact ones health if "abused" for an extended period of time. I will return to this class of steroid users momentarily.

The average male produces between 4 and 8 milligrams of testosterone per day and this decreases with age. Hormone replacement therapy with anabolic steroids is used primarily to boost the testosterone levels of aging men and of course men who have had their testicles removed due to accident or disease (Lance Armstrong.) While some form of hormone replacement is considered normal for those whose testicles have been compromised, hormone replacement to offset natural diminution in hormone levels is more controversial. The question must be considered that dropping male hormone levels are indeed a normal part of aging that is beneficial to the individuals health as well as to the stability of the group of which the individual is a member. All theorizing aside, if it were discovered that the benefits of hormone therapy outweigh the detriments, a physician should strive to administer a dose that would not exceed the normal amount produced by the average male. Once again, that would be the 4-8 mg per day discussed earlier. Testosterone patches are how this is usually achieved as they achieve better time release than crude injectables or sub-lingual tablets. The patient would require monitoring to make sure that the typical adverse effects of steroids did not manifest.

 Regarding abuse. "Ya aint gonna get big on no 8mg per day." To discernibly grow your muscles you need higher doses. I, a hobbyist, would use 1000mg per week (aprx 140 mg per day) for about ten weeks. Then I would lay off for 15-20 weeks and then go on the steroids for another 10 weeks. This is called "Cycling" and is the most common method of use among the recreational crowd. The off time is to keep the receptor sites for these drugs from getting drowned and to guarantee that 1000mg per week continues to work. And pro bodybuilders; I can't even imagine what these year round users have to take to maintain their "edge", but I've heard stories of 20,000 mg per week regimens.
 So as with most things it is all about degree. But I will list a few of the more egregious side effects that I experienced and can be lethal in the long term.
1)High blood pressure while using
2)Mood swings
3)Agression- And I don't mean road rage, don't fuck with me agression. I mean explosive uncontrollable agression that could have landed me in jail agression. I worked as a bouncer at a topless club through college and law school, all the while using steroids. In a five year period I broke my hand 4 different times and was shot by a Mexican with a .380 caliber once as a result of a confrontation I should have wisely run from.
4) Severe Depression.
5) Liver strain-Can lead to liver damage over the long term. Don't know all the reasons for this, but I do know that steroids enhance protein synthesis that can fry your liver over time.
6) Major cholesterol elevation.
7) Psychological Addiction-Steroids make you feel like Superman. You also attract a lot of females. Very addictive (trust me.)

 Side effects that I did not experience but many others have:
1) Gonad shrinkage
2) Impotence
3) Development of breasts colloquially referred to as "Bitch Tits."

This is all just off the top of my head. I will never use again. I am a licensed attorney with a wife and child now.. I would hate to throw all that away because I beat the shit out of some guy because he looked at me wrong.
Newton proved that what goes up must come down. As great as steroids make you feel, using steroids in the doses necessary to "Get Big" is ultimately not sustainable if you wish to live past 45. 
Hope my two cents is informative.

(32) Einstein apparently based Relativity Theory on the assumption of the non-existence of ether. Thus if Dayton Miller proved its existence (, how does this affect Relativity Theory?

(33) The importance of ether, besides giving light waves a medium to vibrate, was to show that the universe was a 'thing', and thus that absolute motion exists (ie, absolute motion relative to this 'thing'). Dayton Miller, contrary to popular belief, evidently showed the existence of the ether, which is all very well, but it seems to me that the existence of absolute motion can be proved much more simply by the Foucault pendulum. In particular, a large ball suspended from the rafters of a building and allowed to swing from a frictionless connection, will have its plane of motion rotate, or rather SEEM to rotate, as the earth turns underneath the ball in its diurnal twirl. This plane, then, shows an 'absolute' framework of the universe by showing an 'absolute' direction, namely, the direction in which its plane of rotation points. And by using three such pendulums in three separate places on the earth, we could determine an 'absolute' coordinate system for the universe. Do you not agree?

(34) Reich's discoveries have been known for more than half a century, and they seemed to offer great possibilities for helping the human condition, particularly cloud-busters and orgone accumulators. So why aren't we hearing about these devices, or others? Have they been tried and shown to be useless, or is there some other explanation?

(35) What is the reason for the 6-pointed star on the Marine sabre, and does it have anything to do with Jews? I have asked this question of the Marine Corps, but the most I can get is a referral to some other person or office. Some believe that this is a coverup of some special Jewish influence in government or over the Marines.

[DW offers the following answer:]

In a book titled "To the shores of Tripoli" written by A.B.C. Whipple on page 282, last paragraph, last sentence it says, "To this day every marine officer in formal uniform carries a sword patterned on the ornate Mameluke scimitar that was presented by a grateful Hamet Karamanli to Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon." Same book, page 274, last paragraph, "The same year that William Eaton died, his comrade-in-arms Presley Neville O'Bannon was presented with a ceremonial sword by his native state of Virginia. The sword was patterned after a scimitar that Hamet Karamanli had given O'bannon as a gesture of gratitude at their parting in Syracuse. Adorned with jewels, it had been Hamet's prized possession from his days with the Mamelukes above Cairo. The Virginia sword memorialized O'Bannon's success in the attack on Derna-and misspelled his name. The inscription on the hilt read: "Presented by the state of Virginia to her gallent son Priestly N. O'Bannon."" Wikipedia has a small section on this under Mameluke sword. This is breifly touched upon under Presley O'Bannon as well. I found a small article here: Mention here: and many similar under the search "Presley O'Bannon mameluke sword" in google.

(36) Why do fans with multiple speeds have their first setting 'Hi' rather than 'Lo'? That is, going from 'Off' to 'Lo' is more logical than from 'Off' to 'Hi' because a less-radical change in the environment is more likely to be desirable than a more radical one.

'Ask an Expert' James Foltz offers the following answer:

2 reasons come to mind.
First, most people turn the fan on to cool the area, and circulate the
air, high accomplishes this quickly.
Second, fans are more efficient in starting if they start on high, then
slow down. The amount of power used to "ramp up" is less if going
immediately to high, then slowing down, as apposed to starting slowly,
and increasing speed.
If this is a concern to you, try installing fan speed control at the
switch location. Pay a little extra for the unit that has definite
positions, or "clicks" for each speed, not a "rheostat" type. These
rheostat types tend to cause the fan motor to hum. Also, specify a speed
control with a preset switch. This way, you set the fan speed at the
level you want, then turn the fan on and off by the switch.

Birdman responds:

Thanks for your reply, but you seem to be speculating rather than speaking from knowledge.
To explain, there are many manufacturers of fans, so the fact that they all start with the first setting as high implies some kind of clear engineering advantage to starting at high. It wouldn't be 'energy efficiency' because nobody would give a damn about such a tiny amount of energy. And fans have had this property long before energy efficiency became a fetish.
My own answer, if I were to speculate, is that the reason is because current has to be 'stepped down' to get lower settings, and the stepping down process introduces complexities. Thus the high-to-low progression is actually a simple-to-complex progression, which makes it understandable.

(37) Can anyone identify the following rock songs by singer and title?
(a) Dorothy, Carol, Donna Lee/Which one, which one will it be? (The opening lines of a 50s or 60s rock song)
(b) Blue bird/On my window (Opening lines of a late 70s or 80s rock song - I used to think it was by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, but that doesn't seem to help - was a fairly popular song where I lived in the Philadelphia area)
(c) Tally ho, come home - Probably a 40s or 50s song - not rock - my memory of it is vague

(38) [Removed - redundant]

(39) Parachutists have discovered that it is possible to 'wind surf' [the actual term used by skydivers is 'sky surf'] during the time between when one jumps from the airplane and when one opens one's chute. This is an act similar to surfbboarding in the ocean (actually, it is more like 'body surfing' which is the same as surfing, but done with one's body as the surfboard). My question is, could one 'wind surf' to safety if one's parachute does not open, assuming that one windsurfs near-horizontally into some relatively soft material such as water or a jungle canopy? Surely there is some daredevil who will try this out in order to have his results posted in the prestigious Birdman's Questions. Hello? Hello?

Response from Andy at Skydive Zone:

Hi John, in short no it isn't possible to "land" in freefall and I'm not aware of anyone trying it ......yet!!!
If you look at people who skydive in Birdman suits you'll see that they have what looks like wings under their arms and legs. This allows them to travel great distances and also to greatly reduce their vertical speed. I was told that someone in one of these suits have actually achieved "lift" by diving at the ground and then swooping back upwards to the point where he managed to gain lift. In theory you could land this so long as your timing was perfect but the problem would be that you would be travelling at high speed horizontally so the landing may well be possible one way but not the other.
Maybe some well placed wheels on the front of the suit???? :-)
Hope this helps

(40) Some of us know that certain types of music will make plants grow better, and other types of music will stunt their growth. But does anyone know whether music can help or hinder the growth of ANIMALS? Beyond this, we know that certain types of animals will 'sing along' to music -- dogs, for example, will 'sing along' with a siren; wolves will 'sing along' as other wolves howl, and even Brad Smith's dog and parrot will sing along with his wife while she is in the kitchen -- but can music have more profound effects, such as making animals dance?

(41) Some of us know that certain types of music will make plants grow better, and other types of music will stunt their growth. But does anyone know whether music can help or hinder the growth of ANIMALS? Beyond this, we know that certain types of animals will 'sing along' to music -- dogs, for example, will 'sing along' with a siren; wolves will 'sing along' as other wolves howl, and even Brad Smith's dog and parrot will sing along with his wife while she is in the kitchen -- but can music have more profound effects, such as making animals dance?

(42) An electromagnet is said to work by having current running thru a wire which is wrapped around some form of metal core, an arrangement which causes iron and similar magnetically sensitive items to be attracted to it. In addition, the more times the wire is wrapped around the core, the stronger will be the pull of the magnet. Let us assume we plug our electromagnet (EM) into the wall for power. We note that the EM does not do any obvious work or consume any obvious energy. Here are some questions:
* When the EM is turned on, we assume it is doing work/expending energy. (If not, then it would short out, because it would be essentially in the same situation where we plug a lamp into the wall, then cut the cord and connect the ends of the two-part wire to one another -- it would spark and blow a fuse.) But if the core somehow 'forces' the electric current to do work, then what is the work? Exciting the molecules in the core? In physics, work can be measured, but there is no obvious work going on, and thus no obvious way to measure that work, except perhaps the heat part.
* If the EM is holding something suspended in air, this requires expenditure of energy. Accordingly, does this mean there is a transfer of energy from the activity of exciting the molecules of the core to the 'activity' (such as it is) of doing the midair holding? That is, would the EM become cooler by holding something rather than nothing?

(43) If we pick up a weight and hold it, this holding requires energy, and the result is that we soon get tired and put it down. But if a magnet is sticking to a metal refrigerator, it does not seem to require energy to hold its position, and thus stays there indefinitely. So how can we resolve this seeming physical anomaly -- in one case, a need for energy to hold something in place, and in the other, no need for that energy?
A question which has a certain relation to the one above concerns the Newtonian postulate of an equal and oppositely directed force that mysteriously arises when you push against an object, but do not succeed in moving it. The question here is, How are we justified in postulating the existence of an 'equal and opposite force' that suddenly and mysteriously arises only when we push against the object in question, a force which just as quickly disappears when we stop our pushing? This sounds like an extremely ad hoc explanation, about on par with 'explaining' how birds can fly by saying it is because God holds them up, or, in Relativity Theory, 'explaining' how the speed of light is the top speed of the universe by invoking foreshortening (Hey, Mama's little Albert loves foreshort'nin' bread!). In my view it seems that we cannot 'explain' the matter -- we are simply forced to say that, when subjected to a certain force less than that 'required to overcome friction' (to quote my high school physics text), the object does not move -- which of course is roughly equivalent to Newton's first law, a law which does not 'explain' anything, but merely states how things will behave.
In case it is not evident, the relationship between the two questions is that, in the case of the magnet or the non-moving object, we do not require any energy for things to be held in place; but in the case of the electromagnet, we DO need energy to hold things in place.



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