Monday, January 30, 2012

Tempering Touch by William Stillman

This piece is a reaction to the new television series Touch, and, in all fairness, I must make a disclaimer: I have not seen Touch, and I do not intend to. It’s not that I have a bias about the show one way or another; I have an aversion to TV in general. Having said that, I was made aware of Touch by my publisher, New Page Books, who invited me to share my commentary about it.
What I do know of Touch is that it concerns the relationship between a widower (who lost his wife in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center) and his young son who is mute and apparently autistic; though from what I’ve read, the autism isn’t specified, it’s implied. The twist is that the boy has a measure of clairvoyance in being about to foretell of significant events in advance of them transpiring. The variance in communication between father and son—as the former grows to interpret and decode the numerical “signs” from the silent latter—is the crux of the show. It’s an unusual mix: part love story, part mystery, and part New Age. I guess the last piece is where I am struggling a bit.

I am the author of a trilogy of books that address the potential for many—not all—people on the autism spectrum to be open to receiving information on an uncommon level. The books are: Autism and the God Connection, The Soul of Autism, and The Autism Prophecies. Each book was published two years apart though all of what I’ve written was known to me at the time I was composing the very first. I did this intentionally. In addressing unconventional possibilities for some persons with autism, ranging from spiritual gifts such as the prophecy of Touch’s child protagonist to the ability to commune with animals, I realized the necessity of approaching the material with great sensitivity, care, and respect. In so doing, I also recognized the need to parcel out the knowledge that was shared with me by those individuals and their families in bite-size, digestible portions—after all, this was uncharted territory.
Let me explain using a metaphor. When the movie Jaws was being filmed, Peter Benchley, the author and shark expert, chastised director Steven Speilberg for altering the climax of Benchley’s original novel. In the book, the Great White shark simply succumbs to the cumulative effects of his battle wounds and sinks to the sea floor, dragging with him an entangled Quint, the crusty counterpart to Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab. Speilberg had other plans for dramatizing the shark’s demise with a spectacular explosion triggered by the hydraulic tank lodged in the shark’s maw. Benchley strongly suggested that audiences would find it laughable that a shark would tolerate such an obstruction in its jaws let alone try to chomp down on it; but Spielberg replied that if he had the audience with him up until that point, they’d believe him then, too. And he was right.

I wrote each of the books in my trilogy with the same thought: the great importance of approaching the subject matter with the utmost reverence at the outset so that what was revealed might be accepted as more plausible when placed in proper context. Here’s where I may take exception with Touch’s premise. Critics of my books, largely individuals who haven’t read them or haven’t read them thoroughly, have sometimes jumped to unrealistic conclusions about their content. For this very reason, when I was interviewed on the country’s most prominent paranormal radio show a couple summers ago, I was assertive in maintaining that prior to any discussion of otherworldly aptitudes, it was necessary to “ground” the discussion about autism from the perspective of some salient truths: that people with autism are intelligent beings and that the spiritual giftedness experienced by many was accessible to us all.

My reservation with Touch is that, in TV terms, it has already “jumped the shark” before it’s begun. That is, there is a danger in polarizing people with autism as hopeless individuals void of competence every bit as much as it’s inadvisable to glorify them in some outrageous manner that lacks authenticity. We’re not talking about “God’s Special Angels,” we’re talking about human beings with a variation in brain wiring that causes them to interpret the world with an alternate logic. The movie Rain Man was a disservice in giving rise to a stereotype of the autistic savant instead of acknowledging that we all possess gifts and talents regardless of who we are. I hope that Touch seeks to temper this fundamental notion fairly and with just cause instead of veering left into the uneasy and disparaging realm of sensationalism for the sake of ratings.

© 2012, William Stillman

William Stillman is an adult with Asperger’s syndrome, and the award-winning author of 10 autism and special needs parenting books. His Web site is

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Positive News of the Week

New on the Menu - Random Acts of Kindness

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Proud of Autism

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A Human Ladder to Safety

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Local Honors in Science

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Rhino Poaching, Halted in Nepal

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

Celebrating the Year of the Dragon
with a little help from Shelly Wu and Chinese Astrology

The Sign of the Dragon Explained

The Unpredictable Dragon (Chen)—the “Theatrical Visionary

February 16, 1904 to February 3, 1905: Wood Dragon
February 3, 1916 to January 22, 1917: Fire Dragon
January 23, 1928 to February 9, 1929: Earth Dragon
February 8, 1940 to January 26, 1941: Metal Dragon
January 27, 1952 to February 13, 1953: Water Dragon
February 13, 1964 to February 1, 1965: Wood Dragon
January 31, 1976 to February 17, 1977: Fire Dragon
February 17, 1988 to February 5, 1989: Earth Dragon
February 5, 2000 to January 23, 2001: Metal Dragon
January 23, 2012 to February 9, 2013: Water Dragon 

Polarity: yang (positive)
Sign order: fifth
Symbolism: transformation
Lucky color: crimson red
Fragrance: tea rose
Flavor: pungent, sharp
Food/beverage: poultry, juices
Flower: sweet pea
Gem: diamond
Feng shui direction: east-southeast
Lucky number: two

This fifth position in the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon, is one of mystery, vitality, and the universe itself. Those souls born into Dragon years learn the lesson of “unpredictability”—others can only guess which hat the Dragon chooses to wear in any given day.

Shrewd and enthusiastic, the Dragon is the sign with the greatest power and the most powerful influence. Unlike the other animals of the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon is a mythical creature, and the sign of good luck and vital health. Unlike the frightening Dragon of Western mythology, Chinese Dragons are benevolent creatures that live in the heavens and command the wind, mist, rain, thunder, and lightning. A Dragon needs oxygen, freedom, and open space to thrive. Contact with the outdoors and nature is most important for physical and emotional health.

Tenacious and captivating, Dragons like to stay in motion, stay preoccupied, and stay busy. The Dragon symbolizes life and growth, as reflected in their generous and scrupulous nature. Full of Utopian ideas and bursts of energy, Dragons have the power to influence, to lead, and to impress.

Dragons have a keen intuition and see life as a rainbow of possibilities. Dragons neither require, nor do they seek out, constant reassurance. Confident, ambitious, and brave a Dragon will work, sometimes from morning until night, in an effort to keep things running properly and they are capable of taking aggressive action if necessary. This soul will defy obstacle after obstacle in an effort to climb their way to the top of their field.

The most harmonious time of day for Dragons is between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., when the yang force, still unsteady but awesomely powerful, rises and makes transformations. For those born into Dragon years, each new day is a new page in the diary, a new step toward an idea or project, and they greet life at the peak of their strength in the morning hours.

Essential Temperament

No matter what Dragons choose to do with their lives they will shine; it is their nature to excel. The Dragon just cannot help but win. Free spirits make up the majority of those born in Dragon years, and Dragons possess greater intuition than other signs. According to Chinese tradition, the weather conditions at the time of a Dragon’s birth have a great deal of influence on the course of their lives. It is thought that a Dragon born during a storm will lead a tempestuous and hazardous life, possibly involving dangerous or spectacular experiences. One born on a day when the sea (the Dragons ancestral home) and the heavens are calm will have a protected existence and a more peaceful nature.

Seldom do Dragons enjoy sitting behind a desk. They detest tedious routine, especially being stuck in a web of boring duties and obligations. While Dragon souls hate to take orders, they enjoy giving them, making this the sign natural leaders.

When Dragon natives feel compelled to speak their mind, watch out. Nothing will silence them. This outspoken nature stems from much youthful yang energy influencing this sign. It is considered a futile effort to fight a Dragon. They feel they have been granted authority by divine right. A wounded Dragon never forgets an insult. Dragons make the most formidable enemies anyone could imagine. Their ruthlessness is matched only by the power of their influence. The best thing to do if in conflict with those born into Dragon years is to avoid them until you can make sincere amends.

The Dragon enjoys being called upon to help when things go wrong. The Dragon will succeed where others have failed both because the word impossible is not in their vocabulary, and because they simply must champion extreme situations. However, this soul can be overpowering, and being unable to give less than their best is exhausting but necessary for them. The best role for a Dragon is as a visionary or prophet and dreamer of Utopian imagery. The worst role is that of diplomat, as Dragons lack tactfulness.

The sky is a favorite place for those born into Dragon years. Favorite leisure activities for Dragon include philosophy, arcane sciences, science fiction, the cosmos, exploration the universe, or anything that takes them far away from the earth. This “other-worldly” nature is most characteristic of the sign.

The Other Side—the Dragon’s Duality

In contrast to their many admirable attributes, unenlightened Dragons can be short-tempered, demanding, and brutally candid. Being a soul of extremes, the Dragon’s energy channeled negatively can cause great destruction. An egotistic Dragon can be so overbearing one would think they rule by divine right. Another unflattering characteristic of shallow Dragons is infidelity. Dragons are capable of maintaining a completely separate life from their primary relationship, sometimes for years. They seem perfectly capable of keeping their dual life discreet and undetected from an unsuspecting partner.

Egotistic and judgmental behavior represents the Dragon’s energy being directed in its most unproductive form. Dragons can feel a certain sense of entitlement to say whatever is on their mind, many times with jaw-dropping results. Expressed in its darkest form, this energy becomes easy infatuation, harshness, stubbornness, belligerence, infidelity, impetuousness, and malcontent. The choice lies entirely with the individual. Taken to extreme, Borderline personality disorders may develop, and there is a propensity for Dragons to suffer from bi-polar disorders.

Gifts and Capabilities

A Dragon is both lucky and gifted, and they will always find people to believe in them. However, Dragons are sometimes accused of being reckless, getting involved too quickly, and not thinking about future monthly payments. They often fail to see the dishonesty in others; therefore, they get cheated or swindled on occasion. When Dragons have money they tend to spend it quickly. A Dragon’s bank account will often be well filled, but the cash may be withdrawn as quickly as it is deposited. It is a good idea for a Dragon to have the Ox, with their financial foresight, or the scrupulous and honest Pig as a business associate.

Dragons are claustrophobic and need space. Dragons can also become depressed if forced to live in the same mundane surroundings for a long time. If they cannot travel, they certainly need exotic furniture and a change of style often. A mural of a desert island on the living room wall or a splash of some bright paint on the walls can do wonders for their peace of mind at home. The perfect abode for this magnificent creature is a fortified castle perched on a rocky ravine, and overgrown with lush grottoes. The Dragon’s love of travel could draw them to these exotic places at some time in their life.

In general, Dragons are physically healthier than most people, but need to pay attention to dangers relating to stress and the internal struggle of a bi-polar temper. Dragon people desire many friends and have an overwhelming need to be loved in order to thrive. Intense and possessive in romance, they are at the same time somewhat doubtful and reserved. Dragon love affairs are magnificently dramatic. They possess plenty of youthful yang energy to keep love alive during the good times, as well as during the occasional thunderstorms.

Those born into Dragon years expect people to look upon them with admiration and to always take their advice. They will stimulate your spirit of competition and taste for conquest. The principal qualities of the Dragon are activity, energy, and, above all, fortune and good luck. A restrained Dragon can be demanding, impatient, and intolerant. A Dragon who becomes trapped in life with little room to maneuver will suffer and become disillusioned, roaring to be free from the confinement. The infamous temper of this powerful soul can explode in fury when not met with respect. When the thunder and lightning has ended, the rainbow comes; the Dragon returns once again to their witty, open, and honorable presence.

The Child

“Mommy, why is that lady so fat?” Many a red-faced parent has learned firsthand how outspoken Dragon children are. Colicky and rather demanding from the day they are born, in the pediatric nursery Dragon babies will be the first to get fed by virtue of volume. They will be noticed. Dragons are willful and powerful children. This little “showman” may lack tact at times, but is always reached by sentimentality.

The Dragon child feels these tasks are beneath them. These kids may balk at taking out the trash, cleaning their rooms, and other boring or mundane tasks.

Dragon babies and children are the healthiest and most long-lived of the Zodiac and rarely get sick. They exude vitality. This will not be a clingy or whining child, as even from childhood the Dragon is fiercely independent and self-assured. Many physicians and stage actors were born into Dragon years.

Home and Hearth

Regarding family affairs, Dragon parents are proud and have no patience for challenges of authority from their children. They are giving of themselves in emotional circumstances, and make compassionate yet stern parents. Dragon parents are also unequaled in their ability to encourage independence in their children. However, Dragon mothers do not like being only relegated to domestic life, and strive to combine family responsibilities with professional aspirations.

The most favorable time of year for the Dragon is mid-May to mid-June, the most vibrant and prosperous months of the year, when flowers are at peak bloom and foliage is lush and green.

Auspicious Careers

As a career choice, the Dragon makes an excellent actor, artist, trial lawyer, gangster, priest, prophet, doctor, or business owner. Being a doer, the Dragon does best in independent professions. They are known to lead demonstrations, crusades, write letters to newspapers, and collect a million signatures on a petition. When it comes to their work, Dragons are determined and committed, but impatient with those who do not share their calling. In business, the Dragon is encouraged to seek partners who match their strength, rather than those less forceful. Tigers and Monkeys can well handle the Dragon’s boldness, and they will work by their side without fear of being engulfed or overshadowed.

The Famous and the Infamous

Some well-known Dragons include: Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr, Deng Xiaoping, Courtney Cox, Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Alicia Silverstone, Dan Aykroyd, Julia Ormond, Patrick Stewart, Calista Flockhart, Sarah Bernhardt, Salvador Dali, Sigmund Freud, Joan of Arc, Bing Crosby, Neil Diamond, Placido Domingo, Bo Diddley, Tom Jones, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Raquel Welch, Pearl Buck, Lewis Carroll, Lady Godiva, J. Paul Getty, Marlene Dietrich, Faye Dunaway, Joan Baez, Frank Zappa, Mae West, Joseph Campbell, Shirley Temple Black, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.


Powerful Dragon, you inspire us all with your Utopian dreams and spectacular accomplishments. Thank you for riding up on your white horse when disaster strikes. This world is indeed your stage and you have our attention, but must you speak so freely? Remember, it is not necessary to say everything which crosses your mind. A weak person is liable to be bullied; a tamed horse is often ridden. You feel that weakness is a disadvantage, and that if you are not tough you will be bullied. Be aware that there are those whose skin is much thinner than yours and don’t understand your outspoken ways. Endear yourself to others by showing them that delightfully sentimental heart of yours!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Creature of the Month - The Baleful Basilisk by Oberon Zell

The baleful Basilisk is a kind of dragon with a complicated history. Originally said to have sprung from Medusa’s eyes after Perseus beheaded her, the Basilisk is described as a monstrous serpent crowned with a dramatic frill, crest or crown, for which reason it is called the “King of Serpents.” Its name derives from the Greek basileus, meaning “little king.” It is so poisonous that it leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze is likewise lethal. Indeed, it is said that—like Medusa—the gaze of the Basilisk can turn a victim to stone! It poisons streams, withers forests, and drops birds out of the sky. Its only natural enemy is the weasel, which is immune to its deadly arsenal. But Aelian (17-235 ce) says that the Basilisk also fears roosters: “at the sight of one it shudders, and at the sound of its crowing it is seized with convulsions and dies.” During the first century ce, travelers crossing the North African deserts would take along cockerels as protection against Basilisks.

Albertus Magnus (1200-1280), in his De Animalibus, says that the Basilisk does not actually emit lethal rays from its eyes, but “rather, the cause of the corrupting influence is the visual energy which is diffused over very long distances because of the subtlety of its substantial nature; herein lies its ability to destroy and kill everything.” Albertus also says that the ancients strewed Basilisk ashes in their temples to keep out spiders and other venomous creatures, and that “silver melted in the ashes of a Basilisk takes on the splendor, weight and density of gold.” Bulfinch says that in classical times a Basilisk skin was hung in a temple to Apollo and in another to Diana to ward off swallows as well as snakes and spiders.

In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder (23-79 ce) says the Basilisk is “not more than 12 inches long, and adorned with a bright white marking on the head like a sort of diadem. It routs all snakes with a hiss, and does not move its body forward in manifold coils like the other snakes but advances with its middle raised high.” In this statement by history’s first real naturalist lie several important clues to the true identity of the Basilisk.

For one thing, it is a small creature—according to Pliny, only a foot long. No doubt this is why its Greek name is a diminutive: “little king.” The distinctive feature of raising its body high, unlike other snakes, is most significant, as this behavior is uniquely characteristic of only one family of snakes—the cobras, all of which raise the full front thirds of their bodies vertically. Moreover, most cobras have species-specific markings on their heads—often in the form of a diadem.

The Basilisk’s natural habitat is North Africa, which is home to several species of cobras. The King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) has been advanced as the original Basilisk, but at over 18 feet long this is the largest of the world’s venomous serpents, and can hardly be described as “little”! A full-grown King Cobra can rear up to look a tall man directly in the eye—a most unnerving experience, I’m sure! In India, it is widely worshiped as Nagaraja (“King of Snakes”).

In actuality, the Basilisk derives from the Egyptian Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis), which grows to seven feet long, and sprays lethal poison from its fangs with uncanny accuracy into the eyes of its victims, blinding them instantly and rendering them helpless against its fangs. This is the basis of the poisonous breath of the monster, which, it turns out, is not mythical at all!

From its serpentine origins in a real snake with deadly “breath,” the legend of the Basilisk was carried through the centuries to lands where the actual animal was unknown. One of Europe’s earliest printed books was the Dialogus Creaturarum (“dialogues of creatures”), printed in the Netherlands in 1480 by Pieter van Leu. This anonymous work was the first to identify the Basilisk as “a kind of lizard.” When a colorful little lizard with elaborate crests on its head and back was discovered in South America, it was given the name of Basilisk (Basiliscus). It is also popularly called the “Jesus Christ lizard” for its ability to run across the surface of water, but it has none of the deadly attributes of its legendary namesake.

The Cockatrice

About 1180, English naturalist Alexander Neckham stated that the Basilisk hatched from an egg laid by an aged rooster. He called it a “Basil-Cock.” But soon the term Cockatrice or Cockatrix—originally meaning any hybrid creature—became used interchangeably for Basilisk. Thus was created a parallel evolution of a new monster called the Cockatrice, which was said to be born from an egg laid in a dunghill by a seven-year-old cock which had mated with a serpent, during the “dog days” when the star Sirius was in the sky. The egg was spherical rather than ovoid, and had no shell but only a tough membrane. It was then incubated and hatched by a toad. Thus the hatchling combined the features and habits of its parents and incubator.

A denizen of North Africa, the Cockatrice came to be depicted as a rooster with a dragon’s tail and bat-like wings, so poisonous that its very glance or breath kills. It can rot the fruit on a tree from a distance, and any water from which it drinks will be polluted for centuries. To medieval Christians it represented sin and sudden death. As with the Basilisk, its only foe is the weasel.

Interestingly, it is a fact of biology that old roosters do indeed often develop egg-like masses in their bodies. As Aristotle (384–322 bce) observed: “substances resembling an egg…have been found in the cock when cut open, underneath the midriff where the hen has her eggs, and these are entirely yellow in appearance and of the same size as ordinary eggs.”

For more on creatures check out Oberon's A Wizard's Bestiary

Oberon Zell has accomplished many things in his long and colorful career. A modern Renaissance man, Oberon is a transpersonal psychologist, metaphysician, naturalist, theologian, shaman, author, artist, sculptor, lecturer, teacher, and ordained Priest of the Earth-Mother, Gaia. Those who know him well consider him to be a true Wizard in the traditional sense. He is also an initiate in the Egyptian Church of the Eternal Source, a Priest in the Fellowship of Isis, and an initiate in several different Traditions of Witchcraft. He holds academic degrees in sociology, anthropology, clinical psychology, teaching, and theology. His books include Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, Companion for the Apprentice Wizard, Creating Circles & Ceremonies, and Green Egg Omelette.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weird News of the Week

Earth's Newest Island

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New Data Storage Device Uses Salmon DNA

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Using Facebook to sell children?

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Spiritual Marks (literally)

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Begin Your Journey to Mindfulness

To kick off a new week we offer tools
to reach a higher consciousness.
This exercise comes from A Year to Enlightenment
by E. Raymond Rock.

Moving you gradually and comprehensively from simple relaxation into the deepest, most profound areas of meditation and spirituality, A Year to Enlightenment encourages you to read only one page at a time, practicing a single technique until a personal insight arises. Only then do you turn the page and go on to the next “day.” By using this method, your own insights become your personal teacher. 

For one unbelievable moment, be truly free.

I’m becoming suspicious of my unyielding opinions and judgments. They are, more often than not, based on unsubstantiated information—something that I’ve read or heard from someone else, which I then accept as certainty without testing it as if I am afraid to discover the truth about it. It then becomes a belief rather than wisdom. How can I ever hope to escape from this never-ending wheel of what I am and what I’ve been if I just believe anything? Only when I test these things for myself will I someday see if eternity actually does exist in each moment. Then maybe I’ll be able to interact with things without grabbing them or pushing them away, and just see them, without thinking about either acquiring or turning my back on them. If I can do this, then no future will be created by the present and the present won’t be influenced by the past. Only the immediacy of this significant moment will exist, where everything is laid bare before me without deception. Am I truly a warrior?

Resume your regular concentration today, beginning with your warm-up exercises and then focusing on your forehead center. During the day, practice today by touching things. Notice how your mind perceives the feeling of touch, and observe what kinds of thoughts arise because of various touches. As you ponder the touching consciousness and how it arises, investigate whether a general consciousness fills the universe or whether each individual consciousness, your eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, arises and passes on its own. Try to hold your attention at that moment of contact, before the mind begins to identify the touch.

A Year to Enlightenment was written for brave hearts prepared to embark on an incredible journey. By diving into the waters of spirituality, you have an opportunity to replace your underlying fear and uncertainty with confidence and love. You will find yourself bathed in expansive and universal insights, with each day of the book disclosing a unique, timeless wisdom known by few. This, in turn, surreptitiously opens new, unexplored regions of life and true freedom, not merely liberation from the undesirable, but freedom from everything. If you conscientiously follow the step-by-step instructions, expect that enlightenment will not be beyond your reach.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Positive News of the Week

Dog found Alive 4 days after Avalanche

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New Potential Cancer Cure in Mollusk Blood?

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100-year Starship Project

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Making it to 102

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Great North Georgia Maya Hoax
by James A O'Kon PE

I read the December 21, 2011 article in the announcing the “greatest archaeological discovery in recent time” with great expectations. In the article, Richard Thornton, an architect and amateur archaeologist, proclaimed that he had found the ruins of an ancient Maya city in the Appalachian mountains of North Georgia. I scanned this internet article with great interest, important archaeological discoveries are rare and really big news, they are very popular with a broad cross section of the general public. However, actually unearthing ancient Maya cities deep in the Georgia Mountains would really be of great significance to the archaeological record and readers around the world.

First, let me describe the roots of my special interest in Maya archaeology and the importance of Maya ruins in Georgia. I am a registered Professional Engineer, living in Atlanta, and have investigated Maya ruins for over forty years. I am also the author of the book: The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology coming in April of 2012. The book reveals discoveries of lost Maya technological innovations including their methodologies in building construction.

Thornton reports that the site is approximately 1,100 years old and is located on the foothills of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s tallest mountain. The ruins of the ancient city include a large five sided pyramid constructed of earth fill. Thornton stated that university of Georgia archaeologist, Mark Williams, led an expedition to investigate this pentagon shaped pyramid. In addition, he stated that this five sided earthen pyramid is similar to pyramids built by Maya architecture in Mesoamerica. In addition to the pyramid, archaeologists have unearthed at least 500 or more stone walls that were used for agriculture terraces plus evidence of a sophisticated irrigation system with the possibility of other structures hidden underground.

Thornton, who claims he is an expert in pre-Colombian architecture, theorizes that the Maya who built the city were refugees from the catastrophe that caused the collapse of the Maya civilization. He stated that for many years archaeological speculation has abounded about the fate of the Maya population after a disaster caused the collapse of the Maya civilization around 900 AD. Some historians believe they died out in plagues and food shortages; others have speculated about the possibility of the Maya migrating to other regions. Thornton accepts the premise that the Maya migrated northward away from Mesoamerica to the mountains of North Georgia.

He further relates that South African archaeologist, Johannes Loubser, has excavated the site and dated pottery shards found there. The testing of the pottery indicated that the site had been inhabited for decades before 1100 AD, placing the site in the approximate time period of the Maya diaspora.

My perusal of social media and internet news indicates that the announcement by Mr. Thornton has become an internet sensation. He has dazzled readers with his claim that the “find is the most important archaeological discovery in recent times”. His disclosure of this unique find conjures up fanciful images similar to the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb, and the crystal skull of Indiana Jones. It is apparent that the distinctions between social media, Internet news and professional news reporting have become blurred and has altered the authenticity of news stories read by the public.

I took the opportunity to analyze Thornton’s claim of discovery as well as the photographic evidence offered by Mr. Thornton. My review of the alleged evidence of ancient Maya construction with close examination of the photos of the “ruins” have determined that this “discovery” is a deliberately staged plot to perpetrate a grand hoax that is preying on the gullibility of the public. This type of archaeological hoax is intended to fool the public who want to believe in UFO’s, monster quests and the thrill of the unknown. Richard Thornton’s hoax is similar to famous archaeological fakes like the Piltdown Man and the Cardiff Giant.

I am a native Georgian and am familiar with the Southeast sector of the Brasstown Bald slopes. I have carried out a technical investigation and analysis of Thornton’s physical and archaeological evidence. During the investigation I closely examined photos of the isolated stacks of rocks referenced as “Maya ruins”, assessed the descriptions of typical Maya constructions and reviewed the reports of the professional archaeologists who are alleged to be a part of the discovery of the ancient North Georgia Maya city. 

While assessing the evidence, I closely examined the photos of the “ruins" for indications of Maya building technology, construction practices and archaeological ageing. The “ruins” in the photo are isolated piles of irregular stones laid up without mortar in what is termed “dry stack”. The stones are stacked akimbo without any organization relative to masonry construction. The stones show no evidence of being “worked”, “carved, or “dressed” by the jadeite tools employed by Maya stone workers. The placement of dressed stones in the construction of walls using mortar or concrete is a common trait of Maya buildings.. Maya building stones are shaped to be a regular size and shape in order to be transported to the building site using manpower. Maya masonry stones are sized to be carried by a single worker using a backpack-like device called a “tumpline.” The Maya construction stones, with rare exceptions, did not weigh more than 125 pounds. This is the carrying capacity of one worker. 

Georgia Ruins Photos

Examples of Mayan Structures

Maya Ruins at Chichen Itza under Excavation

Maya Ruins with Mortar and Concrete

The stones on the North Georgia site are not dressed or carved blocks and are not laid up in an organized manner using mortar. Instead, the piles of stone were obviously laid up “dry” with irregular shapes. The joints are open and do not indicate the presence of mortar. This technique is not even remotely typical of Maya construction practices.

The age of the “ruins” is questionable due to several factors. The large gaps and crevices between adjacent stones are clean and clear and do not indicate the presence of debris or growth of vegetation. If the “ruins were stacked as shown for a millennium, windblown compost material would be collected in the crevasses of the stones and would support the growth of vegetation. The exterior of the “ruins” would then be covered with mats of vegetation. In addition, the growth of moss on the exterior faces of the stacked stones in the pile would be obvious. None of the photographs of the “ruins indicate vegetation or the growth of moss on the exterior faces of the stones. This is despite moss growth on bottom level of the stack.

Another characteristic of the piles of stones is their haphazard stacking in loose order. The uncertain stability of a loose pile of stacked stones is an anomaly of physics. Maintaining a balanced stack of stones in place for over a millennium is a conundrum. Earthquakes in recent history would have toppled the stone piles and scattered them across the slopes of Brasstown Bald. The site is relatively close to the epicenters of the two most violent earthquakes in the recorded history of the United States. The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 were the most powerful seismic events in recorded history. The epicenter on the Missouri-Tennessee boarder is 365 miles from Brasstown Bald. During the New Madrid earthquakes serious damage to constructed buildings was recorded over a radius of more than 400 miles. During this seismic event the ground surface was seen rolling like the waves at sea and it changed the course of the Mississippi river. The Charleston, South Carolina, earthquake of 1886, with its epicenter 268 miles to the east of the site, is the second most powerful seismic event in US history. This event toppled chimneys in Atlanta and rang bells in New York City.. Either one of these recorded earthquakes would have toppled the so-called “Maya ruins” and scattered them down the mountainside.

Relative to the similarity between the architecture at the site and architecture of the classic Maya, the five sided pyramid at the site constructed of earth is entirely  atypical of Maya pyramid construction. Maya pyramids did have an earthen core but the soil was confined by closed cells of stone and concrete retaining structures. Often pyramid construction was carried in phases with larger pyramids built over earlier constructions. The exterior of Maya pyramids was concrete and carved stone which developed the rectangular plan and the cosmologically required nine steps of their classic pyramid shape.

However, the existence of Maya in Georgia could have been a reality. Maya technology had the abilities to build large seagoing vessels, with capacities for 50 crew and passengers. They were accomplished seagoing traders, and the 450 mile trip to Florida and northward to Georgia was easily within their range. However, this narrative is not about Maya seamanship, but about  the evidence of a ruined Maya city in North Georgia.

The claim that the ruins are Maya in origin is an apparent hoax as indicated by technological and archaeological evidence. Furthermore, the archaeologist from the University of Georgia who Thornton claims was part of the discovery, Mark Williams, has posted: “I am the archaeologist mentioned in this article. This is total and complete bunk. There is no evidence of Maya in Georgia. Move along now.”

Archaeologist Johannes Loubser, in his site report, did not say who erected the structure but said “I think that Thornton selectively presents the evidence. As the controversy surrounding the claim grew, Thornton was apparently stinging from criticism and posted a message on face book: “I know a hellava lot more than those professors. I doubt if the University of Georgia has anyone who is knowledgeable about Mesoamerican architecture. That being said I made a hellava lot of money off the controversy so I am crying all the way to the bank. LOL.”

With those unprofessional and profound comments Thornton’s goal is apparent: he wants to cry all the way to the bank with his hoax. It is also suspicious that he chose to make the announcement of the discovery on December 21, 2011, exactly one year in advance of the ending of the Maya calendar on December 21, 2012. Doomsday believers are latching onto anything related to that target date.

In summary, Maya technology and Maya architecture, did not support Thornton’s claim and the quoted archaeologists denied being involved with his theory of Maya ruins on Brasstown Bald. His next act is uncertain, but the word in North Georgia is that he has formed a joint venture with Big Foot to excavate the site.

James A. O’Kon, P.E. is a professional engineer with decades of experience designing award-winning projects. He has also spent 40 years investigating Maya engineering feats and lost Maya technology. His investigations have taken him to more than 50 remote Maya sites. He has delivered numerous scientific papers to scientific symposia dealing with Maya technology. He was inducted into the Explorers Club as a National Fellow for his work on Maya technology. A resident of Atlanta, he is currently an expert witness on construction failures and a problem-solving consultant to global corporations when he is not in the rainforest. Learn more by visiting his website.   

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weird News of the Week

Waves wash up Fish in Norway

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Chinese use Pillows to Fight Stress

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Police Show Up for Overdue Books

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Obama Teleported to Mars?

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Aliens on the Moon? Join the Search

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Facetime for Apes

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Snow Church?

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Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Unveiled

Wishing you all a Wonder-Filled New Year!

Let's do our best to keep the positive vibes and merriment of the holidays rolling.
Share a smile, offer a hand, make the world the place you want it to be.
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