When Aliens Go Bad…

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When aliens go bad, they go really, really bad. Mind you, aliens don’t go bad often, but when they do, it’s not a pretty sight to behold.

Just yesterday, my wife and I were at Scotty’s Antique Market in Atlanta. If you’ve never been to one (I guess there are 3), it was an experience. The Atlanta Exposition Center has two large buildings – one on either side of interstate 285 (known here in Atlanta as “the perimeter”). Scotty’s filled up both buildings and there was stuff outside in the parking lots at both buildings. You can take a large, air-conditioned bus from one building to the next (and we did as yesterday was hot.)

Now, I’m not saying that all folks who go to an antique market like this are strange, but when we went into one of the outside tents, there was one of those devices that they put underneath a casket at a funeral home that was for sale. My wife heard one woman say to her friend, “Well, that would be great in the front room!”  O…kay.

Believe it or not, that wasn’t the strangest thing I saw. While my wife was looking at something in one of the indoor vendor’s booths, I turned around and saw two aliens from the backside. Having never seen aliens before (though my cousins claim to have seen UFO’s (they’re the strange cousins), I decided to walk around to the front side of the aliens as I didn’t want to surprise them and be shot with their gestunkenta ray gun. When I got there I asked if I could take their picture and they politely made some strange guttural sound which I took to be “Yes”. I sorta figured it would be okay because from the looks of them, I figured I could easily outrun them. Hence, today’s photo.

Did you know before this that aliens were really made of plaster of paris and have rebar inside them instead of bones? See – you can learn a lot from reading this blog!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1993, British forensic scientists announced that they have positively identified the remains of Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II; his wife, Czarina Alexandra; and three of their daughters. The scientists used mitochondria DNA fingerprinting to identify the bones, which had been excavated from a mass grave near Yekaterinburg in 1991.

On the night of July 16, 1918, three centuries of the Romanov dynasty came to an end when Bolshevik troops executed Nicholas and his family. The details of the execution and the location of their final resting place remained a Soviet secret for more than six decades. Lacking physical evidence, rumors spread through Europe in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, telling of a Romanov child, usually the youngest daughter, Anastasia, who had survived the carnage. In the 1920s, there were several claimants to the title of Grand Duchess Anastasia. The most convincing was Anna Anderson, who turned up in Berlin in 1922 claiming to be Anastasia. In 1968, Anderson emigrated to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she died in 1984.

In 1991, Russian amateur investigators, using a recently released government report on the Romanov execution, found what they thought to be the Romanov burial site. Russian authorities exhumed human remains. Scientists studied the skulls, claiming that Anastasia’s was among those found, but the Russian findings were not conclusive. To prove that the remains were indisputably those of the Romanovs, the Russians enlisted the aid of British DNA experts.

First, the scientists tested for gender and identified five females and four males among the remains. Next they tested to see how, if at all, these people were related. A father and mother were identified, along with three daughters. The four other remains were likely those of servants. The son Alexei and one daughter were missing.

To prove the identity of Alexandra and her children, the scientists took blood from Prince Philip, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II and the grand nephew of Alexandra. Because they all share a common maternal ancestor, they would all share mitochondria DNA, which is passed almost unchanged from mother to children. The comparison between the mtDNA in Philip’s blood and in the remains was positive, proving them to be the Romanovs. To prove the czar’s identity, who did not share this mtDNA, the remains of Grand Duke George, the brother of Nicholas, were exhumed. A comparison of their mtDNA proved their relationship.

The Crown Prince Alexei and one Romanov daughter were not accounted for, adding fuel to the persistent legend that Anastasia had survived execution. Was it possible that Anastasia had escaped and resurfaced as Anna Anderson? In 1994, American and English scientists attempted to answer this question once and for all. Using a tissue sample of Anderson’s recovered from a Virginia hospital, the English team compared her mtDNA with that of the Romanovs. Simultaneously, an American team compared the mtDNA found in a strand of her hair. Both teams came to the same decisive conclusion: Anna Anderson was not a Romanov. In 1995, a Russian government commission studying the remains presented what it claimed was proof that one of the skeletons was in fact Anastasia’s, and that the missing Romanov daughter was, in fact, Maria.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The Muppet vampire, Count von Count from Sesame Street, is based on actual vampire myth. One way to supposedly deter a vampire is to throw seeds (usually mustard) outside a door or place fishing net outside a window. Vampires are compelled to count the seeds or the holes in the net, delaying them until the sun comes up.

 

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