My recent column about ongoing cattle mutilations under investigation in Texas struck a chord with a number of readers. Here are a couple, slightly edited, I felt worth sharing,
From Mark Griffin: "I liked your article on cattle mutilation. Hopefully there will be some coverage of the police investigation conclusion. Lots of times there's initial coverage of an event and then it's really hard to find out what happened afterwards. As a journalist you know more about this news coverage situation than me.
"I'd be fine with a human involvement explanation. I'm good with crop circles being a hoax, for example. But I'm writing from Boston where 'SatanCon' (Google it) was just held without any uptick in local cattle mutilations.
"The only thing that kept me from forwarding my friends a link to your article was that it leaned on the History Channel as a source, the whole stigma around UFOs.
"I liked that you pointed out 'police are investigating.' That's just right. The History Channel will have a show about how the pyramids were built using levitation wands but police aren't investigating. You pointed out that something actually happened with these latest mutilations and there is an investigation underway. Nice. Staying tuned."
Mark, the fact is police across the country have investigated scores of these mutilations over the decades but have not found evidence to draw a definitive conclusion about who is behind them or why they are done.
Reader Jake Winn wrote: "Just a quick thanks for covering cattle mutilations and other strange phenomenon over the years. I am a pharmacist living just outside Memphis and have become obsessed with cattle mutilations over the past three to four years.
"To me it is the definitive evidence that we are not alone. Blurry UFO videos are one thing, but seeing cattle surgically dissected in a way that is impossible for a [non-medical doctor] or animal to do is quite another. Keep up the good work."
Jake, not only are the dissections very precise and appear to have been done using a scalpel or laser instrument, but there is consistency in the type of organs removed. And there is neither any blood nor tracks left around the carcasses.
Considering your understandable obsession Jake, might I recommend the foremost expert in this phenomenon, Linda Moulton Howe, a news producer and investigative reporter, who has invested decades investigating the mutilations and documenting them in her popular book, "An Alien Harvest: Further Evidence Linking Animal Mutilations and Human Abductions to Alien Life Forms."
Beware the 'butcher'
Since I'm on messages from valued readers, this one from Jacob Adler about the so-called "pig butchering scam" arrived following my column warning about romance schemes on the Internet.
"Dear Mike, I appreciated your column on romance scams. People need to know about such things! You've done a public service. You might want to take another column to write about "wrong number" text-message scams. I get these texts all the time that seem to be addressed to someone else, as in: "Bob, don't forget the meeting at 5 p.m."
"At first I naïvely thought they were legitimate, so I responded, "I'm not Bob." The scammer then said something like, "You are very considerate to take the time to reply," and then tried to start a conversation. Very often this is accompanied by a photo of a very attractive young Asian woman. I soon figured out it was a scam.
"The amazing thing is that such scammers will keep up the conversation for months, lulling the victim into a sense of security, making him/her believe that s/he has found a real online friend. Then they'll casually mention that their uncle helped them out with investments, and they made a lot of money.
"Why don't you let my uncle help you, too?" The first time, it works! You send in a smallish amount--say, $100--and get back $120. Then the scammer says, 'now that you see how it works, why don't you make a bigger investment.' Then bye-bye money!"
Postscript: Since Adler sent his message, the following baloney arrived in his inbox: "Hey! are you Joseph I'm Mary. A friend gave me this number to make an appointment with you. Hope I'm not looking for the wrong person."
Choosing a baby's name can be one of the most difficult decisions parents make. After all, the decision leaves an impression, lasts a lifetime, and there are so many options.
Names.org recently released its predictions for the most popular baby names in Arkansas in 2023 based on Social Security Administration data on births.
Missing are the classics like David and John. For boys, Liam ranks No. 1, followed by Oliver and Elijah. Six of Arkansas' top 10 boys' names made the national top 10 list. Unique to Arkansas are Asher, Hudson, Wyatt, and Grayson.
On the girls' side there was not a Mary or Elizabeth to be found. Olivia topped the list followed by Amelia and Emma. Harper, Eleanor, Paisley and Willow are names unique to Arkansas.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.