Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

The Black Death was caused by aliens, the UN hates your herb garden, and robots want to sexually harass you. Happy Wednesday!

cute_kawaii_robot_by_trubuteofdistrict13

  • This week’s Tea Party lesson: The best way to forestall thuggery is to become a thug. Many believe the UN’s Agenda 21 environmental sustainability program is the uber-conspiracy to end all conspiracies. According to various theories, it will outlaw veggie gardens, confiscate private property, force everyone to move into cities, kill off useless eaters, and maybe even turn us into those human batteries stored in strawberry Jell-O. Glenn Beck has written a horror novel about it, Alex Jones has twigged out over it, and one Oklahoman has reached his breaking point. Al Gerhart, co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party, is so eager to see his state’s anti-Agenda 21 House Bill 1412 passed that he threatened to dig up dirt on Senator Cliff Branan and basically blackmail him into getting it read, sending Branan a creepy-ass email in which he stated Branan would “regret it” if he didn’t do his best to push the bill through the House.
    1412 had only been on the shelf for two weeks. Thanks to Gerhart’s impatience, his entire party is now under investigation by the state Bureau of Investigation, and the sponsor of Bill 1412 pulled it after Gerhart publicly accused Sen. Branan of having an extramarital affair. Nice work. Now Oklahomans may never be able to grow carrots ever again.
  • Aliens disguised as Grim Reapers may have been responsible for the spread of bubonic plague? And they might do it again? Makes sense.
  • You’ve probably seen photos and videos of the Japanese robot that looks somewhat like a giant, mint-green Lego man, scooping up realistic dummies and setting them down someplace else. That’s basically all this particular robot is programmed to do. His designers hope he’s the prototype for a sort of robotic homecare/nursing assistant that will be able to move disabled and elderly patients into and out of beds. But somehow, in the goofy twilight world that is the Internet, “Kenji” the lifting robot has become a psychotic stalker. Beginning shortly after the robot’s unveiling in 2009, stories like this one at Gizmodo claimed Kenji was “programmed to love”, but went off the rails and began obsessively pursuing and molesting a female lab worker. Not sure how “aimless groping” got confused with “love”, but it doesn’t really matter – the Kenji story is bunk, of course. We love robots. They don’t love us. And “Kenji” is actually RI-MAN, created not by Toshiba but by RIKEN (their latest lifting robot, created in collaboration with Tokai Rubber Industries, reminds me a little of the freaky teddy bears in Duckman). For some reason, the stalkerbot story just won’t die, and Brian Merchant of Vice’s Motherboard blog has done some digging to find out where it began. Where did the name Kenji come from? Well, probably this unfortunate dude – one of the first known robot murder victims.

If you combine these stories, you get the heartwarming Pixar sequel in which WALL-E and EVE settle down on a farm, only to have that cute little tree EVE planted uprooted by officious UN bureaucrats, and all their radicchio and parsnips destroyed by plague-spraying Grim Reapers from Mars.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Wannabe Rappers

rap

  • I have seriously lost track of the number of YouTube vids and homemade documentaries that attempt to expose the supposed links between rap/hip-hop music and the Illuminati/Satanism. Run a YT search for “sold out to Illuminati” and you’ll see what I mean – there are even vids explaining how 2Pac was assassinated because he wasn’t souled out to The Man. Or the Satanists. Or whatever. Then we have a certain citizen who is so vigilant against Illuminati brainwashing in pop music that he can’t even identify himself, lest the Devil-worshipers decide to take him out for exposing their sinister use of, um, dolls and kittens.
    The basic premise of the Pop Illuminati theory is that in order to get anywhere near the top of the heap in the worlds of entertainment or sports, artists and athletes have to pledge abject devotion to the Illuminati, and/or literally sign their souls over to Satan. Talent, taining, luck, management, connections, good timing – that’s all bollocks. It’s really about what you’re willing to do for the Jews. I mean the Illuminati. Did I say Jews? Ha ha, no, that’s silly, the Pop Illuminati theory isn’t anti-Semitic. Not even a little bit.
    Until recently, the Pop Illuminati theory only affected merchandise sales (and not very much). But thanks to this overload of Illuminati hip-hop conspiranoia, we could soon be dealing with a bumper crop of deranged aspiring celebrities who honestly believe this shit. Take Wafeeq Sabir El-Amin, a wannabe rap star in Virginia (there’s your first mistake, kid) who allegedly crept up on a sleeping friend one night last December, aimed a gun at his head, and declared, “You are my sacrifice” before pulling the trigger. El-Amin’s victim was spared when the bullet ricocheted off his head, and he was able to escape by wrestling the gun away from El-Amin and shooting him in the stomach. Reportedly, El-Amin believed he had to make a human sacrifice to get in with the Illuminati. I’m guessing he didn’t make it. He’s currently in lock-up, awaiting trial.
  • You might remember Silibil ’N’ Brains, the hip-hop duo who briefly enjoyed C-list stardom in the UK with songs like “Tongue Kung Fu” back in ’04 and ’05. Their style was basically straight-up Eminem mixed with a little skaterboi punk, but the Cali dropouts had enough attitude to pull it off. After a single audition in London, they signed a a $350,000 record deal with Sony, scored a contract with one of the top managers in the UK, headlined a few minor festivals, toured with Eminem, and were introduced by MC Harvey on English MTV’s Brand Spanking New.
    It all fell apart when Brain (Gavin Bain) confessed that he and Silibil weren’t skatepunks from the Valley, after all, but college students from Dundee, Scotland. They had hidden their thick brogues and college educations after it became clear to them that a rap version of The Proclaimers just wouldn’t fly. Personally, I don’t see how this is much worse than Charlize Theron affecting an American accent even in roundtable discussions with other actors, but Bain’s confession instantly sped up the inevitable decay of  Silibil ’N’ Brains.
    Now, director Jeanie Finlay has released a documentary about them.
  • Sounds like a Canadian mockumentary, but isn’t: Hip Hop Eh.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: The Top 10 Conspiracy Theories About Popes and/or the Vatican

popemark

The retirement of Benedict XVI has unleashed a shit-tonne of conspiracy theories. In a March 1 interview with Howard Stern, Alex Jones declared Benedict stepped down because of “transvestite orgies”. Others insist pedophilia must be involved, though there is scant evidence to support that. There’s also talk of a secret dossier about clerical misdeeds, last year’s “Vatileaks” scandal, and Vatican money laundering. What the conspiranoids aren’t talking about is Benedict’s advanced age, or the fact that he attempted to retire three times before being elected pope.

Conspiracy theories about the pope and the Vatican are so easy to believe, in large part, because the Vatican of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been visited by more than its share of conspiracies, cover-ups, and scandals:

  • The very establishment of Vatican City as an independent state may have been based on a forgery, the Donation of Constantine.
  • During WWII, several high-ranking Nazis were able to flee Europe with Vatican passports, thanks to a sympathetic bishop.
  • In the early ’70s, a minor investigation by the New York City district attorney’s racketeering squad led to the discovery that organized crime figures had trafficked millions in dollars worth of stolen and forged stocks all over the world…and roughly $1 billion of those bogus stocks resided in Vatican Bank vaults (see Richard Hammer’s The Vatican Connection).
  • A decade later, powerful Vatican officials were found to be part of a vast banking scheme that involved fictitious financial institutions, controlled from behind the scenes by the sinister Licio Gelli and members of his faux Masonic lodge, Propaganda Due (P2).
  • Recently, it has come to light that the cover-up of child molestation within the Catholic Church went all the way up to the Vatican.
  • Then there is the abduction of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi from the Vatican in 1983, which was badly mishandled by Vatican authorities, likely leading to the girl’s murder.
  • Then we have the tragic worldwide legacy of residential/industrial schools, magdalenes, and Catholic-run orphanages. From 1950 until the early ’70s, Irish nuns sold infants on a first-come, first-served basis (see Mike Milotte’s Banished Babies: The Secret History of Ireland’s Baby Export Business).

Add to this a couple of Dan Brown novels, anti-Catholic frauds like the Taxil hoax and The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, and a parade of memorable Catholic villains in film and literature, and it’s no wonder so many non-Catholics are willing to believe the worst.

Leaving aside the more outré conspiracy theories, like Leo Zagami‘s Illuminati/Satanism nonsense about the Jesuits and the Pope being able to summon demons (aliens) from other dimensions and Ed Chiarini’s belief that Benedict is actually Robert Blake, here are the Top 10 Conspiracy Theories About the Pope and/or the Vatican:

10. There was a female pope. The fable that one pope was actually a woman in disguise first surfaced in a thirteenth-century chronicle written by the Dominican historian Jean Mailly. Mailly recorded that in 1099, a pope went into labour whilst mounting “his” horse, and was subsequently dragged and stoned to death by the outraged citizens of Rome. Accounts written later in the same century can’t agree on a date for “Pope Joan‘s” or “Pope Joanna’s” rule, and today most historians realize that the recorded popes were the only popes. There simply isn’t a mysterious two-year gap in which Joan/Joanna could have served.
The legend of a lady pope spawned another legend that still persists, though: That each new pope must submit to a gender test in which an examiner feels his privates to ensure he has well-formed testicles. This test even appears in the very first episode of The Borgias, when Rodrigo Borgia/Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons) resignedly sits on a toilet-like chair so a papal lackey can thrust a hand beneath his gown and declare “Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes (he has two well-hung testicles)!”. However, there is no evidence that gender exams have ever been conducted on popes.
9. The Soviet Union and/or the CIA was behind the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981. Even though would-be assassin Ali Agca was Turkish, Soviet involvement was something John Paul himself reportedly suspected at one time, as Russia was certainly not pleased with his support of the Solidarity labour movement in Poland. The problem with this theory is that not even the so-called “Bulgarian connection” initially described by Agca has been confirmed, much less a KGB plot.
8. The Third Secret of Fatima was suppressed for years, and/or the publicly revealed Third Secret was fabricated because the real Secret is too explosive. The three child seers of Fatima were entrusted with three secrets by the Virgin Mary, but it was not until WWII erupted that the only surviving seer, Lucia Santos, revealed the contents of the first two secrets and wrote down the third. Pope Pius XII expressed no interest in the Third Secret until 1957, and even then merely squirreled it away in a safe without reading it. It wasn’t until 1980 that John Paul II told a small audience in Germany that the Third Secret involved an epic disaster that would kill millions – possibly a nuclear holocaust. Yet he waited a full 20 years to have the Third Secret published, after revealing it had foretold his own attempted assassination.
Some Catholics still weren’t satisfied. They decried the published Third Secret as a fake, insisting the real secret was too politically sensitive and/or damaging to the Church to be revealed. Others pointed out that Lucia wanted the secret to be published before 1960, meaning the Church had suppressed it for over 40 years.
7. The “black pope” of the Jesuit order is the true ruler of the Vatican and/or the world. Jesuits have long been the favourite target of anti-Catholic crusaders, and conspiracy theories about their shady doings abound. In some conspiranoid circles, it is believed the general of the Jesuit order is secretly revered as the “black pope”, and that it is he – rather than the dude in the hat – who controls the Vatican. Here is just one of many recent examples of this theory.
6. The Knights of Malta, headquartered in the Vatican, control the world, and Opus Dei is a cult-like organization that is trying to extend its tentacles into every major government on the planet. Robert Anton Wilson was perhaps the foremost modern proponent of the idea that the Knights of Malta exert a massively disproportionate influence on world events, and were behind everything from Nazi infiltration of the CIA to the Vatican bank scandals of the ’70s and ’80s (see his article in a 1989 issue of Spin, for example). David Icke has speculated that Benedict was “fired” by the Knights of Malta. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, with its Opus Dei villains and ancient conspiracies, gave expression to concerns about the cult-like devotion and prominence of Opus Dei members.
It’s true that Opus Dei and the KoM contain many powerful, highly-placed members, but Catholic “secret societies” don’t seem to be any more dangerous than other fraternal organizations.
5. Pope Pius XII was complicit in the Holocaust. Catholic writer John Cornwell has even gone so far as to dub him “Hitler’s Pope” in his 1999 book of the same name. However, many commentators have discredited Cornwell’s claims, pointing out that Pius XII spoke out against the persecution of German Jews and was not sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Even Cornwell has conceded that Pius’s “scope of action” was very limited in regard to Hitler.
4. “The EU is a means of undoing the Reformation and extending Vatican sovereignty over Britain”. So reads the title of an opinion piece by Adrian Hilton published in the 30 August 2003 issue of The Spectator. Hilton (along with a few like-minded critics of the European Union) contends that the establishment of the EU fell perfectly in line with the Church’s aim for a one-world religion, or at least a pan-European one. But Catholic hegemony has not materialized in Europe over the past decade, and is incredibly unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future.
3. Islam was invented by the Catholic Church as a means of controlling Middle Eastern peoples. This bit of WTFery comes from Alberto Rivera via Christian pamphleteer Jack Chick, the same guy who brought us John Todd and Edna “I Married Satan” Moses.
Rivera was a Spanish Christian who in the ’70s began claiming that, during his time as a Jesuit priest, he learned from his superiors that Muhammad had been conned by priests and nuns into believing he was the prophet of a new religion. Their aim was to destroy the Jews and non-Catholic Christians of the world, paving the way for Catholicism as the one-world religion (see Chick’s comic-book tract The Prophet).
He also alleged the Church faked the Fatima apparitions, created Nazism, and killed JFK (among other things).
When Rivera realized the Church was also behind Freemasonry, he left the priesthood and denounced Catholicism. As payback, the Jesuits abducted and tortured him.
Chick was so taken with Rivera’s tale of Catholic treachery that he turned it into a fawning biography and several comic-book tracts. Other, more diligent, Christians subsequently discovered that Rivera had never even been a priest.
2. John Paul I was murdered. In his 1984 book In God’s Name, David Yallop contends that the “smiling pope”, who died just 33 days after taking office, was killed, probably because he was planning to dismiss and/or excommunicate high-ranking officials who were also Freemasons, investigate the massively corrupt Vatican Bank, replace Chicago cardinal John Cody, and permit Catholic women to use artificial birth control.
The Vatican tried to counter Yallop’s claims by commissioning Catholic author John Cornwell to write his own book on John Paul I’s death. Cornwell disappointed them by publishing A Thief in the Night, which argues that although John Paul may have died from a pulmonary embolism, people close to John Paul I tampered with his body after discovering it.
1. The pope is not the pope. The pope is a powerful guy, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that there are dozens of pretenders to the hat, known as “antipopes” or “conclavists”. These faux popes often lead small, cultish sects. The French-Canadian Apostles of Infinite Love were led by two popes, one of whom was under investigation for an array of alleged extortion and sex-abuse offenses for 34 years. The Palmarian Church in Spain has had three popes since 1978, and also declared its own saints and martyrs (including, inexplicably, Pope Paul VI). Until their last pope died in 2011, he had some competition from another Spaniard named Joaquín Llorens, who made himself Pope Alexander IX in 2005. There’s even a pope in Kansas – David Bawden. Bawden claims there hasn’t been a legitimate Roman pope since Pius XII, and in 1990 (at the relatively tender age of 30) was “elected” pope by a conclave of laypeople that included himself and his parents, Kennett and Tickie Bawden (owners of a thrift store called The Question Mark). Bawden calls himself Pope Michael I. His Apostolic Palace is a rundown farmhouse he shares with his mom.
The creepiest of these pretenders is the Australian cult leader William Kamm, a thrice-convicted sex offender who says he is Benedict’s rightful successor. He also seems to think John Paul II will be bodily resurrected at some point.

Thanks to Schwarherz for venturing into the wacky world of antipopes.

Wednesday Weirdness Updates

Developments in the two stories covered in this week’s Weirdness Roundup

  • The saga of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s bogus dead girlfriend is getting even weirder. Te’o still insists he was the victim of a hoax, but according to both athletic director Jack Swarbrick and an article published today in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Te’o now admits he knew “Lennay Kekua” wasn’t really dead. Early last December, three months after she supposedly succumbed to leukemia in California, she phoned him to confess that she staged her death to evade some drug dealers.
    If this story is true, then Te’o was complicit in the hoax for at least a month. He reportedly told Notre Dame officials about the call, triggering a hush-hush investigation in late December, but he and Notre Dame apparently elected not to share their findings with the public.
  • Salon has published “Your comprehensive answer to every Sandy Hook conspiracy“. I wouldn’t call it “comprehensive”, exactly, but it does cover the basics. One of the most popular pieces of “evidence” is that the webpage for the United Way Sandy Hook support fund was created three days before the massacre, according to the Google timestamp. But as this article points out, wonky timestamps are more the rule than the exception; one Fox News article on Sandy Hook is dated by Google as having been published in 1983. That’s 13 years before Fox News existed, and 9 years before Adam Lanza was born.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

Notamused

  • Off the Hook: Conspiracy theories about the shootings in Connecticut, if they can even be called “theories”, are starting to draw attention from mainstream newspapers, websites like Salon and Gawker, and TV reporters. I’ve talked a little about these theories (here, here, and at Leaving Alex Jonestown), but the Sandy Hook conspiracy meme is far more contagious than I realized. 8.5 million people have viewed a 30-minute YouTube video by anonymous user Think Outside the TV. It’s basically a mishmash of outdated information culled from early reports, misinformation, and the “media lookalike” nuttery of Ed Chiarini, the Texan who believes the Pope is actually Robert Blake. Among other weirdness, TOTV includes the “theory” that one of Adam Lanza’s victims, 6-year-old Emilie Parker, is not only alive and well, but met with the President for a public photo op after she was murdered.
    The media is critical of websites such as Sandy Hook Hoax, which was started by Jay Johnson. Johnson bills himself as the New Age Messiah, and boasts that he “solved LOST” with the aid of an Egyptian goddess. He has also written a screenplay about his life (or, as he likes to call it, the “greatest true story ever told”). His evidence for a grand Sandy Hook conspiracy is essentially the same as TOTV’s. He is quite indignant that family members don’t publicly cry enough for his satisfaction.
    But not everyone in the mainstream media is critical of the Sandy Hook theories. Ben Swann, an award-winning reporter with Cincinatti’s Fox affiliate, devoted a segment of his Full Disclosure Web series to the possibility that Newtown, Aurora, and the Sihk temple massacre involved more than one gunman, citing early interviews with non-eyewitnesses and footage of Newtown police chasing a suspect into the woods (this man turned out to be a parent, Chris Manfredonia, who may have fled the school). To Swann’s credit, he didn’t actually tack a theory to any of this. It’s interesting to note, though, that he has been a guest on The Alex Jones Show. Jones, as always, is at the forefront of conspiranoids who insist that nearly all mass shootings are false flag operations perpetrated by drugged-up Manchurian Candidates on behalf of the New World Order.
    A World Net Daily article by Aaron Klein attempts to tie Adam Lanza to other “Satanic” killers, and even suggests the possibility of a Satanic conspiracy.
    Other online Sandy Hook theories too ridiculous to attract U.S. media attention include wacky Biblical interpretations of Google maps, “Newtown is a hub of Satanism”, “Lady Gaga and Satanism had something to do with this“, “Freemasons had something to do with this” (a theory that also emerged in the wake of the Dunblane massacre in 1996) and of course Jews did Sandy Hook. And Jews did Sandy Hook.
    We could pass this off as harmless crankery – and most of it is – but we must face the fact that conspiracy theories have real-world consequences. In this case, an entire county in Connecticut shut down its schools after the Christmas break because the religious conspiracy website Revelation Now warned that a map in the latest Batman movie predicted another school attack. Gene Rosen, a retired Newtown resident who assisted six children after they bravely fled their classroom, is being harassed and slandered by conspiranoids who think he’s a paid “crisis actor”, a Satanist, or even a paedophile (merely because he took children into his house). The anti-Semitic wing of the Sandy Hook peanut gallery is certain that Gene Rosen’s ethnicity is a key to his involvement in a mass murder conspiracy. He has been threatened with death.
    Yes, the Sandy Hook “theories” are idiotic – but they’re also deadly serious.
  • I know, I know, it’s really serious: It can be said that the only perfect girlfriend is an imaginary one (or maybe that chick with three breasts). Devoutly Mormon Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o seems to have taken that literally.
    Last September, media outlets around the nation relayed the touching and inspiring story of how Te’o led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 victory against the Michigan State Spartans just days after his beloved grandmother passed away and his girlfriend of nine months, Stanford graduate Lennay Kekua, lost her battle with leukemia. Lennay, 22, had been diagnosed after a car accident early in 2012. A cover story in the September Sports Illustrated Regional hailed Te’o as a “star student” who had “restored the shine to the golden dome” in spite of his personal tragedies. Writer Pete Thamel described how Te’o spent his few free hours on the phone to Lennay, comforting her as she lay in her hospital bed. Even after Lennay slipped into a coma, he continued to call and speak reassuring words through the phone. Her death on September 12, coming just six hours after the death of his maternal grandmother, was a devastating blow to the 21-year-old design major. They had been good friends since 2009, and began a relationship in January. A Yahoo! Sports piece describes how Te’o dedicated the September 15 game against the Spartans to his gran and his girl, grateful for the support of Lennay’s family after he made the difficult decision to stay with his “football family” and play Saturday’s game rather than fly to Oahu to be with his and Lennay’s relatives. Writer Dan Wetzel opined that Te’o is just the kind of player Notre Dame needs – young men of “accountability and awareness”, and athletic director Jack Swarbrick is quoted as saying Te’o “may be the perfect Notre Dame football player”. Even I heard about this amazing kid, and I don’t follow college ball.
    The warm fuzzies lasted all the way up until this week, when the sports news site Deadspin released its investigative report on Te’o’s story. Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey could find no evidence that Lennay Kekua existed; she was not registered at Stanford, birth announcements can’t be found, no obituary was ever published, and no one other than Manti Te’o has ever met her (remember, he did supposedly meet her in person; according to an October story in the South Bend Tribune – which has been yanked offline – Brian Te’o said his son Manti met with Lennay several times in Hawaii in 2010 and 2011). They could find no record of a 2012 traffic accident in California involving a Lennay Kekua. Nor could they find any relatives of Lennay, like the older brother (Koa) mentioned in the Sports Illustrated article. Sure, there were photos of Lennay (one was shown on CBS This Morning the day of the Notre Dame/Michigan game, and her Twitter feed featured a few more), but Burke and Dickey claim to have traced them to a woman in California who was shocked that her pictures have been misrepresented to the media as photos of a woman she doesn’t know.
    Te’o and Notre Dame are insisting that Manti is the victim of a cruel hoax. Having never met his girlfriend in person (which contradicts his earlier stories about meeting her), he was duped into believing that a voice on the other end of the phone was Lennay Kekua. However, he has not addressed Deadspin‘s examination of the Twitter accounts belonging to him and to “Lennay”, which indicate they met online in 2011 rather than in-person in 2009. At this point in the story, it’s still possible that Te’o is a hoax victim. But here’s where things get sticky for him. The California woman told Deadspin that an acquaintance named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo asked her to pose with a sign reading “MSMK”, supposedly to cheer up someone who had suffered a car accident, and she obliged. “LoveMSMK” was the name attached to Lennay Kekua’s Twitter account. Here’s the problem for Te’o: He knows Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, and exchanged Tweets with him all last year (he even plugged a song recorded by Tuiasosopo). Then there’s the issue of a supposed relative of Lennay trying to hush up the controversy by sending emails to webmasters, contacing Nev Schulman of Catfish fame, and being given a shout-out on Manti’s Twitter feed. It looks like Manti Te’o may have been undone by his own twittering.
    I don’t know how common fake girlfriends are, but cancer hoaxes occur with troubling frequency. Just two months ago, the Wednesday Weirdness Roundup featured another one that had the town of Gypsum, Colorado mourning a little boy who never existed.
    Anyway, time will tell. For the rest of the story, you’ll have to read Deadspin‘s exposé yourself. This post is already far too long for a Wednesday Roundup. In honor of the fictional Ms. Kekua, let’s have a musical interlude…

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

skullofhangoverdoom

So that’s what those things are for…

  • In 2004, a creepy ghost video surfaced online. It had been taken with a VHS camcorder in the Smith Building, a former office located at Schatzell and Mesquite streets in downtown Corpus Christi, Texas, by a 20-year-old painter who was part of a renovation crew (the building is now called Retama Vista Apartments). Shot in 2002,  the video shows cameraman Mike De La Garza walking through a vacant office suite on the building’s second floor. From his comments, you can gather that someone else has been reporting strange noises, and that De La Garza thinks a female ghost is responsible. “She’s here…it’s cold,” he says as he walks from room to room, searching for her. He comments that doors are closing, apparently of their own volition, and in one of the rooms a light seems to switch off by itself. One of his co-workers, a man named Tom, sits in a hallway hugging a gigantic crucifix to his chest, looking nervous.
    Every room on the floor is empty, except for one darkened space; what appears to be the figure of a young girl is fleetingly glimpsed, standing in the corner. De La Garza dashes away from the apparition in terror, so we don’t see much detail. There’s just the impression of a dark-haired girl in a long white skirt, facing the corner. But it’s such a classic horror movie set-up – the warren of empty rooms, the grainy footage – that gooseflesh ripples down your arms when you realize there’s someone standing there. Let’s face it: It’s scarier than the last Paranormal Activity.
    After the video became public, De La Garza explained that he had seen the little ghost-girl he called “Christie Smith” before, and told Tom about her. Tom, in turn, told some locals about her. His story attracted so much attention in Corpus Christi that De La Garza and a friend conducted ghost tours of the second floor for a while, telling visitors that they, too, might catch a glimpse of Christie. Then Mike decided to try and capture the ghost on video.
    The video was posted on countless websites devoted to ghosts and the paranormal, and the Smith Building was added to lists of haunted places in Corpus Christie. The building’s current owner, Tracy Long, once discovered a group of people conducting a seance on the second floor.
    This October, De La Garza finally decided to come clean. He now says the “ghost girl” was a prank he pulled on  Thomas after finding some old clothes in the building. He rigged up a mop and a yardstick to simulate the appearance of a young girl, had a friend turn breakers off to make the lights flicker, and instructed another friend to slam doors when no one was looking. By the time he took the video, however, Thomas was in on the hoax.
    An “outtake” from the ghost video shows De La Garza and two friends sitting beside the obviously fake “ghost” in a well-lit room.
  • Speaking of creepy videos, what’s weirder than ranting about the New World Order for four or five hours a day? Putting a terrorist mask on your kid and coaching him to do the same thing.
  • In 1924, 14-year-old Anna Mitchell-Hedges discovered a skull sculpted from quartz crystal in the ruins of the Mayan city of Lubaantun while exploring with her adoptive father, the English adventurer Frederick Mitchell-Hedges. They handed it over to locals, but when the family was preparing to return to England three years later, it was returned to them as a farewell gift. At least, this is one of the stories Anna told. It seems her father never mentioned the skull in any of his writings, and no one can recall Anna being in Lubaantun with him. There is evidence that the skull didn’t come into her possession until 1944.
    For years, Anna kept the “skull of doom” on her dining room sideboard. It passed to her friend Bill Homann (mistakenly identified as her widower in several news stories) upon her death. Though Anna always insisted it was used by Mayan priests to place death curses upon their enemies, the skull bore more than a passing resemblance to another crystal skull held by the British Museum, and experts who examined that one found evidence of modern tool marks and machine grinding on the quartz, leading them to conclude it’s a clever fake. Just who created the skulls, and when, remains a mystery.
    The skulls became a popular symbol of the unexplained, appearing in Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? (aliens made it, of course) and on an episode of Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World.
    Now, there are reports that an archaeologist in Belize is suing the makers of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Homann, and the Mitchell-Hedges estate. News stories claim that not only does Dr. Jaime Awe of Belize’s Institute of Archaeology want the skull returned to Belize, but he’s upset that the filmmakers didn’t ask permission to use the skull as the model for the prop in the movie (which doesn’t even look very much like the Mitchell-Hedges one). However, according to this report from Belize, Dr. Awe was not even aware a lawsuit had been filed, does not believe the skull is a genuine artifact, and wants nothing to do with the group that launched the suit.
  • It’s been three years since Wife Swap participant, stormchaser, and all-around jackass Richard Heene reported that his 6-year-old son, Falcon, may have stowed away in his homemade flying-saucer balloon, which had escaped its moorings and was floating over Laramer County, Colorado. The whole thing turned out to be a publicity stunt, as little Falcon accidentally revealed in the family’s first televised interview. So what’s up with Balloon Boy these days? Would you believe…preteen heavy metal boy band?
  • Henry Makow has appeared on the Wednesday Weirdness Roundup many times, but he has finally jumped the shark with his December 11 article “Aliens Have Abducted Our Women“. No, he’s not talking about alien-aliens, he’s talking about the “Illuminati Jewish bankers and their Masonic lackeys” who have used the Communist conspiracy known as feminism to transform Western women into frigid lesbians. He goes on to cite – big shock – a book published in the ’50s.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

Do you know this suburban twentysomething wild teenager?
  • For the past nine months, a young Kaspar Hauser clone in Germany has been insisting he was raised in the woods for the past 5 years, knows only his first name (“Ray”), and that he buried his father (his only known relative) in an unmarked forest grave last August. Intriguing as the Forest Boy of Berlin mystery is, I suspect we’re seeing another Bush Boys of British Columbia or Piano Man story in the making. Update (June 15, 2012): Forest Boy has been identified as Robin van Helsum, a 20-year-old from the Netherlands. He disappeared from Hengelo just three days before he turned up in Berlin last September.
  • Hey, did you know that Vice magazine and Beavis and Butthead predicted 9/11? Yeah, neither did they. Conspiranoids are pointing out that an illustration in a 1994 issue of Vice, featuring Beavis and Butthead as Al Qaeda terrorists circling the Twin Towers in little airplanes (tasteful as hell, right?), is a classic example of “predictive programming”. That’s when bad guys tell you exactly what they’re going to do to you before they do it because their ancient, heathen religion demands a willing victim (you know, like Cabin in the Woods). The problem with this brilliant theory is, the issue was actually a mock-up of a 1994 magazine to commemorate Vice‘s 15th anniversary – written, illustrated, and printed in 2009.
  • If you’ve read part VI of the Fake Teens series , or followed the incredibly bizarre story of the teen boy who manipulated an online buddy into trying to kill him, or even just watched Dateline, then you know that online romances with teenagers can end messily. A young woman in Novia Scotia is now facing up to the consequences of her fake online identity after her pseudocide possibly contributed to a real suicide.
  • Last month, the Skeptoid podcast did a nice piece on the Rothschild banking dynasty, pointing out that the Rothschilds are still all that, but do not currently include a bag of chips.
  • That Cabin in the Woods reference wasn’t really a spoiler. If you like horror movies, see it.

In the next few days, we’ll be wrapping up the Prodigal Witch series and moving on up to Chemtrail Week.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Maybe some people should stick with kitten calendars

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  • According to Swedish toxicologist Carl Johan Calleman, the Mayan Long Count calendar ended on October 28, 2011. This date was based on his own calculations, and doesn’t seem to have been accepted by any other Mayanists; they’re sticking with the December 21, 2012 end date. Calleman tells us the end of the calendar has resulted in a profound shift in consciousness for a number of people, several of whom now experience a “flattening of time, an end to time acceleration.” I have no idea what that’s all about, but if it means they don’t have to adhere to Daylight Savings, then it’s pretty damned cool.
  • Anyway, this is some very bad news if you’ve been following the story of attorney/UFO disclosure activist Peter Gersten. He plans to pitch himself off the top of Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona, on December 21, 2012 at 11:11 UT (4:11 AM in Arizona), in the hope an interdimensional portal will open up and catch him before he hits the ground. Gersten fondly calls this plan his “leap of faith”. Other people call it “OMG WHY”. Gersten explains it all in this 2007 interview with ufologist/filmmaker Paul Kimball, who stays a little too calm throughout. (Kimball, on his blog, opines that the leap of faith is “perfectly logical…within the context of Gerston’s stated beliefs”, and that if Gerston jumps, he will “applaud him for having the courage of his convictions.” Whatta pal.)

I doubt that anyone will be able to talk Mr. Gersten out of this, but I’m calling upon anyone who knows him or can get in touch with him to at least try. Failing that, perhaps we can prevail upon the women of Arizona to start knitting the world’s largest net.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

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  • Leah Haley was by far one of the most interesting alien abductees on the scene today. She has a couple of firsts to her credit: She was the first to write a children’s book designed to help kids view their alien abductions as positive, edifying experiences, and she was the first to claim she was inside an alien spacecraft when it was shot down by the U.S. military. Now, however, Haley believes that every last one of her “alien” encounters was actually a military abduction, or MILAB. In March, she told UFO blogger Jack Brewer that none of it was real; it was all a cover for government mind control experimentation. Farewell, Ceto.
  • In related news, Charles Hickson passed away on September 9. Hickson was involved in one of the strangest UFO encounters ever reported, the Pascagoula incident of 1973. He and his 19-year-old fishing buddy, Calvin Parker, were supposedly levitated into a spaceship and examined by eyeless, carrot-nosed aliens.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government leaders are proof positive that once you deny the Holocaust (or any major, well-documented historical event, for that matter), you no longer have to live in reality. In June, he declared that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to stoning for adultery in 2006, wasn’t really given a death sentence – that was all a media hoax. An Iranian official had already tried to stifle the worldwide outcry against Ashtiani’s sentence by stating, in contradiction to all previous statements, that Ashtiani was also convicted of murdering her husband (she was actually acquitted). And Youcef Nedarkhani, the Christian minister sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam? He’s really on trial for rape and extortion, even though the court documents only mention blasphemy.
  • Face discovered in testicular tumour“. Stay classy, Telegraph.
  • Who is the artist known as the Philadelphia Wireman? His or her enigmatic metal sculptures were salvaged from the trash in the early ’80s, and since that time there have been murmurs that they’re a hoax perpetrated by John Ollman of the Fleischer/Ollman Gallery. The Wireman’s pieces are currently on display there.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: More media lookalikes

Sadly, Ed Chiarini’s bizarre “media lookalikes” theory appears to be part of a larger trend in conspiranoia. I wouldn’t call it a meme, exactly. It’s really more of a method. A very weird, stupid and useless method. Or perhaps, as my anonymous commenter helpfully pointed out, it’s the Fregoli delusion.

It seems that a dedicated corps of stay-at-home conspiracy researchers is scouring the Internets for evidence that the people they see on TV are…well…other people they see on TV. Aaron Fleszar, on his blog Exposing the Coup, explains that most of the get-rich-now scamsters you see online or on late-night infomercials are actually infamous terror suspects who are being sought by the FBI. Of course, this doesn’t mean the dudes have been successfully evading the FBI on national television. It means the FBI is in on it. And it all has something to do with Castro and Sarah Palin.

Examples:

  • The guy in the Rich Jerk videos is actually Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Fleszar writes, “Sarah Palin claims to be a maverick and a mama grizzly. Mark Cuban came under investigation by the SEC for insider trading of a search engine company named Mamma.” Oh, and both Obama and Sarah Palin claimed to have played basketball in their youth…”this isn’t a coincidence.” And to add some extra weirdness: Robert Johnson, a YouTuber who did parodies of the Rich Jerk videos, is actually Chicago fraudster Tony Rezko.
  • Mark Joyner, star of the 2007 online reality show The Next Internet Millionaire, could be Egyptian-born terror suspect Saif al-Adel.
  • Ted Cuiba (that’s Cuba with an “i”), author of How to Get Rich on the Internet, is probably Abdul Rahman Yassin, an alleged accomplice in the ’93 bombing of the World Trade Center.



I think it goes without saying that if you select the photos carefully, you can make two different people look like the same person.

Another lookalike has been found by a collector of Victorian photos. For a mere $1 million, you could have bought a portrait of Nicholas Cage (c. 1870) on eBay. The seller said Cage is probably one of the undead, reinventing himself in each century, but I think a likelier explanation is time travel. If Travis Bickle can do it, anybody can.