This Week in Conspiracy (19 May 2012)

May 20, 2012

Oh, things are coming together. NATO in Chicago? Bilderbergers in Virginia? It can’t be a coincidence!

Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff)
5/19/12 12:41 AM
Arizona keeping Obama off state ballot until he presents documentation proving that he won’t still be black in November.

This Creature from the Ocean’s Floor, better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty, has been created and written specifically to undercut America’s sovereignty and move us towards global governance and a New World Order where the constitutional rights of the American people, our national sovereignty and the military power of the United States would be subordinated to the whims of a group of corrupt, unelected, third-world bureaucrats who have no interest in Freedom and Liberty.

Headline of the Week:
Conspiracy Theorists are known for their subtle understatement. Take what Paul Krugman described as “bank jog” becomes: “BREAKING!!! DOOM ON!!!! Bank Run Greece… NOW!!!!


Twit of the Week:
This week’s conspiracy themed tweet of the week goes to Melissa Lee, who wasn’t even looking for it:
Dear Roger Ailes, I’ll think about it. -Shadowy Leftist Forces #ActuallyGoFuckYourselfhttp://pic.twitter.com/gKE62iXq

The Conspiracy Theory of the Week:
…is not a conspiracy theory, rather a conspiracy spoof from Comedy Central called: “Birthers Divided on Whether or Not to Get Behind Ridiculous Nonsense.”

That’s it for now. I’m off the clock.

UPDATE! I’m back on the clock. I went back to William B. Bruer’s Unexplained Mysteries of World War II to try to find the reference to the cartoon I mentioned above. Instead, I found a reference to 2 suspicious advertisements in the New Yorker that were investigated by the FBI after Pearl Harbor. When I went to look for a website to link to, now having the ad, I found that some toilet hack had basically plagiarized Breuer’s entire chapter. So enjoy. Still looking for the cartoon reference!

UPDATE AGAIN! Ken has straightened me out on the “cartoon” I was looking for. This was another crossword puzzle, where words like “Omaha” and “Overlord” appeared. The story is here. In appreciation, I include a thank you specifically tailored to awesome Kens:

 

LAST UPDATE! I SWEAR: Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III pointed out that the authorities got concerned when Lex Luthor rolled out his own atomic bomb in the Superman series. Unfortunately, I do not have any fun MST3K videos about people named Bodsworth, so I will just have to send him my deep thanks! It’s a fun find from yesteryear!

RJB

This Week in Conspiracy (11 May 2012)

May 11, 2012

Things are looking up. Last week I accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position in Wisconsin, so at the end of the summer, the home base of Skeptical Humanities is going to be shifting northward. This does not mean, however, that I am going to be able to let the goofers of the world off the hook. Indeed, I will likely dive into it with more zeal than ever since I am less likely to overheat way up there than I am in Atlanta.

See?

Through the influence of a Rosicrucian-Masonic brotherhood, Washington D.C. seems to be constructed to be the capital of Francis Bacon’s vision of the New Atlantis, which is likely to become the center of the New World Order. On the back of the dollar bill we read the words Novus Ordos Seclorum, which means New Order of the Ages or New World Order. These words are found below an Egyptian pyramid with the all-seeing eye of Lucifer above it, inside of a smaller pyramid. This occult symbolism signifies that in the New World Order, a Luciferian elite will rule the masses; or to use the terminology of the Fabian socialists like H.G. Wells and Bertrand Russell, a scientific elite. This is the restructuring that is going on in America right now.

Twit of the Week:

Yeah, this one. It’s like the worst kickstart ever:

@MarkDice

I will go to #Bilderberg2012 if you help fund my voyage. A Chipin donation box is up on http://MarkDice.com. Use PayPal. Thanks in advance.

Mark did leave a couple of unpleasant presents in my twitter feed this week. Another one is:

@MarkDice
We only know the new #UnderwearBomber was a #CIA agent because someone leaked it to the #AssociatedPress. There are good people in gov.

It sounds like the CIA is annoyed that the news got out, but think of their position: is the entire support structure behind the operation now blown, as well as…how many other covers? Are now other lives in jeopardy I can see why they might be miffed.

Visibility911 made a valiant effort this week, though:

@Visibility911
It’s just plain old nauseating how @BarackObama is trying to grandstand over killing Osama bin Dead For 10 Years.

Conspiracy Theory of the Week:

Without a doubt the conspiracy theory of the week is the notion that the CIA staged a fake underwear bombing scare. The evidence is, of course, the fact that the bomb-makers assigned an informant to deliver the bomb. And then he informed, as it were. It’s all the rage, and the media illiterate are flailing about in their own ignorance exultantly under the delusion that everything that they always believed about the CIA staging domestic terrorism was true. The IntelHub (sigh) it was a “corporate media manufactured story [that] was literally a NON EVENT.” There is a difference between making a bomb and being handed a bomb, ding-dongs. Go out and show that the CIA made the bomb and you’ll get Pulitzers. Really.

UPDATE! This wins. I must strip the IntelHub of the only award it ever earned. I saw this minutes after I posted and felt compelled to revise. A concerned citizen from Nebraska gives her view of Dutch gays who like watching people perish, as well as p-e-n-i-s homiciders and anus-licking gay child molesting genociders who go to Gender Studies, but because only because they are gay like Hillary Clinton. She also talks about why college kids need their own doom rooms, when Canadian corpse funguses come from gay ruptured instestines, while Roman bathhouse orgiers watched Christians be eaten at the Colosseum, so that gays cuss sadistically after gaying each other sexually and before committing treason and their children rape each other hetero all day when they aren’t told not to and Judas was a homo:

I’m out of here. I’m going to try to get these back on a more regular schedule in the next week or two. Meanwhile, check out some of my other work which is popping around the web. I recently posted about Ancient Aliens at Skepchick; I wrote about using fiction (specifically Carl Sagan’s contact) to teach critical thinking over at the JREF Swift Blog (the first of many posts on teaching and skepticism); and my next article should be up at the CSICOP website shortly.

RJB


This Week in Conspiracy (29 April 2012)

May 2, 2012

It was a good week at Casa Blaskiewicz. Unexpected goodness of all types. On the other hand, I also had to watch Ancient Aliens for a guest post at another site. (TBA) Sort of a wash, really.

When I have something official, I’ll mention it here. Heheh.

Anyway, I imagine it was quite another week in the conspiracy-o-sphere. Not a lot going on, but let’s have at it.

“The goal of every person I knew during my formative years with a desire to succeed was to one day hold in their hands an official looking embossed document announcing their ascension to the ranks of the intellectually anointed.  I was never so keen on the idea.” [No shit.]

TWIT OF THE WEEK

Twit of the week is @SheepHunter, who totally lost his sh*t this week:

IM FUCKING BORED SICK REPOSTING STUFF SERUCHING STUFF UP BUSTING MY ASS FOR PEOPLE DONT CARE OR HAVE NO INTREST WHAT HAPPINS TO THEM OR THERE FAM BRING IT ON LETS GET IT OVER WITH WE NEED TO BE FREE ONCE AGAIN NO AGENDA21 OR GMO OR CEM TRAILS FEAR ASPERTINE FLURIED WHATER
Decaf, bro. And a dictionary. The runner up was Adam Kokesh:

I’m a professional fucktard. Cursing is my bread & butter. (@YouTube http://t.co/EYErJVsM) — Adam Kokesh (@adamkokesh)

Well, that’s it. I have not been moved to crown a conspiracy theory of the week. But surely something wacky will pop up next week!

RJB


Bob on the BEASTcast talking about the Denver Airport

April 30, 2012

Last week I was interviewed by the BEASTcast about the Denver International Airport conspiracy theory, as well as a good bit about the humanities and skepticism. That interview is out today.

Thanks to Josh Bunting for the opportunity to speak with him. I enjoyed it very much!

RJB


Are Ghost Stories History?

April 25, 2012

I like ghost stories. I like the fictional variety, and I like the non-fictional variety, within reason. That is to say, I enjoy collections of ghost stories that don’t try too hard to convince me that they’re true: “No, really, it was a real ghost. We got photos of orbs and EVPs and everything!” I like the folkloric and historic aspect of ghost stories: an interesting story about an interesting place. Walter Raleigh bopping around the Tower of London, yes; “footsteps” in a 60s ranch house in Indiana, not so much.

I recently found The World’s Most Haunted Places: From the Secret Files of ghostvillage.com by Jeff Belanger on a discount shelf at Barnes and Noble. Yay, ghost stories. Sadly, the ghost stories are pretty dull: full of clichés and footsteps when no one was there and doors opening when there was no wind. For example, one of the world’s most haunted places is, apparently, the catacombs of Paris. Belanger spends most of his time describing how creepy the place is. Fair enough–the place is full of countless skulls and bones. And the ghosts? The place is “as haunted as it is macabre,” Belanger assures us. Here is the evidence of haunting:

“Avez-vous vu un fantôme?” I asked the man at the ticket counter in my best French if he has seen a ghost. “Je ne sais pas,” was his reply. The man smiled and shrugged his shoulders” (p. 71)

“It’s a little overwhelming with all of the bones,” said Julie Hardman of Tempe, Arizona. I spoke with Hardman after she visited the museum with her daughter, Megan.

A security guard who asked not to be identified told me, “Some people go down and they are very afraid after seeing the bones. Some people say they hear things. Voices” (p. 75)

I was interested, though, in something Belanger says in his introduction:

To study these spirits is to study history. The spirit world and our past are intertwined–there’s a lot we can learn by studying both. (p. 11)

Now, I wouldn’t have put it like that, but to some extent I agree. For one thing, when ghost stories become attached to a place, such as the Tower of London, for instance, they become a part of that place’s history, even if they don’t accurately reflect the events that actually occurred. Like it or not, they become part of the folk history. More importantly, researching ghost stories certainly does involve studying history. In the first place, you are looking at the history of a location and the people associated with it. Secondly, in studying ghost stories in general, you will see how the stories change as the world changes. Belanger, of course, doesn’t look at ghost stories from this point of view–such a study might shake his belief in ghosts–so let’s look at how well he handles the history of the locations he discusses.

First up is Ballygally Castle, now greatly expanded into a hotel in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. According to Belanger,

Ballygally was originally built by James Shaw, a Greenock, Scotland native who came to Northern Ireland in 1613. Shaw built the castle in 1625 in a French chateau style….

Shortly after the completion of the castle’s construction, James Shaw took a wife named Lady Isobel Shaw. The current legend says that  during the first few years of their marriage, Lady Shaw had a daughter. James Shaw became angry that his wife didn’t produce a male heir, and so he locked her in the tiny turret of the castle facing the sea. It’s unclear whether Lady Shaw leapt to her death from the small window while desperately trying to get to her daughter, or whether James Shaw had some henchmen throw her down the steep staircase, killing her.

The first time I heard this bit of folklore, it didn’t sit right with me. (pp. 15-16)

Oh, good, because it doesn’t sit right with me, either. First of all, I’m highly suspicious of that title, which varies between Lady Isobel, indicating that her father was an earl or above, and Lady Shaw, indicating that her husband had a title (which Belanger doesn’t use). Secondly, what a Gothic cliché: evil husband confines wife to turret room for some crappy reason. She jumps or is pushed to her death. What do the records tell us?

If James Shaw was so upset about not getting a male heir, wouldn’t the couple just try for another child? After some digging, I heard another version of the legend that seemed to make more sense. Apparently, Lady Shaw may have been having an affair with a seaman. One could also speculate that her daughter may have been the love-child of this mysterious man. (p. 16)

Oh dear. Apparently, historical research involves looking for unsubstantiated anecdotal legends and choosing the one you like best. Well, I did a bit of extremely superficial historical research myself. That is to say, I asked my friend Google. It was difficult to find information that wasn’t ghost related. Even the Wikipedia entry on Ballygally was infested by legend. I found that Isobel’s name is variously spelled and that she is sometimes called Elizabeth. She didn’t have a title, and her maiden name was Brisbane. The information is confusing, but the following is a typical nugget, which comes from the Brisbane family genealogy. Among the offspring of John Brisbane was

 f-III. Elizabeth, m. to James Shaw, of Bailliegellie, in Ireland, of the family of Shaw of Greenock, and was mother of JAMES SHAW, who is mentioned hereafter, as the husband of his cousin, ELIZABETH BRISBANE, and continuator of the family.

Elsewhere, I did find James Shaw’s wife referred to as Isabella Brisbane Shaw, and they apparently had a daughter named Margaret. I think it’s possible that Isabella got confused with the Elizabeth Brisbane who married the second James Shaw. Regardless, she seems to have had a son, and there is no record of a mysterious death outside the ghostie books.  Nothing I found definitively contradicts Belanger’s legends (except for the erroneous title), but the genealogical information certainly calls certain aspects of the stories into question. And that’s after maybe a half an hour of Googling. Belanger didn’t try to find the truth behind the legends. He didn’t look at historical records–official documents recording births and deaths or genealogical research–he just listened to people telling stories. That is not history. But maybe he’ll improve as he warms to his subject.

The chapter on Ordsall Hall in Salford, England begins,

Here lies Lord have mercy upon her;
One of Elizabeth’s maids of honour.
Margaret Radclyffe fair and witty;
She died a maid, the more the pity.

Margaret Radclyffe’s gravestone is inscribed with the preceding epitaph. Radclyffe died November 10, 1599 at the age of 25. She was one of Queen Elizabeth’s maids of honor, one of the top six ladies in the royal court. The young maiden died in the building she grew up and lived in: Ordsall Hall. Because of her royal connections, she would receive a semi-state funeral and be interred in Westminster Abbey in London, but her spirit will always be at Ordsall Hall. (p. 87)

Margaret Radclyffe was one of Elizabeth I’s ladies in waiting. She did die young. She was not, however, buried in the Abbey, but at St. Margaret’s church on the Abbey’s grounds. As for the epitaph: there are several variants of it. Some do mention Margaret Radclyffe, but not all. I certainly can find no evidence that the passage is on her gravestone: it seems wholly inappropriate. Most of the variants do not name the lady. Here is the most common version. Some sources attribute the poem to John Hoskyns or Hoskins.

Don’t feel too bad for Margaret, though. One poet did write an epigram on her death:

XL. — ON MARGARET RATCLIFFE.

M arble, weep, for thou dost cover
A dead beauty underneath thee,
R ich as nature could bequeath thee :
G rant then, no rude hand remove her.
A ll the gazers on the skies
R ead not in fair heaven’s story,
E xpresser truth, or truer glory,
T han they might in her bright eyes.

R are as wonder was her wit ;
A nd, like nectar, ever flowing :
T ill time, strong by her bestowing,
C onquer’d hath both life and it ;
L ife, whose grief was out of fashion
I n these times.  Few so have rued
F ate in a brother.  To conclude,
F or wit, feature, and true passion,
E arth, thou hast not such another. (source)

Oh, I know–it’s not as dignified as a bit of doggerel about how it’s a shame that such a pretty girl died a virgin, and the poet’s no John Hoskins. It’s only Ben Jonson.

I’m beginning to suspect that Belanger and I have a different understanding of the word “history.”

ES

References:

Belanger, Jeff. The World’s Most Haunted Places: From the Secret Files of ghostvillage.com. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2004.

Finucane, Ronald C. Ghosts: Appearances of the Dead and Cultural Transformation. New York: Prometheus, 1996. A book that genuinely combines ghost stories and historical research.


This Week in Conspiracy (23 April 2012)

April 24, 2012

Technically, it will be “These Last Few Weeks and a Bit in Conspiracy,” but who’s keeping score, really?

It is of course well known that careless talk costs lives, but the full scale of the problem is not always appreciated.

For instance, at the very moment that Arthur said “I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle,” a freak wormhole opened up in the fabric of the space-time continuum and carried his words far far back in time across almost infinite reaches of space to a distant Galaxy where strange and warlike beings were poised on the brink of frightful interstellar battle.

The two opposing leaders were meeting for the last time.

A dreadful silence fell across the conference table as the commander of the Vl’hurgs, resplendent in his black jewelled battle shorts, gazed levelly at the G’Gugvuntt leader squatting opposite him in a cloud of green sweet-smelling steam, and, with a million sleek and horribly beweaponed star cruisers poised to unleash electric death at his single word of command, challenged the vile creature to take back what it had said about his mother.

The creature stirred in his sickly broiling vapour, and at that very moment the words I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle drifted across the conference table.

Unfortunately, in the Vl’hurg tongue this was the most dreadful insult imaginable, and there was nothing for it but to wage terrible war for centuries.

Eventually of course, after their Galaxy had been decimated over a few thousand years, it was realized that the whole thing had been a ghastly mistake, and so the two opposing battle fleets settled their few remaining differences in order to launch a joint attack on our own Galaxy – now positively identified as the source of the offending remark.

For thousands more years the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across – which happened to be the Earth – where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.

Those who study the complex interplay of cause and effect in the history of the Universe say that this sort of thing is going on all the time, but that we are powerless to prevent it.

“It’s just life,” they say.

Twit of the Week:

Paul of Paul and Storm had a good tweet this week:

Paul and Storm ‏ @paulandstorm

[P] In honor of today’s anniversary of Project MKULTRA, I’m going to secretly feed my family LSD-laced tacos.

The twerpiest tweet of the week won not only because of the horrific violation of the laws of logic the tweet embodies, but also because the article talks at some length about how Anders Breivik told the court how he did it all alone. TURN ON YOUR THINKER, DUDE!

We are speeding into the last weeks of classes right now, and I have a couple of little projects in the works. You will hear of them soon, I am sure.

Muahahaha, as they say.

RJB


This Week in Conspiracy (26 March 2012)

March 29, 2012

I’ve been flitting about the country in rental cars for the last couple of weeks, so I’ve amassed a rather largish backlog of entries for this week’s roundup. Enjoy…IF YOU DARE!

Conspiracy Theory of the Week

This week, I am so mad, so singularly and completely angry, that I am going to skip the foreplay and get right down to business. Mike Adams is a horrible, horrible person. The world is just that much worse for his having been born. This week, this shameless crank of obscene proportions penned an exploitative, factually bereft piece called: “A Hundred Trayvons a Day – Why the Real Murder of Blacks is Carried Out by Pharmaceutical Companies, Vaccines and Cancer Clinics.” In this piece he says that AIDS anti-retrovirals destroy the immune system (what if someone ever takes that seriously?), that the government is practicing eugenics, and that drug companies are illegally experimenting on black people. Mike, you are a broken human. Something is dramatically wrong with your mind, and I have finally come across a human for whom I can’t even muster pity. Pathetic.

And elsewhere…

“I realize that marriage scares many people, but Hebrews 13:4 teaches that God will judge adulterers and whoremongers.Walt Disney teaches teenagers to live loose, be immoral, dress immodestly, fornicate, score, and live together without being married; but such wickedness brings the judgment of God.”

“Sad to say, everything going on in America today with the feminist courts, unfair tax laws, State-controlled CPS, feminism, thug police, and other evils in the U.S. are discouraging young people from getting married anymore. Walt Disney and all of the major influences on America’s youth today teaches them to be rebellious, defy their parents, drink booze, fornicate, get pregnant, have an abortion, and do it again and again… party, party, party!”

“Feminism has turned women into monsters, to the point where they’re turning into lesbians instead of marrying a masculine man.”

“The whole court system in America is evil and rotten to the core!”

EXOPOLITICS is a book that was time traveled using advanced Tesla-based quantum access technology by the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) from the year 2005 (or later) to the year 1971 (or earlier).  The futuristic innovative policy recommendations that Alfred would write in EXOPOLITICS in 2000 about relations with extraterritorial civilizations, and in 2005 about the intelligent civilization on Mars made Alfred a “person of interest” to the CIA in 1971.  Because of the book EXOPOLITICS, Alfred has been subjected to intense political surveillance, harassment and torture by CIA and other alphabet agencies since 1971 to present. CIA has chosen to keep its relations with the Martian civilization, including U.S. President Barack H. Obama’s visits to Mars 1980-83 as part of a secret CIA Mars jump room program, a U.S. national security secret, instead of public knowledge as mandated by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.

Twit of the week:

“Roseanne Barr ‏ @TheRealRoseanne Honestly, I am scared shitless/witless of wht is coming to this country. I pray to GOD that ppl will wake up to slavery and fascism NOW”

What is is about the name Rosie that makes people crazy, I wonder? #CorrelationDoesNotEqualCausation

So there! Tomorrow I’ll be hosting a member of a WWII bomber crew at Georgia Tech, so I must be off to prepare. I’m sure I will be posting the video on the website. Because I can.

RJB


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