margin-top: 28px; The Unlikely Times: June 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Freemasons and the City

I have to admit, I enjoy reading conspiracy theories and New Age mumbo jumbo ... well, maybe "enjoy" isn't the right word. It's actually saddening to see people sling assumptions and accusations around, with so little basis in reality. But it's what passes for mythology in our mixed-up culture. (Hmm ... that's even sadder.) Still, there are occasionally a few concrete things to talk about.

Like the theory that the Freemasons designed the street plan for the city of Washington, D.C., and included a pentagram in the design to demonstrate their occult powers. If this doesn't qualify for a blog about unlikely things, I don't know what does. The theory itself uses the "grasping at straws" method, where the authors take a few facts, like George Washington being a Freemason (true), and pentagrams being associated with Freemasonry (iffy), and come up with a weird scenario that sounds cool but demonstrates nothing.

The best site I've found for debunking this urban legend is a huge archive called "Anti-masonic claims refuted," at the Grand (Masonic) Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. Yes, the Masons have a right to defend themselves. After all, they get smeared all the time, and no wrongdoing has ever been proven. These articles are very well written, with proper supporting facts. A really fascinating collection.

For the Washington, D.C. case, see this article, which goes into detail on the flaws in the "theory," including who created the city plans, and who didn't. It includes links to the actual plan. What I like is the breakdown of all the unspoken assumptions that go into the theory. This is where the fringe stuff usually breaks down; by talking fast and being unaware of just how many pieces are missing.

So, was ANY city EVER designed to include Masonic symbols? For fun, the Grand Lodge site also has an article about the one city that is known to have a Masonic layout ... Sandusky, Ohio.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

King Kong is Burning

Right now there's a major fire burning in the back lot of Universal Studios. The set from "Back to the Future" is reported as being destroyed, as well as the King Kong exhibit that's part of the regular tour, plus the set from Clint Eastwood's recent film, "The Changelings", the New York Street exhibit, a few other sets and a major film & video archive. Up to 50,000 videos and reels in the video vault may have been destroyed, but duplicates of these exist elsewhere, according to the report [1]. Ten firefighters are reported injured [2]. The fire started just before 5 A.M. and the cause is under investigation.

LINK 1: MSNBC 01 June 2008.
LINK 2: CNN 01 June 2008.
LINK 3: 01 June 2008 - good photos.

Like almost everything else, this has actually happened before. In November, 1990, another fire on these same back lots caused $25 million in damage, and destroyed the "Back to the Future" set. That fire was set by a security guard, who was convicted and sent to prison for four years.

Fish farts?

Every now & then, a headline is irresistible. Here's an odd piece about herring releasing bubbles from their tail eed, possibly as a form of communication.

LINK: New Scientist (05 Nov 2003)

I'm not sure this needs a polite scientific term, but it's called "Fast Repetitive Tick." They're not farts as we know them here in the air-breathing world, since "the number of sounds does not change when the fish are fed." Evidence as a form of communication includes, "when more herring are in a tank, the researchers record more FRTs per fish" and more activity after dark, when the fish can't see each other.

It's not the latest news, but it shows that sometimes the unexpected can be right under our noses.