Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Monday, May 30, 2022

What are you giving your life for?

“Weep not for me,” said Jesus as he carried his cross to the place of execution, “but for your children. . . . For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:28, 31).

“The time cometh,” he had warned earlier, “that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). He wasn't talking about Nero and Diocletian; he didn't say "their gods," but "God." As Lord Byron put it in one of his clever rhymes,

Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
That all the Apostles would have done as they did.

Five hundred and ninety-one years ago today, a band of Christians, thinking they did God a service, took a young Christian girl, a true servant of Jesus Christ and confidante of the angels, and bound her fast to a stake. They heaped dry wood around her, set it on fire, and stood around watching as she died of smoke inhalation and her body burned.

It was, according to Tacitus, a form of execution pioneered by Nero himself when he lit "Christian candlesticks" in retaliation for the Great Fire of Rome. Centuries later, the same church that had burned her made her a saint.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets" (Matt. 23:29-30).

We may wonder if we would have had the courage of Joan if we had been in her position. We might also ask if we would have been any better than those who killed her and consented to her death. They were Christians, after all, following their church leaders.

Some of Joan's own words have come down to us, preserved in the official record of her trial. To those who would dissuade her from giving her life for her "heretical" beliefs, she is reported to have replied,

Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Some believe in little or nothing, and so they give their lives for that little or nothing. One life is all we have. We live it as we believe in living it, and it is gone.

This Saint Joan's Day, instead of building the tombs of the prophets and garnishing the sepulchres of the righteous, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself what, day by day and hour by hour, you are giving your life for -- not the beliefs you verbally profess, but the true beliefs you reveal in the way you live your life. Answer the question as honestly as you can -- and then repent.

My sins were ghastly, but the Infinite
Goodness has arms so wide that It accepts
who ever would return, imploring It.
. . .
Despite the Church’s curse, there is no one
so lost that the eternal love cannot
return — as long as hope shows something green.
Purgatorio iii. 121-23, 133-35

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The mission of the used-to-be-Mormon church in a nutshell

The CJCLDS Newsroom reports that on May 26, Elder David A. Bednar "provided an overview of the mission and work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" to the National Press Club.

Here are the section headings of the summary published by the Church:

  • Humanitarian Aid and Welfare
  • Education
  • Race Relations
  • The LGBTQ Community
  • The Washington D.C. Temple

There you have it: an overview of the mission and work of the Nelson-era CJCLDS.

The parentage and birth of Jesus in the four gospels

Over at Fourth Gospel First, I discuss the question of whether Jesus was born of a virgin.

Saturday, May 28, 2022


Continuing from Cats and caterpillars:

When I was growing up, my family had an enormous unabridged dictionary featuring what must surely have been an intentionally designed Easter egg. I'm not sure which of us discovered it or how, but if you look up four-a-cat in this particular dictionary, you get this:

four-a-cat n. See four old cat

If you do as instructed, you find this:

four old cat n. three old cat played with four batters

Okay, but what's three old cat? Glad you asked.

three old cat n. See three-a-cat

By this point, one is scarcely surprised to discover that three-a-cat is defined thusly:

three-a-cat n. two-a-cat played with three bases and three batters

 Okay, great! Now if we can just find out what two-a-cat is . . .

two-a-cat n. See two old cat

Are we stupid enough to keep falling for this trick? We are.

two old cat n. one old cat played with two batters

We're down to one! Now we're finally going to get the definition, right?

one old cat n. See one-a-cat

And if you look up that, you finally discover -- eight definitions later! -- that all these games were precursors to modern baseball. But the definitions of these various games remind me of a different American sport. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Cats and caterpillars

After a long period of inactivity, Richard Arrowsmith of Black Dog Star has recently started posting again. Last night I checked to see if he had posted anything new. He hadn't, but while I was there I clicked on a link in his most recent (May 18) post to his old 2009 post "Keeping Track of the Cat." One of the things he mentions in that post is the connection between cat and caterpillar -- in, for example, the two forms of the logo of Caterpillar Inc.

That was last night. This morning, my wife was feeding the cats some sort of treats, and all the cats were gathered around her. She said (in Chinese), "What a lot of caterpillars! I call them caterpillars, you know." The Chinese for "caterpillar" is 毛毛蟲 (máomaochóng, "furry bug"), which is unrelated to  貓 (māo, "cat").

Not until I wrote the above did I notice that, in Roman transliteration, "cat" (māo) is the first syllable of "caterpillar" (máomaochóng) in Chinese just as it is in English. It only appears that way in transliteration, though; in fact, the tone is different, and therefore the two syllables sound entirely different to Chinese ears; it would never occur to a Chinese speaker to connect the two words. Puns on otherwise similar words which have different tones are quite uncommon in Chinese. There's the well-known superstitious connection between 四 (, "four") and 死 (, "death"),  but otherwise, tone-deaf puns are pretty much limited to jokes about tone-deaf foreigners, like the one about the American who got slapped by the dumpling shop owner when he tried to say, "How much for a bowl of dumplings?" but got the tones wrong and said, "How much to sleep with you for the night?" It's like s/th puns in English, which are also largely limited to jokes about foreign accents -- like when an American sea captain radioed the German coast guard and said, "We are sinking! We are sinking!" only to receive the reply, "Vat are you sinking about?"

Writing the above paragraph -- in which I mentioned puns, the number four, and the words cat and sink -- made me think of the story my mother taught me when I was very young and learning to count in French: "There once was a cat called Undeutrois Cat. One day Undeutrois Cat saw some fish swimming, and he wanted to swim, too. But when Undeutrois Cat jumped into the water, Undeutrois Cat sank!" (un deux trois quatre cinq).

(Googling this, I find it is more often presented as a joke in which a French cat named Un Deux Trois loses a swimming race with an English cat named One Two Three. I learned it as a mnemonic story, not a joke.)

The story involves a pun on cat and quatre, "four." Last October, with no thought of Undeutrois Cat, I made a pun on caterpillars and quatre piliers, "four pillars" (the pun being that pavilion is similar to papillon, "butterfly").

Looking up caterpillar in an etymology dictionary, I find that the similarity to cat is not a coincidence.

"larva of a butterfly or moth," mid-15c., catyrpel, probably altered (by association with Middle English piller "plunderer;" see pillage (n.)) from Old North French caterpilose "caterpillar" (Old French chatepelose), literally "shaggy cat" (probably in reference to the "wooly-bear" variety), from Late Latin catta pilosa, from catta "cat" (see cat (n.)) + pilosus "hairy, shaggy, covered with hair," from pilus "hair" (see pile (n.3)).

So the pillar element in caterpillar ultimately derives from the Latin for "hair." This is a link back to my November 2020 post "Hair and pillars, and pills."

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Why is Taiwan's peck lethality changing so much?

On October 6, 2021, exactly as I had predicted in August, the number of peck-attributed deaths in Taiwan overtook the number of birdemic-attributed deaths. A month later, I predicted that by Chinese New Year 2022, the pecks would have killed twice as many Taiwanese people as the birdemic.

That second prediction didn't pan out. Instead, we're seeing a "second wave" of birdemic-attributed deaths, while peck-attributed deaths have slowed to a trickle, so now the two a pretty much neck-and-neck. As of yesterday, the birdemic-attributed death toll was 1,436. Peck-attributed deaths are no longer reported anywhere near as regularly as they used to be, but on May 17 the total peck-attributed death toll was 1,477.

Curious as to what had changed, I looked up the relevant statistics and plotted the number of reported deaths per million doses for each of the pecks for two different periods: up to January 17, and from January 18 to May 17. It turns out peck lethality has changed a lot. Overall, peck lethality is about half what it used to be -- 14 deaths per million doses, down from 30.

The first thing to notice is that AZ pecks -- the deadliest of the lot, 28% of all doses but responsible for 57% of peck-attributed deaths to date -- have been quietly discontinued. (There were 28 new AZ deaths from January 18 to May 17, but no way to calculate deaths per million doses without dividing by zero.) I didn't know this until I looked up the data to make this chart. It was never announced. I guess they didn't want to admit, after administering 16 million doses to the trusting citizenry and killing more than 800 of them, that they'd made a mistake. They did discontinue it, though, suggesting they've developed some capacity, however limited, for learning from experience.

Eliminating AZ from the mix is only part of the story, though. Every one of the other peck brands has seen a dramatic change in lethality. Mod is killing half as many people as it used to, and Med just a third. What's going on? I can think of a few possibilities.

1. The first dose is the riskiest. If you survived the first dose, you're likely to survive additional doses of the same thing. By January 17, 81% of the population had already received a first dose, so most of the doses since that time have been second or additional doses.

2. The number of "cases" (positive test results) is much higher than it used to be. Before January 17, about 18,000 people had tested positive. From January 18 to May 17, there were 896,000 positive tests. This is partly because more people are being tested and partly because the definition of "case" has changed. Before, a positive antigen test had to be confirmed by a positive PCR test before it could be considered a "case"; starting this month, though, all positive DIY antigen tests are counted as "cases." People who die of peck side effects after testing positive for the birdemic are presumably counted as birdemic deaths, not peck deaths.

3. The pecks themselves could have changed. I mean, why wouldn't they? Quietly replacing most of the doses with normal saline would seem to be the best way of minimizing deaths without admitting anything.

Then there's the question of the Pfi pecks, which show the opposite trend. While the other brands have dramatically decreased in lethality, Pfi is now more than twice as deadly as it used to be. No idea what to make of that.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

White sands, red sun

Bruce Charlton recently posted on C. S. Lewis's Law of Undulation. For me, the undulation tends to be between thinking and synching. I have lots of half-finished drafts of ambitious posts on metaphysical topics, but for the time being I find myself unable to do anything with them. Instead, I'm noticing syncs. At other times, the sync stream dries up and I write more essay-style content. Emphasis on other times.

Last night, YouTube Music randomly recommended queued up a song I'd never heard by a group I'd never heard of -- "White Sands" by the dreampop band Still Corners, from their 2021 album The Last Exit. The artwork caught my eye.

A big, red circle like a red sun, and inside it another red sun. This made me think back to late 2020, when the Red Sun had been such a prominent sync theme.

Today, I was looking at an English reading comprehension test created by the Taiwan government. One of the reading passages was a list of rules for visitors to White Sands Beach.

This evening, after work, I was out on my motorcycle thinking about White Sands and the Red Sun when I passed someone with a strange symbol on the back of his jacket: four arrows radiating out from a shared center -- like Michael Moorcock's Symbol of Chaos, but with only the four diagonal arrows -- the St. Andrew's cross from the Moorcock Union Jack.

For some reason, what this made me think of was the word chaos respelled as K-Os. Os means "bone," I thought, and maybe in some parallel universe people eat K-bone steaks instead of --

This train of thought (if "thought" is the word I'm looking for!) was abruptly cut short when I turned a corner and noticed two glowing signs side by side: OK Mart (a Taiwanese spinoff of Circle K) and Yamaha Motor.

Photo taken the next day

The OK logo is a red circle (red sun) and the letter K for Krypton (red sun again). OK also suggests the K-O in K-Os. The Yamaha logo also features a red circle and a Moorcock-like motif of arrows radiating out in all directions. (Actually, they're supposed to be tuning forks, Yamaha having begun as a manufacturer of reed organs.)

This is likely an opening salvo from the sync fairies, intended to lay the groundwork for something else.

Friday, May 20, 2022

On the subject of cats and DNA . . .

Richard Arrowsmith has resurrected an old sync thread from 2009 and made a video: GattaCAT.

My humble addition to the cat/DNA sync theme:

The Double Felix.

Update: Another cat/DNA juxtaposition, spotted May 23.

Joan and the English colonization of America

Rudolf Steiner had this interesting take on how Joan of Arc affected world history, from a 1915 lecture.

At that time it was indeed the Christ impulse acting in Joan of Arc, through its Michaelic servants, that prevented a possible merging of France and England, causing England to be forced back onto its island. And this achieved two things: first, France continued to have a free hand in Europe. This can be seen if we study the history of France over the following centuries — the essential element of the French spirit was able to influence European culture entirely without hindrance. The second thing which was achieved was that England was given its domain outside the continent of Europe. This deed, brought in through Joan of Arc, was a blessing not only for the French but also for the English, compelling them to take up their domain.

The reason the English later built an empire in America and elsewhere, Steiner implies, is that Joan had prevented them from building an empire in Europe.

This is synchronistically interesting. On December 29, 2020, after the sync fairies had brought Joan to my attention and just three days before my direct encounter with her, I noted that Joan's surname was sometimes written as Dare rather than Darc and connected that with the name of the first English child born in America.

Dare as an alternative form of Joan's surname is interesting because it suggests Virginia Dare -- whose given name, Virginia, has the same meaning as La Pucelle.

On March 30, 2022, I noted that John Dee also had a name suggestive of the Maid's.

According to Wikipedia, John Dee's surname comes from the Welsh word for "black." In other words, his name was John Dark.

At the time, I didn't know what to make of this link. Dee, a spy and magician, seemed to have nothing to do with the purity of Joan, and associating the two seemed almost blasphemous. Now it makes a bit more sense, if we accept Steiner's idea that Joan's defeat of the English set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the creation of the British Empire. John Dee was the one who coined the term British Empire, well before any such empire existed, and then pushed Queen Elizabeth to make it a reality by colonizing the New World -- a colonization which symbolically began with the birth of Virginia Dare in 1587.

My recent posts about John Dee have focused on the event of April 27, 1592. I learned of the Steiner lecture quoted above through an email I was sent on April 27, 2022 -- but which I didn't discover until last night because it had been sent to my spam folder.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Piracy on the high seas, and Cologne Cathedral

I had two fragmentary dreams about a week ago which have persisted in memory longer than is customary and which have an air of meaningfulness about them. I record them here in case that meaning ever becomes apparent.

In the first dream, I am with my brother Joseph in a very large bookstore where everything is free. He takes this for granted and says bookstores have always been like that. I have vague memories of patronizing bookstores in the past and shelling out 20 bucks or more per item, but I don't say anything. We go our separate ways to browse, and when our paths cross again he is carrying an armload of dozens of large hardcovers, all of which appear to be about piracy on the high seas. Piracy on the High Seas is actually the title of one of them; I don't see any of the other titles but gather that they are all works of non-fiction dealing with the Golden Age of Piracy. He is also carrying two rolled-up American flags on short, spear-like poles, and I understand that these are also from the bookstore and are considered pirate-related items. I comment, "This is a whole new direction for you, Joseph."

In the second dream, I am doing some long-distance hiking in a mountainous area. I come to the edge of a cliff, and there below me, its spires just level with my head, is what looks like an enormous Gothic cathedral. For some reason I decide it's probably Cologne Cathedral (although checking pictures now on the Internet, I see that it actually bears a closer resemblance to Canterbury), so when I see a man inside the cathedral, close enough to talk to through a window, I ask him if I'm anywhere near Cologne. I try to ask this in German, but it keeps coming out in Chinese, so in the end I just give up and speak English. Fortunately, he understands. In answer, he causes a map to appear in my head, showing where I am and where Cologne is -- but the map looks like Canada, not Germany. Cologne is around where Edmonton would be on a Canadian map, and my current location is far to the northwest, around where (I think in the dream) Yellowknife should be, though waking I would correct this to Whitehorse. I thank the man for his help, get an azimuth, and start walking to Cologne.

Regarding possible meanings, the juxtaposition in the first dream of American flags and the name Joseph made me think of the Fake President and his recent remarks about his piratical efforts.

I’m also sending to Congress a comprehensive package of -- that will enhance our underlying effort to accommodate the Fire Nation oligarchs and make sure we take their -- take their ill-begotten gains. Ha, we’re gonna accommodate them!  We’re gonna seize their yachts, their luxury homes, and other ill-begotten gains of Poutine’s kleptoc- -- yeah -- kleptocracy and klep- -- the guys who are the kleptocracies.  Heh heh heh.  But these are bad guys!

Most of the commentary on this has focused on the Fake President's ignorance of the meaning of accommodate and inability to pronounce kleptocracy, but I think the content is much more disturbing than the delivery. This is pretty literally piracy on the high seas. Not only is he talking about robbing random businessmen (who for some reason are called "oligarchs" if they're from the Fire Nation) of their private property; he specifically mentions seizing sailing ships by force. As of 2022, the Stars and Stripes is a pirate flag. A whole new direction!

Another possibility is that the dream is actually about the other kind of piracy. A "bookstore where everything is free" sounds pretty much like the Internet, and helping oneself to free content is sometimes considered "piracy."

About the Cologne Cathedral dream I have no ideas at all. We'll see if any syncs turn up later. One possible connection between the two dreams: It turns out that the cathedral in Edmonton is called St. Joseph's.

Update: I'm not the only wrongthinker to have made the piracy connection.

He even has Biden say, "We pirates, bitch . . . See yall on the high seas . . ."

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Return of the Great Witch-king

Today the Fake President mockingly dubbed his predecessor "the great MAGA king."

Trump immediately embraced the title and shared a meme taking it in a disturbingly Tolkienian direction.

Why "disturbingly"? Because maga is Latin for "witch." The Return of the King features a "maga-king" character, and he ain't one of the good guys!

Maybe lay off a little on the #DarkMAGA meme magic, guys.

Oh, and here's a little screencap for one of my readers. You know who you are.

Note added: It's an appropriate date for a 555 sync.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" and the Alec Baldwin shooting

Not exactly the most topical syncs, but here they are.

Today I happened to reread my October 28, 2021, post "False flags in Prisoners of the Sun." This was just a week after Alec Baldwin shot Hayna Hutchins on the set of Rust, and Debbie brought up the incident in the comments, mentioning that Baldwin had often played the role of Donald Trump in Saturday Night Live skits. In reply, I commented,

To me, Alec Baldwin "playing Trump" (i.e. dressing up as a guy named after a playing card) syncs with the Lady Gaga song "Poker Face" -- which includes the lines "Russian roulette is not the same without a gun" and "I'll get him hot, show him what I've got" (Baldwin repeatedly asked why he had been given a "hot gun").

Baldwin is also known for "The Hunt for Red October," which syncs with his killing someone with a gun on the set of Rust in October. His Ukrainian-born victim says on her website that she grew up on a Soviet military base surrounded by nuclear submarines.

Baldwin also starred in "Beetlejuice" -- so another "red" connection.

For some reason, when I read this today, I had a sudden urge to watch the music video for "Poker Face."

At the 1:17 mark, the video's first playing card appears, and it is the Ace of Spades -- signifying "death" in traditional cartomancy.

Gaga then throws the card, which spins around, revealing the back face, which reads "bwin."

Later we see the same name more clearly, written on the card table.

This is apparently just a bit of product placement -- bwin.com is an online gambling platform -- but it's also a pretty strong sync with the name Baldwin.

"Poker Face" was co-written by Gaga and someone called RedOne -- so another sync with the color red.

The Wikipedia article for "Poker Face" notes, "According to BBC, the 'Mum-mum-mum-mah' hook used in the song references Boney M.'s 1977 hit 'Ma Baker.'" Here's the chorus of "Ma Baker":

Ma ma ma ma
Ma Baker
She taught her four sons
Ma ma ma ma
Ma Baker
To handle their guns
Ma ma ma ma
Ma Baker
She never could cry
Ma ma ma ma
Ma Baker
But she knew how to die

And here's the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article for "Alec Baldwin":

Alexander Rae Baldwin III (born April 3, 1958) is an American actor, film producer, comedian, and political activist. He is the eldest of the four actor brothers in the Baldwin family. Baldwin first gained recognition appearing on the sixth and seventh seasons of the CBS primetime soap opera Knots Landing.

Never having heard of Knots Landing, I clicked the link. Here's how that article begins.

Knots Landing is an American prime time television soap opera that aired on CBS from December 27, 1979, to May 13, 1993. A spin-off of Dallas, it was set in a fictitious coastal suburb of Los Angeles and initially centered on the lives of four married couples living on a cul-de-sac, Seaview Circle. Throughout its fourteen-year run, storylines included marital strife, rape, murder, kidnapping, assassinations, drug smuggling, politics, environmental issues, corporate intrigue, and criminal investigations. By the time of its conclusion, it had become the third longest-running primetime drama on U.S. television after Gunsmoke and Bonanza and the last fictional primetime show that debuted in the 1970s to leave the air.

Gunsmoke and Bonanza -- the Baldwin shooting took place in the ghost town of Bonanza City, New Mexico.


About five hours after posting the above, I came home and found my wife watching some kind of "true crime" program on television. A man had been accused of murdering his wife, and the defense had made the ludicrous claim that she had actually died of an allergic reaction to a spray tan. I went into another room to deal with some things, and when I came back into the living room, I heard the voice on the TV say, "Prosecutor Baldwin takes direct aim at Lina's mother." Looking the story up on the Internet later, I found that this was the 2007 case of Adam Kaufman, prosecuted by Matthew Baldwin for the murder of his wife Eleanora "Lina" Kaufman but ultimately acquitted. Someone named Baldwin taking "direct aim" at a woman is a pretty strong sync.

Before watching the "Poker Face" video today, the only thing I could remember about it was the opening scene, where Lady Gaga climbs up out of a pool of water, flanked by two large dogs.

This is a clear allusion to the 18th trump of the Tarot, called The Moon.

When I watched the video today, that scene still seemed highly evocative, but I couldn't see how it had anything to do with the Alec Baldwin shooting. The only angle I could think of was to check if either Alec Baldwin or Lady Gaga was a Cancer. (In fact, both are Aries.)

Tonight, though, I suddenly remembered the 2020 music video for the Grateful Dead song "Ripple." It features a Tarot reading which, at The Magician's Table, I had interpreted as a "Year Ahead" spread for the year 2021, with one card corresponding to each month of that year. Sure enough, the card for October 2021 -- when the Alec Baldwin shooting took place -- was The Moon.

When I went The Magician's Table to search for that old post, though, I got a bit of a shock. There on the front page was my most recent post, dated March 28, 2022 -- which, I had just learned earlier today, was Lady Gaga's 36th birthday. The post is about the Moon card, and its title is "Could the 'moon' be Betelgeuse?" As noted above, Alec Baldwin starred in the 1988 movie Beetlejuice.

Note added:

The music video for "Poker Face" was directed by Ray Kay and Anthony Mandler.

Rust was to be directed by Joel Souza and star Alec Baldwin. It was the second time these two had worked together; Baldwin was the producer of Souza's 2019 film Crown Vic. The main character in Crown Vic is named Ray Mandel.

In Soviet Russia, current events satirize YOU!

The unintentionally prophetic Yakov Smirnoff:

Twist: He meant as a punishment, not as a way to start winning again!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Richard Lattimore, Dik Van Dyke, and the Mandela Effect

Continuing from my 202 post "'Richard' Lattimore: most misprinted name ever."

"Richard Lattimore" is a common enough mistake to merit a Wikipedia redirect.

On this same Wikipedia page, two Richards have crept into the list of references.

Amazon has five pages of results for Richard Lattimore.

The New York Times website even has an obituary for Richard Lattimore, though it looks like the original print edition was for Richmond.

I still find it hard to believe that this error could be so very prevalent. No other misprinted name even comes close in terms of frequency. I also have my own experience of having reading a dozen or so books that were very clearly by Richard Lattimore before suddenly discovering in 2011 that it had been Richmond all along. Prior to 2011, there was absolutely no question in my mind that the man's name was Richard, and I would have laughed at the suggestion that I might have just misread his name hundreds or thousands of times.

This sort of thing is an example of the Mandela Effect -- crystal-clear memories which, judging by the evidence of the present, appear to be entirely false. The effect takes its name from the conviction, shared by a surprising number of people, that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1970s. They remember this (or remember seeing it in the news at the time) in great detail and with perfect clarity -- but most everyone else has equally clear and detailed memories of Mandela serving as president of South Africa in the 1990s and finally dying in 2013. The dismissive explanation of this is that these people's memories are of the death of Steve Biko, misremembered as Mandela -- but those who find themselves unable to doubt their memories embrace a variety of more extreme hypotheses, often involving parallel universe or "timelines." Apparently at some point they passed from the Mandela-dies-in-prison timeline into the Mandela-becomes-president timeline, somehow bringing some of their memories from the old timeline into the new one.

Sometimes, it is said, even physical traces of other timelines infiltrate this one. For example, many people remember the Lord's Prayer in the Bible saying "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." This is not what it says in the current timeline, but a trace of the original text still survives two verses down.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt 6:12-15).

When I first discovered the Mandela Effect concept, one of the example that really struck me was the breakfast cereal Fruit Loops -- which had apparently always been called Fruit Loops even though I clearly remembered it being Froot Loops. That was years ago. Then, earlier this year, someone on 4chan announced that we were back in the "golden timeline" and that it was Froot Loops once more -- and it is! Now, apparently, it has always been Froot Loops, and Mandela Effect websites will tell you that many people incorrectly remember it being spelled Fruit, which is just the opposite of what they used to say.

So do you allow reality to gaslight you into rejecting your own crystal-clear memories, or do you insist that your memories are right even if that means rethinking the whole nature of the universe? I lean toward the former option, especially because most of the alternative memories are so easy to explain as errors. Reading an unusual name like Richmond or Berenstain as a more common one like Richard or Berenstein seems like a very natural sort of mistake. Getting Biko and Mandela mixed up, especially before the latter became president, also seems pretty easy. Even in the meta-Mandela case of Froot Loops, I think there's an explanation: confusion with another popular Mandela example, Looney Tunes, which people misremember as Toons. In one case, the "oo" spelling is correct and the standard spelling is a common error; in the other, the standard spelling is correct and the "oo" spelling is a common error. It would be very easy to misremember which is which.

What brought this whole topic back to mind was my discovery -- today! -- that the actor Dik Van Dyke has apparently always spelled his name Dick Van Dyke. When I was a child, we watched Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and even old reruns of The Dik Van Dyke Show -- and I very clearly remember his name being spelled Dik. I specifically remember wondering why he spelled Dick in such an unusual way and concluding that he probably did it for the same reason that John Bongiovi dropped the "h" from his name when he became Jon Bon Jovi: to emphasize the similarity of his first name to his last.

It just doesn't seem possible to me that these memories could be wrong. Misreading Richmond as Richard, and thinking nothing of it because Richard is a perfectly normal name -- that makes sense. But how could anyone misread Dick as Dik, notice how extremely strange that is, come up with a theory for why it's not Dick, and still somehow fail to realize that it actually is Dick?

I don't have any good explanation -- it would obviously be just a bit extravagant to postulate a parallel universe in which Dick Van Dyke spells his name without a "c"! -- but I think this sort of thing is worth noting.

Note added: Writing this post made me question my own memories so much that I actually checked Google to confirm that Jon Bon Jovi was as I had remembered him. I had a sinking feeling that I was going to discover he had always been John Bon Jovi and that his first hit had always been called "C-3PO We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Fortunately, there was no cause for alarm. We're still in the golden timeline.

Monday, May 2, 2022

My mandate also includes weird bugs

I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul. My mandate also includes weird bugs.

I've never seen a bug like this. I can't even narrow it down to a family, beyond saying that it looks like some sort of Hemipteran ("true bug"). I guess it's more like a stink bug than anything else, but I've never seen anything like that weird enlarged pronotum or the featherlike divisions of the hemelytra.

Its behavior was strange, too. I found about a dozen of these bugs on a hiking trail, and they all started crawling directly towards me. When I moved, they all pivoted in sync and started crawling towards my new location. I don't know if they were attracted to heat, or to tall things that might be trees, or what. At one point, one of them reared up on four legs like a mantis and made paddling motions in the air with its forelimbs.

I've already scoured my field guides in vain for anything remotely similar to this bug. If any readers more entomologically literate than myself can point me in the right direction, it would be much appreciated!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Walking in a winter wonderland

My wife, whose musical tastes no one with my musical tastes should presume to criticize, has a CD of a cappella Christmas songs, which she plays occasionally throughout the year. So it happened that today I started the car, turned on the CD player, and was greeted with:

Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay is a new bird

That really makes no sense in the song — if a “new bird” showed up in the winter, which generally doesn’t happen in temperate climes, it would be a seasonal migrant and not “here to stay” — but it synchronized nicely with what’s in the news these days.

The corvid and the rattlesnake

On April 29, Craig Davis left this comment on my blog:

Driving through northern Colorado towards Wyoming yesterday, on the side of the road, I saw a raven (corvid, birdemic) eating a rattlesnake (serpent). And since the Synch Fairies seem to like numbers, I was on highway 287. As I drove by I immediately thought "William needs to know about this."

I replied:

Interesting. The rattler (Gadsden flag) represents freedom, individualism, and a willingness to fight back against coercion, so a corvid eating one is a very appropriate omen-after-the-fact.

An hour or so after posting that reply, I was searching for something entirely unrelated, and one of the sites I ended up on had a link to a recent news story: "'Princess Bride' Star Cary Elwes Airlifted to Hospital After Rattlesnake Bite."

He was apparently bitten on April 23, a week ago. Running into a rattlesnake so soon would be a synchronicity in its own right, but the fact that it was Cary Elwes makes it even more significant. Craig Davis's rattlesnake was paired with a raven, which he interpreted as a symbol of the birdemic. Cary Elwes also ties in with the birdemic because of one of his lines in The Princess Bride. Asked "Why are you wearing a mask?" he replies, "It's just that they're terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future."

Davis saw a birdemic-symbol eating a rattlesnake. In Elwes's case, it was the rattlesnake that attacked the birdemic-symbol.

Cary Elwes has featured in syncs before. In my December 11, 2020, post "Robin Hood," I used him to link the legendary outlaw with Dr. Seuss's Fox in Socks.

The corvid-and-serpent combination has also appeared here before, in the January 15, 2022, post "The St. Benedict Medal and the Peck."

One other random sync which I'll note here because it's too small to merit its own post. In April 16's "Be he moth or be he bird," I discussed the TMBG song "Bee of the Bird of the Moth" and quoted these lines:

Send a tangerine-colored nuclear submarine
with a sticker that says STP

I assumed this was a reference to the motor-oil company, which used to produce stickers or decals you could put on your car to show everyone that it had (favorite crossword-puzzle prompt) "The Racer's Edge."

TMBG lyrics never mean just one thing, though, and today I happened upon a reference to a hallucinogenic drug called STP, which I had never heard of before.

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh as one

I was listening to an audio recording of the Book of Mormon, and when it got to the part where Nephi says they "did live upon raw meat ...