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Don't open the door! Don't go into the basement! Don't look under the bed! DON'T OPEN THE CLOSET! Is it ghosts? Is it ghouls? Is it little hairy monsters with big teeth and claws? NO - It's another spine-tingling issue of your favorite weekly newsletter of conspiracies, UFOs, the paranormal, and everything else spooky and scary - CONSPIRACY JOURNAL.



This week, Conspiracy Journal brings you such riveting tales as:

UFO Witnesses May Have Been Exposed to Radiation -
Are We All Persons of Interest? -
She-Devils of the Deep -
AND: Mysterious Radar Cloud Over the Midwest Was Actually...Butterflies

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
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Two Book Houdini Special

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The History Channel recently rewrote the life of Harry Houdini. Here, Conspiracy Journal sets the record straight with two amazing books containing the research of both Houdini and the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Revealing The Bizarre Powers of Harry Houdini
and
The Paranormal World of Sherlock Holmes


Was Harry Houdini a closet Psychic? Clairvoyant? Or Spirit Medium?  His friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle insisted he had the evidence that the world's greatest escape artist was not the skeptic he made himself out to be.

At his burial some curious and suggestive words were used by the presiding rabbi: "HOUDINI POSSESSED A WONDROUS POWER THAT HE NEVER UNDERSTOOD AND WHICH HE NEVER REVEALED TO ANYONE IN LIFE!

The creator of Sherlock Holes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Harry Houdini were strange bedfellows. Doyle was a contemporary of the world's greatest magician and escape artist, who continually battled his friend over the legitimacy of life after death, and the reality of spiritualism. Doyle was a "true believer," while Houdini made it his "mission" to denounce just about all things preternatural. . .

Doyle was convinced - from what he personally witnessed and what others confided to him - that Houdini could read minds, dematerialize, possessed supernatural strength, and was guided by angelic forces which shielded him from harm even during the most dangerous of escape performances which likely would have caused death to others. Doyle stated that Houdini had once remarked, "There are some of my feats which my own wife does not know the secret of." And a famous Chinese conjurer who had seen Houdini perform added, "This is not a trick, it is a gift."

Sadly, many of Houdini's feats died with him, even though they would have been an invaluable asset. "What can cover all these facts," states Doyle, "save that there was some element in his power which was peculiar to himself, that could only point to a psychic element -- in a word, that he was a medium."

Here, is both sides of the story -- in the actual words of the famed Sherlock Holmes originator and Houdini himself, who went out of his way to create the impression that fakes and phonies were afoot everywhere in the "shady world" of table tapping, levitating trumpets, spirit photography, slate writing, as well as the materialization of ectoplasmic forms in the darkening shadows of the séance room.

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- SECRET EYES ONLY DEPARTMENT -

UFO Witnesses May Have Been Exposed to Radiation
By Alejandro Rojas

A witness to the UK’s most famous UFO sighting says he may be suffering from the effects of radiation, and in a recent press release, points out that a UK Defence Intelligence (DI) report suggests that he may have been exposed to UFO radiation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force says they have lost his service and medical records from that time.

john-burroughsIt was reported this week that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that they will be releasing more UFO files, despite having said that they had already released all of their UFO files. This current revelation has been due to the efforts of John Burroughs, a military witness to the UK’s most famous UFO sighting.

Burroughs says he has been seeking official answers as to what he might have experienced that night in December, 1980 when he and others witnessed a UFO. At the time, Burroughs was a U.S. Air Force security officer stationed at RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk, which, along with nearby RAF Woodbridge, was on lease to the U.S. Air Force.

Since then he has had health problems and suspects that his UFO experience may have contributed to his condition. He says, “I have specific medical symptoms that are considered by some very knowledgeable people to be a fingerprint of a specific kind of radiation.”

It was actually a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) he made in December that prompted the MoD to release these newly found UFO documents. However, coincidentally, the MoD did not actually post that information publicly until September 16, the day after Burroughs sent out a press release to many UK media outlets alerting them to his plight.

On the Mod’s weekly FOI responses site they posted a response to a letter by Andy Russell asking for the same files Burroughs was asking for, stating that they will release them, but it will take up to 9 months to process them first. Russell, a UK citizen, says he made the request after reading about Burroughs discussing the files at a talk in Sedona, Arizona.

Burroughs also discussed another intriguing UK UFO document that regards him specifically, and his medical issues. In December 2000, UK Defence Intelligence  created a secret report regarding UFOs. It was titled, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defence Region: Scientific & Technical Memorandum – No. 55/2/00. The memo was released to the public in 2006.

Burroughs points out that in Volume 2, on page F4, there is a discussion about the effects of “UAP radiation” on humans. UAP, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, is a phrase used for UFO. It states, ” The well-reported Rendlesham Forest/Bentwaters event is an example where it might be postulated that several observers were probably exposed to UAP radiation for longer than normal UAP sighting periods.”

The document also noted the effects of “UAP radiation” in the next section:

    An important fact is that the reported effects of (presumed) UAP radiation on humans is that it is quick-acting and remembered – although, curiously, following the event there is little or no recall of events as a continuum. In short, the witness often reports an apparent ‘gaps’ or ‘lost time’ – often not accounting for up to several hours.

This section of the DI memo was shocking to Burroughs. He suffers from congenital heart failure, and suspects it has something to do with his years of service. Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services denied his claim in 2012 and told him there was no record of him being in the Air Force in 1980. They said his military records began in 1982. He had actually joined in 1979. In fact, he had to work with Arizona Senator John McCain’s office to get his records corrected. As reported by Billy Cox of the Herald Tribune, Burroughs was told by a McCain staffer, “It took a yeoman’s job to get your DD214 corrected, but we may never be able to gain access to the missing USAF medical records from 1979 to 1983.”

Another witness to the events, James Penniston, is having similar problems receiving his medical records. They believe their files have been deliberately tampered with.

Burroughs is frustrated by the whole affair, and continues to seek to get the UK and US governments to release what they know about the Rendlesham Forest incident.

He is also very concerned that he, as a witness/victim, has had to do all of this research on his own. In particularl, he wonders why researchers, such as Dr. David Clark, who helped get some of these files released and aided the UK National Archives with talking points on the UFO file releases, did not spot some of this.

Burroughs says, “Clarke was able to pick out information on key cases such as Rendlesham, offering for public understanding that the MOD thought the issue was settled, but did not include the part where they said observers experienced radiation and other side effects at Rendlesham.”

Burroughs says he realizes, “[The radiation] is not proof that the phenomenon encountered is extraterrestrial in origin, but it suggests the possibility. I am not saying I know what the phenomenon was that we encountered. Only that it was.”

You can read more about this topic and the Rendlesham incident in the book Encounter in Rendlesham Forest, authored by Nick Pope, former MoD UFO investigator, with Burroughs and Penniston.

Source: Open Minds
http://www.openminds.tv/uk-defence-intelligence-suggests-witnesses-may-exposed-ufo-radiation/30155

- YES, YES WE ARE DEPARTMENT -

Are We All Persons of Interest?
By Greg Newkirk

"You are being watched. The government has a secret system —a machine— that spies on you every hour of every day. I know, because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything."

So begins the opening monologue on the CBS television show Person of Interest, spoken by the designer of 'The Machine', technology genius and billionaire, Harold Finch. The Machine is a mass surveillance computer system, monitoring data input from just about every electronic source in the world (phones, cameras, computers etc), which it analyzes in order to predict violent acts. But given its omnipotence, there are far too many predictions to act on, and so instead it is programmed to only pass on 'relevant' threats - ie. major terrorist events - to the government.

The procedural element of the show is that Finch has a software backdoor that sends him the 'irrelevant' predictions so that he can try to stop that violent act occurring as well: each episode, he and his small team of law enforcement officers and former government agents are given the social security number of an individual connected to the threat, though the team do not know if the individual is the victim or the perpetrator.

The larger story arc, however, is all about the Machine – how Harold came to build it and the effect of doing so on both him and those around him; the power that such surveillance hands to whomever controls it, and the lengths some would go to in order to have that control; and what might happen if such a powerful 'intelligence' became sentient. And of course, the question that hangs over the entire storyline, is the debate between how surveillance can be used to keep people safe, versus how it can be used in corrupt ways.

The show is science fiction, but given the news stories listed below, we might say only barely – the Person of Interest future doesn't seem that far off at all.

Surveillance via your own smartphone

We already know that smartphones can track everywhere you go via the built-in GPS, and the Person of Interest team certainly utilise that function to their advantage. But in the show, Finch's team also often take advantage of a hack which "force pairs" their smartphone with the person of interest's phone, allowing them to hear every conversation within hearing distance of the phone. It's a rather helpful – if clumsily powerful – plot device, allowing them to eavesdrop from a distance with the simple touch of a button.

But in the real world, where phones aren't always in microphone mode, and are a bit tougher to hack, the nearest thing might be this recent hack by security researchers from Stanford University, who discovered a way to turn the gyroscopes within modern smartphones into crude microphones:

    Here's how it works: the tiny gyros in your phone that measure orientation do so using vibrating pressure plates. As it turns out, they can also pick up air vibrations from sounds, and many Android devices can do it in the 80 to 250 hertz range -- exactly the frequency of a human voice.

And if you think this sort of surveillance might be fairly unlikely in the real world, you should definitely watch this talk by Jacob Appelbaum on the militarisation of the internet and hijacking of technologies for surveillance (transcript here). As one pundit noted, "No matter how bad you think the NSA’s information surveillance and capture is, I can just about guarantee that this will show you that it’s an order of magnitude worse than you imagined":

I'm betting by the time you get to the bit about the NSA's ability to radiate people with up to 1KW of RF (under the heading of "Specialized Philip K. Dick inspired nightmares") you'll be getting a little freaked out about our brave new world...

The NSA is harvesting millions of facial images from the web for facial recognition

The Machine uses facial recognition to identify every face it picks up, across the entire world, through surveillance cameras. While that sort of observational power is likely to be beyond current technology (from the point of view of the public at least), it's something that the spooks at the NSA would love to have at their disposal. One of the leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden detailed how the agency is harvesting millions of facial images from the Web for use in a facial recognition program called 'Identity Intelligence'. And what's more, the NSA is linking these facial images with other biometrics and identity data:

    The NSA's goal -- in which it has been moderately successful -- is to match images from disparate databases, including databases of intercepted videoconferences (in February 2014, another Snowden publication revealed that NSA partner GCHQ had intercepted millions of Yahoo video chat stills), images captured by airports of fliers, and hacked national identity card databases from other countries. According to the article, the NSA is trying to hack the national ID card databases of "Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran."

Note too that the FBI recently caught a fugitive who had been on the run for 14 years through facial recognition – their software identified the fugitive's face on a visa application submitted under a fake identity, based on an image on file. The FBI's system seems fairly basic, but its likely that alphabet soup agencies have much more power at their fingertips then they divulge to the public…

What can you do about the future chances of being tracked via facial recognition? Not a whole lot, although Daily Grail editor Cat Vincent does discuss some possibilities in this earlier post on the NSA's facial recognition program.

All-seeing surveillance

When it comes to all-seeing surveillance, one of the tropes of the conspiracy genre is the 'all-seeing eye in the sky' - satellites with super-high resolution cameras, able to watch our every move. And there's no doubt, the number of satellites, and their capabilities, is constantly expanding – and what's more, it's not just a government thing anymore. But with the development of drone technologies, space-based surveillance now seems a whole lot more redundant: why put a camera hundreds or thousands of kilometres away, when you can have a mobile camera based immediately above locations? Welcome to the new world of Wide Area Aerial Surveillance (WAAS) via drones:

    Systems such as Gorgan Stare, ARGUS, Vigilant Stare and Constant Hawk are all developmental iterations of the Pentagon's goal to be able to continuously survey a whole village, or even an entire city, via a single 'sensor platform,' or just a handful of systems that are networked together. Additionally, these systems are to allow multiple "customers," or end users, to manipulate and leverage their collected video data in real time.

    Generally, the Wide Area Aerial Surveillance (WAAS) concept works by taking a high-endurance aerial sensor "platform," such as a MQ-9 Reaper or IAI Eithan unmanned aircraft system, or a blimp or airship, and marrying it with a WAAS type sensor payload. This payload usually consists of canoe shaped pod that has high-resolution electro-optical sensors pointed in many directions in a fixed manner. Onboard computing and software can then stitch these staring cameras' "pictures" together, creating a continuous high resolution overall image of a large swath of land or sea below. Users can then instruct the WAAS system to send them a high-resolution live video feed of a certain area of that massive 'fused' picture. The WAAS system then data-links down the video of the geographical area requested by the user. Thus the user will have real time streaming video imagery of a portion of the entire area WAAS is persistently viewing at any given time.

Keep increasing that video fidelity, throw in some advanced facial recognition tech, along with GPS tracking and an always-on microphone in your phone…and a Person of Interest scenario doesn't seem that far off. All that is maybe lacking is the presence of 'The Machine'. But are we even that far from that scenario?

The rise of Artificial Intelligence

News stories touching on advances in artificial intelligence (AI) seem to be coming thick and fast lately, from a machine learning algorithm finding things in fine art paintings that art historians had never noticed through to a robot that studies YouTube videos to learn all about humans and how they interact with the world. And, three years on from the debut of the 'basic' AI of Apple's Siri, 'her' inventors are said to now be building a radical new AI that will do anything you ask.

Perhaps the most interesting of all though is Google's interest in AI. A recent news report discussed how Google is using "an algorithm to automatically pull in information from all over the web, using machine learning to turn the raw data into usable pieces of knowledge", which will become the Knowledge Vault, "a single base of facts about the world, and the people and objects in it".

    Knowledge Vault promises to supercharge our interactions with machines, but it also comes with an increased privacy risk. The Vault doesn't care if you are a person or a mountain – it is voraciously gathering every piece of information it can find.

    "Behind the scenes, Google doesn't only have public data," says Suchanek. It can also pull in information from Gmail, Google+ and YouTube. "You and I are stored in the Knowledge Vault in the same way as Elvis Presley,"

And earlier this year, it was revealed that Google had bought AI start-up DeepMind for an estimated $400 million, bringing it under the umbrella of their Google X division, a facility dedicated to making major technological breakthroughs. The reasoning for their interest in AI sounds almost like a description of the Machine in Person of Interest:

    Much of the fundamental infrastructure within Google is based on language, speech, translation, and visual processing. All of this depends upon the use of so called Machine Learning and AI. A common thread among all of these tasks and many others at Google is that it gathers unimaginably large volumes of direct or indirect data. This data provides what the company calls “evidence of relationships of interest” which they then apply to adaptive learning algorithms. In turn these smart algorithms create new potential opportunities in areas that the rest of us have yet to grasp. In short, they might very well be attempting to predict the future based on the search/web surfing habits of the millions who visit the company’s products and services every day. They know what we want, before we do.

A whole new level of control

Most of us are familiar with social networks nagging us to complete our profile, adding in those few bits of private information that we haven't yet shared with a faceless corporation. In one particular episode of Person of Interest, Finch and his ex-CIA 'muscle' John Reece discuss the amount of information that people happily put up on social networks:

    Reece: Never understood why people put all their information on those sites. Used to make our job a lot easier in the CIA.

    Finch: Of course, that's why I created them.

    Reece: You're telling me you invented online social networking Finch?

    Finch: The Machine needed more information. People's social graph, their associations…the government have been trying to figure it out for years. Turns out, most people were happy to volunteer it. Business wound up being quite profitable too…

Surveillance, at its heart, is a method of control. But the growth of social networks – and in particular the move to 'filtered feeds', where you only see a fraction of the data stream directed at you, determined to be the most relevant to you by certain algorithms - now allows a less passive, and more fine-grained, pernicious type of control: direct influence over your mind. Once the social network takes control over what we see in our timeline or stream, direct manipulation becomes a real possibility. Exhibit A: a recent Facebook experiment in which user feeds were manipulated to see whether their emotions could be affected:

    For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves.

    This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it.

The near-ubiquitousness of Facebook, and the ability to filter feeds, opens a whole Pandora's box of control. What if Facebook expands into other business fields, then modifies feeds to only feature products from their subsidiaries and to not show competitor's products? Or more dramatically, what if the control is of a political or ethical nature, censoring certain 'news' that particular people don't want seen? The recent Ferguson demonstrations offer an excellent example of the difference in exposure to certain news stories between the algorithmic filtering of Facebook and the 'raw feed' of Twitter. And yet, there are now suggestions that Twitter's timeline too will soon be filtered.

And if you think that it's at least a small blessing that the government can't control large corporations like Facebook, just remember that didn't stop them from being forced to help the government spy on us all - Yahoo was even threatened with a $250K daily fine if it didn’t use PRISM.

In the end, it seems we might all be persons of interest to the government...

Source: The Daily Grail
http://www.dailygrail.com/Essays/2014/9/Are-We-All-Persons-Interest

- PREPARING FOR DISCOVERY DEPARTMENT -

NASA Brings Scientists, Theologians Together To Prepare For ET
By Lee Speigel

Looking for extraterrestrial life is akin to a search for a cosmic needle-in-a-haystack, as evidenced by the above incredible Hubble Space Telescope image showing approximately 10,000 galaxies.

In large part, thanks to NASA's Kepler spacecraft, more than 1,400 planets have been identified beyond Earth.

A few days ago, NASA tried closing the gap between life on Earth and the possibilities of life elsewhere. The space agency and the Library of Congress (image below left) brought together scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians from around the world for a two-day symposium, "Preparing For Discovery." Their agenda: To explore how we prepare for the inevitable discovery of extraterrestrial life, be it simple microbial organisms or intelligent beings.

"We're looking at all scenarios about finding life. If you find microbes, that's one thing. If you find intelligence, it's another. And if they communicate, it's something else, and depending on what they say, it's something else!" said astronomer, symposium organizer and former chief NASA historian, Steven J. Dick.

"The idea is not to wait until we make a discovery, but to try and prepare the public for what the implications might be when such a discovery is made," Dick told The Huffington Post. "I think the reason that NASA is backing this is because of all the recent activity in the discovery of exoplanets and the advances in astrobiology in general.

"People just consider it much more likely now that we're going to find something -- probably microbes first and maybe intelligence later," he added. "The driving force behind this is from a scientific point of view that it seems much more likely now that we are going to find life at some point in the future."

Among the many speakers at last week's astrobiology symposium, one has raised a few international eyebrows in recent years.

"I believe [alien life exists], but I have no evidence. I would be really excited and it would make my understanding of my religion deeper and richer in ways that I can't even predict yet, which is why it would be so exciting," Brother Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit brother, astronomer and Vatican planetary scientist told HuffPost senior science editor David Freeman.

Consolmagno has publicly stated his belief that "any entity -- no matter how many tentacles it has -- has a soul," and he's suggested that he would be happy to baptize any ETs, as long as they requested it.

"There has to be freedom to do science. Being a good scientist means admitting we never have the whole truth -- there's always more to learn." Consolmagno also doesn't think the public would panic when or if it's revealed that alien life has been found.

"I really think it would be a three-day wonder and then we'd go back to worrying about reality TV or the crazy things going on in Washington -- that's the way human beings are. Because I think most people are like me: we expect it's out there. And our reaction would be, 'Wow, thank heavens. It's about time."

Earth is no longer the center of the universe, nor is it flat -- at least that's the currently accepted thinking among most scientists. And we now know, conclusively, that there are a lot more planets than the ones in our own solar system.

"The number of habitable worlds in our galaxy is certainly in the tens of billions, minimum, and we haven't even talked about the moons. And the number of galaxies we can see, other than our own, is about 100 billion," Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at California's SETI Institute told HuffPost.

At the NASA/Library of Congress symposium, Shostak gave out some startling numbers about how many stars there are in the part of the universe that we can see. "It's a big number: 10,000 billion, billion. And we know that most of those stars have planets -- 70 or 80 percent. If all of those planets are sterile, and you're the only interesting thing happening in the cosmos, then you are a miracle. That would be exceptional in the extreme. So, the middle-of-the-road approach is to say, 'You're not a miracle, you're just another duck in a row of ducks.'"

"The bottom line of this," Shostak said, "is something like one in five of all stars may have an analog to Earth. That's a lot of habitable worlds, and, indeed, the number of Earths in our own galaxy might be on the order of 50 billion."

Those are big numbers to ponder.

The D.C. conference included a great deal of discussion about the upcoming mission of the Hubble's long-anticipated successor: the James Webb Space Telescope. As large as a tennis court, this deep space observatory is scheduled for a 2018 launch and will orbit beyond our moon. The Webb telescope will focus on new planetary discoveries and collect data from the atmospheres of those planets, looking for certain things that might point to what we would consider possible indicators of life.

HuffPost asked Dick, an astrobiologist, for his opinion on the continuing output of UFO reports around the world.

"I try to keep an open mind on this. Ninety-some percent can be explained by natural phenomena, etc. The question is what to do with the other 3 or 4 percent," Dick said. "My opinion is that they should be studied further, on the one hand. By definition, they're something that we don't know what they are. They could be some physical, psychological or social phenomena that we don't know about. But I think it's jumping to a conclusion that they're extraterrestrial. I don't see that evidence.

"I haven't looked at the evidence close enough to say that there's intelligence behind it. But I've seen enough to know that there are unexplained things that we should look at more, and right now, the U.S. government is not doing that."

Source: Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/nasa-astrobiology-alien-search_n_5860714.html

- THE COSMIC TRICKSTER DEPARTMENT -

23 Fascinating Facts About the Number Twenty-Three

To most, it's just what comes between 22 and 24. Yet to surprisingly many - including the makers of a new film - it means much more.

1 23 is one of the most commonly cited prime numbers - a number that can only be divided by itself and one. Twenty three is the lowest prime that consists of consecutive digits. Primes have been described as the "atoms" of mathematics - the building blocks of the world of numbers. An American businessman has put up a US$1m (£500,000) prize for the first mathematician to find a pattern in primes - a problem known as the Riemann hypothesis.

2 The number has been the subject of not one but two films: the 1998 German movie, 23, and The Number 23, starring Jim Carrey, released (naturally) today. Each has a main character obsessed with the number.

3 John Forbes Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who was the subject of the film, A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe, was obsessed with 23. It featured prominently in his battle with mental illness. His breakdown began when he claimed that a photograph of Pope John XXIII on the cover of Life magazine was in fact him, the proof being that 23 was his favourite number. Nash published 23 scientific articles.

4 More freaky numerical coincidences: Charles Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859 - 1+8+5+9 = 23. Two divided by three makes 0.666 recurring (allegedly - actually it makes 0.6666666667). The Hiroshima bomb was dropped at 8.15am - 8+15= 23.

5 23rdians are a group of people who subscribe to the mystical power of 23 and see it in multiple combinations throughout daily life.

6 The Ancient Chinese believed numbers conveyed sexuality - evens for feminine and odds for masculine. They considered prime numbers to be the most masculine, conferring special status on 23 which is made up of two consecutive prime numbers and the only even prime number - two.

7 In the disaster movie, Airport, the bomber has seat 23. The number of crosses on Calvary at the end of the Monty Python film, The Life of Brian, is 23. In Die Hard With A Vengeance, a train derails in subway station 23. The lead characters in the Coen brothers' film The Big Lebowski always used Lane 23 at the bowling alley. In the television series Lost, one of the combination of six numbers that haunt the characters and they have to input to a computer to avoid an unknown fate is 23.

8 The terrorist attacks on America on 11 September 2001 have been held up as one of the most portentous examples of the disturbing power of 23. The figures in the date (9+11+2+0+0+1) add up to 23. The independent US commission which investigated the attacks found the date had been chosen randomly by the hijackers and had originally been planned for later in the year. Alternative explanations for the date included the taking over of Palestine by Britain in 1922 and the fact that 911 is the US emergency code.

9 Few hold 23 in more esteem than the followers of Discordianism, a self-declared religion based on the premise that discord and chaos are the building blocks of life. For Discordianists, 23 is the Holy Number and a tribute to the goddess Eris, who surveys a world of chaos. The mantra invoked by Discordianists for the Holy Number is "Invert The Pyramid". If you invert the sentence one letter at a time - eg "dinvert the pyramid", "id invert the pyram" etc - it takes 22 chants, finished by the line "The Pyramid Inverts" to make 23. The last line is called "the final energy releaser". Discordianism is described by some followers as "a joke disguised as a religion disguised as a joke".

10 Sport stars have developed a particular affinity (and aversion) to 23. Michael Jordan, the American basketball player, wore the number throughout his career and inspired many copy cat fans of wardrobe vigintitriplicity. Best known is former England captain David Beckham, who swapped his number seven Manchester United jersey for number 23 when he joined Real Madrid. Beckham, who said it was in deference to Jordan, is expected to continue wearing 23 when he joins LA Galaxy this summer. But the number is not always a harbinger of sporting good fortune. Manchester City have not assigned the squad number 23 to any player since 2003 after the last incumbent, Marc Vivien Foe, collapsed and died while playing for the Cameroon on 26 June 2003. Marcus Trescothick, the England cricket players, wears number 23 and was Australian bowler Shane Warne's 600th test wicket. Warne also wears 23.

11 The Bible does not let 23 pass without conferring upon it some significance, at least to students of the Book. Although the Old Testament is unspecific, it is widely held that Adam and Eve had 23 daughters. The 23rd verse of the first chapter of Genesis brings the act of creation to a close while the 23rd chapter of the book of Genesis deals entirely with death, namely that of Abraham's wife, Sarah. The most famous and most quoted of the Psalms is number 23: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters."

12 Each parent contributes 23 chromosomes to the start of human life. The nuclei of cells in human bodies have 46 chromosomes made out of 23 pairs. Egg and sperm cells in humans have 23 chromosomes which fuse and divide to create an embryo.

13 The most detailed account of the assassination of Julius Caesar, written by Nicolaus of Damascus, claims numerous enemies stabbed the Roman emperor 23 times. The wounds ranged from superficial to mortal.

14 William Shakespeare was born in Stratford Upon Avon on 23 April 1564. He died 52 years later on his birthday, 23 April 1616. Kurt Cobain, the god of grunge, was born in 1967 and died in 1994 - 1+9+6+7= 23, 1+9+9+4 = 23.

15 In the science fantasy saga, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca sneak into detention block AA23 to rescue Princess Leia. The rescue attempt is botched and Leia escapes only by dodging Stormtroopers' laserfire. A police robot called 23 is included in Star Wars director George Lucas' first film, THX 1138.

16 The Knights Templar, the order of soldier monks who eventually fell foul of the Vatican and have been the subject of conspiracy theories about the Holy Grail, had 23 Grand Masters.

17 The first morse code transmission - "What hath God wrought?" - was from the Bible passage Numbers 23:23. In telegraphers code 23 means "break the line".

18 The Birthday Paradox states that a group of 23 randomly-selected people is the smallest number where there will be a probability higher than 50 per cent that two people will share the same birthday.

19 The author William Burroughs was obsessed with 23. While living in Tangiers, he met a Captain Clark who ran a ferry between Spain and Morocco. One day, Clark told Burroughs that he had been doing the route for 23 years without incident. Later that day, the ferry sank, killing the captain. While Burroughs was thinking about the incident, a radio bulletin announced the crash of a Flight 23 on the New York-Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark. The events prompted an obsession which saw Burroughs record every occurrence of the number 23 for the rest of his life.

20 The disbanded pop act KLF are one of several musical sources of 23-related lore. The two men behind KLF - Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - were once known as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, which has 23 letters and comes from the novels of Robert Anton Wilson, another 23 obsessive. A police car used for the video of the KLF's number one, "Doctorin' The Tardis", had 23 painted on the roof, their final performance lasted 23 minutes and they incinerated £1m on a remote Scottish island on 23 August 1994. Psychic TV, another cult act, released 23 live albums on the 23rd day of 23 consecutive months.

21 "W" is the 23rd letter of the Latin alphabet. It has two points down and three points up. White supremacists use 23 to represent "W" as a mark of racial superiority.

22 "23 skidoo" is an American catchphrase from the early 20th century meaning to make a sharp exit. It was used as the title of a poem by the occultist Aleister Crowley, another 23 aficionado. But some believe its origins lie in Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, where the old woman counting the daily victims of the guillotine calls "23" as the hero is beheaded in the last chapter.

23 The average human physical biorhythm is 23 days.

Source: The Independent
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article2296846.ece


- WAY DOWN, BENEATH THE OCEAN DEPARTMENT -

She-Devils of the Deep

Fishermen have long been renowned for tall tales but perhaps the tallest of all are those about mermaids. Mermaid legends are centuries old and have a degree of similarity, irrespective of which country they come from. All depict the creature as half-human, half-fish and sightings are generally said to be ill omens, foretelling bad storms, rough seas and even death on the waves.

With the exception of Mami Wata, the West African mermaid goddess who was said to possess healing powers, most mermaid stories are of fearsome sirens luring men to their watery graves. It's only in the last 50 years that the mermaids' reputation got a romantic makeover thanks to Hollywood and Disney, with films such as The Little Mermaid and Splash.

One night the painting came to life
Older versions of these stories say that mermaids yearn for a soul, which they can only get by marrying a human, hence their stalker-like behaviour with men. Holistic therapist Carina Coen believes she was a mermaid in a past life following an unusual experience. She says: 'I have a hand-painted picture of a dolphin and a mermaid on my wall at home. One night the painting came to life. It was as though the top part of the room became deep sea water and the mermaid floated above me, singing and talking with incredible passion.'

The mermaid told Coen that her mission on Earth was to 'return others to their inner soul life journey' and urged her to help awaken people to the ways they are destroying the seas.

While most people will think it a likely story and even Coen admits her encounter seems surreal, she is absolutely convinced her experience was as dramatic as a flesh-and- blood sighting.

The last reported mermaid sighting was in 1947 when newspaper reports told of a fisherman on the Isle of Muck in the Scottish Highlands who said he had seen a mermaid sitting on a lobster pot near the shore combing her hair. Hoaxes have also dented the idea of mermaids being real. The most famous of these was the Fiji mermaid, purportedly found by Japanese fishermen near the Fiji Islands, and brought to the New York-based American Museum in 1842. This ugly creature was found to be a composite of papier m?chŽ, a baby orangutan, a monkey head and bits of different fish. Perhaps the most recent hoax came from Chennai after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The so-called mermaid was once again made up of primate and fish parts.

Marine biologist Dr Vicki Howe, of Cardiff University, is adamant there are no such things as mermaids.

'There are many strands of evolution, of which fish and mammals are just two,' she says. 'Both humans and fish are vertebrates. However, these are two divergent evolutionary pathways and mammals are warm-blooded whereas fish are cold-blooded. That is a good starting point for refuting the existence of a fish-human hybrid.' It has been suggested that sightings of mermaids may be dugongs, or sea cows, that swim in shallow waters.

'It's nice to think dugongs, that are huge graceful animals with soft smiling faces, could be mistaken for mermaids,' says Howe. 'Sailors on long journeys at sea, working hard with poor diets and plenty of grog, may have resorted to wishful thinking.'

Source: Metro
http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?in_article_id=15494&in_page_id=2
- REALITY IS ENERGY DEPARTMENT -

The Art of QI
By Dr Amir Farid Isahak

Discovery Magazine recently posed this question: “If an electron can be at two places at one time, why can’t we?” This is an exciting proposition, and it reminds me of a story my Pakcik told me about his experience in his younger days.

It happened when he was in Mecca for the Muslim pilgrimage, over three decades ago. He was there with his late father, but had left his wife and children back home in Kuala Lumpur. 

One day he met an elderly Shaykh, who invited him home and gave him daily lessons on religion, and on healing. When he met the Shaykh, he was alone, and was always the only one with the Shaykh at the latter’s home during the lessons. So, one day, he decided to bring his father. 

To his amazement, he could not even find the house that he had been going to every day. The house had actually disappeared! On the next day, he had no difficulty at all finding the house when he went alone for his lessons.

On one occasion, when he was missing his wife so much, the Shaykh asked him whether he would like to be home with them for a while. He jumped at the offer. He was asked to close his eyes and hold the Shaykh’s hands while the latter recited certain verses in supplication. Then when he was asked to open his eyes, he found himself standing in the middle of the main hall of his house in Taman Ibu Kota, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur! 

His wife was busy making cookies and their young children were playing around her. But he could not speak to them, and they could not see him or sense his presence. He was allowed to stay for as long as he desired, and when he was satisfied, he found himself in front of the Shaykh again. 

Many years later, back in Malaysia, he came across a book about Malay Muslim saints and discovered from the descriptions and drawings that his teacher was Shaykh Daud al-Fatani (from Pattani, which is now a province in Thailand), who had died over 100 years ago. 

My Sufi Shaykh also told me a similar story, except that this time he was physically transposed and everyone could see him. This happened over two decades ago when his own Shaykh was alive and they were in a city in Pakistan. 

One day he asked the elder Shaykh whether it was possible to travel to another place in an instant, as he had heard and read so much about it. The elder Shaykh replied in the affirmative, and asked him if he would like to experience it. He of course accepted the offer. He was asked to walk straight through the wall of the room they were in. When he tried, he hurt his face when he banged it against the wall.

Next, the elder Shaykh held his hand and asked him to close his eyes and they smoothly walked through the wall together. When he opened his eyes, he was doing the tawaf (circumbulating) around the Kaabah in Mecca. He was physically there, jostling among the thousands of people doing the tawaf. Several weeks later, back in Pakistan, a neighbour who said that he was behind my Shaykh during the tawaf, returned his (my Shaykh’s) pen which he had dropped but could not retrieve while doing the ritual circumbulation. Not only was my Shaykh physically transposed to Mecca, there was proof because the neighbour brought back his pen via the usual physical way.

What is metaphysics

Metaphysics is the science and philosophy relating to the transcendent, or reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses. It investigates and tries to explain the supernatural and the abstract, just as conventional science (and physics is one branch of it) investigates and tries to explain nature and natural phenomena. However, metaphysics is more spiritual and philosophical than scientific. 

Quantum physicists (scientists who study the nature and behaviour of atoms and their components, and the forces that govern them) have long known that certain fundamental particles (the smallest components of all physical matter) actually have a dual existence. They can exist either as energy waves, or as particulate matter, and that the expectation (mind) of the observer influences the behaviour of these energy/particle entities.

For the people described above to be transposed, there must have been some change in the energy/matter behaviour of their physical bodies. Depending on the energy form that the transposition involves, the transposed form may or may not be in the form that is detectable by our physical senses (or even scientific instruments). The realm of spirits, energy, and transposition of matter are exciting subjects that can only be fathomed if we accept that there is existence beyond what science knows.

In other words, where physics ends, metaphysics begins.

Electrons and healing

Electrons are the fundamental particles which surround the nucleus of an atom. They travel so fast that their position at any one time cannot be determined. The paths they traverse are described as electron clouds, and the electron particles themselves seem to be at many places at one time. The energy of the atom determines the level or distance that the electrons orbit from the central nucleus. But unlike the orbits of moons and planets, their orbital planes always change, and it is easier to visualise their orbital shells rather than orbital planes.

Energy and electrons basically determine the behaviour of atoms, and are involved intimately in how our cells survive and function. Health and disease ultimately can be traced to the cellular and biochemical levels, and a good understanding of these levels will help us tremendously in our quest to resist and recover from diseases.

We now know that electrons play very important roles in the workings of free radicals and antioxidants, both of which are crucial in our understanding of health, ageing, chronic diseases and cancers. Electron flow is essential in the production of electricity, and in all things electronic. Low-current electricity is the basis for many healing gadgets, some of which I have discussed in previous articles. Electronic medicine is an area that is fast gaining popularity.

Qi = quantum energy

In trying to understand qi and its healing effects, scientific tests have been carried out. But the complete understanding of qi has been elusive, because qi appears to be scientific as well as unscientific. It behaves like some of the electromagnetic energy forms (for example, infrared and infrasound); it behaves like the forces that hold sub-nuclear fundamental particles together (for example, gluon); defies physical laws (by being intelligent); and seems to have memory and emotions. Trying to understand qi requires a quantum leap from conventional science. 

Qi is not only energy, but a lot more. Just like the saying about Tao: if you know it, it is not Tao. So it is at the moment with qi. If you can fully describe it, it is not qi!

And just as physicists discovered that the energy/particle nature of the smallest units of matter is determined by the observer, the nature of qi is also determined by the master. The Qigong master who understands most the variabilities and capabilities of qi will most likely be able to utilise more of the potential of qi in healing, and in many other areas.

Likewise, practitioners of other healing arts which involve energy or esoteric elements would be more effective if they understand metaphysics. Aromatherapy, aura healing, crystal healing, flower remedies, homoeopathy, phytobiophysics, vibrational therapy, and the whole gamut of complementary therapies can all benefit from a better understanding of metaphysics.

Automatic qigong

When automatic qigong is demonstrated, my students often asked if I had summoned spirits to do the movements that ensue. To the uninitiated, it could easily seem so, for when qi is summoned, it becomes a force of power, bravery, fearlessness and determination. When qi is summoned for healing, it becomes a force of compassion, empathy, gentleness and softness.

It can also be harnessed as a force of peace and wisdom. The Jedi Masters of the Star Wars hexalogy are the best examples of masters who use the Force for self-defence, peace and wisdom. May the Force, Peace and Wisdom be with you, too. 

Source: The Star Online
http://thestar.com.my/health/story.asp?file=/2005/6/19/health/11251744&sec=health 
- ATTACK OF THE BUTTERFLIES DEPARTMENT -

Mysterious Radar Cloud Over the Midwest Was Actually...Butterflies
By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

Was it a bird? A plane? A tornado cell? Nope. The huge, slow-moving cloud picked up on radar in Illinois and Missouri last week was nothing anyone expected. The US National Weather Service reports it was actually a swarm of millions of monarch butterflies—which have been disappearing at alarming speeds over the past decade.

As Citylab's John Metcalfe says, the swarm was actually on its way south to Mexico in search of warmer climes in which to spend the winter. On Facebook, the US National Weather Service explained that "we think these targets are Monarch butterflies. A Monarch in flight would look oblate to the radar, and flapping wings would account for the changing shape!"

Back in June, a similar radar glitch was observed when millions of locusts took to the skies in New Mexico, and The Vane was kind enough to tell us how biological matter is picked up by radar with this excellent explanation:

    Weather radar works by sending out pulses of microwave radiation tilted at different angles above the horizon; the beam bounces back and the speed/intensity/shape of the return tells the radar what it's looking at. As the radar beam goes out in a straight line, the curvature of the earth causes the beam to go higher into the atmosphere as it moves further away from the radar site.

The journeys of the Monarch is long—stretching over 2,000 miles—and very mysterious, since no one quite knows how the newly-hatched butterflies already know the route either south or north (depending on when and where they're born). On Facebook, the Weather Service added: "NWS St. Louis wishes good luck and a safe journey to these amazing little creatures on their long journey south!"

Despite the sighting, these distinctive, lovely insects are critically endangered. Some estimates say their numbers have declined by 90 percent over the last two decades, with conservation groups calling for Monarchs to be designated as "threatened," according to Newsweek. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks—the remaining Monarchs should be making their ways south en masse through October.

Source: Gizmodo
http://gizmodo.com/mysterious-radar-cloud-over-the-midwest-turned-out-to-b-1638047279

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