Fortean Mysteries SIG      recent history        issue 69         Newsletter of the Fortean Mysteries SIG of American Mensa          
  only 200,000 millicents per 3 issues     Published irregularly since Undecember 1658 AC
       "... all things are possible."  (Matthew 19:26)

  The Celestial Perspectives chatroom on Tri-State On-line locally is, the SYSOP (system operator) says, based on "celestial inclusiveness" -- which sounded rather fortean. It's included discussions of: crop circles, crystals, earth changes, "Is Pluto a planet?", Lemuria (connecting it to the island bought by Dick Krenninger, author of The Ultimate Frontier, in 1983 as well as Antarctica, Ponape Island and Turtle Island [America]), numerology, vegetarianism, witches.
  We've also lurked [read without having access to write] on the philosophy site which listed some common fallacies:
AMPHIBOLY: arguing from an ambiguous interpretation
ARGUMENTUM AD BACULUM: "arguing" by force
ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINUM: "arguing" by attacking the opponent
ARGUMENTUM AD IGNORANTIAM: "arguing" from ignorance
ARGUMENTUM AD POPULUM: arguing from "common knowledge"
ARGUMENTUM AD VERECUNDUM: arguing from "authority"
CONVERSE ACCIDENT: generalizing from the exception
COMPLEX QUESTION: neglecting an unasked prior question
COMPOSITION: arguing that the individual implies the whole
DIVISION: arguing that the whole implies the individual
EQUIVOCATION: use of misleading ambiguous expressions
IGNORATIO ELENCHI: coming to a different conclusion
PETITIO PRINCIPII: assuming the premise, "begging the question"
  The metaphysics chatroom touched on such topics as: "0 is not nothing.", anti-time, artificial life, "Does 0.999... = 1?", imaginary time as possibly existing before real time, messages from the future, matter transmission, monadology, possible worlds,

  We've also come across some more on pataphysics. It Has No Story, And It's Only Part Of A Small Cult Phenomena or Low-budget 'Pataphysics Made Easy by Steve Willis and Dale Luciano was not very helpful, though it did include Morty the talking dog who was mistaken for a dwarf, thrown to heaven, transmogrified into a
dog-faced human and a "definition" of reality ("In epistemology, the totality of all things that exist apart from perception" or "in social science, a fabric of BTF-patterns shared by members of a particular society").
  We couldn't get the loan of a copy of the fanzine jq'p: Journal of Quantum 'Pataphysics by Nigby Lennon (1987) but it was supposed to have been at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
  At the Encyclopedia Mythica website ( we found among the mythologies, "folklore" on the Abominable Snowman. (So far we've only had time to search the "A" section of the 4,200 articles.)


  We noticed quite a few interesting news stories in the "Giant 76-page Collector's Edition" of Weekly World News Vol. 20, No. 2, including the feature story, "2,000-year-old letter from Jesus found!" ["Although about two-thirds of the letter's text has been destroyed and even much of what remains is indecipherable..." and apparently written just before His crucifixion about 30 years less than 2,000 years ago.], so we added it to our collection.
  There's stories like:
ARCHEOLOGICAL: "Ten Commandments found in Israel!" by Lisa Merakis
[The 785+ fragments are expected to be reassembled by next summer. Uh-huh.],
BIOLOGICAL: "Scientist creates world's smallest human!" by Michael Mayes [4-year-old, 2-inch, 4-ounce "hopelessly maladjusted" MM-97 genetically engineered by Dr. Richard Messer, formerly of Future Mark Bio-Labs, Sydney, Australia],

"Georgia flowers came from outer space!" by Lisa Merkis [Discovered in Atlanta in August 1997, they live on methane, float in air without stems or roots -- also reported found in Tunisia and Chile],

"Meet the man who REALLY laughed his head off!" by Joe Berger [Lanny Sandeo, who opened an old fracture and got a "godawful headache".]

HISTORICAL: "Americans landed on the moon -- in 1890!" [Anderson and Sandusky of Martin Hagemann's space program],

HYSTERICAL: "Space aliens steal saleman's cheap toupee!" by Joe Burger [Tyler Woddell of Lake Charles, LA, says, "I guess I should be grateful. They could have decided they wanted my eyeballs or something."],

INCREDIBLE: "Demon found hanging from tree in Africa!" by Kevin Creed [Dr. Louis Bardot's quoted saying, "I 'm just surprized that demon suicides aren't more frequent.", while we wonder how immortal, incorporal beings could ever? A transmogrified possession victim?],

MIRACULOUS: "Halo appears  over 3-year-old girl's head!" by Beatrice Dexter [ Interestingly acquired after Tommy Swento of Bangor, ME, first visited church last Easter. In case you're wondering, halos have also been depicted as behind, not only, above the head.],

"Voice of God saves trapped firefighter!" by R. Neale Lind [Timmy Stackpool of Brooklyn, NY, prayed the Lord's prayer then heard God telling him to stay calm and he would live -- that's Isaiah 55:3, "Hear and your soul shall live."],

"Man saved by holy splinter!",  "Statue of Virgin Mary bleeds and speaks!" by Josh Moleen [This one in Atlanta, GA, since 1994 LA quake. It says, contradicting the Jesus letter, "The ... world ... will ... end ... January ... 1 ... 2000."].

MYSTERIOUS: "Houdini's grave empty" by Ann Victoria [Could he have been playing possum for the past 72 years and just escaped?]

THEORETICAL: "53% of all Americans are psychic" by Michael Todd [The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research guesstimates that that many had had at least one psychic experience.],

"Gas-passing dinosaurs blew themselves into extinction!" by Joe Berger [the theory of Dr. Augusto "Dingbat" Dazuri based on dinodung analysis],

  The paper has three two-page spreads. The first's on the Bermuda Triangle: "300 priests to exorcise Devil's Triangle" by Marie Mauro, "U. S. Navy sub vanishes in Devil's Triangle ... and reappears 10,000 miles away!" [in one minute!!], "We surfed the Devil's Triangle and ALL HELL broke loose!" [Tony Carillo, Shelly Kemper and Carl Grissom didn't need the mass exorcism; they were saved by a bearded old man (angel?) in a sailboat.] Jerome Clark's commentary in Unexplained! is "occasional reappearances in supermarket tabloids notwithstanding, the once-famous Bermuda
Triangle survives for the most part as a footnote in the history of fad and passing sensations."
  The second is on ghosts":
"'Fat Slob' phantoms raiding Chicago couple [Danny and Tammy Lassec]'s refrigerator!", "Teenage bag boy [Hans Gebhardt, Recklinghausen, Germany] appears at supermarket -- 6 months after he died in a car wreck!", "Wife [Katerina]'s spirit nags hubby [Franz Sahm of Vienna, Austria] during seance!"  

 The third's on spontaneous combustion, which Jerome Clark calls "either a true anomaly which suffers from inadequate documentation or ... simply a manufactured mystery generated out of imagined interpretations of fire deaths which may have been unusual but which had conventional causes":

"Man bursts into flames while eating Hellfire Chili!" by Jack Alexander [the late 14th Durango, Mexico, Chili Cookoff judge Oscar Gomez],

"Seven people burst into flames -- at the same time" [Well, actually one after the other, contagious-like around the dinner table in Paris. Dr. Jacques Millont says, "I will continue to investigatre this phenomenon until I get to the bottom of it."
Not too close though, eh, Doc Jacques?],

"9-year-old schoolboy explodes" [and so angry Alain Favier of Brussels, Belgium, killed his five tormentors],

"Groom turns into ball of fire at his wedding" [Paulo Rodriguez of Madrid, Spain, toasting his beautiful new bride, Teresa],
and the "Dynamite people", [of Lassach, Austria, which has a spontaneous combustion probability 1800% the average, i.e., only 600,000:1.]
  Then there's the unbylined ones: "Postal pachyderms" [At the Bombay, India, post office an elephant herd broke in -- through a wall -- and ate 600 pounds of mail.],

"Ancient contact lenses found in Syria" [Dr. Jean Crepile idetifies the wearer as a
princess back in 2331 B.C.],

"Earth is losing its gravity!" [The good news is we're all losing weight effortlessly.]

   We've also recently discovered the Bogus News Network website (, said to be inspired by WWN, but hadn't noticed as much forteana, except in the comic strip, "Norman and the Alien".

   In Science Frontiers: Some Anomalies and Curiosities of Nature compiled by William R. Corliss we notice a disproportionality wrt [that's short for "with respect to"] the various sciences. Biology gets 78 pages, geophysics 48, archeology 44, astronomy 40,  geology 36, psychology 18, physics 10, esoteria 9, chemistry 6,
math 2.
  Breaking the last four down further:
  Corliss includes cold fusion ("cold-fusion research seems to be rising Phoenix-like after being zapped by most establishment scientists"), infinite-dilution claims ("its implication raises the specter of homeopathy"), magic numbers (nuclear organization), clustering (like capped-icosohedral "chocolate" and double-pyramidal "vanilla" Nb19+), snowflake formation (from bacteria, not dust, directed by morphogenic electrostatic fields), quasi-periodic crystallography, molecular evolution;
  Here he groups anomalous signals from space, ufology, MIBs, cattle mutilations, a report of lightning striking the houses of three members of the same family in Maryland on St. Patrick's Day 1990, the curse of licence number 666 and the especially relevant quote from P. Sturrock's address to the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) on what happens to those who pursue damned data: "Your friends may doubt your judgement. You may lose the respect of some of your colleagues. You will get no funding. You will have difficulty publishing your work. Your boss may think you are wasting your time." But "you may  -- perhaps without knowing it -- start a scientific revolution. You may be honored -- posthumously."
  This includes "anomalons" (nuclear collision fragments with inexplicably short "lifespans"), the predicted and unyet (in 1994) discovered Higgs particle and the unpredicted and yet discovered zeta particle, subquarks, giant nuclei with atomic weight of 476 (albeit lasting only 10-19 second, Bell's theorem, the Gravitational "constant" increasing below the Earth's surface and over time, or with spin direction, a predicted universal phase change in which photons acquire mass adversely affecting radio, television waves, geomagnetism and neural impulses;
  Here we find "transendental trivia":
at decimal #52,638 of p = ...14142135...,
at 710,150  ...3333333...,
at 1,526,800 ...2718281...;
p^4 + p^5 approximately = e^6;
proton mass:electron mass  approximately = 6^(p^5);
fine structure constant approximately = 4(p^3) + p^2 + p;
22~"4 approximately = 2,143;
the assymetical alphabet letter groups = J, K, L; N; P, Q, R, S; Z; B, C, D, E, F, G
[so what's the significance of the symmetrical groups: M; O; T, U, V, W, X, Y; A; H, I (11612)?];
square-spiraled primes' diagonality (as in Euler's formula, p = n^2 + n + 41)

  Then there's another operation like our old friend HOTPO ("halve-or-triple-plus-one" Mpossibilities 59.5:1) or TOSCOD ("triple-or-sum-CUBE-OF-DIGITs" 67:2), from "Caution: Black Holes at Work" by Michael Ecker in New  Scientist Dec. 1992, that Corliss mentions, which we'll call DENEAT for "digits -- even, not
even and total" (thus maintaining the two-syllable acronymics of the others). It transforms any number into a another one by listing the counts for the even, not even (odd) and total number of digits as if a new number.
  1 yields: 11, 22, 202, 303 and 123. All numbers eventually yeild 123 [Now you know the reason for the ordering of the counts; it's more memorable than 132, 213, 231 or 312. Though you could do it countdownwise, 321, Echer didn't.]
  1's "blackholed" in five steps: 1, 11, 22, 202, 303, 123, which seems to be the maximum, reached for any odd number of odd digits. Continuing we get: 2 and 4 and 6 and 8, 101, 123; 3 and 5 and 7 and 9, 11, 22, 202, 303, 123; 10, 112, 123; 11, 22, 202, 303, 123; etc. From this we can generate the rather boring series: 5, 2, 5, 2, 5, 2, 5, 2, 5, 2, 4, 2, 4, 2, 4, 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, ...
  It does get interesting though when you try it on large numbers, since this mathematical blackhole is so much more powerful than HOTPO or TOSCOD. A googol only holds out three steps: 10100, 1001101, 437, 123. Imagine how many steps the others would take! With HOTPO you'd have to halve a googol 100 times just to get down to the first odd number and it'd be 5100 = 7.8886...x1069 soon to
be 3x5100+1 = 2.36658...x1070 which would take another 70 steps to get to the second odd number! At least 350 steps we guesstimate. TOSCOD's c. 6000% quicker -- 1, 3, 9, 27, 351, 153 -- six steps, the same as for a googolplex, but a googolplex only lasts 4 steps when swallowed up by DENEAT: (1010)100, 10100110100+1, 2004204, 707, 123; a googolplexplex only one more: ((1010)10)100, (1010)1001(1010)100+1, 2X1010042X10100+4, 4X1010004X10100,
2030203, 538, 123!

  In the latest Catholic Digests (Jan. and Feb.) were a couple of good mysteries. The first condensed from Soul Sept./Oct. 1998 (and further condensed here) asked "Is the Mystery of the 'Holy Stairs' Solved?" by Sr. Patricia Jean Manion. The Holy Stairs referred to here are those of the chapel of the Sisters of Loretto, Sante Fe,
NM (not those referred to in Relics by Joan Carroll Cruz, the Scala Sancta in the papal chapel, Avignon, supposedly taken from Pilate's palace in Jerusalem by St. Helena). The good sister does give a good review of the proposals for who built the remarkable unsupported spiral staircase and why. It was built sometime between 1871 and 1881 possibly by Guadalupe Sanchez [Enrique Sanchez, 1938], Don Jos‚ Antonio Rodriguez for the convertion of his son [Mary Rodriguez, c. 1962], Canadian Phillip August Hesch and his son John [Virginia Koplin Stauffer], John Hadwiger [Oscar Hadwiger]. Sr. Patricia calls the last two dubious and proposes
Frank Rochas based on a letter dated Jan. 5, 1985. "The audio recording visitors hear speaks less of history than of legend", the legend being that St. Joseph himself built it.
   In the other story Tom McGuire asks, "Is This Cup the Holy Grail?" referring to the agate cup of the cathedral of Valencia, Spain. He starts dramatically retelling how on Good Friday, 1744, the unfortunate Canon Don Vicente Frigola Brizuela dropped and shattered what he thought was the most holy relic of all! "Though it has not been the only cup claimed to have been used at the Last Supper, it is the only one to have survived intense investigation and skepticism," McGuire writes.
  According to the tradition the cup had been handed down via Peter to the succeeding Popes until Sixtus entrusted it and other treasures to Deacon Lawrence in 258 who had a friend legionnaire take it to his parents, Orencio and Paciencia, in Huesca, Spain. When the Moors invaded in 711 the family took it to the monastery
of San Juan de la Penya in the Pyrenees. In 1399 King Martin the Merciful is said to had the cup at his court in Zaragoza (Saragossa). It was his son Alfonso V who gave it to Valencia in 1437.
  It was temporarily moved to the nearby Balearic Islands 1809-12 when Napoleon threatened and to Carlet 1936-39 when the Civil War did. In 1982 Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass using the cup, according to the tradition, the first time a Pope had done so in 1,724 years, c. 1,950 years since Jesus said "Take this cup and do
  Cruz in Relics also gives credence to the cup of Valencia, calling it "dark red cornelian" and adding that "it has been estimated that the golden additions were crafted in the 9th century" and that it escaped in 1936 only 3 hours before the
cathedral was sacked!