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June 16th, 2021 (Permalink)

A Hidden Message from Nostradamus

A great puzzle to students of Nostradamus is what happened to the missing quatrains from Century VII. In Nostradamus' Les Propheties, a "century" is not a hundred years, but a hundred quatrains―four-line poems. There are ten centuries in the book, which should make for a total of a thousand poems. However, for some unknown reason Century VII has only 42 quatrains: where are the missing 58?

Knowing of my interest, a rare book dealer contacted me with the information that he had acquired a copy of an early English edition of The Prophecies that hitherto had been presumed lost. The edition contained the following translation of the missing 43rd quatrain from the seventh century:

Nostradamus, dead ghost on weird Wednesday,
On edge columns a mnemonics fable.
Devil's Island, Viscount Phil of Galway,
Random remarks, lead sign on a table.

Unfortunately, the volume does not contain the French originals, so it's impossible to judge how accurate a translation this is, assuming that it's a translation at all. Though certainly cryptic enough for Nostradamus, there is reason to doubt that it's genuine.

Can you discover a hidden message in the quatrain? When you think you've found it, click on the "Solution" button and all will be revealed. If you're having trouble, try the "Hint" button.

June 10th, 2021 (Permalink)

Martian Watermelons and Trump's Tear Gas

The following is the headline of an article that appeared briefly on the website of The New York Times (NYT) a couple of days ago:

Fields of Watermelons Found on Mars, Police Say1

The text of the short article beneath the headline credited to "Joe Schmoe" read:

The FBI declined to comment onreports [sic] of watermelons raining down, but confirmed that kiwis have been intercepted. This story is terribly boring.

Actually, I found the story rather interesting. Unfortunately, it appears to have been fake news in the most literal sense, as the headline was later replaced by: "This article was published in error." No kidding! A statement beneath explained: "A mock article intended for a testing system was inadvertently published on this page earlier."

As fake news goes, this was probably harmless since it wasn't online for long, and was so improbable that few if any would believe it. Compare and contrast it with the following headline from a year ago, also from the NYT, which is still available online as of this writing:

Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church2

Yesterday, the Inspector General of the Department of Interior issued a report on his investigation into the incident:

The evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP [United States Park Police] cleared the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing in response to destruction of Federal property and injury to officers that occurred on May 30 and May 31 [2020]. Moreover, the evidence established that relevant USPP officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day. As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park.3

That last sentence is an understatement: not only does the evidence not support such a finding, it contradicts it. So, the headline and the underlying article were false, if not fake, news.

Why is that the NYT, and many other major news outlets4, claimed that tear gas was used to clear the park for Trump's church visit? How did they come by this misinformation? The article beneath the headline contains no evidence that the actions of the park police in clearing the park had anything to do with Trump's church visit, other than the coincidence that the one preceded the other. For instance, no representative of the park police was quoted saying that tear gas was used to clear the way for the president, nor was a White House spokesman quoted as admitting that the Trump administration had requested the park be cleared. It appears that the reporter simply assumed that the way was cleared for Trump, and either asked no questions or didn't get the answers she wanted. Perhaps this was one of those stories that was "too good to check".

It's likely that very few people saw the NYT's silly Martian watermelon story, and even fewer would have believed it. In contrast, how many people believed the tear gas for Trump story? How many still do? The NYT was quick to retract its inconsequential Martian mistake, but it has yet to retract or even correct the far more important one about Trump and tear gas. Will it do so? Will it do so in such a way as to get the truth to those who still believe a false story?


  1. You can see an archived copy of the webpage here: "Fields of Watermelons Found on Mars, Police Say", Archive Today, 6/8/2021.
  2. Katie Rogers, "Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church", The New York Times, 6/1/2020.
  3. Mark Lee Greenblatt, "Final Statement", Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior, 6/9/2021. The full report is available here: "Review of U.S. Park Police Actions at Lafayette Park", Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior, 6/2021.
  4. Glenn Greenwald cites several other major news outlets that made the same claim, see: "Yet Another Media Tale―Trump Tear-Gassed Protesters For a Church Photo Op―Collapses", Glenn Greenwald, 6/9/2021.

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