Pro Factoids

     The electronic version of the London Daily Telegraph reported a new value-added product for farmers who have crop circles appear in their barley fields-Crop Circle Beer. According to a report in the North Texas Skeptic, “Warminster Maltings in Wiltshire [England] was approached by a local farmer after an American brewing company expressed an interest in barley grown in his numerous mysterious fields.”

     The barley, which had to be processed separately from other batches of grains, has been malted and shipped to California for brewing. The mystic-flavored beer will not be available in England, but maltster Chris Garratt plans to visit the California brewery to test it. No word on whether hop growers might also profit from “hop circles.”

     On June 5, 2000, Virginia UFOlogist Larry Bryant filed a lawsuit against Virginia Governor James Gilmore “charging him with neglecting his constitutional duty to protect his state’s citizens from being abducted by UFOs,” reports the Skeptics UFO Newsletter (SUN, July 2000).

     “According to Bryant, ‘Whatever the court decides in this case may affect how all Earth governments (and society) treat the UFO problem from here on out. We petitioners hope that the case will entice numerous UFO-cover-up whistleblowers to come forward with evidence useful in combatting the [UFO] invasion’s harm and threat to public safety’.”

     Aside from publicity, it is unclear what Bryant can gain from this lawsuit. Does Bryant want the governor to shoot down UFOs-and, if so, what technology does the state have available to do so? The question also remains, were ETs to retaliate, would their assault be confined just to Virginia? Or might UFOs simply avoid flying over Virginia, thereby depriving its citizens the opportunity of siting UFOs, asks SUN.

     The New York Times reported on January 31 that the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) would stop referring welfare-to-work clients to jobs with the Psychic Network. The company had trained and hired 15 tarot card readers since April, but both psychics and politicians objected to the practice. A spokesperson for the HRA said the company had been selected for referral because “The pay is rather good, and it’s attractive to be able to work at home for mothers who have young children.” Recruitment fliers required successful candidates to be on public assistance, have a “compassionate personality” and be able to read, write and speak English. Companies hiring welfare-to-work clients receive financial benefits such as tax credits.

     An AP news release in the Statesman Journal September 30 reported a new Bible code discovery. Hebrew scholar Nathan Jacobi of Ashland, Oregon, has found a 22-letter, seven-word sentence coded into the Old Testament book of Isaiah 53. According to the article, the Hebrew code reads “Shakak Meal Yeshua Shmi Az Sasu Avim” and translates into “Gushing over Yeshua was my mighty name and the clouds rejoiced.” The code was found by using an Israeli computer program that searches for hidden messages in Hebrew texts.

     Searches for hidden messages coded into biblical texts first became popular when journalist Michael Drosnin’s book The Bible Code was published in 1997, and is based upon an article originally published in Statistical Science (Witztum et al., 1994). The techniques have been heavily criticized by skeptics who have been able to use similar programs and techniques to find hidden messages in texts as diverse as the Drosnin’s own book, which has the message “The Code is Evil” (NMSR Reports, October 1997), and the 1927 Sears Roebuck Catalog, which contains the score of every Chicago Cubs game (James Randi, 1998).

Statistical Science finally published a refutation of the original 1994 article supporting Bible codes (McKay et al., 1999). The lack of refutation had long been used by code supporters as evidence that the codes are genuine.

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