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WTC attack spawns net industry of fear

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There's some good news today for all our London readers who have always believed - as do we - that two days is just not enough of a weekend. Well, we have it on good authority that you won't have to get up early on Monday and trudge your way to the office. Here's why:

To all,

I have just been told this story from a friend at work, I would take it seriously

My friends friend was walking in London last week and she saw a man drop his wallet. she picked it up and ran after him. once she caught him she gave the wallet to him and he was so grateful that he thought he would give her a piece of advice for the thanks. he was an Arab and told her to do herself a favour and do not be anywhere near the centre of London on the 13th of October. She was so scared that she went straight to the police. the police asked her if she would be able to identify the man, they gave her a book of wanted terrorists and she was able to identify him in the book.

This is not a circular its from me and was told to me from a reliable source.

tell all your friends

That's right - it's all going to kick off on Saturday. Tell all your friends and then run for the hills.

Or, if you've already received another version of this email: where the Arab drops his wallet in a cab/pub/pole-dancing club; where he gives the date as 28/30 September or 1/5/10 October; or where MI5 turn up at your door with a really big book of wanted terrorists, you might want to reflect on the net hoax phenomenon which can reduce otherwise rational people to headless chickens.

US inboxes have recently been infected with various strains of the 'Klingerman virus' email. It warns people not to open any blue envelope they get from 'The Klingerman Foundation'. If you do, you're dead - inside is a sponge saturated with an unknown, killer virus.

Laughable nonsense, or is it? Sadly, it's the very scale and scope of the net - it's great strength - which makes it the ideal platform for the rapid dissemination of disinformation and conspiracy hysteria. And for every hoaxer there are a thousand gullible people willing to believe.

Conspiracy theory

The tragic events at the World Trade Centre have spawned a veritable industry of imbecility. You want conspiracy? Try this out:

Here we have Q33NY in Wingdings font. It clearly shows a plane about to hit the WTC. Throw in a skull and crossbones and a Star of David, and there you have it - Zionist terrorist conspiracy.

It all makes sense. After all, thousands of Jewish office workers stayed at home on 11 September, didn't they?

But hold on, what's Q33NY got to do with it? Well, it's the flight number of one of the hijacked planes. Actually, it isn't. But hey, we've found a meaningful set of symbols. Let's not let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.

Indeed, the Wingdings controversy has been raging for some time. Why not render NYC in the same font?:

As long ago as 1992 Microsoft was obliged to issue a disclaimer stating that any apparently significant output in Wingdings was no more than co-incidental. This cut little ice with the black helicopter brigade, who continue to inflict their tiresome paranoia on cyberspace.

www.youreallgoingtodie.com

Another fear-inducing story which has been doing the rounds is the one about some urls which were registered before the WTC attack:

attackamerica.com
attackonamerica.com
attackontwintowers.com
august11horror.com
august11terror.com
horrorinamerica.com
horrorinnewyork.com
nycterroriststrike.com
pearlharborinmanhattan.com
terrorattack2001.com
towerofhorror.com
tradetowerstrike.com
worldtradecenter929.com
worldtradecenterbombs.com
worldtradetowerattack.com
worldtradetowerstrike.com
wterroristattack2001.com

Naturally, the fact that they were registered before the attack is clear evidence that the people who bought them had prior knowledge of the terrorists' plans. Quite what they intended to do with them remains unanswered.

Many of the urls cannot in fact be found. One that is active, www.pearlharborinmanhattan.com, can hardly be considered an al-Qaeda product.

If you do fancy hopping on this particular conspiracy bandwagon, www.attackontwintowers.com is up for auction at afternic.com. Starting bid $1000. Get in there now and avoid the rush.

But Nostradamus said...
Ok, that's all rubbish. But Nostradamus really did predict the WTC disaster. What about this posting gleaned from advogato.org?:

Nostradamus once wrote: "In the City of God there will be a great thunder, Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb" , "The third big war will begin when the big city is burning" - Nostradamus 1654
I always believed in the words of the great Nostradamus. Again, he prophesized the truth.

Convincing stuff. Even more so given that Nostradamus' powers must have extended to divination from the 'other side' - he died in 1566.

Interest in Nostradamus has rocketed in the weeks following the WTC attack. The above 'quatrain' (four-line verse), and many other versions of it, have been doing the rounds. They have found a credulous audience among those who have, apparently, neither the time nor the inclination to check the veracity of the words. It's a hoax.

So, what about a real Nostradamus prediction? youngskeptics.org offers the following, which apparently foresaw the space shuttle Challenger disaster:

Le pare enclin grande calamit, Par l'Hesperie & Insubre fera:Le feu en nef peste & captiuit', Mercure en l'Arc Saturne fenera.

The sloping park great calamity To be done through Hesperia and Insubria:The fire in the ship, plague and captivity, Mercury in Sagittarius Saturn will fade.

Wtf? We would suggest that any connection with Challenger is, at best, tenuous. 'The fire in the ship'? Hmmm. As for the rest of it, well, suggestions on a postcard please.

The predictions of Nostradamus have achieved an almost mythical status among believers. Such accolytes have the great advantage of being able to make the quatrains reflect any circumstance after the event. This process is what Stephen O'Leary recently called vaticinium ex eventu (prophesy after the fact) in the Daily Telegraph. Put simply, it's hammering a square peg very, very hard into a round hole until it fits.

No doubt many readers will be eager to prove that Nostradamus's predictions are right. If so, can they send us next week's National Lottery winning numbers? Thanks.

The face fits

No disaster conspiracy theory would be complete without a complimentary set of images demonstrating a hidden and sinister power at work. Who else but Satan himself would appear at the WTC?:

This process of finding images is known as pareidol, and is discussed further here. While the name of Allah in an aubergine, or a likeness of Mother Theresa of Calcutta in a sesame bun (no, really), might be amusing simulacra, accrediting an arbitrary plume of smoke with mephistophelean significance is preposterous.

When, as is the case of the above photograph, the image has been enhanced to more adequately make the point, you wonder what anyone has to gain from such rubbish.

But for real effect, just cut out the enhancement and go for the full fake:

This offering comes allegedly from the camera of a tourist who clearly picked the wrong moment to visit the World Trade Centre. It is so laughably amateur that it merits no further discussion.

1+1=4

It all adds up. And the answer is 11. Be afraid:

The date of the attack: 9/11 - 9 + 1 + 1 = 11
September 11th is the 254th day of the year: 2 + 5 + 4 = 11
After September 11th there are 111 days left to the end of the year.
119 is the area code to Iraq/Iran. 1 + 1 + 9 = 11
Twin Towers - standing side by side, looks like the number 11
The first plane to hit the towers was Flight 11
State of New York - The 11th State added to the Union
New York City - 11 Letters
Afghanistan - 11 Letters
The Pentagon - 11 Letters
Ramzi Yousef - 11 Letters (convicted of orchestrating the attack on the WTC in 1993)
Flight 11 - 92 on board - 9 + 2 = 11
Flight 77 - 65 on board - 6 + 5 = 11

This numerological gem comes from snopes2.com. The site notes:

The telephone country code of 119 is used for neither Iran nor Iraq -- Iran's country code is 98, Iraq's is 964, and 119 is invalid. Also, American Airlines Flight 77 carried 64 people (58 passengers and 6 crew members), not 65; hijacked United Flight 175 had 65 people on board.

Oh dear, oh dear. Back to the abacus then.

Numerical cock-ups notwithstanding, numerology has a long tradition. Those of an enquiring disposition can bone up on the subject at simplynumbers.com

In the spirit of investigation, we decided to take our own name - The Register, and apply simplynumbers' mathematical calculation to it. In summary, each letter is given a value. All the values are added up and reduced to a single figure. In our case this is 8. And, according to the blurb, eight equals Authority, Insight, Power, Money, Active.

You see? It works. Well, apart from the money bit...

It's written in the stars

If the numbers don't add up, then what about the stars? What have they got to say?

Quite the most astounding piece of astrology regarding the WTC can be found at astrology-online.com. They offer nothing less that the birthchart of the WTC:



In the most audacious piece of vaticinium ex eventu to be found anywhere, these charlatans explain how they deduced the WTC's birthdate:

First, lets determine the birthdate of the towers. Groundbreaking for construction was on August 5th, 1966. Steel construction began in August 1968. First tenant occupancy of tower one, WTC was December, 1970, and occupancy of tower two WTC began in January 1972. Ribbon cutting was on April 4, 1973

For our purposes, we will consider 08/05/1966 as the conception we don't do birthcharts based on conception date for people, so we will not for this building either. I am assuming since the first tenant took residence in December of 1970 that since most bills start first of the month (and leases) that we can safely call 12/01/1970 the birthdate of the first tower.

The Birthdate for the second tower we use the same logic 01/01/1972 Since this is a business not a residential area, the birth time will be considered, naturally, 9am.

Read it and weep. Now, can you guess what was written in the stars for 11 September?:

Transit Sun in the 8th House

This transit is often marked by certain major changes or transformations. Feelings tend to be enhanced, and emotions tend to run high. If this were a person and not a building, I would advise them to take the day off. The eighth house is also the house of death, it is a window of death, and this is important when you consider that the strongest element, the sun, is involved. This does not always mean physical death, it could mean the death of a way of life, however in this case, it most certainly pointed to physical death. This one simple transit alone, had it been pre-known or ran up by an astrologer in advance, would have been enough to keep me and everyone I know away from the WTC on this date.

Were it not for the fact that many people genuinely believe in astrology, this rubbish could be dismissed out of hand. As it is, the authors should be ashamed of themselves.

Apocalypse Now

It would be agreeable to end this piece with a touch of levity. Sadly, this will not be possible. A quick look at The India Times Astrospeak column reveals all:

Will there be a world war in 2001? The years 2001 to 2005 are tumultuous for world peace as a whole, and it is certain that atomic and nuclear weapons will be used across the world. Millions will die.

There you go - no hoax emails, no faking of photos, no black helicopters. Just straight, tell-it-like-it-is prophesy. Depressed? Don't worry, it's not all bad news:

Luckily India will not be affected as compared to the degree of devastation in other countries... As far as the Indian economy is concerned, investments in land and gold will be safe. The proper time to invest in land would be after the war between April-July 2002 by which time land will be available at attractive rates.

Spot on - if there's one thing guaranteed to free up real estate at attractive prices, it's all-out nuclear war.

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves - it's later than you think. ®

Related links

More on the Klingerman virus from snopes2.com.

A general overview of WTC hoaxes from time.com

Nostradumus's 'prediction' debunked by snopes2.com and urbanlegends.com

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