World Domination Update
“Birds Chirping Acapellican”
vol. IX, iss. ii

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness”
                                            —Matthew 3:3


Quote of the Moment:  “God was my copilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat Him. — anonymous (seen on bumpersticker)
Secret Word of the Day:  
Site of the Week:  Spider Man’s Greatest Bible Stories
Barbecue Sauce of the Month:  Señor Sonora’s South-of-the-Border Salsa Splash Sauce

In this issue:

·  Cyber-Compound Contest
·  Got Sauce?
·  Why does it hurt when I pee in Tuskegee?
·  The Mystery of MS 408
·  Ask Evil Matt
·  Hedgehog Offspring


Hey, Boys & Girls!!!

    Well, folks, it’s April 19th...  Flames Day...  and time for us to remember and rue the conflagratory finale to the Waco siege.  So, y’all know the drill: go singe something (such as yourself) with great shame; dreaded remembrance that if your beliefs are not Brain Police-approved, you could be that guy.

Me, I’ll observe by lighting up candles: today is also our 8th Anniversary!  [does the ‘eight-year victory dance’ around the cake.]  Weather permitting, we’re having a barbecue party to celebrate:  a (hopefully) low-key picnic grill out on the Cyber-Compound’s south lawn, so by all means stop on bye.  Chef shade’ll be cooking up some tasty sacred cows, and we gotcha covered for the barbecue sauce—we’ve got buckets of the stuff handy and even on tap—but by all means feel free to bring your own.

Anyway,,, Branch Floridianism has been up and active for eight years now as a resistance movement in the War For Your Brain.

Do we count as an “insurgency” at this point?

We’re obviously on the Brain Police radar, and their attacks on us continue.  Here’s the latest bit of anti-Branch propaganda to surface, this one most certainly of the earlier ilk that confused MSN troll Michelson-Morley with us.  From an on-line review of the video “Bizarre Cults” [emphasis added]:


(3/5)And there's plenty of these things out there...

The cults on this video are pretty bizarre, but they aren't the most bizarre out there - I've personally had run-ins with the SomewhereReal cult run by Sav (or S_A_V as he prefers), which worships sunspots, and the Branch Floridians run by Michelson-Morely and Reverend Fairinheight451. What is not explored in enough detail in this video is the way such cult leaders use psychological manipulation and abusive behaviour to control their followers and prevent criticism. There is instead a concentration on their bizarre beliefs. It's a shame, but it's important that these kind of people be exposed, so people can be aware of what they do.


Cheese-us Rice, I thought I cleared up all that confusion back in December, but then again the post is undated and unsigned.  Most likely this is a Brain Police misinformation game, or even a cointelpro variation, aimed at tarnishing our otherwise sterling name.

And what probably gills me the greatest is they still can’t even get my name—let alone other basic Branch Floridian facts—straight.  Man, I’m takin’ this shit personally....

In the mean-time, we’re still settling into our new Cyber-Bunker.  While fixing links, I took the time to update my bookmarks, which allowed me put in some new and needed sections, rooms if you will, in the Athenæum.  Our on-line reference library now has index list inventories on Branch Floridian Stances (ie: past Update articles) on Conspiracies, Hoaxes, and some other crap.  The Secret Rooms got a special work-over, and will be expanded by popular demand to forty-two total.  Plus I did an over-all tweezing of the whole site code-wise.  As a precaution, I’ve specifically booby-trapped the html to display different texts to different browsers.  This is mostly to weed out trolls, spam spiders,  and Brain Police web browsers.  If you can block off fnard pop-ups, you’ll probably be fine.  Then again, you should be logging into the Compound with a pineal chip implant anyway.


I’m still interested to know the evil fiend was that pulled the Pearl Harbor on our old site.  I have my theories and suspects, but only Angelfire knows for sure, and no way they’ll tell me without a court order.  But I’d like to find out, and I still offer a reward of Φ1,000,000 for the the culprit’s identity.  I feel like my 6th Amendment rights have been violated by not knowing who did this to me and why.

Hell, I’ll even do this: tips and information can be sent in anonymously to .  I here-by give permission for anyone with information to use that name in their own “send from” fields if they wish to mask their own ‘send’ identity.  So if it’s an anonymous tip, I’ll leave the flax in big bales out back by the shed.  

Seeing as several of you have expressed similar outrage over this, plus pet theories as to who’s behind it (or at least who was the Brain Police patsy...) I propose this:

A Contest!

Send your theory about who ratted out the old Cyber-Compound and make sure to attach a file of flax.  Everyone kicks in Φ1 per guess, and yes, you can vote more than once and for different people.  If (and hopefully when) we find out who did us this wrong, all correct guesses get to divvy up the flax.  If we’re all wrong, the flax goes to the fund for our legal team of evil lawyer dæmons, who even now are whetting their whips and cracking their daggers.

I also might give a prize out for most creative theory received.


...speaking of people sending in their theories...


Reader Feedback



After reading your piece on the Lord's Prayer, I was wondering about the translation of Yahweh into "I am what I am." Given the multiple interpretations and translations, is it possible that it really means "I Yam What I Yam"? That would indicate that God (at least the Old Testament God) is really Popeye. That would, of course, make Brutus (or is it Bluto -- his name seems to change from cartoon to cartoon) Satan, Olive Oyl the Virgin Mary and Swee' Pea would be Jesus (after all, nobody knows WHERE Swee' Pea came from, and he always is sitting on Popeye's right hand). Popeye is very much into the concept of "an eye for an eye" and always doing the right thing.

There are a few problems with this scenario however. . .

Popeye is a single "lifer" in the navy, with all of the homoerotic conotations that implies, isn't very intelligent and needs his spinach fix to kick Brutus/Bluto's ass. It also doesn't explain the characters of Poopdeck Pappy or Wimpy unless Wimpy is an amalgamation of all the disciples -- constantly begging and mooching off of whomever is convenient.

Just something to think about




shade’s Popeye peshar

 Popeye with a chubby

Sorry, but gonna have to go against your basic premise on this.  Admittedly, Popeye does indeed possess many qualities akin with God in the Old Testament  (they’re both wrathful, vengeful, jealous, smiting things left and right, etc.)  However, the Hebrew word for “yam” (as in the edible tuber) is בטטה (“batatah”) so the name of God would not be יהוה (“Yahweh”) but יבטטהובטטה (“Yabatatahwebatatah”) which the Exodus text does not support.  

But I like your style, so let’s give this legs run with it.

How ’bout Popeye as Jesus, and Brutus as Judas Iscariot (think “et tu, Brute?” betrayal.)  That would make Olive Oyl Mary Magdeline, and Wimpy as Peter (the hamburgers are the keys to the kingdom.)

Speaking of food metaphors, I also figured out how spinach fits in.  Eating it is like becoming possessed by the Holy Spirit.  Popeye downs a can, and suddenly there’s this angelic fanfare of trumpets as he swells up super-human.  Best evidence: normally Popeye just mumbles semi-coherently, but when he’s on spinach it’s the only time you can actually understand what he says.  Glossalalia (Acts 2:4)


saint’s peshar


shade may be dismissing Stealth Digger’s thesis too soon: יבטטהובטטה does show up in some texts.  “Yabatatahwebatatah” is listed in gnostic treatises on the Archons as a variant of Samael (the insane Blind God—and recall Popeye is always squinting.)  “Yabatatahwebatatah” also gets mention in the Necronomicon, as one of Hastur the Unspeakable’s minions (entries on Yaldaboath and Cthulhu also mention “Yabatatahwebatatah” by name.)

If one gets into Gematria values, things get scary.  If we transliterate Popeye into Hebrew as פופעיע, it has a value of 316.  בטטה has a value of 25.  יבטטהובטטה has a value of 66.

If you add those numbers together, you get 407.  If you multiply them together, you get 521,400.  If you divide 521,400 by 407, you get Lee Harvey Oswald’s library card number when he was living in New Orleans—with a repeating decimal remainder that exactly equals Oswald’s late fees.

Coincidence?  I think not!


Reader Feedback


Good job on the Update, and gradulations for the new Cyber-compoundGumby's got yer site.  I'll order up a pie and shake down the driver-see what he knows.  I bet I can get hhim to talk& tell who did it at corporate.



shade’s peshar


Hehehe, not that I endorse such strong-arm tactics, but to speculate a bit I might suggest you tie the driver up and make him eat the pizza if he doesn’t talk.  Make sure you order up some hideous special with extra everything—hey, it’s not like you’re going to actually pay for the damned thing.  Or be eating it yourself; that’s for the driver if he doesn’t ’fess up.  By the second slice he should be singing like a bird, but if he manages to not break, then it’s time to bust out those pokey stix you also ordered.  If pokey butter doesn’t scare the crap out of him, then he is a well-trained Brain Police agent who is willing to die from eating pizza and pokey butter than give up The Secrets...

...and while we’re on the subject of inedible confections...



by saint

FireSkunk got me a big thing of pistachio nuts for Valentine’s Day, and I’d pretty much been living off them the ensuing weeks, but back at the beginning of March shade finally forced some “real” food on me.  Too weakened from pistachio malnutrition, I had no choice but to be dragged along.  For unknown reasons, he selected Whataburger.  Don’t ask: as y’all know, shade’s mind works in mysterious ways.

I should point out that I’ve eaten Whataburger once, and that was back in 1987.  Now this was extremely nasty, but we can’t prosecute you for that.  Agreed.  So I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and try again.

Yeah, I know: rookie mistake.

We walk in, and I immediately notice they’re playing music on the p.a.: current selection was “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers.  Now, I’ve nothing against the song, but in retrospect it should have been my first tip-off that something, well, sinister was afoot.

shade, being smarter than I am, stuck to something simple: he ordered a burger straight up and a cup of coffee.   Meanwhile, I look over the menu, and immediately realize there’s nothing I want.  Familiar feeling, but hey: shade’s buying, so I should be polite and get something.  But I can’t make up my mind, so the lady rings up shade and he pays while I’m still deciding.

It all looked nasty and I just couldn’t psyche myself up for any of it, but I then remember that Flaming Faggot occasionally shows up around the Compound with a Whataburger bag (a ‘whatasac’?) and seems fond of their chicken strips, so I decide to go for those.  

This triggers her compulsory pimping of the combo meal option—fries and a drink.  I say “okay.” But I’m not all that much of a fry guy, so I ask the lady if I can upgrade from fries to onion rings.  She says sure, and promptly charges me for both.

I don’t need both: that’s more food than I want to deal with, and shade says he isn’t interested in splitting them.  So I ask her to remove the fries from the order.  The girl gets that furrowed brow indicating brain cells rubbing together, and after jabbing pretty much every button on the register in futile frustration, calls the manager over.

The manager explains the problem: all she has to do is hit “Combo Meal” and then “substitute” and “onion rings.”  Sounds simple, straight forward.

The girl nods, and immediately does the exact same thing: charge me for both items.  She says the total, and looks at me expectantly.

I politely point out that Something is Wrong on Saturn 3, and she does more clumsy tapping on the pad to stet her error.  No go.  Again the manager comes over, voids the order, and verbally explains: hit combo and substitute.  The girl nods, and the goon-in-charge wanders off.

Third try: the girl does the same thing: hits me up for both items.  I see both toll up on the register screen, and promptly call bullshit on it: “no,” I explain, “you need to hit ‘substitute’ before you hit the picture of the onion rings.”  Having sat through the instructions twice now from the other side of the counter, I feel fully qualified to work the till at this point.  “Look,” I say earnestly, “if this is too complicated, you can skip the rings and I’ll just deal with the fries.”

She assures me there’s no problem, but she still can't figure out how to cancel the order, so she has to summon the manager a third time for a void.  The manager at that point is feeling the same frustration I am, and decides to enter the order herself.

shade pays for me, and I notice that he is holding his order: in the time it took to deal with this it had been served.  

So, we kick back and await my meal.

We quickly see a pattern: every time an order of chicken strips comes up and is set aside for us, one of the flunkies that mans the drive-through window would come over and grab it.  I guess they were a hot item that night, hence Flaming Faggot always getting them.  Hell, I wonder if F.F. himself wasn’t doing laps around the place in his car and deliberately ordering them through the drive-through, just to spite and deny me.

Although it seems that everyone in Tempe was ordering Chicken Strips that night, no one was getting onion rings, and they had to be fried up fresh from the freezer.  I suspect I could have grown some onions in the time it took to get these.  shade was just starting his second cup of coffee by the time my entire two-piece order was fully assembled.  She plops the boxes on a tray full of little packets of condiments and holds it out to me.

Which brings me to the point of this story.

I knew from Flaming Faggot that chicken strips were served with some bizarre glop alleged to be gravy.  Now, I’m not a gravy kind of guy, but I know what would be just boss for the strips and the rings, so I ask, “actually, can I get some barbecue sauce?”

This once again throws her for a loop.  Girl gives me this slack-jawed stare of abject horror like I’d just busted into her apartment and piddled on her carpet.  Long dramatic pause, and then...:

“We don’t have barbecue sauce!” 

I immediately have flashbacks to an earlier experience a few years ago with Sonic, where I was told the exact same thing.  shade and I just stare back at her, stunned into silence.

“We haven’t had that for over a year,” she lamely concludes, though in some snide, puzzled-yet-condescending tone.  How foolish of me not to know this!

So I skip it, and just grab the food.

Given the ordeal it was obtaining all this, I actually expected it to be nasty, but to my surprise it wasn’t.  In fact, it was completely flavorless.  I think y’all’ll agree that’s better to taste no flavor than an absolutely rancid one.

But still: the entire ordeal, especially the punchline punctuation of not having barbecue sauce, has made me declare Whataburger unkosher, and I here-by add them to the Fast Food Shit List of Brain Police Infiltrated Places.


shade’s peshar


saint’s account of the Wataburger fiasco is, of course, the short version of the situation—he skipped the subplot about the two kilt-wearing gits that came in after us and (in a thick brogue) ordered a double-breasted chicken sandwich with hot tea.  I half-expected them to hit her up for a side of whatahaggis.  Anyway, think about that for a second and you’ll truly appreciate the horror of the ordeal.

To be honest, I was expecting the girl to go “we don’t have barbecue, so would you want some ranch dressing instead?”  I felt saint’s pain, and I’d have snapped if she said that: grabbed the nearest blunt object and gone Neanderthal on her ass.

One other thing I noticed, and saint agreed with me when I later pointed it out: the way this wench said “We don’t have barbecue” was the exact same as the harpy at Sonic.  Kinda reminded me of that scene in Manchurian Candidate where that black guy is crying and going crazy, then suddenly snaps all calm & robotic when he intoned the “Raymond Shaw is the kindest...” line.  Except for the accent.  She was Mexican with a slight Hispanic twang, so it was kinda like that scene in Treasure of Sierra Madre where that gnarly old goat dude tells Bogart, “Batches?  We ain’t got no batches...”

We doan’ need no steenkeeng barbecue sauce!

However, I am disturbed that this is apparently the second place we’ve encountered that has banned barbecue sauce from its complementary condiment offerings.

What’s more, I did notice that ranch dressing was still available.   Like I said, I half-expected the wench to offer saint some in lieu of the bbq.

I think that says something: the ranch virus has infected its way into mainstream retail, and is slowly but surely eliminating any good competition.


speaking of deadly social viruses...


Your Tax Dollars in Action (part 69):
The Tuskegee Syphilis Study


If you’re already starting to feel squeamish from the subject (and dreading my doing something like run every bad slang name for syphilis in the ensuing paragraphs), click here to skip to the next item.


Still with me?  Good; because this is actually interesting.

In 1932, the United States Public Health Service (the predecessor to today’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention) decided that it would study the effects of syphilis on the human body.  To do so, they found 400 people—mostly poor black sharecroppers—in Tuskegee, Alabama who had the disease, and deliberately withheld treatment from them.  This study actually lasted for 40 years, and the only thing that ended it was a news leak to The New York Times.

How’s that for your Government at work?


To back up a bit and put this in context, Syphilis has afflicted humanity since the beginning of history, but no cure for it existed until the advent of penicillin in 1947.  Most of the “cures” being passed around at the end of the 19th/start of the 20th Century were shams.  Granted, some actually had legit intents, but they also had dangerous ingredients, such as Salversan (whose marketing motto should have been “chock full o’ that arsenic goodness!”)  One of the more bizarre attempts to cure syphilis was to inflict the patient with malaria: it was suspected that the resulting intense fever would kill off the syphilis (it usually didn’t) but even then the patient then had to cope with surviving not only an STD but the malaria as well.  By 1930, doctors suspected that the overwhelming majority of the so-called syphilitic cures were more harmful to the patient than the actual disease itself.  Indeed, a common belief among the medical community at the time was that syphilis sometimes remains dormant in its host, and may not actually do anything at all. 

But of course, all that was just conjecture, and to actually prove these theories, some sort of actual test would need to be performed...

So, in the name of “science” the U.S. Government began what was officially termed the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.”  They found people in an enclosed community who had all had a positive result on the Wasserman test.  Half of the 400 were to receive some of the various-but-suspect “cures” on the market.  The other half were to receive no treatment at all, and the plan was to see who did better.

An oft-cited urban legend in conspiracy circles is that the subjects were deliberately infected with the illness, but this is demonstrably not true.

In compensation for participating in this ghoulish project, the test subjects were promised the following:

Obviously—or not—none of the subjects knew they were subjects in this study.  In fact, in many if not most cases, the patients were not even informed that they had syphilis.  The diagnosis doctors told to them was “bad blood,” which was a local catch-all phrase that encompassed everything from syphilis to anemia to just simple fatigue.  Since the patients were withheld knowledge of the true nature of their problem, many of them continued to have sexual relations with their spouses, thus spreading the disease to them and even to children born as a result of this.

The original proposal called for the program to last about six months, but somewhere along the way the people involved realized that they had a veritable (if morbid) goldmine of potential information here on the disease’s effects, and decided to continue to follow the cases all the way to the autopsy table.  Apparently they were very curious as to the effects of syphilis post-mortem.  However, the disease often takes painful decades to kill you, so they knew this would be a long-term project almost from the outset, with much suffering for the afflicted along the way.

When the Tuskegee Study began in 1932, there was no cure for syphilis.  However, back in 1928 a hungry hedgehog inadvertently led to the discovery of penicillin, and by 1947 it was recognized to be the be the best treatment for many bacterial diseases, including “social diseases” such as syphilis.  However, the doctors working at Tuskegee were apparently reluctant to give up a Government grant, and decided to press on with their research.  Even though all the people in the Tuskegee experiment could have been cured at that point, treatment was deliberately withheld so the effects of the disease could continue to be observed.

One of the most disturbing aspects of all this is the hypocrisy underlying all of it.  This goes beyond the fact that 399 infected men sought treatment for an ailment in good faith, and it was deliberately withheld from them.  That’s just basic Hippocratic Oath-breaking.  No, the entire experiment is more than a little Dr. Mengele vibe, and fifteen years after the start of the Tuskegee Study, Nazi scientists were put on trial for what strikes me as virtually identical endeavors on Jews in the Concentration Camps.  I’m puzzled by this double standard of public perception here...

But I digress.

The only thing that ended the study was its public revelation.  Through means I have not been able to discover, details of the Tuskegee Study were leaked to the press.  On July 26, 1972, the world at large got wind of its existence when the New York Times ran a front-page headline “Syphilis Victims in U.S. Study Went Untreated for 40 Years.”

The public outcry was immediate, and an ad hoc advisory panel was formed which investigated the Study and determined it to be medically unjustified and ordered it ended.  A class-action suit by the NAACP also got survivors a settlement of $9 million and a complementary shot of penicillin.

However, this was forty years after its inception, and by then only 74 of the original 399 patients were still alive.  I have seen widely divergent statistics on the matter of how many of the people in the Study specifically died from the untreated disease: low figure is 28, high is 100. 

On May 16th, 1997, President Clinton issued a formal apology to the few survivors.  I suspect that the STD subject-matter struck close to home to the libidinous Chief Exec.


...meanwhile, moving back to the mysteries and enigmas of World Domination...


The Voynich Manuscript


In 1911, the Jesuit college at Villa Mondragone (Italy) needed to raise funds for the restoration of their school, so they decided to have a private sale of some of their assets.  A Russo-American book dealer named Wilfrid Voynich was one of the lucky ones invited.  While perusing their offerings, Voynich made a startling discovery among stacks.  As he later told the tale:


While examining the manuscripts, with a view to the acquisition of at least a part of the collection, my attention was especially drawn by one volume.  It was such an ugly duckling compared with the other manuscripts, with their rich decorations in gold and colors, that my interest was aroused at once.  I found that it was written entirely in cipher.  Even a necessarily brief examination of the vellum upon which it was written, the calligraphy, the drawings and the pigments suggested to me as the origin the latter part of the thirteenth century. The drawings indicated it to be an encyclopedic work on natural philosophy.


The book itself had no title on it, but even if it did, it most certainly wouldn’t be legible: the entire book was written in an exotic alphabet that Voynich had ever even seen before.  Only one thing was legible, and it wasn’t even part of the manuscript proper.  Tucked in the front was a letter, written in Latin, apparently from Johannes Marcus Marci (a professor at Charles University in Prague) to the then-renowned Jesuit scholar/linguist Athanasius Kircher.

  Reverend and Distinguished Sir; Father in Christ:

This book, bequeathed to me by an intimate friend, I destined for you, my very dear Athanasius, as soon as it came into my possession, for I was convinced it could be read by no-one except yourself.

[...{Marci sucks up to Kircher for a few paragraphs, then tells what he knows of the tome}...]

Dr. Raphael, tutor to Ferdinand III, then King of Bohemia, told me the said book had belonged to the Emperor Rudolph and that he presented the bearer who brought him the book 600 ducats. He believed the author was Roger Bacon, the Englishman.

On this point I suspend judgment; it is your place to define for us what view we should take thereon, to whose favor and kindness I unreservedly commit myself and remain

At the command of your Reverence, 

Joannes Marcus Marci, of Cronland
Prague, 19th August 1666.


Voynich, who knew his history, was stunned.  If you don’t know your history, here is a brief recap of the principle players just mentioned in the letter in connection with the book: 

Roger Bacon: oddball philosopher.  Early advocate for the scientific method and even , but in his later years became increasingly obsessed with alchemy and astrology.  An ideal and plausible candidate to have written such a strange book.

Rudolph II: oddball Holy Roman Emperor.  Had the largest collection of in Europe, and an amply-documented penchant for occult studies—especially alchemy and related arcana.  An ideal and plausible candidate to have owned such a book.

Athanasius Kircher: oddball Jesuit scholar.  A professor at Collegio Romano, and widely acknowledged to be one of the more learned men of his day.  Unfortunately, much of what he’d learned and/or knew was .  Despite this, an ideal and plausible candidate to be the best man who could decipher such a book.

As said, Voynich knew his shit, and realized if the book was by Roger Bacon, it was worth a fortune.  He promptly bought the book (plus about 30 others) off the Jesuites, and back in the states, began devoting considerable time to deciphering it.  Sadly his efforts failed, as did those of the various scholars he subsequently subcontracted the task to.  Voynich died in 1961, and his widow sold the book to another antiques dealer, Hans Kraus.  Kraus couldn’t find a buyer for it, and ultimately donated it to Yale University, where it remains today at the Beinecke Rare Book Library.  It is officially listed as catalogue item MS 408, but it is universally known as the Voynich Manuscript.

I’ll call it the VMS for simplicity.

It’s about 6"x9", and an inch thick: 116 vellum leaves—several of them extra-long and designed to open out like a centerfold, making 234 pages in all.  The book has folios (page numbers) in the upper right: arabic numerals, probably added some time after the completion of the manuscript.  From gaps, we know 14 pages are missing (stubs from two still remain: someone physically excised them.)  Each page is filled with an elegant, indecipherable writing, and almost every page has some sort of illustration on it.  It is assumed, though not proven, that the text relates to the pictures somehow.  In many ways, the pictures are as enigmatic as the text.  There are distinct groupings based on theme, essentially forming chapters or sections.  Roughly, they are:

Voynich Manuscript

Herbal.  Pictures of plants and flowers.  None have been identified with certainty.  Many seem fantastical, or seem to be chimeras: flower of one, leaves of another, roots of a third...

Astronomy/astrology.  The sun, the moon, the individual signs of the Western Zodiac (the page with Aquarius and Capricorn is missing, though the folio jump indicates it was once there.)  Odd cosmology charts, often with the stars held by little women.

Biology(?)  Kind of creepy drawings of things that sometimes uncomfortably resemble internal organs, usually connected by some type of pipe/aqueduct system.  Nymphs are frequently included in the illustrations.  Kind of reminds me of that Terry Gilliam cartoon on a Flying Circuis episode where two cops go inside a convict's body.  

Pharmacopia.  Pictures of specific parts of plants (nuts/berries, roots, etc.)  A common theory is that the text relates to medicinal properties of these parts, or perhaps tips for collecting or preparing them.

“Recipies.”  About 30 pages of text-only at the end, short paragraphs marked to the side like a bulleted item by either a small, simple star a flower design.  Referred to for convenience as “recipies” by most researchers, though no one knows what they actually pertain to.

Voynich script/alphabet

The alphabet used throughout the VMS is completely unknown.  38 total characters appear [click here to see them] though several of them are ligature combinations, plus it is not known if there is duplication such as capital letters or final forms, or even punctuation marks or .  Some letters have their own rules, such as only appearing at the beginning or end of a word, some never appear in such places, some letters can be doubled, etc.  Even a group of vowels has been tentatively identified (ie: one of these letters will be in a word.)  Scholars are almost unanimous that it is not a randomly-generated pattern.

The book has about 35,000 words total, of varying lengths and frequencies.  Many are commonly used, some only appear once; interestingly, linguists agree the distribution conforms to Zamf’s Law.  Curiously, however, there is a fair amount of repetition in sentences: certain words tend to repeat themselves, in a couple places as much as three times in a row. 

It is not known if it is a language or a cipher or both.  Both avenues have been explored heavily, but never with any results (or at least anything that satisfied us skeptics.)  Both possibilities present problems for potential translators.  If it is a cipher, it is unknown what language it was intended to decrypt into.  All the obvious ones (and even some off-the-wall ones like Chinese) have been tried, but with no luck.

People who have taken a crack at it include the top team at Naval Intelligence that broke the Japanese codes during World War II.  Computers on the par with Deep Blue could not defeat it.

If you think you can read it, click here for a nice on-line archive of individual page scans.  If so, let me know what the hell this thing is: I’m curious.

In the VMS’s cover letter, Marci claimed he had been told by a certain “Dr. Raphael” (most certainly Raphael Mnishovsky) that the book had been written by Roger Bacon.  Anticipating the majority of people who now doubt this, Marci himself “suspend(ed) judgment” on the truthfulness of this.  Bacon was know to employ codes, but never any like this.  However, apparently some subsequent owner believed it was by Bacon, and sold it to Rudolf II for 600 ducats (which, depending who you ask, is between $30,000 and $50,000 dollars or about Φ420 tons of flax.)

That’s not chump change, especially back then, so many cite this as the motive for a hoax: whip up a gibberish grimoire that looks real, and sell it to some gullible, dwarf-hoarding nobleman.  Indeed, there even a cottage industry in Northern Italy at about this time that specialized in cranking out bogus books designed for quack practitioners and alchemists to flash at prospective patrons as a prop for their bona fides.  But none were as sophisticated as the VMS.

One interesting solution, which I am partial to for amused reasons yet dare not actually endorse, was that the book was not so much a hoax but a prank pulled on one of it’s earliest attempted translators, Fr. Athanasius Kircher.

Kircher was a wanna-be Renaissance Man, a jack of all trades but master of none.  Some of his discoveries and contributions are laudable—he was the first to suspect that The Plague was carried by micro-organisms—but back then no one knew just how wrong he was about a lot of other stuff, so he had the reputation of Mr. Know-It-All.  He knew it, too, and it did get to his head.

Kircher often wrote on topics he really knew nothing about.  I’m oddly reminded of Richard Wagner.  While Kircher never devolved to Wagner’s ‘vegetarian panthers of the swamps of Canada’ level, he did write extensively on music theory.  In fact, he even invent a “cat piano” where cats had been trained to meow/screech/hiss at specific pitches, and the keys on the piano were hooked up to sharp barbs to prompt the poor feline.  {And this was centuries before Arthur Ewing premiered his “mouse organ” with a heart-felt rendition of “the Bells of Saint Mary.”)

Anyway, one of the areas of “expertise” Kircher claimed specialty in was Linguistics.  Indeed, per the cover letter this was why the VMS was sent to him.  Admittedly, Kircher did pioneer work in Coptic translations, but sometimes he was just bone-headedly wrong.  A classic example of this was Kircher’s claim to have cracked Hieroglyphics.  This was centuries before the Rosetta Stone, and now that we can actually read Ancient Egyptian, we know just how off he was.  For example:

actual hieroglyphic

correct translation

Kircher translation


Osiris says



The treachery of Typhon ends at the throne of Isis; the moisture of nature is guarded by the vigilance of Anubis.



Several contemporary scholars suspected as much—that Kircher was often talking out of his ass—and in at least one instance decided to pull a prank on him to prove it.  In one celebrated instance, Andreas Mueller made a bogus manuscript, forged in random (and often made up) hieroglyphics, and sent to Kircher to translate.  Reportedly he was able to so so both immediately and with no problems.

If Kichner ever wrote about his endeavors with the VMS, they were in private letters now lost.  He never published anything on the VMS, which tends to disprove the above theory, as someone would have stepped forward and said “A-ha!  Caught you!”  Then again, such a hypothetical hoaxer could have laughed the rest of his life at stumping the alleged master. Or suckering some mad Emperor out of 600 Ducats.

I have to wonder if something similar is afoot here.  To be honest, my Spidey Senses tingle and tell me there’s something wrong here.  The plants portrayed in the pictures don’t seem to exist, which in itself suggests the entire work is the product of someone’s imagination.  Also, no other document has been found using Voynich script, so if this was a language/cypher, it had a microscopically small audience.

Hard to say, especially without a translation.

But I will say this: if the Voynich Manuscript is a hoax, it is one bad-ass hoax.


saint’s peshar


I don’t know if anybody has suggested it yet, but how ’bout this: maybe the pictures are a red herring that have nothing to do with the text.  The text is the real message; the drawings were tossed on as camouflage dressing, so if the book fell into “wrong” hands, its contents would still be concealed, but the “bad guys” would be misdirected into thinking it was just an alchemy herbal.  

The text could actually be by Roger Bacon—maybe a suppressed manuscript of his—that someone sympathetic with its heresy found and translated into Voynich to preserve and pass on.  Or it could be a compendium of heretical materials, such as a lost gospel (Thomas would fit quite nicely in the “recipes” section format.)  Or perhaps a secret society manifesto.  Something heretical and/or seditious/illegal.

This brings up another question about VMS that I don’t think’s been asked: most people seem to assume that the author of the VMS wrote the text off the top of his/her head...  has anyone thought that maybe s/he was copying from another source that was written in a non-Voynich language?

Areas worth exploring, I think.  I could be wrong, of course, but call it what you want: hunch, gut feeling, woman’s intuition...



Ask Evil Matt

The Evil One fields your queries, as channeled by Sister Ob’dewlla ‘X’.


reader feedback



    I'm just writing to share that although 8 countries are known to have the bomb, several countries including (but certainly not limited to) Brazil, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Germany have the ability to make nuclear weapons. Ukraine is also thought to possibly possess  nuclear strike capability due to "lost" weapons from the soviet era. Other nations including Taiwan and South Korea have also expressed interest in nuclear weaponry programs. In addition, several countries in Europe and Asia have the ability to forcefully commandeer weapons that are stationed in their countires. For example, right here in North America, Canada has several US nukes stationed at their military bases. Of course they would never turn them on us...or would they? Here's a link to a cool site on nuclear weapons... It was very informative.



Evil Matt’s peshar


Good call.  I debated what my parameters would be when I wrote that, and wussed out for a short version.  You get a bonus of φ100 credited to your account for calling me out.


anyway, on with the queries.

Q:  What is the difference between Coriander and Cilantro?

A:  None; both refer to the same plant (Coriandrum Sativum) but Europeans called it Coriander where-as transplanted Spanish in the “New World” called it Cilantro.  It is also called Chinese Parsley.  In Hebrew it is called Gawd (גד)—see Exodus 16:31—and in Greek korion (κοριου), from which the name Coriander derives.

Q:  is there an html ascii code for a schwa?

A: Ascii doesn’t support schwa, so traditionally @ is used. I think you mean Unicode, though, if you want it to appear in html. Try Ə for capital and ǝ for lower case.  Careful; they’re highly unstable.  Comes out looking like this: Ə ǝ.  ə will also work, but looks like this:  ə  .  There are probably others.  Obviously, browser beware, but looks okay in a pci.  However, I happen to know why you’re asking about it—hey, I’m Evil Matt, after all—so trust me: skip the Unicode and stick with a .gif on this.  

Q:  When did Puerto Rico become part of the United States?

A:  1898.  America getting it was part of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War.  It became a territorial commonwealth in 1952.

Q:  How many Jesuits have become Pope?

A:  None, though several have been related to Popes (cousins, nephews, etc.)



Got a question?  .



The Hedgehog Corner

By Harriet the Hedgehog



Royal  Hedgehogs
the next generation)


Announcing a birth:

King Quilliam XIV and his concubine consort hedgehog Thimbellina have sired an heir, the next in line for the Hedgehog Royal Throne in North America.  Please help welcome Prince Prickley to the world.

baby hedgehog Prince Prickley

Cute, i’n’t he?!?

I attended the baby shower, and must say it was a blast.  Royalty and noble ’hogs from all four corners of the globe, plus celebrity hedgehogs (such as myself, Sonic, and even Spiny Norman’s entourage) made it the event to be seen at.  Hedgehog gossip columns have been going non-stop about the scandalous hook-up between hedgehog pop star Nibbles and the Prince of Miller’s Grove plus the Archduke of Grover’s Mill.  And let’s not forget how Prince Pokey of Norway ate way too many mescal worms and honked during the badgerbadgerbadger dance.   We all got a good laugh from that, I can tell you!  The otters were life of the party, though, especially with an impromptu performance of The Micado via the party's ample supply of helium-filled balloons.  Not to be outdone, the groundhog delegation--led by Punxatawny Phil--broke into The H.M.S. Pinafor for a few bars until somehow morphing it into the Hokey Pokey.  Everyone joined in, because that really is what it's all about.

Anyway, Prince Prickley is doing well, and has no plans for the summer except extended naps.



    That’s it for now, folks; and y’all know the drill:


      Trust no one
      and always keep your lighter handy!


© 2005 (IX, ii)



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