Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Journal of The Masonic Society" Issue #2 Coming Soon

Now that the holidays and some final personal issues from the unloading of my business are over (officially turned in my plunger in November, but it's been haunting me), Issue #2 of The Journal of The Masonic Society is in the final stages of assembly.

Articles include:

• Alpha Males: Trevor Stewart at Alpha Lodge, New Jersey by Jay Hochberg
• Cleaning the Temple by Mark A. Tabbert
• Defining Esotericism from a Masonic Perspective by Shawn Eyer
• On Brotherhood by Robert Wolfarth
• First Degree Masonic Tracing Board: art and text by Greg Stewart
• There's A Hole In Our Bucket, Dear Hiram, Dear Hiram by Stephen Dafoe
Photos by Ted Bastien

...and much, much more.

For more information on The Masonic Society, visit the Society's website at www.themasonicsociety.com

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The *New* Knight Templar Magazine


Chapeaux off and huzzahs to the Knight Templar Magazine and its editor Sir Knight John Palmer. Over the last few months, with the strong encouragement of Most Eminant Grand Master Koon, the monthly magazine has shed its dated, black and white skin, cut back on grip-n-grin (GAG) photos, and been reborn. It now hits mailboxes in full color, with limited advertising, color photos, an increase in pages, and honest-to-goodness articles about Templarism (both medieval and modern), chivalry, Christian history, archeology, and symbolism. And SK Palmer has assembled a prestigious lineup for the mag's editorial board: Rex Hutchens, Stephen Dafoe, Aaron Shoemaker, Leroy Delionbach, Terry Plemons, and Sid Dorris.

In addition to going out to 130,000 Templars every month, it is also available online at www.issu.com.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thank you. It's Been A Gift


A year ago, after my heart 'n cancer scare, I said everything after Christmas Eve 2007 was a gift, and that has been absolutely true. Alice and I thank each and every one of you for a wonderful year. A new book. The Masonic Society. Meeting new friends, visiting new places, achieving new accomplishments, and now that our business has been sold, our lives are going in a new direction.

We couldn't have done it without you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Americans Settling Down?


One of the commonly cited reasons for societal instability, Americans' post-1960's wanderlust, seems to have cooled over the years. In fact, it may be that the eternally wandering American, with no roots and no extended family, may finally be looking for some stability.

According to a new study by the Pew Center,

Using polling data and government statistics, Pew found only 13 percent of Americans moved house between 2006-2007, the lowest rate since records began in the 1940s.

According to Thursday's report, roaming has been on the wane since the 1960s -- an era when millions followed beatnik author Jack Kerouac "On the Road."

Analysts say the slipping trend is due to an aging population. "The US population is getting older and most moves are made when people are young," Pew researchers noted.

While the annual rate of migration had stood since the 1960s at around 60 percent, that had fallen last year to its lowest level ever with the onslaught of the property crisis.

Some 38.6 million people moved between 2006-2007, the lowest number since 1982-1983, a period which also saw an economic downturn.

Fugitive Michael Johnson

Fugitive Michael Johnson

The following is self explantory and is forwarded to districts bordering the U.S and Ontario.
Please cause a check of all lodge registers in your respective districts to see if this individual has visited an Ontario lodge.

The Ontario lodge register could indicate a visitor from: Patmos No. 348, White Rose No. 706, York No. 266 or Zeredatha No 451 (all Pennsylvania). Any other pertinent information concerning the subject, please advise.

This Maryland request for assistance will be forwarded to Grand Secretaries, Canada wide.

Advise this office accordingly, upon completion of the Inquiry.

Fraternally - Terry Shand
Grand Secretary



----- Original Message -----

From

To:

Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 1:04 PM

Subject: Wanted Fugitive Michael Johnson



Dear Mr. Shand,

I greatly appreciate anything you can do to contact your membership in regards to the following individual. We have reason to believe prior to Johnson fleeing from police in the United States , he was attempting to make contact with Masonic Lodge members in Canada . Johnson is a Masonic member in PA and there is information that he was reaching out to Canadian members prior to fleeing in an attempt to make contacts and or possibly a place to stay. Johnson was last seen operating a blue 2006, Chevrolet Cobalt with Pennsylvania license plates. The license plate number is MB11785 and is a Masonic Temple organizational plate. However Johnson had several license plates in his possession and may not have the same license plate on his car. Please reach out to any contacts in your law enforcement community that may help us locate Mr. Johnson.

The following is a brief synopsis from the Americas Most Wanted website which I forwarded to you from their webpage.

On Nov. 2, 2008, Johnson posed as an active police officer, picking up a 21-year-old woman in Southeast Baltimore and telling her he was arresting her as part of a sting operation on prostitution in the area.

Johnson then handcuffed the woman to the back seat of his minivan and allegedly drove her to an isolated area, and told her he'd let her off the hook if she had sex with him. The victim was able to describe her attacker's van and give a license plate number.

Johnson was quickly linked to the attack, and on Dec. 1, 2008, at his home near Hanover , Pa , Johnson engaged police in a standoff at his home, surrendering only after two long hours of confrontation. Inside his house, many police IDs and badges from various agencies.

That should have been an indication of Johnson's refusal to go down for his alleged crime. But soon after his arrest, the accused rapist was released from custody on $100,000 bail.

Johnson Takes Off Before Court Date
Following his arrest and release, Johnson, a commissioner in Penn Township , Pa. , soon became a hot topic in the local press. When his photo was splashed across newspapers and televisions in the area, it was discovered Johnson's alleged Nov. 2 attack was not his first.

Two other victims, independent of one another, came forward claiming Johnson had done the exact same thing to them in September -- just a month before his alleged Baltimore attack. Both victims were from York , where Johnson held the title of police officer for four years. Police believe Johnson had traveled to York because he knows the area well.

Johnson took off after learning of the impending charges, failing to appear for his scheduled arraignment in early December.

We are doing everything we can to find Johnson, and believe he is likely a serial rapist.

Johnson targets women he believes to be prostitutes and uses the same method each time he strikes. We believe he's likely armed and dangerous and probably willing to do anything to stay free.

You cooperation is greatly appreciated.


Todd W. Liddick
Trooper First Class
Maryland State Police
Westminster Barrack
Criminal Investigations Section
1100 Baltimore Blvd.
Westminster, MD 21157

410-386-3057 Desk
410-386-3000 Barrack
410-386-3003 Fax

-------------------------------
See also newspaper article: http://ydr.inyork.com/ydr/ci_11187394

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My *New* Templar Sword


The Ebay seller Classicliterati consistently carries the best and most unusual antique Templar swords. I knew sooner or later I'd succumb to their taunting and temptations. I fell hard for this specimen.

It was made in the 1880s by the Ames Sword Company, and features 3-dimensional knight figures on the hilt and grip, and very rare red and blue decoration on the scrimshaw grip (including the custom initials of its first owner, Sir Knight M. M. Clifford). It is truly one of the most unique and intricate Templar sword designs ever, and was selected as the representative sword featured on the cover of Ames' recently reprinted historical catalog.

Long Beach Temple's New Life


A developer in California has transformed the former Long Beach Masonic lodge building at 835 Locust Avenue into condominiums, now known as Long Beach Temple Lofts.


The Los Angeles Times took a tour—have a look.


Historic preservation requirements meant that the largely windowless building remain, well, largely windowless. (One condo has no windows at all.) The entry hall and exterior remain much as they were when it was built in 1927.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bill of Rights Day


217 years ago today, Virginia became the tenth of fourteen states to ratify the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution—the Bill of Rights. With them, American citizens were granted the freedom of speech, of the press, and of religion; unreasonable searches and seizures; and the right to a speedy and public trial by jury.

Or as wags of the period described it in relation to the new national government that the Constitution had created, the Bill of Rights was a "tub for the whale."

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Moon Looks Bigger Tonight


Put your coat on tonight and go outside to see a natural wonder that happens infrequently in our lifetime. The moon will look bigger and brighter tonight than it has appeared in fifteen years.

The Moon travels in an oval orbit around the Earth, and tonight it happens to line up at its closest point in 15 years, along with being a full moon to boot. That means the moon will appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter (along with making high-tide a bit higher). This won't happen again until 2016.

And it coincides with the annual Geminid meteor shower.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Grand Master of Portugal Passes Away

Most Worshipful brother Almiro Marques, Grand Master of the Regular Grand Lodge of Portugal, passed to the Celestial Lodge this evening. GM Marques was a native of Marinha Grande and a lawyer. He was elected as Grand Master in 2005.

According to an article in the Jornal de Noticias, he was 77 years old, and apparently died of respiratory problems, compounded by pneumonia.

His column is broken and his brethren mourn.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thanks To Logan Lodge No. 575

Congratulations to Worshipful Master-elect Kenneth Davis of Lodge Vitruvian No. 767, who went through his Past Master Degree this evening. The evening was a joint effort with the Past Masters of Vitruvian and of Major General John A. Logan Lodge No. 575, which meets at Indiana Freemasons' Hall in downtown Indianapolis. A laurel and hardy handshake to Logan's WM-elect Jamie Ridner, who also had his PM degree conferred.

Many thanks from all of us at Lodge Vitruvian to WBro. Kyle Fahrner for graciously allowing us to be a part of your evening. And a personal note of gratitude for presenting me with a certificate making me an honorary member of Logan Lodge. I am honored and proud to be associated with the men of this lodge.

BTW, it was great to see both WBros. Jeff Naylor and Eric Schmitz, especially on a night of predicted snow and ice. I always enjoy your company and your friendship.

Prohibition Ended December 5, 1933.


Just a reminder to the brethren in my jurisdiction that this supposedly happened 75 years ago today.

Celebrate responsibly.

Which reminds me. After many years I have been remiss in sending a shout out to Ely and all of the fine folks at Indianapolis' Elbow Room, our traditional downtown, post-meeting haunt. The food is good, they always treat us well, and many of the world's problems have been solved over a pint there. WBro. Carson Smith has even originated a secret due-guard that calls the brethren to its warm environs.

New Film "Brothers War" Has Freemasonry At Its Heart


Tino Struckman and his production company, Almighty Dog, produced a video program for the Grand Lodge of California last year. Now, Struckman, who has made something of a speciality of WWII dramas and documentaries, has written and produced Brother's War.

The film is described on the website:

Based on real events, the setting for Brother's War is the Eastern Front during the final days of World War II. In the midst of fierce fighting, as the Western Allies and the Russian Red Army make their advance toward Berlin, a British Army Officer attached to the Red Army discovers a secret that can shatter the unity of the Allies.

Seized by Stalin's dreaded Intelligence Service, he finds unexpected help from an enemy and fellow prisoner, a German Captain. A common bond through Freemasonry binds the two Officers by honor, oath and secrets. Joined by Anna, a beautiful Polish nurse cast adrift in the tides of war, the three are pursued by a ruthless Russian Intelligence Officer intent on preventing them from reaching Allied Command with their secret which could change the course of the war and the fate of millions.


While obviously dealing with a limited budget, from the looks of the trailer, Danish-born Struckman and director Jerry Buteyn have made a good looking film that tells a very personal story from a little-discussed portion of the history of the war.

No word yet on how it will be distributed.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Building A New Pyramid


I give up. I'm tired of explaining the "unfinished pyramid" is NOT a Masonic symbol, and the only reason anybody thinks it is comes from a 1884 quote by Harvard Professor Eliot Norton, who said that the Great Seal of the United States with its unfinished pyramid was "practically incapable of effective treatment; it can hardly, (however artistically treated by the designer), look otherwise than as a dull emblem of a Masonic fraternity."

I've decided to embrace the pyramid. Especially the unfinished pyramid.

With that in mind, have a look at what may be the most ambitious building project in three thousand years. Plans are underway in Dessau, Germany to begin construction of a new pyramid for the ages.
The German government has ponied up $90,000 in seed money (scarcely enough to print up the brochures) to begin construction of a 1,600 foot tall Great Pyramid, containing up to 5 million multi-colored blocks, filled with enthusiastic supporters' cremains. For a mere $900, your earthly ashes can be part of what looks, up close, like the world's largest lego sculpture.

Sign up at The Great Pyramid.org

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New US Capitol Visitor's Center Opens

When I was in Washington last month, both the White House and the Capitol were swarming with workers building the temporary viewing stands for inauguration day in January. As a member of the US Capitol Historical Society, I've been hearing for years about the new US Capitol Visitor's Center being constructed below ground level. The facility has been needed for decades, because there's never been an adequate gathering place for tours (and I can attest from an embarrassing and unsuccessful attempt to painfully argue my way in to the Rayburn House Office Building after WAY too much coffee on a bitter cold morning, no public restrooms anywhere in the area). The Architect of the Capitol estimates the number of visitors to the building has risen from 1 million annually in 1970 to 3 million today.

Well, the new Visitor's Center opened today. Naturally, anything having to do with Congress costs nine or ten times what it it's estimated, and this is no exception. The $71 million project rose to $621 million before finally being completed. According to a press release from Citizens Against Government Waste,

Like the federal budget itself, Congress used the CVC as a warehouse for tens of millions of dollars in extravagant bells and whistles for itself. Even more reprehensible, members of Congress seeking to add special features for themselves used security concerns surrounding the September 11 attacks to justify their extravagant add-ons and constant change orders.”

Original plans called for more than half of the CVC space to be left as unfinished “shell space”, available to be outfitted for future needs. Instead, in 2001 Congress began implementing its wish list for the unfinished spaces. The House side got a two-story hearing room and the Senate grafted on a collection of small hearing rooms and a television and radio studio with adjoining makeup facilities so that senators could cut spots for their constituents back home. Those two efforts alone added $85 million to the cost of the CVC. The CVC will also have a 450-seat dining area, two orientation theaters (one for each chamber), a large auditorium, and an exhibition hall.


Not to play partisan politics here, but Senate Majority leader Harry Reid today made it clear how he feels about the taxpayers he ostensibly works for. In his remarks at the center's opening today he said,

"My staff tells me not to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway," said Reid in his remarks. "In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it's true. Well, that is no longer going to be necessary."


Please do tell your colleagues the feeling is mutual.

Monday, December 01, 2008

UFO Group Pressures Obama To Release X-Files

An organization calling itself the Extraterrestrial Phenomenon Political Action Committee (X-PPAC) has written to the President-Elect and demanded that he "end the six-decade truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race".

The group is asking Obama to insist on a "full briefing from your military services and intelligence agencies regarding what they know" as well as open congressional hearings "to take testimony from scores of government witnesses who have already come forward with extraordinary evidence and are prepared to testify under oath."

X-PPAC believes they have at least two champions in Obama's incoming White House staff. Both John Podesta, who is running Mr Obama's White House transition team, and Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico, who is expected to secure a cabinet post, have both professed public belief in UFO sightings.

From an article in the Telegraph yesterday:

Of course, us shape-shifting reptilian Freemasons will put a stop to THAT.
When he was the White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, Mr Podesta led a project to declassify 800 million pages of intelligence documents. In a press conference, still available to watch on the YouTube website, Mr Podesta said: "It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the real nature of this phenomenon."

Gov Richardson, a former presidential candidate and fellow UFO aficionado, has written a forward to a book on the so-called Roswell Incident in New Mexico, where campaigners believe an alien spacecraft crash landed near the town of Roswell in 1947 and that the corpses of humanoid aliens have been kept hidden under lock and key by the government.
He has called for full disclosure by the Pentagon of what really occurred and reiterated his belief that there had been a "cover-up" during a presidential debate last year.

The campaigners, who want the truth "out there", believe that the British Government's decision to declassify thousands of UFO sighting documents this year has made it untenable for the US to maintain its policy of non-disclosure.
Only last week a US Air Force pilot, Milton Torres, whose testimony was released from the British archives, appeared on US television explaining how he was ordered to shoot down a large UFO over the UK in 1957 and then silenced by military officials, who told him never to speak of the incident.

Stephen Bassett, Executive Director of the Extraterrestrial Phenomenon Political Action Committee, expects to have gathered 40,000 signatures via email and fax by Mr Obama's inauguration day on Jan 20 in support of his calls for openness.