Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Can Freemasonry be secular?

Get out your passport, call the airlines, and meet me at Conway Hall on Red Lion Square in London this Saturday.

The Grand Orient of France is hosting a symposium titled "Can Freemasonry be Secular?"

Speakers include Masonic historians Dr. Andrew Prescott, Jeffrey Tyssens, and Pierre Mollier.

You may remember Dr. Prescott from an article on The Taper last year, discussing his history of British Freemasonry based on his research of old library documents.

It sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday — much more interesting than another pancake breakfast.

Image: Dr. Andrew Prescott, professor of history

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Black man installed as Master of traditionally white N.C. lodge

I join Bro. Hodapp (who scooped me on this story) in congratulating W. Bro. Joseph Adegboyega on his installation on January 5 as Worshipful Master of Piedmont-Pioneer Lodge No. 685, AF&AM, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Bro. Adegboyega is the first black man to be admitted to a "mainstream," traditionally white Masonic lodge working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, and the only black man to become Master of a traditionally white lodge.

Dr. (he holds a Ph.D. in psychology, and teaches anger and stress management techniques) Bro. Adegboyega is originally from Nigeria, and is a life member of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Canada. When he moved from Canada, where he was raised in 1997, to North Carolina, he was steered towards a Prince Hall lodge after inquiring at local "mainstream" lodges.

He felt that as an AF&AM Mason he wanted to remain with AF&AM Masons in the U.S., and not join a predominantly black Prince Hall lodge. In 2001 he was accepted as a member in Winston-Salem. He progressed "through the chairs," and was installed as the lodge's Worshipful Master earlier this month.

In November, 2003 Bro. Adegboyega published a paper discussing his personal thoughts about the Grand Lodge of North Carolina's failure to enact a resolution to recognize Prince Hall Masonry. The Grand Lodge of North Carolina has continued to refuse to pass a resolution recognizing Prince Hall Masonry in the ensuing years.

His essay closed with:
Every True Mason, who is aware of the need to preserve this organization for future generations, must endeavor to ensure that, North Carolina AF & AM Fraternity is not perceived as a racist organization; by both current or active and prospective members. People within and without are watching our actions and inactions! We need more hands on deck in our charitable efforts to this world and in order to move this world forward in peace and harmony. To wear Masonic jewelry or to occupy an official Masonic position are not indicative of True Masonry. The mind-set and the moral behavior of a member are the necessary ingredients of True Masonry. Any group of men can call themselves Masons without necessarily acting as True Masons. True Masons must be the Light in the darkness for others to follow. Such were the past American Leaders who created this nation to become the envy of the world!
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Monday, January 21, 2008

Ron Paul, Barack Obama lead by wide margins in our presidential primary polls

I'm moving our ongoing Burning Taper presidential primary back to the top of the page, in case there are new readers who may be missing seeing it buried ten articles down.

Moving it to the top again will make it fresh food for Google, too.

This poll has almost as much legitimacy as any other poll you're reading about in the papers. Many "professional" polls have fewer than 800 participants; we're only a magnitude of ten behind that, with (at this writing) 71 people voting in our Democratic primary, and 90 in the Republican primary.

Current results:

Barack Obama is out front in the Democratic field with 39%, followed by John Edwards with 27%, Hillary Clinton with 13%, Dennis Kucinich with 11%, Bill Richardson with 6%, and Mike Gravel with 4%.

In our Republican primary, Ron Paul leads the pack with 48%, with challengers Mike Huckabee at 14%, John McCain and Fred Thompson each at 12%, Mitt Romney at 10%, and Rudolph W. Giuliani barely registering with just 3% of the vote.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Masonic blog roundup

Work, family, new friends, and a laid-back and lethargic laziness have kept me from posting on The Taper lately.

I must admit... last month some of you spoiled me by sending in your "This is Who I Am" essays, which gave me a chance to keep the blog fresh and current without me having to write anything.

I want to say a sincere "thank you veddy much" to all who participated in the "We All Shine On" get-to-know-you project last month. It's great learning more about Burning Taper readers.

The "This is Who I Am" project is ongoing — submissions are always welcome.

While I've been experiencing my writer's block, Chuckles the Clown's little rhyme has been running through my head, and it wouldn't stop until I posted it.

As Masons, we often do things in threes, consciously and subconsciously, and sometimes, perhaps, semi-consciously. "In Memory Of Chuckles the Clown" was the third in the short series of "In Memory Of..." articles. The first two were "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "In Memory of Eli Stafford."

Not having read any other blogs for the past week or so, I found today that three well-known Masonic bloggers had also featured clowns in their writings this week, thus confirming the pattern of Masonic threes, as well as giving further credence to the belief that all things are inter-connected. Bros. Tom Accuosti, Greg Stewart, and Chris Hodapp wrote about a new study that showed that clowns are universally hated and/or feared by children.

Now, perhaps, we can surmise the real truth behind the death of Chuckles.

There have been some exceptionally good and interesting posts recently on many Masonic blogs.
  • Aude Vide Tace wonders how Shrine Clubs in his state get around the Grand Lodge of Kansas' ban on alcohol at all Masonic or Masonic-related functions.

  • At Bailey's Buddies blog, they're getting up early to go out and worship Sun Gods, er, I mean, Sun Dogs.

  • At Binyan Habayis, Bro. Isaac has noted how Freemasonry has unexpectedly helped many of us by providing opportunities to hone our skills in, and get over our fears of, public speaking. I know having served as Director of Masonic Education in my lodge, as well as reciting rituals, certainly helped me overcome any reticence I may have had about speaking in public.

  • Bro. A.C. at Examined Life examines life by musing about his own spiritual faith and how he's moved from a God-with-a-long-white-beard view of the Universe to something more cosmically pantheistic.

  • The Existential Cowboy takes a good look at Bro. J. Edgar Hoover's plans to abolish habeus corpus in America during his reign as head of the FBI, and poses some excellent questions about the disappearing right to habeus corpus in today's America.

  • Bro. Hodapp at Freemasons for Dummies wrote about Syed Haris Ahmed, the Pakistani-born former Georgia Tech student who videotaped physical targets for al-Queda terrorists. The targets included the Masonic Temple in Washington, DC. Ahmed said that Freemasons are "like the devil."

  • From Darkness to Light shines some light on Iranian Freemasonry.

  • Bro. Brian of Grail Seekers tells you everything you want to know about Grail chalices from all over the world.

  • Our friends at Homegrown Revolution tell us how to catch and eat a rat. I pray that's something none of us will ever have a need to do, but hey, it can't hurt to increase your survival skill set. Bon appetit!

  • Bro. John pokes a stick at the press, asking why they investigate and report all sorts of odd things about presidential candidates, but refuse to report on their more irrational, i.e., religious beliefs.

  • Bro. Osiris at the Kingdom of Conscience takes a bold look at black magick, gematria, King Solomon, and Freemasonry. Good to see him posting again after a prolonged absence.

  • Masonic Crusade's Masonic crusade is maturing. The blog will soon begin a point-by-point discussion of the changes that were inspired by former Grand Master of West Virginia Haas and approved by the brethren of West Virginia, before they were overruled by later grand masters, one of whom expelled Bro. Haas from Masonry. Stay tuned.

  • Masonic Minute has posted some great material lately. My favorite was the three-video series about astrotheology, a topic of great interest to me.

  • Bro. Silence Dogood of The Middle Chamber gives us a glimpse inside his heart with "Why We Come to Lodge."

  • British Bro. Ben of Middlesex-Fire explores the differences in the way Entered Apprentices wear their aprons and the differences between U.K. and U.S. Masonic funerals.

  • Our brother at Movable Jewel tells us of the joys and the stresses of being installed as Junior Warden of his lodge and as Senior Warden of Connecticut's Philosophic Lodge of Research within a few days of each other.

  • Reporter Sandy Frost tells of how she herself has been drawn into a 2006 lawsuit by the Shriners Hospitals for Children and The Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America (aka the Shriners) in an attempt to silence her.

  • Waking the Midnight Sun continues to bemuse and baffle me with tales of a day-glo chain-letter Jesus and pharmaceutical nightmares.

  • The new blog Wisdom, Strength and a Beauty continues to impress me. Video of the Brazilian Capoeira — a fight, a dance, a game, a ritual — is stunning and mesmerizing.
The Masonic blogosphere is in good hands with these (and other) bloggers and writers.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

In memory of Chuckles the Clown

A little song
A little dance
A little seltzer
Down your pants.

— Chuckles the Clown (1970-1975)

Chuckles the Clown was crushed by an elephant while he was wearing a giant peanut suit as master of ceremonies of a parade.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

The devil is in the details

[For your listening pleasure, you can click here to open a new window and listen to a demon-possessed MIDI file of "Tubular Bells," also known as "Theme from The Exorcist."]

A few weeks ago Father Gabriele Amorth, the official exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, Italy, announced that the Holy Father would soon undertake a new campaign to combat demonic possession. "Thank God," said the Italian priest, "we have a Pope who has decided to confront the devil head-on."

A couple of days after that, official Vatican spin doctors denied the story, saying, "Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of ordering local bishops to bring in garrisons of exorcists to fight demonic possession."

Father Amorth, who has personally cast the Devil out of someone over 3,000 times in the past 20 years, made news at least twice lately. In March, 2006 he accused a Mr. Harry Potter of being one of Satan's ringleaders. In August, 2006 he told the world that Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler were "possessed by the Devil." (Oddly, he didn't point the finger at any current world leaders.)

If Prince of Pitchforks is really taking possession of people at such an alarming rate, why did the Papal pals pull the plug and poop on the priest's parade? I mean, why isn't the Vatican backing Father Amorth, who says that the horned and hoofed hero of the heathen is everywhere?

"I speak with the Devil every day. I talk to him in Latin. He answers in Italian. I have been wrestling with him, day in day out, for 14 years," Amorth said in a 2001 interview.

The Pope himself is no stranger to Satan's influence. Benedict XVI, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, was Prelate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for many years before being poped a few years ago. The previous name of that organization was The Holy Inquisition, a group famous for giving hotfoots to more than a few sinners over the years. The Pope, as a youngster in Germany, was forced to become a member of the Hitler Youth, and later was drafted into military service by the German Army during World War II. I'm sure he's seen the Face of Evil many times.

So why has he backed down from Father Amorth's exorcism extravaganza?

We need exorcists now more than ever!

Just last week, an Idaho man discovered he bore the Mark of the Beast on his body, and to get rid of it, cut off his hand and microwaved it to a crisp.

And a few days later, in Washington, DC, long a home to Satan, cops serving an eviction notice found a mother of four calmly sitting amidst the rotting corpses of her four daughters, aged 5 to 17. The mom said that her daughters were "possessed by demons" and had died in their sleep, one by one, within a week of each other.

And in Mississippi, a man posing as a traveling preacher is scamming local churches out of room and board and sometimes cash in a diabolical plot reminiscent of the Walking Dude from Stephen King's The Stand.

Clearly, Satan is running amuck.

Even if the Pope quashes Father Amorth's plan to send forth Catholic exorcists across the land to save us from ourselves, we can thank God we have Protestant exorcist Bob Larson still on the job.

But wait! There's more to worry about. We apparently have at least two Anti-Christs walking among us, plus one sitting on your lap or desktop.

The first video proves without a doubt that Prince William, son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, is the Anti-Christ, and will be put on the Throne in 2015, aided by diabolical, numerological Freemasons.

The second one tells us that the Pope himself is the Anti-Christ, as have been all of them since at least the 1930s.

The third video tells us that our home computer is in reality The Anti-Christ. Rut-roh, Shaggy!

The Anti-Christ Prince:

The Anti-Christ Pope:

The Anti-Christ Computer:

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pimping the red, white and blue?

This article is not meant to be disrespectful to patriots, veterans, law enforcement officers, politicians, American flags, Freemasons, fifth-graders or Dollywood season pass holders.

Rep. David Davis is a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 1st congressional district of Tennessee.

A news article yesterday reported that he had spent the day Thursday in Sevierville, Tenn., a town of 15,500 that is 95% non-hispanic white, tucked away in the Smoky Mountains in northeastern Tennessee, six miles north of Pigeon Forge, home of Dolly Parton's Dollywood, and about 12 miles north of the Gatlinburg resort area. I've visited the area many times; it's pleasant, peaceful and panoramic.

Rep. Davis, accompanied by Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals, spent the day giving away American flags. I assume U.S. taxpayers paid for the flags.

First stop was the local American Legion Post No. 104, where Davis discussed veterans affairs and talked about how he had been instrumental in getting Christmas cards to hospitalized veterans and to active duty military personnel. Davis presented post commissioner Frank Ham an American flag, citing the local American Legion post for providing "patriotic service" to the community since 1924.

"If you want patriotism, call on us, we'll help you in some way," Ham said.

Ham told a reporter that he is working with Davis to try to bring a veteran's clinic to Sevier County.

Next stop: Mountain Star Masonic Lodge No. 197, where Davis presented an American flag to W. Bro. Don Floyd.

To emphasize that the lodge is primarily a service organization to the community, the reporter quoted Bro. Floyd as saying, "If someone needs a porch, we'll build it."

Later in the day, Rep. Davis and Sheriff Seals went to Boyds Creek Elementary School to give away yet another American flag.

Again, I don't mean to be critical here... but I'm just asking: Is this an appropriate use of taxpayer funds and personnel? Is this what we pay sheriffs and U.S. representatives to do, go around to non-profit (American Legion, Masonic lodge) and government (elementary school) facilities, giving warm and fuzzy speeches while giving away flags?

Is this a function of their jobs?

Oh, did I mention — both Rep. Davis and Sheriff Seals are up for re-election this year? Actually, the sheriff is up for election, not re-election, since he was appointed to the position of sheriff less than a year ago, after the death of his predecessor.

So, is it appropriate that these two men spent the day giving speeches under the guise of giving away American flags?

Oh, did I mention? — I should be referring to Sheriff Seals as Brother Seals. He's a Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite, and a Shriner. How do I know that? His memberships are predominantly featured on his election campaign website. He's a member of Mountain Star Lodge No. 197, the lodge Rep. Davis gave the flag to.

A few weeks ago I was blasted by a Mason for using this blog to endorse a presidential candidate. Since I am a Mason, some felt it inappropriate for me to publicly state a preference for one candidate over another, as if free speech was something a man gives up when he becomes a Mason.

What do you think about Rep. Davis and Bro. Sheriff Seals, spending the day (and maybe other days) "politicking" under the guise of patriotic speeches and flag-waving? (Obviously Sheriff Seals is not acting in the capacity of bodyguard for the Congressman.)

Is this accepted Standard Operating Procedure for today's elected officials?

And is it appropriate for Sheriff Seals to list his Masonic affiliations on his campaign website?

Image: U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, of Tennessee's 3rd district, presenting a new flag to an elementary school in his district. Apparently, doing the flag giveaway thing at elementary schools is common practice, at least in Tennessee. Is this patriotism, or politics?

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Friday, January 11, 2008

In memory of Eli Stafford, immediate Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia

The following is reprinted from the Grand Lodge of Georgia's newly designed website. This is the first I've heard that the most recent past grand master of Georgia, M.W. Bro. Eli Stafford, passed away in December.

Eli Austin Stafford, 73, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Georgia 2006-2007

Eli Austin Stafford assumed the exalted title and station of Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Georgia — the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a member of our Craft — on October 24, 2006 at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F.&A.M. held in Macon, Georgia.

Most Worshipful Brother Stafford, born in Claxton, Ga., was a graduate of Collins High School, Class of 1951. He served in the Georgia Army National Guard, 48th Division, 560th Combat Engineering Battalion, Company "C".

Before starting a very prosperous and productive career with Union Camp Co., Brother Stafford worked for Central Georgia Gas Company and for the Life Insurance Company of Georgia. He retired after 35 years of dedicated service with Union Camp. He served as President and Business Agent of Union Local No. 1391 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Chairman of the Joint Maintenance Unions of Union Camp & Chairman of the Insurance Committee of the Joint Maintenance Unions. He retired from active employment in June 1994.

Brother Eli was a member of Alpha United Methodist Church in Bloomingdale, where he served as Lay Leader, Chairman of the Administrative Board, Sunday School teacher, as well as a host of other committees. At the time of his death Brother Eli was serving as Secretary of the District United Methodist Men's Association. He was a qualified Lay Speaker in the District, served as Chairman of the Savannah District United Methodist Lay Speakers and attended the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church for many years as a Delegate and served on the Conference Evangelism Committee.

Most Worshipful Brother Stafford has a most impressive and extensive Masonic record of service to the Craft. He was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason April 23, 1965 in Richard T. Turner Lodge No. 116, in Pooler, Ga.; served as Worshipful Master of that Lodge in 1971, and subsequently served as Director of Work for 19 years as well as serving as Secretary for 26 years. He is a member of Clyo Lodge No. 280 and served for many years as Chaplain of that Lodge. As a charter member of Coastal Daylight Lodge No.750, Brother Eli served as Chaplain every year, except one, since it was chartered. He was elected and served as Worshipful Master of the First District Masonic Convention, appointed District Deputy to the Grand Master and served as District Director of Masonic Education for the 1st Masonic District.

Companion Stafford served York Rite and Scottish Rite Masonry as well. Exalted in Georgia Chapter No.3, Royal Arch Masons in 1988, he served as High Priest for both that Chapter and the York Rite District before being elected to the exalted station of Most Excellent Grand High Priest in 2003-2004. He was Greeted in Georgia Council No. 2 Royal and Select Masters. That same year. He served as Illustrious Master and was elected (Hon.) Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council, Royal and Select Masters of Georgia. In 1988 he was Knighted a member of Palestine Commandery No.7, Knights Templar; served as Eminent Commander and received the Knight Crusader of the Cross. Sir Knight Stafford was a recipient of the Knight Commander of the Temple Award and served on the Knight Templar's education committee.

He was a member of the Scottish Rite Consistory — Valley of Savannah and was awarded the 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary.

Noble Eli was a member of Alee Shrine in Savannah, served as President of the Knights of Mecca, and served as President of both West Chatham and Effingham Shrine Clubs. He was a member of Savannah Court No. 134, Royal Order of Jesters, Past Patron of Richard T. Turner Chapter No. 332, Order of the Eastern Star. Brother Eli was awarded the Grand Cross of Colors at the Grand Assembly of Rainbow for Girls.

Most Worshipful Brother Eli Austin Stafford is survived by his wife of 54 years, Lily Mae Brown Stafford of Bloomingdale, Georgia; four sons, Kenneth J. Stafford, Mitchell E. Stafford, Eason Andrew Stafford, and Eric B. Stafford; two brothers, M. W. Stafford, Jr., and Justin Stafford; sister, Jean Decker, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and a number of nieces and nephews.

The Brethren of Richard T. Turner Lodge No. 116, F.& A.M. conducted Masonic graveside services, Wednesday, December 26, 2007.

As we mourn the departure of a Brother beloved, from the circle of our Fraternity, may we trust that he hath entered into a higher Brotherhood, to engage in nobler duties and in heavenly work, to find rest from earthly labor, and refreshment from earthly care. May thy peace abide within us, to keep us from all evil! Make us grateful for present benefits, and crown us with immortal life and honor, — and to thy name shall be all the glory forever. Amen.

— From the Grand Lodge of Georgia website

Image: The late Eli Stafford, Past Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, and his wife

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In memory of Elizabeth Reed

A few weeks ago I wrote about and posted a few photos from Rose Hill Cemetery, located on the banks of the Ocmulgee River in Macon, Georgia.

I took well over a hundred photos of gravesites, and promised to share more here on The Taper.

During the 1970s, The Allman Brothers Band, along with many other "southern rock" bands of the era, including The Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie, were based in Macon. They recorded on Phil Walden's Capricorn Records label, which was located on Cotton Avenue.

Two original members of the band — guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley — died in Macon. Allman died in Oct. 1971 and Oakley in Nov. 1972, both in motorcycle accidents just three blocks apart.

Both men are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

I visited their graves a few times many, many years ago, when you could walk right up to them. The throng of tourists over the years specifically to see their tombstones has led to fencing and a stairway being added recently. In the old days, it wasn't unusual to see tributes of flowers in Boone's Farm wine bottles and guitar picks laid upon the graves. Today, a large metal fence keeps you from getting close enough to touch the graves.

Etched into the graves are guitars and the mushroom symbol The Allman Brothers used on their albums during the 1970s.

At the foot of Allman's grave is etched this sentiment: "I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to whoever will take it... seek knowledge from those wiser and teach those who wish to learn from me."

At the foot of Oakley's grave it says: "Help thy brothers boat across and lo! Thine own has reached the shore!"

Interestingly, the title of the instrumental song "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," composed by band member Dickey Betts, was inspired by a headstone in Rose Hill Cemetery, located not far from the Wolihin Masonic Monument I wrote about earlier. The song appears on the band's 1970 studio album Idlewild South, and their 1971 live album Live at Fillmore East.

Elizabeth Reid (note the spelling difference) was the infant daughter of Neel Reid, an architect who designed over 30 houses, many of them now famous, in Macon and Atlanta. He was also the architect for much of the original village of manors and cottages in Asheville, N.C. He died in 1926, one year after his daughter.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sex and violence beneath the Planet of the Apes

As you've probably noticed, monkey business is our business. I've written before that the Taper's masthead should probably be "by monkeys, about monkeys, for monkeys," instead of that esoteric mumbo-jumbo atop the page about "light."

Why do I like stories about great apes, chimpanzees and monkeys?

Because they're so much like us. There is so damn little difference between our species. Heck, we're 98.4% genetic brothers and sisters.

Who can tell the difference anymore?

Read these sets of stories, and then ask yourself who are the real animals here? | | | | | |

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

An irregular Masonic meeting

Bro. Tom Coste, of Halcyon Lodge No. 2 in Cleveland, Ohio, wrote in to tell us about an "irregular Masonic meeting" he attended earlier this week. The get-together was "irregular" because it began at 5:30 pm at the Jigsaw Saloon, where the gathered brothers enjoyed food and drink while listening to a band whose bass player is their lodge's Worshipful Master. Then, sadly (for them), they got to see on big screen TV the LSU Tigers chew up their beloved Ohio State Buckeyes.

An Irregular Masonic Meeting: 1/7/08 @ 5:30pm!?, by Bro. Tom Coste

Last night several brothers met up at the Jigsaw Saloon to take in The Whiskey Daredevils set, and to discuss pending Masonic Constitutional matters before the Ohio State/LSU game.

In attendance were a few Past Masters, but the average age of the brethren there was still only 37. The Whiskey Daredevils is Worshipful Master Ken Miller's band. He plays bass guitar with his blood brother as the lead singer. The Daredevils played to a full house starting around 7:00 pm alongside an all-you-can-eat hog roast and buffet with special draft beer included for $20. Not a bad deal, with the National Championship game to follow.

The place was filled with scarlet and grey and the smell of hot fresh pork. It was nice to have Masonic discourse and fellowship out in that environment. With the Masonic business concluding favorably, and jamming to a 1½ hour long set, it was time to focus on OSU. The start was great, just like last year, and ended the same as last year. I am glad I got out of there before it got ugly.

All in all, it was a pretty good night: Masonic business, Lodge business, Masonic internet discussions and what is transpiring out in the wild west of the web, Whiskey Daredevils, fellowship, food, beer and camaraderie with your Brothers.

I'm not a huge sports fan anymore, but I enjoy having casual fellowship with my brothers plus supporting ones hobby. It is nice to relax a little bit with the brothers all on the level, where no aprons or jewels may show a Masonic distinction between us. I hope all excel in their own personal Masonic endeavors in 2008 and may T.G.A.O.T.U. watch favorably over you and your Brothers.

So Mote It Be

Brother Tom Coste

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

You must conform!

The Prisoner.

Chances are, either you're already a big fan, or you've never heard of it. The Prisoner was a British television show in 1967-8, that also aired during the summer in the U.S.

Patrick McGoohan, who rode the 1960's James Bond-era spy genre to fame and fortune on television as Danger Man (in the U.K.) and Secret Agent (in the U.S.), co-wrote and produced the "social satire" known as The Prisoner.

As in any otherwise excellent television series, a few episodes of The Prisoner are less than stellar, but many still stand on the cutting edge for their biting social commentary, thoughtful and insightful dialog, and surreal settings and backgrounds.

Though the program touched on many social issues of the day, nothing was held more sacrosanct or paramount than the primacy of the individual and the sanctity of free thought.

[Beyond this point thar be Spoilers.]

One of the most famous quotes from the program hammers home the message: "I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I resign."

The other day in the comments section of an article on the Taper, some of us were bantering back and forth with snippets from another memorable dialog from the show. This exchange was featured in every episode in the intro:
Number 6: Where am I?
Number 2: In the Village.
Number 6: What do you want?
Number 2: We want information.
Number 6: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling. We want information... information... information.
Number 6: You won't get it.
Number 2: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number 6: Who are you?
Number 2: The new Number 2.
Number 6: Who is Number 1?
Number 2: You are Number 6.
Number 6: I am not a number, I am a free man.
This back-and-forth was seen each week, usually with Number 2 played each time by a different actor. Sometimes it was a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes old and sometimes young. Number 2 represents the world, society, the constant pressure to conform, to be like everyone else.

I've always been one to see multiple meanings in things, and I've long seen at least two double-meanings in this exchange.

On the surface, those who run The Village, where the Prisoner is confined, seek information about why he resigned his position as a spy for the British government. On another level, the Village (personified by Number 2) is calling for him to fall in[to] formation. In-formation. In-formation. In-formation. We want you to fall into formation.

Depending on which actor was playing Number 2, sometimes it was more noticeable than other times, the little pause between "in" and "formation."

Look [above] again at Number 2's final line, where he (or she) says "You are Number 6" in response to Number 6's question "Who is Number 1?"

Number 2 was telling Number 6 the truth. Add a comma to the sentence, and you'll understand.

"Who is Number 1?"

"You are, Number 6."

As we find out [warning — another spoiler] in the final episode "Fall Out" [of formation?], Number 6 is indeed Number 1. He is adjudged a "revolutionary of different calibre" who "has revolted, resisted, fought, destroyed resistance, overcome coercion," and thus has earned "the right to be person, some one or individual." He is given — or retakes — his throne.

All the facets of Number 6's very being are exposed — his humanity ("Dem Bones"), his animal-monkey nature, his youthful exuberance, his dark side, his compassionate side. All you need is love, we are told, as he escapes chaos to return to "normality," able to get back "on the bus," now knowing he is indeed his own Number 1.

This enlightenment is the same Light we find in our teachings of the resurrection of Jesus, and in the raising of Hiram, the new Master Mason.

This, to me, is the true teaching of Freemasonry.

The tenets of Masonry — brotherly love, relief, truth, morality — are just that: tenets, "opinions, doctrines, or principles held as being true by a person or especially by an organization." Our tenets as Masons are all well and good, but they aren't the POINT of Freemasonry.

The point is... that Point within the Circle.

That's what you were raised to the Sublime Degree to be, to become, to recognize yourself as — that Point within the Circle.

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus called it being the Light of the World.

Ayn Rand called it EGO. The prophet Elijah called it the still, small voice. The Buddha called it enlightenment. Castaneda's Don Juan Matus called it the Nagual. Seth called it the All That Is. The Taoists pointed towards it, but wouldn't name it.

But whatever It is, It is the "I AM."

But as the Zen saying goes, "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water."

All of us know It exists, and many of us have felt It, glimpsed It, and perhaps some live daily in constant unity with It, or as It.

But most of us never find It, or we lose sight of It once we do find It.

We're shown It's shadows as we progress through the Three Degrees, and we come face to face with It as we are raised. We are given It, and we become It. We are Number 1.

And then, before you know It, the dimmed lights are turned up, the brothers are slapping you on the back and shaking your hand, and you're reminded that you've just made a bunch of promises, some of which you probably didn't understand and couldn't even repeat correctly.

And again (and again and again, over time), you're reminded that you now have "obligations" to others, that you must be charitable to others, and most of all, subservient to certain others. Though you know that all brothers are equal, you're immediately given your "proper place" in this new brotherhood of "equals."

You become Number 6. Worshipful Masters and Grand Lodge officers and even the Senior Steward all juxtapose themselves in your mind and your lodge. Suddenly you're Number 6, or Number 48, or some other numbered character from The Village.

"You must conform," you're told. We want information. Learn these catechisms, and repeat them back. And we want you in formation. Sit in this chair. Conform to our ancient ways. Stand up. Sit down. Hold your hands this way. Don't think for yourself. Face the East. Pay proper homage to Number 2.

I'm not demeaning the Masonic experience. I'm pointing out that the experience, the real POINT of becoming, and being, a Freemason is quickly obliterated as we necessarily blend our minds and wills to the customs and usages of ritual Freemasonry. Little, if any, education is given, nor is self-reflection encouraged. You must conform.

I think this realization by many of us who are considered "Masonic rebels" is what has caused our rebelliousness. We were shown the Light, in fact, for a moment we were the Light... and then it's all taken away in an instant, replaced with recitations and being pushed into a steward's chair and fishfrys and patriotic gospel music, etc. What we came for — enlightened self-knowledge — gets blocked out, replaced with "you should be loving, charitable, and obedient." Our lodges are big on form, small on substance. Some lodges can't even pull off the "big on form," and the entire experience becomes a mundane greet, eat and meet in the Village Square.

It's not that we're not charitable, or willing to share brotherly love; we just want to see some Light shining from under our own, and from our brother's, bushel where It's been hidden.

Conformity is not a Masonic quality. Peace and harmony, yes. Brotherly love, yes. Protecting other people, yes. But not conformity. Conformity does not encourage anyone's Light to shine brighter. It smothers the Fire, and the Spirit.

Masonic references abound in The Prisoner.

In the opening sequence, the man who causes our hero to pass out and be captured is dressed in a top hat and black longcoat, reminiscent of my image of 19th and early 20th century Freemasonry.

And the penultimate episode, the final attempt to break Number Six, is called "Degree Absolute." Number 6 enters wearing a hat, perhaps symbolic of being a lodge's master, or of attempting to be his own master, but is told immediately to remove it. If the first three degrees didn't make him conform, perhaps Degree Absolute will.

Or maybe...

Freemasonry is indeed designed to show us how to attain and maintain that It, that Light, that becoming Number 1 that I've been talking about. But not in the way we think.

Perhaps all the things we rebels have rebelled at are designed into the system, as issues to be overcome. Perhaps what we are ultimately to learn in Freemasonry is how to evolve into a "revolutionary of different calibre" by becoming one who "has revolted, resisted, fought, destroyed resistance, overcome coercion."

This video clip shows the intro to The Prisoner, and his first meeting with the Number 2 played by Leo McKern (who reprises the role in the final episodes).

This clip shows one of Number 6's early exchanges with a different Number 2.

In this sequence, Number 6 attempts to "become one of them." He gets involved, even adopting the Villagers' strange hand gestures and ritualistic words.

This video clip is from the next to last episode of The Prisoner, and is titled "Degree Absolute." It is the final battle between the wills of Number 2 and Number 6.

Be seeing you!

Image: The penny-farthing logo of The Prisoner television program

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The Working Tools: New social networking site for Freemasons

Bro. Cory Sigler is the publisher of the impressive online magazine The Working Tools.

In the October issue, he said of this blog: "The Burning Taper is both the National Enquirer and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart of Freemasonry.... You'll get hooked soon enough, even if it boils your blood at first."

I like that. Now that The Daily Show is back on the air, without writers, we'll see how apropos the comparison remains....

Bro. Cory has recently unveiled his latest Masonic project, a social networking site. If you enjoy the networking scene, be sure to visit his site and make some new Masonic friends.

Bro. Cory is currently Senior Warden of Hawthorne Fortitude Lodge No. 200 in Ramsey, New Jersey.

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Ron Paul on Jay Leno

As I'm sure you know, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate, was excluded from Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" debate Sunday night, despite his respectable showing in last week's Iowa caucuses.

Paul's campaign has recently set records with its phenomenal fundraising. Paul decided to spend some of that money putting on a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, while the Fox debate was going on.

NBC talk show host Jay Leno invited Ron Paul onto his show Monday night. Leno called Paul's exclusion from the Fox debate "blatantly unfair."

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Camera-toting flying monkeys annoy Canadian Freemasons

A group of flying monkeys, led by a paranoid videographer who calls himself "Weaving Spider," descended on a Masonic meeting in Toronto, Canada, recently. Two brothers outside the meeting tried to answer their questions about Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, and Masonic symbols.

Bro. Chris Garlington, who pointed me to these videos, said "I don't know how I would handle it if I got waylaid by a camera toting gaggle of conspiracy geeks like this. I have to say I think he did ok.... I would have maybe told more jokes and asked them to buy tickets to a fishfry."

The Canadian brothers did do a good job of maintaining their cool, even though they were unprepared to be discussing Pike and the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, they being Canadian.

How would you have reacted and responded to the camera jockeys' rants and questions?

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

We all shine on: D.W. Brown

Bro. D.W. Brown, who runs the "The Blue Lodge" online forum, tells us about himself in this our 14th glimpse into the lives of our readers in the series "This is Who I Am." Thanks for writing, Bro. Brown!

Fraternal Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

Please allow me to introduce myself: my name is Brother D. W. Brown and I reside in the United States of America. I officially became a Freemason just over two years ago, but thanks to my father, also a Freemason, and in my heart, I have been a Freemason all my life.

I was a member of the U.S. Air Force during the first Gulf War and accumulated approximately 2500 hours flying cargo and troops between the U.S., Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. I also flew on many humanitarian relief missions all over the world during my almost six years of service. I began my civilian career as a Systems Engineer in the early 90s and worked for many companies including General Electric, AutoZone and CIGNA Healthcare. Currently, I am the Chief Executive Officer for a pharmaceutical research company.

I began my official Masonic journey late in life, mainly because I did not live near my father for much of my 20s and 30s. My wish was to have my father take part in my joining but unfortunately by the time I returned home, my father was not physically able. Although, he was aware of my doing so before his death, which meant the world to me.

If I can sum up the teachings of my father, in just a couple of words, it would have to be that he taught me to always be a Man of honor. This to him meant, to always keep your word, when given, and to always do what you knew in your heart to be honorable.

My Masonic travels during the past two years have been a roller coaster of highs and lows. I first joined a mainstream Blue Lodge located in Alabama and quickly passed my first three degrees, being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in just three months. Shortly afterwards, I joined the Scottish Rite and in a mere 10 hours was bestowed with my 32°.

After joining, I quickly began to see that the Freemasonry I had joined lacked many of the qualities that I had dreamed of growing up. I saw and still see blatant racism, corruption and a lack of basic democracy, even within the local lodges, not to mention the mainstream Grand Lodges. I could not, in good conscience, stand by and let this fester any longer. Given my background in technology and the voice that the Internet affords all free people, I made the decision to start The Blue Lodge and fight to bring back the Freemasonry that had been lost.

After beginning my personal crusade to correct many of the injustices I saw, I found out to my delight I was not alone. I found a group of Brothers to which I could not only truly meet on the level but I could aspire to become like. I found a group of Brothers who against all odds banded together, in the tradition of our forefathers, to take on a monolithic system that had hijacked our Freemasonry. I found intellectual and stimulating conversations and a passion to do the right thing, no matter the cost, I was finally home. Today I stand shoulder to shoulder with these Brothers, as the Founding Fathers did so many years ago, to take back what rightfully belongs to the just and upright Mason, our HONOR.

— Bro. D.W. Brown

To submit your own "This is Who I Am" essay, read this.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Are you smarter than a pollster?

Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? might be stumping us, but playing along at home during the debates and the upcoming primaries has never been easier. Just cast your vote here, and find out if you're smarter than those annoying television talking heads who tell us who has won before the election has even begun.

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We all shine on: Tom Coste

W. Bro. Tom Coste, of Cleveland's Halcyon Lodge, writes in to tell us "This is Who I Am." Thanks, Bro. Tom!

Greetings, Brethren!

I bring salutations from the North Coast of America. I was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in Sept on '01. By June of '02, I had entered the Order of Knight Templar, which meant that I had received the Royal Arch degree's between November and March, then traveled to Pennsylvania to receive the first two degrees in Cryptic masonry; select master and royal master in one day, where Pennsylvania and Ohio companions put on the first two degrees. It was a beautiful experience to take part in the first two council degrees in such a manner. I then received the final degree of Council and then it was off the Commandery. In amongst all the York Rite degree's, Ohio, in '02, held their first one day class. My Lodge brought in 12 men in that first one day class, and I mentored a couple of guys for this, and at the end of the MM Degree, the Scottish Rite conferred the 32nd degree for all Master Masons who wanted it, then off to the Shrine to become a Shriner.

So, by June of '02, my daughter was born, my father had gone through 4+ surgeries (I live next door to my parents; my father is wheelchair-bound from his surgeries), I was sitting in the JD seat, I was a Knight Templar, a 32nd Degree and a Shriner! Wow!

I also got roped into a Masonic Bowling League that met every Wed as well.

So, I had Blue Lodge every Thursday, bowling every Wed, Shrine 1 Monday a month, Chapter 2 Friday's a month, council 1 Monday a month, Commandery 1 Tues a month and learn officer material for Blue Lodge. Oh, yeah, and run and operate a family business that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

By December of '04, I was installed as Worshipful Master of my Lodge. I donated time and product to various Masonic bodies and functions. I was known and accepted in all the Masonic circles. When I was inspected as Master, we were inspected in the Master Mason degree. We had over 100 masons present, a PMWGM and many Past and Present DDGM's were in attendance. I did the whole degree from beginning to end, played King Solomon and then handed the Lecture off to our Lecturer. We had a huge dinner, a retirement party for our DDGM John Whitehouse and a standing ovation for our Fellow Craft Team. It was the highlight of my Masonic experience thus far.

Since retiring from the East, I have joined another Blue Lodge that was lacking Masonic experience and education, so I dove into helping any way I could in the development of this Lodge. I tried to instill some tradition and focus on masonry that I had learned in my fast travels through the masonic bodies. It was a joy to be involved in the instruction and the raising of young men with no Masonic history. At this Lodge, none of us had Masonic lineage, so our ideals of masonry were fresh and new. We were open to new things and had the initiative to bring the Lodge forward into the 21st Century. It was a hard task that also involved the rehabbing of the Temple that was left to ruin. So, the revitalization of a Lodge and a Temple was another satisfying experience with Brothers all on the same page with a common goal.

A common desire and goal amongst a group of men can accomplish many things. Even things that seemed impossible to some others can be possible to the right, motivated group of men and Masons. Plus, the young men of this Lodge were not racists or bigots, whereby initiating men of all colors and faiths into their Lodge, before it was really practiced. The young men were also excited about associating with the Prince Halls in our area. We attended many of their rituals and they helped out with ours. The Prince Hall Masons were some of the most polished Masons and took Brotherhood to another level.

With my new involvement in this Lodge, I focused all my time and energies into this, and dropped my associations with the Scottish Rite (it was a bunch of bad plays to me and no real further Light), dropped out of the Shrine (bad management and too much backstabbing amongst Brothers), dropped out of Commandery due to differences in integrity. I also do not believe that "Christian Orders" serve a place in Freemasonry.

I dropped out of Council because it was basically in need of rehabbing in my area and I had no energy for that. I loved their degrees, but believe that this material and the Royal Arch should be Educational Material for Blue Lodge instead of Title-bearing bodies. I dropped my involvement in my other Blue Lodge due to a resistance in helping Brothers in need at my other Blue Lodge. The brothers at my second Blue Lodge were having troubles and reached out to my original Blue Lodge for help and counsel, but were turned down and that really bothered me that masons and men would turn their backs on Brothers in need? It was not a difficult decision for me, especially when I was approached by a Past Master who warned me that my Masonic Career would be in "jeopardy" if I continued to get involved in this other Lodge's issues.

First, I did not join masonry for a career; second, I did not join masonry to turn a blind eye to potential shenanigans. Then, by the small threat of not getting into the Royal Order of Jesters (alluding to my Masonic Career) that operates out of the Shrine, I was more determined to get to the bottom of this situation and not be deterred, especially if it has Masons trying to discourage me from getting involved. I am glad I did get involved, because myself and a group of young, industrious Freemasons saved a Lodge and a Temple from being discarded into a rubbish heap. A ton of hard work, education and fortitude carried us onward in the face of perceived, intentional subterfuge by the leaders of our area. Without any outside help from our Brothers in the area, we battled for our rights and stood our ground on the principles of right and seem to have landed on our feet, for now.

The future looks bright, especially when one opens the Doors of the Temple to finally allow Light into it! We are going to make a difference in the community and it is exciting to actually have a plan on how to go about it. By helping the community to raise its consciousness level about "all of mankind" and how important the exposure to the Arts and Sciences are for the less privileged youth in your community, we can all transmute ourselves into higher evolved beings, which will make the environment in which the Temple resides one of education and enlightenment for all; not just the Masons who reside within the Temple. And that, my Brothers, is hopefully the application of Freemasonry upon your environment.

— Brother Tom Coste
Past Master of Rocky River No 703
Treasurer of Halcyon 2

To submit your own "This is Who I Am" essay, read this.

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Grand Lodge of New York hires soapbox specialist

According to New York magazine, the Grand Lodge of New York has hired a publicist.

The magazine reported that the New York Times and other newspapers were approached recently by "a flack from Dan Klores Communications [who] has been calling around trying to advertise Masonic locations in New York, in conjunction with the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. (Seriously.)"

In the article, Thomas Savini, librarian of the Grand Lodge of New York, is quoted as saying,
"We’ve gotten a lot of bad press over the years. We reached a point we saw ourselves being represented as conspirators or useless old men, neither of which is an accurate representation of Freemasonry. For a couple of centuries, we sat back and stayed quiet and let our actions speak for themselves. But we decided to open up our mouths a little bit more and draw some attention to the positive role that Masons play in the public world."
The Times' staff apparently listened long enough to the publicist to write an article of their own, and to get the list of interesting Masonic buildings in New York City so they could put them into their own Google Map.

Attention all Grand Lodges! I am available to work as your publicist. The cost of living being a bit less in Georgia than in New York City, I'll work for 89.5% of whatever the Grand Lodge of New York is paying the publicist it hired from Dan Klores Communications.

Here's a partial list of public relations clients of DKC, from their website:


Here's a list of my Grand Lodge clients so far:


Which means I'm currently available.

Really, couldn't every Grand Lodge use a PR guy? Email me today, and I'll get up on my soapbox FOR YOU!

Image: Unknown soapbox specialist, circa 1904, Tampico, Illinois

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Hidden agenda: Mainstream media's political coverage

The publisher of this blog has an agenda. The publisher of every blog has an agenda. The producer of every avenue of expression has an agenda.

Whether the agenda is to get you to buy more widgets, or to get you to believe a certain thing or act a certain way, the act of sharing that agenda via media is an expression of free speech and, by extension, free enterprise.

Media Monsters such as ABC/Disney and Fox/News Corporation who, between them, have filled the minds of three or four generations with garbage while making us happy to dig deep into our wallets to fork over money to them, have agendas, too. It's their jobs to "sell" us pop icons like Britney Spears, Hillary Duff, Miley Cyrus, Zack Efron, and whoever next week's darling will be, movie stars, cartoons, theme parks, stuffed animals and toys, teen whores on MySpace, Bill O'Reilly, newspapers, magazines.... The list of mind-sludge just these two companies produce, and we absorb, is astounding.

Do you realize every woman's childhood dream of marrying a Prince Charming in a big, expensive wedding was programmed into her from watching the Snow White and Cinderella movies (which were well-parodied last month by Disney's new movie Enchanted)? How much of your "knowledge" about aliens and government coverups comes from having watched The X-Files (a Fox TV network show where even one of the main characters was named "Fox")? Tie-ins between movies and toys — always a popular enterprise — reached new heights with Disney's distribution of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and now tie-ins are ubiquitous. From source to consumer, cradle to grave; the Big Guys own it all. Did you realize even DIRECTV, the television distribution satellite company, is owned by the Fox/News Corporation conglomerate? Oh, you don't watch TV, but like to go to the movies (made by Fox and Disney)? Fox even tells you what to think of the movies they make... they own, the movie review website.

But why complain? Like reading a blog, our acceptance of the Megacorp Spewage is voluntary. It's freedom of the marketplace. It's American as apple pie. It's what we want and demand.

It is libertarianism in action, in that the entity (even though the entity is a gigantic thousand-armed octopus) has freedom of speech in deciding what materials to present.

So... from a libertarian point of view, ABC and Fox News, being for-profit business operations that indeed do have agendas, have a right to pick and choose which presidential candidates they feature on their own debate programs. Fox News doesn't like Ron Paul, and ABC doesn't like Dennis Kucinich, or Mike Gravel, or Duncan Hunter? Then they don't have to tell us about them.

After all, political debates on a commercial television channel are entertainment. Bread and circuses. The debates aren't designed to give the public insight into the various candidates; the debates are designed to showcase whatever it is that the news media wants to showcase.

CNN, of course, wants to showcase liberal candidates. Fox News wants to highlight conservatives. Wasn't there a debate a while back sponsored by the women's channel Oxygen, or Lifetime, or something, that paid more lip service to Hillary and the other candidates' wives, using them to reach the channel's target audience of women?

All these various agendas of various media outlets are a sign that free enterprise is working in our country.

Unfortunately, it's also prima facie evidence that our entire election process is a sham.

The media — simply by telling us who they favor, for whatever reason — tells us who to vote for through one of the oldest of propaganda tactics, by telling us who others will be voting for. It's called the bandwagon method.

When the campaign for the 2008 presidency began, way back in 2006 or before, the very first thing you heard or read about the candidates was where they stood in polls. Not Hillary is for this, Biden is for that, Obama for the other, but Hillary is at x percent, Biden is at y percent, and Obama at z percent.

As we've seen in the recent Iowa caucuses, and will see again next week in New Hampshire and later in other primaries, polls can be and often are wrong, wrong, wrong. The evil inherent in taking polls, and in paying attention to poll results, is that many people eventually tune out the message of any particular candidate, because "he can't win so why waste my time or my vote?"

I was in a restaurant on the evening of the Iowa caucuses, and for the better part of an hour saw (without sound) Fox News' coverage. At the bottom of the screen, they rotated between the Democratic and Republican results. If I hadn't known better, I would have come away believing there were only four Republican candidates and four Democratic candidates. Even though Democrat Richardson pulled only two percent, he was listed. Ron Paul's 10% on the Republican side was ignored, even though his 10% was significantly closer to Thompson's and McCain's 13% than Richardson's two percent was to next-closest contender Hillary's 29%.

What I'm trying to say is this: The "mainstream press" is no longer (if they ever were) primarily concerned with keeping us informed or with righting wrongs and exposing corruption in order to make things better in society, and they are certainly not at all about being "fair and balanced." The press has agenda... and if you think things through, you might see that their agenda isn't necessarily good for your agenda in the short- or the long-run.

Stay vigilant. Don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of the mainstream. Read the mainstream, to be sure, but only while wearing your "high-waders" to protect you from the deep, deep doo-doo.

Read international newspapers and websites. You'll often be surprised at what American news stories look like when you take away the Fox, CNN, or ABC
CBS/NBC network news spin, and see ourselves through a European spinner's eyes.

And read blogs. Lots of them. From writers all over the political, religious, social and "moral" spectrum. Sure, they have agendas. But they're usually obvious agendas, not hidden behind a pretense of being a "public service."

It's your Web 2.0. Embrace it. Utilize it. Treasure it.

Before Rupert Murdoch owns it.

Image: Hidden Agenda

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