Buemba! Buemba! Buemba! Internet Wizard of Oz Has Priors for Humbuggery!

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Peter Finch as anchorman Howard “The Mad Prophet of the Airwaves” Beale in Network (1976)

Two of Jucelino’s predictions failed to come true: An attack on Pope Benedict XVI in March 2006 and the victory of Geraldo Alckmin in the last presidential elections. Regarding Alckmin, he explains that premonitions have margins of error, and that the election was marred by electronic voting fraud.

Soothsayers for Geraldo “Harvard-educated” Alckmin!

It reminds me of that satirical graffito found in the ruins of Pompeii, in which, mocking standard campaign advertising — “the guild of barbers supports Marcellus for mayor” — some wag has written “the winos who sleep in the park support Marcellus for mayor” …

There is a gang of gabbling Moonies in Miami now quacking likewise about how Uncle Hugo’s resounding reelection was the product of e-voting fraud. The Brazilian government’s subsequent IBOPE and Datafolha polling numbers, at least, have, however, tended to bear out its margin of victory.

(“Buemba! Buemba! Buemba!” is the catchphrase of Folha columnist José “O Macaco” Simão. Like the Wonkette, another miglior fabbro in the art of snark, at which I am a mere amateur hobbyist. “Buemba” is a comical way of trying to (mis)translate PT bomba –“extra! extra! extra! read all about it! Pinball wizard in a miracle cure!” — into Spanish. My wife and I like to joke that the name of the soft drink is Cueca-Cuela (Coca-Cola), for example. Cueca is a pair of brief-style undershorts.)

See also Lula, Scourge of God.

To the newsflow:

Previsão de acidente aéreo agita a internet; peritos apontam indício de fraude: “Experts point to signs of fraud by man whose prediction of a future aviation disaster has the Internet buzzing” (Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil).

Does it really take a bona fide expert to suspect that gurus who claim to have had apocalyptic visions of the future may well be humbugs?

Ask my old San Francisco friend who moved to Oregon in the 1980s because the Baghwan said that THIS WAS IT. Then moved back, red-faced and having donated the orange tunic and locket to the Salvation Army.

The Folha‘s own contribution today to the Rashomon effect in coverage of the July 17 aviation disaster at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo involving a TAM Airbus: “Death-plunge pilot positioned throttles correctly during his previous landing in Porto Alegre!”

Stop the presses.

A Folha teve acesso aos dados completos da caixa-preta do Airbus e constatou que os pilotos acionaram corretamente os manetes no pouso anterior ao desastre, em Porto Alegre.

The Folha has had access to the complete data from the Airbus black box and was able to determine that the pilots correctly activated the throttles during the landing prior to the disaster, in Porto Alegre.

Access from whom? Both the Air Force and the CPI in the House have sworn up and down that they are not leaking this stuff. Which leaves the manufacturer, the airline, and the dueling, parallel commission of inquiry in the Senate as potential leakers, I gather.

Sidebar: “Another pilot committed an error during São Paulo landing!”

In a related story, the last nail I hammered in before bashing my thumb, which swelled to cartoonish proportions and throbbed to the sound of comical tympani, just like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, was hammered in flawlessly and without incident.

In other words, the bulk of its top coverage today is noise corollary to this nonsense:

See also

Disasters bring out charlatans, and journalists lazy enough to give them a lot of ink without corroborating their claims — and to be fair, debunking them is a legitimate service to the reality-based community for a metro daily to be doing, of course.

See, for example:

After the Great Smoking Hole incident in January — the collapse of an excavation on the Yellow Line extension to the Sampa subway system — a woman who had served as an alternate councilwoman (proportional “slate” election, which tends to facilitate the cronyist promotion of loyal Moonies; the current governor has promised a trial of direct representation soon) in the previous decade, and had kept her security badge, letterhead, and other trappings of office, was going around to the funerals of victims and misrepresenting herself as a (mis)representative of the mayor and governor to the TV and press.

In the cache for future NMM(-TV)SNB(B)CNNBS highlight reels: A Brazilian televangelist who tells his flock that God prevented him from boarding the death plane, sparing his life so that he could continue training his flock to make the cut in that great golf tournament in the sky that is the imminent Rapture. Tighten up on your grip for Jesus!

(Jesus is just all right with me, I hasten to add.)

Uma suposta premonição agita grupos de discussão da internet e virou assunto de mesas de bar. Ela diz que haverá um novo acidente com avião de grande porte em 29 de outubro deste ano, com ao menos 600 mortos.

A supposed premonition is causing buzz in Internet discussion groups and has become a topic of bar conversation. According to this prophecy, there will be another accident with a large aircraft on October 29 of this year, with at least 600 deaths.

Cite one Internet discussion group in which this meme is being propagated. Better yet, interview one of the propagators on the record. Who are they?

O autor da previsão é Jucelino Nóbrega da Luz, um professor de inglês de Águas de Lindóia (SP) que já foi acusado de fraudes, mas que possui uma corrente de seguidores.

The author of this prophecy is Jucelino Nóbrega da Luz, an English instructor from Águas de Lindóia (rural São Paulo) who has been accused of fraud in the past but who has a substantial following nevertheless.

To understand the background of this phenomenon properly, you need to understand the strange saga and vast popularity of Chico Xavier, Brazil’s greatest medium and foremost promoter of the teachings of the French medium, Kardec. But that is a long, strange story for another time.

Ele afirma ter previsto as duas maiores tragédias da aviação brasileira, os acidentes com o vôo 1907, da Gol, em setembro do ano passado, e com o 3054, da TAM, em 17 de julho. Nos dois casos, diz ter enviado às empresas cartas alertando sobre os acidentes. Elas não comentam.

He claims to have foreseen the two largest aviation disasters in Brazilian history, the Gol Flight 1907 disaster in late September 2006 and the Flight 3054 disaster on July 17. In both cases, he says he sent letters to the airlines alerted them to the [impending] accidents. They have no comment.

Jucelino exibe as cartas, com carimbos de cartórios, mas peritos judiciais consultados pela Folha afirmam que há indícios de fraude.

Juscelino displays the letters, complete with notary seals, but legal experts consulted by this newspaper say there are signs of fraud.

Segundo os peritos Orlando Gonzalez Garcia e Maria Regina Hellmeister, diferenças de espaçamento e de calibre das letras na carta datilografada indicam que parte do conteúdo deve ter sido incluída após o registro no cartório.

According to experts Gonzalez and Hellmeister, differences in spacing and letter size in the typed letter indicate that part of the letter was added after it was notarized.

Yes, document experts named after the U.S. Attorney General and a bad death-metal band from New Jersey. Go figure.

Jucelino contesta. “De forma alguma. A corregedoria [dos cartórios] tem um controle absoluto [sobre as autenticações].”

Jucelino denies it. “In no way, shape or form. The regulator [of notaries public] has airtight controls [on authentications.]”

Ah, the old “folklore of the regulatory sublime” — the omniscient, omnipotent Grand Inquisitor sees all! Compare Rio mayor Cesar “The Naked” Maia’s insistence that the Carnaval jury system, a masterpiece of audit controls, could not possibly be defrauded:

Did I not just read in the police blotter about a sophisticated document forgery ring set up to provide phony bills of lading and other documents to recycle hijacked loads back into the “formal” retail appliance supply chain?

With the alleged connivance of (allegedly bribed) notaries public?

Kafka’s The Trial — whose comic dimension is often overlooked, much as Leo Strauss conveniently ignored Socratic irony in reading Plato — is a essentially the story of a hapless rube who gets totally conned by that old wive’s tale.


Top local color story from the Pope’s visit to São Paulo earlier this year:
Santinhos — campaign pamphlets so-called because they resemble wallet-sized cards bearing the images of Catholic saints, with a prayer and a hagiography on the back — associating the image of the Pope and the canonized Frei Galvão with internationally indicted corruption king Paulo Maluf are found circulating at the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo today.

Não é a primeira vez que o suposto vidente se envolve em polêmicas. Ele também disse ter alertado, em carta, sobre a morte de Celso Daniel, que era prefeito de Santo André. Mas o Ministério Público, que investiga o caso, aponta sinais de fraude.

This is not the first time the supposed seer has been involved in controversy. He also said he sent a letter warning of the death of Celso Daniel, who was mayor of Santo André at the time. But the Public Ministry, which is investigating the case, points to signs of fraud.

Duas previsões de Jucelino não se confirmaram: um atentado contra o papa Bento 16, em março do ano passado, e a vitória de Geraldo Alckmin nas últimas eleições presidenciais. Sobre o papa, afirma que o Vaticano mudou a agenda do pontífice. Sobre Alckmin, diz que há uma margem de erro nas premonições e que houve fraude nas urnas eletrônicas.

Two of Jucelino’s predictions failed to come true: An attack on Pope Benedict XVI in March 2006 and the victory of Geraldo Alckmin in the last presidential elections. Regarding Alckmin, he explains that premonitions have margins of error, and that the election was marred by electronic voting fraud.

Can you put a hard number of the margin of error in Nostradamus, for example?

“Não quero que as pessoas acreditem. O que vejo pode ser mudado”, afirma. E completa: “Minhas cartas vão continuar. Não ganho nada com isso. Exponho-me demais, corro riscos. Mas estou aqui para cumprir meu dom”.

“I do not want people to believe. What I see can be changed,” he says, adding: “My letters will continue. I gain nothing from this. I expose myself too much, I run risks. But I am here to fully exercise my gift.”

Aren’t we all?


“Without it, life would be hell on earth.” Microtec advertisement, Veja magazine, issue 87. File under “the rhetoric of the technological sublime (RTS) in postmodern technology PR, Velvet Elvis tendency.”

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