R.I.P. John Paul II

Although I stopped believing in what you represent a long time ago, you were a good and honest human being.

R.I.P. John Paul II.

The Wingdings Prophecies

Wingdings are those funny looking fonts in Microsoft Word, the ones with symbols and pictures instead of letters. Each symbol corresponds to a different letter.

In the early 90s there was a big stink because some people claimed that there were anti-semitic messages coded into wingdings. The cause of these allegations was the fact that if you typed the letters NYC using wingdings, this is what you got:

A skull and crossbones, a star of David, and a thumbs up symbol. It seemed obvious to some that Microsoft programmers had deliberately designed this into the font as a way of urging people to kill New York City Jews. Microsoft, of course, completely denied these allegations.

This whole controversy came roaring back with a vengeance after 9/11 when an email began to circulate claiming that wingdings had predicted or forewarned of the attack on the World Trade Center. Type Q33NY (supposedly the flight number of one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center) into wingdings and you get this:

A plane flying towards two building towers followed by a skull and crossbones and the star of David. Definitely creepy!

Except that Q33NY wasn’t the flight number of one of the hijacked planes. Their flight numbers were 11 and 175. Q33NY, in fact, doesn’t correspond to anything. It’s completely meaningless. It’s simply what you have to type to get a plane and two buildings to appear in wingdings.

Because of all the fuss about secret messages appearing in wingdings, when Microsoft designed the successor to wingdings in the late 90s, Webdings, they deliberately ensured that a happy message would appear when the letters NYC were typed. Try it out yourself if you have a copy of Word. This is what you get: