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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Sam McManis, The Sacramento Bee (TNS)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Great, this is all I need, another pointless and wholly irrational fear to further cinch the neural pathways of my knotted psyche.

Here I was, roaming the dimly lit hallways of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in downtown San Jose, marveling at the Moorish architecture, the chiseled hieroglyphics, the two-level replica of a tomb, the everyday objects of ancient life (combs, hair extensions, kohl eyeliner applicators), when I came to a room called the “Afterlife Gallery.”

Among the exhibits, I came face-to-desiccated face with a mummy said to date from 1549-1064 BCE (Before Common Era). I thought I was prepared for this, figured it would be no problem, because when you mummify something, aren’t you wrapping the body up tightly in linen, hermetically sealed from cranium to metatarsal?

But here was this dude — and yes, the explainer card on the glass case read “Mummy of an Upper-Class Egyptian Male” — partially unwrapped like a burrito. Head, neck and shoulders exposed, bare arms clasped over his still-covered torso, he creeped me out, I don’t mind saying. His, uh, remains were of a charcoal tinge, the texture looking like something between leather and a barbecued suckling pig, sans apple.

What really freaked me out, though, was his facial expression. Eyes heavy-lidded, mouth agape, he looked almost alive, as if about ready to sneeze or maybe let loose with a sleep-apnea-induced snore. I kept expecting him to crane his neck to the left, put me in his sights and croak, Do ya mind, pal? I’m trying to get some rest here.

I started sweating. My pulse paradiddled. My stomach churned. I had an overwhelming desire to flee, journalistic responsibility the only thing keeping me rooted in place. I later learned — thanks, Google — that I was suffering from acute Pharaohphobia, fear of mummies.

Pharaohphobia?

Yeah, it’s apparently a thing.

I pass this along merely as a friendly warning. You may be perfectly fine ogling the mummies, even those partially unwrapped. And you’ll have many such opportunities, too, since the Rosicrucian has among the 4,000 pre-dynastic Egyptian artifacts four human mummies and also a mummified Nile catfish, pet gazelle and cats. Funny how the ancient ones adored cats, venerated the little beasts, adorned them in jewelry and buried their remains along side their owners, proving that crazy cat ladies existed way before our time. (I, fortunately, do not suffer from ailurophobia, fear of cats, but for those afflicted, do take note.)

The museum is more than a mummy mausoleum, of course. The Rosicrucian Order, AMORC — more on the mysterious New Age-y organization later — does not display all of its unearthed treasures but, depending on the rotation, you’ll see one of the seven known statues of Cleopatra, a 1.5 million-year-old ax, a re-creation of King Tutankhamun’s tricked-out coffin, fragments from the Book of the Dead, and assorted trays, utensils, amulets and scarabs entombed with the dead because you never know when you might need a mirror in the great beyond.

All told, the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the Western United States resides in the ornate building, which also features a library, a planetarium and, outside, lovely gardens with exotic foliage like papyrus and the trao plant and a rare bunya pine, whose cones can weigh up to 15 pounds. It’s also the North American headquarters for AMORC, part quasi-religious order, part fraternal organization, part philosophical think tank, many parts mystical, mythological and totally esoteric to a lay person.

AMORC, by the way, stands for Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crusis, whose roots date to the 1600s in Europe and spread to America in the early 1900s. San Jose became the mothership in the early 1920s, when the block-long edifice was constructed in what then was farmland but now is a bustling downtown.

Escaping the freaky mummy, I needed to get grounded and repaired to the information alcove, where I sat through all three video presentations the order offers neophytes. I’d like to say I went away with a firm grasp of the theology — I took assiduous notes — but I failed to grasped the abstruse teachings. Guess that’s why they call it esoteric.

The presentation started straightforward enough. AMORC is “open to men and women of all nationalities, all religions, and all social classes” and its purpose is to “pass on teachings that are both cultural and spiritual.” The video’s narrator then asked the question viewers were wondering: “What do the Rosicrucian teachings address?” Brace yourself: “… (It) incorporates the traditional major themes, including the origins of the universe, time and space, life and conscious, psychic phenomena, the nature of dreams, the functions and characteristics of the soul, the mysteries of death, the afterlife and reincarnation, traditional symbolism, the science of numbers and other mystical subjects.”

Yup, that about covers it.

But what, like, do they believe? I had to sit through a lot before getting an answer. AMORC “transmutes the faults of human nature into opposite qualities, pride into humility. … If there is evil on Earth, it’s because humans delight in their weaknesses and do not sufficiently aspire to good.”

I wondered what that freaky mummy, the so-called upper-class Egyptian male, would’ve thought about the Rosicrucian tenets, whether, in mummification, he still retained his pride or found a transcendent humility. I wondered, but no way was I heading back to ask him myself.

ROSICRUCIAN EGYPTIAN MUSEUM

Where: 1660 Park Ave., San Jose

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays; closed Mondays-Tuesdays

Cost: $9 general, $7 seniors and students with ID, $5 children ages 5-10

More information: www.egyptianmuseum.org; 408-947-3635

©2016 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: This mummy of an “upper-class Egyptian male” is displayed at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, Calif., on November 6, 2015. (Sam McManis/Sacramento Bee/TNS)

 

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]