Member since: Tue Oct 14, 2003, 04:09 AM
Number of posts: 7,674
Number of posts: 7,674
Choose It or Lose It
I first got into Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was around 9 or 10 years old, so sometime in 1982 or 1983. The first one I bought was the 14th book in the series, "The Forbidden Castle." In that story, you journey into the Cave of Time, which takes you back to the Middle Ages where you encounter a couple of knights who reveal a riddle about a forbidden castle. You spend the rest of the story either trying to solve the riddle or trying to avoid it, depending on your choices.
The excitement of being able to choose different story lines within the same book got me hooked on this series. I particularly liked the element of time travel and was curious to read the first book in the series, "The Cave of Time." This was one of my favorite books in the series, where different corridors in the cave would lead you to different time periods. Apparently, it was a favorite among many of the fans. Not only was "The Forbidden Castle" an unofficial sequel, but when the series became so popular that they got up to 50 titles, they decided to make the 50th book "Return to the Cave of Time."
Looking back on the series with the passage of 30+ years in some cases, I became aware of a barely perceptible shift in the narrative tone from the first book to the 50th that coincided with the shift in the political tone in America during that period of time. "The Cave of Time" was written, or at least the first edition was published, in 1979. While there are 40 possible endings, there were a couple that stood out for their presentation of a hopeful future. One occurs in which you encounter a girl named Louisa from the year 2022. She tells you that since 1997, they've allowed no new roads to be built, only bike trails. The country she describes is filled with bike trails that run through forests and plains instead of alongside buses and trucks. There's even hostels for bikers paid for by taxes on gasoline. When you eventually get back to your time (1979), you both see a billboard that says, "CADILLAC - the Car of the Year, every Year!" Louisa's response is, "What's a Cadillac?" The second story line illustrating a future scenario occurs in the year 3742. Through the Cave of Time, you have entered a society that is a sort of paradise. Computers do everything for humans, so there is no need to work and the world is at peace. You spend all your time in your beautiful bedroom with a choice of over 10,000 movies. (Netflix Utopia?) But when you venture out of your place for human interaction, none of the people you meet are very interesting. You settle into your new life watching the greatest movies of all time with the awareness of one slightly disturbing thing: no one has made any new movies in the last 300 years.
The 50th book, "Return to the Cave of Time", was initially published in November 1985. I believe I received a copy for Christmas that year. It was "morning in America", the first year of the second term for President Reagan. I've written before about the probability of an October Surprise that decided the 1980 election, but aside from the issue of Iran, voters were at a crossroads with an even bigger issue in terms of our overall well-being: the Carbon Crisis. The two choices, Reagan and Carter, represented diametrically opposed viewpoints where energy and the environment were concerned. This opposition was brilliantly expressed in a satirical manner by The Onion
Since it was clear by 1985 which message resonated with voters, Edward Packard, who wrote all the Cave of Time books in the Choose Your Own Adventure series, reflected the diminished importance of protecting the environment in favor of consuming our way to prosperity with increased reliance on the Military-Industrial Complex in one of the future scenarios of "Return to the Cave of Time." To describe this scenario as dystopic is an understatement. You are on a planet Earth filled with the grey clouds of a greenhouse effect gone wild. There is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the oxygen content is only 2.3 percent. You must wear an oxygen-generating helmet at all times. What little hope exists for the planet consists of a team of alien custodians from a group called the Planetary Council who have improved the planet's environment tenfold "during the past few hundred thousand years" by their own account. You might even get to witness their most recent accomplishment: rain, albeit in a slicker, greasier form. The smartest choice, at this point, is to return to the Cave of Time and hope to escape to a time before the planet went to hell in a hand-basket.
more at link...
Posted by robertpaulsen | Mon Dec 22, 2014, 03:38 PM (0 replies)
Degree Absolute and the JFK Assassination Conspiracy
Having recently been turned on to the joys of internet TV, I spent the early part of autumn with my family watching The Prisoner on Crackle. This is a British TV series that ran just one season, 17 episodes from 1967-68, but I've had a number of people recommend it over the years. Now that I've seen every episode from start to finish, I understand why it got so many raves. It was groundbreaking, truly ahead of its time, not just for its presentation but also its content. The presentation has its origins in the creator and star (and producer, director and writer of many of the series episodes, often under an alias) Patrick McGoohan, who had risen to fame from 1960-62 for his role as John Drake in Danger Man, playing a secret agent. Three years later, the series was revamped as Secret Agent. While this was one of the first British TV series to gain fame in the United States, by 1966, McGoohan yearned for something a little different.
The Prisoner, like Danger Man, has a British secret agent played by McGoohan as the lead character. This secret agent (there is much debate among fans as to whether it is the same character in both series or not) abruptly turns in his resignation. However, the agency he works for is not so eager to accept his resignation. While packing his bags in preparation for departure, his home is gassed and McGoohan passes out. When he comes to, his home seems just as it was, completely undisturbed. When he opens the window, he is startled to discover that instead of London skyscrapers, he has the view of a garden. Upon further investigation, he finds he is in a secluded coastal place called The Village where everyone is either a prisoner or a warden, but there are no identities; everyone is assigned a number. McGoohan is assigned Number Six (which he resists proclaiming, "I am not a number! I am a free man!") and is constantly kept under surveillance by Number Two. In almost every episode, Number Two is replaced by a "new Number Two", either to confuse Number Six or because the 'old' Number Two was outsmarted by Number Six.
I loved every episode from the pilot to the finale, even the episode set in the Wild West, which actually fit into the pattern of interrogation perfectly. My favorite episode was the penultimate titled Once Upon a Time. It begins with Leo McKern, who had previously played Number Two in the second episode of the series, The Chimes of Big Ben, returning to the role for one last shot at breaking Number Six. He asks on the phone to his superior and gets approval to use "Degree Absolute" on Number Six. Degree Absolute is an extreme form of regressive therapy in which Number Two guides Number Six, who has mentally regressed to a child, through Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man in the hopes of discovering, as every Number Two throughout the series has attempted, why Number Six resigned. Throughout these seven ages, Number Two conducts tests in which he plays an authority figure and Number Six must react in a subordinate role. However, Number Six turns the tables eventually locking Number Two in a room for torment as time for the session runs out. Number Two collapses, apparently dead, and when the Supervisor played by Peter Swanwick enters to ask what Number Six wants, he agrees to give Number Six an audience with the figure he's been asking to confront ever since his imprisonment in The Village: the elusive Number One.
What makes this episode both ahead of its time and incredibly relevant to today is in illustrating how the combination of torture and drugs have been used in the pursuit of mind control. I've written previously on this blog about the subject of MK-ULTRA, the CIA mind control program conducted in secret during the 1950s. Yet knowledge of this classified program did not become public until the 1970s. So in that regard, McGoohan seems to be extremely prescient (or extremely connected) in his enactment of mind control techniques. As for contemporary relevance, one need only read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine to understand that these same techniques have become the favored method of pressure on "enemy combatants" kept prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. Not only has this "enhanced interrogation" been applied to foreign detainees, but in the case of Bradley Manning we have an American citizen whose lawyers alleged that while in solitary confinement at Fort Quantico, Manning was alternately kept naked and forced to sleep in a straitjacket, while being "drugged heavily with antidepressants." Whatever you may think of what Edward Snowden did with his subsequent leak, in the wake of these allegations, can you blame him for escaping from the USA and preferring to spend the rest of his life in exile?
But I digress. We're approaching another anniversary where JFK's assassins have escaped justice. Strangely enough, there is an incident where an intelligence operative who sought to expose part of the charade erected by the conspirators faced his own Degree Absolute.
Read more at the link...
Posted by robertpaulsen | Fri Nov 21, 2014, 01:01 PM (35 replies)
Carbon Crisis 2014 Update: Planet Jenga
While this post continues as an update to last year's post on the same subject, that Peak Oil and Global Warming being flip sides of the same coin should be condensed and renamed the Carbon Crisis, I hope to explore the situation from a more anthropological level, as well as defining the impending danger.
Have you ever played Jenga? It's a game I only recently discovered when someone brought it to work. You stack 54 wooden blocks into a tower. Each player in their turn takes one block out from the tower and places it at the top, building the tower higher and higher while being careful not to disrupt the rest of the tower. The game ends when someone knocks the tower down, the winner being the last player to successfully put a block on top.
I believe, if I understand totalitarian agriculture correctly, that civilization has effectively turned Earth into Planet Jenga. We've been approaching turbo speed ever since our infrastructure was shifted to be predicated on cheap oil production, whereas prior to that we were on cruise control when our infrastructure was predicated on cheap coal production, which we had been since roughly 1750. But we were on that course even prior to that with the advent of agriculture. Not because agriculture itself is inherently environmentally corrosive, but because of the human attitudes that made it totalitarian agriculture as described by Daniel Quinn: "it all belongs to us: everything; every bit of it and we can do with it what we want."
more at link
Posted by robertpaulsen | Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:06 PM (10 replies)
Why doesn't the 'long emergency' feel like an emergency?
by Kurt Cobb, originally published by Resource Insights | Jul 27, 2014
In 2006 when James Howard Kunstler published his breakthrough book The Long Emergency, the next two years seemed to vindicate his warning that the oil age was coming to an end with perilous consequences. Oil soared to $147 a barrel in mid-2008. A few analysts suggested that it was headed for $200; but that was not to be. By autumn the stock market had collapsed and with it the world economy. Oil, too, then collapsed, trading in the mid-$30 range by December as demand for oil fell off a cliff with the economy. It seemed for months that the world was headed for an economic depression.
But extraordinary stimulative spending by governments around the world and emergency measures by central banks reversed the trend and led to a weak, but extended recovery of sorts that lasts to this day (though not for everyone--just ask the Greeks).
Oil prices have rebounded and have remained at or near record levels for more than three years when measured by the average daily price of the world benchmark Brent Crude. That high price (higher on average than the year of the spike) is holding back economic growth. It is creating a seeming puzzle for economic policymakers who don't understand why their extraordinary measures have not led to extraordinary growth. They are blind to the central role of energy and particularly oil in the economy.
Despite the so-called recovery, much of Europe remains mired in low or no growth, lingering on the edge of a deflationary spiral. Germany is the one bright spot; prospects for France continue to darken. In the United States jobs are only now starting to return to previous levels almost five years after a slow and laborious climb off the bottom of the so-called Great Recession.
Today, governments of some of the world's largest nations are still running extraordinarily high deficits, though these have come down as the world has inched its way out of the recession.
What appears to be masking the ongoing emergency is the rise in stock and bond markets (which has disproportionately benefited the rich who hold the most stocks and bonds). The disconnect between the still sluggish economy and the stock market which keeps hitting new highs is one indication that dangers lurk in the world economy.
Retirees and others who are risk-averse have been getting virtually no interest on their money in the bank, interest that many rely on to live. For five years the world's central banks have maintained ultra-low interest rates designed to goose the economy. This policy has forced these risk-averse investors out of their comfort zone and into the stock and bond markets to obtain income and a chance at growth. Such markets, of course, carry far more risk than bank CDs.
The people at the top and those with substantial retirement investments are doing okay again, but do not understand the precariousness of markets which are now totally driven by government and central bank policy--policy that will inevitably shift or, if unchanged, will stoke the world's speculative fever to such a degree that no intervention will be able to prevent a financial crash.
Perhaps another reason that the long emergency we have entered does not seem like one is that some emergency measures have morphed into permanent fixtures of society. The Bank of England has held its key lending rate at 0.5 percent since 2009, the lowest since the opening of the bank in 1694. The projected U.S. federal deficit of $492 billion for 2014--which previously would have provoked sharp public debate about the ruin of government finances--today seems unnoteworthy when compared to the four straight $1 trillion plus deficits from 2009 to 2012. The abnormal is becoming normal.
Analyst Doug Noland at first didn't believe that governments around the world would mortgage the future of their peoples to such an extent to protect and enrich the financial class in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. Eventually, he dubbed the phenomenon the "government finance bubble." He expects it to be the largest and final bubble of a series occurring in the last 30 years. At the end there will be no Bank of Mars to bail us out when the government finance bubble collapses.
On the energy front, new hydraulic fracturing technology combined with horizontal drilling is being touted as the answer to high oil prices. But oil prices remain stubbornly elevated. And, the technology itself is designed to harvest oil from shale layers thousands of feet below conventional reservoirs, layers which are far more difficult and expensive to exploit. In a way, our extraction of shale-based oil should be considered an emergency measure, one designed to forestall a decline in world oil production and one that would never have been taken if the easy-to-get oil hadn't already been gotten.
Likewise, attempts to exploit oil under the Arctic Ocean (so far unsuccessful) are opening a new front in the era of "extreme oil" and should also be classified as emergency measures.
But the public and policymakers generally do not view these developments in oil exploration with concern. On the contrary such efforts are touted as evidence of humankind's inevitable advance through clever manipulation of the environment using technology. It is just this idea of inevitability which holds the public mind in thrall regarding the economy with a promise that conditions will return to normal sometime soon--normal being defined down to include all sorts of emergency measures.
Meanwhile, the rampage of an itinerant army of vengeful youths in Syria and Iraq intent on building a new caliphate and the suddenly shifting borders of The Ukraine and Russia (accompanied by the downing of a civilian airliner by belligerents) seems to trouble the public elsewhere very little. Regarding the Middle East few are saying out loud that oil and water are among the driving forces of intensified conflict that threatens to make current borders obsolete.
Joining in the mess are Palestinians and Israelis who are once again in a hot war that seems to draw yawns from the rest of the world populace.
As long as we ignore the role of climate change and resource and energy depletion, we can delude ourselves that somehow things will return to the way they used to be--before the long emergency began--that political or ethnic factors are the main problems and that it has ever been thus! So, we tell ourselves not to worry too much since these problems are really local or regional; as long as we can stay out of the way, we think we can safely ignore them.
But, of course, we can't because the world is now one global system dependent on critical resources coming from the very areas affected by conflict--oil, of course, in the Middle East and natural gas from Russia upon which Europe depends.
Is all of this happening too slowly to be considered an emergency? Emergencies generally make obvious the need for immediate and decisive action. Some people do indeed perceive that swift action is needed to address urgent energy and sustainability issues. But, it is also true that we will need decades-long engagement with such issues if we as a species are to navigate the path to a successful transition to a renewable energy economy that also conserves the soil, the water, the climate and ultimately us. Hence, the long emergency.
But in order to embrace such a worldview, most people would have to give up the supposed comfort offered by the financial bubble of the last generation, a bubble made possible by cheap fossil fuels, especially oil. It seemed as if the public might let go of this fossil-fueled fantasy after 2008. But because of the extraordinary financial measures deployed in an attempt to return us to business-as-usual, the global economic and financial system has been revived just enough to allow us to engage in a few more years of fantasizing--until our cumulative debts to nature and to one another catch up with us.
Posted by robertpaulsen | Wed Jul 30, 2014, 08:11 PM (0 replies)
Duck Dynasties, Our 1st Amendment, and the Hypocrisy of The Right
December 25, 2013
I figured since nearly everybody else has jumped into this pool of controversy (or pond, given the setting), and you cannot swing a dead duck without hitting a Facebook diatribe, angry tweet, or know-it-all talking head babbling over reality-TV star Phil Robertson’s recent controversial interview in GQ magazine, I may as well wade in a bit, too.
I am a proud American and a proud liberal, and I firmly believe in our Constitution and all that comes within it. So, while I personally disagree with the recent racially-charged and homophobic comments made by “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, I equally agree with the notion that as an American citizen Robertson has a fundamental right to make those comments out loud – however controversial, judgmental, and myopic they may be.
We all, as Americans, retain the right to our freedom of speech, and that obviously includes Phil Robertson. But despite the claims of so many people on The Right, the decision by A & E executives to briefly remove Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” was not about taking away his right to free speech, nor was it about unfairly silencing him. All the proof you need is the fact that Phil Robertson made his comments to the GQ reporter in the first place, and has since been able to speak out about those comments and defend them. Robertson’s opinions about the sin of homosexuality and, how back in the pre-Civil-Rights-era South, African-Americans appeared to be very happy under old Jim Crow laws have not landed him in jail, nor has he been fined heavily for them. He was allowed to make his statements, as is his right.
A & E’s decision to suspend Phil Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” was little more than a reflection of our Capitalist system. A & E does not want to lose advertisers, as that would cost the network money. When any company has an employee who publicly says things which may embarrass that company – or hurt their bottom line – they have a right to reprimand that employee in an appropriate manner. It’s funny to me that Republicans – the very same ones who claim anyone against the Free-Market is a Marxist or socialist – are decrying A & E’s decision as anti-American and a blatant violation of Robertson’s right to free speech. That is simply laughable. Robertson said some pretty ugly, hurtful things about various Americans, and his bosses – in this case the suits who run A & E – decided to distance themselves from his controversial comments; not unlike MSNBC did after their “employee” Martin Bashir made incendiary comments about former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. MSNBC placed Bashir on leave, and he later resigned. But you know what did not happen during that ugly incident? Throngs of conservatives did not defend Bashir’s right to free speech. Rather, they called for his firing.
“Those with that platform, with a microphone, a camera in their face, they have to have some more responsibility taken.” This is what Sarah Palin said about the Martin Bashir incident, yet when it comes to reality-star Phil Robertson (a religious conservative) saying vile things about African-Americans and the LGBT community, both she and her eldest daughter, Bristol, came out publicly and claimed Robertson’s own rights were being threatened – instead of holding him up to a higher responsibility.
Posted by robertpaulsen | Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:55 PM (3 replies)
New Evidence of Contra-Cocaine Scandal
December 9, 2013
Special Report: Since journalist Gary Webb died in 2004, the story that destroyed his life has slowly come into clearer focus, revealing how President Reagan’s beloved Contras really were enmeshed in cocaine trafficking. On this ninth anniversary of Webb’s suicide, new corroboration has emerged, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
Nearly a decade before Gary Webb published his investigative series on cocaine trafficking by Nicaraguan Contra rebels, U.S. law enforcement received a detailed account of top Contra leader Adolfo Calero casually associating with Norwin Meneses, called “a well-reputed drug dealer” in a “secret” document that I recently found at the National Archives.
Meneses was near the center of Webb’s 1996 articles for the San Jose Mercury-News, a series that came under fierce attack from U.S. government officials as well as major news organizations, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. The controversy cost Webb his career, left him nearly penniless and ultimately contributed to his suicide on Dec. 9, 2004.
Journalist Gary Webb holding a copy of his Contra-cocaine article in the San Jose Mercury-News.
But the bitter irony of Webb’s demise, which will be the subject of a 2014 movie starring Jeremy Renner as Webb, is that Webb’s much-maligned “Dark Alliance” series forced major admissions from the CIA, the Justice Department and other government agencies revealing an even-deeper relationship between President Ronald Reagan’s beloved Contras and drug cartels than Webb ever alleged.
Typical of the evidence that the Reagan administration chose to ignore was information provided by Dennis Ainsworth, a blue-blood Republican from San Francisco who volunteered to help the Contra cause in 1984-85. That put him in position to witness the strange behind-the-scenes activities of Contra leaders hobnobbing with drug traffickers and negotiating arms deals with White House emissaries.
Great to see Robert Parry is still on top of this. Let's hope Hollywood doesn't screw up Webb's story.
Posted by robertpaulsen | Tue Dec 10, 2013, 05:45 PM (67 replies)
The Right and the Disrespecting of the U.S. Presidency – An Open Letter to the Tea Party
Dear Tea Party,
We get it, Tea Party; you don’t like having a black President. In light of the recent government shutdown, it’s become painfully clear that the very idea of having someone in the White House whose tan is deeper than John Boehner’s is wildly offensive and unsettling to you folks. And while it is your fundamental right to be on the wrong side of history, you self-proclaimed patriots have spent more than five years disrespecting both the office of the President of the United States, as well as that fun little part of our Declaration of Independence which states “all Men are created equal”.
You Tea Partiers repeatedly talk about battling the tyranny of President Obama and the unconstitutional power he wields like “a vicious African warlord” – very classy – and yet it was the previous President (George W. Bush, for those who’d effectively erased his name from their memory banks) and his administration who set up wiretapping without consent from the FISA courts, sat idly by while “Wall Street got drunk,” and sent well over 4,000 Americans to their untimely deaths in Iraq based on evidence about WMDs that a decade later remains about as “real” and “legit” as President Obama’s Kenyan birthplace.
Recently, one of the darlings of your T.P. movement – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Canada) – had his father give a speech on his behalf. And one aspect of Pastor Rafael Cruz’s speech was how he would like to, “send him back to Kenya.” In case you were wondering, the “him” is President Obama. In case you were also wondering, yes, what “Pastor” Cruz said was racist.
Now again – this time with feeling – you T.P. peeps have the right to dislike any politician, and you also have a right to vocalize that disdain, including and about President Barack Obama. But if you’re truly about facts, integrity, and love of country, then you need to stop with all the transparent lies and hypocrisies. Let’s look at the facts of the relationship between the Tea Party and President Obama and see just how from the very beginning this anger and disrespect was never about Obama’s policies, but rather about his appearance, a.k.a. His Blackness.
According to your own official website (teaparty.org) – on the “About Us” page – you TPers have been around for at least a decade, with the website up and running since early September, 2004. On this same page you also list your 15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs; guiding principles that you believe make you better Americans and staunch supporters of both freedom and our beloved Constitution. Here are six of those Non-negotiable Core Principles listed in order as they appear on your site: #2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable. #4. Special interests must be eliminated. #6. Government must be downsized. #7. The national budget must be balanced. #8. Deficit spending must end. #9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
If the Tea Party movement really feels these principles are that important, and if you guys have been around for at least the past ten years, then why didn’t you rear your enraged heads during the Bush Administration? Why did you only begin to make yourselves known across America in early 2009, less than one month after Barack Obama swore an oath to this nation as its 44th President?
Posted by robertpaulsen | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 02:01 PM (1 replies)
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Operation Gladio and the Assassination of JFK
Posted by robertpaulsen | Fri Nov 22, 2013, 11:45 AM (26 replies)
JFK Was Assassinated By Space Aliens
Go ahead and laugh, the title is intended to be humorous. What I find personally amusing, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, is what a concerted effort our Radical Establishment Media (REM) is engaged in trying to convince the public that the Warren Commission really did get it right. That Lee Harvey Oswald really did act alone and did not conspire in any way, shape or form with any other individuals in arranging the assassination of JFK. That Jack Ruby in turn murdered Lee Harvey Oswald simply out of personal grief for the Kennedy family and did not conspire in any way, shape or form with the Mafia, law enforcement or any other organization or individuals with an interest in silencing Oswald. In the past 10 years, this concerted effort has shown some results. A poll earlier this year conducted by Associated Press-GfK shows 59% of Americans think multiple people were involved in a conspiracy to kill JFK, whereas a 2003 Gallup poll found 75% of Americans felt there was a conspiracy.
Part of the reason for this drop over the last decade is meme management. In order for the public to be convinced the Warren Commission was right, it is important that the perception of competing theories spelling out conspiracy not only be made to appear incorrect, but absolutely ridiculous. Generally, the REM will use this by taking some aspect of the JFK assassination that the general public regards in connection with conspiracy, like the grassy knoll, and applying it to the latest controversy of the day where a conspiracy hypothesis can be disproved. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post did this recently, by correctly disputing the Benghazi hypothesis posited by Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media and former CIA officer Clare Lopez that the Obama administration "flipped our policy" and was arming al-Qaeda. (Really, Clare? Like you were completely unaware of any 'black ops' by your former employer at odds with the stated "policy" of previous administrations?) But then Milbank gilds the lily by describing their "lunacy" as being "around the grassy knoll." The clear implication is that the belief that a shot hit Kennedy from the front, all visual indications in the Zapruder film aside, should be disregarded as hallucinatory, otherwise noted journalists like Milbank will roll their eyes and say, "I've got an appointment back on Earth."
This sentiment expressed above has become a verbal shorthand among the REM and self-appointed "debunkers" hell-bent on pigeon-holing good conspiracy theories and bad conspiracy hypotheses into the same goofy trashcan of public perception. It is their go-to moniker for disrespecting any and all conspiracy research: 'tin foil hat'. The origin of this adjective is from mentally ill/traumatized people who believe that wearing tin foil on their head in the shape of a hat will prevent the transmission of voices into their head. While there is some scientific validity for the effectiveness of reducing radio wave radiation this way, it is the stated reason by a few unfortunate souls that this will prevent harassment by paranormal beings that has lead to the use of the phrase 'tin foil' for cheap laughs at the expense of any conspiracy theory deemed delusional by those who claim to speak for all things rational. Thus, in their mind, Grassy Knoll=Aliens.
I'll grant them the fact that many alien visitation/UFO incidents have been either disproved with earth-bound explanations or debunked as elaborate hoaxes. Unfortunately, many in the self-styled "skeptics" community and the REM seem unwilling to exhibit the same generosity regarding the possibility that some of the alien visitation/UFO incidents that have not been explained might possibly have an explanation that is 'not of this Earth'. George Carlin did a brilliant job of illustrating this contradiction in his clever book When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?:
You may have noticed that, in the media, UFO believers are usually referred to as buffs, a term used to diminish and marginalize them by relegating them to the ranks of hobbyists and mere enthusiasts. They are made to seem like kooks and quaint dingbats who have the nerve to believe that, in an observable universe of trillions upon trillions of stars, and most likely many hundreds of billions of potentially inhabitable planets, some of those planets may have produced life-forms capable of doing things that we can't do.
With this in mind, I would like to seriously entertain a goofy possibility: JFK was assassinated by space aliens. Notice I said possibility, not probability. Personally, I think the probability of this occurrence about as realistic as the probability that The Matrix is real, that Elvis is actually Sasquatch and that hedge fund managers really give a shit about the homeless. But rather than engage in the blithe eye-rolling dismissal that the so-called skeptics (I call them "septics") use to disparage in the name of 'debunking', I would like to give this subject a deeper examination to separate the smoke from the fire where real evidence of conspiracy in the assassination of JFK exists. To do that, that means a deeper examination of the roots of UFO and alien visitation possibilities where government involvement is alleged. That means looking into Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and Area 51. Yeah, Ground Zero where "tin foil hat" lunacy as determined by Our Trusted Authorities mentioned above are concerned.
To guide us through this terrain of High Weirdness, I am primarily using as my compass the research of Peter Levenda. Levenda is the author of Unholy Alliance, a book praised by no less than Norman Mailer (he also wrote the Foreword) for its "scholarly details" on the history of Nazi involvement with the occult. (You didn't think that plot detail from Raiders of the Lost Ark was something Lucas or Spielberg just made up, did you?) For this post I will be quoting from Levenda's Sinister Forces, a trilogy that he subtitles: A Grimoire of Political Witchcraft. In Book One: The Nine, he documents some strange UFO sightings in 1947 in Chapter 5: Bluebird. While most people are aware of the Roswell sightings on July 1, 2 and 3 culminating in the crash on July 4 and discovery of wreckage on July 5, 1947, there were a high number of UFO sightings preceding Roswell throughout the United States that are equally important. Levenda begins in Washington on page 168:
Posted by robertpaulsen | Wed Nov 20, 2013, 01:38 PM (19 replies)
Thursday, September 26, 2013
30 Years Ago Today, The World Almost Ended
Each generation faces its own unique threat. In the context of modern warfare, I think this partially accounts for that perennial misunderstanding, the so-called generation gap. We all want to feel special, so to some degree this translates to infusing the unique threat we face with hyperbole; that our threat is somehow the worst, the greatest, the most insidious, evil, pick whatever adjective suits your passion. It gets more passionate, of course, if you subscribe to dispensationalist religious beliefs. Surely, this new threat is worse than all previous threats, so get ready for that Book of Revelations Armageddon, for truly we must be in the End Times.
Except we're not. And it isn't. The threat that we currently face from terrorism is real and serious. It is hardly existential. Previous generations had it far worse. As far as immediate military threats spearheaded by a fanatical madman, no one beats Hitler. Period. Compare the last 12 years including 9/11 living through al-Qaeda compared with what Germans and the rest of the world had to deal with in the 12 years comprised of 1933-1945. I rest my case. And as much as it irks me to hear any geezer have the egocentricity to call themselves The Greatest Generation, I have to say thank you. I wish the leaders of your generation had the foresight, as Clemenza said in The Godfather, to have "stopped Hitler at Munich." But that point aside, stop him you did, and the civilized world is eternally grateful to you.
The one caveat to this argument is that Hitler didn't really represent an existential threat. (Unless, of course, you happened to be Jewish, or homosexual, or Gypsy, or just plain having enough conscience and guts to oppose the perverted Nazi ethos.) But neither does terrorism, unless you happen to believe the Chechens can overcome their snowball's chance in hell odds of overthrowing the Russian government, gain possession of their nuclear arsenal and break the codes to unleash Apocalypse Now. Which brings me to the main point of this post: if the greatest military threat is an existential threat, i.e. the ability to wipe human existence off the face of the earth, then the greatest threat ever occurred during the Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation. If the Cold War got hot enough to unleash World War III, the hundreds of millions incinerated in the cities targeted would be the lucky ones. The unlucky would be the rest of the world's population facing the prospect of Nuclear Winter. As the speed of environmental existential threats go, if Global Warming is a marathon, Nuclear Winter is a 100 meter sprint.
Many people think the only time we ever came close to nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. But there was another crisis behind the scenes in 1983 that most people were not aware of. If not for the cool head and accurate "gut" of one Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, we might not be here:
Sept. 26, 1983: The Man Who Saved the World by Doing ... Nothing
What's really scary is that this false alarm that happened 30 years ago today was only the beginning. It's easy to forget the level of tension that existed then if you didn't live through it, but I did. I remember the brinksmanship practiced during the first term of Reagan's presidency, exemplified in the phrase he used to describe the Soviet Union: "evil empire." I remember the incident alluded to above, the Soviet shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (no kids, 007 is not a sick joke on my part) on September 1, 1983, killing all 269 passengers aboard, including sitting Congressman Lawrence McDonald, which seemed to give teeth at the time to the "evil empire" accusation. Later, evidence was revealed through Project Censored that US intelligence had an overriding interest in Soviet military activities in the area overflown by the Korean airliner. (Maybe the 007 flight designation really was a sick joke!) But at the time, even without the intimate knowledge of behind the scenes details, the tension was real and palpable. It's no coincidence that two major Hollywood productions dealing with nuclear holocaust, the Oscar nominated Testament and the highly rated TV movie The Day After were made in 1983. President Reagan even saw a special screening of The Day After on October 10, more than one month prior to the national broadcast, which "greatly depressed" him, but didn't affect him enough to put a hold on Exercise Able Archer 83, which really kicked the nuclear brinksmanship crisis between the US and USSR into high gear in November.
The Day After movie still
The existence of Exercise Able Archer 83 has been public knowledge for many years. But earlier this year, newly declassified documents gave a more complete picture of just what a threat to the existence of humanity this exercise presented:
New Documents Reveal How a 1980s Nuclear War Scare Became a Full-Blown Crisis
It would be comforting to think that with the end of the Cold War in 1991, the threat of nuclear annihilation has vanished. But that isn't the case. On January 25, 1995, a Norwegian missile launched to study the aurora borealis was mistaken by Russian military as a US Trident missile flying over Russian airspace. President Boris Yeltsin had actually opened the nuclear briefcase when Russian radar confirmed the missile was heading out harmlessly to sea. But that's hardly comforting to know how close we can come to suicide as a species by complete accident!
Why is it that the civilized world has banned chemical weapons, but has yet to outlaw the greatest WMD of all, nuclear bombs? I give credit to President Obama for his recent attempt to reduce the number of nuclear warheads down to 1,000 each, (current totals: US - 4,650 Russia - 5,200) but that's still 2,000 warheads capable of creating the Mother Of All Accidents. It's a great first step, too bad Congressional Republicans and Vladimir Putin are unified in opposing it. Perhaps they've forgotten their history, how close we've come to extinction.
Or maybe they remember and are nostalgic for the good old days of nuclear paranoia! Dovetails nicely with the current 80's nostalgia!
Is it a nuclear war?
What are you asking for?
Posted by robertpaulsen | Thu Sep 26, 2013, 04:49 PM (18 replies)