Sunday, December 31, 2006

Paul Kimball Gets Too Wild During Birthday Bash;
Special Law Enforcement Agent Called In

[ PHOTO: ]

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two Questions

Recently the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal has announced it is changing its name to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. So CSICOP is becoming CSI.

When referring to the organization by its original name, some would pronounce the abbreviation CSICOP as sie-kop (Psi-Cop). Ergo, one could pronounce CSI as sis-see.

So if someone representing CSI acts petty and irritable, could that person be called a pissy Sissy?

Also, if a CSI representative keeps tirelessly repeating the same dogma over and over, creating a minor commotion that doesn't change your mind, could you call him Sissyfuss?

[Note: Ray X will be appearing at the Purple Elephant Comedy Club this weekend.]

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Air Ship From 3000 C.E.

Mac Tonnies has stirred up some controversy with his CTH - crypto-terrestrial hypothesis - over at his blog, Posthuman Blues. Other UFO theories have been mentioned by commenters, including the idea that UFOs come from our future, i.e., mankind advances to the point that it discovers how to travel through time.

Of course, the argument has been made that time travel could never be possible because of the paradoxes involved. For example, you couldn't go back in time and kill your grandfather before your father was born because you would never exist in the first place.

I just left a comment at Mac's blog and I'm also posting it here so that it's less apt to be lost in the insurmountable sea of information that is the Web.

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Here's my speculation on time travelers and UFOs:

In the future time travel is possible as long as you don't try to change history. As soon as a time traveler attempts to affect a past event, they are negated, cease to exist.

So a time traveler must fit into what already has happened. He would check the historical record and then morph his time machine into what has already been reported. If he wants to check out the USA in the 1890s, he could make his machine look like one of the mysterious air ships spotted during that period. And if there's a report of an air ship crew talking with someone, the time travelers could dress for the occasion and just say their lines from the historical "script."

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= = =

This comment via email:

You’re overlooking the many worlds interpretation of space/time.

With the many worlds or multiverse interpetations you don’t have to worry about paradoxes such as what happens if you accidentally change history or anything because every possibility at every instant of time exists such that a time traveler can go back in time and kill his grandfather and not impact the timeline the time traveler came from. The bad part is that the time traveler would probably never be able to get back to the exact timeline he left from due to the uncertainty principle. Of course this doesn’t really matter since all you need to do is get close enough to your original universe so that everything is the way you remember it.




But if too many time travelers kept creating alternate universes / timelines, wouldn't that create instability after a while and the whole mess would either blow up or collapse in on itself?

Of course, this is all speculation.

ThanX for your comment.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Counting Electrodes Instead Of Sheep

How many?

One on my chin. I think two or three in my hair. The rest come in pairs, one for the right, one for the left: legs, behind my ears, right next to my eyes. No wonder I have all sorts of color-coded wires running from my body into the wall.

There are also wired belts wrapped around my chest and stomach. A strap encircles my head to keep my mouth closed. Additional straps keep the nose mask in place. Increased pressure is being pumped into me to keep my airways open. A technician is the next room is monitoring me, not just through the electrodes glued all over my body, but also with an infra-red camera looking down at me. The system is a hi-tech Argus.

I did sleep, maybe for three hours, despite being plugged in and spied on. But now I can’t sleep.

I hear a disembodied voice – not God – from the ceiling say: “You’ve been awake for an hour and a half. Do you want to end the study now?”

I force the chin strap open. Air rushes out. “Another half-hour,” I manage to say.

I lie there, trying to relax. My sleep pattern has never been normal. The diagnosis is sleep apnea. This sleep lab study #4.

I try to relax, almost becoming drowsy. But I can’t fall asleep. Thirty minutes are soon up.

Following the directions of the disembodied voice, I end the study the way it ended: checking out all the connections.

“Close your eyes. Open your eyes. Blink fives times. Raise your left foot. Now put a big smile on your face…”

* * *

So that’s how my visit to the sleep lab went the other evening, the night right after Xmas. I won’t bore you with the other details, like washing globs of glue out of my hair. You never saw anyone on Star Trek have to do that after a medical sensor scan, did you?

I see the doctor on January 2nd. Another post-holiday event, all part of what I call fun with sleep apnea.

I tried using a C-PAP machine before but was having problems. Apparently, from the way the first doctor yelled at me, those problems were my fault.

But I’m seeing another specialist who treats me like a person. I don’t know if the technician gathered enough data from my last visit. The readings are used to determine the pressure level for the C-PAP. At the right setting my breathing won’t be interrupted by constricted airways while I sleep. I will go into a deep, restful sleep.

Some people can never adjust to a C-PAP. And then there’s what I call the Star Trek Syndrome. You watch shows set in the future and see how things could be, like being monitored by sensors that don’t have touch your body. Glue? Forget it. You also wonder if what is considered a medical breakthrough today might be regarded as a nostrum tomorrow.

I have a 1928 issue of the “Scientifiction” pulp magazine, Amazing Stories. Ads litter the back pages, some promoting dubious products. One shows an illustration of a man with a device attached to his nose, held firmly in place by rubber bands running behind his head. This device was called “Anita’s Nose Straightener.” Embarrassed by your crooked nose? Anita has the answer!

No, I’m not saying that my doctor is a quack. He’s a good man, doing his best. But sometimes discoveries are made that up-end established facts in health care. Remember the controversy when a researcher stated that a certain type of bacteria caused most ulcers? Even though the medical establishment said it was impossible - “Bacteria can’t live in stomach acid!” - antibiotics are now used in treating ulcers.

I just hope my C-PAP doesn’t prove to be as effective as Anita’s Nose Straightener.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

UFOs And The Belt Of Orion

A few people were at the lakeside park, waiting for the slo-mo celestial event. My camera atop tripod was ready. I had a small flashlight to check the camera’s settings and also some reference notes for changing the exposure as the event progressed.

It was a warm night. At least I wasn’t standing outside, alone, in the snow as I had done on another similar occasion, trying to keep warm while recording the darkening moon.

As the event progressed, a young man, a college student, asked me if I knew much about the night sky. I told him I was somewhat familiar with it, having taken amateur astronomical photos before.

When the moon was in total eclipse, the stars appeared brighter, thanks to the drastically reduced lunar “light pollution.” I pointed out to the college student the prominent stars in the Orion constellation that form his belt, a trio of radiant diamonds, seemingly perfectly aligned.

The student was caught off guard. Apparently he had never paid much attention to the heavens. If my memory serves me, he said he had moved from a big city to Plattsburgh to attend college. Unlike the generally rural environs of the Plattsburgh area, a metropolitan beehive is encased by manmade light pollution. Its night sky is obscured, even hidden. Seeing the belt of Orion for the first time, so clear against the black sky, startled the big city transplant.

“Are you sure those stars are always like that?” he asked me a bit nervously.

Between the dull red moon and Orion’s belt, he acted as if he was witnessing a sign of the Apocalypse. I reassured him that there was nothing supernatural about the alignment of the star trio.

Most likely he had been conditioned by television and movies to think of the stars as random light points that never formed a pattern. How many times has a cheesy sci fi show or movie portrayed the universe as a sheet of black velvet dotted with pinprick holes held up in front of a strong light? The points of radiance are all the same intensity, forming a sloppy pattern that really doesn’t match what someone observes while scanning the clear heavens during darkness.

But that college student’s reaction didn’t surprise me. I had witnessed a similar reaction years before in college. This time the college student was a friend. The two-year college we attended was located in the middle of rural nowhere. To pass the time I would watch the cows grazing on the hillside out my dorm window.

One freezing winter evening I stopped by my friend’s dorm. I found him at the end of the hallway, staring out the large window. I inquired what he was looking at. The sun had set, its last rays still illuminating the horizon with bluish light. He pointed at a couple of intense lights hovering in the distance. They seemed to be spinning, changing color.

I told him that it was a couple of planets, Venus or Jupiter, whatever. The lights seemed to be spinning due to turbulence in the upper atmosphere.

“Those aren’t planets!” he declared. He didn’t utter the term, but I knew what he was thinking: UFOs. As in alien spacecraft.

I mentioned to him that the two lights weren’t moving, they seemed to be remaining in the same place, just like planets. If there were any movement, it would be from the planets slowly following the sun, setting behind the horizon.

But my friend wouldn’t buy my explanation. So I left him there, staring at what he thought was extra-natural, not of nature.

So when skeptics say that many UFO sightings can be explained by observer bias and a lack of awareness about the night sky, I would have to agree after what I’ve observed.


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Monday, December 25, 2006


Over at the Posthuman Blues blog [link] Mac Tonnies mentioned that he wasn't a big fan of Xmas. A few comments from his readers also reflected this POV.

One of the commenters, Paul Kimball, who was probably making an observation in jest, caused me to write a knee-jerk reaction comment. Anyway, for those who don't frequent Mac's blog, here's my observation today on this so-called Holiest of Holidays.

= = =

Racism. Sexism.

Well, I love Christmas you grinches and Scrooges.

And let me coin a new term: holidayism.

If someone enjoys the holidays, that's fine by me. But don't criticize anyone who doesn't share your enthusiasm. Individuals are entitled to like, not like, hate, or love anything they want -- assuming that they're not infringing upon someone else's rights.

This Grinch-Scrooge label, even in jest, smacks of one thing I hate the most: conformism. It's not funny or annoying: just tiresome.


= = =

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Purple Elephant In The Room

Just in time for the Xmas holiday: there has been some debate on a couple of other blogs in regards to religion and faith. Well, such issues need a unique perspective and so I telepathically interviewed that Ultra-Deity Pachyderm, The Supreme Supreme-O, Purple Elephant. He appeared in my living room for a short chat about the Meaning Of It All.

Ray X [RX]: What is existence?

Purple Elephant [PE]: Existence is vaudeville. Death is a cream pie in your face.

RX: What is the purpose of existence?

PE: Leave it to you humans not to appreciate a good thing. Most of you are doing OK, but you have to look for a hidden meaning in the universe. Everything has to be a little bit better; it can’t be taken at face value. You act as if you’re consumers trying to hunt down the best deal. Only humans would look for “value added” with reality.

RX: But people can’t accept that senseless things happen at times.

PE: So don’t make “sense” out of it. Shit happens on every scale: sub-atomic, personal, cosmic. Why worry about something you can’t change or control?

RX: It seems that you’re saying that everyone has to be self-centered, each individual should watch out only for himself.

PE: Sure, be self-centered. You’ll sink yourself with everyone else in the rowboat. If you humans spent more time pulling together and less time trying to push yourselves apart, you wouldn’t be looking for deeper meaning in the toilet universe. You’re all just one flush away from non-existence.

RX: That fact is supposed to reassure us?

PE: Hey, it works for me. Got any beer and pretzels?

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(I think my lava lamp is defective.)

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

An Intriguing Offer

Where else but downtown Plattsburgh, NY?

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

SW Factoid: Suicidal Chickens & Your Health

Welcome to the Wild West of Ideas: U.S. domestic shortwave broadcasters and the freethinking radio programs they promulgate.

Case in point: today I was listening to a program on WWCR (Worldwide Christian Radio) called Stairway to Health. When I tuned in (12.160 MHz, 2:30 PM Eastern Standard Time), the woman host was ranting about bad meat, particularly the meat produced by chickens raised in cages on large farms. She advocated eating free range chickens, saying that you paid more but it was better for your health.

You see, caged chickens are adrenally stressed to the point of being suicidal. In a classic case of you are what you eat, kids were committing suicide and adults were suffering from depression due to the consumption of these tainted birds.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Schlock Corridor

Spawned in 1963, Shock Corridor is described on the back cover of the video box as both “camp” and “a brave new art form.” Sorry, there ain’t much art in this stupid movie.

Imagine if Ed Wood had a bigger budget and some actors who could act. Basically, Samuel Fuller, the writer/producer/director behind Shock Corridor, has created a more sophisticated edwoodian disaster.

Good actors can only do so much with an overblown, over-the-top script. There’s nothing wrong with the basic plot: a reporter, Johnny Barratt, goes undercover as a mental patient to solve a murder at an insane asylum. But that germ of an idea is mutated into an insane virus of a screenplay.

While undercover, the reporter has to ferret out from three different witnesses, all patients, the identity of the murderer. The patients are introduced one at a time. This set-up makes it obvious that Fuller was trying to make Important Social Observations relevant to the early 1960s by using each patient as devices to “delve into the American psyche,” to use a line from the video box.

Patient #1 is a good ol’ boy from the South. He thinks he’s fighting the Civil War. During a rational moment, he reveals that he was an American soldier captured by the enemy during the Korean conflict and was brainwashed for a while by the commies. It was easy to go over to the commie side because, as the good ol’ boy explains, he was ashamed that his folks fed him bigotry for breakfast and ignorance for supper.

Patient #2 is a black man who hates “niggers.” (Hey, I didn’t write the screenplay; take it up with Fuller.) When he has a rational moment we learn that he was a student integrated into a white college down south and that he couldn’t handle the stress. Patient #2 likes to steal pillowcases, transforming them into KKK hoods. At one point he dons his homemade Klan hood and incites a race riot on the ward.

And to wrap it up, there’s Patient #3, a government scientist who flipped out because he was working on the atomic bomb and other terrible weapons, as we discover during his rational moment.

Have you noticed the pattern? At some point a patient is sane enough to accomplish two goals: give some back story to show Fuller’s liberal concerns and also provide another clue for the reporter in regards to the murder. This ham-fisted plot contrivance causes the reporter to hang around each patient, waiting for that window of rationality. I know mental health professionals will tell you that such things do occur, especially three times in a row in the same ward. In fact, sane moments can be predicted like lunar and solar eclipses.

Ed Wood was noted for padding – I mean enhancing – his movies with stock footage that was a lot cheaper than filming original scenes. Shock Corridor uses the same cost-saving device, but in the most jarring manner.

The film is in black and white, except for the stock footage inserts. For example, just before the black man who hates blacks snaps out of it for a few minutes, he has a dream about being a young boy in a tribe in the Amazon jungle, going through a rite of passage. Suddenly some documentary scenes in blazing color are thrown in. Then the POV cuts back to the black patient in black and white (Artsy, huh?) who says that it’s strange that he always has that dream in color, how it brings him back to sanity.

So maybe that’s the answer to mental illness: have a patient wear special glasses that filter out all colors, only allowing a B&W view, and then have the monochromatic lenses taken off to show the patient a documentary filmed in Japan in full color, featuring a Buddha statue, an amusement park, trains, and Mount Fuji (what the good ol’ boy patient sees in his dream).

The great Ed Wood was also known for this insightful dialogue. Fuller also provides sparkling gems, such as “Johnny, you have to be crazy to want to be committed to an insane asylum to solve a murder.”

And let’s not forget:

“I’m fed up playing a Greek Chorus to your rehearsed nightmare.”

“You’re in a hopped-up, show-off stage. Get off it. Don’t be Moses leading your lunatics to a Pulitzer prize.”

“Do you think I like singing in that sewer with a hot light on my navel?”

“If he doesn’t come through with that question, I’ll fall right on my typographical face.”

Yup, Shock Corridor is indeed a brave new art form: psycho-comedy.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vaporized by Blogger Beta?

Looks like The Orange Orb blog lost its older posts when it switched over to Blogger Beta. You can find The Orb here at its new Beta home.

According to The Orb, others have also suffered problems when switching from Blogger Original to Blogger Beta. Apparently Blogger subscribes to this principle: If it doesn't need fixing, let's break it.

Me, I'm going to stay here until with BO they kick me off. I don't know if I'll ever switch to BB. Blogger is convenient -- when it works the way it should. My website isn't as easy for posting and archiving, but it has been more dependable. I might start using it more often with its blog-like section called "X-Rays." So make a note: If this blog should suddenly vaporize, you will find me there.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it seems some comments to this blog have been lost or blocked. Probably part of the Beta nonsense. If you can't comment via Blogger, please use my email address linked below.

We bloggers have to stick together and get the word out, especially when the feces strikes the air circulation propeller. I'm glad to pass along the word that The Orange Orb is still with us. If we keep each other informed on what is going on, we should stay ahead of the problem, communicating with few interruptions. After all, communication is what this is all about.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fun With Sleep Apnea: Sleep Or Teeth

To get a good night’s sleep, I might have to give up my teeth.

No, that doesn’t mean that I need to have my teeth surgically removed so that I can breath properly while sleeping. Let me backtrack.

Thanks to some bad advice given to me by a dentist years ago, I have receding gum lines due to improper brushing. Dry mouth can aggravate the problem.

When I first tried the C-PAP machine, I would wake up with a parched mouth. A water unit to add humidity was included in the system and that did keep my mouth moist while sleeping. But one night I woke up and found my head filled with moldy miasma, even though I had carefully changed the water and cleaned the C-PAP hoses and other accessories. I have a severe allergy to molds; that ended my C-PAP use.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend who has sleep apnea but successfully uses C-PAP. He said he also had a mold problem when he used the water unit. He doesn’t use the unit anymore, putting up with dry mouth.

I can see it now: I get proper sleep but my teeth go to hell. Time marches on and I end up as a well-rested but toothless old man.

Anyway, there might be another answer. Round Two in the sleep lab is scheduled the night after Xmas and then a visit with the new doctor right after New Year’s Day.

In the meantime, I’ll keep properly brushing my teeth while half-awake.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I’ve noticed lately that I haven’t received any comments to my posts. One answer could be that I’m annoying or boring everyone Out There. Or everyone is busy with “the holidaze.” Another answer is that leaving a comment via Blogger is stopping a few opinions from getting through.

I know that Blogger can act quirky at times. When I want leave a comment, sometimes I have to post it twice. And with the big push to Blogger Beta, I wonder if things are really quirky to the point that comments are lost along the way. Also, to leave a remark at this blog, you have a join Blogger, an option that some people would rather skip.

I do value feedback. If you don’t feel like commenting, OK, that’s the way it goes. But if you’re not making a comment because Blogger is too bothersome, let me offer an option: email.

Yes, I know email has its own problems, such as spam, over-filtering, whatever. But it seems to work easier and better than using the comment option here.

So from now on I’ve listing my email address at the end of each post. Also, there’s a link to it on the right hand side of this page under LINKS.

I will add your remarks, if appropriate, to the post that you’re commenting on. If you don’t want your email message published, then please let me know. I won’t include your address when I print your comment; that should help to cut down on the spam for you.

Of course, by putting my email address up repeatedly, I’ll be the one who will probably see an increase in spam. So that I don’t think your email is spam, put RX COMMENT in the subject heading with the title of the post. ThanX.


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Saturday, December 02, 2006

A New Saucer Smear Editor?

In the latest edition of his zine (11/20/06), Supreme Commander Jim Moseley mentions that while he is “doubtlessly immoral,” he isn’t immortal. Now 75, he has been considering who should carry one with the world’s best ufooligical newsletter.

He states he has been in contact with “an intellectual/academic type fellow who seems really enthusiastic about taking over the ‘Smear’ desk when the time seems right.”

Gee, I didn’t know that Henry Kissinger was a saucer fiend. I wonder if Henry the K’s humor can be as penetrating and as irreverent as Jim’s. (As for the issue of immorality…)

Anyway, if you’ve never read a hardcopy issue of Saucer Smear – and seeing it on a computer screen isn’t the same – then it’s time to send a SASE business envelope and a couple of dollars to Mr. Moseley at P.O. Box 1709, Key West, FL 33041. Eschewing all things digital, Jim still creates his newsletter with a typewriter, scissors, and glue. It’s that handmade fanzine quality that adds to the infotainment experience.