Sunday, December 21, 2008
Flying Saucer Xmas
Xmas Day I’ll be doing more than just being stuck in my shoebox apartment, nowhere to go, waiting for the rest of the world to re-open the next day.
“When Prophecy Fails” (1956) details how a group of various individuals believed that a great flood would destroy much of the world on December 21st. They waited for benevolent aliens – “The Guardians” - to come down in flying saucers and save them. The Guardians had been channeling messages through “Marian Keech,” a middle-aged suburban housewife.
(The authors had disguised the names of people and places in their book. Apparently they didn’t want a major lawsuit from The Guardians.)
The authors of WPF – Festinger, Riecken and Schachter – use the term “disconfirmation” to describe when a fateful date and time passes and a prophecy is unfulfilled.
Keech and her fellow believers were disconfirmed a few times, especially when the great flood never happened. Before and after the fateful date they sought confirmation of their beliefs with others they wanted to believe were spacemen. Phone calls could be coded messages from the spacemen who were living hidden among humanity at large. A stranger knocking at the door might be a spaceman in disguise with a special message for the group.
On Xmas Day Marion Keech welcomed one such stranger to her home. The visitor found himself in an uncomfortable situation: Keech wanted him to reveal that he was indeed a nonterrestrial there to impart words of revelation.
Even though the stranger didn’t play along, Keech thought he was indeed a special visitor who appeared on the most appropriate day of the year.
So as an eXperiment I’m going to wait for a spaceman to contact me on December 25th, either via telephone or in person. After all, that day is a time of peace on earth, good will towards all men (and women). A magical moment.
And if the spaceman doesn’t make contact?
Hey, I’m already “disconfirmed” about Xmas.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Xart For Xmas
Do you xart?
Xart (pronounced zart) can be interpreted as an abbreviation for extraordinary art. It is simple, direct, easy to make. And cheap, an important factor this holiday gift season with the economy going down the crapper.
Grab two or three odd items, slap them together, and then figure out the value added in arty terms. Take a pencil with a broken lead, glue it to a dead calculator, and call your work “Non-Computers.”
There is also xartography. Snap a shot of a blank wall or another generally uniform surface. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the image. If you end up with a dull close-up snapshot, perfect! Remember, a plain plane is the pinnacle of pointlessness. Aren’t both holidays and high art just meaningless in the end? Call your work “Not A Wall.” Print it out on cheap paper. Show it to a college philosophy major and ask his opinion. Watch him drown in his own bullshit.
Yup, xart can entertain you and keep your friends guessing. Just don’t let them know that xart really means excruciatingly bad art.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
A Toast To A Snarky Skepchick
Are you a lonely male skeptic? Is science your religion? Do you sneer at anyone who believes, for example, that a few UFO cases might be something truly mysterious, extraordinary? And, more importantly, are you a cynical alcoholic on the way to the gutter?
Well, I have a blog for you: http://skepchick.org/blog .
I’ve never read this blog in great depth but from time to time I’ve checked out some of the posts. When it comes to the paranormal, I try to look at the subject from all sides. As with any field of interest, sometimes you have to deal with the personalities involved to extract some data, overlooking the opinion mixed in with the fact.
The head skepchick, Rebecca, likes to blab on about “drinkathons” in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City where fellow skeptics gather to put down various outlier beliefs while putting down lotsa booze.
In a post entitled “Brilliant Idea: The 10-Minute Lecture” (11/20/08), Rebecca mentions that at one such meet-up that one scientist “suggested that this sort of event would be a great way to connect with a more general audience.” The she adds: “…at least, I think that’s what he said, I was well into my second giant beer at that point.” Just like driving a car, skeptical thinking works better with an alcohol level that blows up a Breathalyizer.
In another post, fellow skepchick Elyse writes about the “Skepchick Drink Contest Results, The Reckoning” (11/21/08). A number of concoctions were sampled, including the Buzzed Aldrin and the Sylivia Browne.
Of course, drinking has its downside. A key problem is the next day hangover that turns one into a venomous critic. Take the case of “Psychic Medium Asks For a Link From Skepchick (Sure Thing!)” (11/25/08). Sean Sugrue, a psychic medium based in Dublin, Ireland, emailed Rebecca and asked if he could link to her site. Didn’t take Rebecca long to show her fangs: “Today’s letter dropped into my Skepchick in-box like manna from heaven. The letter may as well have had the subject line, ‘Please open: I am ready for your ridicule!’”
After printing the letter, Rebecca decided to check out Sean’s website to “mock it mercilessly.” In her response Rebecca admits that she’s engaging in an ad hominem attack but that’s OK: some paranormal claims are so ridiculous that they deserved ridicule.
Ridicule. That’s part of the scientific method?
She lambastes Sean for using the spirit image of a Native American (you know, an Indian) on his home page because he’s supposed to be an Irish psychic. No prejudice there, huh? In general I don’t believe in psychics, but I do know that they claim to channel beings from beyond time and space, i.e., they’re not limited to the geographically specific location where they live.
Anyway, Rebecca – either suffering from a headache from the her last drinking bout or maybe she was just sauced again – suggests that Sean should use another image such as Genghis Khan or a marmoset to promote his “quackery.”
Of course, Sean did leave himself open to snark, probably because didn’t do his research and checked out the Skepchicks blog in any great detail. At the same time, he didn’t attack Rebecca. If Rebecca was half the man she claims to be as a skeptic, trying to spread (her version of) the truth, she could’ve taken the high road and politely pointed out why she doesn’t agree with Sean’s beliefs.
But why would Rebecca and some of her other skeptics be so concerned about acting like considerate adults?
Let skepchick Ekyse provide an answer. In her “Afternoon Inquisition” dated 11/24/08, she mentions that her husband isn’t a gung-ho about skepticism; he finds skeptics in general to be “pedantic curmudgeons.” This leads Elyse to pose this question:
“Do you think skeptics, as a whole, come across as arrogant or unapproachable? What can we do to change that image?”
Here’s a sobering thought: Treat others as you would want to be treated.
That’s an ideal that most people would raise a glass to.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Chucklehead Leno Mocks CPAP Users
“How is someone supposed to sleep while wearing that stupid thing?”
Jay Leno laughed.
Last week Leno, host of the Tonight Show, was in the middle of his Headlines bit, a segment where he jokes around about various news clippings. Usually Leno yuks it up by targeting bad headline typos, bumbling criminal stories and quack product ads. This time he was commenting about a magazine advertisement for a sleep apnea pillow.
When he mentioned the ad, I assumed he was going to ridicule a dubious product that claimed to treat sleep apnea by itself. Leno held up a photo showing someone sleeping on his side, facing the camera, while wearing a CPAP mask. The pillow was shaped to make it easier for the man to wear the mask, unlike regular pillows.
So what was the problem? From what I saw the pillow was a good design; it should work. Regular pillows are more apt to dislodge the facemask.
But Leno didn’t want to comment on the pillow; he found humor in the mask strapped over the man’s head.
Indeed, how does someone sleep wearing one of those masks? I struggle with that problem every night. Leno, on the other hand, is said to get by on only five hours of sleep. So apnea ain’t his onus.
To pour salt into the wound, Leno pretended to be the man in the ad. Breathing hard, he said: “Hey, wanna have sex?” A Darth Vader reference is such a knee-slapper.
Maybe Leno should go to the hospital and crack jokes about someone in an oxygen tent. That should produce plenty of guffaws.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Here we go again: another salacious news item from Saucer Smear zinester and sextraterrestrial, Jim Moseley.
Sitting next to my computer is a news clipping from the Santa Fe Journal (8/24/08) about a topless protest held in a local park. (I would link to the online version but the SF Journal likes to hide information behind a pay wall. Hey, man, information wants to be free!)
The article by Journal Staff Writer Raam Wong describes how the event unfolded the previous day. It was part of National Go Topless Day, sponsored by alien contactee Rael. Yup, when it comes to sexual controversy, don’t be surprise if Raelians are lurking about. As Rael surely knows, sex sells – or at least makes a good lure.
Fortunately the Raelian web site, www.gotopless.org, doesn’t hide itself behind a pay wall (unlike a stupid newspaper I won’t name). The site states:
"Our national inaugural Gotopless Day on August 23rd was a great success! We wish to thank all the participants who supported this cause."
Well, it could be argued that in Santa Fe the event didn’t go off as expected. Note the headline in the Santa Fe Journal:
Few Bare All At Topless Protest
What reporter Wong uncovered was that a handful of topless men – and only one woman – got into the spirit of the protest.
One summer a mother and daughter staged their own topless protest at the Plattsburgh City Beach, hanging around sans tops. Local readers were also kept abreast of the event in the local newspaper. The article featured twice the boobs. Ergo, Plattsburgh gave more exposure to the topic than Santa Fe.
So, stripped to its bare essentials, the Santa Fe Topless Protest was a bust.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Hey! Where’s My Coronation?
What’s this crap?
March 23, 2004. Dirksen Senate Office Building. A bunch of pols show up to honor Sun Myung Moon as “King of Peace.” One conservative lawmaker handed the tax cheat and jailbird cult leader a crown on a pillow. And to top it off, Reverend Moon declared himself the True Messiah (move over, Jesus).
So why does a loon like Moon get special treatment? Especially from so-called conservative politicians?
Sure, a North Korean expatriate ranting against Satanic communism is an easy sell to the religious right crowd. But throughout his book, Bad Moon Rising, reporter John Gorenfeld mentions some of Moon’s other “conservative” beliefs:
-- God spoke directly to Moon and said that Jesus screwed up, so it was up to Moon to save humanity.
-- Various dead US presidents have communicated their approval of Moon from the other side. On their behalf Richard Nixon stated: “We resolve and proclaim Rev. Sun is the Lord of the Second Advent, the Messiah, the Savior, and the True Parent.”
-- Christian churches should take down any crosses because the cross symbolizes Christ’s failure at messiahdom.
-- Caucasians are descended from polar bears.
Does any of this sound like traditional Christian American values?
But I know why I don’t get special treatment from politicians. Moon has one thing I don’t have. Money. Tons of it. And with lotsa money you can buy influence, even control.
If I had enough money, I could probably sponsor an act of ritual sex magick to call forth the Whore of Babylon right there in Congress.
Considering how things are going lately, I think someone beat me to it. And now we’re all going to get crowned.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Smiley Face Murders: Pattern Or Coincidence?
I don’t remember the researcher’s name or the title of his work, but one detail from his writing stuck in my mind. This researcher had a universal explanation to the causation of alien abduction stories. The experiencers, he stated, were sensitive to electro-magnetic radiation and this sensitivity triggered terrifying hallucinations.
For example, he interviewed one self-proclaimed abductee and he knew his theory was correct when he spotted an electric power line right outside the man’s apartment window.
Look outside your window. Most likely there’s a power line in view.
Sometimes there are patterns that point to an underlying reality. Other times what appears to be a pattern is just dumb coincidence or the result of overlooking how ubiquitous a certain object or motif may be.
Take graffiti. It’s everywhere, especially in secluded areas where taggers are less apt to be caught. And among the most common spray-painted symbols are smiley faces.
So if violent crime occurs more often in areas marked with graffiti, should we immediately assume a direct connection between crime and graffiti? That graffiti artists are more likely to be violent? Or is the real connection that secluded areas aren’t patrolled that often by the police, thus offering more opportunities for muggings and assaults?
This points to the nub of the problem with what some call the Smiley Face Murders. What some see as evidence, others regard as coincidence.
According to the Smiley Face Murders theory, young college men throughout the country are being murdered during the fall and winter months when the weather is colder. While drinking at a bar, someone slips a drug into the victim’s drink. Later the victim is shoved into a river at an off-the-beaten-path spot. He drowns due to his drugged state and the shock of hypothermia.
The gang or person behind the murders is careful to leave no signs of struggle or foul play. The incident is ruled as an accidental drowning. The murder or murderers still want recognition for the crime and so a spray-painted smiley face is left behind, a covert acknowledgement.
Recently the Plattsburgh State University student newspaper, Cardinal Points, ran a front-page story about one father who believes his son was a victim of the Smiley Face Gang. (Cardinal Points, 9/19/08 print edition. Online link.) Bill Szostak’s son, Josh, had attended PSU. Josh Szostak turned up missing in December of last year after drinking at an Albany bar. His body wasn’t found about four months later, 30 miles away from where he went missing. The death was officially ruled an accidental death by drowning.
Believers in the Smiley Face Murders point out that because a body isn’t recovered until some time later, any traces of a date rape drug in the victim has disappeared.
It’s tragic when a loved one dies. It’s more tragic when it appears that his death was the result of an accident, a bit of bad luck. Such a death appears to be senseless.
But for some people death has to be more than a random event in an impersonal universe. A tragic death can have some sort of meaning if it was a result of a higher purpose, part of God’s plan, if you will.
Bill Szostak in the Cardinal Points article warns students about the danger of being drugged while out drinking. He advises students to stay in groups where there is safety. It’s commendable that he’s making college students aware of these issues.
At the same time he is also trying to bring the Smiley Face Murderers to justice. He plans to present a petition to congress challenging the contention by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that the death of his son and others are nothing more than accidental drownings.
Is there a Smiley Face Gang or Murderer out there?
Or is the universe at times random, capricious? And finite men vainly try to place a pattern on the infinite?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Ray X Sells Out
I always said I would sell out if the price was right. After years of printing an adless zine, followed by an ad-free blog, I’ve had enough of poverty. That’s why I am now the official spokesperson for Dr. Cheeseman’s Female Regulating Pills.
I will only stand behind a product with a proven track record stretching over 170 years. Dr. C’s miraculous pill were invented in sometime in the 1830s, the exact date lost to history. Hey, if it worked back way back then, why not now? After all, consider all the fringe items that the Food and Drug Administration allows to be sold -- dietary supplements, magnetic soles, whatever -- that also claim relief.
Let’s look at an ad from the Plattsburgh Sentinel newspaper, Thursday, April 5, 1866:
Dr. Cheeseman's Female Pills Will immediately relieve without pain all disturbances of the Periodic discharge whether arising from relaxation or suppression. They act like a charm in removing the pains that accompany difficult or immoderate menstruation and are the only safe and reliable remedy for Flushes, Sick Headache, Pains in the Loins, Back and Sides, Palpitation of the Heart, Nervous Tremors, Hysterics, Spasms, Broken Sleep and other unpleasant and dangerous effects of an unnatural condition of the sexual functions. In the worst cases of Flnor Albus or Whites they effect a speedy cure.
It should be noted this drug does have a certain side-effect. To quote the ad from 1866:
[Dr. Cheeseman’s Female Regulating Pills] are offered as the only safe means of renewing interrupted menstruation, but Ladies must bear in mind that there is one condition of the female system in which the Pills cannot be taken producing a PECULIAR RESULT. The condition referred to is PREGNANCY – The result MISCARRIAGE. Such is the irreversible tendency of the medicine to restore the sexual functions to a normal condition that even the reproductive power of nature cannot resist it. They cannot do harm in any other way. ONE BOX Will restore the natural function to any FEMALE no matter what her condition or age.
Of course, one shouldn’t read between the lines and think Dr. C’s pills are some sort of abortifacient. Ignore that story your great-grandma might have told about a girl in trouble who faithfully took Dr. C’s medicine and nine months later she gave birth, the baby holding a Regulating Pill in its tiny hand.
So take a copy of this article to your druggist and demand the best and most reliable Female Medicine in the world, which is comprised in Dr. Cheeseman's Female Pills!!!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Liar, Liar, Panties On Fire?
ITEM: In Japan panties previously worn by schoolgirls are available in vending machines.
That factoid was sent to me by Jim Moseley, perpetrator of the zine, Saucer Smear. He said that such a news item was too hot for Smear, a publication known for reproducing artwork depicting a man abducted by crypto-sexy aliens, ET females undressed for the occasion.
Well, I’m Ray X, not Ray XXX. But I did investigate the vending machine story because I’m interested in urban legends and objective reality.
The article Jim snail mailed me was a printout from snopes.com, a site that is supposed to weed out the crap from the candy when it comes to rumors. But after the Mr. Ed deal, I double-check anything that Snopes passes along.
Mr. Ed was the star of a TV show called, appropriately, Mr. Ed. It was a half-hour comedy series about a talking horse and the problems he caused for his owner. This show harks back to the days of black-and-white broadcasts – a detail that someone used to create a story that Mr. Ed wasn’t a horse.
A zebra, so the story goes, is easier to train than a horse. And since its black stripes don’t show up on black-and-white TV sets, it appears to be a completely white horse.
Snopes repeated the story as fact. But if you dug deeper into the post, you would see that it was a put-on. By scrolling down and clicking on a link to more info, a special page would appear, explaining that Mr. Ed was only a horse and that you should question any authority, even one such as Snopes.
But the page about Japanese schoolgirl panties doesn’t have any special link to the truth, at least not one I could find. It states that the girls visit a shop before school, put on the clean panties, and then drop them off after school.
Do a bit of Googling and you will find sites that say Snopes is wrong, that while vending machines do exist in Japan for dispensing clean sexy panties and other potentially embarrassing items, the used schoolgirl panty story is a myth.
So what is the truth? If Snopes isn’t pulling another “Mr. Ed,” it’s still possible that it could be wrong. After all, did anyone from Snopes actually go to Japan and verify the story? It only passes on what it heard from its readers.
It’s easy to meme BS on the Net, a fact that Jim Moseley might not completely appreciate.
For example, did you know that Mr. Ed wore bright white panties that on black-and-white TV blended right in with his natural coat? The panties were required by the censors to hide Ed’s genitals from sensitive viewers.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Cracker-Barrel UFO Stories
Late at night. Sittin’ around the cracker barrel at the general store, swappin’ spooky stories about strange lights and weird critters.
I’ve never had the pleasure of sitting in on such a get-together. But I do have a recording of a local radio program that featured such stories contributed by callers. The cassette tape is dated 08/08/06. After haunting my desk for a couple of years, I thought the time had come to write about its contents.
Flashback: WIRY 1340-AM, Plattsburgh’s Hometown Radio Station, used to broadcast a weekly program called “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.” The co-hosts were Bob, a jovial WIRY DJ, and Gail, owner of the Crystal Caboose up there in West Chazy.
Gail described the Crystal Caboose as a gift shop, bookstore, music shop and community meeting place all rolled into one. I’m guessing that one could find the right crystal for aura-tuning at her metaphysical resource center.
Each week Gail and Bob would discuss a particular New Age topic. The program I recorded was about UFOs. Call-ins were invited.
This neck of the woods, the northeastern corner of New York State, is very rural. Many of the people are unpretentious, plainspoken, honest. It’s interesting to hear a local call in with a UFO story. You can easily imagine what they would look like in person, sitting across from you at the cracker barrel.
During the program the co-hosts talked about the great power blackout on November 9th, 1965, that affected the US northeast and parts of Canada. Were UFOs responsible for plunging New York City into the dark?
That topic prompted a caller to share his story about a weird encounter the same evening of the great blackout. Darkness falls early in November. Around 6 or 7 PM he was traveling with his son on the Jersey Swamp Road out there in the Beekmantown area. The caller said he had been a civilian employee at the Plattsburgh Air Force Base (PAFB). He had picked up his son after work at a friend’s house. His son was around 7 or 8 years old at that time.
Driving along, he suddenly spotted a strange being in the middle of the road, maybe four or five feet tall, the size of a human child. It was humanoid, glowing. Its eyes reflected the car’s headlights, eye shine like that of a deer. The thing ambled away into the dark.
The caller said he and his son were shaken. He wanted to turn around but decided against it because his son was so traumatized by the sighting.
As a civilian employee at the Plattsburgh AF base, he heard about a room where reports of “bogies” were collected from enlisted men and civilians. Every base had such a room. There was speculation that the Air Force was keeping track of UFO and other paranormal sightings because such events could’ve been part of a plot by the Soviet Union.
Another caller related her experience that dated back to the late 1950s. She had been living near Saranac Lake, out in the countryside, no streetlights around. One summer night she heard a humming sound and noticed a greenish-white light outside her window. She tried to awaken her husband but he just told her that it was only a storm or fog, nothing to worry about.
The woman caller said she saw an UFO hovering over the pen where they kept their two horses, some chickens and a big barn cat. The object was hazy; she couldn’t tell if it was metallic.
The UFO directed a light beam down at her cat as if it was trying to pick it up. For some reason the UFO left without taking any animals for a ride.
The woman caller said that her pet was a Maine Coon cat. It used to be very vocal, meowing a lot, but after the UFO incident it remained silent.
She called the PAFB and the person who answered the phone said the base had been receiving reports of mysterious lights that night from both pilots and civilians, even though the sky was clear and the lights didn’t seem to be the aurora (northern lights).
The woman caller said that her daughter and son-in-law didn’t believe her story. She added that she wasn’t a kook or insane. She was a conventional person who enjoyed quilting as a hobby and at one time belonged to the chamber of commerce. She wasn’t the “seeing things type.”
The only ones to back up her story to some extent were neighbors who also heard the humming sound and noticed the lights, but like her husband thought it was just a summer storm.
That was the only time she had a UFO sighting.
She thanked the co-hosts for letting her share her story. She hoped that other people would also talk about their sightings without worrying about the “astigmatism” associated with such reports.
So what do I think about these stories?
I’m staying off the Jersey Swamp Road at night. My car insurance doesn’t include chupacobras collision coverage.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Word Twisting Is Mind Bending
Followers of Yahweh ben Yahweh know this to be true: the events described in the New Testament didn’t happen around 1900 years ago – they occurred in modern times.
The word “new” means refers to something or someone who never existed. If you watch the TV program, The Universe of Yahweh ben Yahweh, you will learn that YbY is the Messiah, that his “judicial crucifixion” was predicted in the New Testament.
In her book, Kooks, author Donna Kossy describes many different leaders and thinkers on the fringe. Spotlighted in the chapter Black Messiahs, the rise and fall of Yahweh ben Yahweh (AKA Hulon Mitchell, Jr.) from the late 1970s up to 1995 is detailed. His religious following grew into a financial empire with motels, food markets, and other real estate holdings in the Miami area.
While such success exuded positive vibes, there was dark side to the Nation of Yahweh. The Messiah and some of his followers were charged with extortion and even murder. While he was found not guilty of some charges, enough stuff stuck to YbY that sat in prison from 1990 to 2001. Suffering from prostate cancer, he was released early from his 18-year sentence, dying in May 2007. He had been convicted under the RICO law.
Falsely convicted, according to the TV series that continues his work. The Universe of Yahweh ben Yahweh is hosted by an earnest narrator, a well-dressed young man. He explains how the Messiah was set up by the feds. Part of the evidence is the New Testament, as interpreted in an extraordinary exegesis.
At the beginning of each episode viewers are invited by the Earnest Narrator to join in by having on hand the Kings James Bible, several dictionaries, a synonym finder, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, a set of encyclopedias, and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. A line from the New Testament is para-parsed until it’s “true” meaning is revealed.
One episode dealt with YbY being prosecuted by the state of Florida on two murder charges. By referring to various dictionaries, synonym finders, lexicons, maybe even cookbooks, it is “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that this event had been prophesied in the NT.
Take this line from Luke 23, Verse 11: “And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe.”
“Herod” refers to the State of Florida court. As for the phrase, “set him at nought,” the word “set” means “to cause to sit,” and a synonym for “sit” is “introduce.” The word “nought” is a spelling variation of the word “naught,” meaning “nothingness, insignificant, zero.”
The upshot of the trial was that YbY was found not guilty on the first murder charge; therefore all charges against him were nothing or insignificant.
“Mocked him” also is part of the prophecy. “Mock” means “to dismiss.” Prosecutor Janet Reno dismissed the second murder charge after the first one didn’t fly.
But what about the phrase, “arrayed him in a gorgeous robe?” One definition of “array” is “to dispose.” “Dispose” means “to deal with conclusively” and “to settle.” The Hebrew word for robe means “Yahweh will liberate” and “liberate” means “to set free.” In December 1992, explains the TV narrator, YbY was set free from the two murder charges in Herod’s jurisdiction (the State of Florida), the matter was settled. Ergo, the Messiah was arrayed in a gorgeous robe.
The Earnest Narrator observes that this is another example of prophecy being fulfilled in detail with Yahweh ben Yahweh.
As for me, after explaining that one bit of re-interpreted scripture as it pertains to YbY, I’ve got a headache.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Of Phlogiston and Aether, Cabbages and Kings
Why does wood burn?
Simple. It’s rich in phlogiston, that alchemical sulfurous spirit. Ashes are left behind when all of the phlogiston has been used up.
Or scientific thinkers used to believe back in the 1700s.
In his book, The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments (2008), New York Times science writer George Johnson shows how some scientific theories held sway until researchers empirically proved they were bunk.
Through his experiments Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier provided evidence in 1777 to the Academy of Science that oxygen, not phlogiston, made things burn. Before he left the scene he introduced the concept of an invisible substance called caloric, a subtle fluid that acted as the carrier of heat. But James Joule disproved that idea during a presentation at Oxford in 1847. He demonstrated that energy, not caloric, was the force behind a horse pulling a wagon or a steam engine pushing a piston.
Another concept that bit the dust was aether. Scientists noted that light beams created interference patterns when they overlapped. This meant that waves were involved. But what was creating the waves?
There had to be a universal medium that was spread throughout the universe in the spaces between stars and atoms. The Earth was traveling through the aether as it orbited the sun. Ergo, at times it must be crossing against the aetheral current.
In 1887 researchers A.A. Michelson and Edward Morley set up a tabletop experiment to prove that light doesn’t travel at the same speed in all directions due to aetheral drag.
They bounced light beams with mirrors to create extended paths that would at times line up or cross the aether depending upon the time of day. (Or so they believed.)
They took careful measurements – and found nothing.
The light beams maintained a constant speed. It was kind of a drag when they discovered no drag.
As George Johnson points out, the speed of light, not aether, is the universal standard.
I’m glad I read Ten Most Beautiful Experiments. It provided a historical perspective that backs up my personal viewpoints.
When a scientific or skeptical expert declares that all paranormal events aren’t extraordinary – they’re just the ordinary misunderstood -- such a person is blowing a lot of hot phlogiston, his head is stuck in the aether.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Roswell Crash: The Tragic Shame of Intergalactic Drunk Driving
Image © 2008 Ray X
As you can plainly see from the accompanying true image, I encountered a small sauced spherical saucerer lying in the gutter the other day. This afforded me the rare opportunity to find out what really happened in the Roswell, New Mexico area back in 1947.
The tiny being tried to fly away using his anti-grav bio-field but he kept banging his head (that’s all he had for a body) into the curb. Knowing that for the moment escape was futile, he agreed to a short interview.
The visitor – Ale the Ailing Alien – said he had been kicked out of an UFO for being too rowdy. He was told to “walk” back to Rigel.
Between hiccups, Ale explained that ETs were coming to earth to enjoy the mind-altering pleasures of our alcohol-based concoctions. He explained that Roswell involved a gang of teen offworlders in their hotrod flying saucer who couldn’t handle terran firewater. They had morphed into human form and had hit a few bars across the Southwest before trying to warp back home.
Before I could ask him about rings around Uranus, Ale shot straight up and disappeared.
NOTE: I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately. Some don’t take me seriously or appreciate my erudite efforts in ascertaining answers to various ufological mysteries. For example, in the latest issue of Saucer Smear zine, James W. Moseley praises the usual pantheon of Mac Tonnies, Paul Kimball, Kevin Randle, Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop. The same list of top UFO bloggers keeps popping up in various places.
Apparently this blogger is slaving away in obscurity. But as the preceding post proves, I offer a perspective unique to UFOdom.
That can’t be argued.
(Now I will sit in my corner and sulk.)
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Making Sense Out Of Alien Perception
Aliens are around us but we don’t recognize them.
An intriguing POV. Most people have to see something to believe it. But maybe we’re concentrating on the wrong sense.
Why couldn’t an otherworldly being exist as sound? There’s the mysterious Taos Hum in New Mexico. Is a lonely ET trying to prick up our ears?
Maybe aliens are odors, flavors, or tactile sensations. That odd smell barely detected, a subtle but peculiar taste from nowhere, a feeling without any visible actor touching. Moments just on the edge of our perceptions.
Sure, it sounds crazy (no pun intended). But we’re talking about aliens, aren’t we?
Philip H Krapf: What Happened? Part One
It looked like another contactee book but what caught my eye was a key word in the subtitle – The True Story of a Journalist’s Encounter With Alien Beings.
Journalist? Now there’s a different angle. And since it was a book sale, the price was right: one quarter. So I picked up The Contact Has Begun.
According to the back cover info box, author Philip H. Krapf plied the journalism trade for 30 years, from reporter to managing editor. Most of this career was spent at the Los Angeles Times. The photo accompanying the info box shows him wearing a dark hat and suit, very old-fashioned, formal attire. A man in black?
Not really. Published in 1998, The Contact Has Begun describes Krapf’s abduction by aliens called Verdants. He scoffed at abduction stories – until it happened to him. Also, he considered himself an agnostic/atheist – until the aliens told him that they had scientific proof that God was real. In fact, the Verdants had visited Heaven, a precise location in the universe.
An UFO/New Age skeptic. A disbeliever in religion. Why was he picked?
In Krapf’s case the aliens didn’t want him for a physical exam. No nasty needles for him. They needed his help for a plan soon to unfold. The aliens were going to reveal themselves to the people of earth through Ambassadors and Deputy Envoys. Krapf was chosen to be a Deputy Envoy. An Ambassador who worked at the LA Times recommended him.
For a few days Krapf received instructions and lessons while he stayed on a starship hidden on the dark side of the moon. His main mission was to write a white paper to break the story to the people of Earth. When he was abducted in June 1997, the alien agenda was supposed to work out like this:
2001: By the first couple of months Ambassadors from all over the world will have completed their proposed plans to initiate contact with the Verdants. For six months, perhaps more, the Verdants will review the plans.
2002: The story will break. An Ambassador will confirm the schedule of events as detailed by Krapf in his book.
2003: Continuing the revelation process, other Ambassadors will announce their roles in the planning of a summit meeting with the Verdants.
2004: Spectacular events that will convince the staunchest skeptic that the Verdants are indeed real.
2005: Green grassland will appear overnight in the American Southwest. The city of Genesis will be built here, a place where humans and aliens will meet.
2008: Humankind’s training is completed. Earth will join the IFSP (the Intergalactic Federation of Sovereign Planets.)
2010: The Verdants share their technology. Mankind explores nearby stars.
But this agenda was laid out with the qualifier: “…if events happen on schedule…”
So that’s why I won’t be visiting Genesis City this summer to interview the Verdants.
Philip H. Krapf: What Happened? Part Two
As explained in Part One, Philip H. Krapf was a journalist who claimed he had been abducted in June 1997 by aliens called Verdants. He was appointed a Deputy Envoy by the ETs. His mission was to write a white paper about his experience. That project ended up becoming his book, The Contact Has Begun, published in 1998.
Krapf was retired from the LA Times. As he speculates in TCHB, maybe his abduction experience was related to being older with plenty of free time. Why would he undergo such personal paradigm shifts? His encounter changes him from a UFO skeptic who becomes a believer in aliens, announcing they’re here. Once atheistic/agnostic, he’s challenged that by the Verdants’s statement that God really exists and each being can live on after death.
What I find fascinating are the parallels between his normal, earthbound life and his incredible relationship with the Verdants. I’ve never met Krapf and all I’ve ever seen is a headshot of him on the back cover of TCHB. But reading between the lines in his book, he seems to be like most older men, struggling with his weight.
I know, that’s an oddball aspect to consider, but in one scene aboard the alien spacecraft he’s served a meal by the Verdants. He hesitates to eat dessert – a banana cream pie - because of the extra calories. But the ETs tell him that it’s special food, made from processed vegetable matter. His body will only take in the calories it needs and the rest will be discarded. After hearing this, Krapf digs in. (I know I would if I was offered such a wonder food.)
But the major parallel is Krapf’s career history and the special role chosen for him by the Verdants. Krapf worked his way up from a reporter to an editor. A considerable accomplishment, but he never made it into the top level of the LA Times.
The Verdants tell him that one of their Ambassadors is a higher-up in the LA Times organization. Ambassadors are the leaders, the big movers-and-shakers. Krapf is only given the role of a Deputy Envoy.
Editors are important to the function of a newspaper, but they’re not regarded with the same status as a publisher or owner. Even though he’s just a Deputy Envoy – an alien contact worker ant, if you will - Krapf’s participation is still vital. He has to write a book to prepare mankind for the startling announcements that will be coming from the Ambassadors throughout the world.
So while the Ambassadors hide their identities until the proper time, Krapf has to face ridicule and rejection because of his “crazy” book. He’s on the front lines while the generals are up on the hillside, safely out of sight.
I don’t know what happened to Philip Krapf. TCHB can be analyzed outside of the question whether his abduction was “real” or not. It’s ironical either way that his role as a Deputy Envoy proves that someone who only attained a lower level position still carries out an important duty.
(NOTE: I’ve never heard of Krapf until I read his book, The Contact Has Begun. Through a quick Google search I’m aware that Krapf did write a sequel and even had a website at one time. Maybe I’ll write more about Krapf post TCHB. But for this article I’m just concentrating TCHB as a stand-alone work, my first impressions of the author and his story.)
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Image (C) Copyright 2008 Ray X
Contrail or chemtrail?
Condensation trails are formed by the wake of an aircraft, water droplets or ice crystals forming white vapor paths across the sky. Besides jet engine exhaust, contrails are also created from a sudden drop in air pressure and temperature around propellers and wings (wingtip vortices).
Chemical trails – so say certain conspiracy theorists – appear to be contrails but in fact they’re loaded with much more than just water or ice. Speculation ranges from the spraying of chemicals as part of a mind control program to dispersing pathogens to keep population growth under control.
Skeptics say that such spraying up so high in the sky is a very inefficient dispersal system and so it wouldn’t be used. Anyway, they add, chemtrails are just in the eye of the beholder. Nothing but contrails up there.
Believers counter that chemtrails can be spotted. One way is the way they are laid out, forming patterns, including giant X’s. (Don’t look at me.)
Also, a chemtrail doesn’t dissipate like a normal contrail, claim the believers. It takes longer to disperse, slowly spreading out into wide bands spanning from horizon to horizon. Sometimes a chemtrail will form a film all over the sky.
But such details aren’t really evidence. Weather conditions and other factors could explain why some contrails hang so long in the sky. So what can be done?
Someone involved in chemtrailing has to come forward. A pilot or scientist or air traffic controller or government official – one of them must know what’s going on.
It’ll probably end up being a pilot blowing the whistle. One accident, a spray of pathogens, the pilot gets ill, and so it’s time to expose the plot.
I mean, that’s how it works on TV shows like The X-Files. TV is reality, right?
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Illuminati: Where’s The Paper Trail?
Smash the conspiracy.
How? Exposure. Spotlight its inner workings. Reveal the conspiracy’s secret documents to the world, tangible evidence that negates the power of the conspirators.
I don’t expect any official communiqués to pop up emblazoned with a special Illuminati letterhead. But with all the stuff the Mega-Conspiracy is accused of perpetrating and manipulating, you think someone would have a memo, decoded message, a bill of goods, something.
How do you coordinate plans across the world without any paperwork? After all, it means more in writing. If there’s a question or disagreement, you can point at a paper. OK, all communications are oral. But why doesn’t someone have an audio or video recording when the Great Conspirators share the same air? With all the surveillance going on, you would think there would be at least one wiretapped conversation where the Illuminati is identified in no uncertain terms.
And how do Illuminati recognize each other? Secret handshakes? Verbal countersigns? How could an Illuminatus really know the person he is dealing with isn’t an infiltrator?
Deception is part of the game. The deceiver can’t afford to be deceived. The Illuminati hide within other organizations, a few followers in top positions, from the Freemasons to the Council on Foreign Relations, even the MMMS. An interlocking network controlling events from the shadows to bring forth the One World Order.
But the Mega-Con doesn’t want the Freemasons doing something contrary to the CFR or MMMS. Orders have to go out so that the hydra doesn’t feed upon itself, one head eating the other.
Communication and coordination without a paper trail. How can it be done?
Long distance thought transference. An Illuminatus could be sitting in his office, as if pondering a problem, while Central Command mentally beams the latest evil news. Or it could happen while he’s taking a nap on a plane or sleeping in his own bed at night.
And if he met another person claiming to be an Illuminatus, his mind-reading ability would quickly detect a phony. Even though the other person is telepathic doesn’t mean he is a member in good standing with the Order. Mind to mind contact would be so intimate that a cat would quickly spot a dog.
But if the Illuminati are real, how could they be stopped?
Friday, May 09, 2008
Fortean Three: North Country Odd Events
They say bad things happen in a series of three. Looks like odd events can follow that pattern.
Recently the North Country – the corner of New York State where I live, hinterlands bordered by Canada and Lake Champlain – has popped up in the news of the weird and extraordinary.
Someone saw a black panther in the Lake Placid area. Not an indigenous critter in these parts. According to an article in the Lake Placid News dated 4/24/08, Tsermaa Plumley thought she heard a bear prowling around their property on Schaefer Road in Keene. Her husband Dan investigated to see what kind of animal was in the compost. They were surprised to see a large alien black cat (or ABC to use the Fortean abbreviation). The mysterious black panther left; no one was harmed, just startled. (http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/placid-panther/)
The day before (4/23/08) WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh reported that a local student videotaped an UFO at night. Mysterious lights that could be anything, from what I saw of the video.
And on 4/25/08 the Plattsburgh State newspaper ran an article about a college student who photographed a black orb in his dorm room with his camera. He claimed it was some sort of spirit orb. What appears to be a face can be detected inside the orb. All I saw in the printed newspaper edition was a dark spot in one corner that could be a digital defect. (The image wasn’t shown on the website.)
After a long North Country winter, the Cosmic Prankster has awakened from his deep sleep. Time for him to swim around Lake Champlain as the monster nicknamed Champ.
X-Rayed: Theresa Janette Thurmond Morris
Theresa Morris believes she is an alien-human hybrid who possesses a special gene to fly extraterrestrial vehicles.
She has strong memories of being abducted when she was very young by ETS. Before she was old enough to attend school, Theresa was given a ride on a UFO but she had to return home because her family was looking for her. The ETs dropped her off in an empty field.
This experience – sometime between the ages of three and five – caused inner conflict. As she explains in her essay, Alien Civilizations Exist!, she knew she was loved and needed in two places, above and below. It was explained to her by the ETs that she had to be with her earth family for a while. Theresa observed: “I accepted my destiny as I was a small child and knew I had no choice.”
She began school, fitting in with the normal children. A serious medical condition – a liver disease, Hepatitis A – threatened her life. She was very ill for a while, needing a complete blood transfusion. During her illness alien beings visited her (only in her mind) and they reassured her that she would recover.
After she was back on her feet, she took a family trip to the White Sands dunes in New Mexico. She was playing with her cousins, out of sight of the adults, talking about subjects ET, when an alien spacecraft appeared and landed. Theresa and her cousins were allowed to check out the inside of the spacecraft.
Later on the adults heard the three children talking about the wonderful event. The adults scolded them, saying that they should never mention the incident again.
Despite such skepticism, Theresa continued her own life path, growing up to be an adult with extraordinary beliefs. She finally found her soulmate, the one she called The Commander, her husband Tom. Also possessing that special gene, Tom knows how to fly UFOs, the same way Theresa has been taught.
Theresa has pursued many different jobs and activities during her life. The list includes investigative reporter, US Navy reservist, psychic, motivational speaker, paranormal investigator, and truck driver. She dedicated her essay, Alien Civilizations Exist!, to all truck drivers, explaining that she and her husband have been there.
Theresa lives with her husband in a cabin somewhere in the Kentucky woods.
She sums up her POV with this quote:
“Never stop searching for what you think is unobtainable! Life is more that we can imagine in one life time.”
-- TWO ALIEN FACTIONS IN SPACE, DARWIN WAS WRONG! Theresa J. Thurmond Morris.
-- Alien Civilizations Exist!: A True Alien and UFO Story By Theresa Janette Thurmond Morris.
-- Introductory articles on homepage; biographical info.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Toilet Seat: Up Or Down?
Leave it to chemical concocters and modern advertisers to come up with a solution to an age-old problem between men and women.
Reader’s Digest magazine prides itself as being “America In Your Pocket.” I hadn’t seen an issue for some time and so out of mild curiosity I picked up a copy I found tossed into the FREE BOX at the used book shop.
The cover for the April 2006 edition of RD demonstrates real concern for the human condition. Headlines shout:
-- Our Borders – WHAT’S AT RISK NOW
-- Shocking! The New Threat to Kids
-- ‘I CAN’T AFFORD TO GET SICK!’ Fixing Our Health Crisis
Yup, this digest-sized magazine is loaded with digestible articles that offer pragmatic solutions to perplexing problems.
And even the advertisers get into the act. That’s why there’s a full-page ad featuring a close-up of a toilet.
The seat is still down. The copy explains: Earlier today YOUR HUSBAND WASN’T QUITE AS ACCURATE as he likes to think he is.
In the lower right-hand corner is small image of a container of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. The accompanying text provides this advice: Don’t just clean. Clean and disinfect.
A few words, a couple of images, and the problem is solved. Just let your lazy-ass hubbie try to piss pass the seat, instead of raising it, and you, the devoted wife, can wipe up his splatter.
Of course, whether or not pressing your bare buttocks on a toilet seat repeatedly smeared with chemicals can lead to problems isn’t addressed.
Me, I have another problem with the ad. It shows the leading sheet of the toilet paper roll hanging from the top.
Anyone with half-a-brain knows the paper should be pulled from the bottom, not the top.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Man: A Pattern-Seeking Animal
Sitting out front at the downtown coffeehouse. I happen to look up. There it was: a message from Them. Decussated chemtrails.
That grand display for my benefit initiated a series of messages.
Looked at this strategically placed rubber glove. They knew I would spot their satanic threat against me, the invocation of the Great Horned Beast.
The other day I noticed someone – actually something – was staring at me.
It was a demonically possessed shovel. Evil eyes.
Don’t believe me? Then how do you explain these images?
Isn’t your brain hardwired to find patterns?
X * * * X
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Joe Bonomo: Straight Dope
DON’T BE A DOPE
Facts About Narcotics
By Joe Bonomo and his staff of experts
64 pages; Bonomo Pocket Manuals (1966)
Pull up a chair. Hollywood stuntman, body builder, and health expert Joe Bonomo wants to give you the dope on dope.
Of course, Joe’s observations were made over four decades ago, but truth never changes, especially when it comes to the dope racket.
Opium, heroin, and marihuana – all the same; they’ll kill ya. It’s been proven that marihuana leads to harder stuff. By itself it’s bad. Examinations of reefer addicts prove that the drug can shrink a brain as much as ten percent.
But what’s the solution to stopping the narcotics epidemic? One answer: Early sex education.
Improper sex training can cause kids to grow up to be troubled adults. A messed up adult is a prime target for an unscrupulous peddler. Narcotics easily push the user into a helpless decline, the slippery slope of drug orgies, loose morals, venereal disease, bad teeth –- and then death. That dynamic duo -- morality and clean living -- have to be installed at a young age.
Take Johnny. He’s two years old. His parents take the right approach when it comes to sex. He’s been told the proper names of his body parts like penis and anus. He doesn’t “wee wee” or “go to pottie chair;” he urinates and has a bowel movement.
But one day Mother finds Johnny on the toilet, playing with his wee-wee – I mean, penis. The proud young boy says he can tickle his penis and make it big.
But Mother simply says that Johnny shouldn’t make his penis big or it will get sore. He should only hold it when urinating but at all other times leave it alone.
After all, Mother doesn’t want Johnny jerking off – I mean masturbating. Prolonged masturbation causes impotence in adult men by congesting the urethra. This means examination and treatment by a doctor.
To prevent such an embarrassing situation later in his life, Mother makes sure Johnny sleeps with lightweight covers, hands out in view.
And she makes sure to keep Johnny busy when he’s awake. As Joe Bonomo observes: “Oftentimes children play with themselves because they have nothing better to do.”
But Johnny is too young to really understand any of this, even when he’s six years old. At that age he might urinate outside, too busy playing (not with himself) to use indoor plumbing. Johnny must be told that only dogs urinate on trees. If he keeps urinating outside, then “he will have to be fed on the back porch with the other dogs.”
Of course, all of this sounds drastic. Especially when Mother tracks Johnny’s genital health and cleanliness, checking for a long, tight foreskin or pinworms in the rectum.
Such loving devotion by Mother will make Johnny a normal boy. He will grow up right, never becoming a narcotics user.
On his wedding night he’ll have to tell his new bride that she can’t touch his penis or she will make it sore.
Various images from the chapter, “Early Sex Education,” from DON’T BE A DOPE By Joe Bonomo.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Great. My drugstore has been absorbed by voice mail conformity.
Instead of speaking with a human being, I have to make a refill via the keypad on my phone. I punch in my Rx number; the robot voice tells me that my prescription will be ready in two hours.
Of course, when I show up at the drugstore at the proper time, my prescription hasn’t been filled. I explain that I used the “robot system” when I called.
The pharmacist apologizes; the voice mail system is new. She mentions that she forgot to check the green box on her computer screen telling her the deadline for processing my order. Four other people had called before me and their prescriptions are also overdue.
“So,” I joked, “you become a robot for a robot.”
She smiled. “Here’s your refill. Not as good as a robot.”
“Better,” I observed. “Robots don’t smile.”
I didn’t add that human beings are more responsive; information can easily be gained from one.
I learned from the pharmacist what to do next time when I call in a refill. When the voice mail activates, hit O and I’ll be connected to a real live person.
With a CPAP unit, one question must be answered: what kind of plastic rig do I want strapped on my face?
One mask just covers your nose. The increased air pressure to keep sleep apnea under control is pumped in through your nasal passages. Works OK if you don’t open your mouth, allowing the pressure to weaken. A chinstrap is supposed to keep your mouth shut, but it also causes the nose mask to slide around more and leak.
Such leaks are called “farts” by CPAP users. Indeed, it does sound like a small whoopee cushion when the air slips out from underneath the flexible membrane seal. Try sleeping with a whoopee cushion on your face making rude sounds.
The other option is a full face mask that covers both your nose and your mouth. The upside is that even if you open your mouth while sleeping, air pressure in maintained.
The downside is there is more area to slide around and leak. A bigger whoopee cushion. Before I could replace my old nose mask, I had to use a full face mask. Despite my carefulness, the mask kept leaking and farting, waking me up again and again. Besides not getting proper rest, I ended up with a bad dry mouth.
I did get another nose mask and went back to my old routine. I skip the chinstrap and gently seal my mouth shut with paper tape. Less mask farts, no dry mouth.
Now if I could do something about another problem. Sometimes using the CPAP creates gas. Ergo, normal farts…
(Note: This post doesn’t offer medical advice. Consult your doctor before you tape your own trap shut.)
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
The mystery deepens.
A while ago I wrote about a letter to Jim Moseley, writer/editor of the zine Saucer Smear, that had been returned to me because it was allegedly “undeliverable.” There was no reason for the letter to be sent back: it was properly addressed and stamped.
Jim checked with the post office on his end in Key West, Florida. The postal official said that someone made a mistake.
Some time after that incident, Jim called me and let me know that he had received an undamaged letter from saucer cartoonist Matt Graber inside the standard plastic bag with the note from the PO apologizing for damaging the item.
The first time I wrote about this postal strangeness, I speculated that men in black (as in human government spooks) were embedded in USPS, keeping track of saucer fiends. Yesterday I can across an item at ufomystic.com by Greg Bishop, talking about some weirdness he encountered with his snail mail communications with abduction researcher/writer Karla Turner before she died in 1996. (Link)
To quote Greg: “Strangely, every piece of mail that I received from Turner showed evidence of tampering. Some were left open, while others were sealed in plastic with an apology from the US Post Office.”
According to Greg, the tampering stopped after Turner sent her envelopes with the flaps taped. On each tape was written: SEALED BY SENDER.
An Appropriate Date
Today is my birthday. Actually it’s a birth date that I picked for myself. Since no one can pick the day they’re actually born, I believe everyone has the right to choose a second birthday – a B2.
From what I’ve quickly Google-gathered (Wikipedia and Snopes) April 1 used to be associated with the first day of spring and the New Year. All of that was changed when the calendar was changed from Julian to Gregorian in the 1500s: January 1 became the day to mark a new year.
There are a few ideas about the origin of the April Fools Day. According to one bit of speculation, a person was a fool when he still thought April 1 marked the New Year. Neighbors would stop in to his home on that day, acting as if it was New Year’s Day. If he fell for the trick, then he was appropriately labeled. (Lots of yuks with those French peasants, eh?)
Me, I’m more concerned about the spring aspect of April 1. Around here January 1 is the dead of winter. April 1 makes more sense to be associated with both springtime and a New Year. Even though there’s snow still on the ground, the days are getting longer and the temp is slowly rising.
Of course, when choosing April 1 as my B2, there’s also the trickster aspect…
(Note: This post was supposed to be up earlier but the Trickster decided to knock out the power to my apartment building.)
Saturday, March 15, 2008
“Hey, it’s Tootle!”
A few years ago an acquaintance was browsing at the secondhand bookshop when he made a notable find. It was a copy of a children’s title that he enjoyed as a kid, a Little Golden Book dating back to 1946. The acquaintance, in his early twenties, wasn’t alive when the book became popular. Even though Tootle was the creation of the World War II generation, he still had fond memories; something about it resonated with him.
Flipping through the book, he talked about how it told the story of an anthromorphic baby locomotive, Tootle, who wanted to grow up to be a big locomotive. Tootle was an eager student at engine school in the village of Lower Trainswitch, but he had a problem: he liked to wander off the tracks.
The acquaintance bought the book, happy to rediscover a childhood treasure.
Yesterday evening I came across another copy of Tootle at the secondhand bookshop. I picked it up for three reasons. 1: It was cheap. 2: I’m always been intrigued by how children’s books can mold young minds. 3. My brief exposure years before had bothered me.
What was so disturbing? Simple. This concept: Staying on the rails no matter what.
Tootle was told that he couldn’t become a big engine – a flyer – unless he scored a 100 A+ in the most important course, Staying on the Rails.
But every day when Tootle left town to practice what he was taught, he ended up leaving the tracks to explore the meadow. He would look at flowers and play with butterflies.
Tootle felt guilty, despite his enjoyment of his off track playing.
Word soon got back to engine school. The Mayor of Lower Trainswitch said he saw Tootle playing in the meadow one day with butterflies. And, added the Mayor, Tootle looked very silly.
So what could be done to get Tootle back on track? One day the villagers hid throughout the meadow. When Tootle didn’t stay on the rails, a villager would stick up a red flag. No engine could disobey a red flag. It meant stop, immediately.
Every which way Tootle turned, he was stopped by a red flag. He cried. A green flag waited for him on the rails, telling him that this was the only true path for him.
When he finally got back on track, everyone else was happy. And so Tootle was happy.
Despite such a pleasant ending, I ask myself:
Was Tootle really content deep down inside?
In the last scene in the book, the grown-up Tootle is telling young locomotives to Stay on the Rails No Matter What.
Misery likes company.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Forcing The Issue
Are you sports minded?
That question was asked in a classified newspaper ad. A company sought sports minded people for employment. When someone went to the interview, he discovered an insurance company had placed the ad.
So what does an interest in sports have to do with selling insurance? Simple. Strike up a conversation with a stranger about the latest big game, win his confidence, and then work your way into a pitch for updating his insurance with a new policy from your company.
Are you Stars Wars minded?
Submitted for your approval: a little booklet called The True Force, published by the American Tract Society of Garland, Texas. This item was lost in my debris collection until it recently reared its head. Copyrighted 1999, it talks about Star Wars, mentioning that Episode One, The Phantom Menace, has re-ignited interest in the movie series. On the cover is a light saber battle scene that does catch the eye, especially the attention of a young kid.
I remember how this tract came my way. There was a summer event downtown and a friend’s tweenage daughter was handed a copy. She showed it to her father who eyed it with suspicion. No, he wasn’t upset with SF movies; he enjoyed them. It was the message of the tract that was disturbing.
The friend wanted to toss it out but I saved it from the trash bin, adding it to my collection of stuff to be X-rayed later.
It’s common knowledge that George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, used religious themes in telling his saga. The Force was his science fictional distillation of all religions.
The True Force has it own take on this. To quote the tract: “George Lucas seems to have genuine concern for people—particularly young people—and a deep commitment to do what he thinks God wants him to do.”
The tract then explains that the Force can be used for good or evil; it has no morality of its own. Then it adds: “God, of course, has only a good side; He is holy and righteous. And Jesus never committed a single sin.”
But there’s a way of finding a real force, a positive one, in everyday life. The True Force can be found in The Bible. The reader is asked to invite Jesus into his or her life with a suggested payer. Then the tract wraps up with:
“MAY THE TRUE FORCE BE WITH YOU!”
Then there’s a checkbox to indicate that the reader has received Jesus as savior after reading the tract.
So the work of George Lucas has been used to lead a young mind to Jesus, albeit one church’s interpretation.
Lucas, a self-described Buddhist Methodist, has been quoted that doesn’t view Star Wars as “profoundly religious.” I wonder what he would think about The True Force.
To me the tract smacks of Sith mind tricks.
Friday, February 15, 2008
(Click on image for larger view.)
I would like to give credit to the photographer who created this image but his name is missing from the back of the postcard. The location is listed: Hall Of Late Dinosaurs, The American Museum of Natural History, New York, U.S.A.
I can only guess at the date when the photograph was taken. The oversized postcard was never mailed; ergo, no cancellation date. I would guess sometime in the 1960s.
It’s obvious that the tyrannosaurus skeleton was put together by the old school of fossil experts. The skeleton shows T. Rex standing erect, tall, menacing. Nowadays the paradigm is that he ran around with his body pitched forward, tail sticking almost straight out. Sorry, that doesn’t impress me. That slumped forward appearance makes him look like some glam rock star camping it up on stage, shaking his butt.
Then again, when I was the same age as the boy in the picture, I was disappointed when I saw a tyrannosaurus skeleton in a museum up in Canada. Even though he stood tall - tail on the ground, claws ready to rip apart anything in his path - T. Rex wasn’t big enough.
I grew up watching movies like Gorgo. In that film a prehistoric monster is captured and taken to London to be put on display. From what I remember Gorgo was around three stories tall.
But his size wasn’t the main problem. You see, Gorgo was a baby. His mother, a full grown adult, shows up in London to rescue her son. She walks up to Big Ben and pushes it over with one good shove.
So after seeing Gorgo’s mom on the big screen at the drive-in, I wasn’t that impressed with the fossilized remains of real dinosaurs.
But as an adult, I know that there’s more to danger than the size of the critter. After getting my leg almost chewed on by an unleashed dog – something similar to a pit bull – I’m aware that little monsters are more than enough to handle.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
My letter to Supreme Commander James Moseley, perpetrator of Saucer Smear zine, was sent back to me.
Attached to the envelope was the label: RETURN TO SENDER UNKNOWN REASON UNABLE TO FORWARD
I double-checked the envelope. The address was correct; the proper amount of postage was affixed.
Did this mean that Jim evolved to a higher level of being (to borrow a phrase from the Heaven’s Gate cult) with an forwarding address? Or maybe he was upset because I wouldn’t reveal my true identity and he decided to cut all communications. (Then again, maybe Ray X is my true identity.)
A quick phone call revealed that Jim was OK. He was as mystified as I was why my letter was returned. Maybe, he speculated offhandedly, it was a conspiracy.
A man in black lurking within the bowels of the postal system, screwing around with my mail? (Maybe that’s why I didn’t get any valentine cards this year.)
Maybe. MIBs could be everywhere. After all, Mac Tonnies has mentioned at his blog, www.posthumanblues.blogspot.com, how his Fed Ex packages from Canada have been opened and then tagged with Homeland Security seals, as he mentions here and also here.
But most likely it’s just plain incompetence on the part of the post office. I noticed that while it jacked the rent to my small PO box by sixteen dollars a year, service still sucks. I have a PO box because delivery to my street address is second-rate. Sometimes I find mail for someone five doors down the street.
At the main post office, the postage stamp vending machine has been hauled away. That machine had been very convenient: you could use real money, coins or bills, to pick up one stamp or a whole book of them. A postal clerk told me that it was hard to find parts to fix the vending machine. Obviously, that was a good, practical purchase: buying a machine that can’t be maintained.
Now you have to use a credit card with the APC (Automated Postal Center) machine that replaces the stamp vending unit. There’s a spy camera hidden in the APC to record your image.
On second thought, maybe MIBs have taken over the Postal Service.
Monday, January 28, 2008
A Child’s Right To Be Left Alone
Were you a persecuted leftie when you were a kid?
I was. My parents made me favor my right hand, especially with writing and drawing, even thought I was naturally a leftie.
The other day I was talking with my eye doctor and he asked me if I was right- or left- handed. When I told him how my parents had trained me, he commented that they had to be Roman Catholic. He was right.
Someone else might have offended by his comment but I wasn’t. He mentioned the word “sinister.” He didn’t have to explain the connection.
According to the dictionary, “sinister” has its origins with ancient augurs. The left hand ended up meaning bad luck, though originally it was associated with good luck.
As explained in Webster’s New World College Dictionary (4th Edition): “Early Roman augurs faced south, with the east (lucky side) to the left, but the Greeks (followed by later Romans) faced north.”
Because of this, sinister ended up being associated with left hands and bad luck – and evil.
By forcing me to favor my right hand, my parents were preventing me from being “evil” as such.
I’ve heard that such forced training can cause dyslexia. I don’t suffer from that, at least with words, but I do have a tendency to flip around numbers, e.g., 82 becomes 28.
And when I’m tired or distracted, my left and right sides get mixed up. Cross your arms, putting your hands in reverse position. That’s what it’s like for me when I’m not completely focused. For example, I’m driving a car and someone tells me to make a right turn. So I make a left turn.
I blame it all on The Cult of Dexter.
Dick Farley’s Probe
Did you know that Barney Hill was anally probed during his apparent abduction by aliens?
That’s the claim made by writer Dick Farley in his article, “Update: Report on ‘Roswell’ Saucer Spin Camouflaging Involuntary Human Experimentation,” published at www.aliensworldsmag.com . Fortunately, Barney’s wife, Betty, was spared from the free colonoscopy. Farley says that there were no aliens behind the Hills’ abduction. It was really an elaborate deception by the US military as part of its secret psy ops and medical study program.
Farley conjectures that Barney – because he was black – was an unsuspecting subject injected with plutonium by racist government agents. The anal probe was a way to check a stool sample to see the amount of chemical or radionuclide traces being excreted.
Me? I think it was aliens, trying to promote their intergalactic health care system.
Ymir, Morpheus, & The Mask
Obviously I haven’t been posting much lately. This hasn’t been a mild winter like previous years. Ice, snow, cold. The frost giant Ymir has slain the land. Winter drains me more than any blazing hot summer.
I laughed the other day when I saw an article about how some people suffer from a post-holiday letdown. As readers of my anti-Xmas tirades are aware, I don’t have to worry about any such letdown.
No, it’s just “cold white misery” (to use artist M.C. Escher’s phrase) that’s been driving me into hibernating. Long periods of cocooning in bed, wrapped up in warm blankets. I feel alert for a while but my vigor soon wears off; grogginess hangs over me.
Even using my C-PAP unit with its damn mask isn’t making a difference. So this lethargy is obviously more than sleep apnea preventing a good night’s rest.
I have plenty to say but not the energy to say it. Looks like I’ll have to write short posts and leave the longer articles for springtime.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Missing Words, Missing Bolts
[Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House By Valerie Plame Wilson (Hardcover) --Simon & Schuster (2007)]
Redacted words, sentences, even whole pages. Heavy black lines on a rampage. Why? National security.
After all, the CIA can’t allow Valerie Plame Wilson to write an autobiography without its overkill oversight. Of course, the same spineless buttkissers will let the White House get away with outing one of its agents, i.e., the author.
It’s all about secrecy. Or should I say politics?
Dirty politics. Of the Rovian kind. No hard proof that Karl Rove was one of the perpetrators of Plame’s exposure but knowing his reputation… Anyway, Karl is no longer lurking in the halls (or dungeons) of the White House, is he?
How dirty did it get? Once again, Plame doesn’t have hard evidence, but…
Check out pages 250-252. Plame and her husband Joe Wilson get audited by the IRS. No reason, according to their accountant, why their file would be red flagged. Sounds Nixonian, enemies list and all that.
And don’t forget all the antics with dirty tricks. Plame details the incident of the missing bolts. One day a groundskeeper noticed some bolts were AWOL from the upper deck on the side of her house, a deck about fifty feet in the air. It wasn’t like the missing bolts fell to the ground; they weren’t around at all. These were large metal pieces. Not easy to misplace.
Plame contacted the owner of the firm that rebuilt the deck the year before. He was alarmed, telling her to stay off it. Plame thought it doubtful the workmen forgot to properly secure the supports. So what happened with the bolts? Who knows?
And if the missing bolts had remained unnoticed? Too much weight on the upper deck during a party and oops!! What fun. Potentially fatal fun.
Maybe there’s The Fun House inside The White House.