Monday, November 28, 2011

Bombs in your backyard

If you have followed this blog for a while now, you no doubt know of my fascination with/deep fear of nuclear war.
It all started for me at the tender age of eight.  It was summertime and I watched an NBC News special hosted by John Chancellor that broke down step by step what would happen during a full-tilt nuclear exchange between the two superpowers at the time.  Scared the daylights out of me.  So much so, I could not stop reading everything that I could get my hands on regarding the subject.

Fast forward to today.  We don't live with that Cold War, nuclear ax hanging over our heads anymore.  Or do we?  The President of Russia just announced that it would target nuclear weapons at U.S. anti-missile sites in Europe.  When Putin was in office, he ordered the Russian Air Force to resume bomber patrols just as they used to during the Cold War.  Yet our leadership tells us that we're on the way to disarmament...all while spending more than ever before on nuclear weapons and retaining a stockpile of 5,113 warheads.

All this comes from Mother Jones and their self-composed map of remaining nuclear weapons sites and power plants in the U.S.  It's a nifty map, just like the kind I used to study and imagine where the first strike targets would be during nuclear war.  After reading the comments section at the bottom of the page, I know that several readers found numerous errors in the location of power plants.  That may be and I don't even know why the authors included power plants in the map as they have little to nothing to do with weapons.  The locations of missile silos and bomber bases are accurate.  Just check it out with a Google search or on Global  Amazingly enough, the Department of Defense does nothing to keep these locations a secret.  Trust me, I've looked at them all on Google Earth for years now.

So check it out.  See how near a target you are.  The one bit of good news I can find about today's nuclear scenarios is that a full exchanged is now deemed unlikely.  Utterly destroying another nation leaves you with no one who can surrender and nothing useful to conquer.  The new tactic is to disable by hitting key installations, especially if they border on population centers, such as Long Beach, California, Jacksonville, Florida, or Norfolk, Virginia.  
Living here in Chicago, there's very little of military value in the new scheme of things.  So I've got that going for me.  Which is nice.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Demonic Creativity

As I battle my way towards the 50K word goal of NaNoWriMo, I have been reminded of a tweet.
A little while back, I saw a tweet from someone about a "course in demonic creativity."  Being unbearably busy at the time, I didn't look into it but I promised myself that I would revisit the link at a later date.  Today I took a look at it.

A Course In Demonic Creativity is a PDF book by Matt Cardin.  Cardin is a blogger, horror writer, teacher, and musician.  All of those ventures are acts of creativity in and of themselves, so I believe that qualifies him to write on the subject.  In his own words from the website linked above, here is how Cardin describes the book/course:

 "Where does creativity come from? Why do ideas and inspiration feel as if they come from “outside,” from an external source that’s separate from us but able to whisper directly into the mind? Why have so many writers throughout history — and also composers, painters, philosophers, mystics, and scientists — spoken of being guided, accompanied, and even haunted by a force or presence that not only serves as the deep source of their creative work, but exerts a kind of profound and inexorable gravitational pull on the shape of their lives?
These are all questions addressed by A Course in Demonic Creativity: A Writer’s Guide to the Inner Genius. The book’s starting point is the proposition that we all possess a higher or deeper intelligence than the everyday mind, and that learning to live and work harmoniously and energetically with this intelligence is the irreducible core of a successful artistic life. We can call this inner force the unconscious mind or the silent partner. We can call it the id or the secret self. But muse, daimon, and genius are so much more effective at conveying its subversive and electrifying emotional charge, and also its experiential reality.
Your unconscious mind truly is your genius in the ancient sense of the word, the sense that was universal before it was fatefully altered several centuries ago by historical-cultural forces. Befriending it as such, and interacting with it as if it really is a separate, collaborating presence in your psyche, puts you in a position to receive its gifts, and it in the position to give them to you."

Truly, I believe that creation is an act of "earnest chaos."  The most unique and innovative artistic ideas do indeed seem to come from the ether, ghostly and unexplained or during times of severe upheaval and disorder.  As Paul McCartney wrote, "there's a fine line between chaos and creation."  Those paltry few times where ideas, good ones I mean, have come to me in one inspired flash and not through arduous and piecemeal struggles...those are the times I long for again.  I've heard other creative types give advice such as take a nap and channel your dreams, but that seldom brings anything but torpid and confusing subjects for me and stertor for anyone else in the house at the time.  Sounds like I need to read Matt Cardin's book.

Just wish I'd looked at that tweet before November.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why is it so tough to get to Mars?

Its mission will be to survey Mars and determine how hospitable the planet really is for life, be it past, present, or future.  Among the rover's numerous capabilities are the MastCam (Mast Camera) that will provide supposedly the most spectacular photos of the Martian surface that we have seen to date; the ChemCam (Chemistry and Camera) that will fire a laser to vaporize rocks from 30 feet away (how flippin' cool is that?!?) and then scan the resultant material; an Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer that will allow Curiosity to make definitive analyses of Martian soil; and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) mounted on a robot arm that will allow scientists back on Earth to get microscopic images of soil and rock.

As impressive as all of this is there remains an undercurrent of apprehension online about the mission.  After all, Mars does have something of a track record of jinxing or destroying space probes altogether.  Just earlier this month, the Russians launch their own Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt.  Due to a malfunction, that probe now remains in low-Earth orbit, on its way to becoming the 19th straight Russian Mars probe to have failed.  It's not just the Russians.  Mars space missions from the United States have met their share of disaster as well.
We've also had tremendous success in the form of the Viking landers, rovers such as Spirit and Opportunity, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  So what makes the difference?
On, JPL's Richard Cook said, "I'm not sure Mars is harder on average than other places.  We've been there a lot, or relatively a lot, so we have maybe enough statistics to talk about it."  Not that anyone's asking, but I would have to agree.  Despite what Mars conspiracy theorists might conjecture, our failures in reaching the Red Planet probably have much more to do with the inherent rigors of spaceflight than with any odd aura about Mars.  

Nevertheless, NASA is going to be under tremendous pressure to get Curiosity on to the surface.  Weighing in at about the size and weight of a Mini Cooper, this is the largest probe of its kind to ever go to Mars.  The sheer physics of that is fraught with its own complications.  Then there are those pesky unknowns.  Both the "known unknowns" and the "unknown unknowns" to quote Donald Rumsfield.  Engineers at NASA will undoubtedly face these issues as they arise on nearly every mission.

What bothers me more than any chance of mission failure are the online comments I've been reading for the news coverage of Curiosity, including those that I've linked above.  Truly procrustean thought at its highest.  "This is a waste of tax dollars."  Yes, I'm certain that knowledge is wasted on minds that hold that viewpoint.  Perhaps the money should have been spent on another Megachurch?  "How will this help create jobs?"  Right.  Because the Curiosity project created no jobs for scientists, engineers, technicians, and laborers.  
I am hoping that the Curiosity mission will be a brilliant success for many reasons.  Not the least of them is that I can't wait any longer to get off of this planet.

Now playing: The Smiths, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Allagash Abductions

Most of the time, I am willing to pin claims of alien abduction on grounded, even if traumatic, happenings.
Sleep paralysis.  Episodes of physical or sexual abuse from a family member that have been repressed by the mind.  Mental illness that requires medical and psychiatric attention, not hypnotic regression and guest spots on History Channel shows.  
But there are those cases that cannot be so easily dismissed.  The Allagash Abduction is one of those cases.

The incident occurred in August of 1976 near Allagash, Maine, deep inside a thick area of New England wilderness.  Four men just out of college went there on a camping and fishing trip.  Their names were Jack and Jim Weiner, Chuck Rak, and Charlie Foltz.  On the August night in question, the men built a sizable bonfire on the edge of Eagle Lake, a fire that they hoped would not only last them through the night but serve as a beacon to the shore while they did a bit of night fishing.  They paddled out onto the lake in their canoe.

Rak noticed a light in the sky.  The men initially thought it to be a helicopter or a weather balloon.  The light then began to change colors and behave erratically.  Foltz took a flashlight and began to signal to it.  The light came closer and the men began to see it as a solid craft.  A high-powered beam of light came out of the bottom of the object and engulfed the canoe.  Next thing they knew, the men were all on shore and the massive bonfire they had built was at that point mere ashes and embers.  None of them knew how they had gotten back there but they were exhausted.

In the years that followed, each of the men began exhibiting symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including nightmares and dipsomania.  Each man described similar dreams; the interior of chamber wherein alien beings with long necks and large heads examined each of them one at a time while the other men could only watch, unable to move.  Jim Weiner even began to experience tempero-limbic epilepsy.  The four men sought out help from hypnotherapists and UFO researchers.

Under hypnosis, the men described nearly identical experiences.  They told of a sterile interior of what they claimed was a spacecraft.  There were insect-like aliens with bald heads, big eyes, and spindly fingers, performing medical tests on each one of them, collecting skin and fluid samples as well as conducting other more humiliating tests.  Being artists, the men were able to produce detailed sketches of their abduction, including even the instruments that were inserted into them.  Each man was pronounced mentally stable by psychiatric professionals and each one passed a lie detector test...not that that last bit means all that much given what we now know about lie detectors but was still a necessary step at the time.

This is an important case for a few reasons.  One, there are multiple people involved.  Most cases of supposed alien abduction involve only one person at a time.  Here there were four.  Each man reports the same thing and corroborates the others' stories.  This is significant.  Two, the description of one of the aliens involved...and I am still working to find a source to verify this as opposed to just my memory of past interviews with the abductees...was a bit of a departure from the typical Grey made popular by Whitley Strieber.  This one was taller, much more mantis-like in appearance and seemed to be in charge of the other Greys.  This would imply a lack of influence from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind or the book Communion.  Two things that skeptics often point to as subconscious influences.  As mentioned previously, the men were artists and I seem to remember one of them doing a sculpture of this alien.  Again, I'm looking for a source.

I also think we can rule out collusion between the four men.  What would such a conspiracy net them?  Money?  It doesn't seem that they've made that much from it.  Fame?  Did you know their names before reading this?  If anything, their reputations stood more chance of being damaged by coming forward with such a thing and they do have medical professionals who can attest to the fact that the men have suffered greatly.

Were the four abducted by aliens...or otherwise otherworldly beings?  Of course it can't be said for certain that they were indeed victims of such a thing.  In fact, someone over at UFO Evidence sure doesn't seem convinced about it, raising a few valid questions about the case.  Still, this incident has enough to it to make me curious, far more than I would be about a run-of-the-mill, single-participant abduction claim.

Here's a few sources...for Mr. "Codswallop:"

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

No post today.  Be back tomorrow.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Once again, the hybrids

So a skull was found in Peru.  
That's not so unusual, especially when researchers are there on a regular basis, studying Inca and pre-Inca civilizations, yet this skull was out of the ordinary.  It has an elongated head and eye cavities far larger than the average human's.  In fact, this news story claims that three separate anthropologists have certified that the remains don't correspond to any known ethnic group and cannot be human, bolstering those who claim that the skull is concrete evidence of aliens interbreeding with humans in the distant past.  This is not unlike the claim of the "starchild" skull found in Mexico.
While I'm thinking that the skull is more attributable to the ritual of "skull flattening" practiced by many aboriginal peoples of the Americas, this hasn't stopped the notion of "alien-human hybrids" from being a popular one among the paranormal set.   It's true that alien abductees often report having reproductive cells removed from their bodies and are later shown children having both human and alien features.  One woman asserted that when shown the alien-human baby, she just knew that it was hers.  When she reached out to hold it, an alien took the child away as a voice spoke inside the woman's head, "No, this child is ours."  Others have said that they were shown videos of people in every day life doing every day things.  As the footage rolled, the aliens asked their captives, "can you spot us?"  Sort of a "Where's Waldo?" only with alien-human hybrids.  Towards whatever ends, be they nefarious, benign, or indifferent, the aliens seem to want to crossbreed with us.  In fact, there are those who argue that the human race itself is the end result of human-alien interbreeding and genetic tinkering.

Other abductees have even claimed to have seen human-looking beings working alongside the Greys.  This is not entirely out of step with reports as there have been several reports, most of them pre Barney and Betty Hill, of people encountering aliens who were tall, blonde, almost perfect in appearance.  These beings have been nicknamed "The Nordics" for obvious reasons.  Are these the same beings?  I suppose that depends if all these people are really being abducted in the first place.

One interesting point about the hybrids is that until actual alien DNA is disclosed to the public, we cannot really say one way or the other about it.  Oh we can have doubts as I certainly do, but alien-human hybrids truly could be among us and we would be none the wiser.  One of you reading this might even be a hybrid.

To take the first step in determining if you might be one, I have found this quiz.  My score was measly and disappointing "3."  Which according to the scoring guide means "basic earthiness."  Maybe your results will be more interesting.  Go on.  Be brave.  Try it.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How you'll be living

A CNN story recently focused on a consortium known as The Institute For The Future.  Here's their stated mission:

"Think of "A Multiverse of Exploration: The Future of Science 2021" as a star chart of possibility, pointing the way toward opportunities for wonder, knowledge, and insight. Use it to raise questions about how your life and work may change in light of the startling transformations that science may bring about in the next ten years. Indeed, every forecast could be rephrased as a "what if" question. What if you could record your dreams? What if you could design a life form? What if you could launch a company in orbit? Your answers to those questions can help inform decisions in the present. Inside this map, you'll find plenty of space to think."

That's quite a bit to digest, but what are the best brains projecting our lives to be like in the future year, 2021?  Here's a few of their points to expect on the IFTF's "star chart" (available on their website linked above):
-The study of human-data interaction will be a highly valued discipline.  Not tough to see this coming as people with that skill are already in high demand.

-Metamaterials will make the invisibility cloak a reality.

-New lifeforms will be constructed from scratch.  I'm thinking this likely means on the microscopic level.

-You can own your own satellite for a mere $1000.

-Orbital manufacturing will become practical.

-Fusion reactors will finally come about, powered by seawater.

-Teleportation will succeed on the molecular scale.
-Genetic enhancement.  'Nuff said.

-Scans of your brain can record "mind movies."

While I love the idea of many of these things and I am excited about the potential that they bring, I cannot shake the fact that this may be an entirely rosy picture.  That's because I'm not sure if or to what degree the IFTF has taken the current economic downturn into consideration.  Much of this depends on people investing money.  Ultimately, you will need end users to purchase these nifty new goods and services.  
A continually shrinking middle class will affect that.  If people are fighting to pay for food and healthcare, these new innovations might only be privileges of the wealthy and not aspects of the future that are widespread.  

Then again, if we follow Ray Kurzweil's lead and augment human intelligence, we might be able to make ourselves smart enough to see past our failings of greed and find a solution to many of our challenges.

Or not.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Dulce, still in Dulce...

Pic from New Illuminati.

Like I said in a previous post or two, I've been catching up on past shows of Coast-to-Coast AM.  The November 15th program threatened to be a snoozer for me until I heard those captivating words, "Dulce Base."  If you're new to things, I'll give you a quick fill-in.

Outside the town of Dulce, New Mexico is Archuletta Mesa.  Inside that mesa is said to be a massive underground base where our government and our military works in conjunction with several different alien races, performing all manner of heinous experiments on human beings.  Naturally, the area is also a hotbed of UFO activity.  The kicker here is that as the lore goes, the aliens took control of the base in 1979 and U.S. special ops had to go in and retake the facility in a bloody battle.  Many on both sides wound up missing or dead.

Followers of this blog know that for quite a while now, I've been planning to write a book about Dulce.  The book would be a sort of Truman Capote meets Whitley Strieber text.  Half of the book would be my literary nonfiction speculation on what, supposedly, happened inside the base during the battle of Dulce.  The other half would be my personal narrative of visiting the area, talking with people who live there, and interviewing those who have already done extensive research into Dulce Base.  I'm also interested in exploring why...if this ends up being a pure fabrication...things like this get started and perpetuate.

The guest on the episode of Coast-to-Coast that I mentioned was Anthony F. Sanchez.  He is an author who apparently has done a fair amount of looking into the Dulce case, including meeting with the so-called "Colonel X," an anonymous, high-ranking military officer who allegedly came forward about the battle at Dulce.  I have a book by X, whom I believe was credited as "Commander X" at the time.  Or that could be an error, certainly, as the book was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.  On the episode, however, Sanchez mentioned something that I have not heard before.

He argues that the Greys are not actually aliens but organisms created by a "progenitor race" on Earth 25,000 years ago.  Also, experiments continue unabated to this day at Dulce, experiments conducted on abducted humans.  Additionally, there has been a long stretch of cattle mutilations in that area of New Mexico.  One case, pointed out by the venerable Bill Birnes on both C2C and on his former show, UFO Hunters, involved a the finding a cow's body with a human head upon it.  Birnes got this from Gabe Valdez, a police officer in Dulce who doubts that any alien activity is occurring at Archuletta Mesa but there is obviously something weird going on in New Mexico.

True or untrue, it all just fascinates me.  If it is a pure falsehood, I do not plan to offer salvo to those who support the story in my writing, but rather I wish to find out just how a story like this comes to be.  After all, it's up there with the best of pulp scifi...and it has an outside shot of being real.
And if all that has been alleged about Dulce is true, then it's obviously a big deal.  Big for many reasons, not the least of which is that U.S. servicemen died in battle there.  Their story deserves to be told.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The science fiction connection

Blogger Kenn Thomas came upon an interesting story that I would like to repeat to you here.  It concerns the seminal science fiction film, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and a man named Wilhelm Reich.

Wilhelm Reich was a psychoanalyst by training but he also did research into the nature of what he called "orgone," a sort of naturally occurring primordial energy that he claimed to have discovered.  According to research by Thomas, Reich worked in his lab on ways to harness this natural energy.  As he did so, strange red UFOs appeared over the lab.  Concerned about this, Reich developed what he called the "cloudbuster," a cannon of sorts mounted on the back of a pickup truck.  Said cannon would collect and redirect the flow of orgone, allowing Reich to fire it at the UFOs and mitigate them into retreating.  Supposedly, Reich did battle with alien spacecraft over Roswell, New Mexico.

Let's turn now to the movie.  In Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, the concept is pretty direct.  Aliens attack the Earth, represented by then cutting edge special FX by Ray Harryhausen.  Unable to defeat the aliens by any other military means, our scientists invent sonar cannons and mount them on trucks.  The cannons are then fired at the attacking spaceships in scenes that are said to be quite reminiscent of Reich's desert battles with UFOs.  In fact, the film was released only a few years after Reich's own supposed alien combat.  

There are a few more interesting side connections to this science fiction film.  When the invading aliens are revealed, stripped of their mechanical suits (yet another trope ripped off by Independence Day), they bear a more than passing resemblance to the Roswell greys.  Also, Donald Keyhoe, the man that some call the founder of modern Ufology, supposedly requested that his name be removed from the credits of EVTFS when he learned that it was going to be a fictional film. I have no idea in what capacity Keyhoe served for the film but I suspect he was a consultant of one sort or another.

Does any of this mean that Earth vs. the Flying Saucers was based on real-life incidents?  Wilhelm Reich was certainly not without his share of controversy in life and he was involved in a few odd endeavors.  I don't think that it's that much of a stretch to say he claimed to have fought aliens.  What I don't know is just how much, if at all, his supposed experiences had to do with the movie.  The similarities are, however, intriguing. 

I plan to keep reading on this subject.  For more connections between UFOs and Hollywood science fiction, please visit Silver Screen Saucers at the link above.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hodge Podge November

Random notes from life...
I've crossed the threshold of the midway point for my NaNoWriMo book, Hell's Coming With Me.  Right now I'm concerned that I have a few chapters of what James N. Frey (How To Write a Damn Good Thriller) calls, "the muddle in the middle," not that I adhere to that guy's advice much.  I felt I needed to establish the characters more.  Thankfully, more men with guns have shown up and the pace has accelerated.  That's the advice of Raymond Chandler, by the way.

Speaking of books, I went to Barnes & Noble today.  I need more books like I need a corporate job but I still like to browse.  Once I have the either the Kindle or the Nook I can store books until memory gives out but for now space is at a premium.  Anyway, I had a few interesting finds at the bookstore.  

One was Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist.  I don't read much fantasy but the description for this book caught my interest.  In a land of magic, a princess has been struck by a poison bolt.  Her prince sets off with a D&D-like adventure party consisting of a bard, a thief, and a fighter to find a cure in the realm of Dark Elves.  It's apparently Book 3 in the "Riftwar Saga."  That's one reason that I don't read fantasy books: they typically sprawl into multiple volumes.
Also found a copy of Robert Heinlen's Farnham's Freehold.  The cover calls it "the most controversial science fiction novel ever written."  Many books make this claim but knowing Heinlen, he'd have been the one to actually do it.  This goes on the list.

Then there's a manga series with the delightful title, Bloody Monday.  Flipped through it a bit and it looked exactly like the kind of pulp I'm trying to accomplish with my book.  It's on the list as well.

What would we do without coffee?  I tried to think about that this morning but I hadn't had enough coffee yet.  Does coffee precede existence or does existence necessitate coffee?  Talk about an infinite loop of the bean.

With Asia Carrera retired and settling into married life (again), I'd say she's pretty much off the market for me.  Who am I kidding?  It's not like she was ever really on for me.  Anyway, I've found a new adult film starlet who while not a member of Mensa has many geeky qualities.  Her name is April O'Neil (that link is NSFW).  Yes she took her screen name from the character on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She's also an enormous Doctor Who fan and attended San Diego Comic Con in cosplay.  Also doesn't hurt that she's drop dead gorgeous.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

On consciousness...

I have been going through old shows of Coast-to-Coast AM and found an especially interesting one from the beginning of this month.
The program was on the subject of consciousness and reality.  The guests were Dr. Vernon Neppe and Dr. Edward Close.  Their work entails bringing psychology, science, mathematics, and philosophy together into one broader paradigm.  Okay, I like where this is going so far.
One of the resultant conclusions is that consciousness must precede reality.  I take that to mean that reality is entirely dependent upon consciousness perceiving it.  To paraphrase Ray Bradbury: "what good is a universe without an audience to wonder in awe of it?"  Consciousness, it would appear, is reality's audience.  Or perhaps from a certain point of view, consciousness produces the show and then wonders in awe...or shrieks in terror.   But I digress...

One interesting point that Neppe and Close made was that there their way of thinking...three different levels of consciousness.  Those are neurological, psychological, and a meta-consciousness or an awareness that gathers information from multiple sources.  This last level implies that consciousness can and does exist outside of the brain.  A "soul," one might say.  I find this fascinating because all religious or spiritual bickering aside, I have always believed that human beings and most other animals for that matter are far more than the sum of their parts.  The un-fingerable "it" in the equation might be consciousness.  Yes, I do believe that there are non-human forms of intelligence all over our world, such as whales, dolphins, apes, dogs, and the list goes on.  Again, I digress...
Neppe takes it a step further:

"In our model, we cogently argue that time is not just one linear dimension that goes past, present, future, but that there are several different dimensions of time," and all of existence could be said to exist at the same time because "we have an extended amount of time that always is, was, and will exist."

Wow.  They went on to discuss their theory that are a total of ten dimensions existing simultaneously and that human beings inhabit them all at once.  This brings new meaning to the phrase "other states of consciousness."  Lastly, Neppe made one key point: "The universe itself is conscious and intelligent and has an innate order to it."

That statement is critical.  I believe that it gets at what a great many people term as "God."  The universe is energy.  From the stars burning nuclear fuel to the minor levels of electrical current in our bodies.  It's all energy and we are linked in with it  Consciousness itself might be a form of energy, an omnibus of our accumulated knowledge and experience and perhaps even things we aren't aware that we know yet.  The "unknown knowns" as Donald Rumsfield might say.  Oh I could keep going but I need meditate and reflect on all of this first.  So fascinating...

You can find Dr. Neppe's web site here and Dr. Close's web site here.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Meanwhile, beneath the ice of Europa...

Europa is a moon of Jupiter and it is almost entirely covered with ice.  Recently, astronomers have realized that a body of liquid, salty water equivalent in size to all of the Great Lakes combined, may sit beneath that ice.

Thing about salty, liquid's essential for life to form.  This new data from the Galileo probe gives hope to the theory that micro-organisms might exist in the water beneath the ice.  Or perhaps more?  We don't know and it all is dependent upon what definition of "life" we claim.  Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer himself, points out the significance of this find on Europa at his Discover magazine blog:
"We know that on Earth, water is an essential ingredient for life. And we’ve known Europa has a lot of liquid water! But it’s locked under that thick shell. On the surface, sunlight has helped produce chemicals that are needed for biology, but there’s no way for them to get beneath that ice… or so we thought. The thinner ice above the lakes makes it possible for those chemicals to get below the surface, into the waters below. From there, various processes can get it down into the ocean itself."

What's more, all signs seem to indicate that the reservoir of water is still forming.  Next time we get a look at it (whenever that is) it might actually be larger.  No wonder Arthur C. Clarke chose Europa as a location of life off of Earth.
A little while back, I blogged that artifacts or probes from other civilizations could hide in our sector of space while we would be unlikely to notice.  Let's add something else to that.  Life could exist in places that we wouldn't even believe to be imaginable.  We're finding extremophiles all the time on our very planet, it stands to least to us bibliophages...that life could exist in similar inhospitable biomes elsewhere in space.  Really, I believe that discoveries like these will force us to redefine what we term as life.  I don't necessarily mean intelligent life, mind you.  I mean just living organisms in general.  

Oddly enough, that does beg yet another question to be asked.  What exactly does "intelligent" life mean?  

Certainly nothing that I've seen on this planet in my lifetime.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest blogger Kip Haggis gives thanks...and gets revenge

Hola everybody!  Boy, I have got A LOT to be thankful for this year.
1) God is in my life and I'm not going to Hell.
2) The Packers are STILL undefeated!  PERFECT SEASON, BABY!
3) Things are going great at the BBQ Shack.  Might make assistant manager by next year.  SWEEEEET!
4) The Friday after Thanksgiving, while soccer moms fight over Barbie dolls and techies like Nichols go looking for new thingamabobs, I'll be hangin' out with THE GUYS!  We'll light a bonfire, take our shirts off, do body shots off each other, ask each other "how's your pecker?"  Men actin' like men!  GOOD TIMES!
5) McRib is back!
6) Nichols has been proven an idiot.

That's right.  He has.  No IFs, ANDs, or BUTs, about it.
Did you not see his post the other day?  Man, all those times that he got on his high horse, talkin' up those novels where people sit in a house on a rainy day and just talk about what's in their head.  Or two Frenchie guys sitting on a park bench, waiting for a third Frenchie guy to show up who never gets there.  Can you tell what those stories have in common?  NOTHING HAPPENS!  They SIT!  
I gotta tell ya, I remember it all like it was yesterday.  After a buttload more arm twisting than it should take any man to do, I finally got Nichols to come with me to a car show.  About time!  Because getting together is what guys do.  Getting together is...well, it's getting together!  Anyhoo, we were walking down the midway of the Dempsey County Fairgrounds when he tells me the new Batman (this was 2001, duh) movie was going to be directed by Darren Arrofoofyfoof or somethin'.
"Who's that?" I ask.
"The director of Requiem for a Dream," he answers, like I'm supposed to KNOW who that is or somethin'.
"Gotta stay away from that crap, man," I says.  "Just tell a good STORY!"
And he looks at me like I got lobsters coming out of my head.  How's a working man supposed to deal with a college egghead?

So now what is Nichols writing?  Somethin' with GUNS...and NINJAS...and HOT CHICKS...with BIG BOOBS...and COWBOYS (one of my favorites).  All he needs now are PIRATES and he might actually be getting somewhere.
For a supposedly smart guy, it sure takes him a long time to get with it and come around.  This is the kinda thing that the majority of America wants.  I am the 99%!!!

Til next time...peace, love, and smoked bbq.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Film review--Miracle Mile

starring Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, Denise Crosby, John Agar, and Bret Michaels as The Beav.

A swing band dork named Harry (Edwards) in Los Angeles finds the girl of his dreams (Winningham) and they set a date for that evening.  While waiting for her, Harry happens to answer a pay phone.  It's a wrong number from a young man in a missile silo in North Dakota, trying to reach his dad to say goodbye before the U.S. launches its entire nuclear arsenal at the (then) Soviet Union.  Is this guy for real?  And if so, can Harry get his girl and bring her to the evacuation plane in just forty-five minutes?

There is more than a dollop of 1980s cheese here.  There are contrivances and stock characters galore, yet the film is oddly compelling.  I think that this stems from two factors, at least for me personally.  One is that once Harry answers the pay phone, everything plays out in real-time.  While this appears commonplace to a contemporary audience weened on TV like 24 and films like Haggis' (Mike, not Kip) Timecode, this was a very innovative concept back in the 1980s.  A fast-paced thriller essentially plays out in that 45 minute time span.  An added dimension is the threat of nuclear annihilation.  For anyone my age who grew up with that particular Sword of Damocles hanging above their heads, this is especially chilling.  The concept of that 45 minute lag-time between the initial launch of an ICBM and the inevitable retaliatory strike with the ensuing nuclear aftermath...well, I've always found it most sadistic.  Better almost not to know what's coming and be surprised, I've always thought.  In the case of this film, people in L.A. eventually begin to figure out what's happening and we see society start to complete come apart.  People behave little better than panicked animals, something I am certain would be the case if such a horror would befall us.  For whatever cheesiness this movie has, it captures that aspect very well.  Given the dread, the paranoia, and the (SPOILER) unhappy ending by today's standards, I believe that this film deserves a place in the apocrypha of nuclear war fiction.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Gettin' pulpy with it

As many of you might already know, November is National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately known in shorthand to writers.  It's a contest of sorts but you're not competing for a prize of any kind other than achievement and there's a reason for that.
You see, we writers are a funny lot.  Many of us claim to love to write...and we do...but you'd be surprised how adept we can become at avoiding it.  Often times, we need an impetus such as an impending deadline or other such mandate to force us to knuckle down and just do it.  NaNoWriMo is just that, the challenge to write 50,000 words towards a novel between November 1st. and 30th.

I thought I had it all figured out.  I knew what my NaNoWriMo book would be this year.  It would be a serious, psychological, statement-filled novel about the second coming of Christ and exploring contemporary America through that lens.  I had already begun to chisel out characters when another idea tugged at me.  It was garish, gaudy, sexy, action-packed, and basically the literary equivalent to a bowl of Cap'n Crunch.  I could write it easily, but who the hell would publish it?  Or want to read it?  Astounded as I was, I legitimately found myself torn between the two concepts during the last week of October.

"Have you ever written just for fun?" my wife asked me.
"I don't follow you," I replied, genuinely bewildered.
"Have you ever written something with no thought to if it could be published, if it follows all the advice from the gurus in Writers Digest, or if it would be accepted in the fiction writing classes in your Masters program?" she asked.

Honestly, I have not written like that in probably 22 years.
My germinal idea was a pulp story.  Pulp stories were mass market novels and magazines published primarily in the 1930s.  They were called "pulps" because they were printed on cheap, rough paper and sold for five or ten cents a copy while most other publications ran around a quarter per.  The stories were crafted...and yes I do mean "crafted" both titillate and to entertain.  The subject matter was often lurid by the standards of the day and even exploitative, crossing into every imaginable genre.  
As for a strict definition of "pulp," good luck.  Like most terms in art, definitions are slippery, wily things to pin down.  One of the best descriptions of pulps that I've heard came from a quasi-fictional source.  In Paul Malmont's The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, one of the characters is real-life pulp writer, Lester Dent.  On page 16, Dent says of pulp:
"Of course there's blood, cruelty, fear, mystery, vengeance, heroes, and villains.  That's just a good foundation.  To make true pulp, really great stomach-churning, white-knuckle, turn-your-hair-white pulp, you have to fill it with a pack of outright lies.  Secret identities and disguises...Superweapons, global schemes, hideous deaths, Cliff-hanging escapes.  These are the packs of lies you won't find in any slick or glossy literary hardcover bestseller.  Horrors from beyond the grave.  Lost lands.  Overwhelming odds.  Impossible heroics.  Unflagging courage."

Yep.  Pretty much everything that contemporary literary types and postmodernists condemn, keeping aback from the yellowed, printed pages as if the text carried bubonic plague.  But take a look at the names of a few famous characters who came from these fascicles: The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, and more hardboiled detectives than you could shake a lit cigarette at.  What's more, the pulps never went away.  They're still with us in characters such as Indiana Jones and The Rocketeer.  They're still being written today with Christa Faust being probably the greatest writer of the bunch.  There are still people writing to entertain.

There's that word I've been conditioned to have an artistic aversion to: entertainment.  It somehow has become synonymous with 1980s glam metal, complete with Aqua Net hair, Spandex, and copious amounts of pyro.
That is how I'm writing this November.  And it has made all the difference.

It's an especially tough time at the day job right now.  We're all working overtime and 18 hours days are not uncommon with 16 hours additional on the weekend.  Thankfully, I get to go home, boot my computer, and play.  That's right, play.  I use the blank page as my playroom and I get out all the toys I want to play with: ninjas, secret societies, cowboys, Batman-like technology, military aircraft, action, guns, fire, hard cases out for revenge, car crashes, and women who are hot on a pornstar level.  

Sophomoric?  Juvenile?  Oh you bet.  But it's fun.  And should anyone read this pulp one day, that is what I hope for...that they have fun.
Somehow, I think that's all the original pulp writers really wanted as well.
Well, that and a paycheck.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The unknown fifth giant planet

New research from an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute (SRI) in San Antonio suggests that our solar system family at one point had an additional member to it...and it was an enormous one.
That's right.  Another giant up there in the leagues of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus.  I'll pause a moment to let the snickers die down from the name of that last planet.
Computer models by David Nesvorny at SRI appear to lead to the notion that current orbital layout of our solar system had only a "2.5%" chance of becoming the way it is without a fifth giant planet.
He said: "The possibility that the solar system had more than four giant planets initially, and ejected some, appears to be conceivable in view of the recent discovery of a large number of free-floating planets in interstellar space, indicating the planet ejection process could be a common occurrence."
From this standpoint, it is thought that Jupiter once drifted towards the center of the solar system and approached the orbits of Mars and our own Earth.  The gas giant was rapidly yanked backward, however, and this had the effect of knocking the fifth unknown giant planet out into deep space.  This all probably happened during the period where planets were just forming in the solar system and nothing in the system was entirely stable.  So the event was something of a cosmic miscarriage.
Makes me wonder what the absent planet would have been like.  What would we have named it?  How bright would it have been in our sky?  What would its unique features have been?  Gives me the germ of a short story idea wherein our solar system still has this unknown, fifth giant.
Yet most disconcerting of all in the above linked article is the fact that our Sun is already halfway through its life expectancy.  Not for fear of imminent supernova but because this will doubtless inspire the various end-of-the-world types out there.
Bring on talk of Rapture and 2012!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Alien artifacts might already be here

Amid the sorrows for Penn State this past week, there has come an intriguing bit of research from the university.  Though unfortunately, few are likely to care.

Two post-doc students and researchers at Penn State have crunched the numbers and determined that given our current level of technology, alien probes or artifacts might very well be in our solar system but we would be unlikely to detect them.

"The vastness of space, combined with our limited searches to date, implies that any remote unpiloted exploratory probes of extraterrestrial origin would likely remain untouched," Penn State researchers Jacob Haqq-Misra and Ravi Kumar Kopparapu write in a paper accepted for publication by the journal Acta Astronautica."

Experts at the SETI Institute have concurred, calling the findings "standard wisdom in the field."  When you think about it, our own deep space probes are around 30-odd feet in length, give or take.  Something that size could hide anywhere in our solar system, even here on Earth.  Any of the rocky moons of Jupiter or Saturn, or the gulleys and caverns of Mars would make fair hiding places.  If the alien probe itself were disguised as a meteorite or other rock-like form, that would go even further towards obscurement.  The past and current resolution of surface photos of stellar objects from orbit is such that we likely could not discern probe or artifact from rock.  Especially if, as suggested, the alien item were disguised as a rock.  And from what I understand, the last Transformers film monstrosity deals with alien artifacts left behind on our own Moon.  Ahhh the intuitive prescience of Michael Bay.

This must come as rather welcome news to those who advocate for the existence of structures and monuments on Mars and have to endure rankling from the establishment.  Not that the subjects are necessarily the same but they are related.  Richard Hoagland is no doubt dancing a jig.  Either that or he's in hiding after his prediction that asteroid YU-55 would slam into the Moon last Thursday.  Ummm...oops.

The idea of "space archeology" is one that has fascinated me for a while now.  After all, if we are curious enough to want to send research probes and even ourselves out into the universe, wouldn't alien civilizations like share the same interest?  Given the relative youth of our solar system, I don't discount the possibility that they could have visited us or our planetary neighbors in our primordial days and left evidence behind.  Lord knows I'd love it if we located a Monolith on the Moon or a sphinx-like face on Mars.  

And I frame all of this in the distant past because apparently, no aliens or UFOs have been anywhere near us to the best of our knowledge.  Or didn't you hear?  We got that straight from the White House.

Yeah.  Right.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

You can see a face...

I by no means wish to belittle this man's pain.  I have had personal experience with pain "down there" and the only thing that could make it funny to someone is the location.  That said, here's what happened to a hapless man in Canada.
A 45 year-old man was experiencing great pain due to tumor masses on his testicle.  Doctors did an ultrasound and came up with this image:

Now I will admit, the image does look like a man screaming in pain and ultimately I have no evidence to the contrary.

My problem with it is that we keep seeing these things.  Not faces in ultrasound images of 'nads, but in all kinds of other objects.  People claim that certain rocks look like faces or that they saw a religious image in a cloud formation.  One of the more recent examples of this is a 13th Century fresco that was restored in a church in Italy.  The painting is  a depiction of the death of St. Francis.  Upon restoration, several saw this in the painted clouds:

They're calling it a "devil face."  Could be.  You could also say it's Abraham Lincoln minus the beard.  Or could be damn near anything you want it to be.  Ditto for this Photo of the Day on Coast-to-Coast AM, a crystal with the number five supposedly inside it.  The formation does bear strong resemblance to the number, but it's a random occurrence.  
We're seeing these things all the time because it is in our nature.  It's a survival mechanism.  Our minds are constantly trying to sort out the inchoate, visual white noise and locate things that we recognize, especially faces.  In an effort to do this, we may often times perceive a face when there is really none there.  It's no different then when we stare at the clouds and get creative, telling each other what we "see" in fluffy puffs of white. 

So maybe next time you think you see a religious figure in a water stain or a grilled cheese sandwich, don't get excited.  It's all probably this all-too familiar process at work.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Project CORE

An ambitious project is underway called Project CORE.  

Here's a bit more about it from their website

"Project Core is a long-term study of paranormal accounts submitted voluntarily and anonymously by the interested public. Our goals are as follows: 

1. To identify shared elements between every type of paranormal encounter submitted, if such elements exist. 
2. To identify common traits between the experiencers themselves, if any exist. 
3. To compare and contrast genuine experiences with imagined ones. For this, we present an option for people who have never had any sort of paranormal experience to write a fictitious account of what they think it would be like to, for example, encounter Bigfoot, live in a haunted house, have a near death experience, or be abducted by aliens." 
This is truly a unique study being undertaken for at least two reasons that I can think of.  First off, this is one of the few, maybe even the only, studies that attempts to cross-correlate any similarities, psychological or otherwise, between people who have supposedly experienced any form of paranormal phenomenon.  Not just ghosts or UFOs, but cryptids, psi experiences, the whole spectrum.  Also, I find immediate interest in the fact that the researchers are actively accepting fictitious accounts...not weeding them out.  This may perhaps yield significant data.  Are paranormal memes ingrained in us by mass media?  Are they a part of the collective subconscious or panosophy?  What differentiates a fictitious report from a "genuine" one?

I hope that you will participate, even if it is to submit a ludicrously false claim.  My submission will either be one of my few mild experiences or the yarn I'm tempted to create.  Either way, the research project should help to advance the field of study and wish the project team success.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"We got a rock."

Remember It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?  Each house the kids go to for trick or treating grants plenty of candy to brag over and everybody's feeling good...until Charlie Brown says, "I got a rock"?  Well our rock for Halloween came about a week late but it got here.

An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier came within 202,000 miles of Earth yesterday.  That's within the Moon's orbit.  Despite such proximity, Asteroid 2000 YU55 never posed any real threat to us.  If anything, scientists at NASA, astronomical observatories, and anyone with an interest in space science have been looking forward to this close approach.  As one said on

"We would really like to characterize it as much as possible, and learn about its past and about its future," said Marina Brozovic, a scientist with NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., before today's flyby. "I really can't wait to see the images."

Much will be gleaned in terms of the orbits of asteroids and how we can be better able to track such objects in space.  After, this buzz-by should teach us that there are monster planet-killers out there and there is no reason to believe that there couldn't be one with our name on it.  Meg Urry, the chairwoman of the Department of Physics at Yale University, wrote an opinion piece for CNN pointing out the very real risk of an asteroid strike.  She admits that though rocks the size of the one that is thought to have killed off the dinosaurs are fairly rare, an asteroid the size of YU55 would still cause considerable damage to our planet.  Since large rocks have pelted both Earth and the Moon in centuries past, there is no reason we won't have to deal with a threat in the future.   This is no time to sit around in a kef and believe it could never happen to us.

But much will be learned from this encounter.  The downside is that the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye as its dark surface will not reflect enough light to make its presence known.  Amateur skywatchers with telescopes might be able to catch a glimpse before YU55 heads back out into deep space.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Film review--The Orphanage

starring Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Princep, and Tommy Lee as The Beav.

A woman (Rueda) brings her family to live in the abandoned orphanage she grew up in.  Her dream is to begin a school for handicapped children but in time, she realizes that her son (Princep) is beginning to talk and play with invisible friends.  The boy urges his mother to come meet these new pals but she refuses.  Soon, her son mysteriously vanishes and she begins to feel the presence of "others" in the house.
I must say that I was very impressed by this film.  It stands out against the tide of other horror films that rely upon blood and gore, e.g. Saw and innumerable and tedious zombie fare.  This is far more up my alley in that it utilizes subtle, Hitchcockian devices of suspense and the supernatural.  For example, figures in the background, nearly out of frame.  One's breath becoming visible in a room of high activity.  The atmosphere of the house is probably one of the more immediate methods employed as well as the director's skillful use of sound for all of those creaks and groans an old house makes.  While it is smart, suspenseful, and at times most melancholy, this movie ends up being a beautiful and touching story.  In fact, it has one of the happier endings I've seen in a film in a long time but one must see it from a certain point of view.  I wish I could be clearer than that but I don't wish to give anything away.  Suffice it to say that at its heart, this movie is about that classic triad of faith, hope, and love.  The ending is in keeping with this.  And God knows where they dug up the actress who plays the creepy adoption social worker.  She could give me nightmares.
It is a foreign film.  All dialogue is in Spanish with English subtitles.  If that bothers you, you know...doing a little reading with your movie watching...then this is not one for you.  But I hope that you can give it a shot.  It is well worth your time.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Film Review--William Burroughs: A Man Within

This is one documentary that I had been waiting to see for quite a while.  
The film aims to best as anyone can, that is...who William Burroughs was.  This is done through the interweaving of old interviews with Burroughs himself and with current footage of those who knew or worked with him.  Those in this latter category include Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, John Waters, David Cronenberg, Gus Van Sant, and Peter Weller, who narrates pieces of the film.  While the 87 minute running time does not afford a truly deep investigation into one of the greatest American writers to ever have lived, you do get to see the critical points of his life and you see them handled through reflections both canny and candid.

You learn about this man, born to affluence and known for wearing three-piece suits, who was anything but a supporter for the establishment.  You hear of his struggles in the 1950s as someone involved in both the queer and drug cultures.  Burroughs tells firsthand of his awful bouts with drug addiction in that simultaneously entrancing and grating voice that he had.  Others recount the tragic accident wherein Burroughs killed his wife.  The film of course highlights his time with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and other luminaries at The Beat Hotel (sweet jehosaphat, what place that must have been) and his eventual authoring of his masterpiece, Naked Lunch.  

Perhaps most importantly, the film details just how much Burroughs influenced modern artists and musicians such as David Bowie, Sonic Youth, and The Dead Kennedys.  Various musicians stress the sometimes overlooked fact that Burroughs, with his refusal to accept reality as we know it, helped contribute to the birth of the punk movement.  I would have liked to have seen more detail on his work with the cut-up method, but as I said, there were only 87 minutes to work with and I doubt anyone else besides this literary composition geek would have been as interested in it.

William Burroughs was...I'll go ahead and say it...the most innovative writer America has ever produced.  Irrespective of that, the viewer is left wondering if Burroughs was ever truly happy.  Heck, his friends wonder about it, too.  His loves in many cases were unrequited, he alienated his own son unto death, and he had more than his share of trials and tribulations with society as a whole.    Yet it may have been at the very end that Burroughs perceived reality as it should be, that is if his final journal entry can be taken as any indication.  He wrote (and I'm paraphrasing here): "What is the ultimate painkiller?  Love.  Love is."

I whole-heartedly recommend this documentary to anyone with a passion for writing or art.  In case you are unfamiliar with Burroughs...and woe to those of you who fall in this category...I have included below one of my favorite pieces of his entitled, A Thanksgiving Prayer:

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Physics for future presidents

Is global warming a threat?  Which alternative energy sources are viable and affordable?  What is wrong about stem cell research?  How easy is it for terrorists to develop nuclear or biological weapons?  Can a missile defense shield or space weapons actually work?  Heck, even abortion has its scientific angles.
No one can or should be expected to know everything but science seems to have been fairly low on the totem pole of intellectual pursuits for our political leaders.  Both of the Bush men openly disdained needing to know this sort of thing and I doubt that either Clinton or Obama had much interest in it either.  I remember George Bush Sr. quipping on one campaign junket in 1988 that he wouldn't release his school grades as he had "flunked chemistry and wanted to look like a good president for all the chemists out there."  
After all, just how much benefit can you get from physics or chemistry when you're talking political power plays? 

Richard A. Mueller seems to think it's pretty important.  He is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley and wrote a book called, Physics for Future Presidents back in 2007.  I heard about this book on the radio and decided to go investigate it.  
According to Amazon and Google Books, the book is separated into chapters by subject with a "Presidential Summary" at the very end.  I perused what is likely to be the most popular and controversial sections, the ones on climate, global warming, and greenhouse gas.  Not only for the contentious aspects but due to the fact that the subjects are close to me.  From just my brief skimming, it appears that Mueller does indeed see Global Warming as a reality but one which we can do little about as there are no real viable alternatives to fossil fuels.  That and in his opinion, the U.S. has no political right or authority to demand that nations like China or India curb their carbon emissions.  That, if it is indeed what Mueller is saying, is disappointing.

Political books are often greeted with contention and judging by the comments on Amazon, this one is no exception.  I am looking forward to reading it so that I might endorse the text one way or another.  But I'm not the intended audience, am I?  Will presidential or even congressional candidates read this?  I doubt it.  They will more likely rely upon their scientific advisers, such as they are.

Then again, maybe I am the audience for this book.  Maybe we all are.  As voters, we should be at least as educated on hot-button issues as those who seek to lead us.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Aliens in the Amazon? Short answer: No.

Oh for a decent quality alien photo.
That's right.  More "found footage" has reared its hoaxy rear, attempting to claim the accidental capturing of a real-life alien on video.  Supposedly, two British tourists were recording local children of the Mamaus region of the Amazon in Brazil.  In the dense green foliage of the background, a blue light appears.  Without warning, a Grey alien is seen moving in the trees.  It arches its back and then the video cuts out.  Wow.  Good thing those tourists just happened to be there at that exact time, trying to take a few innocent minutes of footage of the local youth.  Talk about right place at the right time.  Yet how unfortunate for us, the Fortean enthusiasts, for the alien is deep in the background and as usual, we are unable to get a clear look at it.  Yet it is there, in just enough prehensible clarity to be recognized as the popular conception of an extraterrestrial.  You can take a look at the video for yourself at Unexplained Mysteries.

Of course there the obligatory claims of "intense UFO activity" in the region at the time but that really does nothing in the way of verification.  The Huffington Post did an accurate analysis of the video.  They went to Marc Dantonio, the chief photo and video analysis expert for the Mutual UFO Network.  And before the skeptics pounce (even though he's on their side on this one), Dantonio does not just work for MUFON.  He has contracts with the military as well.  Dantonio said this of the Amazon "alien" in the above-linked Huffington Post article:

"...the alien head appears to be distinctly separate and possibly at a different focal plane than the body -- the body appears closer than the head.
"When the wind blows, the head bobs and that indicates something passive. In other words, from the way it bobs, the connection point looks like it could be coincident with the top of the 'body location.' But something's not quite right in the way the head bobs."
That same Huffington Post link also takes a look at the alleged "pyramid UFO" video taken over a Chinese nuclear reactor.  Yep.  It's readily recognizable as a CG hoax and Dantonio points that out quite quickly.

I've said before and I'll say it again.  If a clear, authentic UFO video or photo were placed in front of me, I might not realize it for I have been so conditioned to reject these things as fakes from the onset.  That's simply due to the sheer number of hoaxes perpetrated on the UFO community, especially as SFX technology has advanced an even become accessible in the average household.  Would I know the real thing if I saw it?  Or would I think it just another hoax?  I will admit that I don't know. 

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