June, 2019

Jun 19

Washington Post’s UFO obsession–and now it’s Alien Abductions

Been a lot of UFO articles in The Washington Post lately. Now there’s a piece about the Pascagoula abduction story in WaPo. Probably someone on staff into UFOs. But also–I think that in times of national stress (Trump’s our stressor and a huge one) people tend to see or think about UFOs more. They’re escapism. They’re, subconsciously, “a way out”.

Those of you who know me can guess what I think re Pascagoula. Here’s WaPo today recounting the story from the fisherman who claimed to be abducted with his friend :

“I was just getting ready to get some more bait,” Hickson told The Washington Post in 1975, “when I heard a kind of zipping sound. I looked up and saw a blue flashing light. Calvin turned around too. We saw a 30-foot-long object with a little dome on top.” As it hovered just above the ground, three small creatures emerged, also hovering, he said. The men were suddenly paralyzed. The creatures grabbed them with pincer-type claws and pulled them toward the object, he said. “I floated inside,” Parker told the Biloxi Sun Herald in 2018…Hickson said they were subjected to a physical examination by something that looked like a “big eye,” a constant mechanical sound buzzing the whole time.

There are the usual skeptical explanations (which you’ll find toward the end of this piece) but there are two non-ET explanations I never hear. One is that in 1973 psychedelic drugs were widespread in the USA. Suppose one of them convinced the other to get high, saw a hallucination, then convinced the other as to what he saw–got him to share in it through suggestibility. Told him this and that was happening hence the same stories. . .

Another explanation, far less likely, is that it was all staged for these guys as part of an psy-ops experiment. Jacques Vallee once told me that contacts in the French Secret Service admitted staging a UFO abduction in France. Could this be something of the kind staged by American intelligence?

But most likely it’s basically what the skeptics said (quoting from wikipedia): ‘Aviation journalist and UFO skeptic Philip J. Klass found “discrepancies” in Hickson’s story. When Hickson took a polygraph exam, the examiner determined that Hickson believed the abduction story, but Klass argued that the test was administered by an “inexperienced” operator and that Hickson refused to take another by a more experienced police operator. Klass concluded the case was a hoax based on these and other discrepancies. Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell wrote that Hickson’s behavior was “questionable” and that he altered or embellished his story when later appearing on television shows. Nickell speculated that Hickson may have fantasized the encounter with aliens during a hypnagogic “waking dream state”, adding that Parker’s corroboration of the tale was likely due to suggestibility, since he told police he had “passed out at the beginning of the incident and failed to regain consciousness until it was over”.’


Jun 19


LATEST POINTLESS “NEWS STORY” FROM CNN – Headline: “Walmart is getting rid of its blue vests. Here’s what the new ones look like” – no, really. That’s the actual headline. And there’s nothing else in the article of any interest whatsoever. Why does “no one cares!” not matter to CNN? And this did not appear in some kind of business affairs section. No, it was of general interest! To no one.

Years ago, I worked as an assistant at a marketing company. Firms would give us press releases about their new products to the marketing company, which the market outfit sent, almost verbatim, to contacts at newspapers—and which sometimes appeared in newspapers just as we at the marketing company had written them. This creeping laziness took root in the moldering loam of cynicism. I’m pretty sure this Wal-Mart “news” piece originated with a Wal-Mart press release. And we see actual articles about “the new burger from Burger King”—and nope, it’s not an ad. Or is it? Does CNN get revenue for pieces like this, revenue it isn’t letting us know about? Anyway, if you’re going to publish articles of no serious interest to anyone, how about this, which is at least accurate reporting: Latest Processed Food Garbage Offers Even More Calories and Carbs For Customers Who Prefer To Feel Like Crap.

YOU’LL SUCK PLASTIC AND YOU’LL LIKE IT – “Globally, we are ingesting an average of 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card, a new study suggests. This plastic contamination comes from ‘microplastics’ — particles smaller than five millimeters — which are making their way into our food, drinking water and even the air.” That’s CNN too and it’s one of their actually newsworthy pieces. It’s also ironically appropriate. We’re choking sea life with our plastic waste, after all, so we deserve to choke on it too. And the comparison to swallowing a credit card’s worth of plastic has a certain unintended poetry—mindless consumers lean heavily into credit. They use those cards like—well, like crazy. And their mindless consumerism encourages the plastic-bound throwaway culture that’s wrecking the biosphere.

NEW FRONTIERS OF SHALLOWNESS: “They Have Millions of Instagram Followers, but They’re Not Real People” – New York Times …Fans of songs by “Lil Miquela” were shocked to hear that the supposed singer who has supposedly “worked with Prada” and supposedly “has a tattoo designed by a fashionable artist”…isn’t real. She’s made of pixels and voicing and she’s designed to attract followers and likes. But there are lots of these fake human beings—literally fake, not just “ha-ha, he’s so fake”, and it’s not just vapid teens who get sucked in. Adults, too, gape ingenuously at these glittery, disturbingly real-looking “persons” on Instagram and YouTube. You have to be remarkably shallow—like a millimeter-deep pool of liquid graphene—to believe that these creatures are real. They look realistic but everything about them, to those who’re paying attention, says they’re not even as real as scripted actors in full make-up. They’re CGI. And they’re not based on anyone in particular—they’re based on glamorous tropes. Their followers are so conditioned by hand-screen media their reactions become utterly knee jerk–they really don’t give their brains time to process what’s real and what isn’t.

Deepfake news stories—visual lies  now on the way to your cell phone, to further condition and distract you–come to mind, too. It’s another level of deceptive CGI… People have always been prone to falling under the sway of superficial media personalities —ask your favorite demagogue or popstar—but humanity has reached a new level of inane pliability. Which means we can be led…anywhere.

ANTI-VAX MILLIONAIRES – From the Washington Post: “A wealthy Manhattan couple has emerged as significant financiers of the anti-vaccine movement, contributing more than $3 million in recent years to groups that stoke fears about immunizations…” That’s a hedge fund manager named Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa—gibbering paranoids who are doing a lot to stimulate anti-vaccine hysteria.

Here’s what will eventually come about, in your lifetime, because of people like this:  major plagues that will kill millions of people. You think the new measles phenomenon is bad? Pshaw. That’s nothing in comparison to what anti-vaxxers will shower upon us.

Thanks to climate change, viruses and bacteria once found only in relatively remote regions of the world are increasingly able to spread far and wide—to places where more people throng. The more people an infectious disease reaches–the more people it will go on to reach. It will expand exponentially…Plagues will arise. Hard working scientists will make vaccines available to counter major new pathogens and anti-vaxxers will block the vaccines. And when humanity realizes that millions could have been saved if not for anti-vaxxers, people like Mr and Mrs Selz may well end up being prosecuted for manslaughter. And they’re very likely indeed to be vastly, hugely, multitudinously — sued!

THE DNC IS GOING TO FORCE ME TO DO SOMETHING I DON’T WANT TO DO. And yes—I will submit to any DNC nomination, whoever it is, as the alternative will be worse….I have this sick feeling that the DNC is going to force me to vote for Joe Biden. Despite his long history of racial insensitivity predicating his recent senescence-driven racial gaffe; despite his history of being demeaning and handsy-grandfather inappropriate with women…despite all, I will be forced to vote for him if he gets the Democratic nomination because, well, as I heard Stephanie Miller say, “In the general election we have to vote for any carbon-based lifeform who isn’t Trump”. And she’s right. Even a blundering glad-handing, toe-stomping, clueless, badly aging white guy, like Biden is preferable to Trump. Biden would at least  return us to sanity. Mostly. He would see that competent people are named to cabinet positions. He would do pretty well with international relations.

But compared to someone like Elizabeth Warren,  Biden is an empty suit. Please, DNC—I’ll vote for an empty suit if I have to, but for pity’s sake don’t make me.

Jun 19


Culture Slash #2 – a fitful column by John Shirley

ENDLESS SURVEILLANCE BY OUR OWN DEVICES. Will our electric toothbrushes soon be reporting on our uvulas? My friend Jim Baldwin told me: “I got a bluetooth speaker and when I tried to connect it to my phone, it won’t let me continue unless I give it access to my contact list and phone call history. It’s just a fucking speaker. I’m taking it back.” He also says: “There are insulin pumps where you have to send your data to some corporation in order to stay alive.”

CNN ‘SHALLOW PERSON NEWS’ Headline: “Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West reveal name of their new baby” – the Kardashians and Kanye West care about this. Their close friends and family too. Who else cares? Nobody with a real life cares. I’m fairly sure most people don’t care. Why is this a news story?

THE EMBOLDENING. “IT’S ALRIGHT TO BE WHITE” – that was on a big banner stretched from a pedestrian bridge over a freeway, as we drove into Vancouver, Washington a few weeks ago. Above it, a large group of people—white of course—waved US Flags and grinned at us. MAGA hats were spotted. We had to be told it was alright to be white by the white racists of Vancouver? Is this their oh-so-clever play on “Black Lives Matter”? The latter being a slogan people like this insist on misunderstanding. They know perfectly well that “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t imply that the lives of “differently complected” people don’t matter. But willfully pretending not to know something is part of the white nationalist playbook. They would say, “It’s Alright to be White”  is not racist but in fact it’s a passive aggressive device, a linguistic “cut-out” for stimulating racism.

VOICE MENU BLUES. You can always tell when someone nearby is talking to one of those voice activated bots that asks you questions before you can talk to a real person on the phone. You hear the person in the next room going, “NO!” and “YES!”, at an increasing volume. And often, “NO, dammit, I said NO. Speak to representative! Shit!” as they try to get the thing to understand them.

DEEP FAKERY. And I quote: “If 2016 was the election of ‘fake news,’ 2020 has the potential to be the election of ‘deepfakes,’ the new phenomenon of bogus videos created with the help of artificial intelligence.” So the Washington Post rightly reminds us. Deepfakes can make a video of anyone—yes, you—“pulling an Anthony Wiener” or even murdering someone else, and other people won’t be able tell it’s fake. It could be used by a government–or an amoral President–to show images of, say,  enslaved women in a caravan of immigrants, or immigrants waving Jihadist flags and carrying guns. It would look real. It’s the glories of digital technology, reaching new levels of treacherousness. I will hereby boldly declare that I warned the world about this in the 1980s in a section of my A Song Called Youth cyberpunk trilogy. Yes, I predicted it. And here it is. . .

WaPo goes on: “A significant chunk of the U.S. electorate dabbles in conspiracy theories, encouraged by a president who promotes them himself. Millions of Americans consume “news” from outlets that pump out lie after lie. And the groups most likely to be fooled are those who have low levels of media literacy and are unable to discern questionable sources from reliable ones. If better forgers are coming, we, as citizens, need to ensure that voters are educated to become better detectives.”

DECEPTION IS PART OF OUR PUBLIC LIVES. No, I don’t mean deception in politics. Not in this instance. Scroll down on CNN  and you see, under the main stories, a series of pieces you can open all about–supposedly–health, or finance.  If you open upCardiologist: “This is what happens when you eat a steak”Cardiologist: “This is what happens when you eat a steak” “Cardiologist: This is What Happens When you Eat Steak” you’re instantly routed to a hard-sell dietary advertisement. Pure advertisement. Very sketchy, too–oozing exaggeration; reeking of superficial use of some of the facts.  But the linking window at CNN looks like all the legit CNN news windows. Same style of headline font, same everything. Except:  Up in the left hand corner of this deceptive section of the page it says, “Paid Partner Content”–which most people are probably not going to notice–or not think about. It’s not that clear. It doesn’t say “advertising pretending to be news articles”.  Many news sites have these ads pretending to be articles. Sometimes it says something like, “Recommended news from our friends”. Oh yeah–that’s clear. And adblockers usually don’t work on these ads as they look like the rest of the publication.  If you need to have ads on your site, fine, but stop pretending they’re not ads–that’s just sleazy–and stop pretending they’re all respectable advertisers. Many are pure scammers.

But egregious deception–far more deceptive than “girls might like you if you wear Axe Body Spray” hints– is now strangely accepted in American society. I regularly get junk mail aimed at deceiving elderly people into thinking it’s an official document. “Oh, that looks like a government envelope! I’d better open it!” Inside it’s some predatory company wanting to get you deeply in debt. They may have a warning in big red letters designed to look official: Deadline for Response In Two Days. Which is to frighten people into thinking that they’re receiving an Official Warning from some govt department and  they’re in trouble unless they go along. One we received recently said that the envelope contained Official Property Tax Valuation. Yes, they used the word Official. Inside, it was an attempt to get you to put your house on the line for a loan based on its worth. (Which technically applies to property taxes)…

I know these kinds of things are false before I open them–which I do just to see what this particular scam is–but not everyone knows. Many elderly people are not up to date,  and sometimes they’re easily frightened; relatively easy to deceive. Yet these are actual legal businesses. Why do we accept them, as a society? Because our society has no real moral center.