Monday, January 13, 2020

It Hasn't Been January for 12 Months

Writing a coherent entry of any length isn't working today, and winter may actually be planning a strike this week, so I'll just leave you with the important sign shown here while I can still post.  When Ricky Gervais says all the right things about Hollywood and we get the extra bonus of watching Iranian people in the streets calling for the death of the Ayatollah, what remains to be said?  If Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan end up minus proper Royal funding and resort to starring in California soap operas in between hobnobbing with the arrogant celebrity class, life will be complete at last.  Invisibility sounds better with each passing moment.

Monday, January 6, 2020

From Iran to Texas: Graduation Day

Tumultuous scenes of enraged human Iranian herds dominating TV news videos contradict everything I once experienced, albeit briefly.  Watching women covered in black like pieces of animated furniture offends the senses.  The now reminds me of the then.

The year was 1968, its final weeks winding down as we, four U.S. Air Force airmen, graduated from a physical therapy specialist course at the (then) Medical Service School at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.  The course, considered critical because so few were initially enrolled to cover the entire Air Force hospital system, was fairly new to the USAF, and at that time a handful of instructors only graduated a maximum of (rarely) 30 airmen a year.

But this particular graduating class was different. For the first time, as an experiment which succeeded wonderfully, the government allowed as additional students two women from a local civilian hospital -- and two young women from Iran.

Iran?  Surprised?  Don't be.  In 1968 we were on friendly terms with Iran, even training their fighter pilots and other personnel.

As you might expect, during "on hands" medical training in the classroom (as opposed to lectures and textbook teaching when we all sat together), the women worked and learned among themselves, while we four men stayed to ourselves for training in lab modalities with instructors.  The ladies from Iran were kind, eager to learn and appreciating their time in the United States. 

This fleeting occasion blending together military, civilian and foreign players proved at least minimally newsworthy, as the local press provided some coverage as the event's training concluded.

True enough, Iran under the Shah back then was no paradise, but at least the people of Iran could appreciate some degree of freedom AND attire themselves in the clothing of the West -- as you can see in the photo displayed here.  I've cropped out most of the graduation day photograph because there's really no reason to include everybody, but remaining are the two Iranian ladies and, yes, that's me in the background.  I blacked out parts of their faces because that's what you do when you hope to make recognition difficult in case the wrong people are having a look, but no matter that, what I really wanted to emphasize was the clothes the young women wore back then.  No dark-side burkas to confine bodies or minds, just mix-and-match clothing of one's choice.  (I do regret that my photo edits make the women appear to resemble hostages!)

Do I know the young women's names?  Of course, but even more than 50 years later they will not appear in a blog providing easy pickings for Iranian operatives or their allies who might chance to read this blog and go looking for sacrificial lambs among the Iranian people who still pray for freedom from the radical religious dictator insane asylum running the country (for now).

So yes, there was a time when Iran was Persia, and a time when Persia became Iran and the people enjoyed wealth, beauty, an established culture and education, and then as now many of the people saw the United States in  a good way.  The older Iranian population surely remembers, though  younger people raised under the brutality and fanaticism of the current leadership have no idea.

Did President Trump do the right thing by ordering General D. Bag Soleimani and his associates obliterated?  Absolutely.  Yet one more piece of trash which rightfully should have been taken care of once and for all by the weak and obliging Obama bunch.  Any day when you can kill a known terrorist with a continuing agenda in play is a really, really good day.  Any day when you can avenge what Iranian terrorists did to your embassy in Iraq after killing and injuring more Americans is a great day.  Any day you can drive home a point to the ayatollah-mullah-imam caboose that any penchant for terror deserves a tough slap back is an exceptional day.  Any day that doesn't turn out to be Obama's, Hillary Clinton's and the Democrats' Benghazi is a good day for America.

By saying these things, I'm not waxing patriotic so much as simply being practical.

Iran?  Let's hope too many more years don't pass before the magnificence of Iran and its people can be reborn in hands other than those of religious fanatics who belong dead with brutal centuries already long forgotten by the future.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

How Dare You! 2020 Barges In Uninvited

No, I couldn't stop it from arriving, but I don't really want it, either.  2020 will probably bring along another 12-month bag of trouble for the entire world, President Trump's monumental efforts of good intentions notwithstanding.

Just looking at a few topics of recent interest which I did not explore in depth, I'm already feeling  doubtful.  For instance:

Activists want to abolish honors classes for students, claiming racism and white supremacy; a school district insists upon implementing mandatory busing despite almost unanimous opposition by parents whose kids would be bused -- and immigrants from communist countries living in the community see this as one more step toward the communism they escaped.

If anybody had fun in Ukraine, it was the Obama administration, according to Ukraine officials.  And once again, a student found his graded assignment paper scribbled with anti-conservative notes and accusations of racism by his smarter-than-anybody-else teacher.

New studies indicate what everybody should have known long ago:  Computer screen time is changing children's brains, and we don't think that means for the better.  More?  It's apparently fashionable for students to boycott college English classes, calling them racist and just too darned white.

Stories of this nature are rivaled by so many others, and I ask -- if the United States hadn't been held (legally, I'll admit) hostage by the Obama folk for eight years of national weakness, would China, Russia, North Korea and Iran be so far advanced in weaponry pointed toward and intended for our direction?  We would probably learn a very, very hard lesson, but for Donald Trump.  Unfortunately, we can't negotiate through a world of monsters abroad with sprigs of niceness and pleasant diplomacy alone, which, I guess, may be some of what colleges, universities and (shudder...) high schools are providing decomposed student minds these days.

Happy 2020?  We'll see about that.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Richard Case Dies at 84 -- Covered 1965 N.E. Power Blackout UFO Reports

As a teenager in the summer of 1965, carefully gathering regional reports for the private national UFO research/investigative organizations APRO and NICAP (both long gone now, their history kept alive via Internet sources), seeing my first newspaper letter-to-the-editor about the UFO subject seemed an almost magical experience.  I also discovered considerable interest among the public in general, because just days later I was invited to appear as a guest on a radio talk show -- and then invited back soon thereafter.  So what could go wrong?  How could anybody know that just months later, as the phrase goes, all hell would break loose?

November ushered a chill into the air over Northeastern U.S. states, and I had barely turned 17 when, on the now infamous date of November 9, 1965 a cascading and ultimately total electrical blackout quickly took out the power grid covering a good portion of the Northeastern United States.  The event was brief, consuming only a few hours, but accompanied far and wide by the last phenomenon anyone might expect:  UFO reports, by the hundreds, maybe numbering in the thousands when one contemplates reports not reported publicly.

National news sources and wire services buzzed and hummed with personal accounts of lives disrupted by power failures as hours dragged on afterwards, and among the chatter came people's revelations of encounters with strange lights and perhaps objects in the sky observed just prior to, during and right after the blackout.

Almost nowhere was this multiple witness effect more prominent than in Central New York, where all variety of sighting reports accumulated.  Were UFOs involved -- or was there a simple explanation for UFO-like reports encompassing all affected Northeastern states?

Quickly aware that something newsworthy beyond the blackout itself may be afoot, reporters for the Syracuse Herald-Journal and Syracuse Herald-American (now defunct, their resources incorporated into the remaining Syracuse Post-Standard) including Joseph Ganley, Robert Haggart and Richard G. Case went to work straight away interviewing witnesses and piecing Central NY's slice of the story together.

After initial stories received top billing in the Central NY dailies, successive reports were accomplished by Richard Case himself, and at some point I was in contact with him about the potential UFO aspect of what soon became known as "The Great Northeastern U.S. Power Failure."  I had already been in telephone discussions with Richard Hall, then assistant director of the Washington, D.C. UFO organization NICAP (see link in link list for history), as NICAP was obviously interested in the event, and in between fielding numerous phone calls from anxious witnesses to weird things seemingly occurring in conjunction with the blackout I met with Dick Case, some 13 years my senior, at the newspaper offices on a weekend afternoon to go over reports, maps and whatever other bits and pieces had accumulated regarding strange observations.

(Amidst all of this, I had been in contact with a power company official who promised that he might be able to offer some very important information regarding the blackout and UFO observations, but the deal was that he "might."  Subsequently, for reasons never disclosed to me, I was left clueless.)

Nevertheless, when you're 17 and your notes and interest in the UFO topic are suddenly being regarded seriously and not ridiculed by a member of the working press, that's something to behold.  Case, a military veteran who would go on in later years to pen a regular newspaper column, write several books, explore historical events and win awards for his work turned out several articles in the Syracuse newspapers about the blackout's witnesses to the strange, the unusual, the unidentified and, in some cases, mistaken sightings perhaps innocently solved.

As decades elapsed since The Great Northeastern Power Failure, calming explanations for what happened and how it all went down -- sans UFOs -- have almost been set in stone by "the authorities" and we can read all about the UFO aspect via Internet sources, but of course some of us will continue to wonder.

And Dick Case?  It was almost comedic how months or a year would pass and suddenly I would be contacted by a formerly unknown witness to a strange sighting during the blackout, somebody who had contacted Dick Case initially.   Then there would be weeks and months of silence until another Case-induced phone call would dribble in.

Blackouts aside, Case continued to write articles, when warranted, about other peculiar events involving Central NY and his remarkable sense of history served us all well.

Over the years, I've occasionally run across articles or books that reference the Central NY blackout/UFO newspaper stories, and one can thank Haggart, Ganley and particularly Dick Case for chronicling the story behind the story in these instances.
In 1968, long after the blackout, the late atmospheric physicist and UFO proponent Dr. James E. McDonald spoke before Congress and briefly expressed concern about the blackout's implications as they may relate to UFO activity (his congressional testimony may be found online).  I've little doubt that valuable documentation such as that gleaned by Dick Case had been soberly regarded by McDonald as he warned Congress (for better or worse) of things we should not dismiss so casually.

My last contact with Dick Case occurred several years ago, while he was still writing a regular newspaper column about Central NY events.  The subject matter isn't important now, just suffice it to say that I had sent him a brief note augmenting a radio broadcast issue he had raised.  He kindly inserted my comment with a name credit, and that was that.

Dick Case was another of the "old school" newspaper journalists who vanish before our eyes much too soon and far too abundantly.  Will Case be missed?  I expect he was missed long before he was even gone, and that's high tribute.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Nancy Pelosi, Vampire Hunter

The woman in black.  Was this Nancy Pelosi at Folsom Prison?  No, she wielded no guitar as she steadied her position on a perch before the House of Representatives.

At the very least, I expected a giant cross, wooden stake and hammer accompanying the woman in black, for if one attires oneself for a possible somber vampire-tracking occasion, proper tools are essential.  Yet, I wondered, do vampires populate any corner of the House?  Probably not -- though monsters aplenty of every pedigree likely hang out there.

Whatever possessed (maybe for real) Pelosi, her Catholic/black/sober judge and executioner/maudlin outfit of the day simply added to the other-worldliness of the whole House affair, and if her intent was to stake somebody through the heart, she certainly assumed the appearance.

Alas, no vampires would be staked as votes to impeach President Trump were called, but still the woman in black maintained a posture and mood suitable for hanging witches acquired during a witch hunt -- wavering only when she needed to tell voting members to can their cheers and laughter after achieving passage of each article of impeachment.

And there they were, a House full of Democrats beaming with pride over this latest attempt -- one of several -- to both blame and cancel out the votes of those who voted for Trump.  By hook or by crook, by George, they would have their way and nobody will stop them.

From the start, the Democrats' long-desired impeachment process was flawed, lorded over by Schiff, Nadler and other legal incompetents best suited to chase ambulances stalled in traffic.  The cherry on the cake is Speaker Pelosi's obvious yet mistaken belief that she has some power over what the Senate will do once the House's bungling articles of impeachment likely receive higher scrutiny and eventual dismissal in any number of ways.

I'm an Independent voter.  I voted for one Democrat last month because the Republican challenger acted the fool.  I also voted for Donald Trump, and I sure don't appreciate a political party attempting to nullify my vote simply because they despise candidate Trump.  The Democrats, born among the Ku Klux Klan and other ills and long dedicated to no civil rights for black people (among other faults), have suffered for decades from a we're-smarter-than-you attitude, disturbingly confident that big government knows better than easily dismissible people foolishly endowed with a belief that individual rights come first.  The Democrats praise their democracy, but we'll pretty much never find them using the term, democratic republic.

Both major bloated political sides have their faults, and I often long for a day when candidates, devoid of political party baggage, can clearly set out their agendas in depth. Unfortunately, too many voters are too lazy to find out for what and for whom they are voting.  Regrettably, an uncomfortable number seem perfectly willing to allow scam impeachments, rather than the voting process, super powers.

A day after the vampire-hunting woman in black stood before the House, she returned chameleon-like, disguised as the lady in red.  Did red mean a war-like readiness to battle onward as she and windmills tilted toward one another?  Embarrassment? Had the woman in black become a lady in crimson to denote blood, as in the blood consumed by the carnivorous actions of a leech?  Or did the lady in red fancy herself a red pen empowered to give the U.S. Senate a premature failing grade?