Monday, October 27, 2008

First vs. Fair

Uh huh, okay, so Great Britain released more UFO files and some of the contents sparkle. Naturally, neither GB nor the USA has any additional documentation whatsoever regarding that most-touted military pilot almost-shot-a-UFO-down case from 1957. The specifics and particulars never seem to be in (accessible) government files. We in the states continue to wait for our own government to release an extensive array of UFO files. Hurry up and wait, that's still a favorite phrase in the military.
In the meantime, I've been casting a jaundiced eye toward Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), both of whom currently conspire to reintroduce "The Fairness Doctrine," not only to TV and radio broadcasts, but apparently, as something brand spanking new and probably with a less intimidating name, to the Internet as well.

I must say, where UFOs are concerned we already have a fairness doctrine of sorts because almost every time a UFO researcher or investigator appears on some broadcast to champion the subject, equal time or something beyond equal time is awarded by broadcasters to the skeptics or, more likely, the debunkers so they can jump in to ridicule all things UFO with their generally baseless proclamations and rants. To the dismissive folks, verbalizing the tools of science to destroy that which cries out for science just constitutes another day.
Few seem to notice anymore, but we in the USA have something called the First Amendment. Unlike other nations whose dictators and vicious ruling thugs arbitrarily have people killed merely for speaking the wrong words, Americans are guaranteed the right to speak out about all sides of issues. Need I say, a lot of military people died to assure that right.
That's why I'm more than uncomfortable now watching Congress and the FCC in cahoots with one another to once again make us eat a "Fairness Doctrine," a tidy little agreement to assure that all sides of a subject receive representation on radio, TV and, I presume, the Internet (the FCC chairman himself mentioned the Internet recently). Some polls seem to indicate that most Americans desire significant "fairness" changes in media.
My thinking may be terribly flawed, but last time I looked the First Amendment was still kicking about and there remain all manner of outlets where every side of an issue can be aired. I suspect that much of the opposition comes from people who believe Rush Limbaugh and a stable of conservative talk show hosts grab the microphones and selfishly hide them from others with opposing views. Of course, that's nonsense. Radio listeners and TV viewers themselves decide what mode of entertainment or news they desire and they support the all-important sponsor advertising in kind.
As an independent voter, I used to condemn the conservs heartily for the power I imagined they wielded, especially in radio broadcasts, but eventually I realized that, for better or worse, Limbaugh and the rest really did save AM radio from oblivion. Some of you might not like this, but the truth is that I'm all for saving any and all forms of expression. If we have to put up with Limbaugh and others pushing an agenda 24/7 that's just fine because, if we search around, we can easily find other media avenues which offer opposing views. Substantiation of this recognized freedom will become crystal clear if the Democrats win big on Election Day, thus proving that conservative talk show hosts don't hold that much influence and are not to be feared. But -- restrain, shut them up or choke their voices off via the legislated institution of political gang-mentality "fairness" visions? Never. That's what fascist governments do, and we need to fight the urge of politicians-- they, who allegedly serve us -- who stalk the U.S. Constitution with homicidal "fairness" intentions. The best of intentions.
The political system we once embraced has corrupted beyond our wildest dreams, but beware new horizons. Who can we trust? What do we know? For example, I was throwing the term, greenhouse effect all over the place in the early eighties, but now we're all so concerned with global warming that we aren't even paying necessary attention to the growing list of international scientists telling us we're dead wrong. Is there global warming, or are we experiencing a natural cycle in the earth's climate change? What about the discovery that "global warming" is/was concurrently occurring on Mars, a planet over which humans have no climate influence (oops, that is, not yet)? Do we believe politicians or scientists? I'll choose the latter, thank you, but I'll keep an open mind as the evidence surfaces either way.
The country is in turmoil right now on several fronts. The Fairness Doctrine is one of the most evil tools a free society could ever institute, especially now when we need free, open and unobstructed expression more than ever. I'll even listen to pure crazy on the radio, it can't be any worse than the poop Congress and the President are dragging us through. But for my government to promise legislation to assure "fairness" at this point is nonsense. Our national government as it currently stands has screwed up beyond belief, and we and your offspring will pay the price for generations to come. The nation sizzles, darned nearly a flaming wreck, and all our officials can do is fiddle around and come up with massive economic bailouts and cutesy little adornments such as The Fairness Doctrine. The enforcement of badly required integrity in Washington would carry far more weight than attempts to tell private broadcast companies and individuals how much they can say before it's somebody else's turn and then somebody else's, etc., etc. The USA electronic media ain't European radio or TV, Jack, and I don't want to mirror Chinese, Russian or Venezuelan broadcasts, either. Let us not, in any way, give the old heave-ho to the First Amendment by throwing its very definition into our potential national flaming wreck like an accelerant.
National elections draw near. Maybe you, like me, are an independent voter, or maybe you belong to the Republican Party, the Democrat Party or the Vampire Party (I borrowed that one from NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live" -- maybe I like it because the designation seems to exemplify political affiliations). Whatever your political persuasion, as soon as the games are over and the chosen have assumed or resumed their places in government from coast to coast, I ask that my readers e-mail or, even better, write letters to your own representatives. Tell them, plainly and kindly, that we don't need a fairness doctrine or anything else to interfere with free speech. And, above all, tell 'em to keep their hands off our Internet. Some influential members of Congress are itching to gain more and more control over the Net and, in fact, they've already had many personal wishes granted by allowing the big communications players to assume an uncomfortable level of control. The FCC aims to oblige -- the same FCC whose original responsibilities involved assigning broadcast airwave locations and little more; the same FCC which now enforces broadcast morality and other goals using legal intimidation (however, thankfully, that didn't work out to the commission's benefit when it undertook big-brother tactics in that ridiculous CBS-TV/Janet Jackson fiasco).
And, not to be forgotten. . .later on, send another message to your congressional reps. Remind them that we want the truth about UFOs. If other countries can open their files, so should ours. It's supposed to be a new day dawning after the darkness, isn't it? We'll see.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Taking Gary McKinnon for a Little Swim

I've thought a lot about Gary McKinnon recently. You know, he's the 40-something guy in the UK who, to say the least, is rather handy with a computer -- so handy, in fact, that he's to be extradited to the USA for allegedly doing extensive damage to government property here in the states. Said to be under the influence of cannabis as he successfully broke into the supposedly secure computer files of NASA and the U.S. military, McKinnon claims to have uncovered, amongst other things, government photos of real UFOs. I guess UFOs were his primary mission, his reason for conducting a home invasion of sorts in all of this. In the process, apparently a million dollars in damage was accomplished, or so says the U.S. government. Is that all? Good lord, didn't our own homegrown Wall Street terrorists spend years giving us an infinitely more costly economic enema with the help of sleeping congressional overseers and political parties? I digress. I badly need a cigarette right now, but I have none, and I don't smoke anyway. Learning to smoke would waste too much time and today's blog entry would never get finished. I fret too much.

I'm an Air Force veteran. You might suspect that I don't fancy the idea of people in other countries compromising our security, and that's correct, I don't. So, what to do with Mr. McKinnon, as a consequence of his actions? Maybe we could waterboard him -- after all, in his native land he enjoys "surfing" the Web, no? Clever attempt at humor there, didn't work out well.

As you read this, there are people all over the world attempting to access U.S. government computers for the sole purpose of causing mayhem tilted toward their own interests.. They're in North Korea, Russia, China, Iran -- you know, all the usual places and more than a few unusual ones. Obviously, U.S. computer hackers do the same spy work, and they deserve our thanks and appreciation for helping to keep us free, for snooping on and deterring forces consistent with pure evil. McKinnon comes to mind.

McKinnon? Gary McKinnon? I don't know. I've heard him speak and I've read his words and, frankly, every time I try to place him in the Pure Evil category I burst out laughing. Yep, he was a naughty one, but a few inescapable things must be noted before a potential government lynching or exposure to the cat-o'-nine tails proceeds.

First of all, the guy is obviously scared to death. He should be, no doubt. He also performed a valuable service to our government by breaking into the house, because his success demonstrated a vulnerability that needed repair by somebody other than whatever U.S. government boobs developed such an easily compromised security system. Who really put us at risk, anyway?

At best, I think, our government and corporate computer systems are protected by cheesecloth; at worst, as the children's storybooks warned, by the emperor's new clothes.

I was raised on typewriters, and well into my adult years when a computer was thrust into my life. I worked for the government at the time and had used trusty IBM Selectric typewriters for years when, suddenly, one of those digital beasts from hell was placed on my desk. The friendly Selectric was confiscated, never to be seen again. I was then given precious little training on the new technology and left to my own devices. I figured out enough on my own to use the computer, but felt increasingly uncomfortable with its intricacies.

"What's the problem?" another employee asked.

"I don't trust this infernal contraption," I replied. "Just look at this thing." "The keyboard is detached from the unit, and whatever you see on the screen isn't really there, it doesn't exist."

"Of course it's all there," she said. "You type characters, just like regular typing, and the results show up on the screen."

"But, " I protested, "let's say I type a page on the computer and then throw a rock through the screen -- everything's gone. Yet, if I use a typewriter, remove the paper, place it on the floor and drop a rock on it, the page remains basically intact. That's real, solid -- the computer just fakes it."

"That's nonsense," she advised. "You can print onto paper anything you type into the computer, and then you can drop your rock on that and it will still be there."

"Yes," I countered with pretend exasperation, "but each keystroke has to go somewhere else before the characters reach the printer. With the Selectric, you hit the key and the element prints a character right before your eyes. On the computer, the detached keyboard requires that you hit the key and then -- where does all of this go before reaching the screen and printer? What form does it take in mid-stream along the way? Where does it go whenever you send the electronic signals here or anywhere? The paper printed by the computer isn't my original document."

As I recall, the woman walked away, shaking her head. I guess I was impossible.

I'll bet Gary McKinnon knows where the electronic impulses go. I'll bet he knows where to put them, where to find them, how to manipulate them and how to make them his best friend. Stack his computer knowledge next to mine, and I look like a babbling infant. Still, I know enough to realize, especially during electronic lapses of national computer security, that our country is protected by Pac-Man impersonators.

In the Air Force, every time I left the base or returned there were military policemen on duty who determined whether or not I posed a threat, vigilant sentries who checked my credentials before allowing me access or exit. Of course, those were the sixties and early seventies, the days of old to some and the days of yore to many. And now we have the wonderful digital era.

Pac-Man's modern generation, more than the human sentries, protects us now. Random collections of digital images supposedly keep us safe. Pixels, mere pixels arranged by experts (a favorite word of mine) do the work, and we depend upon pixels for everything. Little ones and zeros keep us safe, entertained and hypnotized. Pixels are our friends and they're best buddies with the Gary McKinnons of the world, any time of the day or night.

So the U.S. government, my government, insists upon inviting Gary McKinnon to our shores. He didn't want to come and many of his own supporters and government personnel didn't want him to venture in this direction. Never mind, he's coming, and he's coming because the U.S. demanded his presence in order to get an in-your-face accounting of his activities. And the punishment will be dealt. We in the USA have a remarkable capacity for doing good things for the world, but we also relish the bureaucracy of punishment at home. Last I heard, proportionately we have more prisoners locked up than any other nation. Indeed, it might be argued that our prison system feeds on itself. I suspect there are lots of folks who shouldn't be in prison, while lots of people who should be locked up for life are not and never will be. But hey, did I mention Wall Street, Congress or the newly discovered thieving greedy?

In the meantime, our lives are protected by Pac-Man's odd assortment of digital friends. They fly planes, control weapons systems, direct battleships and nuclear facilities, position satellites and play music for us. Still, the music sounded sweeter when it originated from the needle gliding over the record grooves, when we knew we, and not Pac-Man's descendants, were the gods of the needle. We were in control, once upon a time.

Gary McKinnon was in control, too, but not in master control. Surely, he recognizes this now.

Hey, U.S. government, my government-- I have a few words for you: You wanted McKinnon, and you shall have him. I know he's in big trouble, but I'm not sure that he's a "terrorist" or really worth exposure to prison time. Whatever damage he caused, he also whipped our butts and redefined the word, "security" for us, and for that kindness maybe he deserves a debt of gratitude. I also suspect there's just a teeny-tiny bit of sadistic avenging going on here as well, because McKinnon represents, soon by his presence, all the really, really dangerous hackers we can't reach in rogue nations. If you can't hook a whale, the minnow will do. And -- oh, there is one more little thing before I close today.

Ever since I first read about UFOs in the late fifties, and particularly in the early sixties, all I've heard from my government and various military spokesmen is that UFOs represent no threat to our national security. Yet, Mr. McKinnon, this allegedly evil computer monster and potential blood-sucking terror suspect claims to have seen photos of real UFOs in secret government computer files. Sensible public voices might ask, if UFOs are not a national security threat, why in the world would legitimate UFO photos be socked away in secure government files? Hmm. I realize that the U.S. possesses all sorts of weird-looking thingies that fly and go bump in the night that we don't and probably shouldn't know about, so maybe McKinnon actually misrepresented some of that, I don't know.

Chances are, he didn't see images of real UFOs. Then again. . .

My dear, dear government -- you insisted that McKinnon be brought to our soil. That being the case, it is my duty as an American to strongly suggest that the UFO issue play a prominent role in the case against the lad. Gary McKinnon's defense, and I can't imagine what shape that will take, should and must demand as the muck gets tossed around that the UFO issue be addressed. Did he see real UFOs? If so, those photos and all information about them must be released publicly, simply because UFOs represent no threat to our national security. Good grief, I know that phrase better than the alphabet by now.

I enthusiastically urge those defending McKinnon to raise the UFO issue and shout its relevance from the rooftops. Remember, my government went through a diplomatic hissy-fit to get his butt over here, so let the legal chips fall where they must and make triple certain that the 10-ton UFO elephant officially ignored on the living room sofa gets top billing. When all is said and done, legal proceedings might even let Mr. McKinnon return home, though it might make infinitely more sense to hire the guy and learn from him.

So, welcome soon to the United States, Mr. McKinnon, you of the computer geek world where lightning-fast capabilities just helped throw the world into lightning-faster financial chaos -- you of a world both protected and violated by the pixilated relatives of Pac-Man. Will you rock the world if, indeed, the UFO issue is allowed a proper airing? Or, as if by the sheer poetry of voodoo justice, will you simply be gobbled up like a Pac-Man victim?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

1978's UFO Legacy, Congress and Mental Health

Regular readers of this blog know that I previously offered a few entries (see) about UFO activity in New York State during 1978. While my efforts and those of other investigators concentrated in large part upon Central NY, other areas of the state were seemingly engulfed in UFO activity as well.

Thirty years have gone by, and that's a long time. Yet, since starting this blog I've received a persistent trickle of comments from readers about their 1978 UFO sightings in New York. Like the original onslaught of reports, these are not the "I saw a light in the sky" sort of thing," which are truly a dime a dozen and usually mean little or nothing in terms of investigations and explanations. Indeed, no, these range from a possible multiple-witness UFO encounter over a highway with a "missing time" aspect, to a close-up daylight encounter. From what little I know (very little) of the witnesses, these dramatic experiences of three decades' vintage have remained with them, sometimes accompanied by disturbing emotions and thoughts.

I need to say from the outset, by the way, that I respect the anonymity they request and expect.
That's the thing about UFO encounters. There are questions, fears and the hope that somebody will tell you you're not crazy (and heaven help you if some ill-informed medical professional attributes your experience to "sleep paralysis", a hopelessly unfashionable explanation akin, in my opinion, to a nonsensical parlor game played by professional people with too much "missing time" in their own educational experiences). Worse, there are so few outlets, none with adequate funding, for UFO observers to contact. For witnesses involved with possible "missing time" issues, my first suggestion is usually The Intruders Foundation and its founder, Budd Hopkins. For those wishing to get their reports (no matter how old) on file, I would suggest the National UFO Reporting Center (see link) or the Center for UFO Studies (see link), and there are also MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) contacts around the country.

However, despite the extreme dedication expressed by a few private organizations and the numerous individuals supporting their work, we're in the same old sinking boat -- abominable funding, inadequate publicity abilities and, unfortunately, woefully insufficient (that is, zero) open government involvement.

In the previous entry, I posed the ongoing question, where is Congress? Well, now we know where Congress is. After the House followed its first impression and defeated bailout legislation, the Senate got into the act last week and pimped so many bribes and pork into its version that the House, now effectively wined and dined and drunkened by the mere prospect of fiddling away even more of the economy as the nation waits to erupt like Vesuvius, couldn't resist.
So, yes, I still receive the occasional UFO puzzle fragment from 1978, and I'm reminded as recently as last week that a corpuscular governing body so consumed by the greed of itself and others can hardly be expected to see things as they really are. My sympathies are with those who experience disturbing UFO encounters, all the more because there's so little we can do for them under current circumstances.

One little intriguing "bailout" development is Congress's decision to include mental health legislation in the final bill, requiring insurance companies to fund mental health on par with physical health care. I don't know that this was the time or place to attach this issue, with everything else submerged in the glue trap -- not because such care isn't important, and of course it is -- because one can soberly contemplate whether there's too ambitious a goal at some government levels to label a significant amount of the population with mental disorders. Sleep paralysis comes to mind Those words again. Hmm. UFO abduction equals sleep paralysis. It must be true -- didn't we see the concept rehashed via David Muir on ABC-TV's recent UFO rehash-rehash?

With the blessings of our economically catatonic Congress, maybe sleep paralysis can be entered as an explanation for claims of UFO abductions in hospital DSM directories (the DSM comprises loads of numbers assigned to various medical diagnoses so that everybody's medical records can be easily computerized and statistics compiled into charts and graphs that allow the sum total of one person to be based upon the sum total of a lot of everybody else -- thus requiring one's medical treatment to be based not upon being an individual, but based upon what others like that person are being treated with -- and I hasten to add that few who deal with DSMs would agree with that viewpoint, of course). Besides, it sounds s-o-o-o-o official, so medically all-encompassing, so relevant to every aspect of a purported UFO abduction. Sleeeeeeeeeeep par-a-ly-sis. Wow.

Actually, sleep paralysis is already listed in DSM criteria, so throwing the UFO designation in to create even more medical, insurance and government bureaucracy and human cognitive denigration wouldn't be a stretch.
All things considered, I guess maybe it would be easier to label people observing UFOs as disturbed than to provide funding for a proper UFO inquiry. I don't know, but I suspect that filling out the paperwork at a mental institution and officially diagnosing folks with the assistance of one-size-fits-all standards requires far less effort than completing a detailed UFO report form, investigating and asking Congress to address an extraordinary mystery whose implications may already have humbled us all.