Tag Archives: halloween

War of the Worldviews

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – The Ratmen
Grim Grinning Ghosts – Barenaked Ladies
The Dragon – Vangelis
The War of the Worlds Musical Version – Jeff Wayne
The Horror – RJD2
The Boogie Monster – Gnarls Barkley
Ghost Of Frankenstein – Scientist
Dracula – Gorillaz
Season of the Dead – Gein and the Graverobbers
Haunted House – Lee Oskar

There’s plenty to be frightened of in the real world this Halloween season. Both candidates, in the shameful final debate, expressed their love of drones and Israel‘s war crimes. It wasn’t a debate so much as an agreement.

An Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, sued in Israeli courts to force the release of a planning document  for ‘putting the Palestinians on a diet’ without risking the bad press of mass starvation, and the courts concurred. The document, produced by the Israeli army, appears to be a calculation of how to limit Palestinians’ calories, the Israeli military was actually plotting to keep Palestinians in Gaza (half of them children) permanently on the brink of malnutrition, what health professionals call “food insecurity”. And, it was foreseeable that sometimes they would slip into malnutrition, since not as many trucks were always let in every day as the Israeli army recommended (106 were recommended, but it was often less in the period 2007-2010).

Planning for keeping people on the edge is nearly as bad as planning actually to starve them. And at the same time, both Obama and Romney called for harsher sanctions against Iran, while misleading the American people about a nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

OOOOOH! BE AFRAID!!

Obama, on a recent Daily Show appearance, used the only halfway hard-hitting question (on extending Bush’s illegal wiretapping) to mislead once again:

“The truth is we have modified them and built a legal structure and safeguards in place that weren’t there before on a whole range issues.”

No, the truth is, there’s no indication that the still-active warrantless wiretapping program—a dragnet on millions of innocent Americans’ communications—has significantly changed from the day Obama took office. With regard to the FISA Amendments Act, the Obama Administration has actively opposed all proposed safeguards in Congress, his Administration has been even more aggressive than Bush in trying to prevent warrantless wiretapping victims from having their day in court and has continued building the massive national security infrastructure needed to support it.

The Obama administration is actively opposing any new privacy safeguards or transparency provisions, saying it is their “top priority” to renew it with no changes. He cites State Secrets Privilege, Sovereign Immunity, Secret FISA Court Opinions, and Secret Safeguards.

Via WIRED:

The Obama administration is again arguing that a lawsuit accusing the NSA of vacuuming up Americans’ electronic communications without warrants threatens national security and would expose state secrets if litigated.

“This case may be dismissed on the ground that its very subject matter constitutes a state secret,” the government said (.pdf) in a legal filing in San Francisco federal court.

Brought by the EFF, the case is now four years old and its merits have never been litigated. The civil rights group claims that the major telecoms provided the NSA a warrantless backdoor to the nation’s communication backbone. Despite the government’s protestations that talking about the program would expose national secrets, the program is well-known, well-documented, and as of 2008, partially legalized by a compliant Congress.

Just two weeks ago, the Supreme Court terminated the EFF’s case against the telcos for their participation in the program. The justices declined to review 2008 congressional legislation giving the telcos immunity from being sued for their participation. Congress adopted the law after a federal judge rejected the government’s state-secrets claim.

When Congress passed the law, the EFF targeted the gov instead, accusing it of running a massive dragnet spy operation without warrants. The allegations are based in part on a former AT&T technician who produced internal company documents suggesting that the NSA was surveilling internet traffic from a secret room at an AT&T switching center in San Francisco, and similar facilities around the country.

Via RT:

“Both parties are colluding in denying you your First and Fifth amendment rights under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, and both candidates refuse to discuss this bipartisan assault on civil liberties,” a message posted on the Stop NDAA website reads.

And the rules have been permanently set up by Obama’s overpowered executive branch, that any conservative president that may take office will find himself intrenched in a counterterrorism agenda that includes vague demographic profiling, secret kill lists, and robotic targeted execution. Democrats would rather remain blissfully ignorant of these civil and human rights abuses, and Republicans are drooling over the prospect of getting them for themselves.

Democrats “do not have the foggiest idea what is happening in the White House, and obviously does not care in the slightest, because the person doing it is part of their party.”

Or worse, that supposition that extra-constitutional national security and civil liberties policies are no longer permitted to be part of any “serious” national political discussion.

Luckily, if no one in the United States will step up, the United Nations will.

The United Nations plans to set up a special investigation unit in early 2013 to look at incidents of civilian death in U.S. drone strikes. Speaking Thursday at Harvard Law School, U.N. special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC, who monitors counter-terrorism programs, announced plans for the investigative team, which will be based in Geneva. According to the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “U.N. investigators have been critical ofU.S. ‘extrajudicial executions’ since they began in 2002. The new Geneva-based unit will also look at the legality of the program.”

Emmerson said in his Harvard announcement, “If the relevant states are not willing to establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms … then it may in the last resort be necessary for the U.N. to act.” He noted:

[It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. [U.N. consultant, professor of human rights] Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.

And activist groups like the ACLU, EFF, and Muckrock are continuing the fight against robotic death from above, requesting hundred of public records on surveillance drones.

The very concept is chilling, especially as the drones begin to decide for themselves who to spy on, profile, and kill. And though comparisons may be rife, the thought of hungry alien invaders this Halloween may just have to take a backseat to the reality of unfeeling war machines.

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Alien Intelligence

As a child and adolescent, paranormal threats would frighten and obsess me more than any ghost, vampire, or irrational phobia. The most nightmare-inducing movies for me were the Day the Earth Stood Still, Fire in the Sky, and even Mars Attacks! I was addicted to the X-Files continuity, and to books like Communion by Whitley Streiber. I kept my ear glued to Coast to Coast AM, long before the befuddled yet charming (much like my father) George Noory, during the smoky-voiced Art Bell years, managing to handle ridiculous claims and speculation with both eyebrow-raised incredulity and eager thirst for woo.

Listening to it still, but with an older more skeptical mind, it’s amazing how much hardcore paranormal believers reveal about what exactly is happening in the brain by what they say. A number of them describe alien, ghost, shadow people, and old hag encounters that, regardless of the character in place, are apt illustrations of hypnagogic dreams in action. Numerous callers, and the Mothman Prophecies author Jim Keel, claim that when supernatural forces “notice you noticed them” presumably continue to act out further for that enlightened person’s benefit. They are quite closely describing their own confirmation bias, seeing the very thing they are keyed up to look for, for that very reason. Utilising the mechanism of the brain that builds patterns out of nothing, and holding firmer to their position out of fear of their invested belief being wrong, and rewarded by the childlike part of the brain that endorses mythology, animism, imaginary friends, and religion.

Their conspiratorial-minded community reinforces that they are wiser and more enlightened for having gotten in on the secret(s). Believing their information to be factual and superior, they consider themselves the truly critical-thinking ones, because their minds are open to accept such outlandish claims. Many claim a healthy mixture of open-mindedness and skepticism, and then use this justification to heavily land in the former. Mythology is interesting stuff, and perfectly healthy to delve into, but only when recognized as perfectly false.

How can anyone really be sure that their minds, through various combinations of hypnagogic sleep states, pareidolia, or confirmation bias, aren’t fooling us into supernatural superstition no different than those in the past? Jim Kieth, himself a paranormal investigator, inadvertently revealed some of the weaknesses in his Casebook on the Men in Black, explaining how we have always had some cultural awareness of (as Terence McKenna calls it) “the Other”. Men in Black used to be iterations of Old Scratch, the devil himself, or else the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. Greys used to be any number of various little green men, fairies, goblins, or demons. And if one doesn’t accept the more grandiose implications of a Jungian collective unconscious (used to support a metaphysically telepathic astral plane of nightmarish archetypes), but simply the deeply ingrained set of socio-psychological beliefs, then the disconnects only seem to hurt the credibility of the phenomenon being an external physical force, more than mere mental construct. One can make the argument that these phenomena actually have been observed as a constant but simply described (I would argue, widely) differently. That the inter-dimensional or mystically quantum nature of these objects and beings make them ephemeral spirits, manifesting differently. Even if this is the case, it only lends to the unfalsifiability of the whole matter.

At least with accounts of Bigfoot, the reporting and sightings throughout history are fairly consistent.

What is surprising is that even when skeptics, astronomers, astrobiologists, xenobiologists, and philosophers suppose the existence of alien intelligence, it is usually described as autocratic, organizational, and would probably have mathematically subcategorized our sector. At least partially or wholly integrated with machine, they would be cold telepathic drones, more like one giant organism than many, frightening in their passionless drive to accomplish hive goals. The commensurate measures that led to cellular life growing more diverse, apes to be social climbers, and humans to be the planet’s most winningest species, might certainly have allowed a space-faring race to survive in the perpetuity necessary for interstellar travel. Their motives would be so far removed as to seem malevolent (but in actuality no moreso than the automatic slapping of a mosquito), their technology like the ‘magic’ of Gods, their thoughts unknowable, their abilities seemingly without limit. One thing would be certain, they would have their own limits and needs, beyond our comprehension, but as important to them as ours are to us. It is frighteningly coincidental how this model fits the described greys and their behavior. Listen to any specific person on the matter, however, especially those that receive mental messages from our astrological space brethren, and you’re in for a world of intellectual hurt.

Even the Catholic Church now believes in our brothers from the stars, also saved by the Judeo-Christian God. This may not help either argument much.

The thing is, we’re all on the inside of a false centre looking out at all the things that are when we aren’t even sure what “are” means.

Ultimately, it all comes down to faith. Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard believed that taking that leap of faith (be it a god or love) was ultimately scary and could prove to be wrong, and therefore should take courage. No such evidence could ever be enough to pragmatically justify the kind of total commitment involved in true religious faith or romantic love. Faith involves making that commitment anyway. Kierkegaard thought that to have faith is at the same time to have doubt. So, for example, for one to truly have faith in God, one would also have to doubt one’s beliefs about God; the doubt is the rational part of a person’s thought involved in weighing evidence, without which the faith would have no real substance. In essence, those who try to use science to prove their faith do not have real faith. Faith and scientific method are mutually exclusive. You cannot use phenomena to explain or justify itself, or rely on mostly unreliable witness testimony. Proponents or willing adherents to the supernatural should try like the dickens to falsify their own hypotheses.

This surely works the other way, and die-hard skeptics should explore the evidence of outlandish claims, if for no other reason than it is fun. Similar to theologian Tim Mawson’s claims that atheists should attempt prayer for some period of time, to strengthen their disbelief. Wouldn’t their logic would supersede any patterns of magical thinking? And how would one know which God to try this with? Of course many skeptics would argue that the burden of proof does not lie with those that posit something’s nonexistence.

What interests me most about all this is this; Why is it much more difficult to accept the existence of God or UFOs, than a pig (which you have seen before but are not looking at right now) or Japan (which you may have never directly observed)?

Happy Halloween, everyone!

SOME OF US WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN

10/31/09

As this playlist oozes loud in your headphones, keep a wary eye over your shoulder, blood pulsing tremulously, the words of Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, and Rod Serling tormenting you through yet another sleepless Halloween Night; or, as time is seeming and relative, All-Hallow’s Eve. But as the Strange Land is always a place of buffering nightmares, and with a waxing 92% of a Full Moon, just try to restrain yourself unto the grisly end, hmm?

PLAYLIST
Nero and the Gladiators – The Hall of the Mountain King
Man… Or Astroman? – Munster’s Theme
Demon Fuzz – I Put A Spell On You
Buckethead – Ghost Riders in the Dub
The Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein
Alice Cooper – This House Is Haunted
Christopher Walken – The Raven
Gorillaz – Dracula
Fela Kuti – Zombie
Baron Daemon & The Vampires – Ghost Guitars
The Aquabats! – Monster’s Wedding!
Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre On the Air – War Of The Worlds
Gein and the Graverobbers – Wolfsbane
Cat Power – Werewolf
The Ventures – One Step Beyond (Fear)
Barenaked Ladies – Grim Grinning Ghosts
Hillbilly Hellcats – Ghost Train
The Residents – Creeping Dread
Warren Zevon – Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner

GIANT METALLIC SPIDERS: THE TRUE AND SECRET REASON FOR THE BAY BRIDGE CLOSURES!!

Stranger in a Strange Land 2009-10-31: Sleepless Halloween by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

*insert evil laugh here.

The Devil Made Me Do it

10/31/08

On this most Hallowed of Weens show, things go bump in the night, and hopefully that won’t come across on the mic as I reveal from the inky darkness some of the creepies and most of the crawlies you should be expecting to be breathing hard and slobbering down the back of your neck any minute now. At the very least, they had better not interrupt an otherwise perfectly prepared pumpkin-pie playlist.*

And of course, your calls.

One Step Beyond Fear – The Ventures
Moons And Horror Shows – The Zutons
Dia De Los Muertos – Voodoo Glow Skulls
The Witch Queen Of New Orleans – Redbone
Ghost Town – The Specials
Vampires, Mummies, and the Holy Ghost – Jimmy Buffett
Werewolves of London – Adam Sandler
The Devil Made Me Do It – Gene Anderson
Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask) – Alice Cooper
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
Im-Ho-Tep – Iced Earth
The Living Dead – Phantom Planet
Vampires Will Never Hurt You – My Chemical Romance
Grim Grinning Ghosts – Barenaked Ladies
The Horror – RJD2
Monster Zero – King Geedorah
Morbid – Necro
The Mad Scientist – Large Professor

Stranger in a Strange Land 2008-10-31: Hallowed Ween Show by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
*BOO, bitch!