Wednesday, January 1, 2020

"Fleshy Mounds" in THE MAILER REVIEW

My new short story "Fleshy Mounds" has just been released in the latest edition of THE MAILER REVIEW (VOLUME 12). 

(Cineastes and Lugosi-heads, take note: My BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE coauthor, Gary D. Rhodes, has a poem entitled "Prisoner's Cinema" published on the page right after my contribution to this very same volume.)

If you're at all interested, you can buy a copy of THE MAILER REVIEW VOLUME 12 right HERE!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Colleges Are Turning Students’ Phones into Surveillance Machines...

What follows is from Drew Harwell's 12-24-19 WASHINGTON POST article entitled "Colleges Are Turning Students’ Phones into Surveillance Machines, Tracking the Locations of Hundreds of Thousands":

When Syracuse University freshmen walk into professor Jeff Rubin’s Introduction to Information Technologies class, seven small Bluetooth beacons hidden around the Grant Auditorium lecture hall connect with an app on their smartphones and boost their “attendance points.”
And when they skip class? The SpotterEDU app sees that, too, logging their absence into a campus database that tracks them over time and can sink their grade. It also alerts Rubin, who later contacts students to ask where they’ve been. His 340-person lecture has never been so full. 

“They want those points,” he said. “They know I’m watching and acting on it. So, behaviorally, they change.”
Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health.
But some professors and education advocates argue that the systems represent a new low in intrusive technology, breaching students’ privacy on a massive scale. The tracking systems, they worry, will infantilize students in the very place where they’re expected to grow into adults, further training them to see surveillance as a normal part of living, whether they like it or not.
“We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?” said Robby Pfeifer, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, which recently began logging the attendance of students connected to the campus’ WiFi network. “Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? … And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?”
This style of surveillance has become just another fact of life for many Americans. A flood of cameras, sensors and microphones, wired to an online backbone, now can measure people’s activity and whereabouts with striking precision, reducing the mess of everyday living into trend lines that companies promise to help optimize.
Americans say in surveys they accept the technology’s encroachment because it often feels like something else: a trade-off of future worries for the immediacy of convenience, comfort and ease. If a tracking system can make students be better, one college adviser said, isn’t that a good thing?
But the perils of increasingly intimate supervision — and the subtle way it can mold how people act — have also led some to worry whether anyone will truly know when all this surveillance has gone too far. “Graduates will be well prepared … to embrace 24/7 government tracking and social credit systems,” one commenter on the Slashdot message board said. “Building technology was a lot more fun before it went all 1984.”
To read Harwell's entire article, click HERE.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Chilean Plane En Route to Antarctica Disappears

From the BBC's 12-10-19 report entitled "Chilean Plane En Route to Antarctica Disappears with 38 on Board":
A military plane with 38 people on board has disappeared en route to Antarctica, Chile's air force says.
The C-130 Hercules transport aircraft took off from Punta Arenas at 16:55 local time (19:55 GMT), and operators lost contact at 18:13 (21:13).
Those missing include 17 crew and 21 passengers.
They were travelling to provide logistical support to a military base on Antarctica's King George Island. A search-and-rescue mission is under way.
Air Force Gen Eduardo Mosqueira told local media that the plane did not activate any distress signal. He said the plane, whose pilot had extensive experience, might have been forced to touch down on water.
An air force statement said that the plane was about 450 miles (725km) into its 770-mile journey when contact was lost, placing it within the Drake Passage. The air force published a map of the plane's last known location on Twitter....

To read the entire report, click HERE. Two days later, the BBC published an update entitled "Chile Missing Plane: No Survivors, Confirms Air Force Chief":
Rescue workers in Chile have found human remains after an air force plane with 38 people on board went missing on Monday.
There were no survivors, said Chilean Air Force head Arturo Merino.
Magallanes Governor José Fernández said relatives of those missing had been informed of the find.
Earlier, Chile's air force said that wreckage had been found floating in the area where the C-130 Hercules cargo plane had last made contact.
It was en route to a military base in the Antarctic.
Mr Merino said the human remains "are most likely to be body parts of those travelling on the C-130".
"The condition of the remains we discovered make it practically impossible that anyone could have survived the plane accident," he added [...].
Three of the passengers were Chilean soldiers, two were civilians employed by engineering and construction firm Inproser, one was a student and the remaining 15 passengers were members of the air force, an official said.
Ignacio Parada had been studying civil chemical engineering at Magallanes University and was heading to the Antarctic base for an internship. His professors described the 24-year-old as "an excellent student". He was particularly interested in renewable energy, he had said recently.
Inproser employees Leonel Cabrera and Jacob Pizarro were going to carry out work on the military base.
The three soldiers who boarded the Hercules plane on Monday were Col Christian Astorquiza, Lt Col Oscar Saavedra and Maj Gen Daniel Ortiz.
There was only one woman on board: 37-year-old geographer Claudia Manzo joined the air force in 2008 and was passionate about remote sensing - obtaining information about areas from a distance by aircraft or satellites.

To read this entire report, click HERE

Supplementary reading:  Sherman Skolnick's  "The Secret History of Airplane Sabotage" Parts 1 through 4.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Mysterious Drones Over Colorado

From Shelly Bradbury's 12-23-19 DENVER POST article entitled "Mysterious Drones Flying Nighttime Patterns Over Northeast Colorado Leave Local Law Enforcement Stumped":

A band of large drones appears to be flying nighttime search patterns over northeast Colorado — and local authorities say they don’t know who’s behind the mysterious aircraft.
The drones, estimated to have six-foot wingspans, have been flying over Phillips and Yuma counties every night for about the last week, Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott said Monday.
The drones stay about 200 feet to 300 feet in the air and fly steadily in squares of about 25 miles, he said. There are at least 17 drones; they emerge each night around 7 p.m. and disappear around 10 p.m., he said.
“They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern,” he said. “They fly one square and then they fly another square.”
The sheriff’s office can’t explain where the drones are coming from or who is flying them. The estimated size and number of drones makes it unlikely that they’re being flown by hobbyists, Undersheriff William Myers said.
The Federal Aviation Administration told the sheriff’s office that it had no information on the drones, and the U.S. Air Force said the aircraft aren’t theirs, Elliott said.
A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration told The Denver Post on Monday that the drones aren’t operated by the agency. A spokesman for the FAA said that agency likely has no information on them. Drone pilots aren’t required to file flight plans, unless they’re flying in controlled airspace, like near an airport.
Officials with the Air Force and the Department of Defense did not immediately return The Post’s requests for comment on the mystery aircraft Monday. U.S. Army Forces Command spokesman John Boyce said Monday he was not aware of any training involving military drones in that area.
To read Bradbury's entire article, click HERE.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Christmas Prisoner Marathon!

Why bother wasting time opening unwanted gifts and swilling eggnog when you could instead be watching Patrick McGoohan's THE PRISONER (1967-1968), the most important television show ever made?

Courtesy of Shout! Factory, every episode of THE PRISONER is available to be seen right HERE!

Back on July 26, 2016, I published a blog post entitled "United Together (or) Everything You Need to Know About Campaign 2016 Can Be Learned from THE PRISONER," in which I wrote the following:

Anyone confused by the blatantly Machiavellian/Orwellian/Huxleyesque machinations on display during this unique campaign season need only watch a single episode of an almost fifty-year-old television show to fully comprehend the peculiarities of the nightmarish dilemma in which we now find ourselves. In 1967 writer/actor/director Patrick McGoohan created The Prisoner, which remains the most prescient drama ever aired on television. The series chronicles the Kafkaesque adventures of a man known only as Number Six (McGoohan) who attempts to resign from his highly sensitive position as a secret agent, and as a result is abducted, held prisoner, and tortured repeatedly by entities unknown.

In light of the surreal overtones of our current campaign season, it's noteworthy to keep in mind that such absurdities are not at all unprecedented in the world of dystopian fiction, The Prisoner being the prime example. Everything you really need to know about Campaign 2016 is embedded in "Free for All," one of the best episodes of the series, in which Number Six is recruited to run for political office in The Village, a fascist island resort where life would appear to be utterly pleasant and utopian, except when one attempts to contradict the party line, speak one's mind, and tell the truth.  

Though I recommend watching all seventeen episodes of The Prisoner, McGoohan himself felt there were only seven essential episodes: "Arrival," "Free for All," "Dance of the Dead," "Checkmate," "The Chimes of Big Ben," "Once Upon a Time," and "Fall Out." McGoohan wrote and directed at least three of these episodes. After absorbing these seven stories, an equally illuminating experience can be had by watching a rare 1977 interview with McGoohan on a Canadian show called The Prisoner Puzzle, in which the actor offers further prescient comments on the real world parallels to his (at that time) ten-year-old allegory.  

United Together.

A Still Tongue Makes A Happy Life. 

Questions Are A Burden To Others; Answers A Prison For Oneself.

Be Seeing You.... 

If you want to get a head start on the imminent PSYOP-madness that will no doubt be the 2020 Presidential election, feel free to spend the holidays indulging in all seventeen episodes of THE PRISONER!

Here's the aforementioned 1977 interview in which McGoohan, in a rare moment of candor, discusses the overarching themes of the series....

THE PRISONER PUZZLE with Patrick McGoohan (1977)

And as a special bonus, watch the late Harlan Ellison introducing the latter episodes of THE PRISONER (i.e., "Hammer into Anvil," Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling," "Living in Harmony," "The Girl Who Was Death," "Once Upon a Time," and "Fall Out"). These segments were originally filmed for a Sci-Fi Channel PRISONER Marathon that aired on Labor Day in 1992....


For further information, read Alan Moore's insights regarding the lasting impact of THE PRISONER in this two-part interview conducted by David Bushman in 2018 (to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of THE PRISONER'S finale)....

Alan Moore Remembers Patrick McGoohan’s “The Prisoner”: Part 1


Alan Moore Remembers Patrick McGoohan’s “The Prisoner,” Part 2

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Invisible Aircraft

What follows is from Brett Tingley's 12-18-19 article entitled "Can The U.S. Military Make An Airplane Invisible To The Naked Eye?": 

From Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet to the cloaking devices used by the Romulans and Klingons of the Star Trek universe, science fiction and popular culture are full of examples of completely invisible flying craft. Despite having its roots in fiction, the act of making an aircraft less visible to the naked eye has been an ongoing, but shadowy area of research and development for both private and military laboratories since the early days of military aviation.

Evading radar systems, infrared sensors, and other sensors is the main strategy behind today’s modern stealthy aircraft, yet the ability to also avoid or delay visual detection remains near the top of the list of strategic aerospace technologies even in an age of increasingly advanced integrated air defense networks.

Being able to detect an aircraft on radar is one thing, and even being able to hear it is another, but the ability to actually see an aircraft remains a huge vulnerability. Tight rules of engagement and the premium placed on using stealth and electronic warfare to penetrate into enemy airspace and even persist there for long periods of time mean that visual detection is still a major Achilles heel of many modern combat aircraft. Thus, the need for the ability to make an aircraft invisible as possible remains as pressing as ever.

While the world has yet to be shown evidence of an "invisible" aircraft or a high-end adaptive aircraft camouflage system that comes close to achieving such a goal, there is more than enough documentation originating from both the Department of Defense and associated private contractors to suggest that these technologies may be very much real....

To read Tingley's entire article, click HERE.