Sunday, September 13, 2020

Donald Trump Saved Me from Being Eaten By Underground Demons! (Part 5)

SALON has now published the thrilling finale of my five-part QAnon exposé! In this installment, we conclude our analysis of the thinly-disguised QAnon recruitment video Out of Shadows (perhaps the most impactful propaganda film of the past few years), delve into the Jeffrey Epstein mystery, and explain why QAnon is the catfish scheme of all catfish schemes. 

Click HERE for the exciting conclusion: "What Are the True Goals of QAnon? It's the 21st Century's Ultimate Catfish Scheme."

Monday, September 7, 2020

Donald Trump Saved Me from Being Eaten By Underground Demons! (Part 4)

Celebrate this Labor Day by heading on over to SALON and checking out the penultimate chapter of my serialized exposé about QAnon and their topsy-turvy, inside-out, backwards, crooked, mangled, weirdo-skeevo extremist religious beliefs.

In the previous three installments of this series, I chronicled the attempts made by an old friend to convince me of an outlandish conspiracy theory being promoted by the group of rabid online Trump supporters known as “QAnon.” According to my friend, initiates of the Illuminati had teamed up with subterranean demons to torture, rape and eat kidnapped children in underground military bases ruled by the mortal enemies of Donald Trump. He insisted that when Trump is re-elected in November we can all look forward to the abolition of the income tax, the development of “free energy” for all and the public unveiling of thousands of grateful kidnapped children rescued by Trump’s private army of “white hats” from cages squirreled away in these Satanist-controlled underground dungeons. One of the pieces of so-called “evidence” provided by my friend was a YouTube documentary called
Out of Shadows,” which took the internet by storm in April. Perhaps the most impactful propaganda film of the past few years, “Out of Shadows” is a thinly-disguised QAnon recruitment video that mixes small slices of truth with a whole lot of lies to confuse the viewer into believing various bizarre theories promoted by QAnon. In this next installment, we continue our analysis of “Out of Shadows” and take a deep dive into the embryonic or chrysalis form of QAnon known as Pizzagate. Click HERE to read "Decoding QAnon: From Pizzagate to Kanye to Marina Abramovic, This Conspiracy Covers Everything."

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Donald Trump Saved Me from Being Eaten By Underground Demons! (Part 3)

Welcome to Cryptopost #1000! 

SALON has just published Chapter Three of my multipart exposé about the true origins of QAnon: "Making Sense of QAnon: What Lies Behind the Conspiracy Theory That's Eating America?" In the previous two installments of this series, I chronicled the attempts made by an old friend to convince me of an outlandish conspiracy theory being promoted by the group of rabid online Donald Trump supporters known as “QAnon.” According to my friend, initiates of the Illuminati had teamed up with subterranean demons to torture, rape and eat kidnapped children in underground military bases ruled by Trump’s mortal enemies. Not surprisingly, none of the so-called “evidence” provided by my friend proved any such thing. 

In the first two installments we suggested a few notable precedents for the core ideas of the QAnon cult. Now, in Chapter Three, prepare to take a deep dive into the exact sources of QAnon's strange ideas as we analyze a thinly disguised QAnon recruitment video called Out of Shadows (a "documentary" that has received more than eighteen million views since its debut in April), no doubt one of the most impactful propaganda films of 2020.

Click HERE to read "Making Sense of QAnon: What Lies Behind the Conspiracy Theory That's Eating America?"

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Donald Trump Saved Me from Being Eaten By Underground Demons! (Part 2)

SALON has just published Chapter Two of my multipart exposé about the off-the-deep-end, pro-Trump phenomenon known as "QAnon." Curious about the obscure origins of this weird new religion? If you want to know where the QAnon architects are getting their lunatic ideas, click HERE and THRILL to the quasi-pornographic debauchery of such predatory beasties as the subterranean Dero (courtesy of science fiction writer Richard S. Shaver)! SEE a woman shapeshift into a crocodile and play the piano (courtesy of infamous hoaxer Leo Taxil)! REVEL in the demonic Curse of Baphomet (courtesy of evangelical Christian cartoonist Jack T. Chick)! From 1940s pulp science fiction to 19th-century anti-Masonic propaganda, the true inspirations for Operation QAnon are beginning to be exposed in "The Deep, Twisted Roots of QAnon."



Friday, August 21, 2020

FELIX (or) Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators

From Sarah Scoles' 8-4-20 OneZero article entitled "How Do We Know If a Virus Is Bioengineered?":
Almost as soon as the coronavirus appeared in the news, so too did speculation that it was purposefully engineered, the result of experimentation at one of several Wuhan laboratories. The idea that the virus, whether natural or engineered, came from a scientific facility was pushed by some politicians. The White House reportedly pressured spy agencies to look into lab links.
Most scientists agree, based on the virus’s genetics, that it probably hopped from animals to humans. On April 30, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence declared, on behalf of the 17 different organizations that make up the U.S. intelligence community, that “the Covid-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.” The organizations decided to continue investigating two alternatives: the more likely explanation that the virus jumped from an animal to a human, and the more remote possibility that it was a natural virus released in a lab accident, which still hasn’t been ruled out.
So, the U.S.’s spy sector “concurs with the wide scientific consensus,” as the statement put it, that the virus wasn’t created by people. But how did its people come to that conclusion? While the full scope of its investigation isn’t known, one program within the intelligence community, FELIX, did specifically investigate the hypothesis. FELIX’s analysis revealed that the virus hadn’t been engineered using “foreign” genetic sequences, indicating that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was not man-made or engineered using pieces of other organisms.
But detecting “bioengineering” is a fraught task for any organism. Just as there are many ways to determine whether a virus was engineered, there are many ways to engineer a virus, leading to a constant tug of war — and a lot of uncertainty.
FELIX stands for Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators, and it’s run by IARPA, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. IARPA does high-risk research and develops next-next-gen technology under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In 2018, FELIX began funding six external teams to develop tools that can detect the fingerprints of bioengineering. These genetic signs are clear indications that someone messed around with an organism’s genome....


To read Scoles' entire article, click HERE.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Donald Trump Saved Me from Being Eaten By Underground Demons!

SALON has just unleashed Chapter One of my epic, multipart exposé about the Highly Weird, alt-right phenomenon known as "QAnon." Click HERE to read "What Is QAnon?: A Not-so-brief Introduction to the Conspiracy Theory That's Eating America."

Friday, August 14, 2020

Ross Andersen: "The Panopticon Is Already Here"

A few relevant excerpts from Ross Andersen's recent Atlantic article entitled "The Panopticon Is Already Here":

China’s government has a history of using major historical events to introduce and embed surveillance measures. In the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Chinese security services achieved a new level of control over the country’s internet. During China’s coronavirus outbreak, Xi’s government leaned hard on private companies in possession of sensitive personal data. Any emergency data-sharing arrangements made behind closed doors during the pandemic could become permanent.
China already has hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras in place. Xi’s government hopes to soon achieve full video coverage of key public areas. Much of the footage collected by China’s cameras is parsed by algorithms for security threats of one kind or another. In the near future, every person who enters a public space could be identified, instantly, by AI matching them to an ocean of personal data, including their every text communication, and their body’s one-of-a-kind protein-construction schema. In time, algorithms will be able to string together data points from a broad range of sources—travel records, friends and associates, reading habits, purchases—to predict political resistance before it happens. China’s government could soon achieve an unprecedented political stranglehold on more than 1 billion people.
Early in the coronavirus outbreak, China’s citizens were subjected to a form of risk scoring. An algorithm assigned people a color code—green, yellow, or red—that determined their ability to take transit or enter buildings in China’s megacities. In a sophisticated digital system of social control, codes like these could be used to score a person’s perceived political pliancy as well.

A crude version of such a system is already in operation in China’s northwestern territory of Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Muslim Uighurs have been imprisoned, the largest internment of an ethnic-religious minority since the fall of the Third Reich. Once Xi perfects this system in Xinjiang, no technological limitations will prevent him from extending AI surveillance across China. He could also export it beyond the country’s borders, entrenching the power of a whole generation of autocrats.
China has recently embarked on a number of ambitious infrastructure projects abroad—megacity construction, high-speed rail networks, not to mention the country’s much-vaunted Belt and Road Initiative. But these won’t reshape history like China’s digital infrastructure, which could shift the balance of power between the individual and the state worldwide [...].
Despite China’s considerable strides, industry analysts expect America to retain its current AI lead for another decade at least. But this is cold comfort: China is already developing powerful new surveillance tools, and exporting them to dozens of the world’s actual and would-be autocracies. Over the next few years, those technologies will be refined and integrated into all-encompassing surveillance systems that dictators can plug and play.
To read Andersen's entire article, click HERE.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Susan Ellison, R.I.P. (1960-2020)

What follows is from Mark Evanier's 8-3-20 NEWS FROM ME blog post:

As if we didn't have enough sad news coming at us these days, we've just heard that Susan Ellison, widow of Harlan Ellison, passed away in her sleep last night. We lost Harlan in June of 2018… and now this.

Read Evanier's entire post HERE.

From Neil Gaiman's 8-5-20 blog post entitled "Susan Ellison--RIP AND LOVE":

I met Harlan Ellison the day before his wife, Susan, met him, in 1985, in Glasgow. I interviewed him. I didn't get to meet Susan until 1989, when I went to see Harlan in LA. She and I became friends incredibly fast. She was the most direct person I knew. Our first actual conversation, while Harlan was answering a phone, began with her saying, "So. I know you're a writer. I don't know anything else about you. Gay or straight? Married or unmarried? Children or no children? Who are you?" and so I told her everything I could think of, and I kept answering her questions for the next 31 years.

Read Gaiman's entire post HERE.

From J. Michael Straczynski's 8-3-20 Facebook post:

Ellison Wonderland is now quieter than before: the vast, high-ceilinged office where Harlan did his writing, the pool table beneath Stadium-level speakers, the secret rooms that once helped hide Vietnam war objectors on the run to Canada, the toys and the meticulously painted figurines, and the room that was built just to hold all the mugs he had collected…the stacks of awards and manuscripts and tens of thousands (yes you read that number right) of books carefully and lovingly maintained and read and honored.

The rooms remember being filled with love and music and important conversations about trivial things and trivial conversations about important things, and laughter, and the living souls of Susan and Harlan Ellison, who together brought something ineffably beautiful into the world.

And now they are gone.

And I have no words that will tell you what that really, truly means.

Harlan's words stand alone.


Read Straczynski's entire post HERE.

In 1993, Ellison collaborated on a collection of 33 exquisite short stories inspired by the paintings of Polish surrealist Jacek Yerka. This book, MIND FIELDS, included a story entitled "Susan" (which was included in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's YEAR'S BEST FANTASY & HORROR: SEVENTH ANNUAL COLLECTION). Read the entirety of "Susan" HERE.


Susan Ellison's 8-4-20 LOCUS MAGAZINE obituary can be found HERE.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Greg Bishop DJ's Over Three Hours of UFO Music on STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Recommended listening: For the past few years, Fortean writer Greg Bishop (with whom I appeared on the 8-26-19 episode of Adam Sayne's CONSPIRINORMAL) has been hosting the WFMU radio show STOP HITTING YOURSELF. Bishop describes the content of the show as "Weird and wonderful sounds from outsider to weird covers and occasionally painful stuff from the Golden Age Of Stupidity." Since the show's debut in October of 2018, Bishop has devoted three episodes to UFO-themed music. You can listen to all three of these shows by clicking on the links below....

STOP HITTING YOURSELF: UFO SHOW #1 (11-12-18).

STOP HITTING YOURSELF: UFO SHOW #2 (12-3-18).

STOP HITTING YOURSELF: UFO SHOW #3 (7-27-20).



Monday, July 27, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security Attempts to Explain the Portland Van Video

What follow are the first few paragraphs of Andrew Crespo's 7-25-20 Lawfare blog post entitled "Unpacking DHS’s Troubling Explanation of the Portland Van Video":

Over the past few days, millions of people have seen a now-viral video in which two federal agents dressed in full combat gear removed an apparently peaceful protester from the streets of Portland, Ore., and carried him away in an unmarked van. Stories have emerged of other people being taken or pursued by federal agents in a similar fashion. Meanwhile, troubling videos show federal agents in Portland beating a peacefully resolute U.S. Navy veteran and, on a separate occasion, shooting a man in the face with a nonlethal munition, which broke his skull.

As criticism of these events rolled in—including from virtually every relevant state and local official in Oregon—the Department of Homeland Security scheduled a press conference earlier this week to try to reclaim the narrative. If the point of that press conference was to reassure an anxious nation that this unfamiliar and recently constituted federal police force is following the law, it likely achieved the opposite effect.

In particular, there is a two-minute segment of the press conference that is both revealing and highly disturbing. It shows that one of the top commanders of this new paramilitary federal police force—Kris Cline, Deputy Director of the Federal Protective Service—apparently does not know what the word “arrest” means. To say as much might seem like harping on semantics or, worse, like picking on Cline for speaking inartfully. But it is absolutely critical to unpack and examine Cline’s words—because the word arrest is one of the most important words in the constitutional law of policing.

Simply put, for an arrest to be constitutional it must be supported by probable cause. This means that the arresting officer must be able to point to specific facts that would cause a reasonable officer to believe that the person being arrested has committed a specific crime. If, on the other hand, the police have not arrested someone but have instead conducted only a brief investigatory stop, they need substantially less proof that the target of their attention is engaged in criminal activity. And if the police initiate instead what is often termed a consensual contact—as would occur if, say, a uniformed officer walked up to you and said, “hey, I want to ask you some questions”—well, in that case the Fourth Amendment simply does not apply, which means the officer does not need to have any reason to approach you.

Arrests, stops and contacts carve up the universe of police-civilian interactions in the United States. So, when I say that Deputy Director Cline does not appear to know what the word “arrest” means, what I am really saying is that he does not know where the basic and essential legal lines are that mark the bounds of his agency’s lawful authority. That is a problem.

This post expands on a Twitter thread I wrote earlier this week. It is a deep dive into the critical two-minutes of the DHS press conference, during which Cline made a series of comments that lead to only one of two possible conclusions: Cline does not know what the word “arrest” means. Or, if he does, he thinks no one will call him out for saying something that is patently untrue. Either way, he is wrong.

To read the entire blog post, click HERE.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit

From Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean's 7-23-20 New York Times article entitled "No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public":

Mr. [Harry] Reid, the former Democratic senator from Nevada who pushed for funding the earlier U.F.O. program when he was the majority leader, said he believed that crashes of objects of unknown origin may have occurred and that retrieved materials should be studied.

“After looking into this, I came to the conclusion that there were reports — some were substantive, some not so substantive — that there were actual materials that the government and the private sector had in their possession,” Mr. Reid said in an interview.

No crash artifacts have been publicly produced for independent verification. Some retrieved objects, such as unusual metallic fragments, were later identified from laboratory studies as man-made. 

Eric W. Davis, an astrophysicist who worked as a subcontractor and then a consultant for the Pentagon U.F.O. program since 2007, said that, in some cases, examination of the materials had so far failed to determine their source and led him to conclude, “We couldn’t make it ourselves.”

The constraints on discussing classified programs — and the ambiguity of information cited in unclassified slides from the briefings — have put officials who have studied U.F.O.s in the position of stating their views without presenting any hard evidence.

Mr. Davis, who now works for Aerospace Corporation, a defense contractor, said he gave a classified briefing to a Defense Department agency as recently as March about retrievals from “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.”

Mr. Davis said he also gave classified briefings on retrievals of unexplained objects to staff members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 21, 2019, and to staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee two days later.

Committee staff members did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.

To read the entire article, click HERE.


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Unconstitutionally Detaining Protesters

From Katie Shepherd's 7-17-20 Washington Post article entitled "‘It Was Like Being Preyed Upon’: Portland Protesters Say Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Detaining Them":

When several men in green military fatigues and generic “police” patches sprang out of an unmarked gray minivan in front of Mark Pettibone in the early hours of Wednesday morning, his first instinct was to run.

He did not know whether the men were police or far-right extremists, who frequently don militarylike outfits and harass left-leaning protesters in Portland, Ore. The 29-year-old resident said he made it about a half-block before he realized there would be no escape.

Then, he sank to his knees, hands in the air.

“I was terrified,” Pettibone told The Washington Post. “It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.”

He was detained and searched. One man asked him if he had any weapons; he did not. They drove him to the federal courthouse and placed him in a holding cell. Two officers eventually returned to read his Miranda rights and ask if he would waive those rights to answer a few questions; he did not.

And almost as suddenly as they had grabbed him off the street, the men let him go.

Pettibone said he still does not know who arrested him or whether what happened to him legally qualifies as an arrest. The federal officers who snatched him off the street as he was walking home from a peaceful protest did not tell him why he had been detained or provide him any record of an arrest, he told The Post. As far as he knows, he has not been charged with any crimes.

His detention, which was first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, and videos of similar actions by federal officials driving around Portland in unmarked cars have raised alarm bells for many. Legal scholars questioned whether the detentions pass constitutional muster.

“Arrests require probable cause that a federal crime had been committed, that is, specific information indicating that the person likely committed a federal offense, or a fair probability that the person committed a federal offense,” Orin Kerr, a professor at University of California at Berkeley Law School, told The Post. “If the agents are grabbing people because they may have been involved in protests, that’s not probable cause.”

Federal officers from the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security have stormed Portland’s streets as part of President Trump’s promised strong response to ongoing protests. Local leaders expressed alarm at news of Pettibone’s detention and echoed calls for the feds to leave that have grown stronger since Marshals Service officers severely wounded a peaceful protester on Saturday.

“A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump’s secret police,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote in a Thursday tweet that also called out acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf. “Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.”

Civil rights advocates suggested the Trump administration is testing the limits of its executive power.

“I think Portland is a test case,” Zakir Khan, a spokesman for the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Post. “They want to see what they can get away with before launching into other parts of the country.”

Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, called the recent arrests “flat-out unconstitutional” in a statement shared with The Post.

“Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping,” Carson said. “Protesters in Portland have been shot in the head, swept away in unmarked cars, and repeatedly tear-gassed by uninvited and unwelcome federal agents. We won’t rest until they are gone.”

To read Shepherd's entire article, click HERE.

Friday, July 17, 2020

HHS Protect, Palantir, and Peter Thiel

From Hilary Brueck's 7-16-20 Business Insider article entitled "The Trump Administration Just Pulled Coronavirus Data Out of the CDC's Hands, and It Means Americans Can't See Where Hospital Beds Are Filled":
On Wednesday, hospitals across the country abruptly stopped telling the US Centers for Disease Control how many beds they have available, and how many are filling up with coronavirus patients. 
The Trump administration's Department of Health and Human Services, the arm of the federal government that oversees the CDC, will now keep data in a more secretive, newer database built with private contractors, called HHS Protect, instead of sending such information directly to the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) [...].
HHS is contracting with private companies on the project, including Palantir, a software company cofounded by investor and Trump associate Peter Thiel, and Pittsburgh-based health system software company TeleTracking.
To read Brueck's entire article, click HERE.

To read previous Cryptoscatology posts about Palantir and Peter Thiel, click HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Bari Weiss Resigns from New York Times

From Elahe Izadi and Jeremy Barr's 7-14-20 Washington Post article entitled "Bari Weiss Resigns from New York Times, Says ‘Twitter Has Become Its Ultimate Editor’":

New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, who attracted considerable controversy both internally and externally, resigned from the newspaper this week, the company confirmed Tuesday.
In a lengthy note about her Monday departure, Weiss criticized the Times for caving to the whims of critics on Twitter and for not standing up for her after she said she was “bullied” by Times staffers.
“The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people,” she wrote. “Nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back.”
To read Izadi and Barr's entire article, click HERE.

What follows is a brief excerpt from Weiss' resignation letter:

...the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative...

Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.

To read Weiss' entire letter, click HERE.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The National Counterterrorism Center

From Betsy Woodruff Swan's 7-9-20 Politico article entitled "A Top Terrorism Fighter’s Dire Warning":

America’s intelligence agencies risk slipping back into dangerous pre-9/11 habits, a recently departed top counterterrorism official is warning in his first public remarks on the matter.

Russell Travers, former head of the U.S. government’s hub for analysis of counterterrorism intelligence, was so alarmed that he shared his concerns with the intelligence community’s top internal watchdog in his final weeks on the job.

“I think there are really important questions that need to be addressed, and I don’t think they have been thus far,” said Travers, who ran the National Counterterrorism Center until March of this year. “And that has me worried, because I do think we could very easily end up back where we were 20 years ago.”

Travers detailed his concerns, much of which remain highly classified, to the intelligence community’s inspector general. About a week later, he was summarily ousted, he says — and the Trump administration official who fired him didn’t explain why [...].

The National Counterterrorism Center was set up to solve a gaping problem the Sept. 11 attacks had revealed all too painfully: U.S. agencies weren’t good about sharing information with one another. Bits of intelligence weren’t always in the right hands. Dots weren’t getting connected. By analyzing intelligence on terror threats at a central hub, the thinking went, potential attacks could be foiled before they happened [...].

Travers, a veteran intelligence officer with decades of experience who helped set up NCTC’s predecessor organization in 2003, temporarily helmed the center for all of 2018. Then he took the reins there again in August 2019, at a moment of immense tumult for the intelligence community [...].

“I do think this community is too big, and it’s got to get smaller,” [Travers] said, referring to the counterterrorism enterprise. “The question is, how do you do that?” [...]

“Russ is absolutely right to point out that it is past time for a reckoning of resource allocation across the Intelligence Community when it comes to terrorism and counterterrorism,” said Nick Rasmussen, a former NCTC director. “There’s no doubt that there is room for rationalization and elimination of duplication and redundancy.”

To read Swan's entire article, click HERE.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

"SILENCED IN A NEW WAY": HARPER'S MAGAZINE'S "A LETTER ON JUSTICE AND OPEN DEBATE"

What follows is the first paragraph of HARPER'S MAGAZINE'S "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" (7-7-20):

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides....

To read the entire letter, click HERE.

What follow are relevant excerpt from Jennifer Schuessler and Elizabeth A. Harris' 7-7-20 NEW YORK TIMES article entitled "Artists and Writers Warn of an ‘Intolerant Climate.’ Reaction Is Swift.":

The letter, which was published by Harper’s Magazine and will also appear in several leading international publications, surfaces a debate that has been going on privately in newsrooms, universities and publishing houses that have been navigating demands for diversity and inclusion, while also asking which demands — and the social media dynamics that propel them — go too far [...].

The debate over diversity, free expression and the limits of acceptable opinion is a long-burning one. But the letter, which was spearheaded by the writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, began taking shape about a month ago, as part of a long-running conversation about these issues with a small group of writers including the historian David Greenberg, the writer Mark Lilla and the journalists Robert Worth and George Packer.

Mr. Williams, a columnist for Harper’s and contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, said that initially, there was concern over timing.

“We didn’t want to be seen as reacting to the protests we believe are in response to egregious abuses by the police,” he said. “But for some time, there’s been a mood all of us have been quite concerned with.”

He said there wasn’t one particular incident that provoked the letter. But he did cite several recent ones, including the resignation of more than half the board of the National Book Critics Circle over its statement supporting Black Lives Matter, a similar blowup at the Poetry Foundation, and the case of David Shor, a data analyst at a consulting firm who was fired after he tweeted about academic research linking looting and vandalism by protesters to Richard Nixon’s 1968 electoral victory.
Such incidents, Mr. Williams said, both fueled and echoed what he called the far greater and more dangerous “illiberalism” of President Trump.

“Donald Trump is the Canceler in Chief,” he said. “But the correction of Trump’s abuses cannot become an overcorrection that stifles the principles we believe in.”

Mr. Williams said the letter was very much a crowdsourced effort, with about 20 people contributing language. Then it was circulated more broadly for signatures, in what he describes as a process that was both “organic” and aimed at getting a group that was maximally diverse politically, racially and otherwise.

“We’re not just a bunch of old white guys sitting around writing this letter,” Mr. Williams, who is African-American, said. “It includes plenty of Black thinkers, Muslim thinkers, Jewish thinkers, people who are trans and gay, old and young, right wing and left wing.”

“We believe these are values that are widespread and shared, and we wanted the list to reflect that,” he said.

Signatories include the leftist Noam Chomsky and the neoconservative Francis Fukuyama. There are also figures associated with the traditional defense of free speech, including Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as some outspoken critics of political correctness on campuses, including the linguist Steven Pinker and the psychologist Jonathan Haidt.
The signers also include some figures who have lost positions amid controversies, including Ian Buruma, the former editor of the New York Review of Books, and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., a Harvard Law School professor who left his position as faculty dean of an undergraduate residence amid protests over his legal defense of Harvey Weinstein.

There are also some leading Black intellectuals, including the historian Nell Irvin Painter, the poets Reginald Dwayne Betts and Gregory Pardlo, and the linguist John McWhorter. And there are a number of journalists, including several opinion columnists for The New York Times [...].

[...] Mr. Betts, the director of the Million Books Project, a new effort aimed at getting book collections to more than 1,000 prisons, was unfazed by the variety of signers.

“I’m rolling with people I wouldn’t normally be in a room with,” he said. “But you need to concede that what’s in the letter is worthy of some thought.”

He said that as someone who had spent more than eight years in prison for a carjacking committed when he was a teenager, he was given pause by what he called the unforgiving nature of the current moment. “It’s antithetical to my notion of how we need to deal with problems in society,” he said.
He cited in particular the case of James Bennet, who resigned as the editorial page editor of The New York Times following an outcry over an Op-Ed by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, and cases of authors of young adult literature withdrawing books in the face of criticism over cultural appropriation.

“You can criticize what people say, you can argue about platforms,” Mr. Betts said. “But it seems like some of the excesses of the moment are leading people to be silenced in a new way.”

To read the entire article, click HERE.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Loch Ness Monster Sighting

From John Glover and Joe Smith's 6-29-20 Edinburgh Live article entitled "Loch Ness Monster Spotted Swimming on the Surface 'For Several Minutes'":

A Nessie enthusiast has recorded the fifth “official sighting” of the year – fueling further speculation about the mythical beast.
Kalynn Wangle, 27, spotted the infamous creature on 3 June in a sighting that has since been confirmed by the Offical Loch Ness Monster Register.
Her sighting comes amid swirling suspicions about the fabled beast, after a walker recently shared the “best ever” snap taken of Nessie.
Kalynn, from Oregon, United States, who was watching Urquhart Bay via webcam, says her sighting lasted around ten minutes. 
To read the entire article, click HERE.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Denny O'Neil, R.I.P. (1939-2020)

What follows is an excerpt from Mark Evanier's 6-12-20 News From ME obituary for Denny O'Neil:

"Denny O'Neil, one of the outstanding comic book writers of his generation, has died at the age of 81. He died at home of natural causes, we're hearing, and those who knew of his recent health problems are not surprised. I spoke to him about four months ago and he was talking then about not having much time left. I'll tell you in a moment what I called him to talk about because it might interest you.

"Denny had been a reporter writing about comic books in the sixties and then he moved on to become a writer of comic books in the sixties. He always said he owed his new career to two people — Roy Thomas, who suggested Denny try out for a writing job at Marvel (which he got) and Dick Giordano, who was then the editor at Charlton. When the work for Marvel dried out, Dick kept Denny busy writing for Charlton — sometimes under the name Sergius O'Shaugnessy — and then when Dick moved over to DC, he took Denny with him. Before long, Denny was the main writer of Batman and a little later, of Superman. He wrote most of DC's main books at one time or another and often worked as an editor there.

"His scripts for Charlton had been way better than Charlton deserved for the low rates they paid. His scripts for DC were way better than the higher rates DC paid. He had a way of infusing old strips with fresh approaches. A lot of people credited him for bringing 'relevance' to comics, crafting stories about current events and issues, most visibly in the acclaimed Green Lantern-Green Arrow series he did with artist Neal Adams. I thought it was a matter of Denny just trying to move comics a little more into the real world at a time in the early seventies when most comics could have been set in the forties without making much difference.


"Green Lantern-Green Arrow was, as noted, critically acclaimed. I was more impressed with what he did with Batman, and not just the stories he wrote of that hero that were drawn by Adams. You could tell that a lot of the other writers of the Caped Crusader were at least starting with Denny's Batman and building on what he'd done. I was also really impressed with a run he did later on Iron Man for Marvel. Denny had never been coy about discussing his own problems with 'substance abuse' and while it was risky to explore those themes in Iron Man, it made for one of the most personal runs of a comic of its kind.


"Actually, I was impressed with just about everything Denny did and the few times I got to work with him in an editor/writer relationship, I found him to be as good at editing as he was at writing, which was very good indeed. He was also a very conscientious writer, willing to mentor others and help out in any righteous cause."

To read Evanier's entire post, click HERE.

I'd like to second Evanier's endorsement of O'Neil's IRON MAN run. O'Neil's tenure on that book was far superior to most of the other comic books Marvel was publishing in the 1980s. I recall one vivid moment in my childhood that revolves around O'Neil's IRON MAN. I'd like to think O'Neil would have been amused by this....

When I was about thirteen, every morning on my way to J.H. Hull Middle School in Torrance, I would stop by my friend Brian's house. From there, the two of us would walk a few blocks and meet this kid Tommy outside his grandparents' pleasant little home on the corner of Arlington and Plaza Del Amo. We would usually meet Tommy on the sidewalk just outside the house. On this particular day, Tommy's grandparents invited us inside for some reason (I can't remember why). 

All three of us took a seat in the warm, dimly lit living room. The grandparents started chatting with us. Somehow, the topic of comic books came up, maybe because Tommy and I both read them. The grandmother turned to me and said, "So... what are your favorite comic book characters?" She had a thick Southern accent. I believe they had recently moved to Torrance from Kentucky.

I said, "Well... I really like Iron Man."

She said, "Oh, is that so? And why is he your favorite?" 

Without even thinking about it, I said the first words that popped into my head: "Well, you see, Tony Stark... he's Iron Man... he used to be this rich businessman/scientist in New York, but now he's a total, complete alcoholic. I mean, he's just wrecked. He's got the shakes, the DT's, the whole nine yards, and he's, like, hallucinating reptiles and stuff, y'know? So he can't be Iron Man anymore. He's wandering around on Skid Row somewhere. He's sloshed. Someone's got to take his place! So this jet pilot who works for Tony has to step in and start wearing the Iron Man armor while Tony's out licking spit up off the sidewalk when he's not sleeping under a streetlamp someplace. This pilot's name is Rhodes, Jim Rhodes. Oh, and Jim's black, by the way."

I ceased talking when I noticed that the grandmother's face had gone pale. She turned away from me and cast a dark, concerned look at the grandfather, who just glared at me and shook his head in utter disgust.

I now realized I had said something wrong. The living room felt chilly all of a sudden.

Brian laughed and said, "Just calm down." Then he turned to the grandmother and said, "He's kidding. He gets excited sometimes. None of that weird stuff's really in the comics."

I was confused. I just decided to shut my trap rather than make the situation even worse.

When we got outside, Tommy said angrily, "Why'd you have to go and say all that stuff? Now they're not gonna let me buy comics anymore!"

"But... why?" I asked. His face turned red with anger as he shook his head in frustration. It was as if I shouldn't even have had to ask such a stupid question.

To this day I don't know if the grandparents were more disgusted by the fact that Tony Stark was an alcoholic or that the new Iron Man was black. Perhaps it was a combination of the two?

(FYI: It just occurred to me that Tommy's father was not exactly known as the neighborhood teetotaler, so maybe alcoholism was a somewhat sensitive topic in that particular household.)

These days the Comicsgate crowd would no doubt accuse Denny O'Neil of "virtue signalling" for the progressive stories he wrote during his tenure on IRON MAN (and many other superhero comic books as well, especially his groundbreaking run on GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW), but I suspect O'Neil's writing was fueled more by a genuine need to exorcise his own demons rather than any artificial desire to shoehorn au courant political topics into his work. After all, as filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein once said, "There is no apolitical art."

Anyway... all I know is that I was never invited into that house again. And I have Denny O'Neil to thank for that.

Rest In Peace, Denny O'Neil....

Recommended Graphic Novels scripted by Denny O'Neil:

THE CREEPER BY STEVE DITKO

GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW: HARD TRAVELIN' HEROES

THE QUESTION #1-36 (1987)

THE PRIVATE FILES OF THE SHADOW 

THE SHADOW: HITLER'S ASTROLOGER

DAREDEVIL: LOVE'S LABOR LOST 

IRON MAN: DUEL OF IRON

BATMAN: TALES OF THE DEMON