Friday, June 29, 2007

Causing the Stalkers: Self-Surveillance

Targeted Individuals (TIs) have begun to document their lives, in large part to prove their sanity. They now have the expanded means to capture their stories because of the technological boom that made possible cheap high-grade digital camera equipment. Furthermore, YouTube Metacafe, and other uploading sites have made sharing personal videos very, very easy.


Figure 1. TI Recording Alleged Stalking

[]

This TI captures a number of people walking, driving and riding bicycles around her. One can find any number of explanations for their behavior, especially if the first cyclist saw her leaving the house with the camera. From his perspective, he sees a woman enter a car, but not drive away. If he saw the camera too, then he might think that she is surveilling him--and he would be correct.

The narrator of the film stresses that no one saw her with the camera. Such is not implausible. After all, video cameras can be quite small. Because of the camera angle, and the jostling, we would have to reckon she did not hold the camera to an active filming position until she took the driver’s seat. And by the time we see the first cyclist, he is already a ways past her when she enters the car. Assuming he saw her enter the car, we would have to assume he paid enough attention to her to see the camera, and even more to see that it was on—assuming it had a red light or other device that would indicate that the camera was shooting.

In any case, this particular TI managed to prove that she has drawn a lot of attention.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stalking the Causers: Cointelpro and MK-ULTRA

Self-proclaimed Targeted Individuals (TIs) say that groups of people stalk and harass them at home and on public streets, what they refer to as ‘street theater’ or ‘gang stalking.’ As noted in the previous post, however, the belief that people follow you around and cause you problems is a symptom of psychosis, itself a symptom of serious mental illness. TIs are fully aware that what they report can be seen as mental illness, and have therefore taken great pains to document the weird behavior surrounding them.

In an effort to prove their sanity, TIs rely on three things: (a) the precedents within government policy; (b) their own photographs and videotapes documenting what they feel constitutes stalking behavior by others; and (c) research done by others not connected to their advocacy and support groups.

The US and other governments might not currently harass TIs and secretly perform mind control experiments on them, but they certainly did such things in the past to other individuals. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (Cointelpro) violated the law to plant evidence on subjects, thwart their professional and academic aspirations, break up the marriages of targeted individuals, and cause friends and colleagues to turn on each other. The exhibits offered by the Church Committee document numerous attempts to infiltrate dissident organizations for the purpose of controlling them. The FBI and CIA both stooped so low as to plan agitation operations in accordance to female members’ menstruation cycles.

The Church Committee also found numerous letters written to people close to targeted dissidents in order to alienate them from their loved ones. Here are a couple of the actual letters composed and sent by the FBI. According to Dr. Tom Mahl, an historian who specializes in the areas of espionage and national security at Case Western Reserve University, these letters were particularly lethal to a number of marriages

Dear Mr. [victim’s name]

Look man I guess your old lady doesn’t get enough at home or she wouldn’t be shucking and jiving with our Black men in ACTION, you dig? Like all she wants to integrate is the bedroom and us Black Sisters ain’t gonna take second best from our men. So lay it on her, man—or get the hell off Newstead.

A Soul Sister
The Bureau sent this form letter to the husbands of white couples, shamelessly preying on their fears of infidelity, and the stoking the outrage of putative miscegenation. A similar letter found its way to the wives of black couples.

Sister

Us Black Liberators are trained to respect Black Women and special are wifes and girls. Brother [redacted] keeps tellin the Brothers this but he don’t treet you that way. I only been in the organization 2 months but [redacted] been maken it here with Sister Marva Bas & Sister tony and than he gives us this jive bout their better in bed than you an how he keeps you off his back by senden you a little dough ever now an then--

He says he gotta send you money [or] the Draft boards gonna chuck him in the army [or] somethen. This aint rite and were sayen that [redacted] is treeten you wrong--

A Black Liberator [Misspellings and grammatical errors original and deliberate.]

Far from being ashamed for the misery and psychological traumas that they created with this and other harassment measures, the spies who came up with these missives took great pride in them. When encountering the widely held belief that the government simply doesn’t willy-nilly tarnish the names of innocent people, and cause them great psychological distress with bizarre tactics, TIs are quick to point out that they have done so in the past. While we might all like to think that such pranks are a thing of the past, the US PATRIOT Act has made some of the illegal activities so favored by Cointelpro legal.

What’s more, the CIA performed wacko tests on thousands of unwitting subjects in such MK-ULTRA experiments as Operation Midnight Climax and Dr. Ewen Cameron’s depatterning experiments. Senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Kennedy, who jointly chaired the Senate’s 1977 MK-ULTRA hearings, issued a joint recommendation that the CIA notify the unwitting victims so that those targeted by the CIA could seek some kind of professional help in dealing with the experiment’s aftermath.

For awhile, the CIA complied with the Senate’s recommendation. The Agency set up an office for the sole purpose of tracking down all the individuals involved without their knowledge, and writing them a letter informing them about their role in MK-ULTRA. After the first few letters went out, however, the lawsuits began rolling in, and the Agency then had to face a horrendous number of potential liability claims. The Company closed down its notification efforts after alerting only a handful of its victims.

The bottom line is that the US government in particular has already demonstrated a willingness and enthusiasm to harass private citizens it knows to be innocent of any crime. Moreover, they also performed secret unethical experimentation on individuals that suffered greatly from their after-effects--some for decades.

This is all part of the public record. And in this context, street theatre/gang stalking, and covert electronic mind control aren't far-removed from the activities mentioned above.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Let’s Talk Really Crazy, Now

While the model of schizophrenia discussed in the previous post seems not to apply to all Targeted Individuals, a second one might give more insight. Whereas the first, more traditional, model views schizophrenia as either there or not, the second model, known as ‘schizotypy,’ understands schizophrenia as a continuum—from normal to schizophrenic.

In a 2006 joint study published in the academic journal Schizophrenia Research (Vol. 89, June), Mark Shevlin, Jamie Murphy, Gary Adamson (Pyschiatric Epidemiology Research Unit, University at Ulster, Magee College), and Martin Dorahy (The Queen’s University of Belfast) looked at another model of schizophrenia in order to determine if such things as age, education level, economic status, age, and other things had something to with psychosis, the primary symptom of schizophrenia. Instead of taking the all-or-nothing approach, these researchers based their study upon a schizotypical model:
Previous research has suggested that psychosis is better described as a continuum rather than a dichotomous entity. This study aimed to describe the distribution of positive psychosis-like symptoms in the general population by means of latent class analysis.
The researchers formed four categories along a continuum of pyschosis starting with the normative (or normal) class, followed by the intermediate, hallucinatory and schizophrenic classes. Next, they examined the results of two previous surveys (called the International Diagnostic Interview, or CIDI for short) conducted between 1990-1992; the first polled over 8,000 respondents chosen at random, the second 5,893. They then cross-examined the responses with other data. They found some correlations between psychosis and employment status, psychosis and education level, etc., but otherwise did not dispute the basic finding of the persistent or chronic psychosis associated with schizophrenia in only 0.2-.0.8% of the population.

Figure 1. Variation of the CIDI Used in the Shevlin, Adamson, Murphy and Horahy Study

1. Have you ever believed that people were spying on you or following you?
2. Have you ever believed that you were being secretly tested or experimented on, that someone was plotting against you, or that someone was trying to poison you or hurt you?
3. Have you ever believed that someone was reading your mind?
4. Have you ever believed that others could hear your thoughts?
5. Have you ever believed you could actually hear what another person was thinking, even though that person was not speaking?
6. Have you ever been convinced that you were under the control of some power or force, so that your actions and thoughts were not your own?
7. Have you ever been convinced that strange thoughts, or thoughts that were not your own, were being put directly into your mind, or that someone or something could steal your thoughts out of your mind?
8. Have you ever believed that you were being sent special messages through television or the radio, or that a program had been arranged just for you alone?
9. Have you ever felt strange forces working on you, as if you were being hypnotized or magic was being performed on you, or you were being hit by laser beams or X-rays?
10. Have you ever had the experience of seeing something or someone that others present could not see – that is, had a vision when you were wide awake?
11. Have you ever had the experience of hearing things that other people could not hear, such as noises or a voice?
12. Have you ever been bothered by strange smells around you that nobody else was able to smell, perhaps even odors coming from your own body?
13. Have you ever had unusual feelings inside or on your body, like being touched when nothing was there or feeling something moving inside your body?

A Targeted Individual would have to answer, “YES! YES! YES!” to questions one and two, six to eleven, and thirteen. Pat Mougey’s story of having the book she was reading broadcast all over a park illustrates questions three and four. Some have reported number five. I haven’t heard of anyone complaining of question twelve, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said yes to that as well.

Since this is a sliding scale with normalcy on one end of the dichotomy, and schizophrenia on the other end, it would appear that TIs would measure very highly on this scale towards the schizophrenic end. While the researchers stress that even normal people experience psychosis during parts of their lives, the responses that TIs must give to this survey would strongly suggest that their observations are not based in reality.

By and large, TIs are quite aware that the incidents they report are bizarre, and mimic point-for-point those found in the reports of people who are actually schizophrenic. The awareness of this causes them a great deal of frustration. Many, like Dr. Ed Moore, talk about the exasperation in getting loved ones to take them seriously. They consequently withdraw from them, or hide their experiences and research from them. In Dr. Moore’s case, his wife left him after finding his visits to the MindJustice and Eleanor White websites in their computer’s browser history. As Apocalypto commented earlier on The X-Spot:

Funny, but the harassment programs that are being conducted could be taken right out of the pages of the DSM IV [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition]. And likely are.
As I stated early on, psychosis is a very easy assessment of complaints within the TI community, especially when viewed through the schizotypical model. Yet, there is another psychiatric approach to psychiatry that has yet to weigh in.

Before we delve back into the realm of nuttiness, however, let’s first consider a terrifying premise: what if all the claims made by TIs are true?

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Let’s Talk Crazier

Some TIs show additional symptoms of schizophrenia, others do not. During a 2006 conference call discussing Gloria Naylor’s book, 1996, some callers related their inability to hold onto jobs and relationships. Simply put, they were fired and dumped repeatedly. If they had chronic bad luck with employers and beaus, then that strongly suggests either poor decision-making (choosing the wrong job, or the wrong lover), or poor communication, or poor intellectual functioning. Some have biographies that bring to mind the late Margaret Ray. In her January 2007 Washington Post article on TIs, Sharon Weinberger described one such individual, whom she did not name:


One TI, a man who had been a rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard before voices in his head sent him on a downward spiral, expressed the solace he found among fellow TIs in a long e-mail to another TI: ‘I think that the only people that can help are people going through the same thing. Everyone else will not believe you, or they are possibly involved.’

In the end, though, nothing could help him enough. In August 2006, he would commit suicide.
The other symptoms of alleged electronic harassment--the hearing of voices that emanate from nowhere, the physical sensations of pinpricks and itching, etc.—match the symptoms of psychosis. Yet if we assume they are suffering from psychosis, then we also have to nail down some cause: schizophrenia, schizo-effective disorder (SED), severe depression, substance abuse, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or a very brief psychotic reaction of little consequence—kinda like a sneeze that doesn’t indicate pneumonia.

The fact that most TIs report persistent effects allows us to rule out brief psychotic reactions.

Some, such as the unnamed gentleman referred to by Weinberger, might very well have suffered depression, as evident by his suicide. Yet, Naylor, Eleanor White and many others, do not publicly exhibit symptoms of clinical depression. Naylor has yet to notice an adverse affect of 1996 upon her other writing. White remains quite active. Harland Girard, a more notable claimant, has done exhaustive research on US government mind control programs of the past. Furthermore, he travels frequently, and maintains a relationship with his girlfriend—things that are difficult for someone suffering from depression. So while one cannot rule out depression in all cases, one can probably rule out depression in others.

Bipolar disorder, what in older times psychiatrists referred to as ‘manic-depression,’ would be a little more difficult to detect. When a person is upbeat and happy, we generally assume that they are fine. If see them and they are down, we might suspect depression. Yet if we see them a little while later and they are upbeat, then we assume depression was temporary. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can, however, become evident if the sufferer’s mood is out of context. He or she might cry during happy times, or burst out laughing during sad times. The inappropriateness of the bipolar sufferer is what marks his or her illness.

In the hours of taped interviews that I have seen and listened to, the callers, presenters, and other participants seem to take a great comfort in each other. Their mood together seems consistent. Their moods apart from one another would be hard to tell, for it’s difficult to determine whether any anxiety might stem from inappropriate mood, or from the feeling of being cut off from a supportive community. Thus, we really cannot rule out bipolarism as the cause of psychosis—assuming we are talking about psychosis. At the same time, there isn’t any evidence to indicate such. A team of psychiatrists would have to make the final determination on this.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a real possibility. Many people who suffer from schizophrenia also suffer from PTSD. In other words, they’ve actually endured a traumatic event of some type. Problem is doctors have a hard time determining if the trauma happened before or after the onset of schizophrenia, or its incubation period, what doctors refer to as a ‘prodromal’ stage. After all, a traumatic delusion qualifies as a traumatic experience, even though no exterenal reality caused it.

With respect to this model of schizophrenia, a number of things argue against that in the case of all TIs. First of all, they seem to have little problem communicating, for the most part. The content of their conversations does not fly off into multiple tangents, and most seem to have no problem in organizing their thoughts. Many do not spiral downward with or without medication, and can manage very responsible jobs. Dr. Ed Moore continues to maintain his medical practice, for example. Fellow blogger Apacalypto is a retired airline pilot. As pointed out in the previous post by another fellow blogger, and psychiatric nurse, The Red Mantissa, schizophrenia is often episodic. If schizophrenia lay at the root of their putative schizophrenia, one would have to wonder how they could have functioned for so long in a role of life and death decision-making. Then again, as Mantissa (and my mother--a Professor Emerita of psychatric nursing) further explain some people are able to mask symptoms to the general public, at least for awhile. The problem is if someone can hide symptoms of a disease--even to a therapist--then that still leaves us in the position of having no evidence that the disease is present.

Judging from TIs' support groups, their constant research into psychology, their ability to conduct their lives successfully, and their ability to organize peaceful demonstrations—such as the one that occurred in Washington, DC in 2006—schizophrenia, at least this model of it, seems problematic in toto.

Something else casts doubt on this school of schizophrenia with respect to TIs. Naylor, Girard, White, Mougey, and many others developed the first symptoms during their late-thirties, forties, and fifties. While the development of schizophrenia is quite possible after the age of thirty-five, it becomes less and less likely as a person ages. By the late-forties, the onset of this disease is relatively rare, as shown by the below chart.


Figure 1. Distribution of Age At Onset of Schizophrenia Patients (Click to Enlarge)**


What’s more, TIs do not respond to such neuraleptic medications as Thorazine and Trilafon.* Their psychiatrists will often prescribe a number of different drugs to counteract a perceived neural-chemical defect. True, sometimes people suffering from schizophrenia do not respond to available treatments. At the same time, neither do people whose psychotic symptoms aren’t actually psychotic. In fact, antipsychotics could make them sick when they are, in fact, well.

In summary, this model of schizophrenia might account for a good number of TI experiences—although doctors would have to assess that on a case-by-base basis. Yet, it does not adequately explain either all TI experiences, or all TIs.

But what about that second model?

Notes

*Thorazine and Trilafon are brand names for chlorpromazine and thioridazine, respectively.

**Taken from a research paper found in Schizophrenia Research. I made the mistake of saving the paper onto a floppy disc that screwed up once I got it home. Consequently, I lost the exact reference. I'll update this post to include the citation.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let’s Talk Crazy

Many conspiracy researchers (myself included) have a very difficult time with the claims of Targeted Individuals (TI) because they have difficulty verifying what they report. Moreover, what they claim sounds like textbook cases (literally) of psychosis. Those giving an earnest effort to look into such things as the JFK assassination, government mind control programs and the like, find acceptance of their research efforts rare enough without having to embrace something that seems, well, nuts. Fellow blogger (and publisher) Ray succinctly summed up my initial reaction to this in an earlier comment on The X-Spot:

Regarding the 'out there' stuff. What bothers me is that something real but crazy--MK-Ultra and the LSD tests--becomes an excuse by some conspiracy mongers to throw in Alternative 3 and other wild stuff as part of the Illuminati Mega-Conspiracy.
He’s right, you know. The mainstream has often exhibited a tendency to embrace the fringe of conspiracy research as the mainstream. What’s more, this becomes especially problematic when something that could represent nothing more than mental illness comes to define very sober and rational research efforts done by thousands of people all over the world. By depicting TIs as mentally unbalanced, media depict other conspiracy researchers as (how would CJ put this?) one sandwich short of a picnic.

So before looking at Tinfoil Hat Land, and deeming its inhabitants crazy, insane, bonkers, deluded, nuts, wacko, or a quart low, perhaps we should first examine what constitutes psychosis. Perhaps we should also examine its relationship to mental illness.

Many tend to confuse psychosis with schizophrenia. Psychiatrists and psychologists currently work with two different (some might say competing) models of schizophrenia, and in both psychosis is a symptom of mental illness, not the mental illness in and of itself. Psychosis is most often characterized as a break from reality. It consists of sensory hallucinations, and beliefs that have no rational bases. Furthermore, sufferers have an exaggerated sense of their self-importance. People can experience psychosis if they haven’t had enough sleep, or if they’re tripping out on LSD, marijuana, or alcohol. Psychosis can also be a symptom of depression and bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s.

The more mainstream model of schizophrenia referred to by shrinks essentially boils down to a binary assessment: one is either schizophrenic, or not. Here, they define schizophrenia as a chronic ailment in which perception, ordering of thought, control of behavior and expression are impaired.

Margaret Ray, for example, first had problems making decisions, according to her mother, Loretta Duvall. This began during Ray’s late teenage years, a typical age for the onset of the disease (shrinks refer to this as AAO, or Age At Onset). Ray’s marriage suffered from her increasingly bizarre behavior and her inability to communicate with her husband, who eventually hospitalized her. Her condition worsened, due in part to her episodic refusal to take her medication. She eventually came to believe that she had married late-night talk show host David Letterman. After a prison sentence for harassment, and years of serving as the butt of many stalker jokes, Ray committed suicide by kneeling down in front of an onrushing train.

Although in some respects atypical of schizophrenics—e.g. she would speak loudly during psychotic episodes, whereas most schizophrenics become quiet and withdrawn—Margaret Ray’s life and death illustrate what goes on with the disease. She suffered from a chronic mental illness that began at a normal age of onset. She spiraled downward with a lack of otherwise effective treatment. Unlike psychosis, her condition resulted in an ongoing problem with behavior and emotions. Like other schizophrenics, she couldn’t understand that her behavior was bizarre or erratic. It made complete sense to her. Extremely important, she had severe difficulty in organizing her thoughts, which resulted in one poor decision after another. Schizophrenics also commit suicide at a much higher rate than the rest of the population.

Comparing the residents of Tinfoil Hat Land to this mode of schizophrenia, we could explain the sensations that they feel—sudden jerking of limbs, shocks to the body, hearing voices, etc.—as hallucinations. The feeling that people are following them, or more specifically targeting them, we can explain as delusions. If we accept this explanation at face value, then we have one key symptom of schizophrenia: psychosis.

What about other symptoms of schizophrenia? The disorganized thinking? The downward spiral with the absence of treatment? The cluelessness about the bizareness of one’s perceptions, emotions and behavior? The AAO? The suicidal tendencies? Do TIs exhibit these traits as well?

That’s a mixed bag.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Street Theatre and Tinfoil

As described by Gloria Naylor, the coordinated ill treatment against Targeted Individuals (TIs) constitutes the first step of a process. TIs believe that face-to-face harassment, what they refer to as ‘street theater’ or ‘gang stalking,’ serves to keep them off-balance by isolating them from friends and family, depriving them of sleep, and keeping them in a constant state of fear, which to anyone else would seem like paranoia. Thus, by the time psychoelectronic weapons come into play, the person has little credibility with anyone else.

Although harrowing, the alleged street theater antics do not tend to cause physical pain. Only the electronic harassment does, and it often keeps them awake at night. That’s why many have sought some kind of remedy against what they have come to believe are external stimuli (e.g. radio signals) generated for the purpose of experimentation. Eleanor White trained as a radio technician in the US Navy, and spent considerable time developing shielding or grounding methods to counteract these sensations.

White’s shielding measures didn’t work consistently. Among other things, she quickly found out that tinfoil was neither practical nor effective. So even though the general public might consider her kinda ‘out there," not even she believes in wearing tinfoil hats. In one of her “Mind Control Minutes,” she explains why tinfoil hats are completely worthless.

Figure 1. Mind Control Minute: Will A Foil Beanie Help?



Sharon Weinberger, a Washington Post reporter who did a story on TIs in January 2007, sat in on a mass conference call in which they discussed their situations. A few insisted that tinfoil garments helped considerably. Most, however, didn't believe that tinfoil helped at all. No matter which side of this debate one might root for, Weinberger’s article made it clear that actual tinfoil hat wearers are a small minority in Tinfoil Hat Land.

As I stated earlier, the most facile explanation for these events is psychosis, or psychotic episodes brought about by sleep deprivation, and perhaps drugs (legal or illegal). If so, then TIs suffer greatly. A substantial number of them, in fact, first assume that they have become mentally ill, and therefore seek psychiatric help right away.

Yet, a number of factors argue against psychosis and schizophrenia as an explanation of this phenomenon in all cases. In some—arguably in a majority of them—mental illness is the best possible explanation. Still, a few tiny shards of information give weight to the belief that TIs, by-and-large, are neither lying nor crazy.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

The Spirit of 1996


Most know award-winning writer Gloria Naylor (above) as the author of The Women of Brewster Place, a novel produced as a TV mini-series by Oprah Winfrey. In 2005, she put both her reputation and career on the line by publishing 1996, a partially fictionalized (as she indicated in the book itself) autobiography concentrating on a particularly thorny period of her life.

While vacationing on St. Helena, an island off the coast of South Carolina, Naylor accidentally angered a curmudgeonly man, whose brother happened to work for the National Security Agency. Naylor believes that her confrontation with this man set off a chain of events that eventually led her to Tinfoil Hat Land.

Shortly after her encounter with this man, she observed a number of cars slowly passing by her house, turning around and then slowly passing by again. As soon as one left, another car would come and do the same thing. When walking around the island, other cars would follow her closely at walking speed. Others, some resembling federal agents (clean cut, black suit, black overcoat, etc.) followed her around to stores, restaurants, speaking engagements, and so forth.

This continued after she cut her vacation short and returned home to New York. What’s more, she suspected that someone had hacked into her computer. When she booted it up, she discovered that an additional hard drive had been installed. On the new drive were heavily encrypted files labeled “America.vtd” and “nsa.” Pop-up windows would repeatedly issue death threats, which she also received over the telephone at home and at friends’ apartments.

Naylor then began to hear verbally abusive voices that in addition to continuing the threats mocked her writing, and belittled her. No one but her could hear them.

Like many who refer to themselves as Targeted Individuals (TIs), Naylor initially believed that she had succumbed to mental illness, and optimistically thought that prescription drugs might relieve the symptom. She promptly sought help from a trusted physician, a general practitioner whom she had known for many years. The doctor referred her to a psychiatrist who prescribed an anti-psychotic medicine. It didn’t work. Her shrink then tried different medications. None of them helped, and some of them made her feel really awful.

Naylor’s story typifies those claiming that they have suffered electronic surveillance and harassment at the hands of government agencies. Her troubles began when she pissed off someone who had connections to US Intel. As in most of these cases, the first stage consisted of harassment by neighbors and strangers at home or in local public spaces. Many of these people report:

* Strangers driving by to shout out profanities, or flip them the finger.

* When driving, people will cut them off, or tailgate them at a rate noticeably beyond the normal rudeness of everyday life.

* When walking, people purposefully bump into them, and call them names.

* Apartment building neighbors stomp about on the floors over them, and falsely accuse them of crimes ranging from dope peddling to pedophilia.

* Public works officials flash lights and do construction late at night while the person is trying to sleep.

* Their electronic appliances fail, even when brand new. Repairpersons often take a long time to fix the problem, overcharge, leave a mess, and after all that do a poor job, so the item breaks down repeatedly.

* Strangers break into their homes, and deposit items to alert them of the surveillance.

Edited for accuracy 7/10/07. America.vtd appears to have been an early downloadable spellcheck software.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Saw Someone Like Her….At Roswell

I’ve seen the stereotype so often that I cannot recall all of the places I’ve encountered it, save a couple: in the movie Dude, Where’s My Car and in the pierogie ad I mentioned in the last post. It’s of a bespectacled, slightly rotund, plain, wide-eyed humorless brunette who speaks in a low, deliberate monotone. In the ad, when presented with the odd-shaped delicacy, she intones, “I’ve seen something like it….at Roswell.”

Obviously I cannot be sure, but there’s a chance that this stereotype is based directly or indirectly on an actual person, a former Petty Officer (USN) named Eleanor White (pictured left). After leaving the service, she immigrated to Toronto, and eventually became a Canadian citizen. In 1980, after writing the US Navy to alert them of her change of citizenship status, she began to perceive a high number of strange events going on around her. First, she observed a number of strange men following her around, and openly staring at her in a manner she found “threatening." These men began ringing her doorbell late at night. She found her clothes destroyed, one piece at a time, by huge holes around the crotch and armpits. She received a number of hang-ups over the telephone. Neighbors suddenly became rude and boorish, playing stereos loudly at all hours, shouting, and stomping on the floor above her. A close friend unexpectedly committed suicide.

Most important, at least for this post, she endured what she termed “electronic caffeine,” which she described as “a silent, stimulating signal of some type” that prevented her from falling asleep. Among these were sensations that felt like electronic shocks, then followed by nearly insatiable itching. At work she experienced fatigue, requiring her to lie down periodically on a foam mattress.

White became an activist against what she felt were experiments and operations conducted by the US government after MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s stipulated mind-control program. Other associates, many of them belonging to an organization previously called Citizens Against Human Rights Abuse (CAHRA)--now known as Mind Justice--tell even stranger tales of continuous electronic harassment. Many reported that electrical equipment simply stopped working not long after purchase, and after months, mysteriously fixed itself. Some insist that streetlamps turn off every time they walk under one. Others say they have felt sudden, uncontrollable jerking of the limbs while trying to sleep; a sensation that feels like hot needles poking them; sudden and temporary spiking of body temperature; and elevated heart rates while at rest. Some said that they had heard direct commands from voices inside their heads. Others report attacks of physical pain and itching, and sometimes even unexplained, unwanted and embarrassing sexual arousal.

Some even claimed that they have had their very thoughts read by unseen others in the distance. Pat Mougey of Toledo (Ohio) said that while reading alone in a park, someone broadcast, on some unknown frequency, the text of her book for all to hear:

I was reading a book and noticed people looking at me in weird ways. Finally, one young boy around 10 years old said, ‘Mommy, how does she do that without moving her lips?’ The mother replied, ‘I don't know’ ... gave me another strange look and hurried off. I thought immediately, ‘and, you'll never be sure that your son will not be forced to hear a book being read that you don't want him to read.’
Moguey said that until the park incident she didn’t realize that others could hear the voices in her head. These voices made fun of her body when she took a shower, causing her embarrassment and fright. According to her, the voices would perform little dramas depicting horrific scenarios of what might happen to her or her loved ones:

These ‘voices’ turned into professionally produced audio skits that involved such things as the ‘supposed’ death of my son (who lived in a different state when this first started), and other family members. The phrase, ‘Oh, Chuck!’ was used in some of the skits.... over a period of several months they had him ‘killed’ in at least 3 different ways, as well as the ‘supposed’ death of other relatives, including my mother ... and this was years before she died
There are easy and plausible explanations for what White, Moguey, and others have reported, starting with psychosis. Aural and tactile hallucinations are far more common than visual ones. In White’s case especially, the fact that she had difficulty sleeping could mean that she might not have suffered actual schizophrenia, but rather a psychotic episode, a relatively minor and temporary mental illness (provided you don’t throw yourself out of a window, or anything) brought on by such things as sleep deprivation, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and LSD intoxication. There’s also the possibility of coincidence, a number of different occurrences in a bizarre synchronicity that might become distorted or exaggerated through retelling. Then again, perhaps she and everyone else in this is simply lying.

Exaggerated coincidences don’t seem very likely, in some cases. After all, what are the chances that someone in the park performed a staged reading of the book Moguey happened to be reading? What are the chances that someone overhears a radio play everyday in which everyone in the story has the same names as his or her loved ones?

Because I have no evidence that these people are lying, we’re going to put that aside for awhile and concentrate on the remaining possibilities. The odds of psychosis as the cause of this suffering are great, for one can easily explain such experiences as as delusions or hallucinations. But if that is the case, this is a pretty bizarre psychosis, for a number of reasons.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Welcome to Tinfoil Hat Land



The above quote, uttered by NYPD Detective John Munch, a character originally created for the NBC drama Homicide, is from an episode of the FOX television series The X-Files. Although deadly serious about police work and conspiracy research, the fictional Det. Munch is a whimsical man. Therefore, we know from the context that his advice to wear a hat made from aluminum foil stems from his tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. He does not intend the listener to take the advice seriously.

The actor who plays Det. Munch, Richard Belzer (left), is also a whimsical man, who is deadly serious about conspiracy research, as evident by his 2000 book UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Believe. The book itself never considers the issue of tinfoil hats seriously, and since Belzer himself hasn’t worn one publicly (at least not to my knowledge), then perhaps he considers them way to silly, even for him.

The tinfoil hat has come to symbolize virtually all conspiracy research. Moreover, it became a shorthand for the putative stupidity and mental illness of those delving into certain topics or beliefs not accepted by the mainstream. Many years ago, a television advertisement for pierogies featured a number of silly people clad in tinfoil hats who alleged that the snack treats for sale were part of some ill-defined conspiracy.

Such humor websites as Zapato Productions International poke fun at tinfoil hats by facetiously extolling their virtues--with testimonials. At the same time, the site mocks other ridiculous claims, such as Belgium doesn’t exist, and the "Republic of Cascadia" has an official Bureau of Sasquatch Affairs. Other websites have Photoshopped tin foil hats onto prominent people who hold opinions contrary to official pronouncements .

Figure 1: Charlie Sheen in tinfoil hat.



Personally, I’ve never seen anyone walking down the street wearing a tinfoil hat in all seriousness. In fact, I don’t recall encountering anyone wearing one as a joke, or as a Halloween costume. (If you have, I’d love to hear about it.)

I do know, however, that a handful of people actually wore such an accessory. These people were themselves not whimsical; in fact, they exude little intentional humor at all. For me, and probably most of you, the wearing of tinfoil hats is a comical notion. But for them, the wearing of tinfoil hats constituted a serious attempt to find a real relief from very real suffering.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Discriminative Stimuli Answers

1. Rod Carew, Barbie Benton, Marilyn Monroe, Clive Davis

All of these individuals are Jewish, or were during a portion of their lives. Answered by SJ. Independently answered by Libby and The Red Mantissa.


2. Miami, FL; Marseilles, Alpes-Côte d’Azur; Dallas, TX; New Orleans, LA

These are cities in which one could investigate the JFK assassination. Dallas is the place of the former-President’s demise. New Orleans is where District Attorney Jim Garrison prosecuted the only trial in the case against CIA contract agent Clay Shaw. Miami is where the putative paymaster of the assassination, Eladio del Valle, an associate of suspected conspirator David Ferrie, operated, along with other anti-Castro/Kennedy Cubans. Some have argued that the hit was organized in Marseilles under the direction of Lucien Sarti. Some witnesses place Sarti at the grassy knoll that day as one of the ‘hobos’ arrested immediately after the assassination. All four cities also have Mafia connections implicated in the JFK assassination. Answered by SJ. Partially answered by Foam.


3. Mail, Plate, Body.

Types of armor. Answered by The Red Mantissa.


4. Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen.

A&R executive John Hammond, Sr. signed all four artists to Columbia Records. Answered by The Red Mantissa.


5. Windsor, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; London (Greater London); Memphis, TN; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA, Lisbon (Lisboa, Portugal)

Places James Earl Ray traveled to after his escape from prison in 1967. UK authorities finally nabbed him after he returned to London from Lisbon. Answered by no one.


6. Peter Sellers, Roger Moore.

Both knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, Sellers and Moore portrayed both James Bond and Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Sellers portrayed 007 in the original Casino Royale (although to be honest, everyone played James Bond in that movie—even Woody Allen; that should give you some idea why it isn’t highly regarded among Bond fans). Roger Moore played Clouseau in The Curse of the Pink Panther. Alternatively answered by SJ. Partially answered by Lady Lux.


7. Cliff Robertson, William Devane, Ossie Davis

All three actors played former-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Devane played JFK in the television special The Missiles of October; Robertson played him in the film PT 109; and Davis portrayed him in the movie Bubba Ho-tep. Answered by no one.


8. Rascals, Tapestry, Relics

All three are episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Answered by The Red Mantissa.


9. Sammy Davis Jr., Anton LaVey, Rev. Susan Atkins

All three were Satanists at one point in their lives. LaVey founded the Church of Satan. Mass murderer Susan Atkins was a protégé of LaVey’s before joining up with Charles Manson. Church of Satan board member Lt. Col. Michael Aquino.(USA-Ret.) invited Sammy Davis into the Church. LaVey met Davis for the first time at his induction, but falsely claimed to have been close friends with him years earlier. Answered by no one.


10. Knife, Candlestick, Rope, Revolver, Lead Pipe

These are the weapons featured in the board game Cluedo, also known as Clue. Answered by On My Watch. Independently answered by Boo. Partially answered by Foam, Enemy of the Republic and The Red Mantissa.


11. Mae Axton, Otis Blackwell, Dolores Fuller

Three composers of Elvis Presley Songs. Mae Axton (“Heartbreak Hotel”) was the mother of singer/songwriter Hoyt Axton. Otis Blackwell (“All Shook Up”) wrote a slew of Sun Record hits, including Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.” Dolores Fuller (“Rock-a-Hula Baby”) is perhaps better known as schlock director Ed Wood’s most important leading lady; Sarah Jessica Parker portrayed her in the film Ed Wood Answered by The Red Mantissa.


12. John Lennon, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Gleason, William Shatner, Dick Gregory, David Bowie, Sheila MacRae, Phoebe Snow.

All of these people reported close encounters with UFOs or extraterrestrials. John Lennon made passing reference to his experience in the song “Strange Days.” Muhammad Ali saw them numerous times, and brought his trainer, Angelo Dundee, to witness them as well. William Shatner tells of how guidance from the UFO kept him from perishing on an ill-fated motorcycle trip through the desert. Dick Gregory took photographs of a UFO pointed out to him at a party. After recording a track, singer Phoebe Snow allegedly heard the voices of two extraterrestrials named Laactiped and Uresi upon playback; the aliens then repeatedly tried to contact her over the telephone, according to her. David Bowie actively looked for UFOs in the night sky as a teenager.

Jackie Gleason was a hardcore ufologist, and extremely knowledgeable on the subject. According to his ex-wife, Beverly McKittrick, and an unnamed former Royal Air Force recruit, Gleason spoke privately about how then-President Richard Nixon escorted him on a secret tour of a military facility housing artifacts recovered from flying saucer crashes. Among the items were several alien corpses. Answered by Boo.


13. Eunice hid Dutch, Sally made a pornographic film with midgets, Leslie shot Saunders.

These are events that occurred on ABC's zany 1970s sitcom Soap. Answered by no one.


14. Nibiru, Vulcan, Pluto.

Three places alleged to have been planets within our solar system, but not proven as such. Nineteenth century astronomers initially believed that Vulcan’s orbit lay between the sun and Mercury, but later concluded that no such planet existed. Nibiru, a planet of ancient lore, supposedly traverses the outer regions of our system. It has become a popular topic among ufologists due to the ancient astronaut theory and the writings of Talmudic scholar Zecharia Sitchin. Still, no one has proven its existence. Pluto lost its status as a planet in August of 2006. Answered by SJ. Partial alternative answer by C-Dell.


15. Jack Kemp, J.C. Watts, Jim Bunning, Steve Largent

All four are or were Republican congressmen who once played professional sports. Kemp started his NFL career playing quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and finished it as O.J. Simpson’s teammate on the Buffalo Bills. Watts was the MVP quarterback for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the CFL. Jim Bunning, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, pitched for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. Steve Largent, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks. Answered by The Red Mantissa.


16. Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Rd., Goodge St.

All three are stops on the Northern Line of the London Underground (subway). I once lived around the corner from the Goodge St. exit, so that was my main stop. Answered by SJ.


17. “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” “Back Hole Sun,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Imagine,” “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

A few of the songs deemed potentially inappropriate by Clear Channel Communications in the wake of September 11, 2001. Although Clear Channel insisted that the songs weren’t banned per se, the company did see them as possibly in poor taste. Answered by SJ.


18. King, Savoy, Chess, Sun, Specialty

Independent record labels that produced a lot of rock and roll (rhythm & blues) records during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. King featured James Brown and The Isley Brothers. Savoy sported Big Maybelle and Nappy Brown. Chess was the home of legends Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Specialty featured Little Richard. Sun produced Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and, of course, Elvis Presley. Answered by The Red Mantissa.


19. Los Angeles, CA; Uniondale, NY: Dortmund, Westphalia (W. Germany), London (Greater London).

These were the four stops of Pink Floyd’s 1980 The Wall tour. Answered by no one.


20. Josephine Baker; Marlon Brando; Paul Newman; Sidney Poitier; Harry Belafonte; Peter, Paul and Mary.

All of these people participated in the 1963 March on Washington along with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Partially answered by Foam.


21. Heidi, Doc-T, Dale, Sunny Delight, Enemy of the Republic, Jeannie, Kate.

Fellow bloggers who have tagged me. Answered by no one.


22. 4,493; 2; 421; 17; 9,887

Prime numbers—i.e. numbers equally divisible only by themselves and the number one. Answered by Boo.


23. Michelle, Rita, Eleanor, Lucy

Fictional women depicted by the Beatles in the songs “Michelle,” “Lovely Rita,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Answered by Boo.


24. Taipei, North Taiwan (China); Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory (Malaysia), Chicago, IL; Shanghai (China).

Cities where you will find the five tallest buildings in the world. Taipei’s Taipei 101 stands at a staggering 1,667 feet. Kuala Lumpur hosts two of the tallest buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers standing at 1,483 feet each. Chicago’s Sears Tower rises 1,451 feet above street level. And the Jin Mao Building of Shanghai stands at 1,381 feet. Answered by SJ


25. Peter Ustinov, Alexander Dumas, Heather Locklear, Alexander Pushkin, John James Audubon.

All five of the above had (or have) black African ancestors. Audubon’s mother was Creole. Alexander (Aleksander) Pushkin’s great-grandfather, Abram Petrovich Hannibal, was kidnapped from Africa at the age of eight, and presented to Czar Peter the Great as a gift. The father of Alexander (Alexandre) Dumas Sr. was a Haitian officer of the French Army. The father of Alexander (Alexandre) Dumas Jr. (fils) was, of course, Alexander (Alexandre) Dumas Sr. (pere). Ustinov’s grandmother, Magdalena, was a native of Ethiopia.

Heather Locklear’s name indicates that she descended from a type of community referred to by sociologists as tri-racial isolates. Although miscegenation was outlawed in many places in the US beginning in the 1600s, various pockets within the nation sported communities where European, Indigenous and African Americans intermarried over centuries. The Locklear family is one of the more notable of such communities. The name itself, although appearing to be of English origin, actually comes from the Tuscarora nation, and means “hold fast.” A person born into the Locklear family would thus be a mixture of several races. Partially answered by SJ.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Discriminative Stimuli

Below is a list of people, places and things. The object of this game is to figure out what each group has in common. For example, if presented with a group consisting of apples, oranges, and pears then your answer would be 'types of fruit.' I don’t know if Googling will help, but see if you can do it on your own.

1. Rod Carew, Barbie Benton, Marilyn Monroe, Clive Davis

2. Miami, FL; Marseilles, Alpes-Côte d’Azur; Dallas, TX; New Orleans, LA

3. Mail, Plate, Body.

4. Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen.

5. Windsor, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; London (Greater London); Memphis, TN; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA, Lisbon (Lisboa, Portugal)

6. Peter Sellers, Roger Moore

7. Cliff Robertson, William Devane, Ossie Davis

8. Rascals, Tapestry, Relics

9. Sammy Davis Jr., Anton LaVey, Rev. Susan Atkins

10. Knife, Candlestick, Rope, Revolver, Lead Pipe

11. Mae Axton, Otis Blackwell, Dolores Fuller

12. John Lennon, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Gleason, William Shatner, Dick Gregory, David Bowie, Sheila MacRae, Phoebe Snow.

13. Eunice hid Dutch, Sally made a pornographic film with midgets, Leslie shot Saunders.

14. Nibiru, Vulcan, Pluto

15. Jack Kemp, J.C. Watts, Jim Bunning, Steve Largent

16. Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Rd., Goodge St.

17. “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” “Back Hole Sun,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Imagine,” “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

18. King, Savoy, Chess, Sun, Specialty

19. Los Angeles, CA; Uniondale, NY: Dortmund, Westphalia (W. Germany), London (Greater London).

20. Josephine Baker; Marlon Brando; Paul Newman; Sidney Poitier; Harry Belafonte; Peter, Paul and Mary.

21. Heidi, Doc-T, Dale, Sunny Delight, Enemy of the Republic, Jeannie, Kate

22. 4,493; 2; 421; 17; 9,887

23. Michelle, Rita, Eleanor, Lucy

24. Taipei, North Taiwan (China); Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory (Malaysia), Chicago, IL; Shanghai (China).

25. Peter Ustinov, Alexandre Dumas, Heather Locklear, Alexander Pushkin, John James Audubon.

Click here for the answers.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tagged by My Enemy

This time, it’s Enemy of the Republic who reaches out to slap me with a tag. Here are a few stories about my least favorite subject: me.

1. When I first joined this one band, the soundman always gave me handwritten set lists. Everyone else’s set list consisted of photocopies. I wondered why they would give me the original.

The lead guitarist explained that the soundman wrote out my set list right before going on. Since I was new, they didn’t think I would understand how they usually referred to songs on the set list, so the photocopies might have been confusing.

For good luck, the person making out the photocopied set list always replaced the last word of every title with a four-letter expletive that begins with ‘s,’ ends with ‘t,’ and is ‘hi’ in the middle. If the title only had one word (e.g. “Help!”), then the expletive served as the complete title. If the last word or syllable ended with ‘s’ (e.g. “Hot Legs”), then the expletive did too.

After telling me this, the lead guitarist gave me the following set list:

“Low”
“L.A. Woman”
“Still in Saigon”
“White Nights”
“Cross-Eyed Mary”
“Give Me Three Steps”
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
“All out of Love”
“I Ain’t Gonna Beg”
“Too Hard to Handle”
“Freebird [written as “Free Bird”]”


2. While teaching a media studies course at one of NYC’s fine universities, I had to keep an entire class from really laying into a student during a discussion. Actually, I felt like ridiculing her along with everyone else, but as the guy up front, it’s my job to keep students from totally humiliating themselves, even when they say something incredibly stupid.

What this student said fell way past ‘incredibly stupid,’ and landed into the ‘grossly offensive’ category. While talking about depictions of women in mass media, she went into this long, convoluted argument about why women should prostitute their bodies in order to “get ahead.” She reasoned that since men were weak and easily manipulated, sex was the only true asset that a woman really had (forget brains, diligence, creativity, perseverance, integrity, et cetera).

Naturally, the feminists jumped down her throat. But her argument was so over the top, even the anti-feminists joined in the rage against her.

A few weeks later, the furor seemed to have died down. Unfortunately for this student, her grades had begun to slip. She ambushed me before class, trying to get me to bump her up a grade or two for no apparent reason other than my forgiving nature. I politely declined.

She then took her usual seat, located in the second row, towards the middle. During lecture and discussion phases I noticed her sitting in a rather unusual position, leaning forward with her arms tightly folded and resting on the desk. She had a strange look in her eye, and this weird grin on her face, and I just had this inkling that she would make some kind of trouble.

Sure enough, halfway during the class, with her arms still folded on the desk, she gently started tugging the loose-fitting white blouse she had on. When lecturing, my eyes go back and forth to everyone, so I can maintain their attention. By the time my eyes came back to her, she had surreptitiously tugged the blouse down far enough so that I could get a good look at her cleavage. Her grin grew weirder, her eyes more troublesome.

I opened the class for Q and A. Eventually, the student behind her asked a question. When I looked his way, she gave the white blouse one last, sharp tug, and out she popped. Because of her very modest endowment, and because of her position (leaning forward, arms folded), no one in the class noticed, except me.

I really didn’t know the correct protocol for getting flashed in the middle of class. It’s just one of those things you never expect. I could have called security, but I didn’t want to get her in trouble. I certainly didn’t want the rest of the class to catch her, and humiliate her even further. So, I answered the gentleman sitting behind her, hoping that she had had her fun, and would simply let the blouse back up.

No such luck. When I finished with him, she blurted out a question. I looked her dead in the eye and answered it (as I always did), hoping that my expression didn’t alert the others that something really strange was happening.

I guess I succeeded, for after what seemed an eternity, she let go of the blouse. It sprang back to its original, modest position. No one said anything about the incident ever—until now, of course.

Given her views on the weakness and pliability of males, I understood very well what she thought of me me; so I was pretty angry. But the way she did it--with none of her classmates suspecting--led me to think that she had done this before to another male professor. It must have worked on him. It didn’t work on me.


3. Speaking of my former job, I had a friend who worked as a private investigator, her principal client an A-list rock star. She routinely went undercover to ferret out vendors selling pirated copies of his CDs on the street. Because of her expertise, I invited her to lecture my music industry class on record piracy and copyright infringement.

Celebrities being celebrities, her employer wouldn’t let her talk to my class without his permission, and that’s after I explained myself to him. I thought he’d be a jerk, but no. He even paid for the instruction materials (color copies, no less) so that I didn’t have to. My friend and I left together from the apartment of a mutual friend, rode a taxi to the university, and then went out for drinks afterward. All the while, she never left my sight.

The next semester, I happened to bump into a couple of students from that class. They thanked me for bringing my friend to lecture, I assumed because her talk had been informative. But they told me it was more than that. As it turns out, she had hired them to work undercover with her.

I thought that they might have sought out my friend after her lecture, but that wasn’t the case. She actually hired them at the university, immediately after the class. Problem was, I had accompanied her that whole time, and I never saw her have any dialogue with students other than answering their questions.

When I got home, I called my friend, who confirmed that those two-former students indeed worked for her, and that she “recruited” them in the classroom. When I asked how she managed to do this behind my back, she giggled and left me to guess.


4. I last appeared on national television in 1995, on The BBC.

Playing baseball in Central Park, I crashed and burned on a slide to home plate, wiping out the umpire and myself on a single play. Since we had already paid the ump, he split. The teams then asked me to umpire, so I put on the mask, propped myself up on a long aluminum bat, and started calling balls and strikes.

Apparently, my strike zone was pretty wide. So pitchers loved me; batters wanted to wring my neck. After an inning on the hot seat, I experienced a good old-fashioned rhubarb (in English and Spanish), but no serious animosity. After I called one of my teammates out on a bang-bang play at third, everyone trusted me, and we had no problems after that.

After the game, I saw these guys with cameras, who had apparently filmed us. They explained that they were from the BBC, showed me a replay of the out at third (Yay! I nailed the call), and asked me a few questions. When I saw those two hanging out at the park a couple weeks later, they told me that they edited the segment featuring me, and aired it later that night.

Of course, since I no longer lived in the UK, I had to take their word for it.


5. My favorite color is red.


6. I am a former Boy Scout.


7. When I was five years old, this bird, a magpie, began terrorizing our neighborhood. I didn’t know magpies (especially wild ones) could do this, but this one could mimic human speech.

One day, while playing in the front yard, the bird began calling out my name. “X! X! X!” it cawed.

“What? What? What?” I screeched.

The bird kept repeating my name. “What do you want?” I screamed. “Stop calling me if you don’t wanna talk!”

“X! X! X!”

Between the two of us, we had made such a tremendous racket that my dad bolted through the door to investigate. “What’re you doing?” he asked.

“This bird keeps calling me, but won’t tell me what he wants.”

Dad took a deep breath, rolled his eyes and said, “X, that bird isn’t calling you. It can’t talk.”

“What do you mean it can’t talk?” I said. After all, if Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker and Mickey Mouse can talk. Why not this bird?

“X! X! X!”

“See there?” I said pointing to the magpie.

“He’s just mimicking human speech. He heard your name around the neighborhood, and now he’s calling it out like parrots do.”

The bird then let loose with a stream of profanity. At least it sounded like profanity to me, for I could only make out two of the words. It must have been, though, because Dad called me in immediately.


8. My favorite comedian is Flip Wilson. Since Enemy of the Republic’s favorite musician is Johnny Cash, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

According to Plan, but not on Schedule

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been about fun and games recently. That’s because I’m procrastinating in ending Phase I of The X-Spot.

As some of you know, I accidentally started this blog when trying to log onto a team blog, The 23rd Mandalation, at the invitation of my meatspace friend Suki Hoshi. Not knowing what I was doing (forgive me, I was new), I accidentally created a new blog here. It never occurred to me that anyone would read this, so I posted sporadically during the first couple of months. After awhile, however, I rarely posted to 23M, concentrating instead on this.

After thinking about this blog for a while, and considering earlier advice given by another meatspace friend, RdanaFox, I decided to take this page seriously and make a project out of it. By early April, last year, I came up with a four-year plan for The X-Spot, in which I would take the blog through four specific phases. Each phase would consist of approximately the same material, but emphasize different aspects of it.

This first phase consists of a survey on major topics that conspiracy trackers research. During this time, we’ve covered some assassinations, either acknowledged or suspected (e.g. JFK, Marilyn Monroe), espionage and operations, either acknowledged or suspected (COINTELPRO, Symbionese Liberation Army), ufology, (alien abduction, Roswell), mind control/thought reform, conspiracy culture (Gemstone), quasi-official operators (e.g. Mafia), and lately the movement of money. During that time, we’ve also discussed (via the comments page) elements of the other three phases. And because we all need a break from things now and then, I’ve added some silliness here and there in the form of fun and games.

I have three topics to present before completing Phase I. I saved them for last because they’re the most difficult. They aren’t difficult in terms of wrapping your mind around them. They’re difficult because they are sensationalistic, button-pushing items that can easily offend if not contexualized properly.

These topics include the bizarre and disturbing. Had I started with them, I wonder if any of you regulars would have hung around to see the next stage. After all, you are rational, intelligent people who would have probably dismissed everything I present next as hogwash. Indeed, about 50% of it is hogwash. A good deal of the rest may or may not be true. But even if it is false, it is not nearly as “out there” as you might think.

The first topic deals with the area of conspiracy research I call Tinfoil Hat Land. Basically, it’s an expose of the dark side of conspiracy theory, chronicling the stupidity, wackiness, racism, anti-Semitism, and hysteria that conspiracy theory has fostered in the past, and probably will again in the future. Starting with the people who actually wore tinfoil hats (who aren’t quite as nutty as they seem--certainly the sanest of this bunch), we’ll work our way through such topics as “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” and arrive at an actual or suspected witch-hunt or two.

The second topic deals with the occult. The connection between certain occult traditions and conspiracy research is difficult to sum up in a few words, so I won’t try. The third topic deals with a subject matter that ties together the previous two, but is so thoroughly disturbing that I’m just gonna spring it on you when I get to it.

As you probably noted, I first referred to having a four-year plan in terms of constructing this blog. That’s because I initially thought I could cover each phase within a year’s time. As you’ll notice, I’ve already done this for a year without completing the first phase. And I don’t think I’ll do so before this fall sometime, given the rate I’m currently going.

In fact, I’m going to delay finishing Phase I even further by indulging in a little more fun and games.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

MindTrap Answers

Here is a complete list of answers to the previous two posts.

I Knew That

1. The politician could only sleep two hours, because the windup clock wouldn’t be able to distinguish between 12:00midnight and 12:00noon.

First answered by SJ, and independently answered by Libby.

2. The numbers are for house addresses. Each plate costs three dollars.

First answered by SJ, and independently by C-Dell.

3. The worm averages one meter a day, but only because he slides back down three meters. So, on the 37th day, it would have crawled out of the hole completely, and have no reason to slide back down.

Answered by SJ.

4. This question was confusing because it violates our common sense. But if you remember your standardized tests—you know, the section that went “hand is to mitten as foot is to ______”—then the question is easier to answer.

Three is not a third of six. Three is a third of nine. The relationship between six and nine is 2:3. So half of twenty would be half of whatever is in a 2:3 relationship with 20, or in other words thirty. Since half of thirty is fifteen, fifteen is the correct response.

Answered by SJ.

5. Slip Shod murdered Art Bragg by placing a dagger of ice in his thermos. The ice then melted away in the heat of the sauna.

Answered by SJ, with partial credit going to C-Dell.

6. The four men were a quartet of musicians. So, when they all played, they all got paid.

Answered by no one.

7. Charles Pompuss realizes that objects that appeal to him make the pupils of his eyes dilate, thus giving a potential seller a clue that might get them to drive up the price. By wearing sunglasses during negotiations, Charles takes his eyes out of the equation. Many professional poker players wear shades for the same reason.

Answered by Boo.


I Knew That Two

1. Sandy is a tropical fish. She died when her bowl tipped over and shattered on the ground. So, she died from suffocation because her gills couldn’t breathe air.

Answered by Boo.

2. The book bearing the phrase “How to Jog” was a single volume from a set of encyclopedias (a set that apparently had few entries that began with the letter “i,”—either that or each volume was really, really thick).

Answered by no one.

3. Sid Shady and his wife were at a drive-in. Since the movie had loud battle scenes with guns blasting all over the place, his shots blended in with the sound of the movie. He then simply drove away in the car they arrived in with no one being the wiser.

Answered by JohnB.

4. Were the house not able to impose limits, then by doubling a player with a large enough bankroll would win every time, despite the odds—even if she has terrible luck.

Let’s suppose, for example, our friend Boo bumps into a gang of multi-billionaires in Monte Carlo on a day that a hapless casino owner decides to eliminate the table limits of all the games. Because they're smart, the multi-billionaires decide to finance Boo’s play at the blackjack table. Boo bets a hundred Euros on her first hand, and loses. Because Boo’s smart too, she then bets 200 Euros. Again she loses. Next she bets 400 Euros. She loses again. In fact, she has rotten luck.

Even if Boo’s luck were good, she’d probably have to lose a hand or two out of every ten she played. Were her luck really bad, she’d lose five or six times before winning. But let’s say that her luck was horrific, and that she had to play 20 times before winning. If she kept doubling, then on her 20th hand, she would have raked in a pot of 104,857,600 Euros, while her losses would have amounted to 104,857,500 Euros, thus netting 100 Euros. She can then begin the process again….and again.

Then again, let’s suppose Boo gets really lucky, and decides to dump one billion francs at the roulette wheel on number 21. Lo and behold, the number 21 comes up. At a payout of 36-1, the casino now owes her 36 billion francs (which, at the time of this writing is worth $48,337,200,000). That’s a staggering loss, even for a casino.

Mostly answered by Yinyang.

5. Granny Smith’s coma started two weeks earlier, or since May 6, 1991. A will signed by her on May 10, 1991 would have to be spurious.

First answered by Foam. Independently answered by Yinyang, C-Dell and JohnB.

6. Since natives always lie, they cannot identify themselves as natives. Likewise, visitors always tell the truth, so they wouldn’t claim to be natives either. Since the male applicant told Shadow that’s what she said, then he had to be lying, and therefore a native.

First answered by SJ. Independently answered by John and C-Dell. Partial credit goes to Foam.

7. E. The first letters represent numbers (one, two, three, etc.). The next number in the sequence is eight.

Answered by no one.

8. Tower. All of the words in Group A are still words if you add the word ‘water’ in front of them.

Answered by SJ.

9. Sam Slug lost playing Monopoly.

First answered by Foam. Independently answered by JohnB.

10. Since the pool is a circle, then the path described would represents two sides of a right triangle, with the line between his entrance and exit points representing the third side, and also the diameter. Using Pythagoras’ theorem (remember that from The Wizard of Oz?) squaring the two sides you know about and adding them should equal the square of the third side. Six times six is thirty-six; eight times eight is sixty-four. Add them together, and you get one hundred. The square root of one hundred is ten. So the diameter is ten meters.

First answered by Yinyang. Independently answered by JohnB.

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