Friday, June 29, 2007

The Drone photographs

The last few nights I have had some free time (for a change) to simply relax and do whatever the mood strikes me to do. This doesn’t happen as often as I’d like and probably not as often as should be. On Wednesday night I happened upon some recent reports coming from the UFOlogy world regarding a series of sightings of a new variety. If you don’t follow the UFOlogy world here is the scoop.

A series of photos have been released by what appears to be 3 different people, who took the photos at different locations and within a very, very short time frame of one another. The photos are quite sharp and appear quite convincingly real. The photos show objects that are being described by UFOlogists as “Drones”, and their appearance is appropriate given the name. The photos do not show the hallmarks of being PhotoShopped, at least on a casual glance and the objects in the photos appear to me, in my opinion, to have a certain physical “weight” that is lacking in PhotoShopped images.

What I mean by physical “weight” is a certain quality that seems amiss and unnatural in CGI or photo editing suites. When you look at a special effects laden movie, say Spiderman, doesn’t the action seem “off” because the computer created people don’t seem to have a physical presence in reality? Maybe it’s the speed in which the characters move or the quality of only being a series of points in a grid in a computer program. There is just a quality that feels more unreal than it looks real.

These photos do not have that feel about them. There isn’t a sensation of unnatural depth like we used to see when people would fake film-based photos. They just seem to have a quality of realism, depth and presence, which is quite natural in the “feel” of the images. There has been an anonymous explanation for these drones released on a web site that is purportedly written by an engineer who claims to have worked on advanced projects that are virtually identical to the drone images.

While I can’t say I am bowling over with excitement about this story I can say that my interest has been piqued. Something about the speed of this story developing, the information that has been released and the circumstances of the events seems both right and wrong to me. Not since the Phoenix Lights has a UFO story captured my thoughts as this one is.

This could, as so many high weirdness stories, turn out to be an elaborate hoax. So many hoaxes collapse simply because the inertia of the story brings too much info to the forefront too soon and the weak aspects of the story simply cause the whole story to collapse. The Aussie Bloke postings are a prime example of a story folding after the weight and inertia cause the weak foundation to give way.

I’m going to keep watching the story and see how it progresses. The story is either scripted or it’s not and scripted stories begin to show the veneer of fiction and creative writing quite soon. Until then…keep watching the skies.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

41 is the new...well, what is it?

Tomorrow marks my birthday. I no longer get excited about my birthdays and feel somewhat relieved when the day has passed. This year I will be turning 41 and for some odd reason, numerology popped into my head.

When I think of the number 41 I tend to think of the year 1941. That was, of course, the year of the Pearl Harbor attack but it was also a huge year in baseball history. Joe DiMaggio had his 56 game hitting streak and Ted Williams hit .406 in that year. It is now 66 years beyond 1941 and I was born 41 years ago, in 1966.

41 is the atomic number of niobium, the number 41 is encoded into much of JS Bach’s music and Arthur C. Clarke used the number prominently in the Rama cycle of books. If you are a fan of Kevin Smith’s film Clerks, you’ll understand when I say that I enjoyed turning 37 far more than I am enjoying turning 41.

I’m not so much freaked out about the actual age itself. Middle age isn’t really shaking me up. To be honest I am somewhat surprised and grateful to have not met my demise long ago. My Navy experiences forced me to understand and accept my mortality in my early adult life because there was no other choice. When I left the service at the age of 26 I was under the impression that I was living on borrowed time and I’ve had to readjust my behavior since my physical safety has improved greatly since then.

The only things I really despise about middle age is the effect it has on my body. I am not, and never will be, as limber as I once was. I have to force myself to exercise daily and I can’t seem to break past certain points in that exercise. It’s like I’ve plateaued and can’t increase my stamina or reps of just about every exercise routine I know. I don’t mind the gray hair; except for the gray chest hair, I actually dislike that.

I enjoy the moderate level of wisdom that has accompanied middle age. I am certainly enjoying the look on young men’s faces when I loose patience with them and read them the riot act. Instead of trying to physically posture and assert themselves over me the way they would try to do when I was younger, they now just open their eyes wide and skulk, and I have learned that I can get away with a lot when I dress down someone who deserves it. I think the curmudgeon clothes will fit me well in 20 years.

I also enjoy the fact that a woman in her early 30’s is a younger woman for me. It is a relief to date a “younger woman” and feel at ease since she now is at an age where she actually knows what she is doing. Being the older man now adds a new twist that is interesting as well. So, there are advantages to this middle age business.

If 51 presents itself to me I certainly hope I am able to handle it as well as I think I am handling 41.

That formaldehyde aftertaste

Because of my recent work related break from the blog I’ve found it to be a bit tough to get the rhythm going again in terms of writing posts. It’s been weeks since I had a roundup of news articles about the melamine contamination scandal so I thought a new one is in order. There has actually been some new and troubling developments.

Just this morning we have learned that the Chinese government has closed 180 food plants in China for their use of toxins in their food. Among the toxic substances found to have been used were formaldehyde, banned dyes and industrial wax. Some of the food processors were also found to have been using recycled or expired food in their plants. I wonder what “recycled” food is exactly? I have to assume it is analogous to the method of making pig feed from the excess or waste feed which we learned about several months ago as this scandal first gained momentum.

An ominous statement regarding this which was made by a director in the Chinese quality control administration, as quoted in the article linked above, “These are not isolated cases.” I take that to mean that what we have seen so far are examples of a general culture and accepted practice within the Chinese food industry as a whole. Of course, since we are shamelessly capitalistic here in the States, big business concerns grow fatter off the response by increasing sales of their products and services.

Now, don’t get me wrong on my last statement. I do believe that a person (Corporate entity in this case, which is really a legal person) deserves the profits of their labor when they devise a method or system or device which provides a legitimate and needed service to humanity. But it continues to irk me that for the last 6 years we have seen one business concern after another making huge profits in response to problems that are intentionally created by men, which doesn’t address the root problem.

The root problem in this case isn’t a natural byproduct of human activity, such as methane release in coal mining as an example, it’s a problem related to food processors intentionally adding toxic substances to their food products. It’s a safety issue that is man-made, not a naturally occurring problem. The companies that make a living by selling products that monitor methane in coal mines provide a necessary and noble product that ensures the safety of miners and the corporate assets of the business they work for. That is what I am referring to.

This series of problems is a result of big business and government holding each other’s hands and looking the other way thus allowing a problem to fester by ignoring their primary responsibilities. Once the cat is out of the bag and the problem makes them look bad, a problem that they created, they spring into inaction. Bureaucracy and cost are always the reasons given why they can’t do something. Next tune, please.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The CIA reports are now available online

A word of caution before clicking the link to the "Family Jewels" reports, the pages of the report have been converted into .gif files which will load in your browser. There are over 700 pages so I would recommend dial-up users using a different URL to view/download the files. If I can find a Table of Contents style index page for the reports I'll post it. For those with a broadband connection, here you go: Selected excerpts from the CIA "Family Jewels" report.

Also keep in mind that you are viting the CIA's public website when viewing these documents.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Atlanta on the verge of a healthcare meltdown

Nothing like a good case of coincidence to turn your head, is there? Here in Atlanta we are beginning to see the true early stages of what will probably turn out to be a major failure of our healthcare system and this is hot on the heels of the new Michael Moore film that will be released this week. For years we have been learning about the financial crisis at one of the major hospitals in Atlanta, Grady Health Care System, and the crisis is finally at a tipping point 7 years after the hemorrhaging began.

Grady Hospital plays a vital and central role in the health care system for the metropolitan Atlanta area, for those not from Atlanta or familiar with our health care system. It is the only level 1 trauma unit in the area and its location in downtown Atlanta puts it in a busy and special location. Indigents and the uninsured also use Grady, as it is the only source of medical care they have and in a metropolitan area of more than 4 million people, you can imagine its level of use simply for those two aspects.

We are now hearing that the financial situation is so dire at Grady that we Atlantans need to consider and prepare for it’s possible closure. If this happens the patients that would normally use the Grady Healthcare System will be redirected to the remaining hospitals and clinics in the metro area. In other words, an already overwhelmed health care system for the metropolitan Atlanta area will have to absorb the load of almost 1 million patients per year.

You may be wondering where the conspiracy is in this story? To be honest, there may be one; there may not be one. What can be said is that the experience of getting sick or being injured in one of the major cities of America may turn into a nightmare of shocking proportions. Who’s to blame, the isolated administrators of the Grady Healthcare System or a broader administration of healthcare in America? Probably a combination of both.

What we will see is patterns emerge from this problem and we will see the pattern solidify in shape and form. The wealthy, those who have the resources to fend for themselves, will be taken care of and their finances will carry them through. The poor and middle class will suffer for they haven’t the financial resources to protect themselves. Lives will be torn, lives will be lost and the strong will continue to survive. In effect, we will see a microcosm of the greater Illuminati Conspiracy Theory. Depopulation and a greater divide between the haves and the have nots.

Many can argue that business, like nature, is a struggle for survival and those that cannot survive in business should and will die. I agree with that idea to an extent. When it comes to vital services, and healthcare is a vital service, survival of the fittest should not be a factor. While Grady does need stronger leadership, it should not be sacrificed as a failed business. It provides more than just a service to the indigent and poor of Atlanta; the very structure of healthcare for all Atlantans and Georgians is at risk if it is allowed to close its doors. Doctors who practice within a 100-mile radius of Atlanta also send their patients to Atlanta for the higher quality of care they can receive in the city. They would no longer be able to do this if Grady is allowed to close as the remaining city hospitals and clinics will be overwhelmed with nearly 1 million more patients per year. The healthcare of Georgians and the healthcare for the entire southeastern US would feel the ripple effects of this.

The release of SiCKO should provoke discussion in this country about the healthcare system and we need to pay attention to how the film is discussed. We know that the health insurance industry has ramped up their attack machine on Moore and they will spin the lies and propaganda about their industry on a daily basis. Let’s try to look through the lies and bullshit that will rise to the top and go beyond them. In the end, all Americans, not just a select few, will benefit if we do this.

Executive Branch Three Card Monte

The past week has brought to light an aspect of the Bush administration that has only been reported peripherally. The revelation that VP Cheney is not only violating the Presidential Records Act intentionally but has also created his own security and classification system for documents and is claiming that he, his office and his responsibilities are not connected to the Executive Branch, shouldn’t be surprising. The fact that no one seems to give a damn and holy hell is not being raised is surprising. Cheney’s control over the shadow government has been documented several times since the 9/11 attacks, what we are now seeing are glimpses of the mechanisms he has put in place to work behind a veil of secrecy of his own creation.

Several months after 9/11 there was an article published by Time Magazine that provided a general overview of Cheney’s whereabouts in the days and weeks following the disaster. Site R was described and vague details of how the shadow government operates were given. Cheney is many things, but dumb and disorganized he is not. The processes we are now being seeing for the first time, such as his customized document classification system are simply the surface gloss covering what he and his office and henchmen are doing as day-to-day work.

The fact that the Fourth Estate is rolling over and purring like a content kitten and not making this a major news story is one more piece of evidence that the so-called “Liberal Media Bias” is simply a fable and term used by propagandists. Our senior members of the Executive Branch are showing all of us once again that they believe the laws of the land do not apply to them, that they are above the law and complicit in this conspiracy to circumvent the law is our mass media, the Fourth Estate.

The details of what Cheney and his staff are and have been doing in secret will most likely never be learned. Document shredding appears to be a full time job at the Naval Observatory and we have seen first hand that those who are the leaves on this tree of power do not open their mouths, even with the threat of prison hanging over their head. Their loyalty is to individuals and to the maintenance of power, not to our nation and certainly not to their fellow Americans. The scandal that brews beneath the surface of this process in the office of the VP may never see the light of day, and it never will if the corporate news leaders have their way.

But few care and why should they with Paris Hilton nearing the end of her jail stint and an interview ready to happen with the giant of journalism, Larry King. We have pregnant white women being murdered to satisfy your news jones and if that isn’t enough to satisfy our need to be informed about the world around us we still have Barry Bonds waiting in the corner with his juiced race to surpass Henry Aaron for the home run record. With race, murder, sports and celebrity to ponder who needs to spend time thinking about boring politics?