Archives for category: History
From Edward J. Wood’s 1868 book on giants and dwarves in history.

Not a few UFO theorists have noticed something very odd about their admittedly peculiar subject, the one we now think of as pertaining to “the paranormal” and “alien encounters”: the accounts vary, over time, in specifics, sure — but not much in generalities. While the look of the Others changes, they remain other in a few characteristic ways. And, especially, reported human interactions with them seem surprisingly consistent over the epochs: there is often “missing time”; experiences of “floating”; reports of telepathy and “mind control.” These are common across cultures and times and bodies of lore.

In the course of the last two centuries, the style of our interpretations of the alleged fantastic phenomena have gone from mythological/religious to Jules Verne-extramundane to stefnal-extraterrestrial. Encounters with Faërie and the Djinni, for example (not uncommon in the premodern past), and “alien abduction” scenarios (not uncommon now) are often startlingly similar to each other.

Further, encounters with beings in the sky in ancient and medieval times are often explicitly connected to the cultural expectations of the experiencers: religious at least up through the Fátima events; simple technological in the mid- and late-19th centuries; more obviously “alien” and seemingly extraterrestrial as the 20th century progressed.

Erich von Däniken has made much of this oddity, arguing that the beings whom humanity has been encountering are, well — to use the colloquial — “fucking with us.” The Trickster figure did not come from nothing.

Joseph P. Farrell suggests that the evidence here points to a psy-op, a sort of Grand Psy-Op masking the evidence of xenoterrestrials — not necessarily extraterrestrials — in a “breakaway civilization.”

Now, I noticed this cross-time commonality years ago. I had no direct experience with anything paranormal; I missed a “miracle” once by a matter of a few feet. Yet I have read quite a bit, over the years, and from my readings I noticed the common strain from folklore about wee folk and worse, to modern urban legends surrounding the UFO/alien abduction subject. But then I forgot about this connection (one has so many ideas going in and out of one’s head), and when I encountered it again recently, it sure seemed familiar.

Mere cryptomnesia, a common enough occurrence of faulty memory.

In my youth, I chalked up these the eerie echoes of high strangeness across the centuries to the night mind of our race, a susceptibility to confabulate and perhaps even hallucinate in ways that suggest Jung’s “collective unconscious.” But I also theorized that the strangely related experiences could very much be evolutionarily driven — that is, biological and life-history in origin — as in the common fear of snakes.

But I have changed my mind, recently. The rise in the number of — and even increasing government transparency about — Unidentified Flying Objects (along with Unidentified Submersible Objects, there are those, too) adds a huge ancillary data set that subtracts from the credence of the more comfortable “psychological” theories about strange encounters.

So I go back to the square one, and you may even now find me reading the Book of Enoch . . . and even stranger fare.

Note that it was my exposure to unexpectedly large amounts of credible-if-challenging testimony that got me out of my dogmatic skepticism, my almost-automated response of dismissal to each anomalous datum. What I used to regard as not requiring serious explanation, as fit only for “debunking,” now I try to regard as new information, though what to make of that information is hard to figure.

But just because one cannot explain a datum does not mean that it is worth ignoring. Indeed, one trouble with debunkers today is their readiness to cook up an explanation, however wildly improbable, that satisfies the debunkers but also throws out of court a whole host of anomalies.

Meanwhile, in between readings and viewings of documentary videos, I mull over possibilities. And the possibilities are not exactly narrow.

Yet, the most obvious conclusion is the one respectable people seem most afraid of. I have noticed how readily journalists do what Tim Poole did, last week, when they cover the current series of UFO disclosures: insist that they ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT ALIENS! 

“During the Cold War, a psy-op is infinitely more likely than we found nine alien ships. . . .”

What is interesting about this “lots of ways to explain this other than aliens” rap is that it has little to do with actual likelihood. You cannot talk reasonably about probability without some measurable data sets, and to speak of an “infinite” likelihood of non-alien explanation (as Mr. Poole did) is more out-of-your-ass talk than scientific, though it may sound science-y and reasonable.

To me it sounds like how Deists talked during the Great Awakening — very carefully.

What we are dealing with is “subjective probability,” a pure matter of personal cognitive comfort.

Now, some UFO sightings are undoubtedly natural phenomena — and by that we must include natural events beyond just swamp gas. The Hessdalen sightings sure seem less like technology and more like electromagnetic “ball lightning” (or similar), anyway.

But the accounts that really puzzle are not so easily explainable within the confines of normal science. Most of the UFOs we are interested in are said to exhibit material surfaces — that is, to appear as solid, in ways that the Hessdalen lights do not appear to exhibit.

What interests me is Tim Poole’s reassuring tones one minute — talking how it is “infinitely more likely” that what we are witnessing in the Bob Lazar case is a psy-op rather than “alien” craft — and then providing a familiar “cognitive bias” explanations the next . . . all the while claiming not to question Bob Lazar’s honesty. This seems bizarre to me. I have watched the recent documentary on Lazar, and the subsequent Joe Rogan interview . . .

. . . and it seems to me that Lazar is either lying, and therefore part of a psy-op; programmed into a carefully constructed delusion, and therefore part of a more ominous psy-op; or telling something close to the truth, and we are in Terra Incognita. Mr. Poole, breezing right over this, seems to want both to reassure us of Nothing To See Here and still be nice to a testifying whistleblower whose claims have become increasingly credible, over the years, in macro contexts as well as in micro*.

But this question of reassurance: is that the key to understanding how people are handling the current info-seep?

I suspect it is. Most of us do not want to be publicly humiliated as a UFO nut.

But it is wrong-headed. Given the reports that come to us, aliens may be the least of our worries, that is, if mass panic is what we are really concerned about.

For what is the real likelihood, here?

If it is just governments screwing with us in a Deep State Psy-Op of the first water, this suggests a malignity in our governments that should deeply unsettle any democrat or republican (an anarchist might more likely merely raise an eyebrow). It would mean that the Deep State is perpetrating the greatest fraud in history, instigating abductions, fly-bys, druggings, and worse along with sending mixed signals, publicly, to foul up everything and therefore create an astounding elite/rub class division, all to . . . fake out the Russians?

If it is aliens, on the other hand . . .

…a popular and quite comic meme…

. . . then the Deep State has been hiding information from most of the rest of government, from the American citizenry, and from the world, and for a long time. Why? Well, likely to protect us.

But what of the alleged aliens themselves?

Well, they are undoubtedly not to be trusted . . .

Claims to have first-hand knowledge of “aliens.”

. . . but they appear to have been at the margins of our civilization for a very long time, and could be doing worse . . . but apparently aren’t. Whatever it is that they are doing.

If — and I realize for most this seems like a big IF — what we are dealing with here cannot be ascribed solely to natural phenomena, and also not to our government messing with our heads . . . and it is not aliens . . . exactly . . . think of what else it could be:

  • Clandestine xenoterrestrial civilization, of recent origin;
  • Clandestine xenoterrestrial civilization of ancient, even deeply prehistoric origin;
  • Time travelers;
  • The real players in our Simulation.

I submit that at least three of these four scenarios** are each more disturbing than The Government Is Hiding Aliens.

  • A recent breakaway civilization, whether Prussian, Nazi, South American, or North American, suggests a disturbing threat level.
  • An ancient, non-mammalian race hiding under the oceans, or in Antarctica, or even on the Moon? Freaky.
  • And, well, extra-dimensionals playing a game in which we are likely mere NPC’s? Maybe Hindus would grok it, but Christians and Jews wouldn’t, would they?

Given the unsettling nature of these even more “out-there” possibilities, mightn’t we non-experts recognize this in our reaction? A word to the wise; a word to Mr. Poole.

That being said, I should admit that not all of Tim Poole’s UFO speculations are valueless, for he was surely right to remind people who profess to yearn for the bizarre that an alien civilization would be truly . . . alien.

Most ufologists I encounter online seem impatient or annoyed with the current disclosure talk; almost no one in the UFO community believes that the Government — some people in government, anyway — do not know what is going on regarding UFOs. The disclosure project at present is obviously a way to let normal well-educated (snooty) Americans (like me), who have at best treated the subject as fit only for sf lit, to adjust themselves to a greater and somewhat disturbing reality. Slowly. And the project (run, for better or worse, by the To the Stars Academy folks) appears also to be a way to allow government bureaus and military personnel to get over their fears of shame and backlash, and thus allow the biggest disclosures to take place.

As for me, well, I am willing to be convinced of anything, provided there is some evidence, and provided alternative, less outré hypotheses cannot better explain all the data.

Even, yes, the Players at the Simulation story. . . .

And remember, neither my preferences or yours are irrelevant to the truth.

twv


* Lazar’s story keeps on checking out. A number of the unknown things Lazar spoke about, initially, to George Knapp, have eventually checked out. And, in the course of investigation, it was shown that the government had almost successfully erased Lazar’s educational and work record. Erased.

** I do have one other conjecture that makes surface sense, but it suffers for being on the other side of Occam’s razor.

. . . and that is just a small truth compared to the whole truth.

Much has been made of the Davis/Wilson leak. By Richard Dolan, for instance:

Keith Basterfield has a succinct discussion of the matter, titled “On the provenance of the purported Davis/Wilson document,” which is worth reading. Dolan puts this in perspective, despite admitting that “we are still in a hall of mirrors”:

The documents themselves are worth checking out. Here are the ones I grabbed from Imgur:

I do not know much, of course. This is not an area of my expertise. I just find it weird that smart people with a sense of history seem uninterested in the story. Could it be fear? Intellectual cowardice? Lack of curiosity? Pathetic programmed response? Centrist cultism?

A reasonable and studied skepticism?

It will be interesting to see where this all goes. My suspicion is that the big picture will turn out to be big and important. If this is a psy-op — if the leak is itself an attempt to deceive the public — it is even a bigger story than extra- or xeno-terrestrials, suggesting the lengths intelligence agencies will go to manipulate people . . . for reasons unknown.

twv

What do you do when you discover a hole in the ground and you have a rabbit problem? Do you go down the rabbit hole, armed?

The hole in question, this time, is an ostensible hoax story from 1890s America: the airship mystery, as reported (?) in multiple newspapers over the course of one year. I first read about the airship stories in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, by Thomas M. Disch, who called them straight-out lies.

But he offered no evidence that they were lies. Disch just assumed they were.

And, based purely upon their obviously stefnal, pre-steam-punk character, Disch’s prejudice sure appears sound.

Trouble is, however, these news stories did not come out of nowhere, did not appear in the realm of American journalism as utterly new and anomalous. There were precedents, including a strange 1863 newspaper story involving President Abraham Lincoln and numerous witnesses in the press to an airshow, an aerial demonstration. During the Civil War. The story is told, in part, here:

I have not done my own investigation yet, nor have I even read the books on the subject by Michael Busby and Walter Bosley (the latter speaking in the video directly above). And I have not even given the Dellschau mss. a look. Not really.

So why not just dismiss the tall tales as such, reflexively relegating them to hoax status, as in the case of Edgar Allen Poe’s hypnosis story?

Well, that sort of bigotry seems less and less honorable or even likely to prove correct, what with the number of contemporary “scientific consensus” paradigms dissolving in front of us, in real time.

Besides, the ongoing UFO disclosure provides us with an impetus to go looking for other-than-extraterrestrial explanations.

And stories that our betters insist are mere hoaxes, like the 19th century giants’ skeletons reportage and this airship mystery, may provide clues as to the nature of reality that was previously and persistently denied.

So I try to keep an open mind.

Whether that means I must plunge into the depths, Pellucidar-wise, or merely stay above ground with an eye to subterranean access points, I am not yet sure.

twv

It may be that Hillary Clinton losing the last election influenced the form of the UFO disclosure we are seeing now. It is a fun and under-appreciated fact that Hillary, her husband Bill and their assistant John Podesta were all enthusiastic and longstanding proponents of UFO disclosure, and that Hillary had made public pronouncements in favor of disclosure.

Indeed, disclosure is one of the more interesting topics in the generally tedious Wikileaked Clinton emails.

The fact that her pronouncements were ungainly and seemingly ludicrous may or may not have been significant.

One of my theories about her loss, as I have mentioned before, is that, no matter how thoroughly the shallow end of the Deep State favored her, the deep end may have been dubious at best about disclosure, and therefore rigged the election in Trump’s favor. I am not saying this is likely, but it is also not something I rule out of hand.

It is worth noting that the current disclosure does not appear to have been orchestrated by said deep Deep State, but by Congress, the Navy, and former investigators at AATIP. The Navy breaking ranks with the Air Force and NASA and the CIA about how to handle UFOs may be hugely significant.

Of course, we have little knowledge and mainly mere hunch.

twv

David Garrow, the MLK biographer who broke the story on MLK, reprobate.

Sex scandals have been swirling around Martin Luther King’s reputation for years. Now, more information comes out — courtesy of The Daily Mail, alas:

Secret FBI tapes that accuse Martin Luther King Jr of having extramarital affairs with ‘40 to 45 women’ and even claim he ‘looked on and laughed’ as a pastor friend raped a parishioner exist, an author has claimed. 

The civil rights hero was also heard allegedly joking he was the founder of the ‘International Association for the Advancement of P***y-Eaters’ on an agency recording that was obtained by bugging his room, according to the sensational claims made by biographer David Garrow — a Pulitzer prize-winning author and biographer of MLK. 

Writing in British magazine Standpoint, Garrow says that the shocking files could lead to a ‘painful historical reckoning’ for the man who is celebrated across the world for his campaign against racial injustice. 

Actually, The Daily Mail is merely repeating other rags’ coverage:

The FBI surveillance tapes detailing his indiscretions are being held in a vault at the U.S. National Archives and are not due for release until 2027.

But David Garrow, a biographer of King who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1987 book Bearing the Cross about the Baptist minister, has unearthed the FBI summaries of the various incidents.

In an article to be published in Standpoint, Garrow tells how the FBI planted transmitters in two lamps in hotel rooms booked by King in January 1964, according to The Sunday Times.

But note that this very American scandal is being covered chiefly abroad.

We may be living in the epoch for disclosures of difficult facts. When President Donald Trump had Attorney General Bill Barr release much of the work of the Mueller Report and its surrounding investigative product, a Democratic Congressman called the declassification “a cover-up”:

Some revelations are so hard to take they must be called the opposite of aletheia.

This trend for declassification and denial can be seen in something bigger than partisan politics and the clay feet (and other appendages) of our heroes. Some form of transparency is coming to the biggest secret of our time:

Many of my friends and readers remain adamant: the UFO story is a hoax. It isn’t. The ongoing disclosure indicates as much. In this short presentation by Richard Dolan, above, he even gives us some direction to go for the most interesting revelations.

The funny part of all of this is how cultic is the behavior of folks on the major sides of these issues. Cults of personality, like for MLK and Trump, distort their and our perceptions, of course. But the anti-Trump cult is even more into denialism than is the King hero-worship.

Perhaps this resilience of the King cult is for reasons Dave Smith made in his comedy special Libertas: perhaps MLK’s sexual scandals can easily be bracketed off from his civil rights accomplishments.

The most revolutionary insight for me these past several years has been to see in the standard dismissal of UFO lore and evidence a cultic attitude. We are used to ascribing to “UFO believers” a nutty cultism, sure. But centrist cults, like those defended by talented apologists like Michael Shermer and cherished by his wannabes the world over, are more effective, for they can dispense power, pelf, and position: centrist cults tend to be stronger than dissident ones. Which is why they are at least as likely to be wrong.

Right up until their secrets get out. Then there is chaos.

And we can witness fancy footwork as cult leaders backpedal.

What will happen to the MLK story, I don’t know. Maybe it will help African-Americans to wise up politically, and shuffle off their thralldom to progressivism and the Democratic Party. But, as with the case of Trump’s presidency, expect a lot of bizarre resistance.

But the UFO story is more important, for, as Richard Dolan asserts, this secret runs right into the heart of the Deep State, and rocks the foundations of our American pseudo-republic.

twv


Addendum

A Facebook discussion of the UFO disclosure issue.

from a review on Goodreads

Ahmed Osman’s thesis in Jesus in the House of the Pharaohs (2004) strikes me as preposterous. Yet it is such a daring performance that I am sort of in awe. The book delivers (figuratively) a blow to the brain, in a way reminiscent of Julian Jaynes’s The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) or something by Erich von Däniken — it is such a radical reinterpretation of history that I am left not believing but, instead, holding my hat over my chest as a salute.

And like Jaynes’s and von Däniken’s work, and especially like Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism (1939), this book revolutionizes the past, in this case upending not only Jewish origin stories but Christian ones as well.

The sliver of plausibility for what Osman does lies in an interpretive difficulty: real history in the Bible before Ezra and Nehemiah is . . . problematic. Before the re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem the matching of story to archaeology proves iffy at best.

So one is tempted to dismiss much of the early Biblical “historical” matter as fiction, as myth, or as radically messed-up fact at the very least. The Jews, just back from Babylon — or while in it — constructed a mythology based on dim memory and oral tradition. And out of the need to tell good stories. The strange connection to Egypt sticks out in all this. Take, as just one oddity to be accounted for, the ancient Egyptian practice of circumcision — how did the Israelites’ adoption of it make them “separate”? Well, it made them different from the Mesopotamians. That it did. 

Osman makes the connection with Egypt stronger than ever.

And what a whopper he expounds. In his first book, 1987’s  Stranger in the Valley of Kings, he advanced the idea that Yuya, Master of the Horse under Thutmose IV and Amenhotep III, was actually the Biblical Joseph. In subsequent books, especially this one, he reinterprets everything in terms of 18th and 19th Dynasty Pharaonic history.

Osman proposes that . . .

1. Thutmose III was the Biblical King David, ruler of lands between the Nile and Euphrates (which Thutmose was, but no Israelite ever was).
2. Abraham and Sarai went down to Egypt, with Abraham notoriously passing off his wife as his sister, allowing Thutmose (David) to take Sarai unto himself and sire a son, Isaac, whose birthright is as a prince in Egypt. But they are sent north by the disgusted pharaoh, because Abraham had lied to him.
3. Joseph, grandson of Isaac, is sold into slavery by his brothers and, in Egypt, rises from slavery to high position as Yuya, Father to Pharaohs, in the reign of Thutmose IV. He served on into the reign of the next pharaoh, Amenhotep III, “the Great,” 
4. who is the Biblical Solomon. This long-lived ruler revives an ancient religion, an intellectual and spiritual worship of one deity, represented in the Sun Disk — Atenism.
5. His second son, Amenhotep IV, inherits the throne. He becomes a big believer and priest of Atenism, and redubs himself Akhenaten. And — get this — he is Moses!!!
6. Alhenaten/Moses is kicked out and flees with his most devoted followers to the Sinai. His son Tutankhaten becomes pharaoh at a young age. Tutankhaten is a peacelover and not as big of a fanatic as his father, and accepts Amenism back into the mainstream of Egyptian life, changes his name to Tutankhamen and then travels to Sinai to convince his father to come back to Egypt and accept his co-pharaonic position — all a big happy family — but is killed by an Atenist priest. This is the death on Sinai that Freud wrote about and attributed to the death of “the first Moses” — but it was young King Tut. Tut’s body was sent back to Egypt for a rather bizarre burial.
7. Now, Tut also believed in an afterlife, a resurrection. He was both Moses’ colleague Joshua and . . . drum roll . . . Jesus — of Christianity! This is the stone the builders rejected. The builders of Judaism. Amazing thesis.
8. He is buried and succeeded by his uncle, Pharaoh Ay, the son of Yuya/Joseph, the Biblical Ephraim, and the New Testament Joseph of Arimathea, all three!
9. The next pharaoh, Horemheb, is the persecutor of the Jews in Goshen.
10. After Horemheb croaks, back comes old Akhenaten/Moses, to reclaim the rest of his people. Though the 19th Dynasty pharaoh that Moses encounters does indeed recognize Akhenaten’s royal staff, he is none too impressed with Moses’ entreaties: conflict ensues, Moses sneaks his people out. etc., etc.

Now, that is a story. 

The Essene connection is not clear to me (perhaps I read it too hastily, or too long ago, having stretched out my reading over too long a period) but then the Dead Sea Scrolls’ Teacher of Righteousness is himself pretty obscure. Osman identifies him with Jesus, and, as I said above, Tut. This stretching back of the messianic tradition is that notion taken to its extreme. In The First Messiah: Investigating the Savior Before Jesus (1999), Michael O. Wise only pushed it back a century or so, and, with scholarly caution, did not identify the first “Messiah” with Jesus of Nazareth.

The Akhenaten-as-Moses theory is daring enough. But Osman’s no piker: he makes Christianity an underground movement in Judaism from the beginning.

Is this at all plausible? Well, I have long regarded Freud’s book as a “nut book,” more nutty than Velikovsky’s Oedipus and Akhenaten (1960). So how should I regard this?

Identifying the “historical Jesus” is an old game, for both scholars and nuts. Richard Carrier, in On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt (2014), does the best job advancing the thesis that there was no actual, historical Jesus. (Carrier cites Michael O. Wise, for example, but not Osman.) There is no good historical evidence for Jesus’s existence in Judea c. 30 A.D. — the gospels providing no evidence at all, really — so it is not nutty to say there was no such person. I know it sounds weirder than a walnut, but the literary nature of the gospels provides a huge hint: we are talking about religious fiction here, and there was a major strain of Christianity that did not assert the physical reality of the Messiah at all. I refer, of course, to Gnosticism. And Carrier rightly makes much of the “spiritual Jesus” tradition to be discerned in what remains of that bizarre non-canonical text, The Ascension of Isaiah.

But the real problem with the historical Jesus subject matter is not the paucity of candidates for the man, but the surfeit. Jesus is Yeshua is Joshua, and that was a common name among the Hebrews. Carrier wades into the most startling example, taking note of a “Jesus When” problem, discussing the Nazoreans’ messiah with that name, c. 100 B.C. (pp. 281-285). Indeed, this “Ben Stada” (son of the Unfaithful) or “Ben Pandera” (son of a man named Pandera who had sex with a woman named Mary) was the only executed Jesus the Babylonian Talmudic writers knew of.

That this tradition lived on in the propagandistic Toldoth Jesu is hard to miss. I had an argument with an incredibly smart Jew once about these stories. He refused to take this tradition seriously, though, even countenance it at all, apparently because he thought that it would raise the ire of today’s Christians, conjuring up Christian anti-semitism.

Today’s evangelical Christians (whom I know best) will not likely be budged, in no small part because they tend not to read the historical matter of the Nazoreans or Gnostics or much of anything else that might challenge their faith. They are told by Josh MacDowell and Bill O’Reilly that the evidence for the Son of God living and dying and resurrecting in Judea in the days of Herod and Pontius Pilate is clear. It is not. But that is OK. Harmless fictions? I hope so.

One problem Christians will not properly confront is the problem of pious fraud. Bart Ehrman’s Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why The Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (2011) makes the standard case clearly. But without getting into the thicket of the canon, note what we find in Josephus, a historian quite extra-canonical:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, § 3

This is an obvious interpolation into the historian’s text. Almost all scholars are agreed upon this. It would be most out of character for the turncoat Jew to parade Christian piety in one passage and nowhere else. It makes no sense other than as a forgery.

But what follows is instructive. Well, what follows immediately are two brief tales of scandal, and then a new chapter, which begins like this:

But the nation of the Samaritans did not escape without tumults. The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased; so he bid them to get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them, that when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there. So they came thither armed, and thought the discourse of the man probable; and as they abode at a certain village, which was called Tirathaba, they got the rest together to them, and desired to go up the mountain in a great multitude together; but Pilate prevented their going up, by seizing upon file roads with a great band of horsemen and foot-men, who fell upon those that were gotten together in the village; and when it came to an action, some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight, and took a great many alive, the principal of which, and also the most potent of those that fled away, Pilate ordered to be slain.

Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 4, § 1

This rout of a peaceful Samaritan religious figure, we learn, so upset the Samaritans that they petitioned the emperor, who called back Pontius Pilate to Rome. Pilate was removed from “service” in the area because of his execution of Samaritan pilgrims. This is interesting because it links Pilate to a religious execution. Of an unnamed Samaritan.

Why the lack of a name? Well, Josephus does not name every last one the people he writes about. But Charles Kos, a YouTuber and historian, suggests another reason. The name was elided. Because the name was Jesus. This man, a proverbial Good Samaritan — and the Samaritans were, after all, a people practicing an alternate form of Judaism — was, Kos speculates, the Jesus who spurred the creation of crucial historical elements of the gospels. The Pilate story, for one.

It seems to me not at all implausible that this Samaritan’s passion tale was united with the Nazoreans’ account and the Gnostics’ mythos to create the gospels as we know them.

But Ahmed Osman goes much further. He brings King Tut into the mix, and creates a re-interpretation almost as radically implausible as the standard Christian theological account of the Word and the crucifixion and the bizarre, ghostly Resurrection.

Osman’s story is impressive, I will not deny it. But does it convince?

He had me at Yuya. The idea of Alhenaten as Moses is not altogether too bizarre a leap. But Tut as Jesus?

I will let the question hang there. As if on an Ankh cross.

twv

My reading stack just gets bigger and bigger.
Here is some spillover.


What made the Great Depression different from the depression of 1893-97?

as answered on Quora:

Much of what I was taught in school about the Great Depression was wrong, or at the very least proved to be extremely skewed. Not a few accepted truths are little more than red herrings. Public schools in America do us all a great disservice, but regarding boom and bust cycles, you can usually count on them to have it backwards. The truth is more complex than commonly admitted, and will likely startle students of history.

But hey, instead of a long, scholarly explanation, I would like merely to mention a handful of issues:

  1. No one in government attempted, in the earlier debacle, what Herbert Hoover did to “heroically” save the country from the difficulties associated with the bust part of the boom-bust cycle. For examples of what he managed to “accomplish” — which included trying to prop up wage rates — consult Murray N. Rothbard, America’s Great Depression. And yes, you read that right, Hoover was no advocate for laissez faire. He was, instead, a celebrated progressive who lived up to his reputation by doing his damnedest to prevent the deepening of the depression — and for humanitarian reasons (and Hoover was indeed a great humanitarian). But instead of improving matters and steering the nation away from crisis, he made the situation far, far worse.
  2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for the presidency in part on what we would now call (idiotically) an “austerity” program. But when he took the reins he doubled down on Hoover’s progressivist interventionism, offering These Benighted States* a great number of massive interventions into market adjustment processes, most famously the National Recovery Act. There are a lot of sources for this; I needn’t list any. Just recognize that FDR extended the depression well beyond his second term in office. The U.S. was, in effect, in a depression all the way through World War II (see the work of Robert Higgs on this, especially the concept of regime uncertainty). Nothing like any of this happened under President Grover Cleveland’s watch. And when World War II ended, the Keynesians were panicky: “another Depression!” was their cry. To their horror, a Keynesian stimulus was not delivered, yet the recovery was fairly swift, even with all those soldiers coming home and flooding the labor markets.
  3. The Great Depression was part of a worldwide, post-Great War trend, the precipitating element of which was Britain’s going back to the gold standard at parity after the wartime inflation. This daring policy might have worked out just dandy, but unions were strong, and downward price adjustments were thus disallowed in the industrial sector. Massive unemployment was the result — the obvious and predictable result. This was a known thing, yet Keynes was scraping together his “theory” to work around what amounted to a political logjam. (See W. H. Hutt’s The Keynesian Episode for a great analysis of this, including some great stories, like Sidney Webb calling the unionists “pigs.”) And in America? Well, enter a new institution, the Federal Reserve, which inflated the money supply in part to help the Brits, thus setting the stage for the crash of 1929. Though the late 19th century had huge monetary issues — America’s gold/silver bimetallism question was quite the mess, and was not resolved properly — at least old Grover did not have to out up with a central bank! This is the biggest issue. See Philips, McManus, and Nelson, Banking and the Business Cycle, for a thorough investigation of the monetary causes of the Great Depression, and the nagging disequibrium aspects to what has been called “the secondary depression.” It is also worth mentioning that the United States has always been plagued by goofy money and banking policy. See Calomiris and Haber, Fragile by Design, for the best discussion of this I have encountered.
  4. And then there is Smoot-Hawley. What can I say about this that has not been said? Well, that is not the point. Let me merely hint at a summary. The tariff bill hampered not only American trade, it hurt the very farmers it was meant to help (the agricultural sector being the one sector that never quite bounced back from the post-Great War bust). But there is more: it also inflicted a series of huge stressors to the banking system. And it did worse, its protectionism ushered in a global trade “war.” Thus setting the stage for World War II. It was devastating, and made the Great Depression far worse — which, after Hoover, FDR, and the Federal Reserve, did not need more such “help.”

The Great Depression was a perfect storm of bad government policy.

And note: I did not quite get to the thesis of “The Great Contraction” (Friedman and Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States) or Irving Fisher’s brilliant debt-deflation theory. And I have skimped (but not ignored) the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle.

There were structural problems at play in the depression during Grover Cleveland’s second presidency, sure. But they did not dovetail to work woe as happened later, under progressive politicians and that great, unwieldy, and quite dangerous progressive program, the Fed.


* I am especially fond of this manner of referring to our increasingly disunited (but nevertheless nationalistic) hodgepodge, the United States. My coinage. The people and its governments are such disappointments, having turned back on the original promise and persisting in an astounding cluelessness.

Operation Northwoodsthis is what our federal government is capable of.

This is the kind of thing people in government cook up.

It is breathtaking in its enormity:

In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Codenamed Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and Codenamed community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.

America’s top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: ‘We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,’ and, ‘casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.’

David Ruppe, “U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba” (ABC News), May 1, 2001

What is worth noting is that this secret was kept for years. Think on that, for a moment.

Now, I admit: the conspiracy was not full-blown, in one specific sense, for it was nixed by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But that fact might blow the story into the mainstream of American political consciousness.

One explanation for the JFK assassination might be that the Deep State which dreams up such things didn’t like being vetoed by a mere president, so a cabal within its ranks took out a president as a warning to future presidents. I know, I know: JFK conspiracy stuff is a joke to smart intellectuals. But is Operation Northwoods?

Is that a joke too?

Move along? Nothing to see here? It wasn’t put into action so absolutions all around?

I know very little about the minutia of conspiracy “theories“ or debunkings. Until recently I never cared. But then I realized that my long-standing belief that we no longer live in a constitutional republic has serious consequences for the interpretation of post-World War II history, and perhaps earlier. So now I am extremely curious as to how deep the rot goes.

I am, in fact, now open to considering just about anything.

Indeed, the truth about this plan only reached the sunlight of transparency by happenstance. Which suggests to me that we have no idea how many successful conspiracies lie buried deep by the Deep State.

And when you realize that, there are consequences. A reasoning person must not shy away from the conclusion that honest inquiry into blown secrets like Operation Northwoods entail.

When we get right down to it, plans like this, in complete contravention of all that is good, or just, or even legal, test the value of our political pieties: all our fine phrases to the effect that America is on the side of the angels transmute to wormwood on the tongue.

twv

me and the ice age

Young people these days talk about something that makes no sense to me: climate justice.

Justice, as near as I can make out, is the other-regarding virtue of action, where we focus on meting out what people deserve, especially as it relates to the use of coercion. This latter is important because this idea, justice, evolved in the context of contests between man and man: its origin is to right great wrongs, wrongs caused by deliberate behavior, usually regarding force and theft. Justice focuses clearly on rules of behavior, limiting our actions. When a limit is broken, then compensatory action of a possibly violent but definitely coercive nature is warranted. Justice thus pertains to people who choose.

The climate is something else again. It is a vast cosmos of interactive systems that we barely understand. And while such things as pollution may indeed be handled by systems of justice, of law, “climate justice” assumes way too much, especially a lot of knowledge of what climates should be.

The global climate is. Climates are. And they change. And have done so outside of the kind of direct human control where justice might readily and sensibly apply.

Could it be that people use the term “climate justice” merely to bully people into accepting a policy that is by no means evident? If you load up your politics with “justice” skeptical people might be cowed by your use of a word of power.

And yes, justice is the Big Gun of moral suasion. Because it directs the coercive power of the State, you see. In times past Righteousness might have been the word of choice, since God was the Big Gun of rhetoric. But the State long ago usurped the place of the deities in lowbrow ethical argumentation.

Amusingly, the same folks who are prone to the term “climate justice” appear to be the ones who talk a great deal about “privilege” — as in “white privilege.” And here we might find a relevant check upon climate justice fanaticism.

Greg Gutfeld’s notion of “ocean privilege” to describe Americans’ feelings of invulnerability to attack provides a key. Much of American foreign policy has been bolstered by Americans’ sense of impregnability, buffered as America is from the Old World by two great oceans. Drolly, Gutfeld himself seems to think that the days of American ocean privilege are over: (“Ocean privilege does not exist anymore. The world is small. We cannot rely on distance anymore.”) And yet he seems (from what I can tell) to think that this means America must be more engaged overseas — a bizarre conclusion.

But this is not the occasion or location to provide a critique of Gutfeldian interventionism. Instead, I merely note his use of “privilege” as an excuse to mention a far bigger and more universal privilege: Climate stability privilege.

For most of the last 5000 years, and perhaps a bit longer, humanity has lived in a remarkable period of climate calm: slow, moderate changes.

Sure, there was the Medieval Warming Period, and the Little Ice Age (which we have been warming out of for a few centuries, mostly through no merit of our own), and other waxings and wanings. But the sun has been fairly steady in its output; we have lived through a quite moderate cycle of climate metamorphoses. And civilizations have risen and fallen accordingly.

At the end of the last Ice Age, however, our climate was not at all conducive to human life.

You know, The Flood and all.

Graham Hancock has made much of recent discoveries in his latest book, Magicians of the Gods, and sides with scientists who think the Ice Age ended because of bolides evaporating the two great Canadian glaciers. Geologist Robert Schoch describes the following epoch carefully:

A dark age ensued, which I refer to as SIDA (solar-induced dark age). For thousands of years following the end of the last ice age humanity was reduced to the brutish Hobbesian state, hunting, foraging, and eking out a hardscrabble existence; and this included living in caves in some regions. Indeed, retreating to caves and other underground shelters would have been a way for isolated pockets of humanity to survive the cataclysmic solar-induced onslaughts at the end of the last ice age.

But he offers a causal story distinct from Hancock’s:

Electrical plasma discharges from the Sun, driven to the surface of our planet, would have caused widespread incineration where they touched down as well as setting off wildfires. Solar outbursts not only warmed the planet overall but, hitting glaciers, oceans, and lakes, through melting and instantaneous evaporation, would have placed vast amounts of moisture into the atmosphere that subsequently came down as torrential rains. These rains, combined with rising sea levels, caused widespread flooding across the globe.

Frightening times. Schoch summarizes: “Major solar outbursts and eruptions, the likes of which have not been experienced on Earth in modern times, were the instigating factors that ended the last ice age and brought early civilization to its knees.”

But could it have been even worse, much earlier?

Seventy thousand years ago or so, humanity was hit to almost nothing by vulcanism of astounding proportions — when, scientists tell us, the number of modern humans went down to a few dozen breeding pairs, in several locations at most.

So, while I am very concerned about some anthropogenic environmental disasters (ocean pollution, overfishing, and a possible and quite alarming increase in oceanic anoxia) others strike me as a tad overblown. We have more to worry about from comets and volcanos than “anthropogenic global warming,” for even the worst predicted effects are as if nothing compared to the catastrophes of the Ice Age terminus.

One interesting thought: why were ancient civilizations — which we may wish to call pre-historic civilizations, since if Hancock and Schoch and others are right, they preceded our histories — so obsessed with megalithic structures? Could it possibly be that these stonework monstrosities served as refuges from cataclysm, including increased cosmic radiation?

We make fun of troglodytes, to this day. But that, my friends, is mere climate stability privilege. Our nice above-ground houses will provide no protection should Sol start engaging in major unruly emissions, as it has in times long past.

And today’s young “climate justice advocates” would envy the men guarding the caves and mines and other underground structures should solar activity increase and make above-ground living again perilous or impossible. There is no concept of justice that will sway those who have prepared for the worst to take in and provide safety to the clueless, privileged young who offer nothing but their genes.

If you want to survive disaster, make yourself useful and unenvious, and . . . dig. Deeply. Into the bedrock.

To get a little perspective, at the very least.

twv