The AP reports on the release of four women imprisoned during the Satanic Panic:
Four San Antonio women imprisoned for sexually assaulting two girls in 1994 have achieved their first aim: freedom.
Their next step is to fight for exoneration, and that is what their attorneys intend to pursue before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh and Cassandra Rivera were released Monday night on their own recognizance. That was after a judge decided to recommend that an appeals court vacate their 1998 convictions as tainted by faulty witness testimony.
The fourth woman, Anna Vasquez, was released on parole last year.
The women haven’t been exonerated formally. Bexar County prosecutors have said they don’t intend to retry them if the appeals court vacates the convictions. However, they disagree with the women’s attorneys that they should be declared formally innocent. Exoneration would allow them to collect money Texas pays to the wrongfully imprisoned
If you missed me on 90.1 KZSU Stanford ThermoNuclear Bar last week you can now check it out on SoundCloud, or read the transcript below. We talked about the occult, conspiracy theory, EsoZone, Portland, Psychetect, Mindful Cyborgs, the Indie Web.
Here’s a sample:
S1: Where do you see then your variety of your projects going? I mean we have talked about this earlier. I had said that Technoccult was one sphere, and Psychetect was another, Mindful Cyborgs was another. If you saw any relation between the three other than just you happen to be in the middle or do you see any sort of end-goal coming up for you?
KF: In terms of an end-goal, I think the purpose of all of these has always been to find some way to engage with other people in a way that’s meaningful for both of us. I guess, it’s kind of an abstract way of talking about it, but something like Psychetect is just a different way of expressing myself and hopefully of communicating with people. Things like Technoccult and Mindful Cyborgs are more directly communicative projects. I think the only thing that they all have in common is a general interest in thoughts and thinking and consciousness. I guess, the overriding idea of Psychetect is to kind of create audio representations of thoughts or of sort of mental spaces that I don’t feel like I can describe with words. There’s I guess an overlap with something like Mindful Cyborgs where a big part of what we’re talking about is what it feels like to think in a world where you’re always connected to the rest of the world via the Internet and everything you do is being measured by somebody.
I should also mention that PDX Occulture is still sort of around, and that though EsoZone is gone, Weird Shift Con has emerged to fill that void (though I don’t have anything to do with organizing it).
Q: What do we need to have in place for a conspiracy theory to develop?
A: Conspiracy theories emerge where three things collide. The first is our natural tendency to find patterns and creative narratives, to try to turn all these stray signals we receive into some sort of coherent order. Second is a situation that we’re suspicious of and makes us fearful. And third is the fact that there are actual cases of people conspiring. There’s a reason why there’s a legal offense called conspiracy. It’s not like being afraid of some supernatural monster that people talk about but never shows up. [...]
Q: When conspiracies get mentioned, some people accuse the believers of being mentally ill. Is that a real issue among conspiracy believers?
A: When a story catches on with enough people, we’re not talking about mental illness. If believing in conspiracy theories is a sign of mental illness, it means 90 percent of Americans have been crazy since the beginning. We’re talking about folklore. Even if it says nothing that’s true, it says something true about the anxieties and experiences of those who believe and repeat the theory.
HAARP is down, but rumors of its demise may have been exaggerated:
The shutdown is reported to be only a temporary one, with the facility having been shuttered sometime between late May and mid-June.
“It was a surprise to all of us to hear it was shutting down,” said Dr. Bill Bristow, a professor of electrical engineering at UAF.
Air Force officials are hopeful that the facility would open and resume operations in mid-August. DARPA currently has a sizeable funding bloc allocated for additional ionospheric research in the fall of 2013, so it will likely have to be open for that research.
The shuttering of HAARP has apparently arisen from a contractor regime change. The facility’s operations were previously administered by Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. subsidiary — and 8(a) contractor — Marsh Creek, LLC. Reportedly in talks to take over the contract is regional Alaska Native corporation Ahtna, which oversees the area of Gakona, where HAARP is located.
Neither Marsh Creek nor Ahtna returned requests for comment Wednesday. [...]
Though HAARP is continually manned and maintained when operational, there aren’t always experiments being conducted at the facility.
“HAARP doesn’t operate continually,” said Dr. Brenton Watkins, professor emeritus of physics at UAF. “It operates in a ‘campaign’ mode with kind of two-week periods of activity. I’ve been involved in every operational campaign for — I think — the last five years.”
Drummond and Cauty claimed that their solicitor was sent…
…a contract with an organization or individual calling themselves ‘Eternity’. The wording of this contract was that of standard music business legal speak, but the terms discussed and the rights required and granted were of a far stranger kind.
“Whether The Contract was a very clever and intricate prank by a legal minded JAMS fan was of little concern to Drummond and Cauty,” Information Sheet 8 continues.…
For them it was as good a marker as anything as to what direction their free style career should take next.… In the first term of The Contract they, Drummond and Cauty, were required to make an artistic representation of themselves on a journey to a place called THE WHITE ROOM. The medium they chose to make this representation was up to them. Where or what THE WHITE ROOM was, was never clearly defined. Interpretation was left to their own creativity. The remuneration they are to receive on completion of this work of art was supposed to be access to THE “real” WHITE ROOM.
The pair claim that they went on to sign this contract, despite the advice of their solicitor to have nothing to do with it. It is worth noting at this juncture that Cauty and Drummond were ignorant of Operation Mindf**k. Their sole knowledge of Discordianism came from Illuminatus!, which Cauty had never read and which Drummond had not, at that time, ever finished. By signing any such contract they were not simply ‘playing along’, for they would have had no context for what the contract was, or where it had come from.
In this reading of events, Drummond and Cauty appear to have taken a Discordian Operation Mindf**k prank letter at face value, and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds making a piece of work that would fulfil their part of a hoax contract that they chose to sign.
As to what the ‘real’ White Room which the contract alluded to was, Drummond and Cauty were typically candid: “Your guess is as good as anybody’s.” In Discordian terms, however, the meaning is relatively clear. The White Room refers to illumination, or enlightenment. The word ‘room,’ however, is interesting. The use of a spatial metaphor defines enlightenment as a place that can be travelled to, or sought in a quest. The search for the White Room becomes a pilgrimage, with the White Room itself taking on the character of the Holy Grail. Drummond and Cauty’s film, when seen in this light, becomes a means to an end. The White Room was not intended as a film that would make money or enhance their careers. It was, instead, a step along the path in a search for enlightenment.
Brian Dunning attempts to separate the facts from the fictions of Nikola Tesla’s life:
Did Tesla plan to transmit power world-wide through the sky?
It was his ultimate plan, but the farthest he ever got was the partial construction of his famous tower at Wardenclyffe which was intended for wireless communication across the Atlantic. His worldwide wireless power system was theoretical only, employing the Schumann-Tesla resonance to charge the Earth’s ionosphere such that a simple handheld coil could receive electrical power for free anywhere, and everywhere, in the world. Tesla’s idea was innovative, but innovative idea it remained, as debts mounted and the tower was dismantled before it ever got to be used. Now that the nature of the ionosphere is much better understood, physicists now consider Tesla’s concept unworkable, and no attempts to test it have ever worked.
All sorts of conspiracy theories exist, for example that the HAARP research facility in Alaska is secretly a test of Tesla’s worldwide power grid, or some sort of superweapon based on it. The profound differences between these systems become clear upon doing even the most basic of research.
Deeply weird piece by Mark Ames and Alexander Zaitchik on the murder of CIA operative/godfather of the goldbug movement Nicholas Deak, which uncovers some possible connections between the homeless woman who killed him, Lois Lang, and the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program:
Police responding to the motel room took Lang to nearby Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. For the next month, she was put under the care of Dr. Frederick Melges, a psychiatrist associated with the Stanford Research Institute. One of Dr. Melges’ main areas of research: drug-aided hypnosis. A few years after Lang was put in Melges’ care, the New York Times exposed the Stanford Research Institute as a center for CIA research into “brain-washing” and “mind-control” experiments in which unwitting subjects were dosed with hallucinogenic drugs and subjected to hypnosis. Melges, who died in 1988, is today remembered in the field for his research on the relationship between perceptions of time and mental illness.
It goes deeper than that, with Ames and Zaitchik speculating that it may have been Argentine gangersters with knowledge of MK-ULTRA who ordered the hit:
If Lang was tapped to whack Nicholas Deak, she was part of a long tradition. In mobster literature, insane assassins are regular characters. “Nuts were used from time to time by certain people for certain matters,” explains Jimmy Hoffa’s former right-hand man, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, in his memoir, “I Heard You Paint Houses.” Chuck Giancana, brother of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, writes that he once heard his brother say that “picking a nutcase who was also a sharpshooter” to carry out an assassination was “as old as the Sicilian hills.”
I found this bit interesting as well, though it’s more of a side note:
Meanwhile, the sunny side of Deak’s business thrived. Its retail foreign currency operation, now reconstituted under new ownership and known to the world as Thomas Cooke, became a staple at airports, its multi-packs of francs and marks symbols of every American family’s European vacation. Deak’s retail precious metals business dominated the market after the legalization of gold sales. After a series of sales and reconstitutions, it is today known as Goldline, a major sponsor of Glenn Beck and subject of a recent fraud settlement.
R.U Sirius interviews Peter Bebergal, author of the memoir and cautionary tale Too Much To Dream: . This interview is a few months old, but I’ve only just seen it:
RU: It strikes me that psychedelics are both an enhancer and distorter of
pattern recognition. It’s like once the mind becomes too conscious and too obsessive about pattern recognition, it becomes delusional.
PB: This is probably the most succinct way of putting it I have heard. It’s essentially what we see happen with Phillip K. Dick. It’s part of the reason why no matter how non-addicting psychedelics might be from a chemical point-of-view, the capacity for the human mind to compulsively search for the same connection/insight over and over again is boundless. This same phenomena can be seen with a certain kind of occultism. Hermeticism can become an exercise in endless connection making and it’s amazing how even the most thoughtful occultists can become conspiracy theorists overnight. Psychedelics, and other forms of non-ordinary consciousness, can readily show that there is more to the human mind, and possibly the universe, than we can perceive normally, but when we lose the ability to critically distance ourselves from these experiences, the danger for delusion is great.
RU: You remain interested in the psychedelic movement even though you feel you can’t risk taking them yourself. What do you hope for people today who take psychedelic drugs in a way that is conscious of set and setting and so forth?
PB: I have come to believe in the absolute necessity of ritual and community, whether it’s the Native American Church or your local OTO lodge. However you can find it, try to access a group of people that share your spiritual/psychological sensibilities and that hopefully have a few seasoned elders and teachers. This is not to say there aren’t those that can handle the solitary journey, but I still think however one can position oneself into a larger context with its own myths and symbols can only be a good thing.
But more importantly I hope that those who use these drugs will see them not as a path but as doorway towards a spiritual/conscious way of life. As Alan Watts is often quoted as saying, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.”
A few years ago I would have been excited to see something like this coming to the mainstream. Now I cringe with the anticipation of the tedious conversations with n00bs and normals that this film will probably lead me into. Not to mention the the probability that it will become a Truther/Tea Partier favorite instead of a mind opener. One more sign that I’m getting old, or at least jaded.
The majority of my reading in the past year has been in Economics, shaped by a couple new jobs that required me to become a fake expert in the field. Perhaps in the near future I’ll do a separate Reading List focused on that, but for now, let me recommend one single volume as the best written, most thoroughly documented book on the subject: Doug Henwood’s After the New Economy. Henwood does something really remarkable here. There are dozens of sources per page, but he juggles an academic level of density with J.K. Rowling readability. He keeps all his math & policy discourse grounded in real world effects on actual working human beings. All in all, this book is fucking devastating because it uses nothing but the US economic system’s own numbers and words—there is no moralizing here. Along the way, Henwood also provides an education in deciphering market metrics and business news. He is a concise and scrupulous teacher. Henwood is often framed as a rabid Socialist, but I get the impression his political agenda is that of a disgruntled accountant…he’s just angry that the numbers don’t really add up on the American Dream.
Theocrats are scary people, and Sharlet tracks the most powerful among them carefully here. This is the grey zone where The Family morphs into The Fellowship, which has also been referred to as ”The Christian Mafia” and a ”Frat House for Jesus.” This is serious material,of course: the ghost network he outlines in C Street shaping foreign policy, domestic initiatives, and partisan talking points. The amount of media collusion and access to corporate money here is nothing short of spooky.