Did You Know…

Here’s a something to think about Blogpost.  Did you know as American Citizens, we are not supposed to blindly support or follow any political candidate.  This means that each of us are supposed to have things we like and dislike about whoever is serving as President of the United States of America.

Washington actually found it discouraging that he was so popular.  As Americans we are supposed to question what our lawmakers and leaders do.  This questioning is supposed to keep us from electing tyrants.  Washington and Franklin both hated political parties because they distracted from the purpose of elections.  This means regardless of whether you identify as Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Green Party, Washington hated the idea of voting for candidates because of political party.

Interestingly, Washington did predict that it would happen in the US just like it had been happening in England for a long, long time.  If you are a member of the Labour Party in England you probably vote Labour even if you don’t think the person is right for the position they are filling.

As my state continues to deal with the crisis of our Governor, who in fact might not be fit to hold the office, it has been on my mind a great deal.  In case you’ve missed it, the Republican Governor of Missouri has been indicted on felony charges of invasion of privacy.  To some degree, he probably isn’t guilty of everything he’s been accused of, which includes coercion to achieve sexual favors against his mistress.  However, whether that is true or not, the City of St. Louis and a grand jury of the Governor’s peers decided there was enough evidence to take the felony invasion of privacy charge to court and let it a jury decide whether he is guilty or not.

Here’s the thing, if he wasn’t governor, if he was just Joe Blow, the fact that a grand jury decided there was enough evidence to procure criminal proceedings against him makes me think there’s some merit to the charges.  It also makes me think that he is in fact not fit to hold office.  Because frankly, if he was just some guy (a lawyer on top of that), he’d be disbarred already by the Missouri Bar association and most people would be in agreement that he is guilty.

However, because he’s the governor and he’s a Republican, almost everyone, particularly people who tend to vote Republican are saying it’s just the city of St. Louis trying to burn him at the stake.  I’m not sure why we have become a nation convinced that our public officials never do anything wrong and that if they get caught doing something wrong, it’s obvious the fault of someone else (this time the City of St. Louis and the media).

When the hell did public officials start walking on water?  And anyone who knows anything about history, knows that this kind of partisanship is exactly what our Founding Fathers feared.  That’s why the 2nd amendment exists.  If we have the right to bear arms, we can overthrow tyrants elected to office.

Even Republicans in the Missouri Government have asked Governor Greitens’ to resign from office, which he refuses to do calling the investigation a Witch Hunt… Except, it’s hard to make that claim when the decision to indite him came from a jury of his peers.  Also, Witch Hunts require someone to be completely innocent of the charges against them and I don’t think that’s the case here.  Is the investigation flawed?  Absolutely.  Please stop watching Law & Order so we can go back to being a society that understands no one is perfect including law enforcement officials…

We have touched on my other pet peeve, sorry going to get side tracked for a moment.  If law enforcement investigations were 100% perfect all the time, we would never have an unsolved crime and remember my post about forensic science, the same thing applies here.  Investigator bias is a real thing and every detective suffers from it.  There is a great example in serial killer Maury Travis who was active in St. Louis not that long ago.  When he first showed up and it became obvious that there was a serial killer at work, profilers profiled Travis would be white for no other reason that the overwhelming majority of serial killers are white males.  So no, there are flaws in the system regarding investigations but rarely does it include preconceived political ideology (for an example of this, look at the FBI during the Hoover years)… However, for some reason the public doesn’t believe that investigations can be tainted by investigator bias unless it is because they belong to the opposite political party, which is asinine, just FYI.  I am less likely to believe someone who beats up his girlfriend on the weekends for fun, didn’t also abuse his child, however one does not guarantee the other and so even I, who am acutely aware of bias, has it.

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Demonic Dreams

Demonic Dreams has been released everywhere but Smashwords & in print form.  I will be working on both of those versions over the next couple of days and hope to get them ready by the end of next week.

Beta Readers don’t forget to go leave a review please!

Evidence of Aliens

I’m not a huge believer in alien visitations, however I do watch Ancient Aliens a great deal mostly because it forces me to think about ancient civilizations and history in ways I hadn’t before.  I don’t believe aliens helped build Stonehenge, any pyramids, or gobekli tepe… As a matter of fact if I was going to search for evidence of aliens, I probably wouldn’t go back more than a century in world history.

I know that there is an evolutionary event called the Big Bang of the Brain.  Essentially we went from pre-human ancestors to modern humans and it has to do with the sudden unexplainable expansion in the size and ways humans used their brains.

In 6,000 years or so, history might be talking about the fact that there were 2 of these events or they might be offering the 20th century up as evidence of ancient alien visitations.  Here’s why, less than a century ago, we were still struggling to get electricity in most homes, as a matter of fact it was the 1920s before half of US homes had electricity and it would be the 1970s before most homes had indoor plumbing.  Somehow we went from that to fiber optic cables and the internet in the 1990s.

As far as progress goes, we have practically pole vaulted into the modern age.  And no one is entirely sure why or how.  What that means is science doesn’t entirely understand why suddenly in the last 100 years or so, did we suddenly bust out of conventional evolutionary technological growth into what we have at our fingertips now.

Seriously, the phone has only existed for 140 years, but now we have pocket sized smartphones that will connect to the internet, look up phone numbers for us, have voice controls, and dedicated telephone numbers  It took a few hundred years for us to move from horsepower to steam power.  And the transition was rocky, then suddenly we had combustion engines, telegraphs, telephones, and electricity and then we were putting men on the moon and creating computers and now we have personal computers, smartphones and god forbid we have a power outage…

Interestingly, when Nazi Germany created the first jet engine for an airplane, the Allies actually investigated if they were working with aliens.  However, if you look at things that define modern era, you’ll find the majority of it started to come into existence after the crash at Roswell, NM and a few other reported downed UFOs.  Maybe not surprisingly, one was in Nazi Germany shortly before they invented the jet engine.

It got me thinking, maybe Ancient Alien theorists aren’t looking at the picture the right way, maybe ancient structures like the Pyramids of Egypt and Central America/Mexico aren’t proof of alien visitation, maybe it’s modern technology that provides the strongest evidence of alien visitation.  Either that or modern humans have had another Big Bang of the Brain and we are just too close to the situation to examine it.  It isn’t entirely impossible that one or both of these things have happened.

Of course an increase of science fiction writers coupled with a second Big Bang of the Brain might explain all of it, but a good chunk of science fiction is based on the idea that aliens might be visiting Earth (even Superman was an alien).

From the point of view of a historian, it always amazes me what we have been able to achieve in such a short historical time span.  And we continue to achieve new things every day.  Just a new and different way to think about the modern era on a rainy afternoon… Maybe today is a direct result of alien spaceships crashing to our soil.

Murdered Because of Emails

In July 2016, Seth Rich a member of the Democratic National Committee was murdered.  The murder is still unsolved.  However, it is strongly believed that Rich was the one that provided the DNC’s emails to Wikileaks.

If that is true, if Rich did provide the emails to Wikileaks, the strongest motivation to kill Rich are those emails.  The leaked emails damaged the DNC during the 2016 election, significantly.  Who was hurt most by that?  The Clintons, Bill & Hillary Clinton received the brunt of the blow back from the release of the confidential emails.  This means that the Clintons are suspects.

Or should be.  But they aren’t because of the corruption within the FBI.  It provides more proof that the FBI is in fact out to get President Trump and that the FBI is willing to go out of their way to ignore evidence that might implicate the clinton family in something as serious as murder.  This proves the Clintons and the FBI are dirty.  The murder was dismissed as a mugging even though nothing was stolen from Rich.

This is how most modern conspiracy theories get started.  Someone makes a leap of logic and ta-da!  For the record, Seth Hill really was murdered.  Evidence suggests he fought with his attackers before being shot twice in the back.  It also ignores two very critical pieces of information…  One crime and muggings in Bloomingdale where Rich lived just outside of DC had seen a huge spike in crime in early 2016, including robberies, armed robberies, and muggings.  Rich was out at 4 in the morning, returning from a bar.  He was bruised as well as bloodied by the time he was shot twice in the back.  We are pretty certain that the release of the DNC emails to Wikileaks was Russia not Seth Rich.  Russian hackers have actually done it before on multiple occasions, hacked confidential emails and turned them over to Wikileaks.

Here’s another crime stat for you, the majority of muggings gone wrong do end when the victim begins to fight back.  And a lot of times the victim is gravely injured.  However, muggers as a whole are mostly just panicky.  This means when someone fights back, their fight or flight instinct kicks into overdrive and they mostly want to get away, even if that requires them to shoot their victim.  And during the panic, rarely do the muggers take anything.

Don’t fight with a mugger, just give them your stuff and go on with your life.  Because it is easier to catch a mugger trying to pawn your stuff than a mugger turned murderer, because stranger killings are really, really difficult to solve.

However, it is easy to see the birth of a conspiracy theory here.  This is a real conspiracy theory centered around real events that has had evidence changed or ignored to fit the theory.  If you know anything about the murder of Seth Rich there is a reward.  Also, when dealing with what looks and sounds like a conspiracy theory, check all the facts.  The first version of this I heard included surveillance video capturing two people following Rich.  It turned out the video only caught parts of their lower legs and they may or may not being following Rich… Most likely, this is exactly what it looks like, those legs probably belong to two men, although in the video even that couldn’t be discerned, and this probably really was a mugging that went wrong.  Rich being shot in the back actually strengthens the mugging gone wrong theory.  In a mugging, with 2 people, one probably would have stood behind him with a gun while the other attempted to take his stuff.  If Rich had begun to fight back, thereby creating the bruises on his knuckles, the man in back would have panicked and fired two shots into Rich’s back.

It is a sad and tragic loss of life, but it probably isn’t part of an FBI cover up to help the Clintons or put into place more FBI agents sympathetic to President Trump (I’m not even sure how that part of the theory fits in with this).

Why The Fortress Exists

Readers of D&R quickly learn that Aislinn’s brother Eric is serving a life sentence in a fictitious prison referred to as The Fortress.  In the series, capital punishment has been eliminated and as a result, inmate deaths increased right along with the increase in the serial killer population that was starting to fill the cells.  To combat that, The Fortress exists, a prison specifically meant to hold serial killers and mass murderers.

Surprisingly, The Fortress exists for 2 very logical reasons.  One executions are incredibly expensive and someone has to pay the outrageous salaries of the SCTU members who get hazard pay, pretty much all the time, because nobody on the planet wants their jobs considering the life expectancy is 3 years.  A study in the 1990s discovered that it was more expensive to execute a prisoner than to have them serve a life sentence.  Also, trials where the death penalty is an option, are also more expensive.  So the money saved on executions goes towards the SCTU salaries.

The second reason is that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime.  In the history of the world, no criminal has thought “maybe I shouldn’t do this, because I can be executed for it.”  People who think like that, don’t commit crimes in the first place, they are more like you and me because no criminal commits a crime and ever thinks “oh, I might get caught.”  If criminals thought that way, they wouldn’t commit crimes and we could just do away with the criminal justice system all together.

I know that sociopaths and psychopaths often fail to realize the consequences of their actions and since most serial killers have some sort of impairment (whether that be psychopathic tendencies or borderline personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder or a whole list of other personality and mood disorders).  Sociopaths and psychopaths are known for their impulsivity and lack of self control.  Even high functioning psychopaths and sociopaths tend to have low impulse control, low self control, and an inability to identify consequences of actions before hand.

Because of this, you can’t actually put anything into place to deter crime.  The best you can hope for is that you remember to hug your child often and remind them they are loved, because that contact has been proven to prevent ASPD with sociopathic tendencies and/or psychopathic tendencies.

Also, it made Fortified Dreams a possibility by not executing serial killers and mass murderers.  Hard for them to lead a revolt when they are being executed nearly as fast as they are being caught.  Furthermore, death penalty trials last a lot longer, meaning the swift turnaround of serial killers in the justice system is faster in D&R because capital punishment isn’t an option.

 

Evidence in D&R

I don’t throw in a lot of information about evidence in the D&R books.  This is intentional.  Despite what the media would have you believe, most forensic evidence isn’t all that solid.  Circumstantial evidence is actually still the strongest evidence regardless of what TV and movies and popular crime novels would have you believe.  Unless of course the idiot that committed the crime was nice enough to video or livestream themselves doing it, that is… Which sadly happens more than you might realize.

Even then, circumstantial evidence has flaws.  Since these books are more about the chase than the prosecution of criminals, I tend to ignore it.  Here’s some things we’ve learned about forensic evidence in the last decade or so.

DNA is fragile and resilient at the same time.  This means a killer might touch a hammer and not leave any DNA, but if you touched the hammer while it was on shelves in the store, it is entirely possible your DNA is still on the hammer when crime scene techs collect it.  Sweat is an interesting thing… It can leave DNA and it can remove DNA and it can destroy DNA.  It is actually person dependent.

Then there’s the problem of matching a DNA sample to someone.  We did this when I was in high school.  DNA is put in a sterile container and spun in a centrifuge, breaking it up and unravelling it.  It is then placed in wells in a block of auger and stained blue.  The created by the stain travels up and down the auger and it is these that actually get compared (there isn’t a fancy computer that does it).  The first thing I realized when we spun cow DNA in my genetics class was that there were no lines on the block of auger to match up which blue lines went with which blue lines.  Now imagine trying to compare two blocks of auger for mostly identical blue lines in all the same places as each other.  It is awesome in a “holy shit my eyes are exhausted” kind of way.  Yep, DNA comparison relies on human eyesight to match up blue lines in blocks of auger.  The results are entered into a computer after the technician finishes the comparisons and a print out of that comparison is given to those that need it.

A tech with a headache or allergies could easily screw it up and they do…  This is why multiple tests are done and different technicians are used and sometimes different labs are used.  It’s also why one lab might say it matches Person X with 99% certainty and another lab might say it doesn’t match with 99% certainty.

What’s worse, we don’t match all the genes.  Considering how much DNA is considered “junk DNA” or genes shared by almost all humans or genes shared between humans and turtles, it becomes even sketchier to rely solely on DNA evidence.

Most eyewitness testimony is like slamming your foot repeatedly in a door.  Eyewitnesses are rarely reliable.  Even in recounting it later.  Person Z might be 100% certain two days after witnessing a crime, but two hours after the crime, not so much and two months after the crime, yeah that reliability didn’t get better.  A study done in Norway or Sweden, one of those Nordic countries with too much snow, found that criminals are actually better witnesses than witnesses and criminals are better at identifying witnesses than witnesses are at identifying criminals.  It also found that the recollection skills related to a crime were better by criminals than by witnesses.  And that criminals that witness crimes are more reliable than the general public as far as how well they remember details, but are far less likely to tell the truth.  But have no fear, you can train yourself to be a better eyewitness.  Unfortunately, you either have to hone this skill to use all the time, which is cumbersome, or hone it and hope the days your brain is just randomly practicing it, you witness a crime… It essentially requires you to be more connected to your surroundings, being aware of everyone, even those in the periphery of your vision, and understanding how to commit all those details to memory.  The easiest thing is to try to relate it to someone you know.  So if you walk into a gas station and see it being robbed and manage to get out, if you can remember the robber looked like your Uncle John, you’ll remember more about him and why you thought he looked like your uncle.  Unfortunately, that also creates a bit of a memory bias in the sense that you might remember why he looked like Uncle John, but not the details that don’t look like Uncle John, in which case the police might be knocking on Uncle John’s door.

Bite mark evidence has been almost completely disproved.  With many experts revisiting cases and wondering if the “bite marks” were actually bite marks at all.  Meaning if the clerk points to his wrist and says the robber bit him and there’s an obvious bruise, that bruise is now bite mark evidence and even if Uncle John doesn’t have teeth, he could still be found guilty using bite mark evidence, because there has a been a serious spate of cases overturned due to bite mark evidence that turned out not to be bitemarks at all.  There have even been a handful of cases overturned because the bite mark evidence that matched the bite mark of the suspect that was most likely convicted based on the bite mark evidence turned out to be bitemarks from animals that were misidentified as being primate bite marks.

Expectation bias is also a problem in forensic science.  If a scientist has an expectation of what the evidence will tell them, ie; Uncle John robbed a gas station and there were some fingerprints recovered from the cash register, if they resemble Uncle John’s fingerprints, the fingerprint technician’s brain might go ahead fill in the gaps where Uncle John’s fingerprints don’t match the suspects so that in the end, Uncle John ends up robbing a gas station while also sitting at home watching TV in his underwear while eating Twinkies and drinking beer, by himself.

Expectation bias is a serious issue as it can cloud almost all forensic evidence from fingerprints to fibers to DNA.  And forensic scientists are bombarded by bias every day of their working careers.  They get it from detectives, they get it from prosecutors, they get it from grieving families, and all of it, especially if there is a suspect in custody can create a problem. We are actually starting to understand that not having a suspect in custody and not having a detective breathe down the neck of a forensic scientist, leads to better forensic science.

So I leave most of it out, letting the mystery of detectiving continue to be a mystery.  I hate perpetuating unrealistic expectations and stereotypes.

Boys Without Fathers

I have been reading something lately that blames single parent homes for the extreme amount of violence in the US right now.  I have a problem with this, particularly the authors association between school shootings and boys without fathers.

Now, I won’t downplay the importance of men, particularly in the life of a child, but I will say that this isn’t exactly the first generation or even the first couple of generations to be raised in homes by single mothers and the problem seems to exist primarily in the US as opposed to being a worldwide phenomenon.  Fathers do play in an important role in the lives of their children and several universities have released studies showing things like “hugging your kid once a day” makes it less likely they will grow up to be sociopaths.  And that interaction with a father when a child is young builds a better platform for male children to learn to express their feelings, especially if their fathers are affectionate.

We’ll start with dispelling a pretty common myth.  School shootings have been a thing for a really long time, long before Columbine, long before Sandy Hook… The first recorded incident of a school shooting was in the 1800s in the US.  In the early 1900s a very irritated janitor attempted to blow up a school in Michigan.  And they have happened in the US, Canada, and the UK, the USSR/Russia, but the US does hold the record for most frequent incidents.

So if absentee fathers are the biggest reason for school shootings and can be avoided by fathers being involved in the lives of their children, why didn’t school shootings jump significantly after WWI, WWII, and Vietnam?  These were wars that resulted in millions of deaths, mostly of men.  This question is particularly interesting to me since I have a history degree.  After all, children who lose a parent when they are young are more likely to suffer emotional issues related to the loss of said parent.  So with a whole bunch of emotionally unstable children growing up after WWI, WWII, and Vietnam who lost their fathers in the war, why wasn’t there a significant spike in school shootings after these wars?  Also, why has it become so commonplace in US culture but not in other Western cultures?

The author argues and provides his proof that fatherless boys are more likely to commit school shootings by pointing out that most of the massive school shootings that have taken place in recent years, including the Columbine shooters all came from fatherless homes.  I haven’t researched the topic enough to know if he is right or not.  I do that is not the case with the Aurora Theater shooter who actually lived with his father and stepmother.  Granted, he isn’t a school shooter, but he is a mass murderer who did essentially the same thing as a school shooter in a crowded movie theater.

He also glosses over the fact that fatherless girls are not as likely to become mass murderers… because that’s exactly what a school shooter is.  By pointing out that women are less likely to be mass murderers anyway.  He is right in the sense that a woman is far more likely to be a serial killer than a mass murderer… something like 99.5% of all mass murderers are male and while you can find some female mass murderers, it is even rarer for them to work alone (they almost always work in tandem with a male mass murderer).  He also ignores the fact that not all fatherless boys become mass murderers by pointing out that not everyone is designed to be a mass murderer, which seems like a bit of fuzzy logic when trying to prove that absentee fathers are the reason school shootings happen… in other words, his refusal to address the problem that not all fatherless boys become mass murderers in itself proves that absentee fathers are not the only problem in school shootings.

He also ignores the fact that it has primarily become a US problem despite the fact that thousands, if not millions, of boys grow up all around the world without fathers for a plethora of reasons (death, divorce, prisons, are some of his reasons why fathers are absent). In other words, I feel like he missed a huge piece of the puzzle which is horrifying considering this book was recommended to me because it is a best seller.

I am of the opinion that fatherless boys are not the problem.  I think the US has societal issues that come into play, like male children are not treated as affectionately by either parent as girl children because of the gender roles we’ve assigned to them and boys are not encouraged to talk about their problems in the same way girls are (which leads to the horrifying statistic that boys who become victims of sexual abuse tend not to tell about the abuse as fast as girls).

Girls are encouraged to seek professional mental health services more than boys and girls are treated better when they do seek professional mental health services by their peers than boys.  Also, the US still treats people with mental illnesses like they have leprosy.  We have this stigma about the mentally ill that we can’t seem to overcome and it is still considered a sign of weakness to have a mental illness, which is silly since it is a chemical or neurological imbalance in the brain.

Overall, I agree that absentee fathers are a huge problem, but they aren’t the primary problem.  These things are more complicated than a single source.

 

RAF Bentwaters

I usually blog about crime or conspiracy theories, sometimes books, mine and others, and sometimes politics because as a historian it’s hard for me to stay neutral regarding politics.  Today, I’m changing pace a little bit… It’s historical and unexplained.

In the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the world was always on the verge of crisis.  Tension between the US and the Soviet Union had somehow managed to grow and these two countries had nuclear arsenals large enough to plunge the planet into a nuclear winter and hasten the next ice age.

It was bad enough that Europe did nuclear bomb drills, not that these were helpful because frankly if a nuclear bomb goes off you need to be in a lead lined bunker underground somewhere.  To put it more succinctly, shit was happening.

One of these things was the US building or occupying military bases in our allied European countries, like the United Kingdom.  It was in this atmosphere that the RAF Bentwaters UFO sighting occurred.  RAF Bentwaters was an air force base in England.  On December 26, 1980 several US air force men stationed at RAF Bentwaters had an unbelievable UFO encounter.

I can dismiss most UFO sightings as misidentification of military aircraft.  The Bentwaters sighting has always been a little hard for me to dismiss.  Mostly because it was witnessed by military personnel, air force military personnel, who weren’t likely to misidentify an aircraft of US or one of our allied nations.  Also the sighting didn’t just happen to a small group of enlisted men, there were dozens of witnesses including the Deputy Base Commander Charles Halt and several ranked officers who were career military men, meaning they had nothing to gain from faking a massive UFO sighting.

If it had been like two people or three people I could explain it away as a hoax pulled by a handful of privates trying to bring some levity to a grim situation.  That wasn’t the case.  As a matter of fact there are official recordings between Commander Halt and the men he sent out to investigate the unusual incident that happened in the forest around RAF Bentwaters on two consecutive nights.  Also, Halt went to the trouble of using a mini tape recorder to record notes in that is several minutes long.  That seems like extraordinary effort in the fabrication of a hoax.  I don’t know how long the Halt recording lasts, I’ve only heard snippets of it on the internet and on TV shows about UFO encounters, but it seems to be fairly long.

To complicate matters, RAF Bentwaters was a bit special.  Historians as well as alien conspiracists believe Bentwaters actually stored US nuclear missiles that could be launched at the USSR in the event they launched missiles at the US.  There are two reasons this complicates things.  The first is that those stationed at Bentwaters knew they were sitting on a nuclear arsenal which means they would have been very sober minded air force personnel and unlikely to fabricate a hoax regarding a UFO sighting.  Also, the US and the UK has never officially admitted that Bentwaters held US nuclear missiles and during the Cold War there was an increase in UFO activity centered around bases in both the US and the USSR that stored nuclear weapons.  Essentially, if historians are right Bentwaters suddenly becomes another sighting hotspot centered around nuclear missiles during the Cold War and possibly the only one reported by US air force personnel stationed at an overseas base.

Since I find it unlikely that these men fabricated a hoax regarding a UFO sighting in the Rendlesham forest and I find it unlikely they misidentified an aircraft given that they were Air Force personnel and that eats up the two most common reasons for a UFO sighting and leaves me believing that the air force men stationed at RAF Bentwaters probably did have a rather close encounter with a UFO.

I’ve heard the arguments against it that only two men went into the forest to investigate the mysterious light which is often blamed on a lighthouse even though it is impossible to see the light house in question from the ground of Bentwaters and the light house wasn’t new in 1980, meaning the men stationed there should have been familiar with the way the lighthouse moved.  Yes originally only two men were sent to investigate what they thought was probably a downed aircraft, but there were scores of others that saw the lights from within the confines of Bentwaters including Deputy Commander Halt.

Also, reporting a UFO as a military person comes with some serious risks and side effects… Reporting it didn’t do those involved any favors, quite the opposite and Commander Halt knew it before he filed his report and collected all the recordings and evidence and sent it to the Pentagon.  So, Commander Halt reported something he knew would hurt his career in the military… not something he would have done if he hadn’t been completely certain there wasn’t a rather worldly explanation for the sighting like a hoax or misidentification of an aircraft or mistaking the beacon on the lighthouse for a UFO.

Because of these things, I have never been able to dismiss the RAF Bentwaters UFO sighting.  Think about it for yourself and see if you can find a reason for the people involved to report a faked UFO encounter…

Sometimes When I Wake Up

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I wonder if I have been sucked back in time while I slept.  Note, this is a historical post/reflection and not actually a political one despite the sentence that is going to follow this one (and the last couple of lines of commentary as I refuse to discuss the Russia investigation or Russia meddling in US elections or the conspiracy theory that the FBI is out to get President Trump).  Anyway, I feel the time travel thing because my newsfeed is full of what Trump/Putin are saying while I sleep.  It’s the first things I see when I turn off my alarm and as a historian, I have a pretty good grasp on what has transpired over the last century between the US and the Soviet Union/Russia.

Now a lot has changed in the last fifty years including the fall of the Soviet Union, but that doesn’t mean that to some degree we aren’t still squaring off against the Soviets… especially with Putin at the helm of Russia.  Let’s all realize that Putin is what’s known as part of the Old Guard.  He was KGB and he made millions on the rise of Capitalism in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union, but as a KGB member that required him to be a true believer.

Contrary to popular opinion, the KGB was not the Soviet equivalent of the CIA and MI-4.  It was in fact a mix of spies, secret police, and informants… It was more like the Gestapo (Nazi Secret Police).  The KGB was responsible for rooting out non-believers, dissidents, criminals, spies, and everyone else that was considered a threat to the Soviet Union.  The biggest difference between MI-5, CIA, and KGB was the limits.  The CIA has fewer limits than the FBI – for example they are not supposed to operate on US soil, some of that has gone away in recent years with the rise of Jihadists (that is a post for another day though), but the KGB didn’t have limits, not really.  They were authorized to use lethal force whenever necessary, as such one of the requirements to be a KGB Officer like Putin meant proving loyalty to the Soviet Union.  And even though it feels like a long time ago, the KGB only disbanded 25 years ago or so, which isn’t all that long really… I have nephews and nieces who will never understand the Soviet Union the way I do because it had fallen by the time they were born.  More interestingly, I will never truly understand the Soviet Union in the same way my parents did, because by 1980 when I was born it was already in trouble and I was only 12 or so when it famously collapsed.

Knowing what I do about Putin though makes me a little weary when I open my phone and see news that the US and Russian relations are souring a little more every day.  I’m not concerned with invasions or World War III (although that is a post for another day too as we are getting much, much closer to it every hour).  What bothers me about the souring relationship is that Putin is an oligarch leader who grew up under Communism in the Soviet Union and lots of Russians still harbor some resentments towards the US and Putin is one of them.  Meaning the man we are antagonizing has the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world at his fingertips and he believed the US should have been nuked long ago.

Furthermore, if the US and Russia did go to war, it would not be pretty.  The US has the bigger navy, bigger air force, bigger army, a more diverse group of special forces, and enough military intelligence infrastructure in place to fight such a war, however, the Russians were using Slash & Burn warfare long before Sherman did.  This is where we tend to lose wars… We aren’t great at dealing with guerilla warfare or slash & burn warfare, both of which the Russians have used in the past with great success.  To be fair, no military is actually good against either of those techniques.  It’s where we had problems in Vietnam, it’s why we are having issues in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The thing is, it isn’t like the Russians have only done it a few times.  They have a long storied military career of slash & burn and guerilla warfare.  They were doing it back when Huns were still a real thing and not the German type, but Attila the Hun.  Slash & burn works two ways.  An invading army can use slash and burn which is where they just torch everything they come across as they make their way into a country or the people that are being invaded can do it, with Russians this means they advance East towards the interior steppes of Russia and burn everything behind them, entire villages have been wiped out over night by fleeing Russian populations and it was a huge part of the Nazi downfall when invading the Soviet Union in the 1940s.  Between an extreme cold spell because it was winter (someone didn’t think that through by the way), the drought that had followed the year before and the fact that the Soviet citizens were participating in their own slash and burn campaigns as they fled Nazis, it didn’t work out so well for the Nazis who were actually the stronger military force than the Soviets and had a larger army.  The result was the decimation of the Nazi army on the Eastern front and it worked.  They had to retreat back into the less Russian parts of the Soviet Union and regroup, restock, and then rethink their desire to invade the Soviet Union.

This makes it so I feel a little different when the People’s Republic of China or North Korea rattles it’s sabers and comments on being annoyed with the US than when it’s Russia.  A war with Russia is an unwinnable war.  Plus, quite honestly a good working relationship with Russia means a better economy for the US as Russia has more oil in Siberia than the entire rest of the world combined and that’s just one resource we should be buying from them, as they also have an astonishing amount of areas that could be mined for diamonds, precious metals, and natural gas.  Meaning if we stay on good terms with Russia we can lower the costs of all sorts of things in the US by simply investing a little money into the Russian economy, which would ultimately be good for everyone involved.

However, at the moment Russia is not accepting foreign investment, especially from the US.  As Trump and Putin continue to land political blows against each other, we move closer to some of the things we worried about in the 1950s and 1960s.  I don’t believe the US should be kissing Putin’s ass, far from as I believe he is a sociopath who believes the US is out to get them (of course, this may be true to some degree).

For the record, my primary complaint about the US President at this time is that he seems to be treating the White House like it’s the board room on The Apprentice and because of this he reminds me of the Red Queen from Alice through the Looking Glass as he seems to indiscriminately fire people on a whim… I can’t remember a single time in my life when a president has fired so many people from the offices he put them in.  I keep waiting for Tweets to start saying “off with his head” when he announces he is firing someone.  And please don’t post a bunch of comments that clog up my phone with announcements talking about the FBI conspiracy to get him (that actually sounds more like a paranoid rambling than most conspiracy theories I’ve heard in the last several decades and I don’t subscribe to it, regardless of the shaky evidence that has been shown to me; at this time, I believe more evidence of the Roswell cover up than the FBI being out to get our president).

Please Stop Reporting Me…

It turns out I was slowly blocked and then banned from the HJ page due to people reporting me for offensive language.  Somehow they missed that I owned the page and found it last week when they went to rebuild the HJ page from their end.

My access has been restored which is good, but I’m not feeling particularly involved at the moment.  It turns out the warnings that I had been reported went into my spam folder on Gmail, so I missed the notices.  I was reported 4 different times at the end of January/first part of February.  Eventually, I was banned from the HJ page, which is when I stopped being able to do more than read comments made on the HJ page.

I’m a little sad about it.  I usually issue warnings before I swear and I don’t do it profusely on the HJ page simply because it doesn’t look professional to me.  However, I figure we are all adults, a few bad words here and there probably aren’t going to kill any of us – especially since I don’t recommend my books for teens or younger.

I will admit that the experience has soured me a little.  Not having access to my FB messages on the HJ page meant I couldn’t get some things mailed that needed to be mailed (because I lost the packages in my garage while they built my shower), so not only was I censored, but it caused a delay for other readers to get what they had ordered from me.

I don’t know who reported it and it doesn’t matter.  The part that gets me the most is that someone decided to try to curb my speech on my own FB page.  It might take a few more days to fully get past it.  I’m not the sort to hold a grudge, over anything, so I expect in the next week or so, I will be back to posting like normal on the HJ page.  We have a discussion tomorrow in the group about things that are really me that have been put into characters, like Ace’s minor fear of peepholes.

Over half the beta readers have checked in on Demonic Dreams and it is set to release as soon as all of them have (those that haven’t, still have 9 days to do so, since they don’t officially have to check in until April 18th).  As it becomes available from each retailer, I will post the links on  FB & my blog as well as providing them all in a newsletter mailing once I get them all completed.  So far, it might be everyone’s favorite of the series.  As I wait for the others to check in, I have been working on Ritual Dreams and The Dysfunctional Mob.

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