This week we learned that ancient astronaut believer Rob Lowe signed on with A&E, a corporate cousin of Ancient Aliens broadcaster the History Channel, to star in a reality series in which he and his 20-something sons will travel around solving Scooby-Doo-style supernatural mysteries – if by “solving” them you mean standing out in a field in the middle of the night and gawking at whatever skitters before their night vision lenses. Lowe said that he has long been obsessed with aliens, monsters, and ghosts: “When I became a father I shared those tales with my two sons. Together we bonded over Bigfoot, UFO’s, and every creepy and bizarre story we could find, passionately debating if they were real … or not.” The Lowe Files, according to A&E, won’t be as much about the “truth” as it will be about the Lowe family bonding through doing activities together.
FBI Investigating Russian Connection to InfoWars: Why Do So Many Outlets Tied to Russia Back Ancient Astronaut and UFO Conspiracies?
A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Review of Books published a brief summary of the contents of a 2016 volume called The Age of Lovecraft, but it was reviewer and Ph.D. candidate Alison Sperling’s opening line that caught my attention: “As a feminist, I am reluctant, at times, to admit to friends and academic colleagues that I appreciate H. P. Lovecraft’s work.” I found that to be a bit of an astonishing statement, largely because it, and the sentences decrying Lovecraft’s racism and sexism which followed, suggest that even among academics who should know better there is a sort of perverse identification of reader and writer, as though one’s choice of literature reveals the darkest part of one’s soul. I’ve always found that to be strange because so many of works of great literature came from the pens of people who were, by contemporary standards, miserable human beings. But even leaving that aside, could you imagine an archaeologist, for example, saying that “As someone who values human life, I am ashamed to admit that I enjoy researching Aztec culture” because of their record of human sacrifice? Of course, on the other hand we might look askance at a film student who professes not just technical admiration but love for the works of Leni Riefenstahl.
This is one of those stories I didn’t think I’d ever need to write about. Seventeen years ago, the CIA declassified a silly transcript of a “psychic” probe of ancient Martian civilization, and no one paid it much mind until an online version was included in the CIA’s recent release of declassified material in its new Reading Room. I threw a copy up in my Library months ago because I thought it was amusing, but I didn’t bother to highlight it in my blog. However, thanks to the Mysterious Universe podcast, it attracted the attention of Slate magazine, and Slate decided to ask whether America really made contact with ancient Martians from a million years ago.
Shaquille O'Neal Believes Europeans Colonized the Pre-Columbian Americas; Plus: Why So Much Time Travel on TV?
As reported on the Patheos blog, former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who holds a doctorate in education from Barry University, announced that he is a flat earth conspiracy theorist during his podcast this week, but what’s worse is that he also came out as a hyper-diffusionist who seems to have spent too much time watching cable TV “history” shows. He claimed that the Americas had already been colonized by white people long before Columbus reached the Caribbean:
Tom DeLonge Says That His "Strong Sense of Business" Will Help Him Dole Out UFO Revelations Little by Little for "Years" to Come
I must admit to being a bit surprised that it seems that no professional reviewers, or even UFO enthusiasts, have reviewed Peter Levenda’s new book, Sekret Machines: Gods. I had expected to see at least some reviews outside of Amazon.com customer reviews, especially since this wasn’t just a self-published vanity project but had secured distribution through Simon & Schuster’s network. As best I can tell, however, credited author Tom DeLonge’s company, To the Stars, Inc., did only puff-piece publicity for the book, which he tied in with the near simultaneous paperback release of his novel Chasing Shadows from last year. This pulled the focus from the new release to DeLonge’s personality and business instead. While I didn’t expect him to send me a review copy, I didn’t hear from anyone working in media that they had received one, either. No wonder it landed with such a resounding thud. As of this writing, a Google search for the book plus the word “review” brings up just my review and sales pages. No wonder Levenda was upset with me.
New York Legislators Seek to Censor Online Debate; Plus: L. A. Marzulli Attacks Judges and Peter Levenda on Hitler's Legacy
Remember how a few weeks ago an Arkansas state legislator introduced a bill to ban books by Howard Zinn from the state’s schools? Well, Eugene Volokh reports that two New York state legislators have done her one better. Democratic assemblyman David I. Weprin and Democratic state senator Tony Avella introduced a bill that would require all online publishers, including me, to remove any and all content about any given individual upon that individual’s request if the individual feels that the discussion contains statements that are “‘inaccurate’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inadequate’, or ‘excessive’” or when the individual feels that the discussion is “no longer material to current public debate.” The ostensible reason for this blatantly unconstitutional law is to promote the “right to be forgotten,” but as written the proposed law would give individuals carte blanche to censor any and all discussion about them online, forever, and to wipe clean the historical record as soon as a 24-hour news cycle has turned over and the “current” debate has moved on. The bill would also forbid those receiving takedown notices from indicating that material had been removed for that reason, on pain of a $250 fine per violation. The bill provides no mechanism other than the individual’s feelings to judge whether material is germane to the public discourse.
Before I talk about Nazis today, I wanted to bring up an unrelated issue. Regular readers will remember that last month, a team of scientists concluded that the hypothesis of a comet hitting the Earth during the Ice Age and thus starting and/or ending the Younger Dryas period could not be supported because the evidence put forward for it, the existence of nanodiamonds in a particular layer associated with the comet, could not be confirmed. Graham Hancock ignored these findings, but on Facebook this week he’s praising two new papers that argue in favor of a cosmic impact around 10,800 BCE. The first claims that features known as the Carolina Bays were caused by a cosmic impact, and the second argues that a thin layer of platinum dating to the same period is evidence of a cosmic impact. I don’t know enough about geology to have any opinion on the evidence, but what I do know is that regardless of whether a comet hit, it implies absolutely nothing about the existence of Atlantis. None of the scientists involved in the research has claimed that the comet smashed into Atlantis or destroyed a technologically advanced human civilization.
Yesterday marked the eightieth anniversary of the death of H. P. Lovecraft, an occasion that provoked a great deal of ambiguous observation in the media, mostly due to the tension between Lovecraft’s genius as a creator of a fictional world and his almost comically absurd levels of racism. In noting the anniversary of his passing, I thought I would break from my usual topics of discussion to talk a bit about one of Lovecraft’s other obsessions, Georgian architecture. As most readers of Lovecraft’s fiction, and especially his letters, know, Lovecraft was obsessed with Georgian and Georgian Revival architecture and found in it the form most pleasing to his sense of aesthetics. “Lifelong antiquarianism has caused me to lay zestful stress on historic backgrounds & traditional architectural minutiae,” he wrote to Fritz Leiber.
Peter Levenda Is Upset with Me. He Also Called Me "Arrogant" and Driven by "Personal Resentment." Yes, He's a Full-Fledged Fringe Writer Now!
Good news, everyone! Peter Levenda is mad at me again! Or, to be more specific, he finds it upsetting and outrageous that I reviewed his book, Sekret Machines (my review: • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 •), from the utterly biased perspective that a book which claims to be setting the stage to change humanity’s very conception of itself ought, at a minimum, to provide evidence to support such a proposition and maintain, at a minimum, logical consistency within itself. Since Levenda states upfront in the book that he had no intention to follow either of these propositions (explicitly saying that those looking for evidence will find “nothing here” for them), it necessarily follows that my evaluation of the book will differ from Levenda’s less rigorous intentions. Or, rather, he would have made that claim if he had read the review, which he didn’t, because he decided I am biased against him based on his choice to use my site’s search box to look for his own name and those of his friends Jacques Vallée and Graham Hancock
It is getting harder and harder to separate the goofball claims of fringe historians from the horrific consequences that they have in the real world. Yesterday, I read a sad story about Christian discipline camps for unruly teenagers, mostly in the southern U.S., in which religious extremists allegedly use brutal methods to try to beat the “demon” of homosexuality out of gay teens. According to media reports, their methods involved beatings, isolation, verbal abuse, chokings, nude exercises, etc. But while these abuses are, sadly, nothing new in the Christian anti-gay conversion movement, what makes the story news today is that the governor of Alabama—himself under threat of impeachment over ethics violations related to allegations of sexual immorality, but with a woman—appointed the man who refused to prosecute such abuses, Luther Strange, as the state’s second U.S. senator. “These children are from out of state, and their parents don’t vote here, and I don’t want the churches mad at me,” Strange’s top deputy allegedly said to characterize his boss’s views, though Strange denies this.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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