My boiler stopped working yesterday morning, shutting down my heating system, and as a result I spent all day yesterday arranging for repairs before the house chilled to the point of becoming uninhabitable. The circulator failed, resulting in an electrical malfunction that only managed to avoid catching fire because the valve above it leaked, extinguishing the sparks. This resulted in a busted circulator and a blown fuse. The circulator was easy to repair, according to the HVAC specialist, but the stupid special little fuse took two hours to replace because no one in the area carries that particular type and it had to be procured from twenty miles away. This happened simultaneously with the much-delayed closing on the house I have been trying to sell since last summer and with FedEx delivering my repaired computer. It was a busy morning that slid into a busier afternoon when the ongoing legal issues I have faced entered a new phase when the complainer (whose name I no longer use) demanded the removal of his name from every URL ever published on this blog. Despite the hardships, by the end of the day, I had a working furnace, a working computer, and only one house. My lawyer also drafted a response to the complainer. But I had no time to write, so I have nothing else to share this weekend except that my publisher has asked for revisions to my Legends of the Pyramids book and I now must work on that since I have a working computer again.
Last week, I discussed Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates in his role as a trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America, a nonprofit which “promotes archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past to foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and our shared humanity.” I criticized the AIA for giving a prominent role, both administratively and in terms of public events, to Gates because his program had included some dubious content and awful guests. Gates has occasionally spoken in glowing terms about the ancient astronaut theory, and his show airs on a network owned by Discovery Communications, a conglomerate responsible for some of the most damaging pseudoscientific series of the past few years, such as Legends of the Lost.
The History Channel announced the return of Ancient Aliens for a new season, but there is a twist: According to the network, new episodes will air on Saturdays beginning January 25. Previously, Ancient Aliens had aired on Fridays. Saturday is typically television's lowest-rated night and is often described as the "graveyard" of programming. However, America Unearthed spent several seasons on Saturdays on the H2 network to decent ratings, so this is not an automatic death sentence for the long-running series, but the move to a new and less-watched night might reflect the declining ratings for the series, which fell from more than a million viewers per week in January 2019 to fewer than 800,000 by the end of 2019.
The upshot, however, is that I will no longer be able to review the show on the night it airs. The new night also includes a new 10 PM time slot, and that is too late for me to be working. I will be asleep before the episode ends. Having a toddler tends to do that to a person. I am not sure when I will be able to slot in a review of the show since my weekends are usually booked.
I have two topics to discuss today. The first concerns American Cosmic author Diana Pasulka, whose Twitter account created controversy over the weekend. In a series of tweets, Pasulka’s Twitter account alleged that Tom DeLonge is a Freemason, that his To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science is a U.S. government “psyop,” that TTSA “scientists” were defecting from the organization or want to, that U.S. presidents engage in pagan lunar worship rituals, and that she would henceforth associate only with members of Jacques Vallée’s supposed “Invisible College” of UFO researchers. Late on Saturday, she put out a statement saying that she had been hacked and was “mortified” by what the hacker said while posing as her on Twitter and in email. She conceded, however, that “Some things were actually things in my email, but nothing I would say publicly.” She did not specify which of the inflammatory claims were her own. It’s probably enough to know that at least some are.
So, my hard drive failed for the second time in three months. My computer is still functional, to a point, so I can use it intermittently while I wait for HP to send me a box to ship it back for more repairs, including the fault sound, flickering screen, etc. They informed me that the hard drive has to die three times before they will admit that this computer is a lemon and replace it. So, stay tuned for hard drive failure number three later this spring.
I spent part of yesterday meeting with my lawyer again after I received a multi-page letter from the attorney representing the same occasional cable TV figure who has made legal demands against me for the past four years. This time, he is claiming that I am involved in a “civil conspiracy” to defame him. Anyway, it’s a long, involved thing, and that has sadly limited my time for writing today. Therefore, I will share two brief stories that are interesting, but about which there isn’t a lot to say.
The first season of the four-episode French science fiction romantic drama Il était une seconde fois aired on ARTE in September but made its international debut on Netflix last month under the title Twice Upon a Time. (A second series is in the works in France.) Like all but a few of Netflix’s foreign language imports, this one passed under the radar of most critics, and the few that did review the series really didn’t like it, while several French critics (though not all) praised its atmospheric moodiness and impressionistic storytelling, while conceding it’s artsy elements weren’t for everyone. Perhaps surprisingly, I had a quite positive reaction to the moody miniseries. I think that most of the critics in both languages misread it at a foundational level.
Archaeological Institute of America Takes Cash from Cable Purveyor of Pseudoarchaeology Shows and Helps Make Josh Gates Look Good
This is another one of those blog posts where I make enemies by pointing out that corporate cash is corrupting. This past weekend the Archaeological Institute of America, a respected nonprofit archaeological organization, held ArchaeoCon 2020 in Washington, D.C. This event, which occurred alongside the AIA Annual Meeting, was intended to promote archaeology and to “showcase” both the AIA and American archaeology for a public audience. So why was the main attraction a lecture by Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates, a man who went on TV and on the radio to tell America that he was pretty sure space aliens were involved in building some archaeological sites? That answer explains quite a bit about the destructive but symbiotic nature between powerful organizations and money.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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