quinta-feira, 30 de outubro de 2014

The NEW Revolution

            We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
- United States Declaration of Independence

The NEW revolution is against the tyranny and apathy of recent decades and previous generations. We harken back to the LOVE of the 1960s and the BROTHERHOOD of the 1980s.  Born and coming of age in these times we now call ourselves to (join) ARMS against what has been denied us despite our goodwill, our innocence and even our ignorance.  We stupidly thought our parents were opening doors for us towards a brighter, more egalitarian future. And we let ourselves believe we wouldn’t have to work too hard to insure that future.  How could we think that we wouldn’t have to actually work for it? Some of us did realize we’d have to work for Glory but not enough of us. Most of us mistook the apparent progress of a few for something more positive than what it really was. Look what that got us. Science may have made life better but Technology hasn’t. It’s made prisoners of most of our generation and seems to have already imprisoned most of the newest generation. WE at least know what we’re missing though. The newest generation has no idea. They have been born into a state of “technology-induced dumbness”.
The present fascination with Zombies is a perfect reflection of the current state of affairs, only most of us ARE the zombies and few are the survivors! We’ve been zombie-fied by our own complacency. Are there enough “survivors” left to fight now or just more zombies on the way to mix with the other zombies?  How do we shake ourselves awake again? Can we rekindle in our children the tiny spark of passion that must (hopefully) still be within them? Isn’t the ideal of the Noble Savage something innate to all men and women? Isn’t that what makes us human, the desire to break free of our “chains” and reach- even if only partially or unsuccessfully- towards a state of Beauty (Perfection)? The road is, after all, more important than the destination. Do we not hope for, in the few moments of silence we allow ourselves these days, a better world, a cleaner world, and a more just world?
MY generation- let’s call it "6080"- cannot give up now just because we have reached 50. Too many of us have. And too few of us are left to, if not exactly pass the torch, inspire our “still-born” children and guide our species once again towards loftier and more worthy heights.   


domingo, 7 de setembro de 2014

The Kennedy Assassination: Final Thoughts?

Lee Harvey Oswald, the supposed “lone shooter” of President John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas claimed to be a “patsy” after he was arrested. Was he involved in some way, big or small, in a conspiracy to kill JFK? Was he a loner in search of infamy? Or was he truly ignorant of a plot to kill the president and innocent of all charges? 

Eyewitness testimony claims Oswald did not watch the president’s motorcade, let alone shoot at it, that fateful day in Dallas. He was seen in the Texas School Book Depository lunchroom before AND after the shooting and appeared calm and collected. But when he did finally leave the TSDB after the president was shot- the only employee to do so- why did he collect an automatic pistol he owned at his rented room and make his way to a Dallas movie theater where he was ultimately arrested and charged with shooting a Dallas Police Officer, J.D. Tippett? What were his plans? Why did he not stay at home if he was not involved in the assassination of the president? Why was he rambling about town with a gun in his possession? Did he shoot PO J.D.Tippet? And, if so, why? Later in the Dallas Police Department he looks composed albeit apprehensive and anxious. But is he an innocent caught up in the whirlwind of the crime of the century, the ultimate being in the “wrong place at the wrong time”? Or is he a cool, calculating killer? The evidence suggests he was involved in something, but what exactly?

What is the path of Oswald’s Carcano carbine rifle from mail order purchase to TSBD building sniper’s nest? How did the gun get there? Apparently in a package described by Oswald himself as containing curtain rod packages. What is the ballistics and forensics evidence linking Oswald to this rifle? Order form, palm print and fiber analysis, ballistics? Was it ever confirmed as the rifle used to shoot President Kennedy? Apparently, yes.

And what is the history behind Oswald’s automatic pistol? When did he obtain that? A separate mail order, apparently. Was it ever confirmed as the pistol used to kill DPO Tippett? Apparently Oswald’s gun was fully loaded still (with 6 bullets?) and had not been fired that day. And Tippet was apparently shot with a revolver and not an automatic.

Whoever shot President Kennedy knew the motorcade route would pass around Dealey Plaza, below the TSDB and in front of the Grassy Knoll. The route was only made public in local newspapers on NOV 18. Prior to that the Secret Service agents-in-charge of Dallas operations had been informed of the proposed Dallas visit by the White House on NOV 4 and began making motorcade plans on NOV 8. The motorcade route was put together primarily by secret service agent Forrest Sorrells and ________ Lawson and included two slow turns from Main Street onto Houston Street and then onto Elm Street below the TSBD. Why did the secret service plan such a route which in hindsight was so obviously dangerous? After all the route presented the shooter or shooters of JFK with a made-to-order shooting gallery. Oswald would certainly have thought so.

Agent Sorell’s justification for the Houston-Elm street path was that only that route would give the motorcade access directly to the freeway which led to the Dallas Trade Mart where JFK was scheduled to speak on NOV 22. Apparently there was no access to the freeway from Main Street in November 1963, access that would have placed Kennedy outside the scope of any shooter in the TSBD building, Grassy Knoll or any other sniper’s nest overlooking the Elm Street side of Dealey Plaza. Oswald would not have been able to shoot Kennedy from the TSBD if the secret service had chosen to keep the presidential motorcade on Main Street.

If Oswald alone shot JFK without any outside assistance or direction he made his final plans after NOV 18 when the motorcade route was published and he learned the president was to pass (providentially) below where he had been working since OCT 15. If he was involved in a conspiracy involving the secret service or other government agency his plans could have been made after NOV 4 when Kennedy decided to go to Dallas. And if someone other that Oswald was a shooter in the TSDB and/or from other sites he too could only have made his plans in the same way. If there were other shooters above the Grassy Knoll or in other buildings around Dealey Plaza they could only have made their plans independently after NOV 18 or together with the secret service or another government agency after NOV 4.  

If Oswald was innocent of shooting the president because he was having his lunch in the 3rd floor lunchroom at the time could he also have been unaware of someone else shooting the president from the 6th floor of the building where he worked? However weak the evidence is it implicates Oswald as the only shooter of JFK. Either he did it or-and he may have known this- he was set up to take the fall for someone who did do it.

What was Oswald’s involvement in the assassination of JFK (and Dallas PO J.D. Tippett)? Was he THE shooter, A shooter, a Patsy who helped plan the assassination but then “sat it out” and was set up, or a complete Innocent (someone in just the wrong place at the wrong time)? The evidence suggests Oswald was certainly A shooter and, more than likely, THE (only) shooter. He was in the building from which the president was shot at the time of the crime. The murder weapon found at the scene of the crime was his own rifle. A partial (if suspicious) palm print on the murder weapon was identified as his. Then after the killing of the president he fled the TSBD without permission, returned home to obtain a pistol, perhaps killed a Dallas police officer with this pistol, and was finally arrested hiding (from what?) in a Dallas movie theater.

Any evidence there were any shooters of President John F Kennedy other than Lee Harvey Oswald from the TSBD on NOV 22, 1963 is circumstantial at best. There is no evidence that there was a conspiracy to kill the president. On the other hand it is arguable that Oswald alone had the means, the motive and the opportunity to commit the crime. The only other possibility is that he truly was what he claimed to be in the Dallas PD, a Patsy, who was involved in a conspiracy to kill the president and was set up to take the fall for the true assassin or assassins. I truly wish I could convince myself of the truth of one of these possibilities. And I wish I could resolve other questions about possible shots from the grassy knoll, the direction of Kennedy’s head shot, the magic bullet theory and J.D. Tippet’s murder amongst other things. But I cannot. I lean towards the theory of Oswald as a lone shooter, but I have my doubts still.

* The NOVA program Cold Case: JFK (first aired PBS NOV 13, 2013) offers forensic and scientific evidence supporting the “single bullet theory” and “rear-entry head wound theory”.

*      Oswald's ownership of the weapons used to kill President Kennedy and Officer Tippet remains questionable, See George Bailey's blog,  http://oswaldsmother.blogspot.com/2009/11/who-bought-guns.html

sexta-feira, 14 de março de 2014

The Hound and La Bete: 
Cryptozoological Investigations in British Fiction and French Film

In Conan Doyle’s 1906 classic novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, the detective Sherlock Holmes investigates the existence of a mythical hound in the haunting moorlands of Dartmoor, Southwest England. Not for a moment however does Holmes consider the hound to be directed by anything but the hand of Man, a cunning adversary at best, a depraved lunatic more likely. To Conan Doyle and his agent, the ever-skeptical Sherlock Holmes, Man is the only true monster we must fear. Still this terrific novel, and the story behind the story, can be seen as a record of a double-sided crytozoological investigation, one begun by the author Arthur Conan Doyle and another concluded by his protagonist, Sherlock Holmes. We know that Doyle’s novel was based upon folk tales told him by his friend, Bertram Fletcher. Doyle’s own investigation of the Cornish “hounds of hell” leads him to create a popular thriller in which his capable hero debunks the existence of real monsters in favor of the human agent behind them.
The 2001 film, Brotherhood of the Wolf, treats similar subject matter in a similar way. News of a ferocious beast preying upon the innocent French country folk of Gevaudan compels the authorities to dispatch an investigator, nobleman and pre-Darwinian naturalist, Gregoire de Fronsac, to find and kill the beast of Gevaudan. Once again the principles of scientific investigation and Holmesian skepticism are brought to bear against “the terror” of a supernatural monster. Once again the existence of any real monster is rejected from start to finish and the hand of Man is declared the madness behind the mayhem. De Fronsac’s crytozoological investigation, just like that of Sherlock Holmes, results in the debunking of a myth beneath the magnifying glass of “enlightened” reason. 
The creators of Brotherhood of the Wolf took inspiration from the true history of a wave of killings which swept the French countryside during the reign of Louis XV (c. 1764) and which were thought to be the doings of some werewolf-type monster or gigantic wolf. But whether “La Bete de Gevaudan” was a rabid wolf (or wolves), or historical serial killer, was never determined. One day the killings just stopped, and the mystery remains to this day. 
Fiction can so easily be made more fantastic than fact. But fiction is not born without the facts it is based upon. Is there anything more to these stories that we might investigate today? Certainly they offer up fantastic food for thought. The picturesque countrysides of Dartmoor and Gevaudan are certainly atmospheric and evocative destinations. These stories invite us to explore the folklore, history and resulting fiction of two very interesting phenomena. In fiction Holmes and De Fronsac may have found no real monsters but themselves, but in real life what might we find? Would that our own investigations were as exciting and as entertaining as the creation of these memorable fictions. And why shouldn’t they be? 

Other beasts to investigate include the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti (or Sasquatch) and the Lions of Tsavo.  And here's an interesting book you cryptozoologists might want to check out.