March 13, 2009

Space Travelers

Category: News — Ira @ 5:38 pm


“At no time, when the astronauts were in space were they alone:
there was a constant surveillance by UFOs.”

—NASA Astronaut Scott Carpenter

Last Sunday night, I was in a mopey mood. My internal clock thoroughly messed up by the time change. Of course, no sports worth watching on TV. Tom and Jerry, my all-time favorite cartoon, had been removed from its 7:30 slot and replaced with some modern inanity, for reasons known only to some young hot shot executive who doesn’t appreciate classic cartoons. Probably too violent and politically incorrect. After the Simpsons, I clicked around randomly to find something, anything half interesting. And happened on the History Channel. A two hour special was underway. Something called Ancient Aliens.

It was about UFOs, and the possibility that ancient civilizations on earth may have been influenced and assisted by aliens. Crackpot stuff, by normal standards. Who could take such a theory seriously? But I watched it. And found it fascinating.

I’ve been exposed to UFO writings since childhood. Dad always had a few paperbacks about flying saucers strewn around the house. With their pages of grainy black and white photos of flying discs. He may even have sold those books at Pathway. I’m not sure if he believed UFOs existed, but he probably did. Or at least recognized the possibility. A closet believer. He just didn’t publicize it a lot. No sense getting yourself drummed out of the Amish church for heresy if you don’t have to. Plus, it takes some fortitude to stand up and lend your credibility to such outlandish beliefs.

The TV show was a broad examination of ancient evidence from across the world that simply defies logic. UFOs and space travelers might not exist, but there’s sure a lot of strange inexplicable stuff out there. A few examples:

Archeologists have unearthed several little model airplanes, made of solid gold. Each with wings, tail fins, and fuselage. And a little stone rocket, with a suited astronaut complete with breathing hoses. Tiny things, easily held in one hand. Thousands of years old. Absolutely remarkable. Who made them, and why? No one knows. Did the ancients just imagine them, or were they emulating what they actually saw in the skies around them?

And there is a map of the world (made of leather or papyrus, I don’t remember) more than five hundred years old. The map is every bit as detailed as modern maps, the continents laid out exactly as seen from outer space. Complete with topography and rivers that were not even discovered at that time.

From some ancient shipwreck, a brass navigation device was recovered. A little rectangular box. Clogged and frozen with ocean debris, the box was eventually x-rayed. The x-rays revealed an intricate mass of cogs and gears. More complex than a modern Swiss wind-up watch. The device is a computer. Thousands of years old.

And then, of course, there are the pyramids. And countless other large, complex ruins. Not only in Egypt, but in many countries. Mexico and South America. Constructed of huge blocks of stones weighing many tons each. Yet so finely fit together that a knife blade cannot be inserted between the stones.

And that’s only a partial list.

I drank it all in, mesmerized. Wild, wild stuff. Perhaps Solomon meant it literally when he wrote there is nothing new under the sun.

I realize that when you watch a TV documentary, you see only what the editors and producers have chosen to include. And want you to see. Their biases and perceptions, as well as their political views, always affect the end product. I try to sift carefully through any presentation and make my own judgments, draw my own conclusions.

But what explanations are there for these mysteries? Someone made these things. The little airplanes and the stone rocket. The map. The computer. And of course, the vast deserted jungle cities and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

But who? Why? How? Where did the technology come from? Who knew it? When was it lost? How? With all our modern technology, we would be hard pressed to build the Great Pyramids today. How was it done so long ago?

I don’t know. No one does, when it comes right down to it. The mists of centuries and millennia are like a dark cloak. We can’t see through it. No one alive today was there. So we can only read the clues and surmise. But we can’t deny the evidence of the artifacts themselves. Much as we’d like to. Convenient as that might be.

I’ve heard it theorized that advanced technologies existed pre-flood. That Noah and his sons were pretty isolated, completely absorbed in building the ark for 120 years, and when they disembarked after the deluge, they didn’t know enough about the advanced technologies to preserve them. (It took some very advanced technology to construct the ark, come to think of it.) Besides, everything was washed away, destroyed by the waters. Makes sense, from an old school biblical point of view. But who really believes that?

My take on it all? I’ll take the plunge here. Admit it. Maybe I’m a loon, but I believe there is life on other planets. Not just a planet. Planets. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Or more. And that it’s quite possible, even probable, that earth-bound ancients were assisted by beings from some of these places.

And no, I am not a sci-fi aficionado. Not a Star Wars freak. Or a Trekkie. Last such movie I saw was Will Smith in Independence Day a few years back.

To me, it’s just rational deduction. We are a speck of dust in the universe. There are hundreds of millions of suns with billions of planets orbiting around them. From sheer statistical probability, some of those planets must contain life and civilizations. Maybe similar to ours, maybe not. Many of those civilizations are probably far more advanced than our own. And they likely have the means to travel to our dimensions.

It’s arrogant, in my opinion, for earthlings to insist they are the only life in the universe. We may be unique. But not exclusive.

I’m paranoid enough to believe that aliens are in contact with most of the leading governments on this earth. And that our own government knows and hides from us almost unimaginable things. Ever wonder where all the great technological advances came from these last few decades? How we even began our own tentative space exploration?

Problem is, I share those views with a lot of pretty unsavory people out there. Wild-eyed new age types. Many of these people look flat out weird. Act strange. And are not that credible. Some of them, I’m convinced, are possessed. And not by good spirits.

Even so, one must consider the evidence, and not discount something out of hand just because kooky fringe elements advocate it.

There are countless internet sites devoted to aliens, UFOs and space and time travel. People claim this, and people claim that. Some claim to have been abducted by aliens and taken aboard their ships. Others claim our government has bases on the moon and cities on Mars.

Crackpots and kooks, most of them. But are they all? I doubt it. If even a fraction of their claims were actually true, how could they possibly convince us?

There have been thousands of UFO sightings over the past fifty-plus years, by thousands of people. (Modern UFO sightings began in 1947.) Including a lot of very credible people. Ordinary Joes. Military people. Cops. Common citizens who would have nothing to gain from lying.

Did they see something strange and tangible, or was it always just an illusion? With so many eyewitness accounts, it’s difficult to imagine that something real isn’t out there. Something unknown and unearthly.

Christians usually claim there is no mention of such things in the Bible. But that’s arguable. The prophet Ezekiel pretty much describes a flying saucer spaceship in his writings. A detailed description of wheels within wheels: “…and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had.” Ezkl. 10:12. This he saw, hovering over the earth. Jesus spoke of other sheep that are not of this fold. He might well have been referring to “sheep” from other planets.

Then again, maybe the UFOs occasionally break through from another dimension that exists right here, all around us. A fourth dimension. One that exists beyond our perceptions of time and space.

But I may be way off. There’s really no way of knowing, one way or another. On the list of what’s really important, it’s pretty far down there. But still, it’s fascinating to ponder, and to consider the possibilities. We can only view the evidence, or at least one side of it, as I did last Sunday night, and draw our own conclusions.

Back to earth and earthly things. This weekend, I’m meeting with an informal study group to discuss a series of essays titled Mises on Money. Written by Gary North. Economic theory is not my forte, but in these troubled times when the government is throwing around trillions of dollars like so much confetti, it would behoove us all to learn the basics of sound monetary policy. So we’ll have a good understanding of how and why the current system must and will collapse. And not be surprised when it does.

So we’ll have a round-table discussion. Solve the world’s problems. I hear sushi is being served.

March 6, 2009

“Green” Rider…

Category: News — Ira @ 5:33 pm


I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse…
—Zechariah 1:8

The big storm hit last Sunday night. Sheets of snow, bitter howling winds, roads drifted shut. A winter mess, up and down the east coast. March, raging in like a lion. Even so, there was some humorous stuff in the news, if one looked for it. And humor, after the great March blizzard in the year of Our Lord, 2009, is a beautiful thing.

It must be tough these days, to be an environmental activist. You know the kind. The person who marches about the city streets and demands the government do some-thing to curb global warming. The person who upends cars and smashes the storefront windows of evil capitalists. Maybe starts a fire or two. And then goes home and feels he’s done something to make the world a better place.

The Greenies plan a big event every few months, seems like. Here and there, in the cities. There was one in Seattle awhile back. A horde of maggot infested hippy types assembled from all across the country. From all points, by train, plane, hitchhiking. In their tie-dyed T-shirts, jackets emblazoned with Peace signs, clutching their raggedy backpacks, they came, determined to warn us all of impending doom.

But lately, they’ve encountered some difficulties. Seems like every time they amass for another big rally, the weather refuses to cooperate.

It’s hilarious, really. Poetic justice. And it happened again last weekend in D.C. A large protest was planned, complete with marches and all kinds of banners. Go Green. Green jobs. And all kinds of other lunatic gibberish. I don’t know, Obama might even have planned to address them, lending his messiah-like demeanor and credibility to the cause. But alas, right on schedule, as if summoned by God, a huge blizzard unleashed and swept through the region Sunday night. A big chill. Eight inches of snow. Paralyzed all movement on Monday. Including all but shutting down the marching wackos.

And so it’s gone, lately. It must be disheartening to be green. Must be hard, to roust yourself from whatever little rat hole you call home (rented, no doubt, from an evil hard-hearted landlord who actually demands the rent on time), brave the winter weather, gather with other like-minded shreds of human debris, and see it all fall apart because of the cold weather. It must be hard to dial up enough energy to go out and warn the shivering ignorant masses of the coming global heat wave, when the masses could imagine few things more attractive than emerging from the frigid deep freeze that has plagued us all these many months and won’t go away.

But you’ve got to hand it to them, the marchers. For persistence. They keep regroup-ing and coming back for more. Summer, winter, frost and heat. Nothing deters them. Watch for them again around July, when it’s 100 degrees and the pavement’s melting.

One can’t help but wonder. If all those people directed their energies at something productive, if they held real jobs, if they’d relax instead of shaking down and demon-izing the actual producers, what could this country be? Not that such a thing could happen. These people are militant, angry, loud, and destructive. And determined to spread their Green gospel, by persuasion or by force, whichever is necessary.

I’m not saying the earth’s climate is not changing. Might well be. It has in the past, no reason to think it won’t in the future. But I utterly reject the notion that human activities are causing the changes. It’s a silly, arrogant thing to believe, that we are. And there’s absolutely not a shred of scientific proof out there. Not a shred. Just a bunch of computer models, combined with hysteria, and a lot of “suggestions” from elite busybodies on how to fight global catastrophe through higher taxes and a green life style.

It’s a bunch of hogwash, the whole thing. And it’s not about saving the earth. It’s about power and control.

Under Obama’s core socialistic beliefs, the Greens will get a sympathetic ear on the broad strata of their kooky, destructive agenda. New laws, higher taxes, carbon credits, twisted pigtail light bulbs filled with lethal doses of mercury. It’s all coming, and will run its course. The wolf is prowling at the door. We are entering Atlas Shrugged territory here. It’s too late now to turn back.

I try to ignore it, mostly, the hysterical noise, the apocalyptic scenarios, and just move on with my life. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. “Green” stuff jumps out and slaps you when you least expect it.

Last weekend, I traveled to West Virginia to help Dominic Haskin, one of our top customers at a builder’s show at his local mall. Drove in Saturday morning and returned Sunday night. Because of the distance, it was cost effective to rent a car, instead of driving Big Blue. So I called Enterprise, as usual. A mid-sized car. No problem, they said.

On Friday afternoon, I drove over to pick up the car. As usual, I would switch out my truck, just leave it parked there on the lot. The slick young man behind the counter had the paperwork ready. He seemed a bit edgy, too eager.

“All we have is a Toyota Prius, a hybrid.” He said brightly, cheerfully. “Should be fun to drive.”

I gaped, then recoiled. A hybrid. One of those green cars I’d scorned and excoriated in the past. Right on this site. No. I couldn’t drive one. I wouldn’t.

“I can’t drive a car like that,” I answered. “I’ve got a reputation to protect here. Don’t you have anything else? A mini van? Station wagon? Perhaps a Hummer? Even a compact car? I’m not unreasonable. Anything, just not that hybrid.”

“It’s the only rental vehicle on the lot,” he said. Clearly a lie. Or maybe not. “You’ll like it. Gets fifty miles a gallon.”

Miles per gallon were the least of my worries. I’m a pickup guy, but have nothing against real cars. Last year I’d traveled to this same show in a powerful Dodge Charger. Great car. I’d gladly settle for one again.

“If it’s the only car you got, it’s the only car you got,” I said resignedly. “Let’s check it out.”

We walked out to the lot, where the little “green” car sat parked. Clearly a hybrid. Aerodynamic way beyond the point of ugliness. Bright red. Looked for all the world like a large jelly bean on four little wheelbarrow tires. Oh well. It would have to do. I’d only need it for a few days. Surely I could survive the shame of it all for that long.

The slick young counter guy opened the car door and showed me how to run it. No key, you just insert a plastic contraption and push the “start” button on the dash. Even then, nothing happens, except the dash lights up and blinks and flashes like a Vegas strip joint. Push lever on the dash for forward and reverse. And off you go.

I glowered at the car suspiciously. Small, just barely enough head room for me. After grumbling a bit more and signing the papers, I was on my way. The car slid seam-lessly and soundlessly onto the street. I punched the accelerator, the tiny engine hummed to life and the car surged forward. It had kick. A combo of battery and engine. The gas gauge showed half a tank. I stopped and topped it with all of five gallons. Must be a ten gallon tank.

I drove back to the office and loaded my show supplies. My co-workers hooted louder than they did at my PT Cruiser a few years back. Ira in a hybrid. Like oil and water. An unmixable mess.


And so it happened the next morning that I loaded my bags and got out of Dodge in a little red hybrid, on four chintzy wheelbarrow tires. A “green” rider on a red horse. No sword, but peace did not ride with me. Longing for the solid height and feel of Big Blue, I hunkered down low over the steering wheel, wearing dark glasses. So as to remain unrecognizable, at least on my home turf. I considered wearing my little black fedora, but decided not to. The Prius surged along, eerily quiet. Like a little rocket ship dodging asteroids, I weaved about, shooting past large tractor trailers and pickups and cars. Fielding disdainful glances all the way.

Had I only known, I could have zipped right on down to D.C. and joined the protest march. I had all the credentials, if not the spirit.

The two-plus hour trip was uneventful, and by the time I arrived, I was pretty comfortable with the little jelly bean. The gas gauge hadn’t moved much, about a quarter tank. Dominic met me at the mall, and after casting dubious glances at my vehicle, politely choked back his laughter and any snide comments. After all, I was there to help him.

The show was surprisingly busy, considering the tense economic times. We bustled about, chatting with many prospective customers. That evening, Dominic and his wife Jamie took me out to eat and later to see a live country band at a club. Where Jamie succeeded in dragging me out onto the dance floor a time or two. Hadn’t done that in years. West Virginia people work hard. And play hard. I fell into bed at my motel shortly after midnight, exhausted.

Because of the threatening snowstorm, I left Sunday afternoon for home. Made decent time darting through the heavy Sunday traffic. Skedaddled along ahead of the snow and arrived home safely an hour or two before the latest March storm unleashed upon the area. The next day I dug the jelly bean from a snow bank and returned it to the lot. The car hummed quietly and eerily. I happily boarded Big Blue and returned to the slick roads in a real winter vehicle.

The experience wasn’t entirely negative. The ugly little car got to where I was going, and back again. Something tells me we’ll see many more such vehicles in the future. I don’t have a problem with that, as long as it’s from free market demand. But it won’t be. It will be mostly driven by governmental bullying. With one of their own in the White House, the Greens aren’t going anywhere, regardless of how many blizzards stifle their marches. Not until an overburdened populace rises up and kicks them where it hurts. And sends them packing back to their rat holes.

Until then, we’ll have to put up with’em. Like I just did.

We pause now to observe the passing of a milestone last week. Paul Harvey passed away, at age ninety. I had wondered where he was lately. His Paul Harvey News had quietly disappeared from the airways. Drifted away. Now we know why. The man was laid up, approaching death.

Almost everyone alive, at least in this country, has heard Paul Harvey speak at one time or another. His great calm booming voice, chuckling now and again at the appropriate spots. He was the most trusted man on radio.

I mostly enjoyed his “Rest of the Story” programs. Always interesting, with startling endings, he cranked them out by the hundreds over the years. He is irreplaceable, even though his son, Paul Harvey Jr. has attempted to carry on the Rest of the Story episodes. It’s not the same. Paul Jr. tries to emulate his father’s delivery and voice inflections. It’s impossible. And mildly irritating. Only reminds me of how much I enjoyed the real thing.

There was only one. There will never be another.

The good thing about a March blizzard: the snow doesn’t stay around long. As I post, most of it’s gone, melted away. May the warm sunshine come to stay.

This weekend, we all lose an hour as daylight savings time kicks in. Don’t be late for church on Sunday. Or use it as an excuse to sleep in and claim you forgot to turn your clocks forward. Especially if a boring preacher is on tap.