Monday, December 31, 2007

Is the Pope Authorizing Exorcism Squads?

According to a much ballyhooed article from the Daily Mail in the last few days

Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.

The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican "exorcistinchief," to the online Catholic news service Petrus.

"Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on," he said.

"Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.

The PR office of the Vatican denies the account.

I suspect someone has spoken out of turn here, and that the denial is closer to reality. But the Vatican has shown renewed interest in the topic including introducing exorcism classes.

The inability to recognize the real

An interesting essay by Geoff Olsen at Common Ground uses UFOs as an example of how hard it is for many people to think outside of the box (to use a spent marketing term).

I don't fully agree with everything there, and I get so tired of the use of quantum mechanics to wave anything into possibility, but the core truth is that when faced with an even slightly deniable experience that fits outside of the expected, so many people will dive for the exits of convoluted but familiar explanations.

For me, I feel this effect in people the most with politics. Not just party politics but the bigger picture. You can present people with basic facts, and if they mean the world they know is slipping away or untenable, they won't flip out, they simply ignore it. It helps of course if there are billion-dollar companies that aid and abet in making it easy to ignore the world.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Spooky Paradigm Bookstore

I got tired of the limited space for books on the side of the blog page, so I added an aStore, a bookstore that orders through Amazon. But I have far more space to put up scads of titles and products.

For the most part, I'll only add books and other products that I am familiar with and can describe and give some guidance on. This will include noting a book's shortcomings if need be.

So far I've added about 20 volumes on UFO culture. That's pretty much most of what is out there, and I've noted the relative utility and topics of each. Categories I'll be adding soon will be case studies, ghost hunters, and Spooky Paradigm theory.

The address for the store, also found in the suggested reading sidebar, is

Feel free to browse.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Year of the Political UFOs: The Japanese Cabinet Minister UFO Flap vs. American UFO Politics vs. American Separation of Church and State

As you may have heard, Japan's government has become something of a laughing stock this week, after chief cabinet minister Nobutaka Machimura answered a question about UFOs at a press conference with an answer that he believes in them. After an initial 24 hours of excited stories and posts, it became clear that no one in the "debate" was being very serious. The eventual insertion of Godzilla into the dialogue was not the first clue.

Nonetheless, this has been the year of politicians talking about UFOs. As I noted in an update on my post concerning US presidents and UFOs, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich says he saw a Black Triangle years ago, and in his discussion of that incident joked about Exeter, a location with a link to UFOs that is not common knowledge. I wonder if that's how he won over his wife.

When Kucinich's UFO story hit the press, Bill Richardson also noted that he considers the Roswell Incident and UFOs serious business, at least as tourism. He has promoted Roswell in the past, including providing a foreword for the book The Roswell Dig Diaries.

Earlier this year, Wonkette visited the issue, at least historically, concerning George Bush I, the CIA, Jimmy Carter, and UFOs.

I suspect some of this is of course chance and happenstance. But since the O'Hare case last year, UFOs have gotten more credibility in the large mainstream media than the issue has had since probably the 1960s, pre-Condon. All without, and I think not coincidentally, a major presence in the entertainment media. The more divorced the issue is from fantasy and entertainment, the more credibility it has.

Once again, I am reminded of George Carlin's take on this, with his comparison of the media portrayal of Christianity vs., for example, UFOs. Nifty.

And what reminded me of this? Mike Huckabee, a major contender for the Presidency of the United States (AKA the commander of the most powerful and planet-annhilating military in human history) and his conversation with his God in 2004.

Update: Looks like Hillary Clinton has followed in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and her husband in invoking the (fictional) threat of alien invasion to promote global unity.

Inspired by Pharyngula

Monday, December 17, 2007

UFO Hotspot Map from CUFOS

Missed this back in November. Hotspot map from CUFOS, based on population, courtesy of strange maps