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Books about UFOs… September 28, 2019

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I mentioned Ken MacLeod’s Engines of Light trilogy which I really like and provides a neat enough explanation for the UFO phenomenon (as does his later Descent ) – but other books about this area that I’m also fond of include the near peerless Miracle Visitors by Ian Watson. It’s very much a text of the 1970s and, like almost all his novels, inflected by some of the tropes of the New Wave as well as a good lashing of sufism (you either like that or don’t, I do) but its premise is superb.

WA Harbison’s Projekt Saucer series had a more meat and potatoes approach – let’s just say that the UFOs were products of a malign 20th century ideology, though there were numerous books in the series. Harbinson is an interesting character, from the North, no less.

Then there was Nick Pope’s Operation Thunder Child and it sequel. Pope had worked in the UK government on the area and produced some non-fiction books on the topic that were, perhaps some might say, overly generous to the idea of UFOs as manifestations of extra-terrestrials. With his novels he went all in.

And of course various novelisations of films – Close Encounters one was not bad as I recall.

A more factual book on the whole area is I think Dark White: Aliens, abductions, and the UFO obsession by Jim Schnabel, all the way from 1994. It’s book I’ve read and reread and which I think correctly places this as a psychological rather than a physical phenomenon.

My father, who himself had a background in aviation in the 1960s in Europe and in archaeology was interested enough in the issue of UFOs. He had a small library of esoterica – Von Däniken, Velikovsky, and so on which oddly reading at a very young age provided me with a fascination in the area but also deep scepticism.

He held a similar scepticism, and just on Von Däniken, one thing that irritated him beyond belief was the idea that prehistoric humans were incapable of constructing various monuments without (alien) assistance. He saw this as deeply patronising.

In regards to UFOs he and some colleagues saw a cylindrical UFO high above a small airfield in the Irish midlands in the 1970s. When they sent a light aircraft up after it it vanished. He thought it likely to be an unusual atmospheric phenomenon.

There’s a fair library of fiction about UFOs, any one’s that people like?

Speaking of UFOs, only last week one could read this… September 28, 2019

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Three videos purporting to be leaked military footage of UFOs are genuine, the US Navy has revealed.The clips – published by the To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science In December 2017 and March 2018 – showed several mystery objects travelling through the air at high speed.

And we have a neat piece of tautology in the following:

While the US Navy remains none the wiser as to what the pilots saw, it has confirmed that the leaked footage is real and that the objects have been classified as “unidentified aerial phenomena.”
Spokesman Joseph Gradisher told NBC News: “The three videos show incursions into our military training ranges by unidentified aerial phenomena. The Navy has characterised the observed phenomena as unidentified.”

Unidentified is unidentified, no less.

By the by, this site suggests the release of the materials was never intended.

Why Storm Area 51? September 28, 2019

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I was just thinking how odd this is – the viral social media invitation to ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’ .

This was, as Wiki notes:

…a Facebook event that took place on September 20, 2019, at Area 51, a United States Air Force (USAF) facility within the Nevada Test and Training Range, to raid the site in a search for extraterrestrial life. More than 2 million people responded “going” and 1.5 million “interested” on the event’s page, which subsequently attracted widespread media reaction and made the event become an Internet meme.[2][3][4][5][6] The event was created by Matty Roberts on June 27, 2019,[7] who confirmed the event was purely comedic and disavowed responsibility for any casualties were there any actual attempts to raid the military base.[8]

As it happens the event came and went as something of a damp squib. Though perhaps for those of us involved in political activism there’s echoes of our own experiences where online support is huge but actual feet on the ground are in much much smaller numbers (the evolution of the facebook call from mass storming to some rather dull ‘festivals’ is an interesting phenomenon in and of itself).

On the day of the event, about 150 people were reported to have shown up at the entrance to Area 51, with none succeeding in entering the site; an estimated 1,500 attended the related festivals.[12] One arrest was made for trespassing and one for alcohol related reasons.[13]

Still, this was odd not simply because the idea of ‘storming’ a vast area is absurd, and not without risks given it is a military installation but because it is a while since matters relating to UFO’s have had much currency. In part this has to be a function of the ubiquity of mobiles with cameras and the lack of evidence of UFOs despite this.

Compare and contrast with previous peaks of interest in UFOs – I’d suggest the late 1970s, particularly around the time Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released would be one such peak. Another was the 1990s – where various pre-millennial concerns entwined in broader conspiracy theories. Then matters went fairly quiet. Again, possibly as a function of technology.

Which isn’t to say that the memes don’t persist. It takes hardly any time at all online, and particularly on YouTube, to find poorly made fake UFO films.

Then again there’s been a few straws in the wind in respect of some close encounters in the media in recent times – as noted here in a separate post. These are interesting sightings, if not remotely persuasive in regards to being evidence of any extra-terrestrial intervention.

So given all that the very concept of the UFO as a cultural symbol is, in a sense, in something of a retreat.
Perhaps it then makes sense that somewhere beyond the immediate, a ‘secret’ location where people can project anything they like onto it in respect of what might or might not be there, is perfect.

Step forward Area 51. Terra incognito, and no mistake.

And there’s a footnote to this…

Copycat events such as plans to storm a genealogical vault of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[28] Loch Ness,[29] and the Bermuda Triangle[30] have also been created. In the Netherlands, a left-wing meme page known as “Memes for the Masses” created “Storm the Education Implementation Office Headquarters” event as a protest to student loans.[31]

All those are relatively inaccessible locations, all are to a greater or lesser extent unknown. Yet again we see a dynamic of people projecting hopes, and dreams and fears onto them.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Songs about UFOs from The Golden Horde, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Bragg and many more… September 28, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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Last Friday was meant to be ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’ day (more in another post!) – and it got me thinking, in part because I’m rereading Ken MacLeod’s Engines of Light trilogy (more in another post!) and UFOs figure in that, that the UFO in whatever guise has been a staple of popular (and unpopular) music since the 1950s, or even earlier.

And no wonder – the rise of the very concept of the flying saucer only marginally predates the rise of rock’n’roll and associated musical forms.

British heavy rock/metal band UFO, who started out as a not bad space rock outfit (natch) cornered one part of the market with their very name. And sure, one has to cast the net a little wider – songs about Roswell, or Area 51, or whatever. Perhaps the word Alien will do. Men in black too? But it can’t be too wide. Spaceships per se, or science fiction are out. And a special word for dance and electronica that in the 1990s had a small cottage industry going based around samples from various worthies in the ufology field (as with the excellent Black Dog track below or the Optic Eye track which mixes film samples and audio from real people).

It’s not too difficult actually – Wiki has lists of ‘songs about close encounters with aliens’, most useful. Anyhow, here’s some favourites of mine – particularly the Golden Horde, Megadeth, M83, Husker Du and the Pixies (and Frank Black went on to delve deeply into the mythology on his solo albums) and a fair few others of varying quality! So many more, Bowie, The Stranglers and so on. All suggestions welcome.


My Flying Saucer – Billy Bragg and Wilco (lyrics by Arlo Guthrie from 1950 no less)


Little UFO – The Golden Horde


Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer – Ella Fitzgerald (1950s)


Books about UFO’s – Husker Du


Motorway to Roswell – The Pixies


Chase the Manhattan – Black Dog


Wobbling in Space – Optic Eye


Year One, One UFO – M83


Hanger 18 – Megadeth


Billy Lee Riley – Flyin’ Saucers Rock’n’Roll (Jerry Lee Lewis on piano) 1950s


Anthem of the Space – Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.

LABOUR IN THE ‘WAR ZONE’ – Class, Gender and the Independence Struggle in Munster, 1916-21 September 27, 2019

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Building towards an FF/GP coalition? September 27, 2019

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Fianna Fáil will not contest the Seanad byelection for the seat vacated by former senator Grace O’Sullivan following her election to the European Parliament.TDs were informed at the party’s parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday that it was a Green Party seat and that Fianna Fáil will be backing Green party candidate Offaly-based Councillor Pippa Hackett, an organic farmer and the party’s agriculture spokeswoman.

Er… yes indeed, as the article notes;

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would like Green party support after the general election in the formation of a government.

A cosy little arrangement.

The reasons are obvious… Are they? September 27, 2019

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Sinn Féin councillor Chris Andrews, who proposed a motion passed by the full council earlier this month to cap the number of election posters and to require all posters to be biodegradable, stressed that there was no desire to introduce an outright ban on election material.“But we need some form of regulation and some restrictions. The reasons are obvious,” he added.Mr Andrews said younger people failed to see the need for election posters in an era of social media.

Not sure I agree. Apparently there were 200 complaints about posters received by Dublin City Council, though the figure isn’t parsed out in regards to what the complaints were about. That seems to me to be a remarkably low level of complaint given the numbers who live in Dublin and indeed the number of posters that are displayed.

And beneath all of this it seems to me is a conscious or unconscious dynamic towards depoliticisation and deactivisation.

The Four-Day Working Week – An achievable left demand… September 27, 2019

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Fair dues to Fórsa for starting a campaign for the four-day working week. And clever framing of the demand to bring business people who have introduced it in private companies such as New Zealand businessman Andrew Barnes, of Perpetual Guardian, and Galway company ICE whose company director Margaret Cox was there.

That deals with a lot of the ‘but no company will go for this’ sort of rhetoric. And just as an aside as mentioned before, the unions pulled back sharply from flexibility in working hours and conditions during the crisis – a huge retreat which will have significant ramifications in the future. Four day weeks, four and a half day weeks, and so on, are a solid way to improve working conditions for workers across the island.
And an interesting point here:

Joe O’Connor, a Fórsa official leading the campaign, said the four-day working week was the “alternative to the race to the bottom, the gig economy, that is emerging”.

“WHEN HITCHCOCK MET O’CASEY” September 26, 2019

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It was a collaboration between one of Ireland’s most noted playwrights and cinema’s greatest directors, yet the 1930 release of Juno and the Paycock is often neglected in the repertoire of both men. Brian O’Flaherty’s documentary aims to find out why. Featuring extensive, incisive interviews with family members, academics, directors and actors, including Shivaun O’Casey, Prof Charles Barr, Neilí Conroy and Peter Sheridan, it tells the story of how these two iconic figures met and the legacy of the film.

The film was a success when it premiered to a sold out audience at the Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) and received very positive reviews .

For a limited period , it is being screened at the following cinemas – Dundrum , Swords , Gorey and Dungarvan . Starts Friday 27th September – don’t miss out !

https://www.facebook.com/When-Hitchcock-met-OCasey-117048469693958/

Paul Murphy Leaves The Socialist Party September 26, 2019

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The decision was taken following a meeting of senior figures in the party last weekend.

It’s understood he will be setting up a new Socialist Group to be announced next week that will be part of Solidarity-PBP.

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