Dec 27, 2013 I Miguel Romero

Red Pills of the Year — MMXIII

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! Well, this is it: We're about to fire up the training program & plug it with the historical logs of the Nebuchadnezzar, in order to recap the most significant events of the cycle that is about to conclude. Many interesting & amazing things transpired beneath the catacombs of Zion, which even managed to impact the topside world; and since choosing just 10 Red Pills among dozens worth mentioning proved an impossible task --after all, I'm not The One!-- I decided to combine some of them into encompassing themes, which will allow us (I hope) to better assess their role in the overall scheme of things. So let's not wait any more time, shall we? Get ready to jack in!


The Pope from the End of the World.


After a long strain of scandals undermining the image of the Catholic church, pope Palpatine Benedict XVI announced his resignation to the seat of St. Peter in the morning of February 11th; a surprising break of a centuries-old tradition, which was initially explained by the Vatican as a result of the former pontiff's advanced age & poor health, and subsequently he alluded to a 'mystical experience' which let him know it was time to step down. A more conspiratorial interpretation however, is that Benedict's departure was the end result of the controversial Vatileaks affair, in which his own personal butler was involved --not to mention rumors of a supposed gay Vatican underworld he allegedly discovered...

Indeed it seemed as if heaven itself was announcing its displeasure with the church.


The conclave of cardinals was convened on March 12th, a procedure well known by anyone who's read Dan Brown's Angels & Demons or seen the film --minus the antimatter bomb, mind you. The event caused quite an amount of global expectation, especially when you consider the prophecies of St. Malachy & how some people interpret them as a sign that Benedict's successor would be the last pope before Judgement's Day. There's also a belief that if the next pope was black, it would be a sure sign that St. Malachy's vision had been fulfilled & the angelic trumpets would start announcing Armageddon in no time.

Lo & behold, the prophecy was carried out! --kind of. On the 2nd day of the conclave (13-03-13) the cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who despite his all-too Italian name was from Argentina; another amazing break from tradition, because up until then ALL pontiffs had been born in Europe. The fact that Bergoglio belonged to the Jesuit order also seemed to be a wink to St. Malachy --the Superior General of the Society of Jesus is popularly known as 'the black pope'-- & after Bergoglio chose the name of Francis & went out to greet the cheering crowd gather at St. Peter's square, even himself seemed to address the prophecies in a jovial tone, when he said his brothers went "to the end of the world" to get Rome a new bishop.

As I pointed out on the ramblings written in my personal blog, Francis' election date seemed to have some kind of astrological correlation with the planet Uranus, which is considered to be an 'awakener' of consciousness since its aspects and transits bring sudden changes and shocks. Perhaps I wasn't as deluded as I thought I was at the time, given that Francis continues to shock the world with his refreshing new change in attitude with regards to homosexuality ("who am I to judge?"), divorced couples, and specially with his harsh criticism to economical inequality & 'trickle-down' theories that keep widening the gap between the rich & the poor. Not only has Francis dumped the bullet-proof popemobile so he can be closer to the people, he's also been known to call private citizens by phone in response to letters they sent to him; there's even the rumor that at night the new pope sneaks out of the Vatican to give money to the poor!

It's no wonder Francis was elected Person of the Year by Time magazine --then again, he was contending against Miley Cyrus & Bashar Assad, so perhaps it's not much of an honor...

Maybe this new pope will really bring about the end of a world: a world in which bishops & cardinals are only interested in amassing fortunes kept behind the Vatican vaults, while they obsess with their parishioners' sex lives instead of helping them improve their actual lives. Who knows, if I had met someone like him while I still considered myself a Catholic, perhaps right now I would be typing these words while wearing a black shirt with a funny collar...



Notable Passings. notable-passings

Below is a list of the people we lost during the year, who are worth mentioning in this column due to the impact they had on either the Fortean community in particular, or the world in general;  this is also a testament of my deep admiration & gratitude toward them (with one exception, which will be discussed later):

  • Ingo Swann, talented artist & remote viewer (September 14, 1933 - January 31, 2013)
  • Marjorie Fish, MENSA member & Star Map maker (September 19, 1932 - April 8, 2013)
  • Ray Harryhausen, creature creator extraordinaire (June 29, 1920 - May 7, 2013)
  • Michael Baigent, Grail seeker & alternative historian (February 27, 1948 - June 19, 2013)
  • Richard Matheson, legendary author of Sci-Fi & horror (February 20, 1926 - June 23, 2013)
  • Jesse Marcel Jr., Roswell witness & Disclosure advocate ( August 30, 1936 - August 24, 2013)
  • Pedro Ferriz, father of Mexican UFOlogy (March 17, 1921 - September 3, 2013)
  • Roy Mackal, cryptozoologist & hunter of Mokele Mbembe (August 1, 1925 - September 13, 2013)
  • Scott Carpenter, Mercury astronaut & 2nd American in space (May 1, 1925 - October 10, 2013)
  • Nevill Drury, author & mystic (October 1, 1947 - October 15, 2013)
  • Sylvia Browne, controversial celebrity psychic (October 19, 1936 - November 20, 2013)
  • Colin Wilson, cultural outsider & author (June 26, 1931 - December 5, 2013)
  • Lloyd Pye, Starchild investigator (September 7, 1946 - December 9, 2013)

Here at the Zion headquarters we thank these men for their courage & hard work. As for Browne... well, at least she'll stop making false predictions.

Descansen en Paz.



Battles in the War on Consciousness.


TED is a non-profit organization famous for their popular online conferences, dealing with a vast array of different topics under the banner of 'ideas worth spreading'. But in 2013 we Forteans discovered the disappointing truth: that those ideas are only worth spreading if they don't deal with any sort of 'pseudoscientific woo.' A lesson Graham Hancock & Rupert Sheldrake learned the hard way, when they witnessed both their TEDx conferences removed from the main TED site, at the request of some hard-nosed pseudoskeptics who deemed the content 'unscientific'; a move equivalent to being taken to the 'naught corner' in the words of Sheldrake, whose numerable confrontations with intolerant antagonists have forced him to develop a healthy sense of humor.

The resulting controversy turned disastrous for TED --because it was clear they never managed to fully substantiate their hasty decision-- and ironically auspicious for Hancock & Sheldrake --because in the end the scandal attracted the attention of far more viewers to their ideas, and the videos were still easily obtainable through Youtube.

But these were by no means isolated cases. TED continued to show its distaste for anything with a whiff of parapsychology by removing TEDxWestHollywood's license just when they were about to launch their 'Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?' event. One of the speakers was physicist Russell Targ, who was involved with the CIA's remote viewing program in the 1970's & 80's --Russell was also a guest on MU this year on Ep. 914. TED also issued a letter to all TEDx organizers to help them tell the difference between cutting-edge topics & 'bad science':

  • Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth
  • Is not based on experiments that can be reproduced by others
  • Contains experimental flaws or is based on data that does not convincingly corroborate the experimenter’s theoretical claims
  • Comes from overconfident fringe experts
  • Uses over-simplified interpretations of legitimate studies and may combine with imprecise, spiritual or new age vocabulary, to form new, completely untested theories.
  • Speaks dismissively of mainstream science
  • Includes some of the red flags listed in the two sections below

I find particularly amusing point #6. I guess Terence McKenna would have never been invited to speak at TED...

Another thing TED is particularly against, is anything that tries to attain "the fusion of science and spirituality", so don't expect any discussions on NDEs endorsed by them any time soon --especially when skeptics feel the need to attack & belittle anything that supports the possibility of life after death. Case in point: Esquire's alleged exposé on Dr. Eben Alexander-- and herein lies the real crux of the problem: this group fully supports the current materialistic paradigm which dictates that human consciousness is an illusion generated by our brains. The same materialistic paradigm, BTW, that also drives the efforts of groups like the Guerrilla Skeptics & the like to have a very tight control on the edits of Wikipedia pages related to PSI research, mediumship & overall 'paranormal' topics.

But will that always be the case, though? What if all the current projects to map the human brain & simulate it on a computer turn out short of offering a purely biological mechanism for the rise of consciousness? Would TED & the rest of the materialistic advocates be forced to entertain the types of 'new age' ideas offered by Hancock, Sheldrake & many other researchers & alternative thinkers? And speaking of Sheldrake, what if subsequent discoveries end up boosting his argument of morphogenetic fields? --Exhibit (a): we now know memories & behaviors can be passed on between generations.

As I discussed on my latest essay SHIFT Happens, the nature of human consciousness is the last bastion of empiric materialism. Many more battles need to be fought until we win this war; but with the aid of brave soldiers like Graham, Russell & Rupert, and also due to the slow reversal in the general perception of psychotropic substances, in segue with the gradual legalization of Marijuana --thanks to people like Sanjay Gupta & president Mujica-- I feel victory is within our grasp.



Cool Archeological Finds of 2013.


Below is a little run-down of the most relevant archeological finds reported throughout the year:

Meanwhile the age of Man keeps getting pushed further back. Many discoveries will eventually force us to rewrite the entire book of human origins, from the oldest stone-tipped javelins found in Ethiopia, a 1.8-million-years-old hominid skull found in Dmanisi (Georgia) challenging our notions of dimorphism in our early ancestors, to the oldest human DNA found in a cave in Spain which instead of being Neanderthal more closely resembles the ancient group known as the Denisovans. We now also know those early humans weren't particularly racist when it came to swapping sexual partners, and were constantly interbreeding with Neanderthals, Denisovans &... well, basically everything that moved!

Oh, and we might also have to rethink our notions concerning the 'New World', while we're at it, given how someone was hunting giant sloths in South America 30,000 years ago! Maybe they were the same ones who were painting cave art --complete with lurid sex scenes-- in Brazil around the same age.

I'm no psychic, but I can easily predict that in the future our past will keep getting more interesting.



Cool Science & Tech Stuff of 2013.

jade rabbit

Below is a list of some of the coolst stories that transpired throughout the year from the world of Science & Technology, in no particular order:

We also got this lovely postcard from the ISS, sent by a Canadian space boy:

There were also a lot of attempts to bring Panspermia out of the realm of purely theoretical ideas, courtesy of Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe from the Buckingham Center for Astrobiology in the UK --his attempts are still being foiled by the usual suspects, though. It seems the only place we're allowed to find (quasi) alien life in our own planet is lake Vostok.

Another strand of cool/disturbing news were the emergence of electropsychokinesis: From scientists devising ways for rats to communicate directly brain to brain, to humans able to control a rat's tail with a mind-control interface, to finally using a similar device to allow a human to control the finger of another person(!). The military implications of this technology are disquieting to say the least.

In 2013 3D-printing kept getting awesomer: 3d printed cars, skeletons (of living animals!), splints that save babies' lives, bionic ears, replicas from the Smithsonian museum, and a large etcetera. Ahead lies the promise that this amazing technology will help us colonize the moon, replace animal testing of new drugs,  cure blindness & even helps us 'teleport' Martian microbes! -- that is, if 3d-printers don't get banned due to the shenanigans of techie libertarians who dream of a world full of 3d-printed guns...

Getting back to Mars for a minute, it's almost as if the Red Planet got wetter & wetter with each new discovery made by Curiosity, who celebrated its 1st Marsiversary alive & kicking --um, wheeling?-- & with many more discoveries awaiting on the horizon. But if conclusive proof of life --past or present-- is ever found, who will be the 1st men who venture the long journey to our sibling planet? Given the fact that the American space program has given up any immediate plans for revamping its manned missions, the 1st astronauts to set foot on the Red Planet could either be from other competing nations --China being the most logical candidate-- or the initiative could even come from the private sector: With Dennis Tito wanting to send a married couple for a quick fly-by, Mars ONE getting more attention & traction, it could very well be that human colonization of other worlds will be pushed forward by regular citizens using new ventures like PayPal Galactic --& launched from Robert Bigelow's lunar colony.

Last but not least we shouldn't forget the great cosmic spectacle that comet ISON gave us this year, even if it triggered a bit of UFOlogical brouhaha.



We're Sitting Ducks!


As incredible a spectacle for amateur astronomers ISON was, it wasn't nearly as dramatic & eye-opening as the fiery show that Russian citizens of Chelyabinsk witnessed last February, when a meteor 17 meters in diameter exploded over this city of over 1 million inhabitants, at an approximate altitude of 25-30 kilometers. A scene worthy of a Roland Emmerich's film, if not for the fact that Will Smith didn't have a chance to punch the meteor in the face & say "welcome to Earth!".

Why eye-opening? Because it brought to light a series of incontrovertible facts:

  • Although Armageddon-type meteors tend to strike our planet very rarely --the best estimates are 1 in 100 million years-- 'smaller' rocks are zipping our local neighborhood ALL THE TIME.
  • If it hadn't fragmented in mid-air, the Russian meteor was big enough to level a small city. Thankfully the explosion only resulted in damaged buildings & 1500 injured victims.
  • The last comparable event witnessed in recorded history was the Tunguska explosion of 1908.
  • ...Which goes to show these rocks have a serious grudge with Russia.
  • All well & good actually, since all the dash-cam imagery proved the average Russian driver is so badass it gives zero fucks to natural missiles zipping the skies!

And now that we know all this, and on top of it we've managed to retrieve actual fragments from the meteorite --good luck trying to elucidate when it's appropriate to call these rocks meteors or meteorites!-- AND we also know this particular rock may be part of a larger group which "range in size from 16 to about 660 feet across—one of which is expected to fly by Earth in 2025," just what exactly are we preparing to do about it??

Oh sure, there are feeble plans from NASA to start planning some type of planetary defense system against NEOs (near Earth objects) --this in tandem with their wish to bag an asteroid & tow it back to a regular orbit around the Moon-- but given how vulnerable NASA's projects are to budgetary constrains, are we Earthlings supposed to let the whole responsibility of cancelling the Apocalypse to an agency susceptible to mandatory shut-downs?

As in other aspects of space exploration, maybe it's time private citizens also took the initiative to device a proper defense system that would ensure our species will not follow the fate of the dinosaurs.


The Road to Disclosure is Paved with Good Intentions.


There were several significant events happening this year involving the UFO community. The 1st & also the one which attracted the most attention from the mainstream --which is really not saying much when it comes to UFOs due to the usual giggle factor-- was Stephen Bassett's Citizens Hearing on Disclosure, from April 29 to May 3 in Washington D.C. Emulating the style of a congressional hearing, during those 5 days at the National Press Club a long list of former military personnel from different countries, along with several UFO investigators -- mainly from the US & Canada-- provided 'testimony' before former members of the United States congress about the reality of the UFO phenomenon, the nature of which shows it's intelligently controlled by one or various (possible) non-human agencies, in an attempt to "end the truth embargo" in the words of Disclosure activist Bassett.

As an exercise in honesty, the objective UFO enthusiast needs to conclude that other than 1st, 2nd or even 3rd-hand testimony, not much was really shown in the form of actual evidence during this event. That's not saying Bassett didn't manage to gather some top-notch witnesses, like for example former Peruvian Air Force pilot Col. Oscar Santa-Maria, who in 1980 was sent to shoot down a spherical object hovering over the restricted air space on a military base --the 30 millimeter shells didn't cause any visible effect on the craft-- or retired USAF Sgt. James Penniston giving his account on the controversial Rendlesham forest incident, which subsequently left him & USAF (ret.) Airman John Burroughs with lasting health issues, for which they haven't received the proper aid as military veterans.

But along with those interventions there were also some more questionable material, provided by the likes of USAF Ret. Lt. Col. Richard French or Dr. Steven Greer, who made all kinds of unsubstantiated allegations about anti-gravity technology & free energy devices that have been withheld by the powers at be in order to keep mankind addicted to non-renewable fuels.

Speaking of Greer, not long after the hearings concluded he released his documentary SIRIUS,  which not only focused on all these aspects of the (alleged) cover-up of UFOs by the secret government & black programs --along with being a somewhat shameless self-promoting campaign on behalf of the good doctor-- but also highlighted a diminutive mummy named ATA, found by a third party on the Atacama desert in South America. Although initially the (preliminary) scientific analysis conducted by Dr. Garry Nolan for the film seemed to indicate there was a genuine mystery in relation to the 6-inch body, which in his opinion did not belong to a human fetus & possibly lived to the age of 6-8 years old before he died --even though the DNA screening showed ATA was of human origin-- the opinion of other experts suggest that ATA may be nothing more than the result of an illegal abortion, and with the increased bone density caused by the prolonged exposure to the hot sands of the Chilean desert.

SIRIUS wasn't the only UFO documentary released this year, though. There was also Mirage Men, a cinematic follow-up to the book of the same name authored by Mark Pilkinton, who is of the opinion that the modern UFO phenomenon was largely  the result of a disinformation campaign conducted by the US military, in order to conceal advanced aerial platforms & weed out foreign moles snooping into these sensible projects, while keeping UFO buffs busy chasing little gray men using fake documents & their own will to believe. I haven't had a chance to see this film --nor read the book-- yet, but based on the critical appraisal it's gathered so far I'm sure it's worth watching, even if I don't happen to agree with many of Mark's conclusions.

Pilkington is from the UK, a nation that used to have a public 'hotline' & a UFO desk attached to the Ministry of Defense. But last June the MoD released the last batch of UFO files, and with it the British UFO desk was now officially closed. The decision was not taken out of a scarcity of sightings, but due to the fact --so sez the MoD chaps-- that after more than 50 years, none of those thousands of reports constituted a "military threat to the UK." A decision backed by Dr. David Clarke, who was accused by former MoD official Nick Pope of being nothing but a "useful idiot", since the laws governing the UK's Freedom of Information Act had enough loopholes to ensure those cases with national security implications would be kept away from the citizens' gaze.

These are the types of measures which make Disclosure activism such an uphill battle --and that's when still supposing military personnel & elected officials do know more than they're telling us about the nature of UFOs. Then again, maybe what they're really hiding is their own ignorance & befuddlement with a phenomenon that refuses to be pigeonholed into manageable methodologies of query, and seems to be specifically engineered to force us explore the limits of what we consider consensual reality.

Governments want to keep doing business as usual without private citizens snooping into their dirty laundry. Occasionally they'll throw us a little bone to appease us, like when the CIA officially acknowledged the existence of Area 51 --it's a good thing, too! otherwise president Obama might run out of joking material...

Should we just raise up our arms & give up, then? Not at all! The year ended on a positive way with the announcement that Peru is re-opening their official UFO office, given the considerable spike of sightings reported in that South American country. Just because the United States & the geopolitical old guard are refusing to take their head out of the sand, doesn't mean the rest of the world is willing to do the same --and even if we give it our best shot, but still never manage to unravel the mystery surrounding UFOs, we could still find a lot of cool stuff about the world we live in... and ultimately ourselves.


Dr. Bryan Sykes: Cryptozoologist of the Year


The above title was given by Loren Coleman, and I wholeheartedly concur. Back in October, when I was having a blast with Micah & the rest of the Intrepid gang at the Paradigm symposium 2013, Dr. Sykes & his Oxford university DNA study delivered a bombshell into the global news-feed: Here came a respectable scientist with the right kind of credentials with the announcement that the myth of the Himalayan Yeti was based on a real animal, a subspecies hybrid between the polar bear & the brown bear which matched with a 40,000-year-old fossil found in Svalbard, Norway. And even thought this explanation might have come as a bucket of Tibetan water to many cryptofans hoping there's a 10-foot ape-like creature roaming the forests & mountains near the top of the world, the fact that an academic was willing to risk his reputation & bring the modern tools of the XXIst century to re-evaluate the available evidence, is a great step in the right direction to bridge the gap between the scientific establishment & the amateur laymen who've been left alone searching for these creatures.

Not only that, but Sykes has also looked into the legend of Zana, the female Almasti who's said to have been captured & kept imprisoned in a remote Russian village in the XIXth century. The genetic data gathered by Sykes from Zana's descendants revealed she was from Sub-Saharan origin --either an escaped African slave, or perhaps something far more complex as I humbly suggested on the Red Pills of November 2nd.

Sykes' book will be published next Spring, so it's possible that more ground-breaking surprises are just around the corner. Kudos to him for showing to the cryptozoological community that we shouldn't just settle with faux papers & embarrasing press conferences, that do nothing but soil the field with possum samples & Chewbacca costumes.

Now if we could only go out there & get us a live specimen...


Anniversaries Galore.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel as if 2013 see the anniversary of many events that are worth mentioning on this column; from the almost trivial to the deeply important, here's a chronological run-down of all the things we commemorated this year:

And of course, the biggest one of them all, the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination in Dallas, Texas ( November 22, 1963). And it seemed as if the mainstream media got together & decided to make a concerted effort to belittle anyone & anything who dared to be suspicious of the official explanation given by the Warren commission --although Hollywood is still allowed to exploit those theories for entertainment purposes.

Or maybe if you're a politician with big enough clout, you can risk throwing yourself with the tinfoil hatters:

But we all know this is for our own good, people. Because once you start doubting in the magic bullet theory, then it's a slippery slope to believing shape-shifting reptilians control every aspect of our lives!

But here's the thing, my dear Coppertops: that no matter how much the status quo is trying to convince us otherwise, we *know* that some conspiracies are real. And we hardly need better proof of this than our last Red Pill featured in this recap:


2013: The Year of Big Brother


Choosing the #1 event for this list was almost a no-brainer; because no matter how many Disclosure press conferences or Yeti DNA got analyzed, we all know that this year will go down in history as the moment we learned we all live in Oceania; and all the stuff that used to be the exclusive worry of tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists when we talked about things like Project Echelon back in the old days of forum groups & dial-up, was all of the sudden thrown into the attention of the general public, thanks to the efforts of a character whose life & character remains as cryptic even though there's hardly a person of the planet who doesn't know his face: Edward Snowden. A computer analyst who shared top-secret NSA files about project PRISM & Xkeyscore before fleeing to Hong Kong & seeking the asylum of Russia.

Some people thought 2012 was going to be the end of our world, but it turned out to be the end of our naiveté. Now we know that not only is the NSA listening to our cell phone chats & reading the e-mails of private citizens --& even foreign rulers like Merkel in Germany & Roussef in Brazil-- but they're also keeping a record of our favorite porn sites & even our favorite videogames!

As Snowden's ultimate future remains uncertain, Chelsea Manning's (nee Bradley) trial & sentence is an indicator of what would happen to him if he ever set foot on American soil --though Michael Hastings' death caused by a dubious car crash in June, makes one wonder whether there could be other means to silence Snowden.  And while a federal judges rules NSA's actions unconstitutional, we're witnessing how some of the biggest IT companies are starting to fight back: from Microsoft seeking to enforce some privacy measures in their products, to Google & Facebook acquiring cable networks as a way to legally circumvent the NSA's surveillance.

But what about us, though?

What are the actions we as citizens of the world wide web, are prepared to make in order to halt & derail this Orwellian future? Make no mistake, my friends: no government that has something to hide --which is like saying ALL OF THEM-- is comfortable with the empowerment of common citizens which the digital revolution has brought upon. And if you don't believe me, take a look at what's happening in the UK as you read this, with Prime Minister Cameron using pornography as an excuse to censor other type of 'questionable' material --would MU get blocked now that it's linked to Dino porn?

Whether you like it or not, the age of remaining as passive spectators is over. If you're reading is then you've become an activist --even if you weren't aware of it.



Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out & ending the last pirate broadcast of this year. See you all in 2014 --and welcome to the Resistance!

Miguel Romero

Miguel Romero a.k.a. Red Pill Junkie is a cartoonist and fortean blogger who writes at Mysterious Universe

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