Mars: The Final Frontier

By now a lot of you may have heard that the director of the new space recruitment film The Martian* was told of the "discovery" of liquid ice on the Red Planet while he was in preproduction for the film. 

This is par for the course; NASA has a prevailing interest in Mars and has been using Hollywood over the years as a propaganda wing to drum up support for a major colonization push (see Mission to Mars, Red Planet, Total Recall, etc). 
Seminal sci-fi director Ridley Scott - the man behind Matt Damon's The Martian - wasn't surprised by NASA's recent findings of water on Mars.
Speaking to Yahoo Movies, the Alien and Blade Runner veteran said that he knew about the discovery "months ago". 
"When I first talked to NASA, we got into all kinds of stuff," he continued. "And I said, 'So I know you've got down there [these] massive glaciers'. 
"And [the NASA representative] said, 'Yeah, that the massive white thing [on the surface of Mars] that gets covered with dust, we think that's ice'. 
"And I said, 'Wow! Does that mean there was an ocean?' Are we right now what Mars was 750 million years ago?' And they went, 'Uh, good question'. So they want to go up there and find out."
Those of us who followed the Enterprise Mission from back in the day weren't surprised by the announcement. I'm sure a lot of us- myself included- already believed the existence of liquid water there was common knowledge. It's hard to sort through all of the nonsense NASA foists on the public, but here again is yet another topic on which Hoagland and crew get bragging rights for being way ahead of the curve. From Newsweek:
Richard Hoagland, co-author of the 2007 New York Times best-seller Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA and a former NASA consultant, reported in 2000 that his research team had found present-day water on Mars in satellite imagery. 
“It's pretty unambiguous,” he said at the time. “We can see the crack in the crater wall where the liquid started to flow from, and follow a clear flow path down the slope of the crater mound. The flow patch is dark and wet, indicating it may have been only hours old when [Mars Global Surveyor] photographed it.” 
Hoagland and his colleagues have been reviewing NASA’s newly announced findings. “They’re dripping the information out to us very slowly,” says Robin Falkov, Hoagland’s longtime professional and romantic partner. “I truly wonder how fast things will go or can go.”
The water announcement got an enormous amount of preshow hype, leading me to wonder if they were going to announce something that was in fact news. But as it stands, all we get are these agonizingly slow releases of already established information, leading me to wonder if NASA is trying to bore the general public away from the topic.
Whatever else is going on down here- chaos, war, economic upheaval--there are those with the money and clout to make a Mars mission happen. One of these is PayPal-billionaire-turned-21st-Century-Howard-Hughes Elon Musk. He's been talking up Mars to anyone who'll listen. Only problem is that Mars is no place to raise your kids, in fact it's cold as hell. Musk has a plan to change all that:
Musk, a proponent of traveling to Mars, noted that the Red Planet is currently a "fixer-upper" but could be made habitable for humans. 
"First, you're going to have to live in transparent domes, but eventually, you can transform Mars into an Earth-like planet. You can warm it up," he said. 
The warming could happen quickly or slowly, he added. The quick way?"Drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles," Musk said.
Been there, done that. 
But it may finally be the economic chaos and social disorder on this planet that determines the fate of the Mars mission. Despite what some might lead you to believe, the superrich are not invulnerable. In fact they're getting increasingly nervous in the face of the economic chaos they unleashed in their quest for fiscal godhood. Many are buying large scale versions of panic rooms in corners of New Zealand and other remote areas, some are even mulling escaping into orbit when or if the shit truly hits the fan. 
One of the biggest problems they have is that the often very well-armed American middle class is feeling the ground melt away beneath its feet. This isn't a new phenomenon, it's just that all of the illusions thrown up to divert attention from this reality are losing their potency:
The mainstream is finally waking up to the future of the American Dream: downward mobility for all but the top 10% of households. A recent Atlantic article fleshed out the zeitgeist with survey data that suggests the Great Middle Class/Nouveau Proletariat is also waking up to a future of downward mobility: The Downsizing of the American Dream
People used to believe they would someday move on up in the world. Now they’re more concerned with just holding on to what they have. 
The reality is that the middle class has been reduced to the sliver just below the top 5%--if we use the standards of the prosperous 1960s as baseline. 
The downward mobility isn't just financial--it's a decline in political power, control of one's work and income-producing assets.  
The think tanks and NGOs have unleashed all of the divide-and-rule tactics used to keep people constantly fighting one another among ideological/religious/racial/ ethnic/gender/etc lines-- identity politics, political correctness, etc-- but the .01%  know all too well that one of these days some charismatic Spartacus figure will rise up from the mob and unite all of the bickering identity groups against them. It's the prerogative of History. Hence the escape hatches. But some elitists are looking for another solution…

People who bought into the utopian variety of Futurism are all wondering what the hell happened and spend a lot of time looking for scapegoats. But many sociologists will place the blame on the shoulders of "The Great Stagnation," the inevitable return to the mean after a period of technology-driven hyper-growth. 

Moderns take technological growth for granted, but the plain fact is that most of human history was essentially stagnant. 1776 AD wasn't all that fired different technology-wise than 1776 BC. In fact a lot of people would argue it was considerably less advanced in certain quarters. Philosophers throughout the Enlightenment pined for the comfort and splendor of Rome, forgetting that it was unknowable for all but the rich. But still.

Tyler Cowen is the guy who's been out front on this whole Great Stagnation business, and in his view it's responsible for the stagnation in real wages for the American middle class since the 1970s:
The main thesis is that economic growth has slowed in the United States, and in advanced economies more generally, as a result of falling rates of innovation  In Chapter one, Cowen describes the three major forms of "low-hanging fruit": the ease of cultivating free and unused land, rapid invention from 1880 to 1940 which capitalized on the scientific breakthroughs of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the large returns from sending intelligent but uneducated children to school and university. There are potentially two further minor forms: cheap fossil fuels and the strength of the American constitution. 
Cowen concludes, "You could say, 'The modern United States was built at five forms of low-hanging fruit, and at most only two of those are still with us.' Fair enough." While these produced extremely large returns, future advances will be much more incremental. He offers anecdotal and statistical illustrations for this slowdown. In the first, he compares the changes witnessed by his Grandmother with those of his own generation. In the second he cites median income statistics: the rate of growth drastically slowed from 1973 onwards.  
There are those who take the Great Stagnation even further, declaring that we are in fact at the end of the age of scientific breakthroughs. That we are seeing so much fraud and so much phony science hype exactly because Science has hit the wall and no longer has any showstoppers up its sleeve, any rabbits left in the hat:
This is the secret fear that Horgan pursues throughout this remarkable book: Have the big questions all been answered? Has all the knowledge worth pursuing become known? Will there be a final "theory of everything" that signals the end? Is the age of great discoveries behind us? Is science today reduced to mere puzzle solving and adding details to existing theories? Scientists have always set themselves apart from other scholars in the belief that they do not construct the truth, they discover it. 
Their work is not interpretation but simple revelation of what exists in the empirical universe. But science itself keeps imposing limits on its own power... As Horgan makes clear, perhaps the greatest threat to science may come from losing its special place in the hierarchy of disciplines, being reduced to something more akin to literary criticism as more and more theoreticians engage in the theory twiddling he calls "ironic science." 
It could well be that all of that wild quantum stuff that the hippies out of Stanford brought into the mainstream was in fact a false dawn. We've seen little in the way of practical application with it, so much so in fact that so more hard-headed science types dismiss it all as "woo." We saw the whole Higgs Boson thing out of CERN, but I'm not alone in nursing some serious doubts over that alleged discovery. 
I may not understand the science, but I know bullshit when I see it. And those cats have been acting like everything but a bunch of scientists who discovered the secret to all of existence. They seem to want us to forget the whole thing ever happened.
Scientific fraud isn't just for sophomores anymore either- it's gone mainstream. The past few years have seen an epidemic of retractions and peer review scandals, which is probably why you're also seeing the various propaganda efforts (I Fucking Love Science and the rest) as attempts to counter all of the bad press.
But as it happens scientists are beginning to wonder if anyone ever reads their papers, never mind tests their results. The rot has become so pronounced that Richard Horton wrote in the esteemed medical journal The Lancet:
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get poor results."
But the problem could simply be that Science is spinning its wheels, marking time without great shores to sail to. What may be needed now is a massive public works program in which science would be applied in the field and not just trapped in the lab. Mars would provide generations of scientists all the challenges they could ever ask for, literally forever. Not only scientists but engineers and architects and adventurers as well.

Now, to be clear there is considerable skepticism in some quarters that manned missions to Mars are even possible. That the human body would simply fall apart in the void of space in the long, long weeks it took to get to the Red Planet. And if they did get there, astronauts might well wonder if they died and went to Hell. Well, those are all problems and problems that are going to need fixing.

I think all you need do is look at how the social fabric is faring around you to see how human beings fare in captivity. Because more and more every day the world seems like a nightmare we can't wake up from. And the more urbanized we become the more depressed we become. 

And like small animals in a glass box many of us also seem to cease reproducing. The wonderful sci-fi metropolises in Asia all seem to have devastatingly low birth rates. We need room to roam, frontiers. We're dying in these concrete Habitrails.

And as Stephen Hawking has said, it might be a good idea to start thinking of a backup drive for the human program. 

New Agers may see Earth as a Greek mother goddess but if that prospect doesn't scare the living shit out of them then they don't know their Greek mythology very well. 

Gaia does indeed behave according to form, periodically killing off most of her children in periodic rages. Outside Earth may be currently inhospitable but seeing as how we're overdue for a sixth mass extinction, it might not be a bad idea to try to use some of that science stuff to figure out how we're going to survive that eventuality.

I don't know which faction of the ruling class(es) is going to win out, those who profess enlightened self-interest or those who are just plain selfish. The Cold War is starting up again, only with NATO playing the Andropov-era Soviets. I doubt the USA will continue to exist within its present contours in 20 years from now so who exactly will lead the Martian charge is an open question at the moment.

Some people even believe this new cold war is simply a prelude to a hot war, the kind predicted by Roddenberry and Gibson right around this time. The question becomes if the back end of those predictions will come to pass.

POSTSCRIPT: I had my own battle with Gaia and my continuing lesson in the impotence of science in the face of the "rabid dog" of chronic pain conditions as the passing hurricane and the torrential rains and crushing barometric pressure that trailed in its wake kicked my ass in a major way for several days. I was planning to post this last week but I was almost completely out of commission until, well, today. The thing that gets me though is the mold that seems to bloom everywhere these days. I can't help but laugh at the pollen reports- a walk to the woods at end of my street will show how useless they are. The meek may inherit the Earth but it looks like the mold is challenging the terms of the will.

* That all puts this piece in a new light.

New X-Files Trailer (UPDATED)

UPDATED WITH NEW TRAILER: Thanks to Reader Giles. The new one is totally metal.

The trailer here doesn't show much but what it does show seems to lock in with a leaked report on the first episode of the new series (titled "My Struggle"). If the report I read is to be believed Carter is presenting a radical new spin on the alien colonization mythos, one that ties into the critique he is obviously aiming at the surveillance state here.

At first it seemed like a retcon (again, if reports are to be believed) but on further reflection it actually answers a lot of long-standing issues fans had with the Mythology itself as well as issues I myself had stemming from (at least) the Sixth Extinction series.

It's good and true that they look older and more beaten down. It's a bit more honest to the romantic archetype of the lost cause. It's also ballsy as hell to revisit Roswell in 2015, long after the event has had any resonance in the culture at large but at a time when we're seeing more UFOs (and orbs, especially) than ever before, flying above our heads like unwelcome guests, leaving no clue as to their motives or intentions. 

But also at a time when the situation beneath them looks ever more apocalyptic.

As to these orange orbs that have become nearly epidemic, I'll quote Kenneth Grant, from a book written just as The X-Files reached his shores:
Anyone who has read with attention accounts of UFO encounters will have noted the high percentage of sightings involving the colour orange, the blending of red and yellow. In the Kala-grammar of occultism, orange is associated with Path 17, the Path of the Double Current. Its magical aeon, or angel, is Zain typified by the sword or scimitar. UFOs are frequently reported as being crescent-shaped when not egg-shaped or lenticular.

Night Force, Part Two: Mind as Weapon (or not)

"And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, 
with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name." 

I saw Killing Joke in 1989. To give you a sense of how long ago this was, The Red Hot Chili Peppers opened up for them, the Peppers' first tour with their "classic" Blood Sugar Sex Magic lineup. It was an outdoor event, held in a soccer practice field at Rutgers University.

 The Peppers were received politely but hadn't really built up a repertoire of memorable songs at that point (the cover of Hendrix's "Fire" got the biggest response). Setting the scene, Killing Joke had merch and posters all over the place, all sporting their signature surrealist/brutalist occult imagery

The field was at the bottom of a hill, and a long and winding driveway. The sun was going down as the Jokers took to the stage. They were accompanied by an escort of students carrying torches. The band were all dressed in black leather and Jaz Coleman was smothered in black warpaint. The PA system blared some hellish sounding pipe music.

 It was phenomenally irresponsible. You had a large crowd packed into a small space and Killing Joke were tapping into very dark streams of the collective unconscious. Their march to the stage seemed to take forever and you could feel the crowd slowly but surely devolve into a mob. People were shifting, restless, wary. This was straight out of Munich.

I don't know what force intervened but the fuse was cut when the band took the stage and the sound was an inaudible hash. The band seemed to be giving it their all but all you hear was a tinny, undifferentiated din. 

And it's a bloody good thing too. Because had the full power of that band blasted into the night after that pre-show display there's no telling what could have happened. I had seen them a few years before in Boston and the violence in the pit was downright atavistic.

Pretty much a typical Killing Joke concert in the early 80s

That was at the same venue I remember seeing The Misfits. I remember talking with Glenn Danzig before the show, who was then a scrawny comics geek. He was a big Night Force fan too, as well as a big fan (obviously) of Tomb of Dracula. 

Night Force of course being a cautionary tale about unleashing the forces that Killing Joke were toying with that night...

There's been a lot of theorizing and research done on the intelligence agencies and their involvement in the counterculture(s), a lot of it interesting, a lot of it not. One of the mistakes made in researching this nexus is misunderstanding what the black magicians of projects like MK Ultra were really after. 

Assuming they were after simple mind control, whose techniques have long been known and practiced, is the first mistake. Television, religion and the public school system were and are already highly effective mind control techniques. Cults had been incubators for mind control techniques for a very long time, highly effective ones at that.

I think what they were really after - and could never tell their paymasters in Congress- were ways of weaponizing the subtle powers of the mind. It's exactly why the government sent the skeptic groups (all of whom were reliant on government income in one way or another) to put the lid back on when people like Andrija Puharich wandered off the reservation and started telling the public what they were in fact after.

I think this kind of "mind control"-- suppressing the potentials of the mind to step outside of the linear boundaries of time and space-- is the unspoken driving force behind so much of our history and politics. 

Both the Left and Right, both religious and secular authorities, are united in the their fear and loathing of the potential of the human mind to escape the limits set out for it by thousands of years of law and taboo. The only way it can be allowed to be studied if that study will lead to some kind of weapons technology.

Night Force has the Russians far advanced in psi research, which a Russian general told Jacques Vallee was because the Russians "had never burned their witches," a statement which Vallee found quite shocking. One can only wonder if Putin is still looking into any of this or whether the generals have long ago given up on any of it ever giving rise to weapons technology.


I think the first Conan film (written by the great Hollywood iconoclast John Milius) was, like Night Force, an allegory of bizarre goings-on in the Intelligence world in the 50s and 60s. The contexts are obviously different but you see the same critique that there may have been more at work in some corners of the 60s counterculture than some are prepared to admit. 

For instance, Owsley Stanley was horrified by Ken Kesey's "acid tests", calling them out -- accurately, in this writer's opinion-- as exercises in black magic. Whether this was intentional or Kesey was such a brain-fried basketcase that he stumbled on the formula is anyone's case. The evidence is inconclusive.

Certainly many of the original movers and shakers of the hippie scene- the actual counterculture, not the counterfeit counterculture that arose in the late 60s-- saw which way the winds were blowing and tried to kill of the Hippie meme during the "Summer of Love" with the notorious "Death of Hippie" action, just as the major media was turning its focus on Haight-Asbury.

It didn't work. The free-wheeling, untamed, self-sufficient hippie would be replaced with a tamed, leashed counterfeit, one all wrapped up in the Globalist agenda. The same process would repeat itself with every counterculture that arose in reaction. A few weirdos coalesce and create a movement which is almost instantly coopted by the money men and replaced with a toothless imposter. Which seems to be all that's left now.

But the original freaks couldn't compete with the power of the networks and other media giants who would summon tens of thousands of fucked up kids to California in search of hippie Nirvana, only to find predators, STDs and shitty homemade drugs.

There was a two headed hydra at work. Unleashing chaos in the streets- the feeling of being of being invaded by an alien force- roused the "Silent Majority" from its self-satisfied idealist idyll and put Richard Nixon in the White House, smack dab in the middle of the Aquarian Age.*

But there also were experiments being done through the Stanford Research Institute and other venues, seeking to harness this youthful energy and see how weird it could get. And trying to determine whether that weirdness could be weaponized, as we saw in Night Force.

We probably shouldn't be surprised that the forces of darkness soon stomped all over the flower beds of the Aquarian starchildren. Anton LaVey unleashed the satanic virus while his lieutentant Michael Aquino measured its effects for the US Army's mindfucker units.

What the counterculture conspiracy theorists don't tell you is the rest of the story, how the entire Aquarian project was steered into rounding up all the sheep for the CIA's Jesus People program, which was backed by the Hearst and Luce empires. 

We're stuck in a 70s loop so the flower children stuff still seems resonant but the actual, documented fact is that the psychedelic era was extremely short-lived as a mass movement and was arguably simply a feeder project for the Jesus Freak movement, which in turn fed into the Religious Right in very short order. I remember all of this happening when I was a kid.

People who were actually on the street in SF and LA will tell you how quickly acid and pot gave way to STP, angel dust and bathtub speed, creating an army of instant drug casualties ripe for exploitation. And anyone who was alive in the 70s will remember how widespread the Evangelical revival was and how it came with the testimony of the recovered drug casualty. How strange that part of the story seems to have been expunged from the conspiracy lexicon.

Jacques Vallee's diaries of the early 70s paint Church of Satan guru Anton LaVey as a somewhat deflated, defeated figure. Did he realize that he was puffed up simply to play the scapegoat in a large-scale Mystery Play, one that led- as Vallee also documents- to armies of Evangelicals combing the streets of Los Angeles gathering up hippies for the new Great Awakening?

This isn't meant to bash Evangelicals, simply to point out that none of us are immune to the forces of history. But it does grate on my nerves how this history seems to have been expunged from the conspiracy lexicon, for entirely ideological reasons.


In the age of Beardy and Baldy (Alan Moore and Grant Morrison for the uninitated), all this kind of madness is standard fare for comics. But Night Force came out in 1982, when the average comic reader was 15 years old and most comics were still sold on the newsstand. It was only Marv Wolfman's clout as the writer/editor of DC's top selling title that allowed him to dig into such esoteric topics, and even then it only lasted 14 issues. 

He got even more esoteric, and delved into even thornier political topics. It seems remarkable in hindsight, but goes to show how accommodating the Kahn/Giordano regime were to valued creators.

Besides being a great comic and a great artifact of its time (it's best read not in reprint form but in its original presentation, so you can appreciate the wild contradiction of occult subject matter and toy and candy advertisements- plus, the coloring in the reprints is atrocious) Night Force also feels like a kind of prophecy of our times. It was too far ahead of its time, too challenging for a still-young audience- though Wolfman notes that it sold well on the newsstand (almost certainly outselling anything on the stands today). 

Keeping us trapped in our reptilian brain- the "fight or flight" fear-response part of our minds- is a highly effective way of blinding us to the perhaps the greatest secret of all- that consciousness is not bound by the strictures of time and space and causality.

I don't believe that's true- I know it for a fact.† It's something I experience on a regular basis. Of course, if that knowledge can't be weaponized it's not much use to the powers that be. And as far as I can tell, these subtle forces have thus far been immune to exploitation, no matter what kind of nonsense you might have read in our alleged scientific press.

* Can you think of somewhere else where this process may be in the process of repeating itself? Especially anyone familiar with the actual agenda behind the European project (or European history for that matter)?

† Last night I was doing my meditations and just letting go and following the music when suddenly I was in a hotel room, walking towards a sliding glass door and looking down at a busy city street.It only lasted a couple seconds but it was as real as sitting here typing. It was a room I'd never seen before. I had a few other flashes, less dramatic but still pretty intense. I wasn't thinking about anything to bring that image into my mind - it burst into my mind like like a bomb going off. It took a while to get my pulse and blood pressure back down. This is nothing to experienced astral travelers, I'm sure, but pretty mind-boggling when you're not even trying...

NOTE: A short storyline draws on The Outer Limits; it has an apartment complex whose residents are kept prisoner by a Lovecraftian creature who provides for their needs but won't let them leave. One by one they go insane. Baron Winters sends a sociopathic career criminal to the building to deal with the monster.  For some reason it feels like someone in the X-Files writers' room read that story…