The observations and opinions of a person who has no discernible insights or ideas.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"...and took his journey into a far country" 

While I was on the phone with my mom tonight, she said something about my friend who disappeared years ago. This got me to thinking.

I knew that he had moved to California. One of his old neighbors kept tabs on him for a while, and so while I knew her I kept getting occasional updates. They weren’t very promising, and I mourned for my friend who was lost.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to track him down. It wouldn’t have been hard. It’s probably because I don’t keep in touch with people very well. But tonight, I had been reminded of him and was sitting at my computer, with a whole internet right at hand.

Google was fruitless. There’s too many people with his name, even though it isn’t that common. A directory search also ran into obstacles because it required a city, which I didn’t know. It did link to a public records search site that allowed for search by any of name, city, state, and age. Entering his name, age, and state, it turned up about a dozen people. One of them had middle names listed that looked right to me. To my surprise, the directory search turned up a number for this guy.

After a couple of tries, I got through. Some guy who couldn’t quite understand me answered the phone, thinking I was Oliver (whoever that is). Eventually, he put Karl on the phone. It took a while for him to figure out who was on the phone, and a bit longer for me to figure out that he knew who was on the phone.

So, I had tracked down my old friend Karl. I last saw him early in our junior year of high school almost 12 years ago. We talked for a while. It’s hard to pick up after so long. He’s doing well. Still, it was very nice to talk to him again.

For this my friend was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Thousand Points of Dimness 

I’ve been getting a lot of exposure to fringe theories lately. Part of this is due to a coworker who believes every half-baked anti-government theory to come around (which is ironic, considering his employer), but most of it is due to an old friend of mine who has come out as a Constitutionalist.

Prior to his conversion, I just figured that Constitutionalists were conservatives who favored a strictly literal interpretation of the Constitution. I’ve since discovered that they are not in favor of a strict interpretation of the Constitution, but rather they favor a return to the Constitution as originally written (except with no slavery, I suppose). What I also did not know is that many Constitutionalists are more paranoid than your average citizen. This leads to their fear of multinational governments and the New World Order and concern about “secret combinations” in our government.

With the exception of the New World Order theories (where some of the arguments are merely overly stretched and weak, rather than completely unfounded), there are rational, well-documented refutations to every claim made in any of the theories that I have looked at. This doesn’t matter, since to their subscribers, any evidence that refutes their claims only serves as evidence of how deep the conspiracy goes.

The following is a list of the theories I have studied, with some links to materials for our readers at home.

The Faking of the Apollo Moon Landing
Wikipedia page with point by point conspiracy claims and responses
Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy page with links to more refutations

The Government behind the events of September 11, 2001
Website for the video Loose Change about the conspiracy view of 9/11
Wikipedia site about Loose Change
Popular Mechanics rebuttal

The Income Tax Protesters
Bill Benson's webite puporting that income tax is not legal or required
We the People Foundation's website, an anti-income tax site
A very thorough, lengthy, legal-jargon-heavy refutation of the Income Tax Protester arguments

The New World Order
Quotes about the creation of the New World Order
Wikipedia site about the New World Order and used by Woodrow Wilson and George H. W. Bush
Wikipedia site about the New World Order as seen by conspiracy theorists

The Sanity of Lyndon LaRouche
Wikipedia article on LaRouche
"No Joke" an article about Lyndon LaRouche and his followers

Now, all of this weird stuff has been taking its toll on me. Last night, I dreamt that I met Lyndon LaRouche. So, I'm announcing my retirement from the world of conspiracy debunking. I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than having really, really logical arguments. And I plan on finding out what that is.

[Addendum: A member of the Constitution Party took exception to my description of their attitudes regarding the Constitution. He pointed out that they support most of the amendments, specifically the ones that they agree with. Excluded amendments include the 16th (dealing with income tax), 17th (direct election of senators), and sometimes the 14th (equal protection). I could go into great length as to why I disagree with the Constitution Party, but I don't want to get crazy again. 15 Feb 2007]

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