Monday, January 31, 2011

Sovereignty and the UFO

A must-read article:

Sovereignty and the UFO

An excerpt:

Modern rule and its metaphysics are extraordinarily resilient, so the difficulties of such resistance cannot be overstated. Those who attempt it will have difficulty funding and publishing their work, and their reputations will suffer. UFO resistance might not be futile but it is certainly dangerous, because it is resistance to modern sovereignty itself. In this respect militant UFO agnosticism is akin to other forms of resistance to governmentality; however, whereas sovereignty has found ways of dealing with them, the UFO may reveal an Achilles heel. Like Achilles, the modern sovereign is a warrior whose function is to protect—in this case, from threats to the norm. Unlike conventional threats, however, the UFO threatens humans’ capacity to decide those threats, and so cannot be acknowledged without calling modern sovereignty itself into question. To what extent that would be desirable is a large normative question which we have bracketed here. But taking UFOs seriously would certainly embody the spirit of self criticism that infuses liberal governmentality and academia in particular, and it would, thereby, foster critical theory. And indeed, if academics’ first responsibility is to tell the truth, then the truth is that after sixty years of modern UFOs, human beings still have no idea what they are, and are not even trying to find out. That should surprise and disturb us all, and cast doubt on the structure of rule that requires and sustains it.
Alexander Wendt (Ohio State University) and Raymond Duvall (University of Minnesota), in Political Theory, Vol. 38, No. 4, August 2008.

Paul Kimball

Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings - Yukon (1996) and Shag Harbour (1967)

Here are the last two cases to be uploaded to YouTube from Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO sightings - both from Canada.

# 8 - 1996 Yukon multiple witness sighting

# 6 - The 1967 Shag Harbour incident

A note about the Shag Harbour segment - the portrayal in the film extends beyond what is officially known and reported, and includes references to anonymous testimony given to researchers about what happened after the initial incident, as related to the Navy's efforts. This aspect of the case remains highly controversial, to say the least. I made the editorial decision to include it in the narrative because it's part of the story, and I trust the accounts relayed to me by key researchers, while not necessarily accepting the information contained within as legitimate. As with almost any UFO case, however, there is the official story... and then there always seems to be an "unofficial" story. Sometimes those turn out to be accurate (the RB47 case, for example), and sometimes they don't. With the Shag Harbour case, research continues.

Paul Kimball

Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings - Opening and 1561 Nuremberg case

The opening and the #10 case, the 1561 Nuremberg case, from the documentary Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings.

A note: the top 9 cases were voted in as described by the narration. As I've made clear in a number of interviews since the film was released, I exercised my editorial discretion to bump the case that came in at #10 in the voting, and replace it with the Nuremberg report, as an avatar for all of the cases that pre-date the modern era of UFO sightings, which dates from 1947 and the Kenneth Arnold sighting. As researchers like Jacques Vallee have pointed out, the phenomenon has been with us much longer than the past six decades.

Paul Kimball

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

A great puppet version of one of my favourite songs.

The music is "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" by the Langley Schools Music Project.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Music of the Flying Saucers

UFOs (or Flying Saucers, as they were originally known), have had a significant impact on modern popular culture, perhaps most notably in film and television, but also in music. In this episode of The Other Side of Truth, I have constructed a playlist of some of my favourite Flying Saucer related music, from the sublime to the ridiculous, and all points in between. Enjoy!

P.S. Hat tip to my good friend Greg Bishop for the inspiration!

Underscore music (with my opening narration)

Kevin MacLeod - Psychedelic Crater

1. Leonard Nimoy – Alien

2. Eddie Cletro – Flying Saucer Boogie

3. The Kirby Stone Four – You Came From Outer Space

4. The Mellotones – Flying Saucer

5. Langley School Music Project – Calling All Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

6. Mike Adkins – The Invaders Are Here

7. Billy Bragg & Wilco – My Flying Saucer

8. Sam Space & The Cadettes – Take Me To Your Leader (Cha Cha Cha)

9. Marty Quinn – Genuine (UFO) Contactee

10. Alan Lee Quintet & Friends – Flying Saucer

11. Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash – Marfa Lights

12. Walter Brennan – Space Mice

13. Mollie Thompson – From Worlds Afar

14. Robert Anton Wilson & The Golden Horde – Little UFO

15. Rodd Keith – Martian Jubilee

16. Geoff Goddard – Sky Men

17. Jon Mullane – Missing Time

18. Buchanan & Goldman – The Flying Saucer

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stan Friedman - Popular Science

Stan at the 2007 premiere of Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings

In this excerpt from the November, 2000 interview I conducted with Stan Friedman, he talks a bit about his speaking career, and how he deals with audiences, and then he gets into his views on science, and why it needs to be more accessible to non-scientists. He also reveals what he, Benito Mussolini, and Peter Jennings, all have in common.

Paul Kimball

Friday, January 28, 2011

Greg Bishop - (Nothing But) Flowers

In this episode I'm joined by Greg Bishop for a discussion that starts out about psychics, and then veers off into a host of other areas, from spirituality and consciousness, to what kind of message we should be sending to extraterrestrials, to the David Jacobs / Emma Woods brouhaha (it won't be quite what you think), to how music and art are fundamental to understanding ourselves, to Henry Thoreau and John Lennon and Sigur Ros, to... well, a whole bunch of stuff. Interspersed throughout our ramblings are some songs that fit the tenor of what we're discussing, which is a first for any of my podcasts. All in all, its not an interview, but rather a conversation between two best friends about life, and how to live it... and maybe, just maybe, even UFOs.

Recorded in the early morning, 28 January, 2011.

Paul Kimball

P.S. Here is some of that great Dutch electronic music that Greg was talking about.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stan Friedman - Religion and Flying Saucers

In this excerpt from a lengthy pre-interview I conducted with Stan back in November, 2000 (in what was a very noisy office), he talks about the Bible and religion as it relates to his belief that the Earth has been visited by extraterrestrial beings.

Paul Kimball

How Do We Craft A Message To The Stars?

Very interesting interview in the National Catholic Reporter with Dr. Douglas Vakoch, the Director of Interstellar Message Composition at SETI.

How Do We Craft A Message To The Stars?

An excerpt:

Rather than emphasizing our strength and wisdom in a message to more advanced civilizations, I suggest a more humble approach. I think the most powerful message that we could send to beings on another world is that we are a young civilization. We are in our technological adolescence. We are struggling. We are uncertain that we’re even going to survive. And yet, we have enough hope that we are willing to send a message and listen, maybe a hundred or a thousand years, with the hope that we’ll get a reply.
On the one hand, the type of message that Dr. Vakoch is describing makes eminent sense to me. On the other hand, however, given that we have no idea what we might encounter "out there", caution should be the order of the day.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Michio Kaku - A Galactic Conversation?

In May, 2009, I was in England filming four episodes of the television series Ghost Cases. After we were done, my co-host Holly Stevens and I stayed on in Europe for three weeks on vacation (England, Scotland and the Czech Republic). While in London, I attended a lecture by Dr. Michio Kaku at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) on the 28th of May, and took the opportunity to ask him a question about his view that we might be in the midst of an intergalactic conversation, and not even know it. This short episode of The Other Side of Truth features that exchange.

You can listen to the full lecture and Q & A here.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Greg Bishop - Giant Rock and the Contactees

From an interview I conducted with Greg in his home in Los Angeles, September, 2007.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Mac Tonnies and the "digital afterlife"

About a month ago, I was interviewed by Rob Walker of the New York Times Magazine for an article he was writing about the idea of a "digital afterlife", with a specific focus on my friend and collaborator Mac Tonnies, who passed away in October, 2009. The article, titled "Cyberspace When You're Dead", is now available here, and it's a fantastic piece of writing, offering a thought-provoking look at what is, and what someday may be. It also offers a timely and poignant reminder of the impact that Mac had on so many lives, an impact that I'm confident will continue to grow in the years to come. I admit that as I had a tear in my eye as I read the part about Mac's three watches, which his parents were kind enough to give to Greg, Nick and me. We were all incredibly touched.

Walker placed my contribution at the end, just before he gave Mac the final word for the piece. In a way, I feel like Mac and I are together one more time, partners, as he would say with a wink and a nudge, in crime... which, ironically, proves the point of the article, and the validity of Mac's ideas.

An excerpt:
I found myself wondering, oddly enough, about what Mac Tonnies’s take might be. The last of his friends to whom I spoke was Paul Kimball, a filmmaker who lives in Nova Scotia. He met Tonnies online about a decade ago; they corresponded for six years before meeting in person, when Kimball came to Kansas City to interview Tonnies for a documentary. They ended up becoming close, even collaborating on a play (swapping drafts via e-mail) that was staged at the Boulder International Fringe Festival.

Among their shared interests, it turns out, was the relationship among technology, consciousness and mortality. Their play, based on a science-fiction story Tonnies had written in college, involves two women who turn out not to be, strictly speaking, creatures of organic matter: one is an artificial-intelligence program, the other a human consciousness uploaded into a form that could survive a centuries-long space journey. The very title of Tonnies’s Posthuman Blues blog, Kimball points out, hints at ambivalence about these subjects. But that was the place, he says, where his generally private friend “revealed himself,” post by post. The fact that the blog persists, in public, is what makes it distinct from, say, a journal Kimball owns that belonged to his grandfather and that has been read by perhaps 20 people.

The day before we spoke, Kimball continued, he had linked to an old Posthuman Blues post on his Facebook page, seeking reactions from his own online circle. “So I’m still having this conversation” with his friend Tonnies, he told me, “even though he’s been dead for more than a year.” Eventually, Kimball added, such situations may be routine. “We’re entering a world where we can all leave as much of a legacy as George Bush or Bill Clinton. Maybe that’s the ultimate democratization,” he said. “It gives all of us a chance at immortality.”

After talking to Kimball, I ended up watching a couple of interview clips of Tonnies on YouTube. In one, he discussed “transhumanism,” the techno-scientific quest to transcend the traditional limits of the human animal, death included, whether through merging with machines or fiddling with our genes. Skeptics or opponents of transhumanism are missing the point that it’s well underway, he argued: medicine is transhuman, in that it thwarts mortality. While I didn’t find this wholly convincing, I will concede that it was interesting to find myself in a position to listen to his arguments at all. It made me wish I could offer Tonnies my counterpoints — but of course I can’t. So I’ll give him the last word. “I like to think of death as a glorified terminal illness,” Mac Tonnies said, and will continue to say, for as long as this particular collection of bits remains available for someone to watch and listen to. “If we can escape the boundaries of death, maybe we’ll be O.K.”
The Boulder theatrical version of Doing Time can be accessed in this post, wherein I offer some thoughts about the play, and the process of creating it. Alas, Mac passed away before we finished the screenplay that we were working on, but I've finished it based on our early drafts, and it looks promising to shoot in 2011.

Mac's blog The Posthuman Blues can be found here.

Paul Kimball