THE BLACK BOOT DIARIES – Shorts II

“Vraiment, quelle est la cote?”

—–

It is December. He’s on the balcony facing the street. A grey-headed man gets out of a vehicle parked directly in front carrying a file. He spits three times in the direction of the church nearby, though the object of the man’s feigned disgust is lost on the Watcher until many months later, as is who exactly he was supposed to be.

Mendoza? That’s so corny…

It will also remind him of an old episode of Project Blue Book AKA Project UFO which was based—perhaps sometimes loosely—on actual USAF investigation files. People saw something (lights in the sky or found a piece of something) in the late 40s and early 50s and were visited by several men whose very behavior was designed to discredit the witnesses. Like the first listed goal of the defunct MKULTRA program from the 1977 Senate hearing.

Made some sense at the time, didn’t it? Didn’t want the Soviets paying attention to the spy plane being developed.

However, now the point is to embarrass a president who is unpopular with the subject of Eisenhower’s warning: so much money was made during WWII in the war industry that some people have gotten a taste for it. That wars might be fought in the future simply to keep them in the life style they have gotten used to was something the former military man and Republican president saw coming.

In order to achieve that goal, some of these industrialists and their friends in government are attempting to create homegrown terrorism and foment a civil war by growing distrust through media outlets, PsyOps, and very probably their technology that has come not from some distant galaxy but right here on Earth on college campuses and in corporate laboratories. That it might sometimes seem impossibly advanced is because you don’t much see this stuff on Discovery.

They’re playing the parties and liberals and conservatives off against each other. They’re trying to aim their targets, their potential killers and terrorists at either side, doesn’t matter which. By doing so, it not only undermines things like the right to health care (thereby gaining silent support among other industries headed by people who largely pay no taxes at all and enjoy exorbitant bonuses as a result) but also makes the government more dependent on these secret police startups, creates the illusion that government can’t handle the job, pushes us toward further privatization.

Essentially, it’s blackmail and extortion.

Nevertheless, having been visited by someone who might have been an actual MiB… Would be pretty cool if it weren’t for the circumstances surrounding it all.

—–

He’s on the balcony again. It’s dark and cold.

A younger man, strawberry blondish exits the large apartment building nearby (where for some reason the Watcher never discovered, many fast cars—one with a license plate “YES OFCR” or the like—have been coming and going like with locker keys he saw in front of his place and elsewhere).

Strawberry begins laughing and hopping up and down like the Joker from Batman. He aborts abruptly when he (or someone on his team) realizes that the Watcher was not on the balcony alone. He gets into a VW Beetle and drives off.

—–

Again on the balcony. For some reason, the model of a bridge (which seems to get stomped on a bit more every time he leaves the apartment and returns) is still there. The garbage men have left it at least twice.

The bridge was some child’s school project he would late learn. However, that it wound up there at that time was merely a mystery to be later solved: the Frey effect.

This time sanitation pulls up and appear to leave it once again, one of the workers notices the Watcher standing on the balcony and sort of kicks it toward the truck and finally, his heart clearly not in it, puts it into the compactor.

Were they trying to get him to plot to blow up a bridge? To go after any number of people who seemed to be supportive and then later betray him? To push him to leave the state in order to go after some other displaced writer?

That could never happen. Sometimes appearing to lack good sense doesn’t mean it’s entirely absent. As a friend once said, it’s often those who deal in and consume fiction who have the keenest sense of the difference between it and non.

For example, in fiction justice still exists.

THE BLACK BOOT DIARIES – Border Crossings III & IV

“Sometimes life’s OK”

—–

It’s Friday after the verdict. He doesn’t remember the US exit / Canada entrance really. Nothing much to it.

He stops off in Stratford, checks out downtown and the theater. Plummer is doing Prospero but that hasn’t started yet. There is a local school doing some show this evening but he really isn’t in the mood.

He stops later for lunch some place. The smell of bacon curing even with the windows up increases appetite.

The diner is strangely familiar and yet different. He sees a family, the patron of which must be a farmer of some sort based on dress but he has the look of a grad student or young professor.

The menu looks familiar too, though there are a few items one doesn’t find in the Midwest and South in the US. He orders something, eats and heads out.

When he finally reaches the entrance to New York, the young man in the booth clearly knows who he is, where he’s been. The guard starts asking questions.

“What do you do for work?”

“Laid off. Currently unemployed.”

“Well…”

Guard’s reading something on his screen.

Goddammit, what does it f***ing say? What pixelated lies are sprawled in front of him?

The border guard is confused on several counts. Connecticut plates. But from New York?

Yes, it had been ironic that the car had been from the Constitution State before being returned to Brooklyn.

“Well, what are you…”

He’s staring at the screen.

“What are you looking…?”

He aborts the line of questioning for the moment and decides to search the trunk.

Now he’s asking where he’s been. This time he doesn’t equivocate.

“How did that turn out?” the Guard asks.

“I’d prefer you were looking at me when I answer that. Not well.”

The guard looks ill. It’s not supposed to be this way, he must be thinking. They’re supposed to be stopping the bad guys, not treating the rest, the majority of people like criminals.

He aborts the trunk search in disgust.

“You’re free to go.”

Sure. Sure I am.

Commercial Break

The Onion

“It’s hard to explain to a layman precisely how our operations work, but it’s really more about analyzing crimes than it is about actually, you know, arresting perpetrators and convicting them,” a fidgeting Mueller said.

Ahem.

(Sorry?)

THE BLACK BOOT DIARIES – Cash Cow

“For the love of money is a root…”

—–

OpEd today. Explaining just a little of my experience with the “cash cow” phenomena and a little history I trust we can all relate to. It’s horribly simplified in order to keep it brief and simple.

In the 80s, the Federal government decided asbestos in schools = bad. They initiated a nationwide effort to quantify and then remove the handy yet often hazardous material in schools. Similarly, NYC had a program called “Operation Cleanhouse” for City schools under Mayor Dinkins in the early 90s. For simplicity’s sake, I’m merging some details from each of those endeavors. I did not work on this in the 80s but learned the history from those I did work with in the 90s.

The protocol (simplified) for surveys was to map the school, walk around and take samples of suspect materials. The frequency of taking samples had guidelines. For example, if you find green suspect floor tiles, you could assume some of the other green floor tile you find in the building was the same material but only to a point.

In the first phase of the work, there were no samples taken. It was more exploratory.

Once that was done, the samples were sent to labs for analysis. The analysis was typically of two kinds: PCM (phased contract microscopy—this is adding a dye to the sample and using a very typical, often portable and relatively inexpensive microscope to use human eyes to identify fibers) and TEM (transmission electron microscopy—a much more expensive, larger and higher-powered microscope that looks much closer at the samples to identify relative percentages contained in the material).

There are some problems with these methods, but as is often the case we just do the best we can with the tech and methods we have.

First, it was not only possible but was often the case that material manufacturers would sometimes include and sometimes not include asbestos in the same building material. This meant the samples were a statistical guess weighed against the costs of doing the surveys and lab work.

Second, PCM essentially requires the lab tech to count fibers in a relatively small field of vision. The presence of fibers does not necessarily mean the presence of asbestos. Flipping that around, both because the fields of a sample viewed are relatively small the the whole sample and even much smaller to the material from which it was taken—and because it’s a judgement call on what’s a fiber—it’s also possible to have a false negative. The field of view might not be a good representation of the material’s actual composition.

TEM eliminates to a large degree the identification of fiber problems. As you might imagine, more expensive equipment, more specialized person required, it’s a much more expensive process. TEM has another problem though. If PCM is looking at a clump of trees in a vast forest, TEM is looking at leaves on one or two trees. The field of view is much, much smaller.

So, got all that? For the purposes of this post, it doesn’t much matter. Here’s what sometimes really happened.

There was a mini gold rush to get these contracts. Many environmental consultants finally gave the finger to their employers and began startups. They fought to get as many projects (school surveys) as they could even of they didn’t necessarily have the staff on hand to do them.

Corporation, right? The figurative bottom line is the literal bottom line.

So, rather than actually enter the schools and do the work, some people drove by and guessed by looking at the outside of the school. They often had the year built data and so made some educated guesses. This was mostly before samples were required in the next phase, but it meant that the data for the next phase was faulty, BUT it also meant that all of the schools that had not been examined would be in phase two.

Score one for corporations increasing their margins by falsifying reports.

Once phase two began, the bottlenecks were more often in the labs. Even a cynical as I could sometimes be, I was shocked when I discovered that we caught a lab supplying reports without looking at the samples at all. They were swamped, wanted the cash, and were afraid to turn work down lest it hurt their future business.

I have no idea how prevalent this was industry wide, but if it’s anything like the respray business—the part where they “re-protect” buildings from fires after the asbestos is gone—well, it’s probably the rule, not the exception. It was always an uphill battle getting it done comfortably.

The testing rules for respray fireproofing assumed the contractor was skilled, actually trying and that suppliers like W.R.Grace could actually keep up with the demand on materials. Turned out that companies like Grace could put pressure on the engineers at UL for Grace to be able to get away with using less material.

(No, I won’t launch into how the WTC was very underprotected, but I could… Not supposed to withstand jet fuel, true, but adequate respray might have bought a few more minutes.)

So. Bad data. Gobbling tax dollars. Anyone see where this is going?

2004-2005. After Blackwater’s “successful” foray into Afghanistan (miraculously only three days after 9/11) it was like a neon sign and a call from Mammon. You too can own your own spook factory! The face of Osama Bin Laden towers over everything like Darth Vader on a movie poster. Just keep the signs and recorded voices rolling “If you see something, say something” and the horror stories of exploding soda cans and the use of duct tape to prevent bio and nuclear attacks and you’ve got people more than willing to give their paychecks and their children’s lives to help keep them safe.

And then you’ve got a monstrosity so large that it is impossible to oversee. Forget Congress. You think they are actually briefed on all the stuff these people are up to? When would they have time for anything else? No, they’ve had DoD presentations rolling in like the Saw franchise. Disease. Famine. Water wars. Climate change.

Never mind that even DoD admits that the only way they can audit contractors is to hire other contractors to do it. Remember the phase one work done via driving by? There was no guarantee that the person in the car nor even their employer would be the ones doing phase two.

It’s herd mentality. Keep el jefe happy and maybe I won’t be the one singled out for termination (take that either way) when little demigod wakes up displeased one morning.

And of course there are cushy retirements awaiting a select few if they stay the course of draining the Treasury dry. That won’t be a problem in their view, because of course there will be the Secret Police to enforce the new way of life which looks a helluva lot like the old one: slavery. A triad of willful and enforced ignorance (education cuts, lying propaganda), technology designed to deal with any “aberrations” or bumps in the road to corporatocracy, and pure greed shared with people who already seem brainwashed into somehow thinking that’ll be them some day enjoying the good life while they lose their houses and jobs and vote for people who want to privatize and/or eliminate social security.

The point being: there’re those who ignore the problem out of fear, those who are just following the herd, and then there are those who know exactly what they are doing by dismantling the federal government a piece (sometimes chunks) at a time. When you’ve got nothing else to offer but bread and circuses, you have to be able to get around the rule of law to maintain power and keep the cash flowing.

For example, there were two former military men who, just over a year ago planned attacks on military installations. It’s an old trick: fake an attack on your own and you can get whatever support (and appropriations) you like while looking like you, of course, had nothing to do with it.

But Frey tells a different tale, doesn’t it? I mean if it can be used to increase violence, then surely it can be used to decrease it as well.

Look at the guy in all those previous TBBD posts. Burn his friend on William Kristol’s birthday? Well, he’d have to be stupid (crazy ain’t enough) to think Kristol was involved. But he might admire the persistence and audacity.

Or wonder if some people just don’t know when they’ve lost.

THE BLACK BOOT DIARIES – If At First You Don’t Succ…

“The Greek word usually translated as ‘puppets’ is ‘neurospasta’…”

—–

It is Saturday, January 8, 2011. He is thinking of going to the movies, but his phone thinks he’s 1,500 miles from where he actually is.

Oh, GPS…

More Fun With FOIA

From the 2006 FOIA response on the section regarding the use of EMPs and light to trigger epileptogensis (p. 12):

Some factors (e.g., trauma) can affect those specific neurons and initiate synchrony for neurons that control internal communication and communication with various muscle systems not associated with vital functions (i.e., heart beating, breathing). High strength pulsed electric fields could also be such a factor.

Not sure I understand that entirely, but I think it’s saying you can make a human being flail around like they’ve been tased using an EMP of proper magnitude and frequency.

If you can do that, why not the vital systems too? Why not a “heart attack machine”? Don’t like some judge, some radio blowhard, or—why not?—some news show host, it’s not difficult to give him a reminder “from God” that he’s as mortal as the rest of us.

THE BLACK BOOT DIARIES – Border Crossings I & II

“Was die Mode streng geteilt”

—–

It is early March. He’s been on the road for many hours. It’s upstate New York. He hasn’t actually viewed a map of the route since late December, and he’s still remembering the second route; not the original one Google recommended. There are too many other things on his mind, so he leaves the directions to the GPS.

There should have been signs. In fact, there probably were, but they were almost invariably covered with snow, salt and black road soot. Even the small mile markers were unreadable.

He’s listening to music on his new iPhone (the old one is either on route to or soon going to be sold to someone who speaks Farsi).

At last the Eclipse emerges from the boonies and there is something resembling civilization ahead.

Must be the state border.

An impossible-to-miss sign, incredibly large, well-lit, and sporting the name of the region ahead greets him.

CANADA

F***, f***, f***…

He brakes but there’s really nowhere else to go. At this hour, there’s very little traffic. He decides it’s probably time to actually check the route again.

I can just turn around on this bridge thingy, no problem… Probably be fine, but with enemies of unknown origin, why take the risk?

An equally large and bright sign now greets him after he turns around.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

He didn’t turn around before the border; he turned around on the border.

This is going to be interesting…

It takes him a few moments to explain the situation. They decide to search his car. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a decidely bizarre story.

As they walk him to the holding room, they give a few instructions and start asking questions.

“Sir, you’ll need to keep your hands where we can see them. Keep them out of your pockets.”

Another chimes in, “So where are you going?”

“To meet some writers.”

Technically true…

“How many?”

It’s cold. The room is probably fifty or more yards from the car. His hands absentmindedly go into his pockets.

“Sir! Please keep your hands out of your pockets!”

He pulls them out.

“Oops. Um. A few. Not sure which ones will actually make it.”

“Where’d you meet these people?”

“Online.”

“So, like motorcycles?”

“Huh?”

“Who are you meeting again?”

“A few writers.”

“Oh! I thought you said, ‘Two riders.'”

The irony of the statement doesn’t dawn on him for several hours. They clear up the confusion. Pens, keyboards, and the Beatles. Not horses, bikes, and Dylan. 

He waits in the holding room. Only thing to read are the posted excerpts from applicable federal laws regarding what he assumes are the most common Infractions. He forgets that it’s a state law, not a federal, he’s about to witness a trial for.

He’s in there about fifteen minutes when one of the guards pops his head in.

“You transporting any pharmaceuticals?”

He explains. Might be a couple of benedryl or other allergy things in one of his bags. Personal use, over the counter. Nothing prescribed.

Another ten minutes or so and he’s free to go. They explain that the non-border route adds a considerable number of hours to the trip and that this really is the shortest one.

They help him back his car out without hitting any of the pylons, etc. They’ve obviously found a one item that he didn’t even know was in the car. He waits to check that out in Michigan.

The border crossing into Canada is about as uneventful as passing through the turnstile at a museum or zoo.

“You sure you don’t have any large amounts of cash, drugs or guns?”

“Nope. None.”

“Okay. Enjoy your stay in Canada.”

He has flashbacks to Eddie Izzard’s C of E inquisition routine.

Now he’s on the road to Toronto.

Just as well, I suppose.

Because there’s one question he really wants to know the answer to before the trial. Too much innuendo implying it could be the case. And he’s not sure he trusts himself enough to keep his temper in check.

But it wouldn’t be the case at all. Just more mindf***ing from the greedy, fascistic, freedom-haters embedded somewhere in Top Secret America who think US and Canadian citizens are theirs to make expendable.