Saturday, September 19, 2020

World War Four

 


Karl Marx famously stated once that religion was the opiate of the masses. Sure, I'll buy that for the most part but here in the United States the OxyContin of the great unwashed is conspiracy theories. The land of the free and home of the brave is now awash in all manner of bizarre and brazenly stupid and semi-suicidal theories about malevolent forces plotting behind closed doors to bring an end to all that is good and righteous.

The overwhelming majority of the time the second anyone I'm around brings up a conspiracy theory, I suddenly remember a desperately urgent errand that has to be accomplished before that person starts spouting his or her insanity. Personally, any story or premise that even hints at a National Enquirer-level of intelligence I immediately classify the spreader of such information a worthless fool.

Here's the problem though, all conspiracy theories are not created equal. Most are indeed playthings for dangerous childish idiots such as President Obama orchestrating “Deep State” attacks of the Orange Buffoon's Administration. But a small minority dance just in the realm of the possible while not likely given their complex nature and the number of people who would be required to implement such plans.

But what if the perpetrators of these conspiracies don't really try to hide their activities?

Despite initially trying to hide their actions my favorite boogeyman, Russia, has been openly interfering in the elections of dozens of nations. Most notably, from my point of view, are the elections here in the United States with them going full court press back in 2016 to get the Orange Buffoon elected.

While Russian intelligence was able to hack into the voter rolls of various states in 2016, I haven't seen any strong evidence they were able to alter election results. There was more than enough idiots and fools who stayed home or voted third-party to throw the election. But the Russians have been proven to have engaged in an active, and eager, cooperation with the Trump Campaign as well as conducting a massive disinformation and propaganda program on social media that the idiots and fools bought hook like and sinker.

Here's where I begin to drift into what could be called the conspiratorial realm.

 


 

Way back in the late-1990 I read an article where a Russian professor by the name of Igor Panarin, who predicted the breakup of the United States and its balkanization into six different parts. Five of these new countries would then fall under the dominion of various powers like the European Union, Canada, Mexico, China or Japan. This Panarin believed independent Alaska would revert back to Russian control like it was in the first half of the nineteenth century. Truth be told, Russia has a bit of a neurotic fixation on Alaska since they feel the United States stole it from them.

But Russia is nursing more than a neurotic fixation on a lost piece of territory. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union certain powerful Russians and a good chunk of the general population have been nursing a heavy grudge against the United States. For a people who have always believed they were ordained by God to play a huge role in global destiny, going from a superpower to almost a failed-state would naturally cause physiological issues.

To a certain extent, I believe the powerful in Russia have gone beyond just holding a grudge and wanting to sow chaos in the United States to pursuing an active course of violent destabilization. The unexpected growth of bizarre conspiracy beliefs, such as the scary “QAnon” is just too convenient given that Russia is trying to reassert itself on the global stage.

A “normal nation” wanting to play in the geopolitical big leagues would mobilize its economic and military might achieve such goals. But Russia doesn't have the Gross Domestic Product, population, nor military resources available for such endeavors.

Sure, Russia is constantly producing nice artistic renderings of massive aircraft carriers, new manned space capsules, and other fancy toys only militarily and economically viable countries like the United States and China can produce. But while they are pursing a course of military modernization, they just don't have the economy nor population to maintain such programs.

In fact, like the late Senator John McCain said, Russia is just a glorified gas station whose only claim to global importance is their nuclear weapons. Unlike the United States, China, the European Union, and Japan no one wants any products from Russia like cars, televisions, airplanes, or any number of other pieces of technology. All they have is oil, and while it is currently a valuable product, in the years ahead its importance will steadily decline.

Throw in its declining birth rate, well below replacement level, there is little chance the Russian economy will be able to maintain its current standing. In other words, Russia is destined to fade in the global background as nations in Asia blow past them in importance.

But that isn't stopping Russia from wanting to reclaim what its sees as its lost status. So in my opinion it is pursuing a form of asymmetrical global warfare by funding various right-wing nationalist movements in Europe and its social media campaign here in the United States. This is more than just the old divide and conquer strategy, Russia is clearly working to discredit the European Union because a massive economic superpower made up of liberal nations might threaten all the autocrats and plutocrats living in and around the Kremlin.

But the United States holds a special place of hate in the Russian autocracy. Vlad Putin and any number of his cronies want to hurt the United States like they feel was done to them. While saying they have an active military-like plan to destroy the United States might be an overstatement, I truly believe they would be happy to see our cities burn and our people kill each other in the streets.

That they have centered their efforts of our centuries old racial divisions and fears, exacerbated by our own economic issues just shows they have been listening to Igor Panarin and others like him. 

 

Source:

"As If Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of the U.S." Wall Street Journal December 29, 2008

 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Darth Wiggles Goes to Clemson


 

Well my wife and I reached another milestone in life last Saturday. Our daughter, Darth Wiggles, is now a full time student at Clemson University and living on campus. You would think being a full time student would naturally mean living on campus, but with the Covid pandemic throwing everything into chaos, she was doing online courses for three weeks here at home before it was her time to move up there.

The actual move to campus wasn't that bad compared to stories I have heard from other people. We did have to drive two cars because of all the stuff my daughter needed, but only barely. And the campus police and other Clemson staff had most everything dealing with the incoming students expertly planned out and carefully managed.

In fact, I only made a fool of myself twice that day, the first was unknowingly driving off the actual street and onto a pedestrian walkway. The second example was somehow getting lost LEAVING the campus. Once my wife and I had Darth Wiggles settled into her dorm room, we said goodbye and drove away in our respective cars. My wife pulled out of the parking lot immediately but I wanted to find an interesting podcast on my phone, so I didn't started driving for about fifteen minutes. Long story short, I missed a turn going out somewhere and was heading towards the South Carolina/Georgia/North Carolina border area for twenty minutes.

Darth Wiggles appears to be settling nicely into her new surroundings while for her parents the house to just too damn quiet. Right now the plan is for her to spend four to five weeks up there before coming home for a visit. No matter how much she was looking forward to getting on campus, there will be a period of homesickness to overcome.

It still sucks though, for my wife and I.

Monday, September 7, 2020

True Losers and Suckers


 

 

U.S. Armed Forced veterans are overwhelmingly a conservative bunch. It's a mindset that if you don't already have upon entering the service it's one that you'll eventually adopt in some fashion. See, what few of my fellow liberals and next to no progressives understand is that when your in combat or even just training for war there isn't any time to question the circumstances.

The orders handed down to any soldier, Marine, sailor, or airman have to be obeyed immediately and without question or people could die. I understand that sound dramatic and maybe even cliché, but it happens to be true. Military operations whether they be actual campaigns with real bombs and bullets flying or a field training exercise on a military post, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can get lots of people dead. And the one thing every member of the armed forces wants to avoid above getting themselves killed is being responsible for the deaths of others.

Many in the civilian world misinterpret this professional dedication as robotic and unthinking, that we soldiers, Marines, or whoever don't quite have the brainpower to avoid danger. Worse still, many convince themselves that anyone joining the military is already suffering a vital shortage in IQ points. That only brutes, bullies, or near-sociopaths would willingly surrender the control of their lives to get a chance to kill other human beings.

I'm not going to lie, some of those people do join the military. The same goes for such individuals that hear the call of crusade or want to live out their Rambo and Chuck Norris fantasies. But believe it or not, the officers and NCO's of all services have a pretty good record of weeding such mutants out of the service.

This begs the question often asked by members of the civilian world: why does any sane person join organizations where the pay is crap, the living conditions are at best cramped, and where you could suffer painful disfigurement or death? 


 

For the right reasons it has to be the benefits, whether they be medical for loved ones or educational for themselves. Being able to take you kid to a dependable doctor without having to worry about going bankrupt is pretty good reason. So is being able to pay for college without being weighed down by student loans.

Yes, patriotism is a good reason to join but so much mud has been mixed in those waters that we start drifting into territory where we have to watch out for brutes, bullies, and the near-sociopaths. I've personally know about leadership in one of my units cutting soldiers from a deployment roster because they advertised their desire to go Rambo or Chuck Norris on the locals. Such wannabe movie commandos don't like being a team player and have a tendency to get others killed.

Far too many misconceptions now exist between the the safe and soft civilian world and those of us who serve or have served. At one time it was safe to say that Republicans had at least some inkling about the sacrifices and tribulations members of the armed forces and their families suffered through. That many of the politically conservative members of our society having taken on the burdens and hardships of military service themselves understood the dedication it took to something greater than themselves.

Even though I'm politically liberal, I'll admit many of my Democratic cohorts are as self-centered, self-destructive, and oblivious to the nature of the real world as their Republican counterparts. Many on the political left refuse to understand that the world is a dangerous place. Even though it was made that way through corporate or old fashioned national imperialism, that doesn't give any other third-world country or group the right to kill Westerners. Yes, peace and reconciliation is the best way to solve the world's problems but that's a long hard road.

All that being said last week showed that while the liberal and progressives don't have much of, or any idea about what it takes to resist chaos. But now its become public what the Orange Buffoon truly thinks of the men and women who serve in the armed forces.

No I'm not surprised, the Orange Buffoon has never given one slight instance that he ever believed in anything that didn't make him money or got him laid. Even when he was nominally considered a New York Democrat, any of his appearances on television I happen to view left me feeling dirty and nausea afterward.

 


Being a twenty-one year veteran of the active army and National Guard with enough IQ points to spare for something other than eating and breathing, this news of his true feelings did make me laugh. We're talking about a family that got caught read handed stealing funds from a kids cancer charity. The Orange Buffoon and his parasitical offspring and assorted gold diggers don't give a damn about any other people but themselves.

The Orange Buffoon's one talent is his ability appeal to the fears and hate of the Marching Morons. He has never shown a drop of empathy to another human being and brags about playing all the angles when it comes promoting himself. Usually saying another human being has no redeeming qualities is a gross overstatement, but in Trump's case it happens to be true. I despise the man, his family, and all his sycophants to the point I worry about my mental health.

Strangely, I don't totally hate his rank and file supporters. Their inability to see through his deceptions and look beyond their own hates and fears makes them the true losers and suckers in this disaster.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A Book Review of Revelation Space

 


 Science fiction in its best forms pushes the boundaries of the possible for those individuals who have relatively open minds. That's especially true for the sci-fi subgenre called “hard science fiction,” which builds its stories around known scientific principles and logic. This not to say hard science fiction novels and movies don't include incredible futuristic technology and bizarre situations, they just have to be within the realm of the possible given current knowledge.

In other words popular culture favorites like Star Trek and Star Wars are more accurately defined as science fantasy since they require faster-than-light propulsion (FTL), various forms of extrasensory preconceptions, and near human-like aliens among other impossibilities. \When the legendary Arthur C. Clarke first made this distinction clear to me, I about had a fit with what I thought was an insult to my beloved Star Trek. But he was absolutely correct, anyone can create a space opera fantasy but I have found that stories which built within the realm of what is possible far more satisfying.

This is proven with the Alastair Reynolds novel, Revelation Space. The novel begins in the twenty-sixth century with three seemingly separate story-lines that eventually merge.

The first story-line begins on a planet called Resurgam in the real-life Delta Pavonis star system. A guy by the name of Dan Sylveste is leading an archaeological colony researching the long extinct Amarantin species. Over the years since they arrived on Resurgam, Dan Sylveste has come to believe the Amarantin had developed a technological civilization before their sun had a massive flare and essentially barbecued anything and everything on the surface a million years ago. More importantly, Dan has a strong hypothesis that the flare wasn't a natural disaster, that some intelligence was responsible.

The second story-line centers around Ilia Volyova, who is part of a crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. A massive sub-light vessel called a lighthugger since it came come extremely close to the speed of light. See the crew of the Nostalgia for Infinity all have nanotechnology augmentation devices in their brains and bodies, but in the captain's case he was infected with the “Melding Plague” which mutates both the nanotech and human cells. So Ilia and the rest of the crew want to find Dan Sylveste, who also happens to have considerable knowledge on how to treat the Melding Plague.

At first, the good crew of the Nostalgia for Infinity believes Dan Sylveste is on the colony planet, Yellowstone orbiting the star Epsilon Eridani. This is because with no FTL technology information can be decades out of date by the time it becomes generally known.

The third story-line involves Ana Khouri who is a bit of an accidental castaway on the colony planet Yellowstone. She was originally from a planet called Sky's Edge in a different star system but through a complex set of events, mainly a planetary civil war, is put in long-term hibernation. Hibernation chambers get mixed up and Ana wakes up on a completely different planet decades later. Oh yeah, she's married and her husband's chamber is either still on Sky's Edge or sent God knows where.

While on Yellowstone, Ana has to make a living and gets hired by a mysterious figure known as the Mademoiselle to infiltrate the incoming Nostalgia for Infinity, fly with them to Resurgam and kill Dan Sylveste.

While Dan Sylveste might seem a popular guy, he's a bit of an asshole with numerous people who literally hate his ass. The first being his ex-wife who lead a rebellion on the newly colonized Resurgam years before, stole the starship that brought them there, and high-tailed out of the system to never be heard from again.

Next, Dan's sparkling personality eventually lead to yet another rebellion overthrowing the colonial government he setup and controlled. Which I can't really blame since Resurgam is far from being a garden spot. The planetary atmosphere isn't directly breathable and the surface more or less looks like a heavily burned bagel covered in dust. The rest of the humans on the fledgling colony are tired of digging in the dust and want to turn their attention to terraforming the planet.

After the second coup, Dan is a prisoner of the new government but finds time to fall in love with the daughter of the man who took over and marries her. At the wedding there is yet another coup with Dan and his new wife, a lady named Pascale about the only people who escape the attack.

When the Nostalgia for Infinity arrives at Resurgam the crew radios down demanding that they cough up Sylveste. There are of course issues, this third colonial government tells Nostalgia to go to hell. Illia in turns hacks into the planetary internet altering records to “create” a fake outpost and nukes it from space. This justifiably terrifies the government who quickly offer up Dan and Pascale.

Dan Sylveste being a really clever asshole is brought aboard Nostalgia for Infinity with the crew not knowing he has smuggled microscopic amounts of antimatter hidden inside his own nanotech implants. You might say big deal, but the antimatter is more than enough to destroy the ship.

Dan makes a deal with the crew to not blow up the ship and try to save their captain if they take him to the nearby dwarf planet Cerberus which orbits a neutron star. Dan believes Cerberus is the key to unraveling what happened to the Amarantin.

I'm stopping here because the rest of the novel is about as mind blowing as they come without actually having to cleanup all the blood, bone, and goo off the floor and walls.


***

One of the real scientific topics the novel touches on is the Fermi Paradox. In summary, a bunch of real life top-notch scientists were having lunch on day and began puzzling over the fact that a starfaring species could colonize the galaxy in a couple of million years just zooming along at ten-percent the speed of light. Throw in a few other adventurous species doing the same and there should be ample evidence of alien civilization even here in our own solar system.

So between bites of his Ruben sandwich, Enrico Fermi asks just where in the Hell is everyone. Decades later numerous smart men and women have pondered the question with most possible answers not very comforting and a few outright scary. Yes, this plays to the extinct Amarantin species in the book.

Another fascinating point of the book is the Melding Plague. Here in the real world nanoscopic particles used in various industrial and even household applications are already a health concern. Like microplastic trash, our bodies don't have a means to flush such artificial substances from our bodies. Nanoparticles could be totally benign but in all likelihood they will eventually be found to cause major health concerns.

Now add only slightly futuristic nanotechnology with the particles programmed to perform certain helpful tasks, like destroy cancer cells for example. Imagine billions of smart particles running threw a human body with bad programming, instead of destroying cancer cells they decide to go rogue and eat all the healthy cells.

One of the darkest nightmares of nanotechnology is the Grey Goo scenario where not only are the nanoparticles programmable, but can build new more versions of themselves from any convenient material. We're talking anything from steel, concrete, or even human tissue. Speculation has it that such a “plague” could go exponential and turn the entire surface of the planet into a massive sea of Grey Goo.

The level of universe building in Revelation Space is fantastic. The author, Alastair Reynolds is a master at painting a complex but grounded work of science fiction. The human societies occupying the universe of Revelation Space are in no way places I would like to live. But that makes them even more plausible in my mind given that human nature more or less stays the same in his twenty-sixth century.

If you're a fan of great science fiction go buy or borrow this book. Oh yeah, its part of a trilogy and the second book is even better in my opinion.

Monday, August 24, 2020

A Short Post From Crappy Suburbia

 

 

 As usual for me, August brings nothing but endless yard work and long, hot humid days with me dreaming of cooler weather. That was the case last weekend since my daughter and I decided to do the mowing and trimming on Saturday. By the time we were finished the only thing I wanted to do was get cleaned up and vegetate on the couch for the rest of the day.

I've done this blogging long enough to fully understand that a weary and overheated Beach Bum does not create audacious fiction nor insightful essays. However, I still wanted to post something so here is some new Jimmy Buffett. 

Have a good week and send me ideas on how I can get my wife to let me go to the coast next Saturday. Understand this, any ideas offered I will consider. I will not held back by moral or ethical concerns. I need a sandy beach, ocean waves, and a salty breeze.      

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Political Ramifications of Closed Temporal Loop Engineering

 

 The subject of time travel has been beat to death in every conceivable media format, including my humble but insightful and wise outlet. But after some deep, pointless thought, I feel the need to gather up the bones of this tired subject one more time and grind them to dust.

The reason for this foray began a couple of weeks ago while watching a documentary on wormholes. Which are theoretical connections between two distant point in space or time. The better description would be a blackhole that just happens to have an exit instead of dead end singularity crushing all in falling matter to an infinitely small point. Going massively simplistic but those wormholes are the only slightly feasible avenues to go backwards in time. Time machines, whether they be some H.G Wells Victorian-era looking device or a heavily modified DeLorean have no basis in reality.

A second impetus for doing another foray into temporal meandering had to do with a You Tube video I watched describing different points in history and what it would taken for a radical change in how those events unfolded. Yes, there were historical events that could have unfolded differently, radically changing the world. But these pivot points, according to the documentary, are quite rare.

For example armchair historians like me often speculate on what it would have taken to prevent the fall of the Roman Empire in the west. The problem being Rome didn't fall for just one easy reason. There were numerous interlocking factors that weakened Roman society to the point nothing could save it. Worse yet, even with the relatively minor factors some were so ingrained in the daily management of that civilization the average Roman couldn't imagine a different way of living. Off the top of my head the best example on that one would be the Emperor picking a successor. There was no established procedure, which often lead to bitter civil wars and enough palace intrigue to destroy the fabric of civil society. This says nothing about a foolish emperor picking a total incompetent or delusional psychopath to take his place.

Of course one of the possible historical points where events could have turned out differently was the American Civil War. Early in the conflict there were several times the Confederacy could have walked away with an easy victory. But as the war dragged on, and Union leadership improved the fate of the Confederate States became consistently darker.

My position is that the majority of historical events are like that or the fall of Rome. That there were just far too many combined factors that any one time traveling explorer could control. This includes such events like the outcome of the American Revolution and the rise of Hitler in Germany.

For the American Revolution, while Britain was the most powerful nation in the world at that time, the colonies were very far away making a set piece war quite difficult. While George Washington might have been defeated fighting the Brits by conventional means, a determined asymmetrical campaign would have eventually made the conflict too costly.

As for Germany, Hitler just didn't appear out of nowhere taking a wealthy and sophisticated nation down an evil path. Hitler's ideas and beliefs were common throughout Germany for centuries, he just used the circumstances of that time to his advantage to gain power. Someone going back in time and doing a John Connor on him would have probably lead to just another tyrant appearing in his place.

Understand that while Hitler had a talent controlling large numbers of people, his decision making skills when it came to war and logistics became increasingly insane as the Second World War raged. A less insane but more coherent Nazi leader might have been far more difficult for the Allies to defeat. In other words, while he plunged the world into chaos killing millions, someone else might have been far worse.

The same goes for our current real-life situation here in America. The Orange Buffoon is the result of decades of decline in the Republican Party. Just removing him will do nothing to correct the neared failed state condition of the United States Government. In fact, you can easily make a case that our national trajectory to our current situation began with the election of Richard Nixon to president back in 1968.

During that time we have a hopelessly intransigent Lyndon Johnson hellbent on victory in Vietnam. As support for the war here in the States goes sideways, LBJ is forced to abandon any plans for reelection. This sets up the big three of Eugene McCarthy, Hubert Humphrey, and Robert Kennedy pursuing the nomination in his place. McCarthy's campaign falls apart while RFK is assassinated leaving a damaged Vice President Humphrey to take the nomination after a disastrous party convention.

So with a little help from George Wallace, Tricky Dick wins big and becomes president of the United States. This sends all those peace, free love, and Age of Aquarius types into the great cosmic abyss to later evolve into the “Me Generation” of the 70s and dirty stinking yuppies of the 80s.

Before that a paranoid Tricky Dick sends his henchmen to the Watergate Hotel to do a little breaking and entering. This leads to Tricky Dick having to resign with Ford becoming POTUS and picking up the disillusioned pieces of an angry and disgruntled population.

President Ford, a decent man, loses the 1976 presidential election because the country is still a mess. Jimmy Carter, and exceptionally good man, becomes president but is metaphorically run over by circumstance setting the stage for Reagan.

Ronny Raygun has the stupid good luck to be around as communism falls apart leading to First Bush coming after him. A distracted and disconnected First Bush is replaced by Slick Willy who while an able administrator can't keep is overactive dick in his pants. This brings Second Bush up to bat who is around when the 9/11 attacks scare and piss off the country.

Feeling the need to crusade and secure the blessings of big oil, Second Bush goes into Iraq ultimately bringing President Barrack Obama to the scene. Obama not only has clean up the Iraq mess, he has to manage an economic Chernobyl so the Great Recession doesn't become the Second Great Depression. Oh yeah, during this time the Republicans have slipped into the Twilight Zone of far right conspiracies and totally delusional ideas of moral and fiscal superiority.

Here we enter the Age of the Orange Buffoon in 2016 as all those descendants of the Age of Aquarius just can't make themselves vote for what they see as the “lesser of two evils.” I could drone on about that fucked up mindset and comment about how even if the “lesser evil” bullshit is true letting the greater evil win is approaching suicidal nihilism. But instead all I'll write that the Orange Buffoon has spent his time in office busily and productively dismantling American democracy.

Getting back to the time travel/changing history gimmick, I believe all this could have been avoided with one “small” change in to past events. That change is preventing the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

I hold that if RFK could have lived to win the nomination he could gave held together the blue collar Democrat types and the wacky peaceniks. George Wallace would still try to play the spoiler but the Kennedy legacy was exceptional powerful back then and might have been enough to send Tricky Dick to defeat and back home to California.

RFK's charisma and leadership skills might have been enough to forge an entirely different path for the country. His presidency could have cemented the reforms that began with his brother and were furthered by LBJ. It goes without saying that RFK would have almost certainly pulled us out of Vietnam quicker that Nixon.

There are times I feel the 1960s was the make or break era for the United States. In many ways America was at the pinnacle of its power and influence. Even with its systemic injustices our country, back then strove to do better, to live up to the principles set forth by every previous generation.

Don't get me wrong, we've never been saints and in fact we as a people are guilty of some hideous crimes. But I believe there was an overall desire to do better, to improve what we were given.

Now we seem to have not only given up but even abandoned the lip service we gave to our most cherish principles and ideals. We're a country now dedicated to increasing efficiency, maintaining an image, making greater profits, and worshiping the god of convenience. That if we can save a couple of bucks on a new coat we'll ignore that someone in China was forced into near slavery working in a factory with thousands of others in similar conditions.

The pinnacle of this mindset is of course the Orange Buffoon. To the small minded he is the epitome of the new American Dream. The Orange Buffoon is all image without a milligram of true substance. He is adept at playing angles and always ready to manipulate people for his benefit. But mainly the Orange Buffoon is exceptional good at hating and getting others to hate those that can't service him.

Even though the Orange Buffoon is much like Hitler in that he is the result of centuries of ignorance and unfounded arrogance, I believe he could have been avoided. That one small change in events could have pushed the world on an entirely different timeline. Of course, that different timeline would not have been utopia, it would certainly have its own flaws, disasters and persistent dangers. And yes, there would always be the chance that changing our history would lead to some darker event like nuclear war.

But right now if a wormhole opened up allowing me to save RFK, I would jump through and make sure he did not walk through that damn kitchen. It would be worth the risk to play god and alter our current dystopian present.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Irritating Forays Into My Subconscious

Giving myself a little credit here but my imagination is one of my few developed talents. So much that my creativity even extends to the dreams my subconscious weaves at night. The source of this creativity during both my waking and sleeping hours can almost certainly be traced back to all the science fiction novels I've read and the physiological and thriller movies I watched over the years. Many have left such a huge physiological impact that for years my nightmares hosted a bizarre array of terrible characters.

For example many of my dreams have hosted a collection of murderous xenomorphs from the Alien film series. In my dreams I usually find myself trying to allude the creatures whose only purpose is to find hosts for the parasitical “face-hugger” so more of them can be reproduced.

Joining in for the fun were the Borg from Star Trek, a polyglot of many alien species forcibly assimilated into a militaristic hive mind. During these dreams I find myself recoiling at how they violate the mind and body of captured individuals during the assimilation process.

One of the more curious participates in my nightmares were the Draka, a creation of the author S.M. Sterling, someone described as the H.P. Lovecraft of political science. See, in the world of these Draka the Americans loyal to the British Crown fled to South Africa instead of Canada at the end of the Revolution. This change in history led to the creation of a “super Nazis” society dedicated to the literal enslavement of every human on the planet. Spoiler here, but at the end of the Draka trilogy they end up in control of Earth and the entire solar system.

Those are just my dreams where familiar characters take part in playing with my anxieties. They're a disturbing bunch but I take some small amount of relief in having some truly evil phantoms running around my head. Where things take an abrupt turn to the surreal is when my brain begins to piece together random elements into something that leaves me wondering where the dream ends and reality begins.

Way back in the early 1980s when I was living on the coast, I had a particularly disturbing dream that left me confused for days. It all began during a late night summer thunderstorm with me “waking up” during the worst phase of the lightning and thunder. Somehow the lightning and thunder turned into someone desperately knocking on the front door. It was the kind of pounding knock of someone that in movies was fearing for their very life.

Since I lived in the middle of a fairly dense neighborhood, the idea of someone actually at the door in the middle of a thunderstorm didn't make any sense. In reality, I believed I turned over in my bed and went back to sleep. When I did truly wake up, possibly hours later but before sunrise, I went to the door to look outside. I saw nothing and went back to bed. The weirdness came when I later stepped outside to get the newspaper.

There was a woman's shoe on the front porch. I have no idea where it came from and while I'm mostly sure the late night knocking on the door was a dream, I've got to admit it took days for me to shake off the feeling I might have missed something real.

Over the intervening years I've had what I hope are the usual, normal amount of those strange dreams. But relatively recently I've had another that tends to replay itself with no apparent rhyme or reason.

The actual events in the dream are consistently fuzzy but they all revolve around the main point that I have forgotten an important piece of vital information. Sometimes during this dream I feel I might be on the verge of remembering that lost piece of information, but it metaphorically slips away again. I then wake up and have the irritating feeling that my subconscious was actually trying to send me a message. By the middle of the day I've shaken off that strange feeling but it really bothers me that the dream will return at some point.

Well, that dream did return last week and it has evolved a new level of complexity. I was once again trying to remember something I had forgotten but this time I attached a name of a person to this missing knowledge. Just to make the situation more puzzling, the name now associated with the dream is unknown to me. Yes, my assumption is that my subconscious has reached into the cosmic grab bag and pulled out a name from nothing. That explanation is reasonable and highly probable but it still doesn't feel right.

I've gotten to the point now that I'm starting to miss the xenomorphs and the Borg, but not the Draka, those bastards are really bad.