Ah yes, the Fourth of July. The time of year when all Americans go outside and blow stuff up. It looked unlikely that anything would be blown up this year, as it was storming all day, but apparently, it cleared up enough for a few fireworks shows I can now hear going off in the distance.
Besides, there are more things one can do to celebrate the Fourth of July than simply to blow things up, such as indulging in a perennial favorite topic of mine—government conspiracies about aliens and their technology!
PACL was located in Palo Alto, but unlike XPARC, it wasn't at the end of a long road in the middle of a big complex surrounded by rolling hills and trees. PACL was hidden in an office complex owned entirely by the military but made to look like an unassuming tech company. From the street, all you could see was what appeared to be a normal parking lot with a gate and a guard booth, and a 1-story building inside with a fictitious name and logo. What wasn't visible from the street was that behind the very first set of doors was enough armed guards to invade Poland, and 5 additional underground stories. They wanted to be as close as possible to the kinds of people they were looking to hire and be able to bring them in with a minimum of fuss.
One downside to CARET was that it wasn't as well-connected as other operations undoubtedly were. I never got to see any actual extra-terrestrials (not even photos), and in fact never even saw one of their compete vehicles. 99% of what I saw was related to the work at hand, all of which was conducted within a very narrow context on individual artifacts only. The remaining 1% came from people I met through the program, many of which working more closely with “the good stuff” or had in the past.
Of course, it's well known that AT&T developed the transistor based upon alien technology and that Intel has managed to reverse engineer alien technology to build their latest chips.
But like all great conspiracy theories (and I love these because they're so entertaining) they leave a few things unanswered. In the case of AT&T (or more specifically, Bell Labs), did they even have the technology to reverse something as complex as a microchip? Send back even an old Pentium to Bell Labs in even 1940 (a full seven years before they invented the transistor)—could they even figure out what it was? (I'm assuming they could get the actual chip out of the ceramic casing) Could they even detect a single transistor?
Besides, a transistor is nothing more than two back-to-back diodes in a single package, and diodes have been around since the 1880s.
I received a link to the CARET page from a mailing list I'm on, and as one member of the list commented:
How do you build a “secret” 5 story underground facility in Palo Alto with and
- have the right number of cars in the parking lot and
- not hit the water table. The industrial parts of PA are either in the flats next to 101 and the SF Bay or are near Foothill Expressway where almost all of the industrial parks are owned by Stanford.
Besides, how do you advertise jobs for such a place?
Oh, and the Intel Pentium being based upon alien technology? That, I can actually buy. I mean, have you ever tried programming that thing? Something that convoluted can only be the result of humans partially reverse engineering alien technology …
London, 4th July 2007. Steorn, an Irish technology development company, will publicly demonstrate a real-life application of its Orbo free energy technology for the first time. The demonstration will take place in the Kinetica Museum gallery, London UK on Wednesday 4th July. People around the world will be able to watch the exhibit via a live web stream.
Update 4/7/07 23:30
Due to slight technical difficulties we will now be publishing the live stream as of Thursday 5th July.
Update on Thursday, July 5th, 2007
We are experiencing some technical difficulties with the demo unit in London. Our initial assessment indicates that this is probably due to the intense heat from the camera lighting. We have commenced a technical assessment and will provide an update later today. As a consequence, Kinetica will not be open to the public today (5th July). We apologise for this delay and appreciate your patience.
Update on Friday, July 6th, 2007
Further to Steorn's announcement yesterday (5th July) regarding the technical difficulties experienced during the installation of its “Orbo” technology at the Kinentica Museum in London, Steorn has decided to postpone the demonstration until further notice.
Sean McCarthy CEO stated that “technical problems arose during the installation of the demonstration unit in the display case on Wednesday evening. These problems were primarily due to excessive heat from the lighting in the main display area. Attempts to replace those parts affected by the heat led to further failures and as a result we have to postpone the public demonstration until a future date.”
He continued that “we apologise for the inconvenience caused to all the people who had made arrangements to visit the demonstration or were planning on viewing the demonstration online.”
Over the next few weeks the company will explore alternative dates for the public demonstration.
Why doesn't that surprise me?
“I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, living under a system of Law, without systemic corruption and I can blow stuff up for fun, not for survival.”
Such a uniquely backfiring setup was responsible for the world's worst library. A few days after I arrived in Cameroon, I visited one of the country's most prestigious private schools—Cameroon's equivalent of Eton. The school boasted two separate library buildings, but the librarian was very unhappy. I soon understood why.
At first glance the new library was impressive. With the exception of the principal's palatial house, it was the only two-story structure on campus. Its design was adventurous: a poor man's Sydney Opera House. The sloped roof, rather than running down from a ridge, soared up in a V from a central valley like the pages of an open book on a stand.
When you're standing in the blazing sunlight of the Cameroonian dry season, it's hard to see at first what the problem is with a roof that looks like a giant open book. But that's only if you forget, as the architect apparently did, that Cameroon also has a rainy season. When it rains in Cameroon, it rains for five solid months. It rains so hard that even the most massive storm ditches quickly overflow. When that kind of rain meets a roof that is, essentially, a gutter that drains onto a flat-roofed entrance hall, you know it's time to laminate the books. The only reason the school's books still existed was that they'd never been near the new building; the librarian had refused repeated requests from the principal to transfer them from the old library.
This is a long article, going into detail about the systemic corruption in your typical African nation, and how difficult it will be for Cameroon to pull itself out of its death spiral. It's well worth reading, and a reminder of just how good we have it here in the west, where we can blow stuff up without worry …