The Long View 2006-03-08: Error, Crime, and Dissimulation

Having walked around John Reilly's neighborhood last summer, I can confirm that it was nicely gentrified.

Error, Crime, and Dissimulation

Things are not looking up for cold fusion, alas, as we see from this report:

Purdue University has opened an investigation into "extremely serious" concerns regarding the research of a professor who said he had produced nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment, the university announced yesterday...[the alleged] phenomenon [is] often called sonofusion or bubble fusion...other scientists at Oak Ridge, using their own detectors, said they saw no signs of neutrons...Instead, Mr. Naranjo said that the pattern of particles seen in the experiment much more closely matched that given off by californium, a radioactive element that is used in Dr. Taleyarkhan's laboratory.

This looks more like mistake than fraud, plus a little wishful thinking.

* * *

But what about the secret spaceships that the government built and then mothballed?

Aviation Week & Space Technology reported that the two-person "Blackstar" space vehicle may have made more than one orbital mission...Aviation Week reported that the "highly classified" project involved a large carrier aircraft called the SR-3, modeled on the XB-70 Valkyrie supersonic bomber of the 1960s, as well as a small space plane called the XOV (for "experimental orbital vehicle"). The mothership would carry the XOV under its fuselage, rise to high altitude, then release the space plane at supersonic speeds. After the release, the XOV would fire its rocket engines to rise into orbit, and the mothership would return to base....Despite the patent, engineers had difficulty developing an engine powerful enough for the small spaceplane, Aviation Week reported. It said that a "fuel breakthrough" was achieved in 1990-1991 when a high-energy, boron-based gel was developed to power the rocket.

If you read the whole piece, you will see that there is reason to suppose that Aviation Week has mistaken a proposal for hardware. That borane fuel, for one thing, is so toxic that someone would have noticed had it been used for even a few flights. And also: if the Department of Defense could do this, then why couldn't NASA, whose contractors were presumably working on the Black Operation anyway? There is no secret science, and there is less secret engineering than you might suppose.

Well, there is no secret science that they tell me about. Maybe they don't want to upset me.

* * *

No, I did not watch the Academy Awards on Sunday. Instead, that evening I viewed a tape of Hal Hartley's No Such Thing. It's about an alcoholic monster of immemorial age who lives in a cave in Iceland but is lured to New York with the promise of a cure for immortality. Think John Gardener's Grendel meets King Kong, except that there is no rampage in this film. It's an Icelandic-American production that seems to have cost about $500 to make. Every penny was well spent.

Now that was a nice little art film.

* * *

"Which side of the telescope was the intelligence on?" asked Carl Sagan about the elaborate 19th-century sketches of the alleged canal system on Mars. The question does not arise so strongly in connection with this information about Candor City. The site uses publicly available photographs of the Martian surface to not only establish the existence of the city, but to define its street grid.

Follow the links, and you will learn all about the Nazi-UFO connection, including the lunar colonies.

* * *

Meanwhile, there is a new Alternative Hitler film in the works entitled Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler:

The film is being backed with €450,000 of public money from film development firm Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg which describes the plot as follows: "Hitler lives and tells the story of what he was really like -- a weakling who only made it to the top with the help of the Jew Grünbaum."

The film is being shot in Berlin, to the appalled surprise of passersby.

I like Alternative Nazi stories as much as the next guy, indeed rather more, but I must ask why public money is being spent on this production.

* * *

I felt a rare twinge of 1970s nostalgia when I read this New York Times story about rising crime in the fantastically gentrified sections of Jersey City that line the Hudson River, where I am writing this. As one irate resident said as she recovered from her injuries:

"They just raised our taxes 15 percent, I can't send our kids to public school, I'm getting mugged, there's trash all in the streets..."

Yes, crime is up about 10% in the past year, this in a state where crime is still generally falling. To some extent, the rise is a function of the presence of more things worth stealing, particularly the eye-popping luxury cars that now line the streets and clutter the parking lots. Unfortunately, more of the people are worth robbing, too. There was a home invasion in my condominium not long back: not a break-in, either, but a tenant accosted at gunpoint on the street and forced to let the robbers in.

There are several reasons for this situation. The police rightly complain that the force has not been allowed to do adequate recruiting for many years. Half the force (of 1000 officers) is eligible for retirement. That happened because the education budget is a state-mandated bottomless pit. On the other hand, the police also seem incline to make the sort of excuses that made the former police chief of New Orleans so memorable:

Chief Troy said that much of the good news about the police department's achievements, such as new narcotics and gang units and a successful gun buy-back program, have not received enough attention..."But the biggest problem we're going to face is the commitment [to] give us the resources we need to become a fully functioning, accountable police department."

I think perhaps the only thing that the people are willing to notice in such a case is more police where they are needed. This is a pedestrian city that lends itself to foot and bicycle patrols, which in fact met with notable success in the recent past.

Again, all this is terribly familiar. In the 1970s, many major cities in America went into a death spiral of degraded services, arbitrarily higher taxes, and fear, fear, fear. That time marked the transition from the old ethnic urban political machines to the sort of professionalized government that gave the term "progressive" a bad name. In either case, local governments had their own priorities that included ordinary governance only as an afterthought. Many people just moved away. Neighboring Newark was largely burned down and abandoned. To this day, to drive through certain neighborhoods there is to meditate on the tag, "They make a desert and call it peace."

Jersey City is not the only place in which this backsliding is happening. Will the old cycle reassert itself? I think not.

As I write this, I hear balloon frames being hammered into place just two blocks south of me by chilly Mexicans for a whole new neighbor of high-end housing. The number of luxury businesses that have moved to the city has become ridiculous, particularly the kind of businesses that feature picture windows and tables on the sidewalk. There are not one but two new business centers within walking distance of each other. This is the flipside of the 1970s, when no one was investing in the cities. Frankly, the politically influential real-estate industry has so much money invested in neighborhoods like mine that they will not allow the collapse of the services needed to support them.

Similarly with the change in the populations: the former ethnic populations were politically timid and unsophisticated in public relations. Neither is true of the young-professional types whose cars are being burgled twice a month.

Let us see what happens this summer.

Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly

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