Edited by Steve Erdmann

Ugly side of nature

Nature Talk

May 2020

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May 2020


Oct 2020


May ’20

Two quick stories, and an overall point.
I have recently experienced a resurgence of interest in all things Nature. I have been having a lot of fun trying to identify all the trees in my neighborhood and in all the parks I go to. So, the other day I gave myself the task of seeing how many willow trees I could observe along the winding country road near my house. I observed many Carolina and Black Willow trees. Then I came upon one willow that was completely covered over by a climbing vine. It draped over this rather tall tree like a blanket. At first I didn’t even realize there was a tree there, it was so well covered. The tree resorted to sending out a medium size branch with some leaves on it out from under the vine, pitifully trying to reach for some sunlight to keep it alive. That’s one story.
One more quick story. My backyard looks over a nice well-kept pond where a pair of Canadian Geese made their home. Just a couple weeks ago, the female had a gosling, and momma and daddy were showing the cute little thing all around the pond and grazing and walking all around the surrounding grass. I am working from home these days and one afternoon, a couple days ago, I heard the two geese wildly honking and flapping. I quickly looked out back at the pond and caught the very end of a neighborhood dog attack. That dog went right for the little gosling. I didn’t see the actual attack, only the family owners of the dog chasing him off the poor little guy. So, he escaped with his parents. He tried swimming along with his parents but couldn’t make it across the pond. He had to turn back. He was obviously hurt badly. He slowly made his way back to the edge of the pond and after about an hour, right there at the shallow waters edge, he died. It seemed to me his parents were just confused; why wasn’t the little one following, why was he motionless. They kept trying to scare him into action, back to life. After an hour and a half, they finally walked off, and in fact, I haven’t seen them around this pond ever since.
My point in all this is — I went from loving the beautiful things in nature to being depressed and almost confused. The ugly side of nature just threw cold water in my face.
Does anyone have any comments on how we should understand these types of experiences?


May ’20

It’s life don’t dwell on it. Horrible things happen all the time it is just life. I for example when i see a drowning insect always save them, or if i see a beetle or something with one or two ants attacking it i save it from the ants. Horrible things are a fact of life. I would continue further but my thoughts probably aren’t what you’re looking for.

trh_blueForum Moderator

May ’20

I’m sorry you had to experience those things. While they are a natural part of the world, it’s still distressing.
For what it’s worth, know that the gosling will go on to feed another animal, or at minimum flies and fungi, and nearby plants.
As for the vines, I like to turn it around and admire the tenacity of the plant and admire how alive they are.
I admit I too am saddened by nature sometimes, though usually when I see an invasive species smothering out native life.


May ’20

Nature is beautiful but it’s not pretty. In the UK an over-sentimental view of nature has led to much destruction of habitats and reduction of biodiversity. Killing ivy which people think is “strangling” trees is one example, and the ivy which would have supported an enormous amount and variety of wildlife is removed to leave bare tree trunks.


May ’20

Very interesting post.
I can completely empathize with you confusion/depression. Nature is FULL of unimaginable waste and suffering, and we could sit here all-day citing examples without even scratching the surface. I’ll refrain from doing that, but we could.

I don’t really have any good comments/advice, but here are just a couple of thoughts that came to mind now:

  1. Plants almost certainly don’t feel pain or suffer. I don’t just say this just because they don’t have the structures/mechanisms that we animals have to perceive pain or to suffer (although they don’t), but also because it just wouldn’t be beneficial for them. I don’t think they have evolved different mechanisms to do the same thing, since pain/suffering are very complex and specific adaptations that have evolved to lead to certain outcomes in animals. That doesn’t really apply to plants, or to a lot of other organisms.
  2. Nature is FULL of unimaginable waste and suffering, but it is also FULL of unimaginable beauty, complexity, intricacy, and other good things. So, if you can do something to improve the situation, do so… but when you can’t, there is nothing wrong with a sort of “willful avoidance” or with intentionally ignoring the bad to focus on the good. If you think about it, being depressed, angry, or feeling bad about the things you can’t do anything about only increases the amount of suffering in the world. So don’t make things worse, it is fine (and good) to find the good in the situation.
  3. The ugly side of nature is what creates the good side. We simply would not have the good side without the bad. Every beautiful, complex, and amazing adaptation that you see in the natural world, the very fact that anything more complex than self-replicating nucleic acids exists, is directly because competition, parasitism, exploitation, and death exist. Ultimately, it is those interactions which are the driving force for the evolution of complexity, cooperation, altruism, and every other good thing that has evolved.

May ’20


The ugly side of nature is what creates the good side.

I know someone who supports a butterfly conservation charity but sprays their garden plants to kill caterpillars. 


May ’20

If I have learned anything in my years it’s that there is no inherent dignity in a Death of any kind. Sure, we try to inject some into the process but we never really succeed because there wasn’t any there to begin with. Nobility maybe, compassion probably, but dignity…no.

As the gardeners of this great big Garden that was gifted to us we can address the different injustices that we perceive. In fact, I would encourage you to address it to the best of your ability. Tear down some of the vine if you wish to give the tree a fighting chance. Perhaps erect a small fence or other barrier around the property to reduce the chance of predation by domesticated animals.

I can see how you might feel discouraged by these things but that can be used as a motivation instead of a defeat. Predation is a constant act in a world where competition is the natural order and modern humans aren’t used to losing in that game even though bacteria/viruses, exposure, accidents, and predation are taking us out all the time too. Please remember, nay believe, that Life(in all its forms) is worth protecting, learning about, and propagating even though Death exists.


May ’20

If you’re looking for some consolation, I’m not sure this is it, but I’ll tell you something my undergraduate physics professor tells his students: The second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that entropy, the inherent disorder in the universe, is always increasing. Every action we take creates disorder. Even when we try to create ordered systems, the cost in entropy is always higher than the order we create. Eventually, the entropy of the universe will be so great that there is no longer any matter. It will all have been converted to radiant energy and scattered to the farthest reaches of the universe where it can no longer interact with anything. Life itself is an incredibly complex ordered system. There are so many different chemicals that must bind together in just the right order and so many different systems that must work together in just one simple organism, the fact that anything as complex as a cell, or a plant, an animal or a person even exists in the first place is nothing short of impossible. The only reason that this can occur at all is the fact that these incredibly ordered systems only exist for an infinitesimal fraction of a second in the lifetime of the universe. So be glad that you are here to experience it in all its variety and complexity. Life and death, good and bad, beautiful, and ugly are not concepts that will exist forever.


May ’20

Very sorry to hear your experience, I’ve had a few experiences like this but I believe that we as humans react this way to seeing other animals morn and have grief for them. But as others are saying it’s the cycle of life, not as much being a domestic dog attacking wildlife or invasive plants killing out natives, but ultimately it’s nature the repeating cycle of life. But it’s best to not catch yourself on the negatives and focus on the positives.


May ’20

the responses here kind of relate to one of the reasons I´ve been particularly interested in parasitic wasps and flies since I started exploring entomology…

my knee-jerk response to the notion of parasitism is that its abhorrent… that one creatures lays its babies inside another…and that their baby then eats said creature from the inside out while it’s still alive …is hard to wrap your head around from a human perspective!

but that’s a positive challenge to overcome IMO, to discard more traditional perceptions of these actions as good / evil …and see it as the cycle of life as those above mention

and more than that, to connect and in a sense, care for these creatures and value them as well! …is just absolutely fascinating to me. 🙂

it’s a powerful experience to gaze into the eyes of a parasitic bee-grabber when photographing it!

spending time with these creatures really shakes my worldview.


May ’20

Though I am sorry for your distress, but, as the others have noted, there are no good or evil guys in nature. They’re all part of ecosystems and have their own functions. The only evil guy is us, humanity, who import invasive species by trying to beautify the nature or make it more useful for us, trying to eradicate “evil guys” (sparrows, wolves, insects, etc.). Even in your gosling story there is a human hand – it is letting their pet loose with the birds in the vicinity. As for nature – I have recently witnessed the cannibalism of a squirrel, when a male squirrel kills and eats young ones sired by another male. Yes, it’s cruel and seemingly unnecessary (not from the point of view of a killer squirrel, who later mates with a mother squirrel and will guard his offspring well), but this is nature, we must accept it.


May ’20

I’ve struggled with this, too. Nature doesn’t do good/evil. It doesn’t do pretty/ugly. It doesn’t salve the sting of death and it doesn’t believe in death with dignity – natural death is often horrible. It does do tenacity, and creativity, and diversity. It accepts and transforms everything.

The consolation is that we who sort things into good and evil and beautiful and ugly can feel and shape these things. We can choose where to cast our gaze and what to cultivate around us, and we can feel deeply the goodness and beauty and respect the harshness, pain and sorrow that brings it all into such sharp relief.

It’s not easy, but it is real. The only goodness and beauty that exists is the goodness and beauty we find and cherish. Good luck.


May ’20

If you study Nature long enough and deeply enough, it will eventually show you everything that exists. This can be a tough learning process because you will get to see things you would rather not see and learn things you would rather not learn.

But, as is true of life in general, we do need to know the whole picture, not just the pretty and uplifting parts. Life is not here to entertain us, and nature is not here to soothe us.

Even in the people we love the most and admire the most, we will sometimes see a glimpse of something repugnant or disappointing; that’s the way things are.

We are all under pressure right now with the pandemic rolling over us, and we wish there was something out there which was composed entirely of comforting loveliness.

But the truth is always your friend, so embrace it, don’t shy away from it. Try not to judge nature as “good” or “bad”, just observe it with an open mind.

Nature is the ultimate teacher. In fact, nature is our original mother – we were born from her. There is an overall beauty and magnificence in nature, despite it being “red in tooth and claw”.

Nature is not something separate from us and different from us, it is what we are made of too. We must come to terms with it, with all it, otherwise we won’t be able to come to terms with what it is to be human, what it is to be “me”.

I reckon you are feeling sad and a bit defeated, as I think we all do from time to time, especially during this pandemic. But if you do love nature, go back out there, and keep looking. Look smaller and look bigger too. Give nature a chance to show you how it all makes sense, and what you can do to make things better if there are issues for which humans are primarily responsible.


May ’20

Welcome to the forum! Your mention of the gosling reminded me of this recent essay on the same topic which coincidentally features goslings: 10


May ’20

I think one of our more insidious traits as humans is our tendency to anthropomorphize nature. Growing up in relative comfort, under the jurisdiction of laws and human rights, with abstract views on life and morality that are very foreign to this world (when compared to the rest of life on Earth), it’s easy to impress our human views upon nature and see things through our lens. And while it’s perfectly normal and natural to feel uncomfortable at the brutality nature has to offer, it shouldn’t taint your view of nature, because nature doesn’t give a damn about our human misconceptions.


May ’20

Many of us here have asked the same question. Seeing all the compassionate and empathetic replies you’ve gotten shows another side of nature. We can choose to build rather than destroy. In Romans 8:22 The Apostle Paul made the same observation as you did “For we know the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” I feel sad with you and I feel some comfort too.



May ’20

I see parasitic wasps as a mercy. Too many caterpillars can devastate crops leading to starvation.

1 Reply


May ’20


because nature doesn’t give a damn about our human misconceptions.

“nature” is a human concept that doesn’t really exist out there. A goose isn’t “nature”, it is just a goose. And a goose, like a lot of different animals, CAN feel pain and to suffer horribly. It DOES care that it is being attacked by an eagle and half of its intestines are currently hanging out of its body. That is NOT a misconception, it does not constitute “anthropomorphizing”, or “judging nature”, it is a real, objective, biological fact.

To reply more broadly (not just to Nick): if there is ANYTHING objective in the universe, it is that pain and suffering are inherently and objectively bad. That is true. Even though sometimes they can be a part of something that is overall good that outweighs them (such as feeling some pain/suffering to obtain a larger reward later, or to achieve a goal), the feelings themselves ARE indeed bad. There’s no judgment or subjectivity involved in acknowledging that. As such, I think it is missing the point to say that we shouldn’t “judge nature”, “anthropomorphize”, or “look at nature through our human lenses”. While the good may outweigh the bad (let’s say the eagle in the scenario above is a beautiful, endangered keystone species on which an entire ecosystem depends, and the goose belongs to an invasive species that is destroying that ecosystem), that fact doesn’t make the bad disappear. The gosling being ripped apart alive by an eagle is still suffering horribly. I think it’s a little flippant* to ignore this fact and pretend that it’s all just a matter of interpretation, that there is no objectively ugly side of nature.

*that’s not exactly the word I’d like to use, it’s a bit too strong/negative, but I can’t think of a better word


May ’20

Domestic dogs are not part of nature, so there should be a long tlk with those owners about how to walk with a dog.
All situation is not even ugly, it’s the actual side of the life, you too kill thousands of creatures every day and don’t even notice it, to live an organism must kill something or find something dead, as euchroites are not bacteria’s and can’t survive without it. And I’m glad that dead gooseling is what brought you those thoughts, there’re far more brutal things happening.



May ’20

A glance to the question from the other side: how many ecosystems were erased, plant communities damaged, wildlife killed or drawn to starvation and died by creating crop fields? There is no correct answer to the good and the bad nature even from an anthropomorphic point of view.


Dark Psychology

Dark Side of Human Consciousness Concept

Authored by Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. (2006)

Dark Psychology is both a human consciousness construct and study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon others motivated by psychopathic, deviant or psychopathological criminal drives that lack purpose and general assumptions of instinctual drives, evolutionary biology and social sciences theory. All of humanity has the potentiality to victimize humans and other living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology explores criminal, deviant and cybercriminal minds.” Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. [2006]

Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon others. All of humanity has this potential to victimize other humans & living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings and perceptions that lead to human predatory behavior. Dark Psychology assumes that this production is purposive and has some rational, goal-oriented motivation 99.99% of the time. The remaining .01%, under Dark Psychology, is the brutal victimization of others without purposive intent or reasonably defined by evolutionary science or religious dogma.

Within the next century, iPredators and their acts of theft, violence and abuse will become a global phenomenon and societal epidemic if not squashed. Segments of iPredators include cyber stalkers, cyberbullies, cyber terrorist, cyber criminals, online sexual predators and political/religious fanatics engaged in cyber warfare. Just as Dark Psychology views all criminal/deviant behavior on a continuum of severity and purposive intent, the theory of iPredator follows the same framework, but involves abuse, assault and online victimization using Information and Communications Technology. The definition of iPredator is as follows:


iPredator: A person, group or nation who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, victimization, coercion, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. iPredators are driven by deviant fantasies, desires for power and control, retribution, religious fanaticism, political reprisal, psychiatric illness, perceptual distortions, peer acceptance or personal and financial gain. iPredators can be any age or gender and are not bound by economic status, race, religion or national heritage. iPredator is a global term used to distinguish anyone who engages in criminal, coercive, deviant or abusive behaviors using ICT. Central to the construct is the premise that Information Age criminals, deviants and the violently disturbed are psychopathological classifications new to humanity.

Whether the offender is a cyberstalker, cyber harasser, cybercriminal, online sexual predator, internet troll, cyber terrorist, cyberbully, online child pornography consumer/distributor or engaged in internet defamation or nefarious online deception, they fall within the scope of iPredator. The three criteria used to define an iPredator include:

  • A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT.
  • The usage of ICT to obtain, exchange and deliver harmful information.
  • A general understanding of Cyberstealth used to engage in criminal or deviant activities or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.

Unlike human predators prior to the Information Age, iPredators rely upon the multitude of benefits offered by Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. These assistances include exchange of information over long distances, rapidity of information exchanged and the seemingly infinite access to data available. Malevolent in intent, iPredators habitually deceive others using ICT in the abstract and artificial electronic universe known as cyberspace. Therefore, as the internet naturally offers all ICT users anonymity, if they decide, iPredators actively design online profiles and diversionary tactics to remain undetected and untraceable.

Cyberstealth, a sub-tenet of iPredator, is a covert method by which iPredators attempt to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they engage in ICT activities planning their next assault, investigating innovative surveillance technologies or researching the social profiles of their next target. Concurrent with the concept of Cyberstealth is iPredator Victim Intuition [IVI], an iPredator’s IVI is their aptitude to sense a target’s ODDOR [Offline Distress Dictates Online Response], online & offline vulnerabilities, psychological weaknesses, technological limitations, increasing their success of a cyber-attack with minimal ramifications.


The Arsonist is a person with an obsessive preoccupation with fire setting. These individuals often have developmental histories filled with sexual and physical abuse. Common among serial arsonists is the proclivity to be loners, have few peers, and absolutely fascinated by fire and fire setting. Serial arsonists are highly ritualistic and tend to exhibit patterned behaviors as to their methodologies for setting fires.

Preoccupied by fire setting, Arsonists often fantasize & fixate upon how to plan their fire setting episodes. Once their target is set ablaze, some arsonists experience sexual arousal and proceed with masturbation while watching. Despite their pathological and ritualistic patterns, the serial arsonist feels pride in his actions.


Thanatophilia, Necrophilia and Necrologies all define the same type of disordered person. These are people, and they do exist, who have a sexual attraction to corpses. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies necrophilia as a paraphilia. A paraphilia is a biomedical term used to describe a person’s sexual arousal and preoccupation with objects, situations or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation and may cause distress or serious problems for the person. Hence, a Necrophile’s paraphilia is sexual arousal by an object, a deceased person.

Experts who have compiled profiles of Necrophiles indicate they have tremendous difficulty experiencing a capacity for being intimate with others. For these people, sexual intimacy with the dead feels safe and secure rather than sexual intimacy with a living human. Necrophiles have divulged in interviews feeling a great sense of control when in the company of a corpse. A sense of connection becomes secondary to the primary need for perceived control.

Serial Killer

A serial killer is a true human predator typically defined as someone who murders three or more people over a period of 30 days or greater. Interviews with most serial killers have revealed they experience a cooling off period between each murder. The serial killer’s cooling off period is a perceptual refractory period whereby they are temporarily satiated with their need to cause pain to others.

Criminal Psychology experts have hypothesized their motivation for killing is the pursuit for an experience of psychological gratification only achieved via brutality. After they murder, these individuals feel a sense of release combined with egotistical power. The experience for them brings such gratification that they become wanton of feeling the experience of release and gratification once again.

“The term ‘serial killings’ means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.” FBI

Sexual assault, rape, humiliation and torture are often involved during the course of their murders. Experts at the Federal Bureau of Investigations have outlined other motivations in addition to anger, rage, attention seeking, thrill seeking and monetary gain. Often, serial killers exhibit similar patterns in their choice of victims, how they murder their targets, and methods for disposal of the body. Criminal experts trained in behavioral analysis concur serial killers have a history of significant emotional, behavioral and social pathology. Although not absolute, serial killers tend to be loners who have trouble engaging in functional relationships.

Provided above are four examples of offenders and offender groups who commit abusive and/or violent bizarre acts sharing the common bond of having deep psychological deficits with distorted worldviews. These serious psychiatric and/or personality constructs, which may metastasize throughout their being, defies reason. What is it about these human predators, how do they function and socialize in their day-to-day lives? These brief profiles speak volumes about the dark nature of the human condition. In addition to all sharing mild to severe psychopathology, they all are perceptual loners with deep-seated forces governing their decision-making capacities.

The serial arsonist may not assault other people or find gratification from being a human predator as does the serial killer, but he actually experiences joy and elation from his fire setting. In addition to joy, he feels a sense of accomplishment from the devastation he has caused. His episodes of fire setting are extremely dangerous given he can cause harm to others, but the goal of inflicting pain or bodily harm is not his modus operandi.

For the serial arsonist, the big payoff is his sense of pride and distorted perception of accomplishing a brilliant feat of genius. His perverted sense of achievement, at times, lead him to become sexually aroused and masturbation ensues. The arsonist’s behavior is reprehensible, illegal and dangerous, but typically does not involve premeditated murder. They live within an abyss of infernal obsession.

Although the Necrophile is not causing pain to another person or victimizing others, his actions are extraordinarily bizarre and absent of any sense of logic. The Necrophile’s need for perceived control is so insidious that he develops a sexual attraction to a corpse. Imagine what the experience must be for him. He is sexually aroused by a lifeless body that is expressionless and absent of warmth. Most people yearn for connection during sexual intimacy, but the Necrophile does not require this. He becomes aroused by the experience of a total and complete disconnect. Clearly, his mind has entered a very dark realm.

The serial killer is one of the most despotic characters that manifests from the dark side. In films, court cases and news coverage, the serial killer is frequently a subject of intrigue. The essence of this epitome of deviant evil echoes a part of the human psyche that only the serial killer himself can realistically experience. Just as an alcoholic craves his next drink or an opiate addict yearns for his next fix, the serial killer becomes addicted to murder.

The serial killer speaks of the gratification and elevated sense of release once his murder has come to fruition. Unlike the necrophile or serial arsonist, the serial killer’s sole endeavor is to extinguish life. For many of these assailants, sexual arousal by torturing their victims is a common theme. Although a common theme, there are other equally disturbing drives causing them to torture their victims.

These four examples are illustrations of the extent to which humans will go for the experience of power, pleasure and/or goal attainment. All of the criminal profiles described, involve assailants feeling a sense of gratification from their abusive and/or heinous actions. The reality is that these examples are merely basic profiles of four segments of the population of men and women who participate in criminal, abusive or deviant acts. The extent to which humans will go for sexual gratification, perceived control or financial gain is quite extensive and elaborate.

Before the advent of scientific advancements and the capacity of society to explain deviant human behavior, monsters and demons were the cause of such chaos. Unable to understand how people could commit such atrocities, metaphysical beings were the only logical explanation. Instead of fearing their neighbors, early civilizations concocted legends and tales of demonic beings. Werewolves, Vampires and Ghouls prowled the night stalking their prey.

Although contemporary society deems itself as advanced in its ability to comprehend the potential for humans to commit violent and heinous acts, learning how to reduce and/or prevent bizarre and deadly actions perpetrated by humans remains elusive. Our species is the only group of living organisms that participate in actions antithetical to our survival.

Dark Psychology is both the study of criminal & deviant behavior and a conceptual framework for deciphering the potential for evil within all human beings. This writer does not claim to have the proverbial “holy grail” of defining deviant human behavior, but rather a framework for inquiry and further investigation.

Many years ago, when this writer first became interested in the study of forensic and criminal psychology, he posited that aberrant deviant behaviors were part of a psychiatric illness not yet determined. With the passing of time and research, intrigue followed from the vast array of theories and explanations for why humans maintain a capacity to prey upon other humans.

The idea of Dark Psychology entered this writer’s theoretical exploration and he began to formalize a set of concepts he believed plausible. The sum of his attempts ended in narrow concepts aimed at trying to explain the psychopath and sexual predator. Four years ago, this writer experienced his first paradigm shift pertinent to his present theory.

A psychopath, as described by psychologists, is emotionally flat, lacks empathy for the feelings of others and is free of remorse. Psychopaths behave as if the world is to be used for their benefit, and they employ deception and feigned emotion to manipulate others.” Bill Steele, Chronicle Online (2011)

The construct that follows is this writer’s best attempt at defining why humans are predators with the potential to prey on others for reasons that seem to lack purpose and/or understanding. This writer presents to you, Dark Psychology.

Dark Psychology Defined

Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon other people motivated by criminal and/or deviant drives that lack purpose and general assumptions of instinctual drives and social science theory. All of humanity has this potential to victimize other humans and living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses.

Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings, perceptions and subjective processing systems that lead to predatory behavior that is antithetical to contemporary understandings of human behavior. Dark Psychology assumes that criminal, deviant and abusive behaviors are purposive and have some rational, goal- oriented motivation 99.99% of the time. It is the remaining .01%, Dark Psychology parts from Adlerian theory and the Teleology. Dark Psychology postulates there is a region within the human psyche that enables some people to commit atrocious acts without purpose. In this theory, it has been coined the Dark Singularity.

Dark Psychology posits that all humanity has a reservoir of malevolent intent towards others ranging from minimally obtrusive and fleeting thoughts to pure psychopathic deviant behaviors without any cohesive rationality. This is called the Dark Continuum. Mitigating factors acting as accelerants and/or attractants to approaching the Dark Singularity, and where a person’s heinous actions fall on the Dark Continuum, is what Dark Psychology calls Dark Factor. Brief introductions to these concepts are illustrated below. Dark Psychology is a concept this writer has grappled with for fifteen years. It has only been recently that he has finally conceptualized the definition, philosophy and psychology of this aspect of the human condition.

Dark Psychology is not just the dark side of our moon, but dark side of all moons combined.

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.

Dark Psychology encompasses all that makes us who we are in relationship to our dark side. All cultures, all faiths and all humanity have this proverbial cancer. From the moment we are born to the time of death, there is a side lurking within us all that some have called evil and others have defined as criminal, deviant, and pathological. Dark Psychology introduces a third philosophical construct that views these behaviors different from religious dogmas and contemporary social science theories.

It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.“ Alfred Adler

Dark Psychology posits there are people who commit these same acts and do so not for power, money, sex, retribution or any other known purpose. They commit these horrid acts without a goal. Simplified, their ends do not justify their means. There are people who violate and injure others for the sake of doing so. Within in all of us is this potential. A potential to harm others without cause, explanation, or purpose is the area this writer explores. Dark Psychology assumes this dark potential is incredibly complex and even more difficult to define.

Dark Psychology assumes we all have the potential for predator behaviors and this potential has access to our thoughts, feelings and perceptions. As you will read throughout this manuscript, we all have this potential, but only a few of us acts upon them. All of us have had thoughts and feelings, at one time or another, of wanting to behave in a brutal manner. We all have had thoughts of wanting to hurt others severely without mercy. If you are honest with yourself, you will have to agree you have had thoughts and feeling of wanting to commit heinous acts.

Given the fact, we consider ourselves a benevolent species; one would like to believe we think these thoughts and feelings would be non-existent. Unfortunately, we all have these thoughts, and luckily, never act upon them. Dark Psychology poses there are people who have these same thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, but act upon them in either premeditated or impulsive ways. The obvious difference is they act upon them while others simply have fleeting thoughts and feelings of doing so.

Dark Psychology posits that this predator style is purposive and has some rational, goal-oriented motivation. Religion, philosophy, psychology, and other dogmas have attempted cogently to define Dark Psychology. It is true most human behavior, related to evil actions, is purposive and goal oriented, but Dark Psychology assumes there is an area where purposive behavior and goal-oriented motivation becomes nebulous. There is a continuum of Dark Psychology victimization ranging from thoughts to pure psychopathic deviance without any apparent rationality or purpose. This continuum, Dark Continuum, helps to conceptualize the philosophy of Dark Psychology.

Dark Psychology addresses that part of the human psyche or universal human condition that allows for and may even impel predatory behavior. Some characteristics of this behavioral tendency are, in many cases, its lack of obvious rational motivation, its universality and its lack of predictability. Dark Psychology assumes this universal human condition is different or an extension of evolution. Let us look at some very basic tenets of evolution. First, consider we evolved from other animals and we presently are the paragon of all animal life. Our frontal lobe has allowed us to become the apex creature. Now let us assume that being apex creatures does not make us completely removed from our animal instincts and predatory nature.

The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge to conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation.” Alfred Adler

Assuming this is true if you subscribe to evolution, then you believe that all behavior relates to three primary instincts. Sex, aggression, and the instinctual drive to self-sustain are the three primary human drives. Evolution follows the tenets of survival of the fittest and replication of the species. We and all other life forms behave in a manner to procreate and survive. Aggression occurs for the purposes of marking our territory, protecting our territory and ultimately winning the right to procreate. It sounds rational, but it is no longer part of the human condition in the purest sense.

Our power of thought and perception has made us both the apex of species and the apex of practicing brutality. If you have ever watched a nature documentary, this writer is sure you cringe and feel sorrow for the antelope ripped to shreds by a pride of lions. Although brutal and unfortunate, the purpose for the violence fits the evolutionary model of self- preservation. The lions kill for food, which is required for survival. Male animals fight to the death, at times, for the rite of territory or the will to power. All these acts, violent and brutal, evolution explains.

Defiant individuals will always persecute others yet will always consider themselves persecuted.” Alfred Adler

When animals hunt, they often stalk and kill the youngest, weakest, or females of the group. Although this reality sounds psychopathic, the reason for their chosen prey is to reduce their own probability for injury or death. All animal life acts and behaves in this manner. All their brutal, violent and bloody actions relate to the theory of evolution, natural selection and instinct for survival and reproduction. As you will learn after reading this manuscript, there are no Dark Psychology applications when it comes to the rest of life on our planet. We, humans are the ones to possess what Dark Psychology attempts to explore.

Theories of evolution, natural selection and animal instincts, and their theoretical tenets, seem to dissolve when we look at the human condition. We are the only creatures on the face of the earth that preys on each other without the reason of procreation for the survival of the species. Humans are the only creatures that prey upon others for inexplicable motivations. Dark Psychology addresses that part of the human psyche or universal human condition that allows for and may even impel predatory behavior. Dark Psychology assumes there is something intrapsychic that influences our actions and is anti-evolutionary. We are the only species that will murder one another for reasons other than survival, food, territory or procreation.

Philosophers and ecclesiastical writers over the centuries have attempted to explain this phenomenon. We will delve into some of these historical interpretations of malicious human behavior. Only we humans can harm others with a complete lack of obvious rational motivation. Dark Psychology assumes there is a part of us because we are human, which fuels dark and vicious behaviors.

As you will read, this place or realm within all our beings is universal. There is no group of people walking the face of the earth now, before, or in the future who do not possess this dark side. Dark Psychology believes this facet of the human condition lacks reason and logical rationality. It is part of all of us and there is no known explanation.

Dark Psychology assumes this dark side is also unpredictable. Unpredictable in the understanding of who acts upon these dangerous impulses, and even more unpredictable of the lengths some will go with their sense of mercy completely negated. There are people who rape, murder, torture, and violate without cause or purpose. Dark Psychology speaks to these actions of acting as a predator seeking out human prey without clearly defined purposes. As humans, we are incredibly dangerous to ourselves and every other living creature. The reasons are many and Dark Psychology attempts to explore those dangerous elements.

It is this writers aim to examine the nature of Dark Psychology and to understand the origin and development of psychological phenomena motivating human beings to exhibit predatory behavior in the absence of any apparent rational motivator. This writer realizes his endeavor to succeed at this is next to impossible, but he hopes Dark Psychology will foster an interest in further exploration.

As mentioned above, there have been a plethora of philosophers, great thinkers, religious figures, and scientists who have attempted to conceptualize in a cogent way Dark Psychology. For this writer, Dark Psychology encapsulates all previous theories and explanations for human brutality.

It is this writer’s assertion that Dark Psychology exists universally throughout the human species and manifests itself as predatory behavior (inclinations) without apparent rational motivation. He suggests that examination of Dark Psychology and its evolutionary foundation is vital. He does not suggest Dark Psychology is part of our evolutionary heritage, but he does believe it is vital to investigate the evolutionary foundation of Dark Psychology.

To be exact, this writer means the basis or rudimentary constructs we all possess. Throughout this manuscript, you will read how redundant this writer is when it comes to reinforcing the basic tenets of Dark Psychology. He does this not only for the reader, but also for himself in order to remain focused on the core constructs. Remember, Dark Psychology is like a spider’s web attempting to capture all previous theories of human victimization and communicate them to others inspiring awareness, and encouraging self-awareness.

The more readers can visualize Dark Psychology, the better prepared they become to reduce their chances of victimization by human predators. Before proceeding, it is important to have at least a minimal comprehension of Dark Psychology. As you proceed through future manuscripts expanding this construct, this writer will go into detail about the most important concepts. Following are six tenets necessary to fully grasp Dark Psychology as follows:

1. Dark Psychology is a universal part of the human condition. This construct has exerted influence throughout history. All cultures, societies and the people who reside in them maintain this facet of the human condition. The most benevolent people known have this realm of evil, but never act upon it and have lower rates of violent thoughts and feelings.

2. Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to people’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to this innate potential to prey upon others devoid of clear definable reasons. Given that all behavior is purposive, goal oriented, and conceptualized via modus operandi, Dark Psychology puts forth the notion the nearer a person draws to the “black hole” of pristine evil, the less likely he/she has a purpose in motivations. Although this writer assumes pristine evil is never reached, since it is infinite, Dark Psychology assumes there are some who come close.

3. Because of its potential for misinterpretation as aberrant psychopathy, Dark Psychology may be overlooked in its latent form. History is replete with examples of this latent tendency to reveal itself as active, destructive behaviors. Modern psychiatry and psychology define the psychopath as a predator devoid of remorse for his actions. Dark Psychology posits there is a continuum of severity ranging from thoughts and feelings of violence to severe victimization and violence without a reasonable purpose or motivation.

4. On this continuum, the severity of the Dark Psychology is not deemed less or more heinous by the behavior of victimization but plots out a range of inhumanity. A simple illustration would be comparing Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. Both were severe psychopaths and heinous in their actions. The difference is Dahmer committed his atrocious murders for his delusional need for companionship while Ted Bundy murdered, and sadistically inflicted pain out of sheer psychopathic evil. Both would be higher on the Dark Continuum, but one, Jeffrey Dahmer, can be better understood via his psychotic desperate need to be loved.

5. Dark Psychology assumes all people have a potential for violence. This potential is innate in all humans and various internal and external factors increase the probability for this potential to manifest into volatile behaviors. These behaviors are predatory in nature, and at times, can function without reason. Dark Psychology assumes the predator-prey dynamic becomes distorted by humans. Dark Psychology is solely a human phenomenon and shared by no other living creature. Violence and mayhem may exist in other living organisms, but humanity is the only species that has the potential to do so without purpose.

6. An understanding of the underlying causes and triggers of Dark Psychology would better enable society to recognize, diagnose and possibly reduce the dangers inherent in its influence. Learning the concepts of Dark Psychology serves a twofold beneficial function. First, by accepting we all have this potential for evil allows those with this knowledge to reduce the probability of it erupting. Secondly, grasping the tenets of Dark Psychology fits our original evolutionary purpose for struggling to survive.

This writer’s goal is to educate others by increasing their self-awareness, creating a paradigm shift of their reality for the better, and inspiring them to educate others to endeavor upon the path of learning to reduce the probability of falling victim to those possessed by the forces explored by Dark Psychology. If you have been a victim of the Dark Psychology guided predator, do not feel humiliated, because we all experience some form of victimization at one time or another in our lives.

We all have a dark side. It is part of the human condition but agreed not to be well understood. An unpleasant reality, Dark Psychology surrounds us waiting patiently to pounce. As this writer has previously mentioned, Dark Psychology encompasses all forms of cruel and violent behaviors. We need only look at the senseless cruelty to animals. Being a dedicated pet lover, animal abuse to this writer is both vicious and psychopathic. As recent studies have suggested, animal abuse correlates with a higher probability to commit violence against humanity.

On the milder side of the Dark Continuum is vandalism of others property or the increasing levels of violence in video games children and teens plead for during the holiday season. Vandalism and a child’s need to play violent video games are mild compared to overt violence but are explicit examples of this universal human feature this writer’s theory illustrates. Most of humanity denies and hides its presence, but still the elements of Dark Psychology quietly lurk beneath the surface in all of us.

It is universal and everywhere throughout society. Some religions define it as an actual entity they call Satan. Some cultures believe in the existence of demons as being the culprits causing malicious actions. The brightest of many cultures have defined Dark Psychology as a psychiatric condition or spawned by genetic traits passed down from generation to generation.

This writer attempts to examine Dark Psychology’s origin and nature to understand how the average, well-socialized person can wind up in the news, having committed an atrocity no one could have predicted. At any point during the day and throughout the night, since the beginning of recorded history, atrocities inflicted by one human on another are infinitely occurring. Although macabre, it is amazing how apparently decent people could participate in or allow such horrors to occur.

Thousands of these atrocities are evident throughout history. The holocaust during World War II and ethnic cleansing presently occurring in neighboring countries are a few examples. History, with the remnants of what Dark Psychology has caused, abounds with examples. As described above, Dark Psychology is alive and well and requires a serious inspection. As you continue to explore the tenets and foundation of Dark Psychology, a cognitive framework of understanding will slowly develop.

Dark Continuum

The Dark Continuum is an essential element to comprehend in your passage through the dark side of humanity. The Dark Continuum is an imaginary conceptual line or concentric circles that all criminal, violent, deviant and sadistic behaviors fall. The Dark Continuum includes thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions experienced and/or committed by humans. The continuum ranges from mild to severe and from purposive to purposeless.

Obviously, physical manifestations of Dark Psychology fall to the right of the Dark Continuum and more severe. Psychological manifestations of Dark Psychology lie to the left of the continuum but can be equally as destructive as physical acts. The Dark Continuum is not a scale of severity, in terms of range from bad to worse, but defines typologies of victimization in the thoughts and actions involved. When this writer further expands his thesis of the Dark Continuum, you will have a conceptual illustrated line depicting all forms of Dark Psychology ranging from mild and purposive to severe and purposeless.

Dark Factor

The Dark Factor is defined as the realm, place and potential that exist in all of us and is part of the human condition. This concept is one of the more abstract terms of Dark Psychology, because it is so hard to illustrate via the written expression. According to an online dictionary, a factor is anything that contributes causally to a result i.e., a number of factors determined the outcome. This writer will attempt to extrapolate for you in a cogent manner how Dark Factor resembles an equation.

The Dark Factor is not a mathematical equation, but a theoretical one. The Dark Factor is a set of events that a person experiences, which increases their probability for engaging in predatory behavior. Although research has suggested that children who grow up in abusive households become abusers themselves, this does not mean all abused children grow to become violent offenders. This is merely only one facet of a multitude of experiences and circumstances that contribute to the Dark Factor.

The number of elements that are involved in the Dark Factor equation is large. It is not the quantity of elements causing Dark Factor to become extreme, but the impact those experiences have on a person’s subjective processing that makes the Dark Factor dangerous. Some of these facets include genetics, family dynamics, emotional intelligence, peer acceptance, subjective processing and developmental milestones and experiences.

Dark Singularity

The Dark Singularity is a theoretical concept similar to the definition of singularity at the center of a black hole. When this writer attempts to illustrate the concept of the Dark Singularity, he uses astronomy and cosmology as a metaphor to describe this concept. In astrophysics, the singularity is the absolute center of a black hole that is incredibly small, but dense in mass beyond mathematical comprehension. The theory suggests that the singularity is so dense and powerful, modern laws of physics and their mathematical equations become entangled.

A black hole is the huge expanse of space surrounding the singularity and so dense light cannot escape its grasp. At the center of all galaxies as well as ours, the Milky Way, is an all-powerful black hole with an infinitely small singularity at its center chock full of awesome energy. The Dark Singularity, as it applies to Dark Psychology, is the absolute center of the Dark Psychology universe. Simply put, the Dark Singularity is made of pristine evil & unadulterated pure malevolence. Farthest to the right of the Dark Continuum is the Dark Singularity. Also, part of the human condition is the Dark Singularity that no one ever reaches. The person who comes closest to the Dark Singularity is the advanced & severe psychopath who victimizes others with minimal motivation or purpose for his actions.

Because all behavior is purposive, the Dark Singularity is a theoretical destination never reached. The Dark Singularity is approached, but without arrival. The center of Dark Singularity is best explained as “Predators Who Prey Without Purpose.” The closer a person approaches the Dark Singularity, the more heinous and malevolent their behavior becomes. At the same time, their modus operandi becomes less purposeful. As stated, this is an abstract concept that this writer will outline in his later writings.

A psychological and philosophical tenet to comprehend when venturing to visualize cognitively, the Dark Singularity, is that all behavior is purposive. This writer was blessed to have completed his doctoral degree in the mid 1990’s at the Adler University in Chicago, Illinois. What he learned in those four years of academic studies was the theories and philosophies of Alfred Adler. Alfred Adler was a turn of the century medical doctor and psychologist who was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and an incredible philosopher as well.

Through this writer’s studies, he grasped hold of many of Adler’s theories. To this day, this writer interprets his world as defined by Alfred Adler, this great medical doctor and psychologist. Adler had many theories of human behavior and this writer integrated many of them during his construction of Dark Psychology. The three most valuable concepts from Adler for developing the theory of are as follows.

Adler believed that all behavior was purposive. From the moment we are born to the day we die, everything we think, feel, and do has a purpose. Nothing we initiate during our life span occurs haphazardly. Although his philosophy may initially sound simplistic, it actually is quite complex. With this premise in mind, the reason why people are benevolent is that it serves that person to be so because they reap the rewards of acceptance by their peers, loved ones and community.

Children taught to be kind, caring, and contributory have greater levels of feeling accepted and being part of a group. For Adler, feeling part of or a strong need for acceptance by others was the purpose for healthy functional behavior. Taking his theory of all behavior being purposive to the opposite end of the spectrum, malevolent behaviors serve a purpose as well.

Adler posited that people who behave in hostile or non-accepting ways were responding to a deep sense of inferiority. When people perceive they are not part of or not accepted by a social group, they move into negative directions. As they move further away from their innate purpose to be part of a social construct, the further away they move from treating others with kindness, respect and dignity. Under this tenet, Dark Psychology assumes that 99.99% of all behavior is purposive. Like Freud and Jung, Adler subscribed to the philosophy of Teleology.

Furthermore, as humans increasingly become discouraged, isolated and his social environment becomes increasingly fragmented, the more they lash out towards others in volatile ways. A prime example and quick illustration would be the narcissistic psychopath. The narcissistic psychopath is incredibly selfish, finds delight in victimizing others and purposely takes advantage of others without remorse. The concept of purposive behavior is paramount to the understanding of Dark Psychology.

As mentioned above, this writer strongly believes all human behavior is 99.99% purposive. The left over .01% is where he differs from Adler. This .01% is the Dark Singularity. Of all Adler’s theories, the assumption of all behavior as purposive is vital to understanding Dark Psychology but varies slightly in the severest form of malevolent human behavior(s).

The second theoretical tenet Adler defined central to Dark Psychology is the concept of subjective processing. We all have thoughts, feelings and actions, in which cognitions and affective states influence behavior. Conversely, a person’s behavior influences his cognitions and emotions. Defined as a system or what Adler called a constellation, the triad or trinity of human experience is comprised as an orbiting system of thoughts, feeling and behaviors. Adler added subjective processing to this system of human experience.

He believed that childhood experiences, birth order positioning, family dynamics, quality of social acceptance and the dynamics of inferiority vs. superiority worked in a manner to create a person’s perceptual experience and trajectory of interacting with his world.

The easiest way to understand subjective processing and the perceptual framework is by visualizing a pair of sunglasses. These shaded glasses filter light and protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Your eyes represent true reality and the sunglasses represent your filtering mechanism distorting the reality of the harsh sun light. Hence, your “perceptual sunglasses “filter, distort and alter how you interpret information and respond accordingly.

This is how our subjective processing works but applied to the human condition. Reality exists and occurs every moment all around us. Subjective processing filters our reality to both protect and shield us from what we feel may be counter indicated to our purposive goals. If the human develops in an environment where he perceives being part of, belonging to, and accepted, his subjective processing filtering mechanism allows input that is much more accurate. A person socialized in what he perceives as a discouraging environment, their subjective processing becomes distorted and convoluted with selfishness and narcissism.

Regarding Dark Psychology, the goal is to assume that all people filter their world using subjective processing. Those people who are aggressive, violent or abusive are wearing a pair of proverbial sunglasses that are myopic and blurry. These people perceive others are out to harm them and move to assault or manipulate them first. Their subjective processing distorts their common decency, charitable acts and selflessness. Acts of kindness become foreign experiences or used to manipulate their social environment guided by a selfish modus operandi.

The third tenet valuable to understanding Dark Psychology is Adler’s theory of Social Interest. Social Interest, postulated by Adler, is the compilation of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings translated into benevolent behaviors. Simply stated, the greater a person feels accepted by others, the more they feel part of, and the higher sense of belonging directly links to a person’s Social Interest. People with high Social Interest are inherently kind, selfless, giving and receptive. All of these qualities of Social Interest further solidify their subjective processing to be positive and compassionate. High Social Interest equals low Dark Psychology impact.

Given that, we all have a Dark Factor within us; the person with high Social Interest keeps his Dark Factor subdued. The lower the Social Interest, the higher the probability the Dark Factor manifests. When a person feels discouraged, does not feel part of, does not experience a sense of acceptance and perceives his world as isolating, he is at a higher risk for exhibiting dysfunctional hostile reactions. Related to Alfred Adler & purposive behavior, subjective processing and Social Interest are central to understanding Dark Psychology.

Dark Psychology is a theoretical construct made up of a compilation of the philosophical tenets of Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, this writer’s clinical experience as a psychologist, his academic and professional experiences as a forensic/criminal psychologist, and the many discussions with loved ones and colleagues over the years regarding deviant behavior.

As mentioned earlier in this manuscript, this writer’s goal is to take fifteen years of thoughts and observations and translate them for others to investigate. The second goal, and most important, is this writer’s hope that others will read his work, investigate his postulations and use them to defeat those that walk-through life looking to harm, victimize and brutalize.

Others postulate an entirely different tenet that is not psychiatric but defined as a depletion of conscience. This writer does not spend much time going into clinical studies or academic explanations, given the massive quantities of work compiled by those studying deviant behavior. The approach is to cast a wide net to cover relevant theories that this writer feels are highly valuable to understanding Dark Psychology.

A portion of the information relevant to understanding Dark Psychology is an overview exploring child development, family dynamics and other factors that work to formalize Dark Psychology. Although there is no way to exactly define why and how some people turn to the dark side, there are areas for exploration that help to explain how the “laws of probability” exist in the development of the antisocial personality construct. Other areas discussed include psychiatric illness, personality disorders and alcohol/drug addiction as catalysts to deviant behavior. Psychiatric and alcohol/substance abuse do not explain violent behavior, but this writer concurs these disturbances contribute to the understanding of Dark Psychology.

Contemporary social sciences investigate the areas of psychopathy, narcissism and personality disorders. These profiles are very intriguing and fuel much of the interest in the field of forensic and criminal psychology. Based on this writer’s investigation, there seems to be an intricate combination of these three-character disordered constructs that that create truly despotic people. Once this writer has presented Dark Psychology thoroughly, provided will be alternative explanations for violent behavior. Another element of Dark Psychology discussed will include rapists, pedophiles and sadistic sexual offenders.

In the concluding manuscripts to follow, this writer will move into the most important themes defining Dark Psychology. It is within these arenas this writer offers advice on how to insulate oneself from becoming a future target for the human predator. Once you have a grasp of Dark Psychology, you will then have the ability to assess other people’s actions as being potentially dangerous.

Employed in mental health for the last 25 years, working as a psychologist and forensic examiner for 10 years treating patients, evaluating court entangled defendants, and learning as much as he can as a forensic psychologist has given this writer the opportunity to offer those not involved in the pursuit of Dark Psychology, a set of tools for protection.        

Remember, Dark Psychology includes all criminal and deviant behaviors committed upon other people. Although many people are intrigued by the discussion of the serial killer and psychopath, the vast majority of predators hunting human prey are not engaged in murder or sexual deviance. If this writer were to make an estimate, he would put the percentage of human predators at roughly 70% of the total pool of people who are out to victimize others, but who are not involved in murder or sexual deviance. 30% have been estimated to include criminal, deviant and violent offenders where physical contact is planned.

At the beginning of this introduction, this writer presented what he believes is a sound theory of the human predator. Dark Psychology assumes what lives within all of us is a potential reservoir of violent malicious energy. All humanity lies somewhere on the Dark Continuum with most being in the category of subtle, mild and with fleeting thoughts and minor shortfalls. The reality though is Dark Psychology is a universal phenomenon, and there is no dispute all of us, at times in our lives, have had at least thoughts of sheer violence and predatory fantasies.

The difference is most of humanity has never acted upon those thoughts. The reason is that we have a low Dark Factor equation compared to the predators. For them, their Dark Factor is elevated; influencing them to move in a direction towards what many define as evil and this writer defines as a trajectory accelerating towards the Dark Singularity.

Carl Jung and Alfred Adler’s theories were a powerful influence in this writer’s creation of Dark Psychology. He strongly adheres to Adler’s philosophy that behavior is purposive. The only slight philosophical divergence from Adler is this writer’s belief that all behavior is 99.99% purposive. He holds the remaining .01% as being within the realm of the black hole of the Dark Singularity. The black hole of the singularity is the area of evil that the predator comes close to, but never reaches.

The Dark Singularity is the potential in all of us to behave as a predator, hunting human prey completely and utterly devoid of purpose. This writer also strongly subscribes to Adler’s theory of subjective processing. Dark Psychology and the human predator have a highly distorted perceptual filtering mechanism. For them, it is no longer about being compassionate and kind. Their subjective processing colors all of their thoughts, emotions and perceptions with blackness and venom.

At some point in the development of the human predator, he/she actuates his thoughts and feelings and starts down the long road of what contemporary criminologist call psychopathy. Within time, their subjective processing filter becomes divorced from experiencing remorse. They come to perceive that the victimization of others is deserved by those who are too naive to protect themselves.

Given that, a large portion of human development surrounds social acceptance, the predator somehow moves into the arena where his Dark Factor becomes an active force fueling an urge for the destruction of others. Once touched by the realm of psychopathy, he has entered the point of no return. Just as light cannot escape a black hole, the human predator cannot escape the path towards the Dark Singularity. Interviews conducted by forensic profilers and research scientists with convicted notorious psychopaths have proven the theory of accelerated movement towards the Dark Singularity.

Not only have psychopaths divulged a perception of experiencing a sense that their evil acts accelerate in frequency, but also their experience of acting as predator takes on an addictive quality. Using cosmology once again as a metaphor for Dark Psychology, the closer matter approaches a black hole, the faster mass accelerates and can never swing away from the black hole’s awesome gravity. Interviews with psychopaths almost exactly mimic this universal law of astrophysics.

As society moves further into what is defined as the Information Age filled with digital technology and cyberspace, Dark Psychology and its impact on humanity will be tested at greater rates. Given the veil of anonymity cyberspace offers all humanity, the question remains is if the nefarious aspects living within all of us will recognize there is a realm of free reign called the digital universe.

“Dark Psychology is the study of the chasm within us all, which only few enter, and even fewer ever exit. Without a natural predator to cause humans to rally, we prey upon one another.” Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D.

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. is a NYS licensed psychologist, cyberpsychology researcher and online safety educator. In 2009, Dr. Nuccitelli finalized his dark side of cyberspace concept called iPredator. Since 2010, he has advised those seeking information about cyberbullying, cyberstalking, cybercriminal minds, internet addiction and his Dark Psychology concept. By day Dr. Nuccitelli is a practicing psychologist, clinical supervisor and owner of MN Psychological Services, PLLC. After work and on the weekends, he volunteers helping online users who have been cyber-attacked. Dr. Nuccitelli’s is always available to interested partied and the media at no cost. This website and everything created by Dr. Nuccitelli is educational, free and public domain.


Copyright © 2021 iPredator Inc., All Rights Reserved.

About Dr. Nuccitelli



Psychology: the man who studies everyday evil

By David Robson30th January 2015

Why are some people extraordinarily selfish, manipulative, and unkind? David Robson asks the scientist delving into the darkest sides of the human mind.


If you had the opportunity to feed harmless bugs into a coffee grinder, would you enjoy the experience? Even if the bugs had names, and you could hear their shells painfully crunching? And would you take a perverse pleasure from blasting an innocent bystander with an excruciating noise?

These are just some of the tests that Delroy Paulhus uses to understand the “dark personalities” around us. Essentially, he wants to answer a question we all may have asked: why do some people take pleasure in cruelty? Not just psychopaths and murderers – but school bullies, internet trolls and even apparently upstanding members of society such as politicians and policemen.

It is easy, he says, to make quick and simplistic assumptions about these people. “We have a tendency to use the halo or devil framing of individuals we meet – we want to simplify our world into good or bad people,” says Paulhus, who is based at the University of British Columbia in Canada. But while Paulhus doesn’t excuse cruelty, his approach has been more detached, like a zoologist studying poisonous insects – allowing him to build a “taxonomy”, as he calls it, of the different flavours of everyday evil.


Paulhus’s interest began with narcissists – the incredibly selfish and vain, who may lash out to protect their own sense of self-worth.  Then, a little more than a decade ago, his grad student Kevin Williams suggested that they explore whether these self-absorbed tendencies are linked to two other unpleasant characteristics – Machiavellianism (the coolly manipulative) and psychopathy (callous insensitivity and immunity to the feelings of others). Together, they found that the three traits were largely independent, though they sometimes coincide, forming a “Dark Triad” – a triple whammy of nastiness.

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It is surprising how candid his participants can often be. His questionnaires typically ask the subjects to agree with statements such as “I like picking on weaker people” or “It’s wise not to tell me your secrets”. You would imagine those traits would be too shameful to admit – but, at least in the laboratory, people open up, and their answers do seem to correlate with real-life bullying, both in adolescence and adulthood. They are also more likely to be unfaithful to their spouses (particularly those with Machiavellian and psychopathic tendencies) and to cheat on tests.

Even so, since Paulhus tends to focus on everyday evil rather than criminal or psychiatric cases, the traits are by no means apparent on the first meeting. “They are managing in everyday society, so they have enough control not to get themselves into trouble. But it catches your attention here or there.” People who score particularly high on narcissism, for instance, quickly display their tendency to “over-claim” – one of the strategies that helps them boost their own egos. In some experiments, Paulhus presented them with a made up subject and they quickly confabulated to try to appear like they knew it all – only to get angry when he challenged them about it. “It strikes you that yes, this fits into a package that allows them to live with a distorted positive view of themselves.”

Born nasty

Once Paulhus had begun to open a window on these dark minds, others soon wanted to delve in to answer some basic questions about the human condition. Are people born nasty, for instance? Studies comparing identical and non-identical twins suggest a relatively large genetic component for both narcissism and psychopathy, though Machiavellianism seems to be more due to the environment – you may learn to manipulate from others. Whatever we’ve inherited cannot take away our personal responsibility, though. “I don’t think anyone is born with psychopathy genes and then nothing can be done about it,” says Minna Lyons at the University of Liverpool.

You only need to look at the anti-heroes of popular culture – James Bond, Don Draper or Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street – to realize that dark personalities have sex appeal, a finding supported by more scientific studies. Further clues to the benefits might come from another basic human characteristic – whether you are a morning or evening person. Lyons and her student, Amy Jones found that “night owls” – people who stay up late but can’t get up in the morning – tend to score higher on a range of dark triad traits. They are often risk-takers – one of the characteristics of psychopathy; they are more manipulative – a Machiavellian trait – and as narcissists, they tend to be exploitative of other people. That might make sense if you consider our evolution: perhaps dark personalities have more chance to steal, manipulate, and have illicit sexual liaisons late while everyone else is sleeping, so they evolved to be creatures of the night.

Whatever the truth of that theory, Paulhus agrees there will always be niches for these people to exploit. “Human society is so complex that there are different ways of enhancing your reproductive success – some involve being nice and some being nasty,” he says.

Dark corners

Recently, he has started probing even further into the darkest shadows of the psyche.  “We were pushing the envelope, asking more extreme questions,” he says – when he found that some people will also readily admit to inflicting pain on others for no other reason than their own pleasure. Crucially, these tendencies are not simply a reflection of the narcissism, psychopathy or Machiavellianism, but seem to form their own sub-type – “everyday sadism”. For this reason, Paulhus now calls it a “dark tetrad”.

The “bug crushing machine” offered the perfect way for Paulhus and colleagues to test whether that reflected real life behaviour. Unknown to the participants, the coffee grinder had been adapted to give insects an escape route – but the machine still produced a devastating crushing sound to mimic their shells hitting the cogs. Some were so squeamish they refused to take part, while others took active enjoyment in the task. “They would be willing not just to do something nasty to bugs but to ask for more,” he says, “while others thought it was so gross they didn’t even want to be in the same room.” Crucially, those individuals also scored very highly on his test for everyday sadism.

Arguably, a rational human being shouldn’t care too much about bugs’ feelings. But the team then set up a computer game that would allow the participants to “punish” a competitor with a loud noise through their headphones. This wasn’t compulsory; in fact, the volunteers had to perform a tedious verbal task to earn the right to punish their competitor – but, to Paulhus’s surprise, the everyday sadists were more than happy to take the trouble. “There wasn’t just willingness to do it but a motivation to enjoy, to put in some extra effort to have the opportunity to hurt other individuals.” Importantly, there was no provocation or personal gain to be had from their cruelty – the people were doing it for pure pleasure.

Troll tracking

He thinks this is directly relevant to internet trolls. “They appear to be the internet version of everyday sadists because they spend time searching for people to hurt.” Sure enough, an anonymous survey of trollish commentators found that they scored highly on dark tetrad traits, but particularly the everyday sadism component – and enjoyment was their prime motivation. Indeed, the bug-crushing experiment suggested that everyday sadists may have more muted emotional responses to all kinds of pleasurable activities – so perhaps their random acts of cruelty are attempts to break through the emotional numbness.

More immediately, his discoveries have attracted the attention of police and military agencies, who want to collaborate with Paulhus to see if his insights might explain why some people abuse their positions.  “The concern is that these people might deliberately select jobs where you are given the mandate to hurt individuals,” he says. If so, further work might suggest ways to screen out the dark personalities at recruitment.

(Getty Images)

He’s also excited about new work on “moral Machiavellianism” and “communal narcissists” – people who perhaps have dark traits but use them for good (as they see it). In some situations, ruthlessness may be necessary. “To be prime minister, you can’t be namby pamby – you need to cut corners and hurt people, and even be nasty to achieve your moral causes,” he says. After all, the dark personalities often have the impulse and the confidence to get things done –even Mother Theresa apparently had a steely side, he says. “You’re not going to help society by sitting at home being nice.”

All of which underlines the false dichotomy of good and evil that Paulhus has been keen to probe. In a sense, that is a personal as much as a professional question. He admits to seeing a dark streak in his own behaviour: for example, he enjoys watching violent, painful sports like Mixed Martial Arts. “It didn’t take long to see I would stand above average on these dark traits,” he says. “But given my abiding curiosity as a scientist and my enjoyment of investigating such things – I thought that perhaps I was in a good position to take a closer look at the dark side.”

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By Alex O’Brien17th May 2021

When amateur player Alex O’Brien unexpectedly won an online poker tournament, little did she know that she’d be pitted against one of the game’s most controversial players. A stellar team of poker pros offered to train her, and she discovered how poker can transform how you see the world.


One dark December afternoon, a message on my phone lit up like a warning signal.

“Are you in?”

This was the third time in two days that Philipp Kiefel, my poker coach, had asked me to sign up to play in a specific online tournament. It had a whopping first prize of $10,000 (£7,000/€8,250), and he thought it would be good practice. I’m a science writer, not a professional player, and had taken up the game initially as a hobby, but then started to study it in earnest to help me research a non-fiction book about how poker can enhance your critical thinking.

However, I was out collecting my daughter from school, and nowhere near my laptop.

“Picking up Ava,” I replied.

I felt guilty, but I had no interest in playing that day.

“You have 26mins before late registration closes,” he insisted.

“Will make it,” I capitulated.

Walking home was no longer an option, so Ava and I jumped in a cab and got home with just a few minutes to spare. She went to her room to play with her Lego and I sat down at the kitchen table to play with some strangers online – totally unaware of the impact it was about to have on my life.

That day, I would beat 1,666 other players to win the tournament and take the $10,000 prize.

My unexpected victory was just the beginning. Over the course of the following months, I would be pitted against a controversial player I had never met, notorious for his bombastic Instagram lifestyle and negative comments about women. I would be thrust into 15 minutes of fame in the poker media, drawn into the wider issue of sexism in the game. And I would be offered training by some of the world’s best poker coaches – idols of mine who have won millions of dollars through their skills, and who would go on to become friends. Along the way, the experience taught me how to think differently about the game – and the wider world, too. It elevated my mindset in a way that I started to see everything differently. And it all began at my kitchen table that December afternoon.

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For the past few years, I’ve been working on a book about the mental upsides of playing poker. In the process of writing, I realised that I would need to include my own experiences, and show my reader I know what it takes to play and win. But I’m just an amateur player. I enjoy the game the way some people love yoga or running. So, like many of those people, I got myself a coach – Kiefel, a German online poker pro.

The online tournament that he had encouraged me to play was called a “freeroll” – and this was one reason why I had been reluctant to sign up. Since there’s no entry fee, what tends to happen in a freeroll is that most players will undervalue their chips, play with little care and just spew off their stack. They perfectly display human psychology in action: give people something for free and they will value it less than something that they paid for. I had no desire to waste my time playing in what I believed would be a game of chance. Kiefel however had a different view. Playing with players who were less invested, he said, was a good thing: “Play your game and you will crush them”. And crush them I did.

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The author of this article, Alex O’Brien, playing poker before the pandemic (Credit: partypoker)

Ten seconds and four high-pitched OhMyGods after the win, I was on the phone to him. The grin stretched all over his words: “See what happens when you play rested and with focus?” He deserved to gloat. This victory was as much his as it was mine. He had never given up on me even though for nearly a year I repeatedly kept breaking his cardinal rule – don’t play when tired, stressed or distracted. I had been all of those things, just like any working parent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament was over within three and a half hours, in time for bedtime stories. The story that night was called “How Mommy won”, which concluded with us both jumping up and down on the bed and her getting the Ninjago Lego set she’d had been asking for. Tonight we were both going to sleep happy – or so I believed.

We are told not to check our email before bedtime, but I did. Later that night, there was an email from GGPoker, the online platform that had hosted the tournament: “What an incredible achievement, beating such a huge field of players!” They’d be in touch to arrange the “heads-up match” with Dan Bilzerian. Wait, what? Who? What heads-up match? When? Kiefel was baffled too. What we did know was a heads-up game can be a bigger deal. These are essentially aggressive duels, played one-to-one, and usually involve high stakes.

Just what had I let myself in for? And who even was Dan Bilzerian?

I didn’t have to wait long for answers. They came at me in a Twitter storm. One post that particularly stood out was from a female online poker pro called Vanessa Kade. She wrote that it was “hilarious and perfect” that a woman (me) had won the tournament to face Bilzerian, given his past comments on social media about female poker players. In a now-deleted tweet in 2017, he had told the poker pro Cate Hall that: “I want to bet against you because you are a woman and women can’t play poker.”

Another tweet, from a poker coach based in the US, was directly addressing me:

“..sincere congrats, and NOT a dig on you personally in any form. Hoping that you can use this opportunity for the good in the efforts for decency, respect, and systemic inclusion for women in poker.”

Just what had I let myself in for? And who even was Dan Bilzerian?

In all the years of watching poker, reading up on events and learning about players, I had never heard his name, let alone met him. Yet just a few days before the tournament he had been made one of the ambassadors for GGPoker. I was also unaware of the controversy that had unfolded with his appointment. It had been set off by an online spat between him and Kade. “The idea that this guy is being validated as the face of poker really sucks,” Kade had tweeted. Bilzerian, bolstered by the might of his tens of millions of followers, fired back: “Quiet hoe, nobody knows who you are.” So ensued a contentious narrative that would repeatedly flare up and take hold of the poker world for months.

Dan Bilzerian poses with a cigar and six women at a casino in Las Vegas (Credit: Alamy)

Bilzerian is not a professional poker player and his claims of winning tens of millions playing poker are hard to verify. In fact browsing through his Instagram feed you’d be hard pushed to find much poker content. What you will see is a display of guns and girls. In one shot he is standing bare-chested in a red car wearing red shorts and a Santa’s cape surrounded by seven women in boudoir lingerie. In the next, he’s posing with military style weaponry, and in another, playing chess with giant wads of cash either side of the board – a post he captioned “A game of kings”. But it’s his words that have attracted the most criticism. “Women are like dog shit, the older they get the easier they are to pick up,” he once tweeted.  And in 2017, he posted on Twitter: “It’s national Women’s Day, be thankful, they are good for so many things!” alongside an image of him in a hot tub with four barely clad women and a half-naked fifth bent over while he ate a meal from her back. The backlash was significant enough to be picked up in the UK tabloids. (Bilzerian did not respond to BBC Future’s requests for comment about the views expressed in his social media posts and the criticisms that followed.)

So when the news broke that a woman was now due to face Bilzerian in a heads-up match, it travelled like wildfire and the narrative took off on its own. Within days of my freeroll tournament win, I was profiled by But I wasn’t sure if I wanted any of it. 

I also had a bigger problem: I didn’t know how to play heads-up poker. It’s a completely different game. You can’t hide in heads-up play. You either fold and lose, or you have to try to win the hand. In multi-player games, you can be more selective, but in heads-up you are forced to play all types of hands – even those that you’d normally discard without a second thought. If you are not aggressive, you will have a tough time. And crucially, it requires you to have a much more precise understanding of the game and its subtleties.

While I was worrying about my lack of skill, the online chatter continued and expectations grew. One person suggested I give the money back. This sudden exposure made me feel like a trapped animal.

Professional poker player Jennifer Shahade is also grandmaster chess player (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Sometimes when you’re in trouble, others will leap in to help. And that is exactly what Jennifer Shahade did. I had met the grandmaster chess player a year prior in her home city of Philadelphia, where I interviewed her about pattern recognition and strategic thinking for my book. We had known each other for only two hours, yet she took the leap that declared: “I am on your team”. Shahade, who is also an ambassador for the poker website PokerStars, had seen the news but hadn’t weighed in publicly as she didn’t want to give Bilzerian even more attention, especially when many other strong voices had pointed out the negative. She told me she had been inspired by my story, and wanted me to enjoy and learn from the opportunity to play on a big stage, rather than see it as a burden or risk of getting heckled.

So, she explained, she would introduce me to a good friend of hers: a heads-up specialist and genius, who would be happy to dedicate some time to prepare me for the match. To my shock, that person was Olivier Busquet – one of the best heads-up coaches in the world. His name may not be familiar outside poker, but I can tell you that when I heard this, I felt my body contract, forcing me to take a deep breath. This was a pro I did not need to look up. I had watched him play on TV numerous times, listened to him commentate poker games and had seen him win big – he has made millions of dollars. And now Busquet was going to coach me. Even Kiefel was stunned (and thankfully also excited). 

Training with Busquet would show me how the most successful poker players think – and along the way, I would learn a few things about my own mindset too.

Thinking imperfectly

With a perfect mathematics SAT score, an aptitude for numbers, a thrill for risk-taking and a highly competitive spirit, Busquet had all the requirements for becoming a successful financial trader. He had started playing poker to develop his trading skills, but became obsessed with the game instead.

Olivier Busquet, pictured earlier in his career, is now one of the best heads-up coaches in the world (Credit: Shane Gritzinger/WireImage)

It is not unusual for traders to become poker players, and vice versa. The co-author of the Mathematics of Poker Jerrod Ankenman, for example, was a poker player before he got into trading. He found the perfect fit with Susquehanna, an international financial trading company founded by poker players. The company has an entire gaming blog dedicated to strategy, probability, science, and data analytics. The core skills traders and poker players need are practically the same, Akerman told me. Both have to diversify risk and maximize expected value by evaluating risk-to-reward, free from emotions, all while paying attention and noticing behaviors in environments of imperfect information. (Note I didn’t say “incomplete information”. That is because game theorists regard information that you don’t have, but others do as imperfect if the rules and payoffs are known to all players or incomplete if the rules or payoffs are unknown. Trading markets can sometimes be seen as games of incomplete information.) Ultimately, what both successful traders and poker players must be good at is probabilistic thinking.

What does that mean? Say I have a coin and I am going to flip it and ask you to make a prediction. In this situation, what most of us think of as a “prediction” is “heads” or “tails.” However, a trader or poker player would say “equally likely to be either” and act accordingly. Even though probability is a mathematical framework that is key to decision making in poker, and maths is important in the game, you don’t need to have a PhD in it to succeed in poker.

Ask Busquet what he thinks it takes to excel in poker over the long-term, and he will tell you of three core competencies you need to have: strategic thinking, emotional resilience and psychological awareness. 

Perhaps the most prevalent output from this trifecta is that poker players are less results orientated. Instead, they focus on the process. I have heard this from other professionals too. Poker pro Jamie Kerstetter told me how this mindset has benefitted her: “It means being less hard on myself when something turns out poorly, as long as I did everything I could to achieve a good outcome.”

To poker players, losing is part of a winning strategy. This may seem paradoxical, but real life is not too dissimilar to a poker game. In life, too, we can do all the right things and still lose. When Shahada and I talked over lunch in Philadelphia, she had told me that poker has taught her to think more in probabilities in all aspects of her life. The biggest risk in life, she told me, is to take no risk at all.

Professional poker player Jamie Kerstetter argues that, in poker, the process matters more than results (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

I heard a similar message from the poker pro David Lappin about the parallels to real life. Poker can provide a lesson in humility and is a good metaphor for the sort of chaotic randomness of the world, he told me. Just like life, poker isn’t rigged, even though it could feel like that sometimes. You realize your role in all the proceedings isn’t central, except to you. Lappin suggested that the grand error most people make is that they apply some sort of cosmic meaning onto events: “I think you become really kind of familiar with the idea that you don’t matter much and that’s really good because we don’t matter as a species either.” He told me he used to be a more temperamental person before poker, but through the game he has learnt to stay in control and emotionally take a middle ground, “even if everything’s going wrong”. Successful poker players don’t get distracted by their own emotional state and instead can focus on that of their opponents, and so strategize accordingly.

Thinking strategically

A second vital thing I learnt from Busquet, in my first lesson, was a mistake I was making that was stopping me building an effective strategy. Unlike chess, many people struggle to see poker as a strategic game. Non-poker players tend to assume that the main requirements for winning are to be a body language expert and good at bluffing. I blame how popular culture often uses poker as a prop to describe scenes of distress and high tension, associated with gambling. Yet there are plenty of strategic similarities between chess and poker, which is why many chess players like Shahade pick up poker and vice versa.

In our first lesson, Busquet told me of a specific move I am never to make, after I had made a bet when I shouldn’t have.

“OK. Will do,” I replied. 

“Aren’t you going to ask me why?” 

This felt like a test I had failed, which made me want to hide under a rock. What I learnt was that I wasn’t asking enough questions. Poker players ask themselves a series of questions for every single hand they play, trying to gauge “range”, which essentially means the scope of possibilities in the game ahead. What is my range? What is my opponent’s range? How do those ranges interact? And how does it affect the value of my hand? At what frequency would I bet, call or fold with my hand? 

Based on the concept that you only have partial information; poker players consider the range of all possible things that could happen. They then tally this thinking with risk assessments and the evaluation of risk and assign probabilities to it.

I realized that being able to ask the right questions when we have little information to hand, while also operating under duress, is a real skill we could all use – and not just in poker. This has been particularly clear during the Covid-19 pandemic when we all became risk assessors. All activities required us to evaluate the risk to our health, as well as gauging what risk we are willing to accept.

Dan Bilzerian looks at a branded racing car bearing his image in Richmond, Virginia (Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

No-limit Texas Hold ‘em is the most popular form of poker and it’s the one I play. In this game, each player is dealt two cards (pocket or hole cards) face down. Next there is a round of betting when players can decide to play or fold their cards. Players still remaining will see the flop. These are the first three cards of a total of five (community cards) that are dealt out face up in the middle. After that a further round of betting. Then the 4th card, called the turn is revealed. Once again, a round of betting, after which the final and 5th card, the river is revealed. Finally, one more round of betting before players still remaining in the hand will show their two cards. The winner at showdown is the player who has made the best hand using the hole cards and the cards in the middle to make the best possible five card poker hand.   

The two cards a player is dealt are also referred to as starting hands. There are 169 starting hands in No-limit Texas Hold ’em. The playability and equity of the hands you play changes depending on several variables which dictate your actions. To help with their first strategic or betting decision, some poker players refer to charts. These are models that have been mathematically calculated by a computer for every position on the poker table and the corresponding chip stack size. They are visualized as grids of 169 squares and the ranges are color coded. Memorizing these is key to understanding your own position vs your opponent’s. Understanding ranges is key to winning.

An example of the kind of chart that poker players use to study strategies (Credit: Pokercode)

Following our initial conversations, Busquet started me off with 10 charts to study that are specific to heads-up play. A lot to learn, but there was absolutely no reason to panic. I had plenty of time.

This wasn’t the first time I would be wrong. A couple of days after my first lesson, I got a call from Mel Moser, who was the marketing manager at GGPoker. She had “great news”. They would be sponsoring my entry into the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Heads-up tournament – a $10,000 buy-in event. “I hope you are excited!”, she said.

I was not. What I felt was unprepared, and out-of-my-depth. My attempt to throttle the rise of panic was futile. My attempt to feign excitement even more so.  “Oh… wow… this is …. amazing… thank you,” I replied. 

Poker’s World Series is a series of tournaments that takes place over six-to-eight weeks in Las Vegas each year. In terms of importance, it’s the “Wimbledon” of poker. Thousands of players. One goal. To win the bracelet at the WSOP main event. It’s the ultimate prize in poker. If you love this game, this is what you dream about. Never did I imagine I’d be playing my first ever WSOP event online, let alone in a format I knew nothing about. Poker figured it would be good experience to play at this level to help prepare me for the match with Bilzerian. The list of players in that tournament was a “who’s who” in high-stakes poker. These were gods. I felt like a sacrifice. 

I no longer had several weeks to prepare; I had a few days.

“You have barely scratched the surface of poker pain” – Olivier Busquet

I threw myself into training, devoting as many hours as I could, all the while juggling the pressures of work, parenting and the pandemic. Sometimes it got too much. One night in the middle of the UK’s winter lockdown, just before my daughter fell asleep, it became clear she had picked up on fears of the coronavirus: “Mommy, I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want you to die,” she said. I comforted and held her until she fell asleep, breathing calmly. I let the tears break free. Then I walked down into the kitchen and made coffee. It was 8pm. Time to study.

The next time I cried was when I crashed out of the WSOP Heads-up online event in the first round. The tournament was on 3 January, which is why, instead of joining a Zoom party with friends, I spent New Year’s Eve studying my charts until early hours in the morning. After I lost, I don’t remember how long I sat staring at the screen after I had played my final hand. The tears didn’t come straight away. First came exhaustion – I hadn’t slept more than four hours a night in days. After that came pain – I had been battling the fear of failure for days and failure had won. It hurt.

“You have barely scratched the surface of poker pain,” Busquet told me. Professionals encounter it all the time. “If I was playing the same tournament and had the same result. I would not have felt badly,” he said. It was comforting to hear him explain that losing in the first round is always possible and never unthinkable. This, I would learn, is because a professional player’s edge is intimately connected to a concept they call “variance”.

Thinking variably

You will often hear poker players use the term “variance” and “luck” to explain outcomes. In poker these two words signify important aspects. When you sit down at the tables, you sign up to achieve a certain distribution of outcomes. Your win or loss is akin a random draw from that distribution. “Variance” is a statistical computation on the (theoretical) distribution of outcomes, while “luck” is the draw from that distribution that is realized. This distribution can be influenced by several variables such as the structure of the game, your opponents’ strategy and skill, and your own. Even though I had studied intensely for days I still hadn’t covered the basics of heads-up play, let alone started thinking about this.

The 27-year-old Fedor Holz has amassed tens of millions in poker earnings (Credit: Pokercode)

The value that your hand has against that of your opponents is called “equity distribution”, the poker pro Fedor Holz told me. Holz has a reputation as a wunderkind – a title the 27-year-old deserves, given that he has amassed $40m (£28m/€33m) in earnings. He was sitting in his flat in Austria and speaking to me over Zoom for a one-on-one post game analysis session that GG had arranged for us. “The way you are thinking right now, is how most players think. It isn’t how most of the best players think,” he said.

We talked about the downsides of focusing too much on an opponent’s playing habits. Holz sees this as a weakness because it’s not based on a theoretical understanding of the perfect play. The mindset that he asked me to adopt instead is to always assume that my opponent is a very good player and therefore to always play optimal strategy. And only then am I allowed to shift from the theoretical approach to respond to the information I pick up about who I’m up against.

“The way you are thinking right now, is how most players think. It isn’t how most of the best players think” – Fedor Holz

To build a strategy to beat Dan Bilzerian, once again I needed to ask questions: how is my range plotted against his? What are the strongest hands I have and what are the strongest hands he could have? For whom is this board better? Is this card better for him or me? And by how much? Crucially, these questions are independent of an opponent’s style, and they are independent of Bilzerian. In short, his approach matters far less than my own.

Before the end of our session Holz invited me to join Pokercode, a poker coaching community he set up where players meet to discuss hands, learn from one another, and attend interactive online coaching sessions run by high-profile pros. I was blown away. The repeated generosity and support by the poker community humbled me and I didn’t know how to thank Holz. He did and told me: “Just win!”

Throughout my training, I had met so many supportive professionals like Holz, Busquet and Shahade, who were rooting for me to beat Bilzerian. For them, my experience spoke to deeper problems with gender attitudes within the industry, which many of its players have been facing up to in recent years. I realized that these poker pros who donated their time were not simply focused on how to play their own best game – they also wanted to make poker itself better.

Thinking equally

Setting aside that this complex game is super fun to play, one of the main reasons that drew me to poker in the first place was that it is a male-dominated field. I have spent my life proving that my gender doesn’t define or inhibit my abilities and skills. I intentionally use the gender-neutral form of my first name because in science writing, too, female writers encounter negative bias.

There is no reason why poker should be dominated by men. The cards are gender blind. It’s stereotypes, sexism and misperceptions that keep women from the tables, rather than ability.

Kara Scott (left) and Maria Ho, who present a poker show (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Poker still has a long way to go, but there has at least been some progress. When Kara Scott started out her career in poker and broadcasting back in 2005, poker was heavily marketed towards men in a way that left women out of the conversation completely. During the WSOP main event it wasn’t uncommon to see strip clubs set up stands outside the hall, with strippers pillow-fighting inside, and poker magazines such as Bluff would hold their annual party at a strip club. It was pretty standard for the many printed poker magazines that existed then to use women as a visual prop for men, often pictured with cards between their cleavage or poker chips on their nipples lying on a poker table.

Women have proven they not only can play, but they can win

In those days, women were used as decorative objects. In Bilzerian’s images on social media, Scott says she sees flashbacks of a time she thought poker no longer lived in. As an anchor for WSOP, who is also a sideline reporter for the event, she now presents her own poker show with fellow poker pro Maria Ho. “Nobody fell over in a faint because two women were doing a poker show together,” she told me, and is glad that today this is seen as pretty standard.

Female voices are far more prevalent and less decorative today. What’s more, women have proven they not only can play, but they can win. If you are still wondering if poker is a skill-based game, Vanessa Kade is that proof. A few weeks ago, she delivered the poker world a Cinderella story no one saw coming. Kade, who had devoted time and effort to study, was rewarded by winning the biggest online poker tournament this year and pocketing $1.5m (£1m/$1.2m) in the process. Now everyone knows who she is – including Dan Bilzerian.

Thinking next

If this was a fictional sports movie, this story would end with a blow-by-blow account of my match against Bilzerian. You’d see me struggle, battle and beat him, despite the odds, then the credits would roll. But that’s for another day, and it’s not how I choose to end my story today. Instead, I find myself reflecting on where this path had led me. When I started, it seemed like the most important thing was beating a man I’d never met, in a match I didn’t know how to play. But along the way, I’ve learnt so much more about myself, and what I value.

I know that if the cards go my way, I can beat Bilzerian. If the game goes the other way, that’s OK too. What I’ve actually won is bigger than a heads-up match: a group of poker friends who have my back and a new way of thinking about my life. From now on, I’ll always remember the lessons of my tutors: curiosity is everything, losing is a part of playing, and our opponents in life are less important than the choices we make ourselves. And you know what? I’m ready.

Alex O’Brien is a writer, and her upcoming book about the mental benefits of poker, called The Truth Detective, will be published in early 2022.

FEATURE  October 12, 2018

What Are We Like? 10 Psychology Findings That Reveal The Worst Of Human Nature

By Christian Jarrett

It’s a question that’s reverberated through the ages – are we humans, though imperfect, essentially kind, sensible, good-natured creatures? Or deep down are we wired to be bad, blinkered, idle, vain, vengeful and selfish? There are no easy answers and there’s clearly a lot of variation between individuals, but this feature post aims to shine some evidence-based light on the matter. Here in the first part of a two-part feature – and deliberately side-stepping the obviously relevant but controversial and already much-discussed MilgramZimbardo and Asch studies – we digest 10 dispiriting findings that reveal the darker and less impressive aspects of human nature:

We view minorities and the vulnerable as less than human
Through history humans have demonstrated a sickening willingness to inflict cruelty on one another. Part of the explanation may be that we have an unfortunate tendency to see certain groups – especially outsiders and vulnerable people perceived as low status – as being less than fully human. One striking example of this “blatant dehumanization” came from a small brain-scan study that found students exhibited less neural activity associated with thinking about people when they looked at pictures of the homeless or of drug addicts, as compared with higher-status individuals. Many more studies have since demonstrated subtle forms of dehumanization (in which we attribute fewer mental states to outsiders and minorities) and there have been further demonstrations of blatant dehumanization – for instance, people who are opposed to Arab immigration or in favor of tougher counter-terrorism policy against Muslim extremists tended to rate Arabs and Muslims as literally less evolved than average. Among other examples, there’s also evidence that young people dehumanize older people; and that men and women alike dehumanize.

What’s more, the inclination to dehumanize starts early – children as young as five view out-group faces (those belonging to people who live in a different city or who are of a different gender than the child) as less human than in-group faces.

We already experience schadenfreude at the age of four
That last finding is particularly dispiriting since we often look to young children to give us hope for humankind – they are seen as the sweet and innocent ones who have yet to be corrupted by the grievances of adulthood. And yet many other studies show that very small kids are capable of some less-than-appealing adult-like emotions. For instance, a study from 2013 found that even four-year-old’s seem to experience modest amounts of Schadenfreude – pleasure at another person’s distress, especially if they perceived the person deserved it (because they’d engaged in a bad deed). A more recent study found that by age six children will pay to watch an antisocial puppet being hit, rather than spending the money on stickers. Oh, and maybe you should forget the idea of children offering you unconditional kindness – by age three, they are already keeping track of whether you are indebted to them.

We believe in Karma – assuming that the downtrodden of the world must deserve their fate
On a related note, so strong is our inherent need to believe in a just world, we seem to have an inbuilt tendency to perceive the vulnerable and suffering as to some extent deserving their fate (an unfortunate flip-side to the Karmic idea, propagated by most religions, that the cosmos rewards those who do good – a belief that emerges in children aged just four). The unfortunate consequences of our just-world beliefs were first demonstrated in now classic research by Melvin Lerner and Carolyn Simmons. In a version of the Milgram set-up, in which a female learner was punished with electric shocks for wrong answers, women participants subsequently rated her as less likeable and admirable when they heard that they would be seeing her suffer again, and especially if they felt powerless to minimize this suffering. Presumably derogating the woman made them feel less bad about her dismal fate. Since then, research has shown our willingness to blame the poor, rape victims, AIDS patients and others for their fate, so as to preserve our belief in a just world. By extension, the same or similar processes are likely responsible for our subconscious rose-tinted view of rich people.

We are blinkered and dogmatic
It’s not just that we are malicious and unforgiving, we humans are worryingly close-minded too. If people were rational and open-minded, then the straightforward way to correct someone’s false beliefs would be to present them with some relevant facts. However a modern classic published in 1967 showed the futility of this approach – participants who believed strongly for or against the death penalty completely ignored facts that undermined their position, actually doubling-down on their initial view. This seems to occur in part because we see opposing facts as undermining our sense of identity. It doesn’t help that many of us are overconfident about how much we understand things, and that when we believe our opinions are superior to others, this deters us from seeking out further relevant knowledge.

We would rather electrocute ourselves than spend time in our own thoughts
Maybe if we spent a little more time in contemplation we would not be so blinkered. Sadly, for many of us, it seems the prospect of spending time in our own thoughts is so anathema we’d actually rather electrocute ourselves. This was demonstrated dramatically in a 2014 study in which 67 per cent of male participants and 25 per cent of female participants opted to give themselves unpleasant electric shocks rather than spend 15 minutes in peaceful contemplation. Although others questioned the interpretation of the results, at least one other study has shown people’s preference for electrocuting themselves over monotony, and another found cross-cultural evidence for people’s greater enjoyment of doing some activity alone rather than merely thinking (also replicated here). The gist of these findings would seem to back up the verdict of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal who stated that “All of man’s troubles come from his inability to sit quietly in a room by himself”.

We are vain and overconfident
Our irrationality and dogmatism might not be so bad were they married with some humility and self-insight, but actually most of us walk about with inflated views of our abilities and qualities, such as our driving skills, intelligence and attractiveness – a phenomenon that’s been dubbed the Lake Wobegon Effect after the fictional town where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average”. Ironically, the least skilled among us are the most prone to over-confidence (the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect). This vain self-enhancement seems to be most extreme and irrational in the case of our morality, such as in how principled and fair we think we are. In fact, even jailed criminals think they are kinder, more trustworthy and honest than the average member of the public. Our vanity manifests in other ways too: for instance, researchers believe that our preference for donating to charities that share our initials is a form of “implicit egotism”.

We are moral hypocrites
Not only do we tend to overestimate our own virtuousness, we are also inclined to moral hypocrisy. Findings in this area suggest it may pay to be wary of those who are the quickest and loudest in condemning the moral failings of others – the chances are the moral preacher is as guilty themselves, but of course they happen to take a far lighter view of their own transgressions. In one study to show this––suitably titled “The duality of virtue: Deconstructing the moral hypocrite”––researchers found that people rated the exact same selfish behaviors (giving oneself the quicker and easier of two experimental tasks on offer) as far less fair when perpetuated by others, than by themselves. Similarly, there is a long-studied phenomenon known as actor-observer asymmetry, which in part describes our tendency to attribute other people’s bad deeds, such as our partner’s infidelities, to their characters, while attributing the same deeds performed by ourselves as due to situational influences. These self-serving double-standards could even explain the common feeling that incivility is on the increase – recent research showed how we view the same acts of rudeness far more harshly when they are committed by strangers than by our friends or ourselves.

We are all potential trolls
Unfortunately, as anyone who has found themselves in a spat on Twitter will attest, social media may be magnifying some of the worst aspects of human nature, no doubt in part due to the online disinhibition effect, and the fact that anonymity (easy to achieve online) is known to increase our inclinations for immorality. While research has suggested that people who are prone to everyday sadism (which is a worryingly high proportion of us) are especially inclined to online trolling, a study published last year revealed how being in a bad mood, and being exposed to trolling by others, together double the likelihood of a person engaging in trolling – in fact, these situational factors were a stronger predictor of a person’s trolling behaviors than their individual traits, leading the researchers at Stanford and Cornell to conclude “that ordinary users will also troll when mood and discussion context prompt such behavior”. Of course this implies that initial trolling by a few can cause a snowball of increasing negativity, which is exactly what the researchers found when they studied reader discussion on, with the “proportion of flagged posts and proportion of users with flagged posts … rising over time”.

We favor ineffective leaders with psychopathic traits
One way for us to mitigate against our human failings would be if we were inclined to choose leaders with rare virtuousness and skill. Sadly, we seem to have the opposite knack. Consider for a moment President Donald Trump. In seeking to explain his voter appeal, Dan McAdams, a professor of personality psychology, recently concluded that Trump’s overt aggression and insults have a “primal appeal”, and that his “incendiary tweets” are like the “charging displays” of an alpha male chimp, “designed to intimidate”. Trump’s supporters will disagree, but if McAdams’ assessment is true it would fit into a wider pattern – the finding that psychopathic traits are more common than average among leaders. Take a survey of financial leaders in New York that found they scored highly on psychopathic traits but lower than average in emotional intelligence. In fairness, there have been some null and contradictory findings on this topic too, but a meta-analysis (an overview of prior evidence) published this summer concluded there is indeed a modest but significant link between trait psychopathy and leadership emergence, and that this has practical implications – especially since psychopathy also correlates with poorer leadership performance.

We are sexually attracted to people with dark personality traits 
To worsen the situation, not only do we elect people with psychopathic traits to become our leaders, evidence suggests that men and women are sexually attracted, at least in the short-term, to people displaying the so-called “dark triad” of traits – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism – thus risking further propagating these traits. One study found women’s physical attraction to a man was increased when he was described as having dark traits (as self-interested, manipulative and insensitive) compared with being described in the same way (in terms of his interests and so on), but with reference to the dark traits removed. One theory is that the dark traits successfully communicate “mate quality” in terms of confidence and the willingness to take risks. Does this matter for the future of our species? Perhaps it does – another paper, from 2016, found that those women who were more strongly attracted to narcissistic men’s faces tended to have more children.

Are we doomed? One comforting caveat – most of the dating research relevant to that last item was based on European American samples and may not generalize to other cultures (in fact a study out this year found that among Asian Americans, it was those men and women with more pro-social traits who were more successful at speed dating). But then again, there is a lot more depressing research that I could not fit into this article, such as the studies showing we’re more motivated by envy than admiration, the shocking prevalence of lying (a habit we start at age two), and the manipulativeness of babies – they fake cry you know!

There seems be an attractive quality to things that are ostensibly unhealthy or dangerous. Alisusha/

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

January 8, 2019 6.39am EST


  1. Mark Canada

Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Indiana University

Professor of Psychology, Indiana University

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Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

And how many times have we learned of someone – a celebrity, a friend or a loved one – who committed some self-destructive act that seemed to defy explanation? Think of the criminal who leaves a trail of evidence, perhaps with the hope of getting caught, or the politician who wins an election, only to start sexting someone likely to expose him.

Why do they do it?

Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s greatest – and most self-destructive – writers, had some thoughts on the subject. He even had a name for the phenomenon: “perverseness.” Psychologists would later take the baton from Poe and attempt to decipher this enigma of the human psyche.

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Irresistible depravity

In one of his lesser-known works, “The Imp of the Perverse,” Poe argues that knowing something is wrong can be “the one unconquerable force” that makes us do it.

It seems that the source of this psychological insight was Poe’s own life experience. Orphaned before he was three years old, he had few advantages. But despite his considerable literary talents, he consistently managed to make his lot even worse.

He frequently alienated editors and other writers, even accusing poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of plagiarism in what has come to be known as the “Longfellow war.” During important moments, he seemed to implode: On a trip to Washington, D.C. to secure support for a proposed magazine and perhaps a government job, he apparently drank too much and made a fool of himself.

According to Edgar Allen Poe, knowing something is wrong can make it irresistible. Wikimedia Commons

After nearly two decades of scraping out a living as an editor and earning little income from his poetry and fiction, Poe finally achieved a breakthrough with “The Raven,” which became an international sensation after its publication in 1845.

But when given the opportunity to give a reading in Boston and capitalize on this newfound fame, Poe didn’t read a new poem, as requested.

Instead, he reprised a poem from his youth: the long-winded, esoteric and dreadfully boring “Al Aaraaf,” renamed “The Messenger Star.”

As one newspaper reported, “it was not appreciated by the audience,” evidenced by “their uneasiness and continual exits in numbers at a time.”

Poe’s literary career stalled for the remaining four years of his short life.

Freud’s ‘death drive’

While “perverseness” wrecked Poe’s life and career, it nonetheless inspired his literature.

It figures prominently in “The Black Cat,” in which the narrator executes his beloved cat, explaining, “I…hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart…hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin – a deadly sin that would so jeopardise my immortal soul as to place it – if such a thing were possible – even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.”

Why would a character knowingly commit “a deadly sin”? Why would someone destroy something that he loved?

Was Poe onto something? Did he possess a penetrating insight into the counterintuitive nature of human psychology?

A half-century after Poe’s death, Sigmund Freud wrote of a universal and innate “death drive” in humans, which he called “Thanatos” and first introduced in his landmark 1919 essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.”

Sigmund Freud wrote of a universal death drive, which he dubbed ‘Thanatos.’ Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA

Many believe Thanatos refers to unconscious psychological urges toward self-destruction, manifested in the kinds of inexplicable behavior shown by Poe and – in extreme cases – in suicidal thinking.

In the early 1930s, physicist Albert Einstein wrote to Freud to ask his thoughts on how further war might be prevented. In his response, Freud wrote that Thanatos “is at work in every living creature and is striving to bring it to ruin and to reduce life to its original condition of inanimate matter” and referred to it as a “death instinct.”

To Freud, Thanatos was an innate biological process with significant mental and emotional consequences – a response to, and a way to relieve, unconscious psychological pressure.

Toward a modern understanding

In the 1950s, the psychology field underwent the “cognitive revolution,” in which researchers started exploring, in experimental settings, how the mind operates, from decision-making to conceptualization to deductive reasoning.

Self-defeating behavior came to be considered less a cathartic response to unconscious drives and more the unintended result of deliberate calculus.

In 1988, psychologists Roy Baumeister and Steven Scher identified three main types of self-defeating behavior: primary self-destruction, or behavior designed to harm the self; counterproductive behavior, which has good intentions but ends up being accidentally ineffective and self-destructive; and trade-off behavior, which is known to carry risk to the self but is judged to carry potential benefits that outweigh those risks.

Think of drunk driving. If you knowingly consume too much alcohol and get behind the wheel with the intent to get arrested, that’s primary self-destruction. If you drive drunk because you believe you’re less intoxicated than your friend, and – to your surprise – get arrested, that’s counterproductive. And if you know you’re too drunk to drive, but you drive anyway because the alternatives seem too burdensome, that’s a trade-off.

Baumeister and Scher’s review concluded that primary self-destruction has actually rarely been demonstrated in scientific studies.

Rather, the self-defeating behavior observed in such research is better categorized, in most cases, as trade-off behavior or counterproductive behavior. Freud’s “death drive” would actually correspond most closely to counterproductive behavior: The “urge” toward destruction isn’t consciously experienced.

Finally, as psychologist Todd Heatherton has shown, the modern neuroscientific literature on self-destructive behavior most frequently focuses on the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with planning, problem solving, self-regulation and judgment.

When this part of the brain is underdeveloped or damaged, it can result in behavior that appears irrational and self-defeating. There are more subtle differences in the development of this part of the brain: Some people simply find it easier than others to engage consistently in positive goal-directed behavior.

Poe certainly didn’t understand self-destructive behavior the way we do today.

But he seems to have recognized something perverse in his own nature. Before his untimely death in 1849, he reportedly chose an enemy, the editor Rufus Griswold, as his literary executor.

True to form, Griswold wrote a damning obituary and “Memoir,” in which he alludes to madness, blackmail and more, helping to formulate an image of Poe that has tainted his reputation to this day.

Then again, maybe that’s exactly what Poe – driven by his own personal imp – wanted.

Beth Daley

Editor and General Manager

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3. Humanity is at a precipice; its future is at stake


The following sections share selections of comments from technology experts and futurists who elaborate on the ways internet use has shaped humanity over the past 50 years and consider the potential future of digital life. They are gathered under broad, overarching ideas, rather than being tied to the specific themes highlighted above. Many of the answers touch on multiple aspects of the digital future and are not neatly boxed as addressing only one part of the story. Some responses are lightly edited for style and readability.

The cautious optimism expressed by many of the experts canvassed for this report grew out of a shared faith in humanity. Many described the current state of techlash as a catalyst that will lead to a more inclusive and inviting internet. Some of these comments are included below.

Micah Altman, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and head scientist in the program on information science at MIT Libraries, wrote, “The late historian Melvin Kranzberg insightfully observed, ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.’ In the last 50 years, the internet has been transformative and disruptive. In the next 50, information, communication and AI technology show every sign of being even more so. Whether historians of the future judge this to be good or bad will depend on whether we can make the societal choice to embed democratic values and human rights into the design and implementation of these systems.”

Juan Ortiz Freuler, a policy fellow, and Nnenna Nwakanma, the interim policy director for Africa at the Web Foundation, wrote, “Unless we see a radical shift soon, the internet as we know it will likely be recalled as a missed opportunity. History will underline that it could have been the basis for radically inclusive societies, where networked communities could actively define their collective future. A tool that could have empowered the people but became a tool for mass surveillance and population control. A tool that could have strengthened the social fiber by allowing people to know each other and share their stories, but out of it grew huge inequalities between the connected and not-connected, both locally and across countries.”

Steven Miller, vice provost and professor of information systems at Singapore Management University, said, “Overall, the future will be mostly for the better. And if it is not mostly for the better, the reasons will NOT be due to the technology, per se. The reasons will be due to choices that people and society make – political choices, choices per how we govern society, choices per how we attend to the needs of our populations and societies. These are people and political issues, not technology ones. These are the factors that will dominate whether people are better off or worse off.”

Paul Jones, professor of information science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, responded, “While the internet was built from the beginning to be open and extensible, it relies on communities of trust. As we are seeing this reliance has strong downsides – phishing, fake news, over-customization and tribalism for starters. Adding systems of trust, beginning with the promises of blockchain, will and must address this failing. Will the next internet strengthen the positives of individualism, of equality and of cooperation or will we become no more than Morlocks and Eloi? I remain optimistic as we address not only the engineering challenges, but also the human and social challenges arising. All tools, including media, are extensions of man. ‘We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us,’ as McLuhan is credited for noticing. Nothing could be more true of the next internet and our lives in relation to information access. Can we create in ways now unknown once we are less reliant on memorization and calculation? Will we be better at solving the problems we create for ourselves? I answer with an enormous ‘Yes!’ but then I’m still waiting for the personal jetpack I was promised as a child.”

Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois, Springfield, wrote, “On the scale of the discovery of fire, the wheel and cultivation of crops, the interconnection of humans will be judged as a very important step toward becoming the beings of the universe that we are destined to be.”

Charlie Firestone, communications and society program executive director and vice president at the Aspen Institute, commented, “Fifty years from now is science fiction. There really is no telling with quantum computing, AI, blockchain, virtual reality, broadband (10G?), genetic engineering, robotics and other interesting developments affecting our lives and environments…. It’s just too far ahead to imagine whether we will be in a digital feudal system or highly democratic. But I do imagine that we could be on our way to re-speciation with genetics, robotics and AI combined to make us, in today’s image, superhuman. I understand that there are many ways that the technologies will lead to worse lives, particularly with the ability of entities to weaponize virtually any of the technologies and displace jobs. However, the advances in medicine extending lives, the ability to reduce consumption of energy, and the use of robotics and AI to solve our problems are evident. And we have to believe that our successors will opt for ways to improve and extend the human species rather than annihilate it or re-speciate.”

Edward Tomchin, a retiree, said, “Human beings, homo sapiens, are a most remarkable species which is easily seen in a comparison with how far we have come in the short time since we climbed down out of the trees and emerged from our caves. The speed with which we are currently advancing leaves the future open to a wide range of speculation, but we have overcome much in the past and will continue to do so in pursuit of our future. I’m proud of my species and confident in our future.”

Garland McCoy, founder and chief development officer of the Technology Education Institute, wrote, “I hope in 50 years the internet will still be the Chinese fireworks and not become the British gunpowder.”

Angelique Hedberg, senior corporate strategy analyst at RTI International, said, “If we choose a future we want in 50 years, and work toward creating it, there is a nonzero probability we will reach a version of that future. In that vein of thought, we will see waves of platform companies that change the way we live and enjoy our lives. The platform companies that exist today will fade, as will the ones that follow. This is not because they fail, but rather, because they succeed. We will find a way to make decisions in a network of decisions. In 50 years, multiple generations of a family will gather for dinner and share sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touches, even if they are in different hemispheres, countries and time zones. You’ll be at a child’s social activity and they will hear the voices [of] all of those who love (and critique) him. You will say goodbye to aging loved ones, even if they cannot hear you. This will all happen with the assistance of technology (some embedded in our brain) that know our wants and needs better than we know our own. The definition of what it means to be human will evolve and the laws and regulation will follow, albeit in a less than direct manner. We will value governments in new and different ways, and we will expect more from our technology platforms. The deluge of data will provide new inputs into the decision models for platforms, bringing greater clarity to the short-term benefits and long-term risks, in return making the financial decisions more social, environmental and moral. Where laws and regulations can put a bottom line, they will. Where law and regulations cannot, the planet will step in and regulate the excess.”

Daniel Riera, a professor of computer science at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, commented, “Everything will be connected; automation will be everywhere; most of the jobs will be done by machines. Society will have fully changed to adapt to the new reality: Humans will need to realize the importance of sustainability and equality. In order to reach this point, technology, ethics, philosophy, laws and economics, among other fields, will have done a big joint effort. We have a very good opportunity. It will depend on us to take advantage of it. I hope and trust we will. Otherwise, we will disappear.”

Geoff Livingston, author and futurist, commented, “This is a great period of transition. The internet forced us to confront the worst aspects of our humanity. Whether we succumb or not to those character defects as a society remains to be seen.”

Brad Templeton, chair for computing at Singularity University, software architect and former president of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, responded, “It’s been the long-term arc of history to be better. There is the potential for nightmares, of course, as well as huge backlashes against the change, including violent ones. But for the past 10,000 years, improvement has been the way to bet.”

Mary Chayko, author of “Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life” and professor in the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, said, “The internet’s first 50 years have been tech-driven, as a host of technological innovations have become integrated into nearly every aspect of everyday life. The next 50 years will be knowledge-driven, as our understandings ‘catch up’ with the technology. Both technology and knowledge will continue to advance, of course, but it is a deeper engagement with the internet’s most critical qualities and impacts – understandings that can only come with time, experience and reflection – that will truly come to characterize the next 50 years. We will become a ‘smarter’ populace in all kinds of ways.”

Yvette Wohn, director of the Social Interaction Lab and expert on human-computer interaction at New Jersey Institute of Technology, commented, “Technology always has and always will bring positive and negative consequences, but the positives will be so integral to our lives that going back will not be an option. Cars bring pollution, noise and congestion but that doesn’t mean we’re going back to the horse and buggy. We find newer solutions, innovation.”

Bob Frankston, software innovation pioneer and technologist based in North America, wrote, “For many people any change will be for the worse because it is unfamiliar. On the positive side, the new capabilities offer the opportunity to empower people and provide solutions for societal problems as long as we don’t succumb to magical thinking.”

Matt Mason, a roboticist and the former director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote, “The new technology will present opportunities for dramatic changes in the way we live. While it is possible that human society will collectively behave irrationally and choose a path detrimental to its welfare, I see no reason to think that is the more likely outcome.”

Stuart A. Umpleby, a professor and director of the research program in social and organizational learning at George Washington University, wrote, “In the future people will live increasingly in the world of ideas, concepts, impressions and interpretations. The world of matter and energy will be mediated by information and context. Already our experiences with food are mediated by thoughts about calories, safety, origins, the lives of workers, etc. Imagine all of life having these additional dimensions. Methods will be needed to cope with the additional complexity.”

John Markoff, fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and author of “Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots,” wrote, “Speculation on the nature of society over timespans of half a century falls completely into the realm of science fiction. And my bet is that science fiction writers will do the best job of speculating about society a half century from now. As someone who has written about Silicon Valley for more than four decades I have two rules of thumb: technologies aren’t real until they show up at Fry’s Electronics and the visionaries are (almost) always wrong. I actually feel like the answer might as well be a coin toss. I chose to be optimistic simply because over the past century technology has improved the quality of human life.”

An executive director for a major global foundation wrote, “The internet will rank among the major technology movements in world history – like gunpowder, indoor plumbing and electricity. And like all of them (with the possible exception of indoor plumbing), its eventual weaponization should have been less of a surprise.”

Bryan Johnson, founder and CEO of Kernel, a leading developer of advanced neural interfaces, and OS Fund, a venture capital firm, said, “Humans play prediction games, but the exercise is inherently unproductive. A more useful exercise would be to think about what deeply influential technology can we invest our current time in that will give us the tools we need to thrive in such a highly complex future. Forecasting to 2050 is thought junk food. It is what people most like to daydream about, but is not what we should think about for the health of the species and planet.”

Ethics and the bigger picture loom large in the digital future

Optimistic and pessimistic respondents alike agree that human agency will affect the trajectory of digital life. Many respondents said their biggest concern is that everyone’s future in the digital age depends upon the ability of humans to privilege long-term societal advancement over short-term individual gain.

William Uricchio, media scholar and professor of comparative media studies at MIT, commented, “‘Changes in digital life’ are human-driven; technology will only amplify the social structures that created it. My pessimism ensues from the polarization of power, knowledge and wealth that characterizes much of the world at the start of the 21st century, and by the rapidly growing pressures evident in population growth and ecological degradation. Digital technologies have the capacity to be terrific enablers – but the question remains, enablers of what? Of whose vision? Of what values? These, it seems to me, are the defining questions.”

Jonathan Swerdloff, consultant and data systems specialist for Driven Inc., wrote, “In the first 50 years of connected internet, humanity rose from no access at all to always-on, connected devices on their person tracking their life signs. I expect the next 50 years will see devices shrink to tiny sizes and be integrated within our very persons. Then there will be two inflection points. The first will be a split between the technology haves and have-nots. Those who have the technology will benefit from it in ways that those who do not are unable to. The more advanced technology gets the more this will be the case. While I would like to believe in a utopic vision of AI fighting climate change and distributing food and wealth so that nobody goes hungry – the ‘Jetsons’ future, if you will – history doesn’t support that view. The second will be a moral evolution. Privacy as conceived in the era before the advent of the internet is nearly dead despite attempts by the European Union and California to hold back the tide. The amount of information people give up about their most private lives is growing rapidly. A commensurate evolution of morals to keep up with the technological developments will be required to keep up or chaos will ensue. Moral structures developed when people could hide their genetics, personal habits and lives at home are not aligned with an always-on panopticon that knows what someone is doing all day every day. Human nature is nearly immutable – morals will need to catch up…. Anything that happens in society can be magnified by technology. I hope that my pessimism is wrong. There is some evidence of the moral evolution already – Millennials and the generation behind them freely share online in ways which Boomers and Gen X look at as bizarre. Whether that will lead to a significant moral backlash in 50 years remains to be seen.”

Susan Mernit, executive director, The Crucible, and co-founder and board member of Hack the Hood, responded, “I am interested in how wearable, embedded and always-on personal devices and apps will evolve. Tech will become a greater helping and health-management tool, as well as take new forms in terms of training and educating humans. But I wonder how much humans’ passivity will increase in an increasingly monitored and always-on universe, and I wonder how much the owners and overlords of this tech will use it to segment and restrict people’s knowledge, mobility and choices. I want to believe tech’s expansion and evolution will continue to add value to people’s lives, but I am afraid of how it can be used to segment and restrict groups of people, and how predictive modeling can become a negative force.”

Charles Ess, a professor expert in ethics with the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Norway, said, “My overall sense of the emerging Internet of Things and its subsequent evolutions is of an increasing array of technologies that are ever more enveloping but also ever more invisible (advanced technology is magic, to recall Arthur C. Clarke), thereby making it increasingly difficult for us to critically attend to such new developments and perhaps re-channel or obviate them when ethically/socially indicated.”

Stavros Tripakis, an associate professor of computer science at Aalto University (Finland) and adjunct at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote, “Misinformation and lack of education will continue and increase. Policing will also increase. Humanity needs a quantum leap in education (in the broad sense) to escape from the current political and economic state. Fifty years is not enough for this to happen.”

Kenneth R. Fleischmann, an associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin School of Information, responded, “The key questions are, ‘Which individuals?’ and ‘Better/worse in which ways?’ The impacts on different people will be different, and each person will interpret these changes differently. One major factor is what people value or consider important in life. If people value privacy and they are subject to a digital panopticon then, in that way, their lives may be worse; however, they also likely value convenience, and may find substantial improvements in that regard. Different people will make that tradeoff differently depending on what they value. So, understanding the impact of the technology is not only about predicting the future of technology, it is also about predicting the future of what we value, and these two considerations are of course mutually constitutive, as technologies are shaped by values, and at the same time, over time (especially generations), technologies shape values.”

Justin Reich, executive director of MIT Teaching Systems Lab and research scientist in the MIT Office of Digital Learning, responded, “Shakespeare wrote three kinds of plays: the tragedies where things got worse, the comedies where things got better, and the histories, with a combination of winners and losers. Technological advances do little to change net human happiness, because so much of happiness is determined by relative comparisons with neighbors. The primary determinants of whether life for people improves will be whether we can build robust social institutions that distribute power widely and equally among people, and whether those institutions support meaningful relationships among people.”

Michiel Leenaars, director of strategy at NLnet Foundation and director of the Internet Society’s Netherlands chapter, responded, “What the internet will look like in 50 years will greatly depend on how we act today. Tim Berners-Lee in his 2018 Turing speech referred to the current situation as ‘dystopian,’ and this seems like an adequate overall description. The industry is dominated by extremely pervasive but very profitable business practices that are deeply unethical, driven by perverse short-term incentives to continue along that path. A dark mirror version of the internet on an extractive crash course with democracy and the well-being of humanity at large itself. That is a future I’m not very eager to extrapolate even for another 10 years. My target version of the internet in 50 years – the one I believe is worth pursuing – revolves around open source, open hardware, open content as well as in helping people live meaningful lives supported by continuous education and challenging ideas. Permissionless innovation is a necessary precondition for serving the human potential, but so are critical reflection and a healthy social dialogue avoiding personalized bubbles, AI bias and information overload. The openness of the web and the mobile ecosystem in particular are abysmal, and attention and concentration are endangered human traits. But that can be reversed, I believe. Every day we can start to re-imagine and re-engineer the internet. The information age can and should be an era that brings out the best in all of us, but this will not happen by itself. So, I hope and believe the internet in 50 years is going to be as challenging as the early internet – and hard work for many people that want to see this future emerge.”

Simon Biggs, a professor of interdisciplinary arts at the University of Edinburgh, said, “Given our history as a species, and our current behavio with the internet, I suspect that our activities (within a more advanced form of the internet) will consist of virtual simulated sex (in the form of interactive pornography – so not really sex but power-play) and killing virtual players in massive online gaming environments (more power-play). In that sense things will be similar to how they are now. Given current trends it is likely that the internet will no longer be ‘the internet,’ in the sense that it was intended as the network of all networks. Networked information and communications technology will be territorialized, broken up and owned, in walled environments (this process is already well advanced). Access will be privileged, not for the consumer but for the producer. The first period of the internet was marked by a democratization of access to the means of production, but this will not be the case in the future. The vast bulk of internet users will be passive consumers who are offered an illusion of agency in the system to deliver them as a resource to those who profit from consumer playbour. We already see this with Facebook and other companies. The manner in which user data from Facebook and elsewhere has been exploited in the democratic process to affect the outcomes to the benefit of those paying for the data is indicative of where the internet is going. I expect the internet to be far more pervasive than it is today, our experience of our lived life mediated at all times. The only question is to what degree our experiential life will be mediated. I suspect it will be more or less total by 2030. Primarily, my reasoning is predicated on the expectation that human behaviour will lead to negative consequences flowing from our technological augmentation. These consequences could be quite severe. Do I think our survival as a species is threatened by our technological evolution? Yes. Do I think we will survive? Probably, because we are a tenacious animal. Do I think it will be worth surviving in a world like that? Probably not. Do I think the world would be better off if, as a species, we were to not survive? Absolutely. That is one thing we might hope for – that we take ourselves out, become extinct. Even if we are replaced by our machines the world is likely to be a better place without us.”

Robert Bell, co-founder of Intelligent Community Forum, had a different view from Biggs, predicting, “We created something that became a monster and then learned to tame the monster.”

Jeff Johnson, computer science professor at the University of San Francisco, previously with Xerox, HP Labs and Sun Microsystems, responded that it is important to take a broader view when assessing what may be coming next. He wrote, “Technological change alone will not produce significant change in people’s lives. What happens alongside technological change will affect how technological change impacts society. The future will bring much-improved speech-controlled user interfaces, direct brain-computer interfaces, bio-computing, advances in AI and much higher bandwidth due to increases in computer power (resulting from quantum computing). Unless national political systems around the world change in ways to promote more equitable wealth distribution, the future will also bring increased stratification of society, fueled by loss of jobs and decreased access to quality education for lower socio-economic classes. Finally, rising sea levels and desertification will render large areas uninhabitable, causing huge social migrations and (for some) increased poverty.”

An associate professor of computer science at a U.S. university commented, “Humans have adapted poorly to life in a technological society. Think of obesity, time wasted on low-quality entertainments, addictions to a whole range of drugs and more. As the noise in the information stream increases, so does the difficulty for the average person to extract a cohesive life pattern and avoid the land mines of dangerous or unhealthy behaviors. Genetics, cultural change, social and legal structures do not change exponentially, but aggregate knowledge does. This mismatch is a crucial realization. As Reginald Bretnor noted in ‘Decisive Warfare,’ kill ratios for weapons not only increase, but so does their ability to be wielded by the individual. So it is with most things in a technologically advanced society. But have people cultivated the requisite wisdom to use what is available to better themselves? Looking at American society, I would generally conclude not.”

The chief marketing officer for a technology-based company said, “I am all-in for innovation and improving the standard of living for all humanity. However … we need to become more vigilant about our fascination with technology and self-indulgence. Yes, it does paint a darker picture and forces a more cautious approach, but some of us are required to do this for the sake of a more balanced and fair future for all humanity. I’m one of the lucky ones, born in Europe with a very high standard of living. Same goes for the people behind this research. Let’s be vigilant of our actions and how we shape the future. We have been in a constant battle with nature and resources for the past 100 years. In historical terms it was a momentous leap forward in education, connectivity, traveling, efficiency, etc. But, at the same time, we are all committing an environmental suicide and behave like there is no tomorrow – only the instant pleasure of technology. There will not be a tomorrow if we continue to ignore the cause and effect of our unipolar obsession with technology and self-indulgence.”

Miguel Moreno-Muñoz, a professor of philosophy specializing in ethics, epistemology and technology at the University of Granada, Spain, said, “Mobility and easy access to affordable databases and service platforms for most citizens will become more important; e-government systems, transparency and accountability will be improved. The development of certain applications, if paralleled by the development of new types of intellectual property licensing and management systems, can revolutionize education and access to knowledge and culture. But this requires an open framework for international cooperation, which in many ways is now under threat.”

Sam Gregory, director of WITNESS and digital human rights activist, responded, “My perspective comes from considering the internet and civic activism. We are at a turning point in terms of whether the internet enables a greater diversity of civic voices, organizing and perspectives, or whether it is largely a controlled and monitored surveillance machine. We are also swiftly moving toward a world of pervasive and persistent witnessing where everything is instantly watched and seen with ubiquitous cameras embedded in our environment and within our personal technologies, and where we are able to engage with these realities via telepresence, co-presence and vicarious virtual experience. This is a double-edged sword. The rise of telepresence robots will enable us to experience realities we could never otherwise physically experience. This remote experiencing has the potential to enable the best and the worst in our natures. On the one hand, we will increasingly have the ability to deliberately turn away from experiencing the unmitigated pain of the world’s suffering. We might do this for the best of reasons – to protect our capacity to keep feeling empathy closer to home and to exercise what is termed ‘empathy avoidance,’ a psychological defense mechanism which involves walling ourselves up from responding emotionally to the suffering of others. We may also enter the middle ground that Aldous Huxley captured in ‘Brave New World,’ where narcotizing multisensory experiences, ‘feelies,’ distract and amuse rather than engage people with the world. Here, by enabling people to experience multiple dimensions of others’ crises viscerally but not meaningfully, we perpetuate existing tendencies in activism to view other people’s suffering as a theatrum mundi played out for our vicarious tears shed in the safety of our physically walled-off and secure spaces. On the other hand, we will increasingly be presented with opportunities through these technologies to directly engage with and act upon issues that we care about. As we look at the future of organizing and the need to better support on-the-ground activism, this becomes critical to consider how to optimize. We also have a potential future where governments will thoroughly co-opt these shared virtual/physical spaces, turning virtual activism into a government-co-opted ‘Pokémon Go,’ a human-identity search engine, scouring virtual and physical spaces in search of dissidents. In a brighter future, virtual/physical co-presence has the exciting potential to be a massive amplifier of civic solidarity across geographical boundaries, defying the power of national governments to unjustly dictate to their citizens.”

Marc Rotenberg, director of a major digital civil rights organization, commented, “There is no question that the internet has transformed society. We live in a world today far more interconnected than in the past. And we have access almost instantaneously to a vast range of information and services. But the transformation has not been without cost. Concentrations of wealth have increased. Labor markets have been torn apart. Journalism is on the decline, and democratic institutions are under attack. And there is a growing willingness to sacrifice the free will of humanity for the algorithms of machine. I do not know if we will survive the next 50 years unless we are able to maintain control of our destinies.”

Adam Popescu, a writer who contributes frequently to the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, Vanity Fair and the BBC, wrote, “Either we’ll be in space by then, or back in the trees. Pandora’s box may finally burn us. No one knows what will happen in five years, let alone 50. It’s now obvious that the optimism with which we ran headfirst into the web was a mistake. The dark side of the web has emerged, and it’s come bringing the all-too-human conditions the web’s wunderkinds claimed they would stamp out. Given the direction in the last five years, the weaponization of the web, it will go more and more in this direction, which ultimately means regulation and serious change from what it is now. Maybe we won’t be on the web at all in that period – it will probably be far more integrated into our day-to-day lives. It’s a science fiction film in waiting. With email, constant-on schedules and a death of social manners, I believe we have reached, or are close to, our limit for technological capacity. Our addictions to our smartphones have sired a generation that is afraid of face-to-face interaction and is suffering in many ways psychologically and socially and even physically in ways that we’ve yet to fully comprehend. This will impact society, not for the better. Manners, mood, memory, basic quality of life – they’re all affected negatively.”

Policy changes today will lay the foundation of the internet of tomorrow

Many respondents to this canvassing described the next several years as a pivotal time for government regulation, adjustments in technology company policies and other reforms. They say such decisions being made in the next few years are likely to set the course for digital life over the next half century. Some warn that regulation can be more harmful than helpful if its potential effects are not carefully pre-assessed.

Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, responded, “I see two paths over the next 50 years. On the first path, power continues to consolidate in the hands a few companies and countries. The world ends up balkanized, organized into blocks, and societies are highly controlled and unequal. On the other path, we recognize that the current consolidation of power around a few platforms threatens the open global order we’ve built, and we enact laws and build technology that promotes continued competition, innovation and diversity.”

Laurie Orlov, principal analyst at Aging in Place Technology Watch, wrote, “The internet, so cool at the beginning, so destructive later, is like the introduction of the wheel – it is a basis and foundation for the good, the bad and the ugly. As the wheel preceded the interstate highway system, so the internet has become the information highway system. And, just like roads, it will require more standards, controls and oversight than it has today.”

Juan Ortiz Freuler and Nnenna Nwakanma of the Web Foundation wrote, “Allowing people to increasingly spend time in digital environments can limit unexpected social encounters, which are key to the development of empathy and the strengthening of the social fibres. In a similar way that gentrification of physical neighborhoods often creates barriers for people to understand the needs and wants of others, digital environments can thicken the contours of these bubbles in which different social groups inhabit. In parallel, this process enables a great degree of power to be amassed by the actors that design and control these virtual environments. Whereas in the past there was concern with the power of media framing, in the future the new brokers of information will have more control over the information people receive and receive a steady stream of data regarding how individuals react to these stimuli. It is becoming urgent to develop processes to ensure these actors operate in a transparent way. This includes the values they promote are in line with those of the communities they serve and enabling effective control by individuals over how these systems operate. Government needs to update the institutions of democracy if it wants to remain relevant.”

Leonardo Trujillo, a research professor in computing sciences at the Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana, Mexico, responded, “I am worried that the digital ecosystems being developed today will limit people’s access to information, increase surveillance and propaganda, and push toward limiting social interactions and organization, particularly if current policy trends continue.”

Joly MacFie, president of the Internet Society’s New York Chapter, commented, “Today will be seen as an inflection point – the end on the initial ‘open’ era, and the start of the second.”

A professional working on the setting of web standards wrote, “Looking ahead 50 years, I expect that AI will either be more evenly and equitably integrated throughout societies, or that there will have been AI-driven disasters that jeopardize human and other animal life, or may have already destroyed life. On the more positive side, and focusing on medical research, I would expect AI-driven research and simulation of artificial life including cognition would have provided the tools to cure most disease, as well as to advance human capabilities through bionic augmentation. On the negative side, I would expect that AI combined with rapidly increasing capabilities of bioengineering, and with persistent socio-pathological tendencies of a small minority of the population, could have led to uncontained AI-driven cyberwarfare or biological devastation. A key determining factor differentiating these two futures might be the magnitude of social investment in a robust ethical framework for AI applications, and continued emphasis on development of a just society, with social safety nets, to help mitigate the risks of development of sociopathic behaviors that would be especially dangerous with easy access to AI.”

Benjamin Shestakofsky, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania specializing in digital technology’s impacts on work, said, “1) The ‘Uber-ization’ of everything will not proceed as rapidly, nor as evenly, as many now predict. Platform companies that facilitate the exchange of goods and services will continue to confront the reality that funneling idiosyncratic human activity through digital platforms is a complicated and costly endeavor. 2) Employers will continue to increase their use of connected technologies to monitor their workforces. However, workers will also continue to find ways to subvert employer surveillance and control. In many workplaces, employers will find it difficult to convert big data about employee activities into actionable insights. Nonetheless, legislators should act to limit the scope of employee surveillance and threats to employees’ privacy.”

A professor of information science wrote, “When I’m feeling dystopian, I see a world that looks a little too much like ‘Mr. Robot’ or ‘Person of Interest,’ with government or private organizations knowing too much about us and having too much control over us. I’d like to believe that interconnectivity could, instead, provide us with more ubiquitous access to information and with the ability to establish connections and deliver services across space and time.”

Stephen McDowell, a professor of communication at Florida State University expert in new media and internet governance, commented, “The area of law and policy is already showing some major stresses in dealing with networked connected data systems, apart from AI systems. Law and policy is often dealt with on a case-by-case and issue-by-issue basis, treating questions and legal traditions and precedents in isolation. These issues might include speech, privacy, property, informed consent, competition and security. This has weaknesses already in a networked world where large teach firms offer platforms supporting a wide range of services and track user behavior across services…. If we add systems with more learning and predictive power to this mix, it will be important to develop new concepts that go beyond the segmented approach to law and policy we are trying to use to govern internet-based interactions presently. We need to grapple with the totality of a relationship between a user and a service provider, rather than react to isolated incidents and infringements. We need to address the trade-off between offering free services and users allowing data to be collected with minimal understanding of their consent. We should also consider stronger limits on the use of personal data in machine learning and predictive modeling. Companies that automate functions to save on input costs and to allow services to be offered at scale to reap the private benefits of innovation must also take on responsibility for unintended consequences and possibilities they have created.”

Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at the University of New South Wales, Australia, said, “Like the Industrial Revolution before it, the Internet Revolution will be seen to have improved people’s social, economic and political lives, but only after regulation and controls were introduced to guard against the risks.”

Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, wrote, “The answer to this question depends totally on the willingness of regulators and politicians to rethink their ideas about antitrust policies in the digital age. If current consumer welfare standards continue to be used, the existing internet monopolies (Facebook, Google and Amazon) will get more dominant in the AI age. They would be bigger and have more data than any government or other mediating institution. They would be beyond control. They would determine our future and politics would be of little use…. I can envision a world in which technology is a boon to human progress, but it cannot come about as long as the internet is dominated worldwide by three firms (with two Chinese competitors in Asia). It is possible that the current efforts around blockchain or the new work of Tim Berners-Lee may lead to a more decentralized web. Count me as skeptical.”

Doug Schepers, chief technologist at Fizz Studio, said “The technology is less important than the laws, policies and social norms that we as a society will adopt to adapt to it.”

Randy Goebel, professor of computing science and developer of the University of Alberta’s partnership with DeepMind, wrote, “A challenge for an increasingly connected and informed world is that of distinguishing aggregate from individual. ‘For the greater good’ requires an ever-evolving notion and consensus about what the ‘greater’ is. Just like seat belt laws are motivated by a complex balance of public good (property and human costs) we will have to evolve a planet-wide consensus on what is appropriate for ‘great’ good.”

William Dutton, professor of media and information policy at Michigan State University, commented, “We are still in a transitional period, when so much of our time and effort is focused on getting connected and using technical advances. I could imagine so many devices that complicate contemporary life, such as the mobile smartphone, disappearing as they become unnecessary for accomplishing their functions. That said, the future will depend heavily on wise policy responses, even more so than technical advances.”

Luis Pereira, associate professor of electronics and nanotechnologies, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, responded, “By virtue of the interconnection of the new tools there will be widespread data collection on people, their activities, connections, the environment and the Internet of Things. There will be increased promotion of gig-economy platforms and the focused targeting of individuals with consumerism and ideology. Unless moral values and ethical rules are put in place for application designers, product sellers, data users and autonomous software and robots, people will be forced into cluster drawers. A competitive and increasing AI race for control of profits and policies will sprout, including a digital weapons race, unless a way is found to promote collaboration instead, on the basis of regulated and overseen commitments (similar to global climate agreements) for the benefit of humanity and the planet. Certification methods for software that complies with such commitments need to be developed. People will be teaching machines how to replace themselves and others at increasing levels of cognition. Security will be a major concern. Technological developments will surpass human adaptability and raise issues we do not have the wherewithal to comprehend or address.”

Hari Shanker Sharma, an expert in nanotechnology and neurobiology at Uppsala University, Sweden, said, “Technology is a tool for making life better. A goal of life is happiness, satisfaction. Both require a set of values to remain good or become evil. The internet has brought the world together. Apps are tools to perform tasks easily. The Internet of Things will connect all living and nonliving things. But the dark side of human nature – the hunger for power, possession and control that has brought wars and terrorism – cannot be corrected by the internet or apps. There is a need to identify the evil in human nature and protect the simple, good and well-meaning from becoming its prey. Evil often moves ahead of good. Perhaps it can be predicted by features that check the psychology of individuals, crime records and other past behaviors to block certain actions or warn others. Biometric identification is already used for e-security – for instance, facial recognition – and it might be possible to have bio-feature readers to detect the evil-minded or those who are likely to become evil-minded and put safety checks in place at places of danger. Expert systems for face reading, feature reading, nature reading and analysis might give warning. Trackers could be established for isolated nodes and feed details to law-enforcement agencies. No evil-monger would agree on such checks and caution, but people need to be protected from online financial fraud, rapes by social media stalkers, murders by e-system users, etc., that unchecked because no efficient warning system exists. The law today is not helpful. E-crime should be dealt with and punished without boundary. The internet needs global law and global governance to become user friendly. Global connectivity becomes a tool of criminals while those who are simply good have no power to handle evil.”

Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute and professor of strategic foresight at New York University, commented, “I hope historians’ verdict 50 years from now will be that we made the right choice in the years 2018-2020 to rethink access to the internet, data ownership and algorithmic transparency, thus setting all of humanity on a better course for the future.”

A director for an internet registry responded, “There will be ongoing radical development by which biology, at physical and molecular/genetic scales, will become integrated with digital technology. We can assume that this will be pervasive throughout society, but both the applications and the costs and conditions under which they may be accessed are unpredictable. The greatest determining factor in the overall result will be political rather than technological, with a range of outcomes between utopian and utterly dystopian.”

Andrea Romaoli Garcia, an international lawyer active in internet governance discussions, commented, “The cloud is a new world and is navigating in international waters. And because it is new, laws must follow the innovation. However, I have watched all countries make laws with their minds focused on traditional models of regulation. This is wrong. Laws must be international. The interpretation of the innovation scenario should be applied by introductory vehicles of new laws. The word ‘disruptive’ must be interpreted to apply to new laws. When we use old models of laws and only we are doing changes to force fit into the new model of doing business or everyday life, we are creating a crippled creature that moves in a disgusting way. I nominated this as a ‘jurisdicial Frankenstein.’ This means laws that will apply to the cloud environment but will never be perfect, and legal security will be threatened.”

Stuart A. Umpleby, a professor and director of the research program in social and organizational learning at George Washington University, wrote, “The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment was eliminated by Newt Gingrich in order to put companies, rather than Congress, in charge of technology. Given unrestrained advancements in digital and biological technology, we now need such an office more than ever.”

Divina Frau-Meigs, professor of media sociology at Sorbonne Nouvelle University, France, and UNESCO chair for sustainable digital development, responded, “Currently there is no governance of the internet proper. Cases like Cambridge Analytica are going to become more and more common. They will reveal that the internet cannot be entrusted uniquely to monopoly corporations and their leaders who are not willing to consider the unintended consequences of their decisions, which are mostly market-competition-driven). A global internet governance system needs to be devised, with multi-stakeholder mechanisms, that include the voices of the public. It should incorporate agile consultations on many topics so that individuals can have an influence over how their digital presence can affect, or not, their real life.”

Jennifer J. Snow, an innovation officer with the U.S. Air Force, wrote, “The internet will continue to evolve in surprising ways. New forms of governance, finance and religion will spring up that transcend physical Westphalian boundaries and will pose challenges to existing state-based governance structures. The internet will fracture again as those founders who seek to return it to its original positive uses establish and control their own ‘walled gardens,’ inviting in only a select few to join them and controlling specific portions of the Net separately from nation-states. New policy and regulations will be required to address these changes and the challenges that come with them. New types of warfare will arise from internet evolutions but also new opportunities to move society forward together in a positive manner. States will no longer have the premium on power and nonstate actors, corporations and groups will be able to wield power at the state, national and regional level in new and unexpected ways. It will be a disruptive time and dangerous if not navigated smartly but may also result in some of the greatest advances yet for humanity.”

Peng Hwa Ang, professor of communications at Nanyang Technological University and author of “Ordering Chaos: Regulating the Internet,” commented, “We know that the future is not linear, which means that to be accurate I will be painting with broad brush strokes. 1) Laws – It is finally being recognized that laws are essential for the smooth functioning of the internet. This is a sea change from the time when the internet was introduced to the public more than 20 years ago. In the future, governments will be increasingly feeling empowered to regulate the laws to their own political, cultural, social and economic ends. That is, countries will regulate the internet in ways that express their own sovereignty. There will be a large area of commonality. But there will also be a sizable area where the laws diverge across borders. 2) Within 50 years, there should be one common trade agreement for the digital economy. It is difficult to see China carrying on its own terms. Instead, it is more likely that China will allow foreign companies to operate with little censorship provided that these companies do not ‘intrude’ into the political arena. 3) It is difficult to see Facebook continuing to exist in 50 years. 4) The harm from being always on will be recognized, and so users will spend less time online. Some of the time currently spent by users will be taken over by AI bots.”

Devin Fidler, futurist and founder of Rethinkery Labs, commented, “Over the last 50 years we have built a basic nervous system. Now, the challenge is to evolve it to best support human society. A great place to start is with the many positive and negative externalities that have been documented around network deployment. Simply amplifying the positive benefits to society for network activity and curbing network activities that impose an unfunded burden on society as a whole may be a great framework for creating a networked society that lives up to the enormous potential these tools unlock. Expect increased regulation worldwide as societies struggle to balance this equation in different ways.”

David A. Banks, an associate research analyst with the Social Science Research Council, said, “The character and functionality of the internet will continue to follow the political and social whims of the major power players in the industry. If these companies continue to engage in monopolistic practices without competent and reflective regulation, then we can expect an ossified and highly commercialized digital network. If something major changes then we can expect something radically different.”

Luis German Rodriguez Leal, teacher and researcher at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and consultant on technology for development, said, “The new internet will be blended with human-machine interfaces, AI, blockchain, big data, mobile platforms and data visualization as main-driven technologies. They will set up a robust and widely accessible Internet of Things. On the other hand, these will imply a disruptive way of facing everyday activities such as education, government, health, business or entertainment, among many others. Therefore, innovative regulation frameworks are urgently required for each of them.”

Julian Jones, a respondent who provided no identifying details, said, “Data security will be vital as is privacy. It is essential that individuals can have more control over the context in which their data is used. In the absence of this legislation the consequences for society could be catastrophic.”

Fred Baker, independent networking technologies consultant, longtime leader in the Internet Engineering Task Force and engineering fellow with Cisco, commented, “I suspect that the expansion of telephone technology and law will inform this discussion. The United States’ 1934 Communications Act was designed to tame a regulated monopoly carrier and prevent the worst of what that carrier might do with the technology at its disposal. Over the past few decades, the Federal Communications Commission has tried to interpret the internet through the lens of that regulation. That has failed, for the most part, for at least two reasons. First, the internet is not a regulated monopoly. It is a set of companies trying to accomplish various things, some of which (notably Google, Facebook and their kin) have become very powerful and may require appropriate regulation or regulatory action to steer in the public interest. A law designed to regulate a monopoly, and experience with it, may inform a future law, but is not a substitute for it. Second, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] tries desperately to understand the internet to be one two things: a way to carry messages from ingress to egress without inspecting or changing them (a telecom service), or a way to access an application (an information service). It is neither, and it is both. Until we have a law that can follow that difference in service model in the internet, we will find differences between the internet as implemented and the internet as regulated.”

Jennifer Jarratt, owner of Leading Futurists consultancy, commented, “We need new regulation now that can protect users and the digital world from themselves and itself. With those we could also have a fully digital government that might be able to handle some of the planet’s big problems. Expect also new activism and new social orders. In the next 50 years, technological change will produce significant change – but maybe not as much as we expect or would like. The world will have become more difficult to live in by then, so we’d better hope tech has some answers.”

Oscar Gandy, emeritus professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, responded, “The whole notion of connectivity is bound to be redefined in the not-too-distant future. When we extend the processes through which miniaturization married with processing speed, and divorce from personal device-based memory, the possibilities for connectivity/interactivity/control, and what we mean by intelligence are beyond the ability of any but authors of science fiction novels (I guess that excludes those among us who consider themselves to be ‘futurists’). I think the most interesting possibilities are those that actually eliminate (or seem to eliminate) the need to possess devices to make use of what we currently refer to as connectivity. This means that all we need is access to the intelligent network – a level of access that will not require manual action of any kind; I can even imagine that use of this network will not even depend upon requests made vocally – thought will be enough. So, I don’t know what the requisite ‘interface’ will be, but I believe that something akin to sensors interacting with implanted chips will be commonplace, without the chips, with sensing of the brain from what we would characterize as a reasonable conversational distance from the sensor(s) would be sufficient. Of course, for a privacy scholar, this is quite a leap from our present thinking about access to and control over our private thoughts. This will, therefore, be an area of much work with regard to law, regulation and control of these developments and their use by others for specified legitimate purposes.”

Jennifer King, director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, said, “The last 10 years have demonstrated the risks with unleashing the internet on society with little accounting for public responsibility. I predict in Western democracies, we will see a greater push for more regulation and corporate responsibility for the effects of technology. In totalitarian states, we will see concentrated social control through technology. And across the board, I suspect it will become increasingly difficult to live a life outside of the reach of technology.”

Tracey P. Lauriault, assistant professor of critical media and big data in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University, commented, “We are already seeing platform convergence and the resale of platform data to third parties with whom we do not have a direct relationship. We already know that data brokerage firms are not regulated and there is very little regulation when it comes to credit scoring companies. In addition, we are already beginning to see erroneous social science hiding behind algorithms, not unlike what we saw at the beginning of the Enlightenment, and we have not even begun to address the social-technical and political outcomes of junk AI/social sciences (i.e., finding gay people or criminals in facial recognition – harkening on the bad old days of eugenics and skull measuring). The European Union’s General Data-Protection Regulation on the right to access information will help, but, for the moment, there is little individual and aggregate protection. Also, will private sector companies who aggregate, buy and sell our data, who create individual data shadows or data doppelgangers that become our representatives in this data world, know more about us than we know about ourselves? What influence will they have on larger political decision-making? Decision-making over our lives? How do we correct these systems when they are wrong? How do we adjudicate and context egregious ‘data-based decisions’ in the courts with current intellectual property law? And what of personal sovereignty and state sovereignty? What of other decision-making systems such as social scores in China? How with the poor, elderly and disabled be protected from automated decision-making about social welfare and supports if they do not have assurances that the decision-making about them are correct? And what of junk coding that persists and does not get removed and just keeps generating bad decisions? Who audits? Who is accountable? And will these become the new governors? The future is here and we do not know how to deal with it. The EU is beginning to address these and holding these companies to account, but our citizens in North America are not as well versed, and arguably, our governors seem generally less interested in our well-being, or perhaps are more ignorant of the implications.”

Andreas Kirsch, a fellow at Newspeak House, formerly with Google and DeepMind in Zurich and London, wrote, “Regulation will force open closed platforms. Information will flow more freely between services. Internet services will become more decentralized again as network bandwidths will not be sufficient for the data volumes that users will produce by then. Applications and services will not be coupled to devices anymore but will follow us freely between different contexts (shared car, home, work, mobile devices).”

ere Are The 7 Bloody Events That Made The 20th Century So Violent

How genocide and human depravity drove history’s bloodiest century

Charles Stephen

Sep 24, 2020 · 

26–2–1992 Khojaly Genocide of 20th century — Image by Public Domain

There’s an irony surrounding the 20th century. Believe it or not, it began with a strong sense of hope and promise. There were several notable technological and industrial advances afoot, and it seemed that humankind was on the cusp of a new golden age.

Many scholars believe this hopeful vision was perhaps one of the reasons the 20th century became so violent. According to them the promise of a better society made people too hopeful, and therefore, too vulnerable.

After all, the 20th century saw a dramatic rise of ideological regimes promising comprehensive solutions to society’s woes — even a Utopia. Having the benefit of hindsight, we now know that this Utopian promise became a nightmare in most cases.

The 20th century was riddled with horrific activities like vicious total wars, a proliferation of concentration death camps, ethnic cleansing, and industrialized mass murder.

These atrocities were so prevalent that their death toll was over 210 million by the century’s end. Here are seven events that were crucial for this unforgivable slaughter of life — listed chronologically.

1. The Armenian Genocide (1914–1 915)

Death toll: around 1.5 million deaths

The Ashjian family, all killed in 1915 in the Armenian Genocide — Image by Public Domain

The Armenian genocide was a campaign of deportation and mass killing of Armenians in Turkey¹. These attacks were initiated by the Young Turk government, who had taken control of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War (1914–18). Since the campaign specifically targeted Armenians, most considered it to be genocide, despite objections from the Turkish government.

This internal conflict only worsened in January 1915 during the Ottoman battle of Sarıkamış against the Russians. The battle became the worst Ottoman defeat of the entire war because of harsh conditions and terrible tactical leadership.

However, the Young Turk government chose to blame this loss on Armenian treachery. All the Armenian and any non-Muslim soldiers in their army were immediately relocated to labor battalions. These disarmed Armenian soldiers were eventually murdered by Ottoman troops and became the first victims of the Armenian genocide.

After this, mass killings were carried out in several Armenian villages on the Russian border. Women and children were taken on death marches. Armenians were summarily shot, burned, and drowned in rivers.

2. Stalin’s Gulags (1922–1953)

Death toll: as high as 20 million deaths

Wall of Sorrow on the victims of Stalin’s Gulag — Image by Public Domain

One creation of depravity under Joseph Stalin was the Gulag. This was a network of forced labor camps that brought the oppressive outlook of the Soviet Union to life². These notorious terrifying prisons held millions of people during their existence.

At its peak, the Gulag system was comprised of hundreds of these labor camps, each containing 2,000 to 10,000 prisoners. To state that conditions at these prisons were inhumane is a massive understatement. Prisoners were forced to work fourteen-hour days, and they did so in harsh weather. Many of them died of disease, starvation, or just plain exhaustion — and some were openly executed. Many froze to death.

It is estimated that some twenty million people perished in Stalin’s labor camps. In addition to the harsh conditions, the prisons were incredibly overcrowded. Violence was a daily occurrence among prisoners. Most prison populations were a blend of political prisoners and hardened criminals.

3. Hitler’s Holocaust (1933–1945)

Death toll: 6 million

Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland — Image by Public Domain

Hitler’s Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder and persecution of approximately six million Jewish men, women, and children by the Nazi regime³. In 1933, when the Nazis assumed power in Germany, they embraced an ideology that regarded the German nation as racially superior to other societies. One of their main objectives was to establish an ethnically pure state.

They saw Jews as an inferior race that was a threat to the German culture. There were several reasons for this. One reason was that several Jewish people had established successful businesses in Germany when many Germans suffered from the Great Depression. Secondly, many blamed the Jews for Germany’s failures in the First World War.

During the Holocaust, German authorities began the depraved execution of prisoners in their concentration death camps. While most of these were Jewish, they also targeted and murdered other groups of people they saw as inferior. These included Germans with disabilities, Slavic peoples (Russians and Poles), and gypsies. The Nazis even executed people they saw as having questionable ideological, political, and behavioral views — such as Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

4. The Rape of Nanking (1937–1938)

Death toll: 300,000 deaths

Iwane Matsui enters Nanking — Image by Public Domain

December 1937 was a very dark month for humankind. This was when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Chinese city of Nanking — which was China’s capital at that time. Japanese troops then proceeded to slaughter 300,000 out of the city’s 600,000 citizens⁴.

This was followed by six weeks of the worst atrocities ever recorded in human history. This carnage was later coined as the ‘Rape of Nanking.’ Many consider it the most heinous act of human depravity during World War II — which included the Holocaust and Stalin’s Gulags.

After Nanking capitulated to the invaders, Japanese soldiers were given the order to ‘kill all captives.’ Furthermore, they were allowed to rape and torture the city’s citizens as they wished. This stance resulted in obscene violations of humanity in Nanking. Not only were the actions of the Japanese soldiers too hideous to even be described here, but they were also terrifying examples of how deranged and cruel humans can become.

5. Cambodia’s killing fields (1975–1979)

Death toll: around 2 million deaths

Stela of skulls, Cheung Ek Killing Fields site, near Phnom Penh, Cambodia — Image by Public Domain

The Khmer Rouge was a radical communist movement that reined over Cambodia during the years of 1975 through 1979⁵. Their power was the result of a brutal brand of guerrilla warfare. It was believed that the movement was established in 1967 as an armed wing of the Kampuchea Communist Party.

During a civil war that raged on for almost five years, the Khmer Rouge eventually migrated into the various areas of the Cambodian countryside that fell under their control. Then, in April 1975, the Khmer Rouge soldiers attacked the capital city of Phnom Penh and were able to establish a new national government for Cambodia.

Pol Pot, the military commander of the Khmer Rouge forces, suddenly became prime minister of this new Cambodian government. During the following four years, the evil reign of the Khmer Rouge over Cambodia resulted in some of the worst excesses from any Marxist government during the entire 20th century.

The Khmer Rouge were so brutal that around two million Cambodians died during their rule. Pot ensured that all members of Cambodia’s professional and technical class were murdered to minimize any potential retaliation.

The Khmer Rouge government was finally overthrown in 1979, as Vietnamese troops invaded the country. They then temporarily installed a puppet government in order to establish order.

6. Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992–1995)

Death toll: 200,000 deaths

Gravestones at the Potočari genocide memorial near Srebrenica — Image by Public Domain

The tension within the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina arose from conflicts between their three major ethnic groups. These were the Croats, the Serbs, and the Muslims. Unrest ultimately reached a boiling point when the Serbian genocide was committed against the Muslims in Bosnia⁶.

These tensions had been developing for a long time when a Serbian named Slobodan Milosevic rose to power during the 1980s. He was a former Communist who promoted nationalism and religious hatred to amass power. From the very start, he inflamed long-standing disagreements and tensions between Muslims and Serbs within the independent province of Kosovo.

Then, during 1991, a new Croatian government, under the leadership of Franjo Tudjman, seemed to follow the old Mussolini style fascism. This new government even established discriminatory laws intended to target Orthodox Serbs. However, by the year’s end, a United States sponsored cease-fire pact was brokered between the Croats and Serbs who were fighting in Croatia.

However, in April of 1992, the United States, and the European Community recognized Bosnia’s independence. At that time, Bosnia was primarily a Muslim nation where Serbs made up 32% of the total population.

Milosevic answered Bosnia’s new independence with an attack on Sarajevo, the capital city, the same city that had hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. Sarajevo soon became a city infested with Serbian snipers who continually shot down helpless civilians in the streets, even killing some 3,500 children.

The Muslims of Bosnia were incredibly outgunned. As the Serbs obtained new ground, they started rounding up Muslims — much the same way that the Nazis had done during World War II. The Serbs engaged in mass shootings, forced the repopulation of entire towns and villages, and placed men and boys in concentration camps.

The Serb’s actions were quickly labeled as an ‘ethnic cleansing,’ which was a term that caught on and is still used today by the international media.

7. Rwanda’s genocide (1994)

Death toll: around 1 million deaths

Monument over Mass Grave. Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site, Kicukiro District. Kigali, Rwanda — Image by Public Domain

When the 1994 Rwandan genocide broke out, members from the Hutu ethnic majority, located in the east-central African country of Rwanda, executed as many as one million people, primarily from the Tutsi minority⁷. This bloody genocide spread throughout the nation with shocking speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were instructed by local officials to take up arms and attack their neighbors.

By the time a Rwandese Patriotic Front, led by the Tutsis, recovered control of the nation, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans lay dead due to the attacks. There were also about two million refugees that had fled Rwanda, which only exacerbated this immense humanitarian crisis.

These violent activities were sparked on April 6, 1994, when an airplane carrying Habyarimana, president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of Burundi, got shot down over the city of Kigali and leaving no survivors. Within an hour after the deadly plane attack, the Presidential Guard, along with various Rwandan armed forces, set up barricades and roadblocks and started slaughtering Tutsi’s at will.

These mass killings quickly spread from Kigali to the rest of Rwanda. Government-sponsored media and radio stations began urging Rwandan civilians to execute their neighbors. Three months later, around one million citizens had been slaughtered.


[1]: Ronald Grigor Suny. Armenian Genocide

[2]: (March 23, 2018). Gulag

[3]: United States Holocaust Museum. (February 4, 2019). Documenting Numbers of Victims of the Holocaust and Nazi Persecution

[4]: Simon Han. (December 17, 2017). The Impossible Task of Remembering the Nanking Massacre

[5]: SreyRam Kuy, MD. (May 27, 2015). How I survived Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother’s determination to escape to the US

[6]: Sam Bedford. (November 28, 2017). After the War: Bosnia Then and Now

[7]: Melody Schreiber. (July 16, 2020). Rwanda’s Genocide Ended 26 Years Ago. Survivors Are Still Finding Mass Graves

Humans Are Bastards

Homo homini lupus est.note 

“See, their morals, their ‘code’… it’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show ya. When the chips are down, these, uh, these ‘civilized people’, they’ll eat each other.”

— The JokerThe Dark Knight

In essence Humans Are Bastards is the reverse of Rousseau Was Right — the natural proclivity of humanity is towards selfishnessapathy and violence. Only a select few people manage to rise above their base nature to become something better, but the kernel of darkness is still In the Blood. When Humans Are Bastards is in effect, even your “heroes” don’t have clean hands, so most conflict is gray against black, with some gray against gray or black against black on for variety. Frequently used by Omnicidal Maniacs as an argument in favor of a Class 3a Apocalypse.

Humans being bastards doesn’t preclude them being pragmatic about it, so if there isn’t a profit to be made by making the world a hellhole, they might not, but if conditions are tolerable it certainly isn’t due to any inborn altruism on the part of those in charge. Appeals to people’s better nature will not work. Don’t expect to see anyone shame the mob — idealism has no place here. Any successful do-gooders will be very, very cynical and paranoid, as the genuinely hopeful will inevitably become embittered if they’re not killed outright.

Very, very far down the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, and all but guarantees a Crapsack World if this is true of the majority of the population. Comedies are black. Dramas are depressing. Beware of Too Bleak, Stopped Caring.

Compare Crapsack WorldBlack-and-Gray Morality. Compare World of Jerkass, where all the characters are jerks, but there isn’t necessarily a moral about humanity at large. Hobbes Was Right often makes an appearance, proposing that if the bastardy of humanity is a constant, the most effective form of government is tyranny. On the other hand, the exact opposite stance may be taken as well: if humans are inherently bastards, then it’s no use giving any of them power, because they will all inevitably abuse it.

Contrast Humans Are GoodRousseau Was Right and White-and-Grey Morality. See also Humans Are Flawed, which takes the middle road by acknowledging humanity’s shortcomings while not underplaying their potential capacity for virtue.

For settings where humans are depicted as bastards compared to other sapient species, see Humans Are the Real Monsters.. 

5 Psychological Experiments That Show The Dark Side Of Human Nature

Everyone has a darkness inside them.

Peter Burns

There is a darkness in the human soul. All throughout history you have instances of people living next to each other seemingly in peace, only for madness to strike. In a flashing instant, neighbor would be slaughtering neighbor, formerly decent folk calling for the extermination of the enemy, hatred growing in the hearts of all.

Unimaginable evil can take over suddenly, consuming everything in its path. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian writer and persistent explorer of the darkness of the human soul, noted that no animal can ever be as cruel as a man. We talk of the savageness of a tiger, but no tiger is even capable of doing the things people have done.

People talk sometimes of a bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky

How does this cruelty, this evil, this darkness in the human soul arise? Sometimes people are born with traits that predispose them for certain things. Psychopaths are those individuals who feel very little remorse or empathy, their ego driving them towards a dark path.

Yet, what is striking is that often evil is committed or supported by people who do not have these traits. Former accountants, athletes, people from all walks of life can perform these acts. Journalist and philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the term “the banality of evil” to describe how something like the Holocaust can arise out of seemingly ordinary circumstances.

When covering the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the man who organized the transport of millions of people to Nazi concentration camps, Arendt became struck by how ordinary he seemed.

“I was struck by the manifest shallowness in the doer which made it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer — at least the very effective one now on trial — was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous.” — Hannah Arendt

What is even more mind-blowing is that sometimes these people even believe they are doing a good deed. The road to hell is often paved with good intentions. There is a debate on the inner workings of human nature, and the role darkness plays in it. How come previously decent people can commit such terrible acts?

Perhaps it is as Dostoyevsky believed and the devil doesn’t exist, but people have created him in their own image.

“I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Or maybe the answer is much more mundane. However, it is important to study these questions and to shed a light on the process of how this happens. For our own sake, for humanity’s sake.

5 experiments that show the dark side of human nature

While in the past, philosophers only pondered upon the inner workings of human nature, in recent years some psychologists have set up experiments to test it. Paralleling processes in history, researchers have examined the dark side of people. Some of the results have been quite disturbing.

Zimbardo prison experiment

In 1971, Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo randomly divided a group of student volunteers into two parts. One of them would play the role of guards, and the other would be their prisoners. The results were shocking.

Apparently, just after a short amount of time, many of the guards embraced their roles. Treating the prisoners poorly, they dished out punishments left and right. On the side of the prisoners a sort of dejection and acceptance of the abuse set in.

As Zimbardo put it, he wanted to demonstrate “the ease with which ordinary people could be led to engage in anti-social acts by putting them in situations where they felt anonymous, or they could perceive of others in ways that made them less than human, as enemies or objects.” The experiment went so off the rails that it had to be abandoned just 6 days in.

For the researcher leading the experiment, the behavior of the volunteers showed they internalized their roles. His conclusion was that the prison conditions caused the participants to act the way they did. According to Zimbardo, it was a demonstration of “how systemic and situational forces can operate to influence individual behavior in negative or positive directions, often without our personal awareness.”

Milgram public authority experiment

Ten years before Zimbardo’s experiment, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram held one of his own. This now legendary test had a simple set-up. The participants would be seated in a chair and administer electric shocks to people they could only hear. They were led to believe that giving out these shots was a way to help them learn better.

Of course in reality the voices were just tapes, but the volunteers pushing the buttons didn’t know that. Whenever the alleged learner answered a question wrong, the researcher would prod the participant to administer a shock, which would get stronger and stronger each time.

In reality, if the highest level of electricity had zapped the learner, they would be dead. Surprisingly, around 65% of the participants actually administered the final 450-volt bolts. Not to say that 100% of them went up to at least 300 volts!

In an article, Milgram noted that “the extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding an explanation. Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.”

Trying to show how such an evil thing as the Holocaust can happen, Milgram’s experiment has incredible explanatory power. Even if ordinary citizens are not hateful, just the simple fact of compliance and following authority can create the conditions necessary for great atrocities to take place.

Robbers cave experiment

In 1954, even before the two previous experiments took place, psychologist Muzafer Sherif created his own study. Meant to test how conflicts arise, he set up two groups composed of boys who had never met each other before. Believing they were there for a summer camp, each group started out by doing normal activities.

However, over time they discovered that another group of boys was sharing the same park with them. First off, the two groups were put into normal competitions against each other. Quickly, in-group versus out-group dynamics developed. Violent clashes between the two groups were the result.

Interestingly, in times of group conflict altruism comes into play, but in a weird way. According to Sherif, “the zeal with which members of one group pursue intergroup hostility is proportional to the degree of solidarity and cooperativeness within the in-group, and these tend to increase.” While the hostility towards the out-group increases, the solidarity within the in-group tends to increase too.

Sherif’s work is the basis of realistic conflict theory. Strife between groups can arise when people perceive that resources are limited and the need to fight over them. This zero-sum view of the world where the other side must lose if your side is to win, is the source of much bad blood.

Third Wave experiment

How could so many German people have so willingly participated in the Nazi movement? This is a question that boggles the mind of many. In 1967, struggling to explain this to his students, high school history teacher Ron Jones decided to demonstrate it instead.

Over a span of 5 days, Jones indoctrinated his students into a fictitious movement he set up, “The Third Wave”. Starting off with simple drills on discipline and a few slogans, he instilled in the students a sense of community based on groupthink.

Throughout the course of the experiment, the movement proved quite popular with the students. Hundreds of teens who were not even in the class joined in. Setting strict rules, Jones had a way to check whether these were being followed. He selected a few of the kids to report on the others.

To his surprise, many more snitched out of their own free will. Those deemed insufficiently loyal to the cause were put on trial and punished. The entire thing got so out of hand, that the teacher had to end it early. Proving how easy it is to fall for causes through group dynamics, The Third Wave experiment shows how dangerously carried away people can get.

Tajfel social groups experiment

Henri Tajfel, himself a Holocaust survivor, conducted experiments trying to show how ordinary thinking processes can lead to prejudice. He posited that it was categorization that was behind this. This results in people minimizing the differences between the individuals in their in-group, while maximizing the differences from their out-group, painting the “other” with a similar negative brush.

In one of his experiments, Tajfel created two groups of boys. Telling them that the choice was made on their preferences for paintings by a particular painter (in reality just random pics), the boys were then asked to allocate resources to each other. Despite not knowing the other boys in their group, most individuals divided up the resources in a way as to maximize the profits for their own group. This was despite there being a strategy that would maximize profits for everyone.

This showed how favoritism, prejudice, and discrimination can come into being. Even though the groups were created randomly, a sense of in-group versus out-group developed. Once this dynamic is set in motion, it can be hard to stop. According to Tajfel, “once the process is set in motion they reinforce each other in a relentless spiral in which the weight of predominant causes tends to shift continuously.

Honorable mention:

While experiments with humans are the most pertinent for uncovering human nature, ones done with animals can be quite telling too.

Rat paradise experiment

In the 1960s, behavioral researcher John B. Calhoun set up a series of experiments with mice and rats. In his experiments, he created what he termed “rat utopias”. These were interconnected habitats that provided everything needed for a rat to live a successful life, food, shelter, and mates.

In the beginning, a small number of rats of both sexes were released into the habitats. Due to the favorable conditions, the population grew rapidly. It kept doubling quite fast, but then at one moment, the rate started to slow down. Then something weird happened. The rats stopped reproducing completely.

Despite the fact that the conditions in the habitats were favorable for a lot more rats, society broke down. A small number of individual male rats monopolized all the females, while the rest of the males started to congregate in specific areas. Incessant fighting erupted, as did an increase in homosexual behavior.

Things went downhill from there. The constant warfare caused many of the males to withdraw completely, instead now spending the time between sleeping and grooming themselves. The rat utopia collapsed and the society went extinct thereafter.

Calhoun saw this as a warning for human society. Growing overcrowding and a breakdown in social relations could lead to what he termed a “behavioral sink”. In rats, this led to total collapse and eventual extinction.

The power of the dark side

Throughout history, we have seen what types of evil things people are capable of. Often, these monsters arise from seemingly innocent beginnings. Adolf Hitler was a failed artist who started his political career preaching in beer halls. Pol Pot and his gang were students and activists sitting around in the cafes of Paris. The rise of these demagogues, however, was also facilitated by ordinary people jumping in on their bandwagon.

As the Dark Jedi in the “Star Wars” movies demonstrated, the pull of the dark side is strong. The debate of whether humans are basically good or bad might be missing the point. All people have a light side and a dark side. It’s often circumstances that dictate which one gets awakened.

For some individuals, the tendency towards one side or the other can be stronger. The psychological experiments of Zimbardo or Sherif have their critics. Both the methodology and the set-up have been challenged. However, even within these critiques, we can see kernels of human nature.

One challenge to Zimbardo’s experiment was based on the argument that the participants were self-selected. Seeing an ad in a newspaper calling for participants in a prison simulation likely drew out individuals whose personality traits had higher levels of aggression and authoritarianism.

Yet, even with this argument, you can see how the environment plays a huge role. A favorable environment and circumstances can make it easier for certain types of individuals to rise to the top. Certain conditions are more opportune towards people with darker traits.

History can be a guide to how circumstances shape events. It can show us how darkness wins over light. We are living in a period that is increasingly showing flashing danger signs from the past. Things can move fast, or as in the case of the fall of the Roman Republic, things can move slow. However, we need to be aware. The darkness of humanity is always there, lurking.

Anisha Sarkar

, works at Tata Group (2013-present)

Answered June 30, 2016

Originally Answered: is man the most dangerous animal ?

Humans are the most dangerous animal on earth. We have killed more of our own kind than any other animal on earth. We have destroyed more ecosystems than any other animal. We have made species extinct more than any other animal. Unlike any animal on earth man has created things never found in nature that kills. No animal on earth other than man has created bombs, poisonous chemicals, bio-toxins, cars, planes, heavy machinery and all the other billions of things that kill directly or indirectly.
When people think of a dangerous animal they think about how physically powerful it is and how savage it can be. Humans may be frail and weak compared to large wild animals but we can be extremely savage. The interesting thing is that man is deadly in numbers and with technology. Put an unarmed human naked in the wilderness with zero primitive or modern survival skills and he’s dead meat. He would have less chance of survival than a rabbit. I have known of people who were an office cube worker who had no knowledge of the wilderness, weapons, traps , snares, animals, shelters, etc; found dead of exposure and starvation right next to abundant natural foods. Humans are becoming less self-sufficient, resourceful, and less able to survive on their own. So, the average human isn’t the deadliest animal on earth, it’s the human species.

Leon F Seltzer Ph.D.

Just How Dark Is Your Dark Side?

It’s time we looked at our so-called “dark side” from a whole new perspective.

Posted December 5, 2014

Magog2/Wikimedia Commons

Freud, in his classic Civilization and Its Discontents (1929), postulated that being part of civilized society safeguards us from personal chaos, from being dominated by our amoral id. So as civilized beings we appoint communal authorities (e.g., police) to protect us not simply from others’ baser impulses but also our own. Yet to Freud this necessary protection also culminates in our “discontent,” for we’re thereby required to subdue our pleasure-seeking instinctual drives. To live harmoniously with others, we must subdue our otherwise impetuous desires.

I believe most people would agree that (although it’s somewhat reductive) there’s something profoundly true in Freud’s assumptions about the human psyche. At the same time, I think that while we may be wired to at least imagine what it might be like to boldly and unabashedly follow our inborn predilections (and without the slightest regard for how they might affect others), just envisioning ourselves engaging in such behaviors hardly means that finally we’d choose to enact them.

After all, in so many ways we need, literally, to rely on others for survival. Additionally, we’re a gregarious species, and so wouldn’t want to do things that might offend others and alienate them from us. Though we might not be able to resist fantasizing various acts that might enable us to freely pursue our (altogether personal) “pleasure principle,” the overwhelming majority of us are strongly motivated to restrain ourselves from actually carrying out such clearly sociopathic behaviors.

Given these “natural” internal constraints, we need to question whether our dark side is, ultimately, all that dark.That is, we’re generally cognizant that whatever fantasies we may have of power, revenge, conquest, or reckless expression of libido are just that—fantasies. But by permitting ourselves to at least “daydream” about them, we can afford ourselves some kind of compensatory gratification. At a safe remove from reality, we can offer ourselves the alternative of imagining what, in actuality, we wouldn’t really choose to do . . . or, for that matter, be.

And in that sense, our dark side can be seen as, well, rather “innocent.” Permitting it to surface in daydreams represents a measured indulgence, offering us an escape from the pro-social behavior that almost all of us regularly elect to participate in. For we do want, and need, to keep our social ties safe and secure. And though we may have a competitive streak in us, we also place a high value on interpersonal cooperation. So voluntarily, we monitor our impulses and take care to keep them in check. And, as a respite from all our self-discipline and forbearance, we periodically permit ourselves to fabricate a world in which our desires—however outrageous or anti-social—might nonetheless reign supreme.

Given that our dark side embodies our more primitive, pleasure- or power-seeking instincts, must we zealously avoid disclosing it, or reject it as despicable—something other than respectably human and therefore to be shunned and repudiated? In the end, such “dark” predilections really can’t be seen as intrinsically culpable, in that most of them merely represent “appetites” or “urges” innate in all of us.

So might we, finally, honor them, appreciating our most aggressive or erotic fantasies, daydreams (and many night dreams, too) as a psychological safety valve? The, to me, unsatisfactory alternative is to view them shamefully, as depicting a part of us so abhorrent that it must be hidden from others—and, if possible, from ourselves as well.

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Many psychology researchers have written about the practical utility of daydreams. For, as already suggested, they can function positively as a much needed outlet for our frustrations, enabling us to give at least covert expression to impulses and inclinations we know would be foolhardy or hazardous to act out. And so our simply “entertaining” such fantasies doesn’t really reflect any disastrous potential that must thereby be viewed as dark or depraved. The reason that horror movies are perennially popular (especially among the young) is that they, too, enable us to experience a safe release from—or vicarious expression of—our more primitive, anti-social instincts. And the same is true for many tv shows (e.g., “Dexter”). 

We are, finally, all animals, and what helps us to transcend the raw instincts of our more primitive, less evolved, ancestors is that in our highly developed interest in pro-social behavior almost all of us freely consent to forego id-related pleasures—the pursuit of which, we realize, would hurt others and almost certainly come back to haunt us.

For both inner and outer balance, we have a fundamental need to express (however indirectly) our whole being. And we hardly need deny our “forbidden” thoughts. For they’re only a relatively small segment of what’s—naturally—inside us. Fully accepting our basic humanity actually necessitates that we acknowledge, and make peace with, our so-called “dark side”—which, finally, is far less dark when we see it for what it is. As Carl Jung said, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

Moreover, Jung believed that “in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity.” And it makes perfect sense that if creativity entails a certain freedom from our customary constraints in thought and feeling, then giving ourselves the license to create also involves granting ourselves the privilege to inwardly explore and outwardly express the darker side of our latent tendencies and impulses.

It may well be that what makes a work of art great in the first place is its universality. And what makes it universal is that it addresses so much of what resides deep inside us—the unprincipled and ignominious, as well as the wholesome, praiseworthy, and noble.

I’ll close with a set of four brief quotes. All of them suggest in just a few words much of what I’ve labored to express in (alas!) so many more:

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“I think the healthy way to live is to make friends with the beast inside oneself, and that means not the beast but the shadow. The dark side of one’s nature. [So] have fun with it and . . . accept everything about [yourself]”. ~ Anthony Hopkins [who distinguished himself in the cinematic role of Hannibal Lecter, a charismatic—but cannibalistic—serial killer]

“Evil is a source of moral intelligence in the sense that we need to learn from our shadow, from our dark side, in order to be good.” ~ John Bradshaw

“We all need to look into the dark side of our nature—that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.” ~ Sue Grafton

“The more we deny that we have a dark side, the more power it has over us.” ~ Sheryl Lee

Note: If you resonated with this post and believe others might also, please consider sending them its link. Additionally, if you’d like to review other posts I’ve done for Psychology Today—on a broad range of topics—click here.

* A somewhat condensed version of this post appeared earlier in

© 2014 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

Kevin Angkajaya

Do you think ghosts are scary? Think again. Humans can be more scary than what you think.

Kevin Angkajaya

Jul 19, 2019·5 min read

Humans can be scarier than ghosts.

Having to go down the stairs leading to empty and lonely location.

I remember back in my childhood; I can feel afraid to traverse around my own house. My house has multiple floors and we mainly live at the upper part of the house. Sometimes at night, my mother or my father would ask me to buy something from outside, such as food or flour or anything else. I must walk down the stairs to reach dimly lit floor before I can use the keys to unlock the door leading to outside. Every time I must go outside at night, with every step taken I would chant some prayers inside my mind wishing nothing scary would appear. I was really scared of ghosts appearing suddenly, all bloody and making croaking sound. I hoped that no ghosts would suddenly come to scare me. Going outside and meeting people relieved my fear for a while, but the fear did come back after I finished my task because I must go back to my house, having to go through the lonely place again.

I did wonder if the ghosts do appear, what am I going to do? Will the ghosts drag me somewhere to the dark hole dimension? Would they scare me and then just laugh and go away? I do blame horror movie industry, and until now I still have no idea why a lot of people loved such thrilling and full of jump scare scenes. During my junior high school days, my friends and I went to watch a movie that were supposed to be some action movie, but due to bad timing there was no other choice (unless we wait yet another hour or so) so we watched The Grudge 3 instead. The movie was distracting enough for me that by the time I went home, I couldn’t fall asleep before 2 or 3 am, even though I usually already asleep at 10 pm. Those scenes of killings and blood kept flashing inside my mind and I couldn’t turn my brain off from imagining and replaying the scary parts repeatedly. On another time, my father and my sister bought and watched Insidious movie at home. Since they use central room’s TV to watch and I must walk pass the room in order to reach the dining room, I couldn’t help but caught a glimpse of the frightening movie along with the scary sounds. I tried my best not to pay attention to the movie, and yet when the night comes, my brain starts working damn you brain and it started to imagine horrendous scenes that I only have looked for a short while. I have trouble sleeping that night, too.

If only all ghosts were kind and cute like this

Now that I have grown up and exposed to the constant news from all over the globe, I feel like it was silly to be very afraid of ghosts. I am not saying that you cannot fear them. However, looking at all the incidents and news repeatedly from all over the world, which are almost always caused by humans and affects other humans with disastrous results, I started to ponder, maybe humans are scarier than ghosts. Humans are capable of menacing harms. Whether ghosts really exist or not doesn’t matter, but humans do exist and are capable of such thoughts and actions.

If only life is always serene like this photo. Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash

When children think that ghosts may be hiding behind the cabinet, my adult mind thinks the same thing actually can be said for humans. The scary and disturbing thoughts that someone may be hiding around hallway around your house, or maybe is already inside your house, ready to ambush. Another case, some police might come to your house and suddenly killed your dog and shot you in the leg, all without confirming your identity firstA Japanese high-school student was abducted, tortured, and raped by four Japanese teenage boys which lead to her deathPilots are capable of taking everyone down with them together, personally I couldn’t understand why those pilots have to take other people with them. And then there’s one of the deadliest terrorists attacks in 2001, the hijacking of planes by terrorists who crashed themselves into buildings of World Trade Center Complex and Pentagon in US, killing 2996 people and injuring over 6000 people. In South Korea, an unsolved serial murder case targeting only females where the victims always found bound and murdered (There was even a movie based on the case called Memories of Murder which have won 2003 Grand Bell Awards for best film). And the list is continuing every day, and it suddenly seems that fear of ghosts are overrated when humans are capable of more harms.

The recent incident of arson of Kyoto Animation’s building by 41-year-old man is horrible, unimaginable, and yet it did happen. 33 people are confirmed dead directly due to the fireone man passed away in the hospital and more than 30 people are injured. The suspect used gasoline on the building and people before starting the fire, and has severe burns on his face and feet himself when caught. I also would like to express my sorrow and condolences to the victims and family involved.

When I was in high school, I was taught by one wise religious teacher. Once I asked him how to be less afraid of the ghosts around us, can you guess how he answered?

“You shouldn’t be afraid of ghosts, as the ghost capable of most harms to us wouldn’t measure to the harms humans are capable of”.

Kevin Angkajaya

“Life is a wonderful experience”, they said

That’s an obvious lie, though.

Photo by Álvaro Bernal on Unsplash

I always wondered what my purpose of living is. Or if I even have any actual purpose to begin with. Life itself is full of excruciating, painful life experiences that no one can ever know what’s on ahead. This is a story on how my life experiences try to consume me and how I try to manage.

Modern life is tiring. Unless you got a lot of inheritance money that could last up to 7 generations or you already got passive incomes that can afford all of your expenses, then you are either working to get…

Apr 12, 2019

Why you need to be able to adapt.

How many times have we seen a big corporate collapse when they couldn’t follow the need of population? I have seen a few ever since I was a little kid and it’s still happening every day. Whether it was because they neglect the trend of the world, failed to gather enough knowledge and resources, or just because an immense pride on their end, it quickly become clear that anyone or anything that unable to adapt will eventually die.

Anyone or anything that unable to adapt will eventually die.

The biggest known company to fall in such fashion is probably Nokia. When…


Written by Matt Sloane

As our culture becomes more polarized, it becomes more tempting to label those who disagree with us as “monsters.” But what do we really mean when we say someone is being monstrous? And how willing are we to see our own monstrous tendencies?

To explore this, I’m going to go where monsters originally came from: the land of storytelling.

In the book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker lays out his theory that the core purpose of stories is to help humans learn to release the grip of an overactive ego.

Let’s look at how this is so in stories that adhere to this original purpose…

In stories with happy endings, the main character defeats an antagonist who is trying to control something or someone for selfish gains. As a result, the community is better off at the end—i.e., more integrated and fuller of life in some way. For example, in The Princess Bride, a farm boy becomes a hero when he saves a princess by displaying greater willpower over a prince who was trying to force her to marry him—Prince Humperdinck attempts to control the bride he has chosen for himself.

On the flipside, in stories with tragic endings, the main character is trying to control someone or something and won’t let it go. In those stories, the community is worse off—i.e., there is more disintegration as life is squeezed out. For example, in The Great Gatsby, an eccentric playboy lost in a fantasy tries to reunite with a former crush who is married, leading to loss of life in the community, including his own. Gatsby’s unrealistic and obsessive longing leads to his own demise.

In either case, a monster appears:

  • In happy endings, the monster is someone opposing the main character.
  • In tragic endings, the monster is the main character, at least by the end of the story.

The character we call the “monster” in stories still has human qualities—such as being passionate but unsympathetic, or intelligent but manipulative, or strong but oppressive. But beyond their humanity, it’s the overactive ego that pushes them into the realm of monster as they endanger themselves and others around them.

Here’s another way to frame the core lesson that purposeful stories give us for living: finding alternatives to behaving like a monster leads to the development and integration of the mature self and community.

This makes being able to identify monstrous behavior important, primarily in ourselves.

When we act as monsters, according to Booker, we are displaying one of three monster archetypes: the Predator, the Holdfast, and the Avenger.

Let’s look at each one from the story angle and how they can appear in us today…

The Predator causes us to say, “I want that now—at all costs.” (oriented to the future)

We can recognize this archetype in us when we’re myopically focused on getting the thing we desire, with no concern for any collateral damage that may occur. Such as the cyborg in The Terminator who had one mission: kill Sarah Connor, no matter how many police officers, civilians, and factories get destroyed in the process.

In everyday modern life, this archetype may cause us to consider:

  • Spreading a false claim in order to damage the reputation of someone seeking the same job as you (“it should be my job”).
  • Running a marketing campaign that leverages fear in order to get as many sales as possible (“it should be my income”).
  • Spending over 20 minutes trying to log into a glitchy website so you can order socks, while ignoring your need to eat breakfast (“those should be my socks”).

The Holdfast in us says, “I must keep this—and nobody else can have it.” (oriented to the present)

We are so committed to holding onto this thing that if it appears we may lose it to someone else, we feel justified in using any manner of force against them or destroying it. For example, in The Hobbit, the dragon, Smaug, hoards gold in his cave and defends it to the death. Smaug and his gold are inseparable.

In everyday modern life, this archetype may cause us to consider:

  • Going to great lengths to ensure your intellectual property is protected, so much so that you never share it with anyone (“it’s my idea”).
  • Seeing others as competition for your customers, even if there is plenty of need for multiple organizations to fill (“they are my customers”).
  • Guarding your giant plate of French fries from your spouse and children (“they are my French fries”).

The Avenger causes us to say, “I want that back—I have been wronged.” (oriented to the past)

We become fixated on a loss and claim the right to exert our power in order to balance the scales of justice. But unlike lawful justice, the Avenger feels no concern for the wellbeing of others, including the dignity of the one/s they believe created that loss for them. For example, in Nightmare on Elm Street a troubled child molester is burned to death by an angry mob and comes back to haunt and kill them in their dreams. The monster, Freddy Krueger, is seeking revenge for his loss of dignity and life.

(Author’s note: What does it say about a culture’s developmental stage when so many movies feature ‘avenging’ protagonists with an ego gone wild that we’re encouraged to root for?)

In everyday modern life, this archetype may cause us to consider:

  • Publicly shaming a manager who you think tried to take control of your meeting (“it was my meeting”).
  • Attacking an organization through your advertising as a response to being mocked in one of their ad campaigns (“it was my reputation”).
  • Refusing to speak to your spouse for a whole evening after they finished off the last of your favorite ice cream (“it was my ice cream”).

All the archetypes have one thing in common—they all encourage us to see through the lens of ownership with no regard for people around us, including ourselves.

This ownership lens can be distilled to a one-word sentiment: “Mine!

Notice how when you see this controlling behavior in others, you might activate a controlling part of yourself, beginning with using the label of “monster.” If they are the monster, that means you are the hero and your actions and words to control them are justified.

And this is how a society disintegrates. One monstrous act begets another, one ego triggering another’s ego, while everyone is thinking themselves to be the hero. This pattern only stops inside the individual who chooses to address it—through our own discipline and maturation process.

If we wish to respond to egoic behavior in a way that shifts the pattern, we must be sure not to respond from our ego. In other words, when we seek dignity for the one acting like a monster, we consciously deviate from the narrative that otherwise leads to a community where things are worse off.

It begins by not allowing the label to hold—i.e., not labeling others as “monsters” or attacking their character, but instead condemning their actions. When we criticize character, we seek to humiliate and nobody benefits. When we criticize actions, there is room for reconciliation and dignity for all involved.

To take the mature story lesson to heart, rather than focusing on controlling those around you, try understanding more about these controlling monster archetypes in yourself.

Here are some self-observations to get you started.

The next time you read a story or watch a movie with a monster character, see if you can identify which archetype is playing through them (Predator, Holdfast, Avenger). And then observe yourself, while the monster is most overactive in their ego. In that moment, grab a pen and paper to write down your responses to these questions:

  • What do I notice in my own body?
  • What thoughts appear in response to the monster’s actions?

And then later go back and reflect:

  • What do my reactions tell me about myself?
  • How have I behaved through that same archetype in my life before?
  • What is the relationship between my past behavior and my reaction to that character?
  • Given what I notice, what action/s will I take?

Another way is to observe yourself in daily life by writing down responses to these questions:

  • In my day, how did any one of the monster archetypes (Predator, Holdfast, Avenger) appear to influence my behavior? (even if only in a subtle way)





The Boys from Carondelet

THE BOYS FROM CARONDELET –                                                                                          TALES OF SOUTH ST. LOUIS SITUATES – THE LIFE, TIMES, MUSIC – AND TRAGEDIES – OF THEIR LIVES


Steve Erdmann

Stream-of-conscious memoirs of his personal life.

Another version of this article can be seen at The Boys From Carondelet | The UFO Spotlight On…


No doubt those who stumbled upon this autobiography will find it difficult to decipher or even work with as it is more of less constructed as a ‘steam-of-consciousness’ type narrative. This is not a strict scientific document (said for the sake of my ‘purist’ friends), but my own, private thoughts and romantic outlook and philosophies.  But, even then, there is a lot of truth in these pages; I guess I speak that as a modernist-humanitarian of exotic expressionism and renaissance-growing.

THIS IS ALSO PARTLY AN UPDATED VERSION OF A LETTER SENT TO MORIARTY WILD (NOT THE REAL NAME) DATED SEPTEMBER 26, 2008: there have been continuous revisions since then (and probably does not resemble the original letter); Please look for the latest update.

Many (wide and radical?) revisions and changes will come about over the next months and years. Some identities will be disguised to protect people. This does not mean it is an untrue account, just a disguised account much like the retired intelligence officer and spy, “Mr. X”, was a composite person of many sources in the intelligence community in Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, or many characters are introduced as semi-fictional to carry multiple layers of truth. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin is somewhat like that (Delacorte Press, 2009);”A finely wrought portrait of Alice [in Wonderland] that seamlessly blends fact with fiction,” said Publishers Weekly of Alice. There is only one other character like that in this manuscript, but he is also portrayed as his real name in several instances and not his fictitious name/literary device. In only one other character is the name changed as some kind of buffer on his and his family’s identity to mute total embarrassment as to his real-life amazing claims he makes about himself and his family. Somehow, a lot of respect was held for this man and family, despite incongruous actualities and real-life events. Sadly, Mr. X will protest under some phony composite of ‘perfectionism,’ ‘anti-modernism,’ ‘historical retrogression,’ or allusion to his private quest to distort reality according to constant subjective perversion about what he feel is ‘scandal.’ Far too much ‘rambling’ has been done regarding UFO topics and participants, and I suggest heavy editing and even some deletion to make it smooth. Parts of this manuscript may be copied and pasted as separate manuscripts. It may change to widely different formats: things will be knocked around, cut, swapped, and jostled, in Henry Miller, John Steinbeck, Stephen King and Raymond Chandler fashion. Incoherent parts will be rearranged (I said I would ‘ramble’) and perhaps the letter (now, looks like an article, manuscript or document) actually will be turned into a fiction story (maybe semi- autobiographical/ semi-fictional): who knows at this point? If I die in the meantime: that’s it! You’ll have to go with what I did to my End. Publish in any way that is successful and profitable. 

Stephen Charles Erdmann.    


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…….” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens. (Chapman and Hall, London, 1859).

Chapter One – The Ghosts Arise


I stood there, watching the heavy snow fall and tis leafy snow-white flakes  wave and sweep back and forth through the air, covering and uncovering the trunks and branches of trees lining the property of the Evangelical Lutheran Orphanage one 1950s Winter.  It was my home for the time being. In that distant past, an eight-year-old boy looked through frosted panes of glass and into a Currier and Ives Winter landscape at 12325 Manchester Road.  I was an orphan, or precisely, as Peggy Greenwood would say, a ‘half-orphan,” at least for a few years until my mother could make adjustments, get her “act together” as some would say, for a widow and her unattended child, and if the orphanage juvenile authority deemed it proper, I could come home – back home – to a family: my Mom, my brother, my half-brother and his family, my grandparents – grandpa and grandma Bork, ,grandpa and grandma Erdmann, uncle Max Erdmann …. My cousin Betty, who last I remembered was living with my Mom on Castleman Avenue in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis…

In that winter of the 50s, Washington University students had come to visit the children at “the home” (as it was often referred to). I recalled wrestling and “rough-housing” with one burly student in the west wing basement visitor’s room, almost as if he were secretly saying: “Come on fella, it’s not so bad, you’ll be okay: today we play, tomorrow the sun will come out!”

It would be a few years before I’d watch the 1941 “Orson Welles” movie Citizen Kane (I recall lying on the front room floor as a young teenager on Michigan Avenue a few years After leaving the orphanage and intently reacting to the black-and-white TV-drama presentation), but I could easily have been asking myself as I gazed out onto that long straight driveway that led to and fro to the front door of the orphanage (perhaps a little reminiscent of the yearly showing of Judy Garland’s Yellow Brick Road, The Wizard Of Oz), in the somber whispering voice of tycoon Foster Kane at the last moments of his life, those cryptic, haunting words “rosebud”. I wondered when I saw the movie in the 50s, and I wonder now: what will be my “rosebud”? That item that Kane referred to, rosebud, at the end of his life, had connected with Kane’s unspoiled and innocent youth when he lived with impoverished parents that “sold” him to “save” him, was, of course, the sled that had been given to him by his family one long lost winter in his distant youth. But millions of ordinary people play out a real-life Foster Kane every day, in their own special way, with their own twists and turns in life. Many not as magnanimously and with as much notoriety, and certainly not the riches and wealth, as that of Foster Kane, but each with their own private and personal depth and melodrama, many never making news headlines, movie scripts, or bill boards, but all having the personal depth, feeling and even tragedy of Kane; their lives hurdling towards their own personal “Rosebud.” It is to them, myself, and people like us that this story is dedicated.

There were many memorable scenes and experiences for a lower-income child of the 40s-50s. Amazed by life, a child feels that happiness is something that comes as a natural right with an excursion through the birth canal and into the slap of external uterus life and reality outside the womb. What you may not know, or had the first-hand opportunity to perceive, is that there are millions of Dave Pelzer’s in the world – frightened, lost, and scarred (A Child Called It and The Lost Boy, 1995, Health Communications, Inc.). Likewise, Liz Murray’s personal survival from a nightmare family [the father seemed like the only person hanging onto hope] described in  her autobiography Breaking Night (Hyperion Books, 2010), where “she describes the everyday life of a coked-out household where blood was spattered on the kitchen walls, on clothes, even on a loaf of Wonder Bread….” (Tara Mckelvey). In another case, whether she had sixteen personalities or not, the psychological scarring of Shirley Ardell Mason by her schizophrenic mother, Hattie Dorsett, happens all too often (Sybil, Grand Central Publishing, April 1, 2009). And the fear in the childhood of Joan Crawford’s daughter Christina Crawford (Mommie Dearest, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1978: “I was frightened because I hated the screaming and yelling and kicking and pounding.  But I wasn’t afraid for my mother. I was afraid for myself.”). There were children struggling with their parents, for their parents and in opposition to their parents, brothers, relatives, families. Some could pick themselves up psychologically by their own mental “bootstraps,” but many got lost in the muck of life – not sure how to help themselves – grasping at the edge of the boat, trying to pull themselves back aboard, but not always succeeding. Others, unable to grasp searching and willing hands out-stretched to nab them and wrestle them back aboard, fall back into the sea of despair, flaunting and screaming about, or sink with a shock of depression and hopelessness; finally, lastly, consoled as best can be done by loved ones. All of us, oft times weakened by physical illness, disease and age, are ultimately visionless by the relativity of it all.

Vivaciously, to all humans living, existence is a nostalgic blend of all that is good and beautiful and bad when we retrospectively look back in remorse, longing and wonder. No matter how difficult, how hard, how bland parts of our lives may have been, God has given us beauty, love and hope to intertwine in the fabrics of our lives. I am reminded of the stories of Nazi holocaust survivors, stories of war victims, of people who have barely survived alive – but who came back many times over with some lovely and exotic rendition of life and who gave back something of great value to humanity in some way or some form. In the end, the awesome struggles and pleasures we all share in common – the lives of our protagonists, the ‘common man.’

Reminisces of the 1940s radio program, the 1948 motion picture, and the 1950s-60s television series The Naked City, exposed and intruded into the private struggles and tragedies of everyday citizens revealing that we all, each one of us, are larger-than-life heroes and heroines, survivors, conquerors, scandalizes, and evil or good pedestrians on the road of life. “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them,” voiced the program’s hard, stoic slogan.    

But memories and movies seem to blur together in the early life of a 1950s child; it was not the only memorable movie or even distinctive winter from that period.  There were early puppy dog pets (which bit us because we foolishly played as if we were trying to eat its food; I don’t even remember the little fellas name), small drug store pet turtles (which we carelessly killed due to childish neglect) — and the ring worm epidemic of the 50s that was being spread around in St. Louis. I received my infection while watching Black Beauty at a children’s’ matinee at the Shaw Movie Theater near Shaw Avenue and 39th Street. I remember that distinct moment when the back of my head rolled back and forth on the cushion of the theatre seat – I can still recall something wet and slick on the cushion against my head. It was my introduction to ringworm infection. Shortly following that, it rapidly grew — discovered while my cousin Betty was ordered by her Aunt Clara (my mom) to “get him in the kitchen and clean him up!” — I had just been rolling around in the dirt, playing ‘monsters.’  As my cousin washed my hair, large clumps began to fall out: “Aunt Clara, come look at this!” I recalled Betty exclaiming.

It was officially called tinea capitis or ermatophytid.

And so began one of the continued and more frightful excursions of disappointment in my life, the lonely days during my hospital quarantine at the Children’s Medical Unit at Barnes Jewish Hospital, the smell of medical supplies, antibiotics, and the murmur, eerie whispers and solitude of the hospital late at night — the watching of my mom from my hospital window, seeing her down on the street — waiting for the bus on Kingshighway, a look of frustration over her face as she thought about her problem-riddled child. And then there were the very painful operative sessions in which the sores of infection, puss boils, had to be burst and medication put on them (these left deep indentations on the back of my upper head that were later covered over by youthful hair). There was talk and debate and worried whispers as to whether my hair would grow back. For several months I wore a “skull cap.” There was my mother telling friends about her constant praying for me. Most of my hair did slowly grow back, except for the small scarred area on the very back of my head — which could be covered by other hair and is usually mistaken now, in my old age, for male-pattern-baldness. When a teenager, with a 1950-60s pompadour and “duck butt” hair style and all, living with a more virulent body, my hair was much more profuse and could spread over the scar even more accommodative.  But it was still a bane and a personal embarrassment to me; a malediction that had somehow visited me and for my rest of my life. As a young child, it was unforgiveable.

The Shaw movie theatre at 3901 Shaw Avenue (now a confectionary/grocery store) was born in 1915, one of the hundreds of theaters that dotted St. Louis when the dawn of motion pictures was the glory of St. Louis pubescence.  In the early fifties, the Shaw had been owned by the Fran Chin and Mar Company, and was showing The House Of Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello, Flash Gordon serials, as well as so many others of the 50s genus. One of the favorites that helped form the magic and wonder of my youth was the 1950 movie Harvey, starring James Stewart, and its mystical themes that helped form that spongy substance called a child’s brain.  Based on a 1944 play by Mary Chase and receiving play a 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Drama award, Harvey, both the movie and play, were noted for crisp and lively insights into human character.

 “P-O-O-K-A. Pooka. From old Celtic theology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one, a benign but mischievous creature. Very fond of rum pots, crackpots and how are you Mr. Wilson?”  (Wilson reading about the definition of a pooka)   “I plan to leave. You want me to stay.  Well, an element of conflict is a very good thing. It means everybody is taking part and nobody is left out.”  (conversation of  Elwood P. Dowd at the mental sanatorium)    

Another movie that was the rave of that time and made a grand impression on this toddler’s brain and worldview was the showing of Christian Nyby’s The Thing From Another World, released April 29, 1951. My brother John took me to see the movie at the fabulous Shenandoah Theater at 2300 South Grand. From its beginning credits to the frightening ending, its ingenious use of low-tone dialog and monotone conversations in Dolby Original Mono sound (reminiscent of the conversational style used in the Jack Webb Dragnet police detective series), and the black and white filming and settings has not been matched to this day.

The Shenandoah Theater had been remodeled in 1941 by Leo. F. Abrams with a wider screen and 703 seats on the main floor and 369 seats in the balcony. It was a short distance from our house on Castleman and I recall visiting there several times, as well as the Shaw Theater.   

The beginnings for the Erdmanns and Borks in St. Louis go back earlier to Folsom Avenue (now a street cleared down to Tower Grove from a cul-de-sac behind the Children’s Hospital on Grand Avenue and Park; earlier records show that the Borks had lived at 3205a Utah Avenue), just haze and smoke of memories of that address then; I had to be a small baby. But reality became clearer and with more focus in my life at 4050 Castleman Avenue in the Shaw district of south St. Louis, not far from where grandpa and Grandma John and Marie Bork lived on Lafayette Avenue. That was long before Highway 44 was built in 1969 and there still were many homes in the area that carried that majestic Gilded Age announcement of themselves.

Grandparents Steve and Elizabeth Erdmann lived in a small home on DeMerville Road not far from Reavis Barracks and Telegraph Roads in south county Lemay, Missouri. Step-brother Ed referred to it as “the farm” because his memory goes back years before my visit there in the 50s; on his visits it probably was much more country-like, having a few farms—he remembers chickens and pigs and things and experienced far more family episodes there. I recall the Erdmanns more vividly as living on the lower floor of a duplex in St. Louis itself for a while at a Virginia Avenue home directly east of the Susan Blow Grade School at 516 Loughborough Avenue. Grandparents Erdmann moved about St. Louis somewhat, but the DeMerville home may have been their last residence; Brother Ed recalls a farm-type residence other than DeMerville.

I vacationed with them at the Virginia Avenue place, and doing their German ‘thing’, they had a chicken or two in the backyard. I had the ‘opportunity’ to watch Grandpa Steve cut the head off one of the chickens and, to my amazement, see the chicken run  around headless for a minute or so before falling dead to the ground. Grandma Erdmann would serve this great-tasting, rich soup—which I would rave about and constantly asked for—until one day; as grandma sat watching me drink the soup.

“Stevie, do you know what you are really drinking there?” she asked in that unique and characteristic Hungarian-German brogue.

“Soup! Your good soup!” I proudly described.

“Yes, yes, grandma’s good soup,” she spoke apprehensively, as she was about to make a new announcement.  She paused briefly, “But do you know what it is?”

“What, grandma, what?” I felt teased.                          

Blood, Stevie. It is the chicken’s blood” she disclosed. I felt my world quickly make a paradigm revision before my eyes. I held the spoon in a form of suspended animation. Noticing my shock, she finished her education as she got up to disappear, having done one of her grandmotherly lessons, “But it is very good for you, full of vitamins and healthy food.  It is good medicine.”

I never ate grandmother’s special soup after that, not even when begged to.

Grandpa and grandma Erdmann could have been a great spot in my early life, but that never really happened due to friction between my mother and their family; I could never actually get a handle on it, other than the Erdmann’s always wished that my mother would have married Max Erdmann after my Dad passed-away. My Mom attempted visits with them, but it always seemed to end in a furious argument on this very topic of marriage. Somewhere around my early teen-years, we lost contact with them, Max died from a heart attack, grandpa Steve had a stroke, and I never had the sense or nerve to keep in touch with them.

Later, when in the orphanage, they did come to visit me, and got permission to take me out for a drive in the ‘machine.’ I was given a basket of fruit as a gift.  I recall driving to an open-air festival of some kind. To this day, I often wonder now how different my life would have been, and perhaps even how happier, if my Mom had gotten along much different with the Erdmann’s.

One of the more memorable sights in the Shaw neighborhood, especially as a tiny tot, was walking along Lawrence or 39th Streets and looking up hill, East, on Shaw or Castleman Avenues and see the looming white edifice of the majestic Compton Hill Water Tower (now a historic landmark). Built on a 36-acre park during William McKinley’s Presidency in 1898 by designer Harvey Ellis, it was a big attraction at the 1904 World’s Fair. The 179-foot tower, with observation deck, camouflaged the standpipe that pumped water to the area. It was built in 1899 by George Mann. Just behind the tower was the huge walled concrete reservoir. It could hold 60 million gallons. It was built earlier in 1876 by Guy Study. Adjacent to the tower is a bronze statue of a naked woman called “The Naked Truth” (an invention of sculptor Wilhelm Wandichneider of Berlin); brewery-owner Adolphus Bush said he was shocked upon seeing the art. St. Louis had about 500,000 people at that time, and the Shaw area consisted of wealthier families of German descent. The German American Alliance did an “official” unveiling of the park on May 27, 1914.

There was one unusually hot summer afternoon I recall that my mom, Betty and I gathered up large towels and our swimming gear and headed up to that intimidating concrete edifice to cool off – apparently, the city owners had allowed the public in to the water reservoirs to ward off the heat. I recall looking down into the crowd surrounding the large basin of water and wondering if the water was shallow enough for me. Of course, it wasn’t – there was no shallow area – and in fact my mother attempted an old German trick that some had used to teach their children to swim: drop them in the water – they’ll either sink or learn to swim. I don’t know what prompted her to experiment with me that afternoon, but it didn’t work; I immediately recognized the muffled sounds from outside the water covering my head, and the feeling of steadily sinking and choking at the same time, along with the rush of stark panic and even terror. My screams no doubt caused fellow neighbors to take attention and the ridicule of mom calling me a sissy and little baby brought about a sense of shame and derision – I wasn’t getting any comfort from any source for foiling their experiment. I wasn’t sure if I should have stayed under the water or not screamed to protect my mother’s dignity. All in all, those moments stand in my memory of the Compton Hill Reservoir Park.

The fear of being in the water emerged immediately after this incident, even to the point that I could not be in the bathtub water by myself.  My grandmother or mom tried to put me in the upstairs bathtub on Castleman, and I immediately threw a panic with screaming and yelling.  Grandfather and grandmother Bork were visiting my mom at the time, and they became involved in the mystery of my fear of water – to the extent that my grandfather stripped down naked and was willing to share the bath water with me to show that even ‘he’ was not afraid of the water and would protect me (I believe this was another old German teaching method).  I don’t recall if ‘this’ experiment was successful or not; possibly not, because I may have aborted the experiment early, persons dispersing quickly in laughter, when I exclaimed at the small crowd of mom, grandmother and one naked grandfather: “Woo, grandpa, you got a big ‘one’!”

Eventually, gradually, especially through the efforts of Health and Gym Class instructor ‘Doc Singer’ in a Cleveland High School Swim Class, was I able to partially overcome my fear of water, clamor short distances in the water, though I never could swim proficiently.          

My grandfather seemed to be home less and less with growing attendance at area hospitals until his death due to illness. After my grandfather’s death, my grandmother moved to 3636 Tennessee Avenue further south, a few blocks from Gravois and Grand Avenues and a short distance from Miami Street. I came to live with grandma and cousin Betty (Betty’s mother, my mom’s sister, Erna, died of throat cancer; my memories of Erna seem foggy, except when I look at old family photos of her, memories come flooding back. It is then that I realize how much Betty looked like her mother). I stayed with Grandma Bork and Betty for a short period, once family relations seemed more stable. As mentioned, the grandparent Erdmann’s lived on, what my Halfbrother referred to as, “the farm”, near Reavis Barracks Road, not far from Kingston and Telegraph Roads. That area was much more rural in the 40s – 50s. My mom had bought a duplex at 7910 Michigan Avenue, Carondelet, but she still spent many hours away from me working mid-town at the Forum Restaurant. I always seemed in “transit” between one location, one person, and another. Mom would come home late at night, often displaying bloody wounds from the grease spraying out of the deep-fry stoves in the Forum kitchen. Her arms and legs carried permanent burn scars.

There always seemed family tensions and feuding on the Erdmann side; and sometimes on the Bork side, but it all seemed beyond me. Grandmas were grandmas, granddads were granddads; Cousins, cousins, uncles, uncles. Brothers were brothers, divorce involved or no. They were mine and they were all I had; and I loved them.

I never knew my dad, Steve. He was removed from me when I was 10-months-old. It is my understanding he died from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage – he had been said to complain of a gastric ulcer. I will never know for sure.  There is a news clipping floating around in the family achieves (my nephew stands guard on that) headlined about a suspected Black Widow death suspect (my mom). I do recall her sitting at the kitchen table on Castleman Avenue speaking to one of her girlfriends, talking in low monotones and mysterious whispers on the topic.

I heard her say: “And then the detective took me aside and in a serious whisper asked me: ‘What did you do to him?,’” I heard my mom speaking to Emily Lux, Henrietta, next-door neighbor Mrs. Chalmers or some other girlfriend one day, sitting at the kitchen table on Castleman Avenue, “I was shocked! I said ‘whaaat?’

Apparently, she was cleared of that suspicion. But that news item was prevented from my vision and jealously guarded. But it does not matter: I undoubtedly felt love by my father, who, by most standards, was a dashing, good-looking, photogenic German. Maybe it was the imagination of a child’s wishful thinking, but I vaguely remember being cuddled and wooed by some male presence back in my first months of life.

Like a lot of Germans in the 1930s – 1940s, Steve went to work at the An Hauser Busch Brewery as a Brew Master.  His brother, Louis Erdmann, also worked at An Hauser Brewery. Brother Max Erdmann worked at the Griesedieck Brothers Brewery. Grandpa John Bork also worked at An Hauser, after a brief stint as a carpenter (he helped repair one of the floors for a Victorian bedroom display at the St. Louis Municipal Art Museum). We were all part of the South St. Louis Germans.

In the Shaw neighborhood (extremely rich in Victorian and Gilded Age artifacts), we attended several Lutheran churches in the area; Messiah Lutheran on Grand Boulevard, directly across from the Tower Grove Park; the Mount of Olive Lutheran Church on Shaw Avenue (I recall seeing a Laurel and Hardy Christmas movie there, the March Of The Wooden Soldiers, Babes In Toyland, Hal Roach, 1934). The church was near the Shaw’s Botanical Gardens near Tower Grove Avenue and across the street from Bryan Mullanphy School at 4221 Shaw Boulevard (I began kindergarten at Bryan Mullanphy, passed through Messiah Lutheran, but finished at the Lutheran orphanage in Des Peres). The Byran Mullanphy School (named after a wealthy Mayor and Judge) was one of the many picturesque and Glided Age relics in St. Louis, designed by William B. Ittner and completed in 1941.

One of the biggest difficulties my mom had was juggling time and responsibility. If I am not mistaken, she had to work evenings at a delicate time that clashed with the schedules of school, jobs, and available caretakers. With grandparents who would speak and not feud and, again, when they wouldn’t, two brothers going to school, and then going directly to work, a niece working and living elsewhere at times, and with no day care agencies in play as they are today, my mom tried to be ‘inventive.’  These inventions eventually led to my being placed in the orphanage as some kind of official “day care.”

One system she would use was the one that got me into trouble: leaving me home alone. It was hoped that I could sleep or survive in my crib—I remember the crib railings raised as a prevention for me to roam the house—but apparently I was getting too old to be kept in the bed, I’d always climb out.  I had various ways of entertaining myself, outside of sleeping, for what seemed like hours. I’d image a tiny little chicken in a basket on a line somehow strung above my head, and an imaginary someone would pull it across the room on this line and I would study it for what seemed like forever. I probably had other daydreams to keep me busy, outside of just sleeping.

Amidst panic, loneliness, and boredom, I’d climb out and roam the house, and eventually try to escape.  One time, I was able to climb on the sink in the kitchen and reach the small window on the south wall. After pushing and playing around on the pane and frame, I noticed the window would move slightly and I could raise it up – further – further – until it was open enough for me to squeeze through and go out.  And that I did; I recall a large lump in my throat on the verge of crying and panic, and I headed out the back gate and west up the alley and into the next block alleyway – and looking ahead, I noted the backside of a lady with a long grey coat that I was sure was my mother because my mom had a coat just like that.

“Mommy!” I screamed and started running for her.  “Mommy!”

She apparently didn’t associate my screams with herself, and when I was just about up to her, she turned to see who was crying. It was not my mother; some other lady. But she turned back around quickly, momentarily pausing to contemplate the situation, and busied herself in her journey and further ignoring me. I stood there for a moment wondering what to do next. I guess I decided to continue my searching for my mom instead of going back home, and I continued on down the street – sometimes running, sometimes walking in a fervid pace, sobbing and whimpering all the while. I probably headed north on Lawrence Avenue. I don’t recall what I was wearing, or if I was in underwear or night clothes. I recall crossing a trestle many blocks from home. That might have been near Tower Grove and Park Avenues, I can’t be sure.

A family, mother, father and child, were sitting on their front porch and I could hear them murmuring amongst themselves and pointing at me as if they were gathering suspicion and puzzlement. I believe I heard the father say something like “I bet he is lost!” The father called out to me: “Son, come over here.”  They could see that I was reluctant. “You can play with my boy,” he informed me, and he motioned the boy go Inside the house and bring out some toys. They must have won my confidence as I began to play with the toys and talk with the family, answering their friendly but pointed questions: where did I live, what was my name, where was I going — why?  I don’t know how intelligently I answered their questions, but eventually a police squad car pulled up to the curb and some more of the questions continued. The officer obviously won my friendship with promises of ice cream and other things, and we headed, along, perhaps, with some of the family that rescued me (I can’t be sure if they accompanied us then or drove there later), to the police station on the corner of Magnolia and Grand Avenues.

I don’t know what kind of detective work was used, or if other information was retrieved, but eventually, after a fairly long while, through a window facing Grand Avenue, I saw my step-brother Ed (“Eddie-brother”) park his bicycle and peer into the station. I believe it was a mixed expression of amazement, disgust and a smidgen of humor that I recall on his face. I recall munching on the ice cream cone the policeman promised me.

Straddling the bicycle bar and clinging to my brother, we ventured back home going down Grand Avenue. “Boy, Stevie, wait till mom hears about this,” my brother commented. “She won’t be mad at me, will she?” I asked. The fearful comprehensions began to formulate before me.  “Well, I would imagine she would, don’t you?” he replied. My heart sunk in interposed trepidation.

I believe there was an air of mystery, somber consternation, but it seemed so polite – so introspective – as if someone had authoritatively mentioned not to scold me or discuss the subject at length in front of me – and the family was pressed to follow. Still I felt the suspicions hanging in the air as if some ghost standing about.

Therefore, the events, surrounding the matter of escaping out of the house, that followed are not clear at all.  Undoubtedly, there were big family conversations on the incident—but I don’t recall any great discipline from my mother (then, again, maybe there was, only fogged in some kind of memory avoidance; I recalled being put in the hallway closet—but this may have been a playful prank by my brothers who often teased me like this). There appeared to have been several other incidents related to and about several escape attempts from the house; enough times as to cause some grand decision-making. This eventually led to my residency at the Lutherans orphanage on Manchester Road in De Peres, Missouri.     

In the post-orphanage days, arrangements had been made for me to stay awhile with my grandmother Bork at 4646 Tennessee Avenue, a duplex she had purchased. She was renting the upstairs to help pay on her mortgage. Outside of my usual childhood tantrums, I loved living with my grandmother. Cousin Betty had come to live with her during her nursing-school days.  My mom came to visit as if a guest, much like they did on weekends when I was out at the ‘home’ on Manchester Road.  But it was definitely not the same; thiswas‘my’ home. The biggest highpoint to my staying at my grandmother Bork were the family visits and dinners for the holidays or whatever celebration the Germans deemed appropriate to be festive. German dinners were always big events, done with all the trimmings, and the ladies of the family dropping in and out in the prior week, putting on their aprons and dedicating their particular talent. But the evening before and the morning of the event was boiler-room hectic. Skippy, grandma’s dog, had been psychically alerted to the up-coming event days prior to the Big Day, and was adequately ‘on guard’, as if in some dog infantry, and attuned as the unofficial butler, madly scampering at each doorbell ring to bark and scratch at the door when guests arrived, and then pouncing on them in excited and abounding puppy love.

My grandmother Bork attended the Holy Cross Lutheran church on Miami Avenue not far from the Concordia Lutheran Publishing Concern (another German creation originating in Perry County, Missouri in 1839 and moved to St. Louis in 1849) near the late Lutheran Hospital (also an area vibrantly wealthy with turn-of-the-century relics and history) not far from the Cherokee Street shopping complex on Cherokee Street, partially running from California and Jefferson Avenues (which is now a decayed ghost town of bleak, inglorious almost desolate buildings, but was a shopping mecca back in the 40s – 60s, celebrating handsome structures such as the Casa Loma ballroom and the Cinderella Theatre as well as other bright and shinning architectural creations). Holy Cross Church was within walking distance from grandma’s Tennessee Avenue duplex. Some described it as an old German and Irish neighborhood, as evidenced by the creation of the St. Louis chapter of the American Aid Society in 1945 – later to become known as the German Cultural Society in 1969 – part of the Cherokee Street ethos at its 3652 South Jefferson address.

Grandma Bork had been complaining about an ulcer she had about her ankle; at least, during the period that I had come to live with her. She would wince in pain every so often and left her leg up to relieve the pressure on her ailment. There was a constant battle to keep our beloved pet dog, Skippy, from innocently but clumsily pawing her ankle. Grandmother had invented and would apply her own herbal concoction of a medicine on her sore: it smelled similar to turpentine, and I believe it had cloves, liniment, and other evil sounding names. Gradually, her health decreased steadily after my stay with her.

Her best friend, of course, was Skippy, her pet dog. Skippy and I came to know each other quite well. And he’d let me know I was too much of a tease with a friendly little growl, but we were best of buddies.  When she started to spend a lot of time in the hospital, grandma decided to put Skippy to sleep; she claimed it was a domestic decision and she could find no one to adopt Skippy.  I recall many a time I’d curl up to him and we would both fall sound asleep nestled to each other. When grandma had a big festive dinner with all the trimmings, and the visitors, aunts, uncles, brothers, friends, family – started coming one after the other, Skippy was wildly crazy to see them at the door, and broke all butler rules to get to the door and escort them in.   

Grandma Bork taught me many of the old ways: like keeping her front and back yard clean of weeds and “edged” with a trowel and making a bucket of bleach and  detergent, with a scrub brush, scrub  the front steps and – and – the sidewalk. Another job that grandmother gave me was cleaning her basement – I was paid a few dollars for this – but when  I say “cleaned” – it pushed the limits of the meaning of the word – amidst frequent inspections by her –  hosing down the basement, piling old wood, cleaning rafters, putting bug and mouse traps – use your imagination.

One hot afternoon, while doing the gardening on the front lawn, two young teenage girls that lived next door, several years older than me, came out to sit on their front steps and watch me.

“What’s your name?” they asked.

“Stevie,” I replied.

“Stevie; you mean Steve,” they were barely able to hide their grins and keep from laughing.

”Well, ya.” I retorted. They were about to have a lot of fun with me.

“You live there with your grandmother?”


“And the Brown Cow?”

“Brown Cow?” I questioned. They stood up and pointed to Skippy in the backyard. Skippy was truly a large brown mongrel dog but nothing bovine.

“That’s Skippy!”

“Oh, he’s not a cow? We thought he was a cow.” This was said with frequent giggles. “Stevie, come up here and sit by me,”  the one girl asked me.  I marched up to her and sat next to her.

“You want a girlfriend?” she asked with a haunting pause to follow.  “You want me to be your girlfriend?”  I was at a loss for words, already noting the substantially difference in ages.

“Come on in, we’ll show you our house,” and I was escorted into their darkened apartment living room. “Do you know how to kiss, Steve?” the one girl asked. I became really embarrassed; began to fidget and blush. “I don’t know. I guess,” I replied. I believe we deliberately changed the subject because of the tension, turning to topics of what I do at home and how I keep my time, until my grandmother came out the door to see what I was doing. “It’s my grandma!” I exclaimed and quickly made way to exit. The girls said goodbye – and I don’t recall ever seeing them after that visit.

Betty was studying to be a nurse at the time and I believe she was working part-time for a hospital. She’d often come home tired and exhausted from her training. One satisfaction was grandma’s air conditioning that warded off the 50s heat waves. I recall seeing an egg being fried on the sidewalk outside the Fox Theater on the news on one of the three channels the networks had then.  She was a wonderful guardian: we visited many places about the city, she even taught me how to use a shammy cloth to shine the auto wax on her new 50s Chevy, and visits to Cherokee Street (we would drop in on her fellow nurse friends living in an upstairs apartment near Cherokee and California Streets); we’ve seemed to go everywhere. I don’t think Betty realizes how much of a parental influence I perceived her as a child; it would have been a lonely life without her and her fiancé George Banjak in my life. She helped sew up some of the tattered edges and give an air of normalcy to the choppy waves happening then. But to this date, I always suspected Betty carried an aura of ‘hurt’ – maybe even ‘resentment’ – about her, and I never could be sure why.  I only hoped it was not because of me for I loved her very much as I did so many members in my family. We both lost a parent at an early age: that much we had in common. And we both probably felt shuffled about, as well.  I recall several nights falling asleep holding Betty’s hand and the comfort and sense of security it gave me.

I remember Betty  and George’s wedding.  We spent several afternoons at Holy Cross Church rehearsing for that day. I practiced walking down the aisle. The major problem I had at the rehearsals were the shoes: they were too small, even for my youngster feet. They hurt like the bones were crunching.  Grandma found a ‘shoe spreader’ and proceeded to stretch them babies as far as she could.  But they still hurt.

On the day of the wedding, we strapped up in our rented tuxedoes. George’s Best Man was one of Betty’s old boy friends – which I believe is a tradition when possible – and we had finished the project of dressing and were standing in Grandma’s back sunroom. The Best Man, I believe his first name was Roger, turned to George and said ¨Doesn’t Stevie look like a little angel, George?”  George, under the unusual pressure and weighty solemnness of a person about to cast himself into the lake of ‘for better or worse’, thought pensively for a moment and said: “ya. He looks more like a little devil.’  Roger stopped, glanced around at me and then George, “Oh George, how can you say that?  He’s a little angel!”   George, mustered a smile, reconsidered his anxiety, “No. Stevie, you’re a real doll.”  And I was; seeing the wedding photographs later, I was a real knock-out. I often wondered how such a cute child could have turned out to be such a monster.

Later, I recall one heck of a wedding reception celebration at a basement hall near the corner of Cherokee and California streets. A lot of polka and Big Band type music.

(George Banjak was a hero of my mine all my life.  A college graduate in Business Administration, and an Army veteran, he became a Director of Hospital Administration at a major hospital in Kokomo, Indiana and later several hospitals, ending up in retirement in Asheville, North Carolina.  Betty and George have been married for over 50 years.  Later, in 2017, George confided to me on the telephone that Betty was getting symptoms of Depression.  Betty Banjak passed away in November 2018 from dementia and general conditions.  She is greatly missed.)

Cousin Betty commented at my grandmother’s funeral as we stood next to each other by the casket viewing: “Like a little duchess.” Indeed, my remembrances of grandma Bork were that she indeed was nobility. My last memory of my grandmother was in her bed at Lutheran Hospital, we had circled the room about her in complete silence. She lay very peacefully with her hands folded on her stomach; “Go say goodbye to your grandmother,” my mom whispered to me.  I crept up to the edge of the bed within viewing distance: “Grandma, goodbye,” I shyly and softly said. Her lips moved as if she was barely attempting to say something. I glanced back to my mom for approval and she nodded that I did okay. Grandma Bork died that night on August 28, 1959, a Friday, at the age of 71.

(I recall the tales my mother would tell her friends about her teenage years in American once she and the Erdmanns were established as citizens.  She described herself as quite a “flapper” – going to dance clubs and night spots with girlfriends — dressing in the latest 1920-1930 styles [including sheer, sexy nylons which my grandfather, her father, John, strictly forbade].

[Lucy Moore described a ‘flapper’ of that period in her book Anything Goes {The Overlook Press, 2010}: “Jazz was a musical revolution and the people moving to its rhythms were an entirely new breed. The girl who jumped on to a table at a Harlem nightclub and started swinging her arms wildly above her head as the Charleston played was a type of woman America had never seen before. The word ‘flapper’ described a chick desperately flapping her wings as she tried to fly, although she had not yet grown adult feathers; it had come to mean a precocious young woman whose modern appearance, attitudes, values and behavior utterly mystified her parents’ generation.”]  

“veer ver you tonight?”, his German voice boomedwith authority, “Out meit dos wide adenteuer kelinerin? Wilbelig maedchen! Ungezogen schlampe!” he thundered. “Ya? uoo gat nylon strumpfhosen, aufreizend linguee on?! Nylonstrumpfe?!”

She had been warned not to wear sexy nylons.

‘‘You want to see?!” screamed my Mom back, ‘hiking’ her leg up on a chair and raising her skirt to her waist.

It was an action she would regret deeply and emotionally for a long time: John Bork launched into a furious retaliation of discipline in which my mother barely survived!

Clara Bork (her maiden name), was a feisty, hot-tempered, seductive teenager, who immigrated with her Sister Erna and her mom and dad, John and Marie, just before Adolf Hitler took complete power of state in Germany, leading to World War II.  It was the 1930s: The Borks had seen the political warning signs in Germany and they left a bakery business and the city of Kiel to be safe from the growing threat. Grandma Bork told of proud and stately times they lived in Germany, and on her wall of the front room at her duplex on Tennessee was a photo of John Bork in what appeared to be a naval uniform; John was said to have worked aboard a German submarine in the military.

Clara, a virulently pretty German teenager with light blonde hair, and sassy beauty, was attractive to men [photos of her parents, John and Marie Bork, also show them to both be good-looking people in their early years].  Clara Erdmann often referred to herself as a Bette Davis-type personality and likened her feisty temperament to that portrayed by that actress. The late Ed Harris, a young Jewish journalist, noticed Clara scrubbing the front steps one day [a tradition for the “scrubby Dutch”] and struck up a friendship by calling her “toots”.  My mom is mentioned in Ed Harris’ autobiography Love They Neighbor [a tome which Harris had hoped to and was trying to have made into atelevision series]. Writer and columnistHarris eventually went through the trouble of locating my mom in the 50s and inviting her, me, and my step-dad out to his large West Virginia farm to visit him, his wifeand family.  I was staying with grandma Bork on Tennessee Avenue at that time and I recall that day a mysterious man telephoned making inquiries. Grandma Bork seemed genuinely afraid and suspicious of this ‘mystery call’ of a stranger trying to locate my mom.  As it turned out, all in all, it was quite a memorable event for my mom. And, as I learned as years went on, she certainly left quite an impression where ever she went; it would not be unheard of for an old boy-friend to show some longing.

I was constantly reminded of my German heritage in so many ways, not just in the artifacts that the Germans had built about St. Louis, but the odds and ends that immigrant Germans brought with them from the Old Country.  As a tot on Castleman, I’d listen to the old records my mom brought from Kiel, sandwiched in with and amongst the more modern and current 78 LP records of the 40s and 50s (some had red, some had green, and some had black labels).  Some of them I’d like to play over and over – their yearnings and searchings’ – mixed with visions of World War II, portraits of Army Air Force fighter planes, sea battlers of bellowing gun turrets – exuberant soldiers and sailors on leave – Jo Stafford’s rendition of You Belong To Me (Columbia Records, 1952: I could almost feel  the soldier’s thoughts, as he flew over a jungle, thinking of his girlfriend), Margaret Whiting’s Far Away Places, 1948, etched a compulsion within me to search exotic lands and places, “They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am…But I know that I’m burning to see…Those faraway places with strange sounding names callin’, callin’ me” (the team of Alex Kramer and soon to be wife Joan Witney wrote 180 songs and entered the U.S. Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1982), Sentimental Journey by Doris Day (Les Brown orchestra, 1944) likewise gripped my heart and told of the era of World War II with visions of thousands of soldiers and sailors boarding trains and ships coming home), Vaughn Monroe’s Racing With The Moon (1941),there was the growingly popular Gene Autry’s Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer.  Many of those songs seemed to have become part of my DNA and imprinted on my soul tothis day. On A Slow Boat To China, Eddy Howard. Open The Door Richard, Louis Jordan. When I think of my cousin Betty as a teenager, these songs come to mind; or even when I remember that little gold Buddha image our next-door neighborhood, Mrs. Chalmers, had on her dresser, these songs would come to mind.But this particular summer, I discovered in that stack of records and began playing overand over and over one soul-stirring, thundering, gut–wrenching march that could even could swell the chest of a toddler with passion and pride, even though I did not understand the historic nature of the anthem. It was in German, but in reality, it sang:

…….Germany, Germany above everything, about everything in the world……

When it is always for protection and defense….brother sticks together……

From the Mense to the Neman…..from the Adige to the Belt……Germany, Germany Above everything, above everything in the world…..”

It was the German National Anthem used by Nazi Germany (but originating much earlier in 1797 and 1931, before the Nazis), the Duetschland Uber Allies, also known as Deutschlandlied der Deutschen and sometimes called Horst Wessel-lied.

Stevie!” My mother whipped around the corner from the kitchen into the front room area where I was laying belly-down listening to the anthem. “Stop playing that! Stop that now!” she shouted.  My brother John raced down from his room on the second floor:

“What’s wrong, mom?  What’s going on?” he was genuinely puzzled. I remember him standing there in his blue jeans in the short space between the kitchen and the front room.

“I’m afraid we would get into trouble if the neighbors heard us playing that!” she informed my brother, “Hitler’s Army use to play that in the war.” Despite all the war comic books and war souvenirs and paraphernalia floating around at that time, it was not apparent to me of how recent was the year 1945.  John just glanced down at me with that typical amused David and Ricky Nelson grin and smiled and said my nick-name: “Don’t be getting us into trouble now, would ja, sink-cheese?” and went back upstairs giggling. That was my beloved ‘Johnnie-brother’, as I often referred to him.

The episode ended with my whining and whimpering, leveling a salvo of questions at my Mom busying herself in the kitchen, trying to avoid me.  “Why was the song bad, mom? Mom? Mom?.”  And she tried to end the conversation with lame and edgy explanations, “It just was, Stevie”, or, “I don’t know, maybe some bad people sang it”.

Enjoyable memories visit me (especially when I presently listen to When Radio Was on local KMOK radio) of my laying before our front room radio console (which resembled or may have been a RCA k-60 console), sometimes on my stomach, sometimes on my back, and listened to the mystery and drama radio programs such as FBI In Peace And War,  starring Frederick l. Collins; The Cisco Kid (1942-1954); Inner Sanctum Mysteries (1941-1952); Gun Smoke (1952-1961); The Shadow (1931-1954); Suspense (1942-1962); not to mention many local voices such as announcer and radio personality Rex Davis on KMOK in St, Louis, or the famous voice of baseball, sportscaster Harry Carey (Harry Christopher Carabina: “Holy Cow!”). There was no better way to train a young child’s imagination than radio entertainment.  I can smell the dust of the living room rug that tweaked my nostrils as I hugged my face close to the floor, my mind in another world shelled in rabid imagination of solemn words and often dark intrigue.  

(Dr. Clay Routledge of the North Dakota State University says of nostalgia: “Nostalgia is a way for us to tap into the past experiences that we have that are quite meaningful – to remind us that our lives are worthwhile, that we are people of value, that we have good relationships, that we are happy and that life has some sense of purpose or meaning.”  Dr. Tim Wildschut of the University of South Hampton said that nostalgia is a “fundamentally humane emotion”. Linda Kennedy, director of a play based on Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy, said “we all romanticize about certain periods in our lives.”  Even Benjamin Kyle, who suffered from retro – grade or dis-associative amnesia, had this to say: “Where we came from always carries more emotional weight than where we are at now.”)

It was a first-time trip that I had prepared, somewhat slovenly, haphazardly, and far too simplistically, for some of the remaining members of my childhood German Lutheran church in Carondelet, Missouri. The trip was to the Des Peres City Hall.  But that building was at one time my home: it was at one time the German Evangelical Lutheran Orphanage at 12325 Manchester Road were I resided for 2 to 3 years in the early 1950s, when my mother was forced to place me as a half-orphan as she struggled to cope with widowhood and employment after my father died when I was 10-months-of-age.  She coped with life’s problems till I was about eight-years-of-age, when lifestyles of my teenage brothers and feuds between my grandparents and daughter and daughter-in-law made it the shortest distance between two points. To me, it was the end of the world. To me, it was abandonment. To me, it was being left on a desert island – my father left long time ago – now my mother.  No explanation to the contrary would convince me otherwise. It was the new and strange Land of Oz (and the televising of the movie The Wizard of Oz was a yearly ritual for orphans).

I still feel and recall that tight knot in my stomach – that foreboding – that small voice in my head telling me “somebody is lying to me” – as my mom and I rode on the Manchester bus out to 12325 Manchester in the 1950s – setting foot off the bus, suitcases at my side – looking down what appeared to my small mind as a long, long  driveway into the ——— unknown. Every step towards that majestic edifice of the orphanage administration and boarding rooms on the other end was as if it was unreal, a dream, and I should wake up any minute. I would keep looking at the expression on my mom’s face: was she sad, happy, or uninterested? Her expression almost seemed blank and without reality, and even more, frighteningly ‘calm’. And then, once we met the House Mother, Momma Casper, the stark truth of my fate hit me like a stone wall: I was going to be left behind, left here, alone, and I began to scream in panic. Many years later, as an elderly man, I will recall the scene from Steven Spielberg’s movie A.I. (the end product ofStanley Kubrick’s rendition of the science-fiction story by Brian Aldiss, Super-toys Last All Summer Long) where the adopted robotic, synthetic child, David, was taken by his mother, Monica Swinton, into the woods to be deserted: It was almost De’Ja’ Vue; I’ve somehow been there before straight out of Spielberg’s fiction. But this time I had captors; the House Mother, Lottie Kasper, picked me up and crashed me to the floor; “you crashed me like an airplane!” I made the strange, bizarre, awkward metaphor and exclamation, but I heard my mother, and Momma Kasper, both, laughing as if they could not see the seriousness, the gut-wrenching fear of being given into a wilderness to be abandoned. Then, in a matter of a few minutes, she was gone I don’t remember if i was even allowed to watch her walk up that long, straight driveway back to the bus stop. I just can’t remember.


“Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere, waiting for me, my lover stands on golden sands…and watches the ships that go sailing…it’s far beyond a star, it’s near beyond the moon….I know beyond a doubt…my heart will lead me there soon…” Somewhere Beyond The Sea, Bobby Darin, 1959. ‘La Mer’, Charles Trenet and Jack Lawrence, 1946. 

Life at the “children’s home”, as it was also known, soon fell into an unwelcomed, to a broken-hearted child, routine; but, then again, oft times exciting, adventure-filled extravaganzas. It was almost like an induction in a military service, assigned a dormitory room with each child his own locker for his Sunday-to-Church clothes and other personal items. I often imagine the administrators and care-takers’ hearts would break to see the lonesomeness of their children; others were very happy to have shelter, good schooling, and someplace to call home; our dormitory parents were known as Momma and Paper Kasper (Lottie and Charley, both members of St. Paul’s Lutheran parish until the time of their deaths).

Most of the children were then, and still are, just faces.  Not because I had any animosity towards them.  Several became close friends; just that at that age, one usually retains first names much easier. There was Victor Kruger, the stutterer, was mentally-challenged, more than others, probably stigmatized because his mother had been in a mental institution (Dean told me that Victor had been misdiagnosed and through the efforts of the staff, Victor graduated from High School as any other kid), Bobby, Willie Rohs, and Ronnie Schlitter (who turned up in several of the photos my visiting family took; we could have been called the suspender kids because we always werephotographed wearing our suspenders; some of us were, steeped in insecurity, also all a bunch of bed-wetter’s). But through the records of Anthony Dean, fellow orphan, names took on more imagery. Tommy Cagle (which also was photographed with me playing or posing about the ‘farm [yes, the ‘home’ was also a ’farm’ with fresh milk, cows, rows upon rows of produce from tomatoes to rhubarb, a barn, a tractor, apple trees and even a onion storage mound back in the woods beyond the small pond in the back acres). Willie Rohs came straight from Germany (wearing authentic wooden shoes and ethic attire) and could not speak English; house-mother Kathren Paul taught Willie English.  I had a photo of Willie and I standing side by side (with suspenders) out on the front lawn. Little Ronnie Schlitter (Dean told me that Ronnie was a veteran of the Viet Nam war and had received the Silver Star for heroism; a hand grenade was thrown into the midst of his buddies and Schlitter single-handedly pounced on the grenade and threw it away from the group, saving them) and I would take turns flirting with visiting High School girls who’d come to spend the afternoon with us. Little Henry Freitz and his sister Lois and brother Johnnie; a troop of orphans were taken to a fully displayed Barnum and Bailey Circus in the country [transported in an old Army truck with the benches circling the inside perimeter {that truck drove us everywhere, it seemed} on a rather slow day and a somewhat empty Main Tent, but Henry was enjoying the clown stunts that allowed him to laugh his little heart out; that day was a great success for him). I recall John Van Norman, one of my best playmates. Looking back to those orphanage days, it appeared to be one adventure after another and excitement, and the best care that a lonely child could wish for. But in the end, how do you erase any mental effect that it could possibly have had to a child that sat by his clear or open dormitory window next to his bed at night (make-believing the electric lights on the horizon were the Shaw neighborhood or Carondelet) and sadly and despondently pray to be with his mother and brothers and friends and wonder why this all came about?

I had much time to myself and roaming the park and fields about the orphanage.  One afternoon, playing adjacent to the radishes and rhubarb, one of the teenage girls who lived in their private room on the upper floors (my psychic sense tells me it may have been Betty Petty) was playing her records (and Hank Williams, Hey Good Looking […what ya got cookin?…how about cookin something up with me?…], and other country songs seemed to be her favorite style).  One song either was her favorite – or she was playing it loudly to tease other orphans – but its forlorn and haunting melody and words came floating out into the yards, bringing me to tears and sad thoughts (William Orville “Lefty” Fruzzel having a somewhat tumultuous life, became popular in the strain of Jimmy Rogers and Roy Orison; coming to live in Big Spring, Texas in the 1950s, Fruzzel wrote the Mom And Dad waltz in 1951, toured with Hank Williams in October, 1951 and in July of that year became a member of the Grand Ole’ Opry, died on July 19, 1975 from a stroke, and was elected to the Country Musical hall of Fame in 1982):

“I’d walk for miles – cry or smile – for momma and daddy –  I want them –  to know –  I love them so….I’d walk for miles – cry or smile – for my momma and daddy –  I want them –  to know –  how I feel –  my love is real –  for my momma and daddy –  I want them  –  to know – I love them so….”
“I’d fight in wars – do all the chores – for my momma and daddy – I want  them – to live on – till they’re called….I’d work and slave – and never rave – for momma and daddy – because I know I owe them my all….”       

Suddenly, many years later, in 2008, that lack of preparation for an outing was an insult and, apparently, a threat to the psyche of Moriarty Wild.  It was Wild’s second visit to the Des Peres site, this time in a group, and he expected everyone to measure-up to his private standards, unbeknownst to everyone else on the trip. And, perhaps, it was a disappointment to him or anyone else – and what was I trying to display anyway?  How can someone reveal, portray what is deep within his soul or his nightmares and dreams; and should it be done at all?

Manchester Road was the original Route 66; Des Peres, Missouri came into being in 1901; in 1834, the Des Peres Presbyterian Church on Moddy Road, later Ballas Road, marked the future site of the orphanage.

The Lutheran Orphanage was originally opened in 1868, and was joined by a second building in 1873; these constructions were essentially replaced in 1893. A fire in 1935 forced the orphanage to be rebuilt in 1936. And to better accommodate the children, the Andrew Cremer Memorial School was built in 1947. I recall spending several grades on the lower level: Ester Bester, an older lady, taught us in the east classroom and a very young and a very pretty young lady, Irene Scharrer (now, Mrs. Hartmann), taught on the west class room.  Irene did not realize I had a deep childhood crush on her, and I spent an unusual amount of time starring at her; she seemed so different and alluring to me, even at that age.  No one taught me that it was improper to stare excessively at people, and she did such heart-pounding things (even at my young age it was apparent I was a sprouting male) like walk about with no shoes on. After several flirtatious glances given her, Irene became very insulted and she would let me know that in no uncertain terms. It broke my heart. But she let me know we definitely were not friends. I spoke to Irene on the phone in September 2011 and she remembers no animosity at all; she recalls me as “that little blond” that was fairly quiet.  She was quite flattered that I had a crush on her and we spoke of the many memories we both had. Ester spent most of her time, as I recall, reading stories to us and allowing us to draw art and pictures. Even back then, Steve Erdmann’s psyche was perceiving futuristic problems; most of my art were drawings of volcanoes and explorers going down into their depths, of atomic bomb explosion cloud-plumbs; and the ‘swinging pole’ act from the Barney and Bailey Circus Big Tent routine. We had a wood-working shop in the basement, but I never became a carpenter craftsman.

The first level of the main building had a long hallway running from the “boys’” side to the “girls’’’ side. The hallway looked so much longer then, as more recently viewed; so did lawns, roads, and other childhood scenes.  Along the hallway were the administration offices, a pay phone, a ‘playroom’ on the west end, stairways on each end section, and my dormitory on the north end, adjacent to Mom and Pop Kasper’s private living quarters. The hallway was also the entrance to the large dining room on the West side through two doors; and west of the dining room was a fairly large kitchen were all that farm produce and fresh milk and real butchered hogs and cows might be served (we had a little brick slaughter house in the back, just outside the rear entrances; the kids were welcomed to watch the killing and slaughter, though most couldn’t stomach it. The kitchen was torn down when the building became Des Peres City).

One of the most memorable items was a “news cabinet” towards the East end on the wall near the offices: each week a rectangular news photo was placed in the glass cabinet, possibly from Reuters. I recall seeing the explosion plumb-cloud from one of the atomic tests; the body of the shooting of some famous Mafioso  laying on the sidewalk (I have not been able to locate what killing it might be, other than a 1951 murder of mobster Willie Moretti – it was a body stretched outside a car on the sidewalk, reminded me of the photo of the 1983 murder photo of Paul Castellano); military fire-fights from the Korean War such as the big cannons being fired; the photos of the atomic spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg at the time of their death sentencing (their Supreme Court appeals ran out on July 19, 1953).

In 1995, the National Security Agency publicly released documents from the VENONA project, an effort to decrypt intercepted messages between Soviet agents and the NKVD/KGB. A spy with the code name of ANTENNA and LIBERAL was confirmed, leading to Julius Rosenberg. A November 27, 1944 document indicated that Ethel Rosenberg was complacent, though not evident, in the spying.  KGB handler Alexandre Keklisov, Julius was originally recruited by the KGB in Labor Day 1942, by former spymaster Semyon Semenov. According to Feklisov, Julius secreted thousands of classified reports from Emerson Radio, along with complete schematics for a proximity fuse, the same design that was used to shoot down Gary Powers’ U-2 in 1960.  Rosenberg recruited individuals to the KGB’s service, including brother-in-law. David Greenglass, who was a machinist on the super-secret atomic Manhattan Project.     

The atomic tests were significant events in the Early 50s. The tests would be announced in advanced so orphans would gather to watch the televised explosion on the dining room television set. There never was a big crowd. I recall sitting by myself one time, a fellow orphan came in and asked what I was doing. “They are counting down to the atomic bomb!” I exclaimed, “be quiet!”  3 – 2 – 1– 0 – a pregnant moment of silence – the whole television screen would go white for a second – and then as the brilliance faded away – that twisting, swirling mass of black, grey bellowing cloud rose up in to the air, amidst the announcer’s fervid telecast and static, brooding speech.

One of the first bomb tests was on January 27, 1951 – ‘Big Shot’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Buster’, ‘Jangle’, ten-kiloton; after April 22, 1952, televised broadcasts of the bomb explosions – called Atomic Parties – Dawn Bomb Parties –  swept the nation – ‘Tumbler’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Snapper’, ‘Upshot’, ‘Knothole’, Operation Ranger: One bomb every three weeks for twelve years until the Test Ban limitation in 1963. That was 235 bombs and $176 million in 50s dollars in Federal Funds.

Operation Sugar was the first bomb in early 1951 exploded on the surface of the desert rather than dropped from the air by plane.  Operation Upshot-Knothole-Badger on May 8, 1953, exposed 145 ponderosa pines brought in from Kyle Canyon to the force of the 23-kiloton bomb.  On May 25, 1953, a cannon nicknames ‘Atomic Annie’ fired a 15-kiloton atomic bomb.  The Operation Hamlet 26 kiloton Dirty Harry bomb of May 8, 1953, in Frenchman Flat caused an unusual large amounts of radiation which concentrated in St. George, Utah.  

The bomb tests became so common place that watching mushroom clouds turned into a Las Vegas tourist attraction.  Now, the entire nation could witness an atomic blast in the 50s from the comfort of their homes as the media provided live television coverage.  As one news reporter exclaimed; “Hell bust from the skies over Yucca Flat this morning as America’s latest model atom bomb exploded with enough force to devastate much of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or any other big city.” (Hugh Baillie, UPI, Tuesday, April 22, 1952, 6 a.m.)

“Building the bomb was the single most expensive engineering project in the history of the United States,” said Annie Jacobson in Area 51: An Uncensored History Of America’s Top Secret Military Base, “It began in 1942, and by the time the bomb was tested inside the White Sands Proving Ground in the New Mexico high desert on July 16, 1945, the bomb’s price tag, adjusted for inflation, was $28,000,000,000. The degree of secrecy maintained while building the bomb is almost inconceivable. When the world learned that America had dropped an atomic weapon on Hiroshima, no one was more surprised than the U.S. Congress, none of whose members had any idea it was being developed.” 

The Atomic Age was upon us and I was a part of it. My father, Steve Erdmann, passed away in April 1945.  During that same month a Target Committee met to discuss which Japanese cities to target with the atomic bomb; and shortly following the Joint Intelligence Committee informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the “inevitability of absolute defeat” of Japan.

When the first July 15, 1945 atomic bomb exploded, William L. Laurence wrote in the New York Times: “The atomic age began at exactly 5;30 Mountain War Time on the morning of July 15,1945, on a stretch of semi-desert land about 50 airline miles from Alamogordo, New Mexico and just at that instance there rose from the bowels of the earth a light not of this world, the light of many suns in one……”

Co-inventor of the bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, was solemn, pensive and macabre; he quoted the 2,000-year-old Bhagavad Gita of India: “I am become death, the Shatterer of worlds.”

Kenneth Tompkins Bainbridge turned to Oppenheimer and said pointedly, succinctly: “Now we’re all sons-of-bitches.”

“The 509 Composite Group, 20th Air Force will deliver its first special bombers as soon as the weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August, 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki” read the orders devised near July 24, 1945 and which came down from Secretary of War Henry Stimson, General Carl Spatz, Commander of the U.S Army Strategic Air Forces, and Chief Of Staff General Thomas Handy.

The Tube

Television was a comparatively new invention. The first time I recall seeing it was at childhood playmate’s next-door apartment on Castleman, the Snido family.  The Arthur Godfrey program sticks in my mind, as well as Les Paul and Mary Ford singing How High The Moon, whileKate Smith sang patriotic anthems at the end of the televising day.

But there was a plethora of sets at the orphanage, placed strategically throughout building (I recall one television in the dinning room, one in the first-floor west playroom, one in the basement West lounge, there were several placed strategically throughout the orphanage). And it was through these magic lenses that the “dawn of the space age” began its assent in its prophetic sirens call: SPACE PATROL, which had begun on March 9, 1950 in Los Angeles, went from ½ hour segments to 30-minute segments on April 29, 1953.  Commander Buzz Corry (Ed Kemmer) of the United Planets Space Patrol, along with his comedic and jovial sidekick Cadet Happy (Lyn Osborn). And the orphans had these magic heroes, jetting about in the Terra V Spacecraft, utilizing their miniature space-o-phones and Atomolights, fighting nefarious interplanetary villains on diabolical ventures each Saturday.  “Revolt of the Space Rats”.  “The menace of Planet X”. “Escape of Mr. Proteus”.  

These childhood space adventure sceneries became second nature to me – as well as to actual scientists who later confessed that they were inspired by the series – as were so many 1950s TV programs inspiration – such as THE HOWDY-DOODY program starring many string puppets and the master of ceremonies Buffalo Bob (Robert Schmidt). The popular program started with Buffalo Bob asking jovially: “Hey kids, what time is it!?”  And the 40 or so kids in the Peanut Gallery shouting back: “It’s Howdy Doody time!” The program consisted of a menagerie of Chief Thunderthud, Clarabell-the-Clown, Zippy the Chimp, Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring, and many other iconic characters.

Perhaps the biggest political campaign in my life took place at the orphanage; the year that Howdy Doody ran against puppet Mayor Phineas T. Bluster in 1952.  It was also the year of the American Presidential campaign: Governor Adlai Stevenson versus Dwight D. Eisenhower. Surprisingly, Mayor Bluster stirred the passions of a few orphans, and garnered some votes; probably because some of the older kids knew the political system and how to create opposing politics.  It certainly did in me: and no one was going to oust the beloved Doody.  I looked about the premises and found one broken and splintered inch by inch stick.  Then I looked about the premises and found a torn, white tee-shirt.  Using one of the abundant crayons on site, I wrote the words in bold black crayon on both sides of the shirt: VOTE FOR HOWDY DOODY.  With a tight grip on the stick, I proceeded to run around the periphery, trying to stay to the driveways and walkways, shouting at the top of my voice “Vote for Howdy Doody!  Vote for Howdy Doody!”, incessantly, relentlessly. Not just on a single day, but day after day after day.  Such passion had never been seen in a political campaign before – or ever since.  And it did not go unnoticed.

One of the program’s sponsors, Wonder Bread, had mailings and placings of voting ballets.  Apparently a decision had been made and a few telephone calls created, unbeknownst to me, to certain parties concerning the fervid activity at the orphanage.  While doing my regular marathon race one day, my attention was drawn to the whirring engine of a small plane – Piper Cub or something – that was dropping low over me in the front lawn. I watched intrigued as suddenly paper was discharged and strewn from the plane, descending all over the front patio and grass.  When retrieved it was discovered to be waxed Doodyville voting ballots.  Somewhat shocked and surprised, I suddenly realized that my promoters

were behind me all the time; and, now, I had to get to work……

It must have been to my additional efforts, as I had no idea how close a race it was, but Howdy may have just squeaked through the election to become Mayor; thank God I had hung in there.

Daily life at the “home” was capped time and again by idiosyncratic happenings in the life of orphans, right out of the pages of children themes such as Oliver Twist, Little Orphan Annie, or The Hardy Boys, lavishly encrusted in a sequence of daily episodes over those years.

Saturdays were our weekly bathing times, the girls lined up single file on the west end of the building starting in the basement, and the boys on the east end in likewise fashion, spiraling one floor at a time up the staircases till they reach the inclined corridor leading to the bathing area near the infirmary. The heralding effort by Momma Kasper entailed each boy to strip naked as she diligently knelt by the bathtub, scrubbed their body down, suds the hair and thrust their head under the facet to rinse the soap and go on to the next child in military fashion.  But there’s the rub:  I was deathly afraid to have my head thrust under the facet in that fashion – sacred to death actually – a phobia that took me many years to overcome.

Consequently, when bathing time came, and the announcement was made to form the lines up the staircase – I ran; I tried to escape – out into the farming fields – out beyond the north ponds – into the wooded areas – anywhere.  “Stevie Erdmann! Come on in and get your bath!” boomed the voice from the Administrator’s office building-speakers. I crouched and shivered in fear, contemplating the teenage vigilante squad that was always sent out to look for me; and they either found me, or I gave up in desperation from receiving some punishment.  Going under the facet was a deep, dark entrance into a symbolic  grave, and often journeyed with screams and crying until it was over.

Amongst other childhood wonders of that period was the fantastic experience of “‘drive-in (out-door) motion picture theaters”.  We had, at our disposal, so-to-speak, the “first” created drive-in in the metropolitan area: the Manchester drive-in opened in Des Peres on May 24, 1940. It was a short distance west of the orphanage at 12500 Manchester; we could walk there and did several times like little “troopers” with Army back-packs, except it was our pillows tucked under our arms, and in single file fashion, marching down the long driveway, accompanied by our House Parents, making an abject right-turn and marching straight down Manchester into the drive-in and assembling in the “Kiddie Area” towards the playground at the front of the movie screen. Today, all the drive-ins in the immediate area are gone.  Wow! One of the movies I recalled watching with other orphans was the 1952 movie The Great Show On Earth, the circus film, starring Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wide and Jimmy Stewart. The movie parroted the actual trials and tribulations of the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus in route with their 1400 people and 60 Carloads of animals and actors (plus a make-shift train wreck).

The Manchester drive-in was part of the Philip Smith movie chain held by the National Theatre in Boston; It held 500 cars, The chain began as Midwest Drive in 1937 with theaters in Cleveland and Detroit. In 1951 it became the Smith Management Company and later General Drive, General Cinema Corporation, and finally Harcourt and General Cinema.

Wehrenberg Des Peres 14 Cine is presently across Manchester/I-270 from the old drive-in site. The drive-in closed on June 18, 1967 to make way for the shopping The West County Shopping Centre.  

The Manchester drive-in was also the Lutheran church’s choice for Easter Sunrise services, and, as the title suggests, bright and early before sunrise, automobiles and crowds of people arrived – orphans in tow – to a special celebration at the drive-in every Easter holiday.  

Chapter Two – The Spirits Move


(Annie: “Anything you can do I can do better….I can do anything better than you.”  Frank: “No, you can’t” Annie: “Yes, I can.”  Frank: “No you can’t.”  Annie: “Yes, I can.”  Frank: “No, you can’t.”  Annie: “Yes, I can, yes I can!”   Frank: “Anything you can be I can be greater; sooner or later I’m greater than you….I can drink my liquor faster than a flicker….”  Annie: “I can do it quicker and get even sicker….” Irvin Berlin’s musical, 1946, Annie Get Your Gun.)     

John Moeller and I go way back to grade school days and juvenile tufts and tangles: such as the Army-Navy club.  John’s dad had been in the Army and my step-brother had been in the Navy, and so ensuing conversations over which branch of service had best evolved militarily over the years turned into documenting facts about why the one branch of service was better than the other, usually in fighting capabilities. This involved which branch had better weaponry. Since this was the dawning (not just the Age of Aquarius, as they later sang in the musical Hair, but..…) of the age of the military ballistic- missile, it was also the rise of the Space Age, and I recall the debate over which branch of military service was to mandate the launching of our first outer space satellite.  As it turned out, the Navy lost with the explosion of the Vanguard rocket and the Army won with the launch of the Explorer satellite.  John  and  I had our battles too; I had invented the Navy aircraft carrier launching system with a Monel  alloy metal slab (my step-father and foundry-worker, Walter Moser, recommended this alloy) off which a three-stage Disney Tomorrow World-type rocket would blast-off (in my imagination, of course) into space while out at sea. And I had a whole raft of drawings and sketches in secret files (some right in the school room, attended by some of fellow female students – which we had somehow enlisted into the secretarial ranks of our competition).

One of my “notebook inventions” was a rocket run on very micro-granulated pulp (paper) mixed with liquid oxygen and ignited in a specially designed “nozzle”. Technically, theoretically, it could work.

Another “notebook invention” was basically, what we would call in 2010, “photon synchronization” (I am not sure what I called it then) or a synchrotron in gravity-free outer space where large masses could be eventually accelerated to the speed-of-light, or seemingly so. I recall inventing some kind of filament focusing cap or chamber, or some such idea. I’ll never really know what my notes said about this until they are discovered in the cave of my garage storage. 

I recall studiously watching for “rocket news” in the papers, and upon spying a column or topic (especially with photos of ballistic missiles, Redstone rockets, or news on the “space race”); I’d add it to my collection of clippings and put them in my shoe box of news.

The era became traditionally and vernacularly known as the “Space Age”.

We even had secret meetings: some which were about a makeshift aircraft carrier in my parents’ basement – to which John sent spies over to try and look through the basement windows.  Sometimes John spied on his own special mission.  Contests and debates ensured, and I had not seen the heat, fervor, and political determination since the Great Howdy Doody campaign for Major of Woodville against Mr. Finiaus T. Bluster in the 50s television show ( as previously  disclosed in my short two to three year sojourn at the Lutherans’ Orphanage in Des Peres, Missouri in the early 1950s) in which I was witness and in charge of campaigning for Howdy….but I digress.  Such debates and contests were typical for John and I and I suppose the tradition carries on to this day. But it was usually all part of growing up and added to the color and nostalgia of “yesterday”.  As much as some things change, they stay the same.

John’s competitive nature was divulged in his passion for basketball. John joined the Saint Trinity basket team. Youth Night, which the school designated as Thursday evenings, and the grade school kids and friends could come to activities such as pin-pong or basketball.  John and the other guys were eager to hone their basketball skills and I recall John being one of the more vibrant and earnest players on the court…..often set in my memory as a big ball of sweat racing up and down the court, waving his hand in the air, asking his team-mates to ‘past the ball’ to him.  Not that basketball was totally foreign to me.  I attempted to play on the Team for a semester, I believe.  I played left forward; and my sole talent was standing there in that one spot and having the ball thrown to me while the opposing team was kept busy on the opposite side of the court, proceeding to allow me to “swish” the ball into the basket. I recall the eighth-grade girls screaming when I did that — which didn’t happen as often as I’d wish. But my biggest problem with my basketball was simple things like “dribbling,” “fouls,”  “travelling,” and having the ball “constantly stolen” from me. Fellow classmate, Craig Behrens, also made attempts to try out the sport.  But Craig’s true love was going deer hunting with his father: one weekend the hunting clashed to his requested attendance at a basketball game.  John’s reaction was livid: they had lost the game – Craig had not been there.  Craig was going to “hear” about this!  The “showdown” had been announced.  Craig, who was never a dull or unintelligible person, answered John’s protest: “let me ask you something: if you were me, knowing my passion for deer hunting with my father, and you had the opportunity to get out in the wilds and do what you love, what would you do?” john thought about it for a moment – and the conversation ended with no one worse for the wear; and Craig still a happy “camper”.

We also had an innate grade-school crush on this girl or that girl, and we had some real sweethearts – highly unappreciative the boys were in those days —– looking back in time. We always took for granted those wonderful little moments and the flowering vibrancy of female charm and adolescent allure.  But competition set in those moments as well. However, in a few instances I won those bouts as Youth Night basketball became the other lady, but I often won the real girl instead.                      

(Anna Nadir had a good perspective: “Past is meant to be in the past.  If you dwell with it too much, you’ll never be able to move on. If I had kept tight to all the small lil misunderstandings I had with all my friends, I’ll never be good friends with anyone right now. You forgive and forget, but at the same time, learn from it and escape from repeating the same mistake again….Running away from viewing the bad/ugly side of our self is not that healthy either….None of us are perfect, so if you can know you have weaknesses, work on improving it, not ‘run away’ from it, that is ‘never’ a solution….”

I recall that in my ‘single’ years, later when struggling to adapt to and survive in being “alone” after 12 years of marriage, I did my share of socializing at “dance clubs”; and I did my share of visiting “pubs” trying to  acclimate  to what might be a typical modern life style  (never could achieve the money part, though I was a reader of Playboy  – – – I  suspect, like so many divorced or single men, my main concern was being lonely, afraid, disenfranchised, and somehow fending the “wolves” that were then snarling at the “target” on my back. Those years, however, seemed a combination of good and bad experiences. And, much like my childhood, I tried to “invent” adventure – – – be out and about “people”, places, and things (like Barbra Streisand says her song People: “people who need people….”) – – – to negate the harsh realities that pounced upon me.


“Some of my childhood experiences I’ve told Moriarty Wild about. Some of the more-darker experiences, I just couldn’t speak of (as Uncle Tonoose [Hans Conried] use to say on the Danny Thomas Show – Make Room For Daddy – “Never allow the camel to stick his nose under the tent, before too long, you will have the whole camel inside the tent”,” I wrote Wild. “Those experiences have probably, much like you, entrenched the schizoid- feelings that have grown within me.”

“But would I give up the “good” memories just because they don’t fit in or satisfy some Luddite-separatist philosophy? It is not clear what you are asking; and, again, I am not sure anyone should care. Why would you ask that I become a self-abolitionist of everything in my past to suit Mr. Wild?”

“People are like animals – savages – most minorities bring their third-world leanings into what once was a fairly clean and growing nation. Gradually, they have destroyed it!” Wild exclaimed as we walked in the Spring scent of blossoms and fresh foliage in the historic Tower Grove park off Grand. “That’s the secret part of history the blacks and minorities won’t tell you. They are afraid of telling you, because they have not earned it and want to destroy it.  I don’t feel like arguing about it now – but I’ll prove it to you one day.” I sympathized with Wild’s basic fears of seeing a country that  so many felt had the strings of opportunity for a better way of life, and was now being destroyed from carelessness and unintentional and even willful ignorance……yet I could not help but  feel that Wild was desperately lacking in insight.

The Tower Grove park symbolized, perhaps, everything that  Wild was inferring. The park was originally part of Henry Shaw’s original purchase of 1,293 acres; 270 acres designated as Tower Grove Park (an intricate part of the 1904 World’s Fair), and the remainder to his Botanical garden, in 1849, known as Shaw’s Garden.  Shaw was often referred to by friends as “Hank” and they frequently called the garden “Hank’s Garden”.  It later became known after his death as the Missouri Botanical Garden – a research and tourist center – the park was a designed landscape of gazebos and trees, some of which Shaw selected and planted himself; one of several Victorian strolling parks that contained jewels of architectural design. In 1868, Shaw gave Tower Grove Park to the city and retained Shaw’s Garden to grow into a modern botanical research center of delicate but enormous style which eventually constructed the Climatron (the first geodesic dome green house).  With the help of colleagues and botanists, Dr. George Engelmann and Jakob Bernhardt, and 60,000 specimen herbarium for $600 dollars, ‘Hank’s Garden’ was created.  In the 1880s, the Linnean House (named after Karl Linneaus; the father of the science of plant classification) came into being, housing palms, citrus and other tender plants. The property was decorated with busts of botanists Asa Gray and Thomas Nuttal.

Hank Shaw came to St. Louis in America on the New Orleans first steamer powered paddlewheel the Maid Of Orleans in the Spring of 1817; St. Louis  was only 50 years old.  Shaw built a hardware store on the west side of 4th North Main and the business flourished and Hank became very wealthy – so wealthy that  at 40 years-of-age he became the largest landholder in that area and he decided to retire and pursue travel and expand his love of botany. Shaw saw botany as the “victory of science over ignorance” (the slogan at the marble statue by artist Carlo Nicolle in the Park, a replica of a 1859 Vincento Consani statue). The garden gave an annual ‘Flower Sermon’ since 1890, part of the sermon says: “On the wisdom and goodness of God as shown in  the growth of flowers, fruits, and other products of the vegetable kingdom.”  Henry Shaw more than beauty  to flowers and plants, there was also practical scientific knowledge in medicine and healing.  His garden was only a beginning of a dream.  Shaw had an exotic orchid collection, and every year 1000,000 new specimens arrive at the gardens. Shaw said: “Plants and flowers provide the air quality we breath, provide medications, keep our soil from eroding.  They maintain us in so many ways.”  

Wearing his typical cap with frayed bill and worn spot on top, dilapidated wool sweater with torn sown-in elbow pads, yet in much better physical shape than I despite his thin and molted appearance, Wild turned to me after an afternoon of strolling in Shaw’s creation: “This purity!  This natural goodness!  They will all be destroyed by baser human savagery and terrorism!  I see it all through the city of St. Louis – America – I fear for it; the dumbing-down of America – the Communist takeover!”’ I’ve heard it before from Wild, and even had seen some of the documents and books that Moriarty gave me to review –  Charlotte Iserbyt, , The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, John A. Stormer, None Dare Call It Treason, David Joel Horowitz, The Professors, and several others.  And he was dead on the mark, with laser precision – too dead on and too precise – to a fault.  “Shaw owned slaves, did he not?” Wild’s voiced strained in anger with veins protruding in his neck, “he believed in purity!”

Like so many things that Wild talked about, it had to be black or white, no middle ground. That’s the way Wild lived life In its political and philosophical extremes, like the unseen dark matter of the universe, holding him together. Shaw deplored slavery early in his life, but, it is true, he came to own slaves.  Shaw would not exist very well in Wild‘s extreme world, he was neither black nor white in his style.  In the 1870s, a young African American man named John Freugh came to Shaw to find work; he was hired and eventually became Shaw’s personal assistant and unofficial guide to Tower Grove House. Asked why he employed so many ‘bohemians.’ Shaw replied: “The bohemians do not seem to very popular with us, and I think I ought to help them all I can.” Shaw was not squeaky clean, as several episodes in his life portrayed: Hank was sued for Breach of Promise to a lady he was entertaining marriage; but it was decided against such action. Perhaps it was such incidents that helped him declare “wine was the secret of national progress.”

With the rag-tag background I came from, I wondered how my lack of purity condemned me to the hell he wished for others.         


(“Cleminzo said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that fifty years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to the politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought…I can no longer sit and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids….Loss of essence. I can assure you that it has not recurred, Mandrake, women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence.” [Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper defending an Army base against attack in Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Learned To Love The Bomb, directed by Stanley Kubrick, United Artists Films, 1964].)

I sat with Wild by the Shaw’s Garden famous Nymphaea hybrid water lily pond that late Spring, and I wondered if Wild realized how divergent his belief about Shaw’s purity was from the reality of the world happening about him.  Shaw may have loved nature as one of God’s ‘purities’ but there were ironies and paradoxes. Impressionist artist Oscar Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) had a famous painting of nymphaea lilies called Monet’s Water Lilies – the same type lilies that Shaw had in his garden.  Monet saw these lilies at Giverny, France, as grown by botanist Joseph Latour-Marliac, and they became immortalized as an Impressionistic expression by Monet.  The problem is: Monet’s movement was not a testament to the “black-on-white” approach to reality, but, rather, was based on the latest trends in science of Darwin, Freud, quantum physics and other renaissance scientific views. Science was looking “behind the veil” and was saying there is much more to reality then “meets the eye”. Science had begun to question the age-old viewpoints of mankind, and artists began to portray and under-cut the certainties of the 19th century. This is why Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism and others were met with such hostility because they “recreated the sensation in the eye that views the subject, rather than recreating the subject” ( In that coincidence, rather than just statues in a black-on-white-photograph of sorts, these lilies were quite radical.


“The Red Robin restaurant was a first time event for most of the people on that trip.  It was my first time”, I wrote to Wild in 2008.  “Did you feel there was a conspiracy to dragging you in there?  None that I know of. I know for a fact that church members have gone to some very nice restaurants in the past. It just happened that this was a very poor choice for you personally.”   (I think it was just an impulsive decision: do you remember the swimming pool scene in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life with James Stewart and Donna Reed [one of your “Oldie but Goodie” movies] where George Bailey and Alice Hatch fall into the pool at the high school graduation dance [while dancing the Charleston to a Swing-Band {OH MY GOSH!}, along with all the other Jitterbugging students?).  “What did you expect them to do: stand up in some kind of societal revolt – – – some kinds of frenzy of polyphobia – – – – acoustic phobia, deipnophobia, pan phobia – – – – walk out? I thought that group handled it very well, not knowing about your personal anthropophagic misanthropy; your black-on-white world view and recusantism. Besides, it’s not the first noisy restaurant we’ve been in: why did it really bother you to such a raw degree?”

My wife and I had gone to a, then recently opened, Golden Corral restaurant in 2010 as a first time event. The price seemed reasonable; the food fairly good. But it is a buffet and was a circus of all kinds of people and family chatter. My wife met some friends she had not seen for a while, and that made her happy. She was hungry and she really enjoyed the food. What did I expect? Not as quiet as some places, to be sure.  Did I feel the need to hand out pamphlets on how it may have offended my subjective sensitivities? Or go to the manager and start a harangue? No, and in light of many other social and political problems (like the enormous economic fiasco America is under; or my personal health), it wouldn’t be on my top-ten list of personal challenges; that is, unless I had a phobia about noise and people! More than likely I’d line-up my preferences of restaurants and make a selection next time from my private list, depending on my mood and other factors (we have to get our priorities straight sometimes, especially in this ‘survival’ climate [I prioritize my concern over my diabetes, kidney failure {July 1, 2010}, hip and back arthritis, etc., first and then I add on and go down my list of my other eccentricities that I have like my painting my toenails green and walking barefoot down Grand Avenue, or gathering up stones from the roadside and carrying them on my head, or wearing shoes just one time and then discarding them: these, while interesting, are not high priority things to do right now – – – –  It is that simple].)

2008 ALSO


“In looking back to that day, it would be unfair to you, and even I, to deny things could have been conducted more properly. Life is like that,” I wrote him. ”I just don’t know if I had the expertise socially. I just don’t have that much aristocratic training; I just rely on the good faith and trust of people to over-look my shortcomings.” In so many ways, despite basic differences, Wild was still a “hero” of sorts to me. That may be hard to understand – perhaps I might explain it someday to Wild.

I don’t believe that crowd expected anything exceptional or phenomenal (I’ve talked to some of them and asked if they felt anything ‘bad’ happened and no one that I’ve talked to felt that way. Of course, they could be lying; and how often had I heard that assessment about mankind from the lips and letters of Moriarty Wild?). I do feel the debate between John Moeller and myself, though not in genuine animosity, was foolish and somewhat in poor taste. John has been a big debater from ‘way back when’ and like Herb Mueller (“Herb? Who is Herb?” you asked me one day in an air of suspicion while on an outing [herb is an elderly usher at the church; he is a kind and an older chatty guy who helps with chores about the church, an usher at church services and he indicated he may want to come along on some of our site-seeing ventures: I don’t think you had anything to fear about him, he was not out to “get” you —— didn’t know anything about you —— just a kindly old fella}) told me, “When John and his buddy from work get together to discuss politics: oh boy!” It probably was not that well-planned and executed – but I’m not a professional Wedding Planner either (or Funeral Director) – I tend to be spontaneous, somewhat incongruous and exorbitantly informal. “Sometimes I can be an extrovert. It really wasn’t a suit and tie affair. But I should, somehow, someway have taken your feelings into account in the matter; I’m just not sure how that could have been done so intricately and in a short notice,” I said to you. “In hindsight, I regret it affected you so personally. I am asking for your forgiveness”.

Our episode with the “noise” controversy and Wild’s sojourn with a church group to Red Robin, Wild protested the restaurant and the manners of the church group; we have begun to question if Wild was ‘for real”  in his protest against all that is currently modern, of if this was really a ‘show’ on his part:

“Maybe you just wanted to vent your usual cynicism (your misanthropic anti-social, antithetical feelings) at the moment. And that is fine. I just don’t know why you aimed your diatribe of society at that group of people?  I don’t believe they have any great love for Red Robin restaurants or were even practitioners of Red Robin (I suspect that if you would have attacked the issues in a different way [not make it a specific attack on those people] you would not have appeared so unkind).” Poor Fred was trying to help make the day enjoyable with his occasional ventures into weak humor [the Balsams are fairly financially comfortable and own a farm and know a lot about crops, seeds, weather and things like that; not necessarily being a “suave” interpreter of restaurant styles]. “They all were trying to socialize the best they could (if they had only slid their cars a few doors east, they would have selected The Bread Company restaurant – now, you and I had been there before on Watson Boulevard): Kenny Herman’s widow paid our way into the Butterfly House. I honestly don’t believe they were involved in a secret world of some esoteric fantasy drama of elitist debunking,” I wrote Wild. They wouldn’t even know what the heck that means. Maybe, John would (and I could be wrong, but I don’t believe John is a full-fledged Communist even though he is a Democrat. I just think he got fed-up with politics as usual and the Bush administration [as have so many people; Obama was, likewise – again – a poor choice]). “The invite to see the remake film of The Day the Earth Stood Still wasno ploy to upset you; though it somehow did. I forgot all about wishing you to go upon reading your letter. It was only meant as a friendly gesture anyway (yes, I didn’t like the movie as much as the original: but that was no condemnation to any good qualities it genuinely may have had). It was that nostalgia thing.”

(A Sad Side Bar:  Monday, November 29, 2010, Fred’s wife, Marilyn Balsam passed away from complications during an operation of her legs and feet due to diabetes.)

“Years ago when, I worked at Pisa Group on Watson Road, I had the choice of going down the street to a number of nearby restaurants (including White Castle, Jack in the Box, and MacDonald’s). But I chose Happy Joe’s Pizza because [1} it was close, {2} it had a good selection on their salad bar, {3} and was cheap.  “Now, Happy Joe’s is known for catering to families that make arrangements (appointments) to celebrate their child’s birthday and it gets quite loud with singing, laughter, etc. Have you ever had your birthday celebrated when you were little, Moriarty?  If so, shame on you!  Did they sing and celebrate?  Well, shame on you!  At any rate, I still drop in on Happy Joe – – – just for their salad bar (they did away with the pepperoni) – – – – and do you know what? It actually gets “quiet” at times at the restaurant:  no noise!  DO I GET A FEW EXTRA STARS?”

The Moriarty Wild Noise Complex

We are going into a greater depth here on Wild’s personality and background to lay a foundation of its complexity and how things are always what they seem with Skeptics and critics. We’ll also get into the real history of jazz, rock n’ Roll and music as contrasted to Wild’s pretense of ‘purity’ and ‘perfectionism’ which casts, in his opinion, a shroud over it called “modernism” and “uncontaminated noise,“  later, the same Skeptic perception on things such as life-styles, social-security, and “the good ole’ days.”

“Which leads me to some other thoughts on this matter: hymns and singing in church – – – – – maybe they should just hum or meditate for fear of being uncivilized and not Wildian if they become too melodious?” (I mentioned casually and unpretentiously to Wild one day in a letter the Biblical injection to “make a joyous noise unto the Lord…” [Ps. 66;1, Ps.90:1, etc.], a casual mention I thought, and Wild set out on a philosophical tirade and binge about the evils of unnecessary sounds and noise, whether it is a part of religious worship or not! Papers from Wild in the past demonstrate his battle with “noise” to be almost equal to and a little lower than society’s preoccupation with the War on Cancer). Scriptures never speak of indiscriminate noise, and there was no electronic equipment amplification in those days, but is based on the Hebrew word ruwa, which alludes to “delight” or “joyful melodies”.  Said Samuele  Bacchicchi, PhD., “This means what was loud in Biblical times, would be normal today….singing jubilantly with the full volume of the human voice, is not noise-making but an enthusiastic expression of praise” (The Importance Of Music In The Bible, “End Time Issues Newsletter, No. 305”, AndrewsUniversity);Which  presents some more other thoughts – but at another time: like Steve Allen’s ‘‘liberal” politics, slap-stick comedy, and his promotion of negro entertainment on his show.  Hmmmmmm………………….

It may be necessary to interject Wild’s preoccupation with ‘noise’ at this point (much like his preoccupation with ‘no perfect’ language, mannerisms, styles, theories, and “thinking”), which, I have learned over a period of time in my associating with him, was more than just a casual annoyance, but would go the extra mile as to what music one would play on the radio, on the phonograph, or even preferred, what trinkets were dangling on your auto mirror, or even discussions of dance clubs one belonged to, all the way  to the necessity of campaigning and avoiding even associating with ‘noises’ in the general public.  We all have our occasions of dealing with ‘noise,’ but with Wild this was much more than average as he felt the ‘impure’ use of “sound” was becoming “vulgar” (even going to his natural culmination of associating it with the imbedded Fabian Communist conspiracy). As was typical of Wild, much contradiction in philosophical approach will be found, such as is illustrated in the following topic of the late Steve Allen and his campaigns on “vulgarity.”

(At a later time)


We often cite Steve Allen as a leader, a bulwark, against uncritical thinking (Debunker? Or was he a rationalist of sorts: but couldn’t have been a diehard debunker, based on his actions and politics, etc.). But Steve Allen was a “Liberal” for that period and time.  He was at one time a practicing Roman Catholic and so was religious (in Vulgarians At The Gate, he alluded to his belief in God: “…If there is a God – which I assume to be the case….,” He promoted many Negro acts on his television show, breaking down race barriers. Allen said in his book,  Vulgarians  At The Gate, that movies such as The Mask (which was toned down to receive the Dover Seal), Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and The God-father Trilogy (pages 357-358) seemed acceptable to people 12-years on up…..aahhhh……….

(This only shows how “creeping” degeneracy became even acceptable to SteveAllen: I saw those movies and, to a puritan-train-of-thought, they contained some of the most horrid scenes imaginable: parents and grownups were very skeptical of those movies and the Godfather Trilogy.)…….

Allen was the creator to some of the silliest, zany, cock-eyed, slap-stick comedy on his television show; comedy that would appear far from the aristocratic snobbishness of the upper-class “au courant”. He featured radical guests such as Lenny Bruce. He featured a MAD Magazine caricaturist and parody artist on his March 16, 1958 show (demonstrating his affinity to this style of comedy – – – – many parents were in askance over MAD Magazine {we couldn’t get enough: brought it to school all the time}). If there was one thing that seemed to typify Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen:  It was “contradiction. 

Steve Allen was a supporter of One World Government (he was a member of the World Federalist Association [David Icke would have undoubtedly added Allen to his list of Reptilian Merovingian’s]). He considered himself a Secular Humanist yet also considered himself an “involved Presbyterian”. He was accused of being a Communist (by aka Harry Goren). Steve Allen was a longtime activist who championed migrant worker rights. He idolized and hailed fellow comedians Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Phil Silver, Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton, Jonathan Winters, Edie Adams, Dick Shawn, Peter Falk, Dorothy Provine, Arnold Stang, Jack Benny, Carl Reiner, Jerry Lewis, Don Knotts, Andy Devine, Terry-Thomas, and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson:  All these appeared in the Stanley Kramer 1962 movie production of It’s a Mad, Mad World,  a production  that typified the slap-stick, zany 50s-60s style of comedy that was close to  Allen’s heart.

“Now I know all kinds of alibis and rationalizations have been made about Allen’s professed ‘PURITY OF THINKING’ academic statements and the seeming contradictory teenage and juvenile ‘silliness’ his alter-ego presented,” I told Wild one sad rainy morning as we ate breakfast at a Steak N’ Shake restaurant meeting; the down-pour was so strong you could hardly see the traffic outside. “His explanations seemed equally bizarre: Allen said: ‘we laugh at our tragedies to prevent our suffering…if we think about the tragedies on our planet, we could spend all day in bed crying, so we laugh to survive, to continue our lives.’  Allen also said: ‘humor is a social lubricant that helps us get over some of the bad spots ….why do we do it? Because we’re crazy.’  When pressed further, Allen said (mimicking the cartoon character Popeye): ‘All I can say is what Popeye says:  ’I am what I am…….’”

“I don’t think thatAllen was all that ‘uptight’ about things as Wild and some people say he was.  At least, he did not go to the black-on-white schizoid extremes that you and I go to”, I tried to tell him on a venture in the visit to the Shaw neighborhood.  (Wild “took off” at Fred’s attempt at poor humor at the Butterfly House as he jokingly referring to swans by a pond as butterflies: I KNOW – come on Fred! But trying to be humorous is far better than Wild’s sardonic swipes at his juvenility). Richard Zogline said of Allen: “Though a lifelong liberal…in recent years he embarked on a vocal crusade to restore ‘family values’ in television.  This was a little uncomfortable for those of us who remember Allen as the irreverent kid who like to turn the studio upside down.” The Playboy  Magazine  article written  back  in 1988, I believe, on the evangelist Jimmy Swagger  scandal, warned about (what Playboy Magazine terms as the puritanical pitfalls as well as…..) the darker and inevitable reaction to human sexual repression.

“Similarly, it is the ‘extremes’ that we appear to go to; the doctrinaire, the ideological, demagoguery we pathologically speak from. Allen always added his humor: his serious side was only an after-thought,” I tried to explain to Wild one summer day was we took a stroll through Tower Grove Park in the old Shaw neighborhood. Wild also had many childhood memories from this area of St. Louis, there was a neighbor ‘Betty’ that had lived a short distance from him as a very young child, a ‘guardian’ of sorts.  Wild was never able to consummate all the intimate details to me; nothing that complexes and never in one setting.

Wild revealed his virulent hatred of mankind, almost as a knife swung out from Jack the Ripper’s cape:  “mankind is crap!  They have basic instincts of swine!  They are no good!” He stopped strolling and stood to look at me, his shoulders hanging limp, almost as if in a finished shrug; but his hate-filled eyes were in control, grabbing my attention:

“Allen knew things were getting sad, very sad.  That’s why he began to speak out – protest about the public decline in taste and propriety,” Wild emphasized, “He thought Rock N’ Roll stunk  — look at his protest on his show when Elvis made a premier appearance: forced him to sing to a hound dog wearing a tuxedo!”   

Enter Steve Valentine Patrick William Allen meets Elvis Aaron Presley.


(“The first time I appeared on stage, it scared me to death. I really didn‘t know what all the yelling was about. I didn’t realize that my body was moving.  It’s a natural thing to me. So to the manager backstage I said, ‘What’d I do? What’d I do?’ And he said, ‘Whatever it is, go back and do it again’”. [March/April interview, 1972, Elvis Presley]) 

Beatle musician John Lennon said: “Before Elvis, there was nothing….” Elvis Aaron Presley, that “back-slid den Pentecostal pup”, now commonly referred to as The King Of Rock N’ Roll, created his own unique style of music that was based on Gospel music and his listening to “all-night sings” at his Church – and his listening to R & B on the historic Memphis Beale Street as a teenager, and the Pop and Country songs of the time. Somewhat unsuccessful at singing ballads for Sun Records, Elvis unexpectedly sang an unrehearsed version of Blues man Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s That’s All Right and a hit career was born ( Said Chris Holland of Elvis “the Pelvis” Presley: “mixing ‘black’ and ‘white’ sounds made him popular – and controversial — as did his uninhibited stage and television performances. He is the only performer to have been inducted into three separate music ‘Halls of Fame’….He did much to establish early Rock and Roll music: bring ‘black’ blues singing into ‘white’, teenage mainstream. Teenage girls became hysterical over his blatantly sexual gyrations…TV cameras were oft times not permitted to film below his waist.” “I’m not trying to be sexy,” said Presley, “It’s just my way of expressing myself when I move around.”

Said Lucy Moore in Anything Goes (Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publications, Inc.2010): “Music was one area where black artists effortlessly outshone their white counter parts on their own terms. Negro spirituals were recognized as containing not just the self-pity of a craven people, but glimpses of salvation and eternity.”  Black pride was willfully shown in jazz, blues and popular music. White musicians were always trying to replicate it – but they just could not capture it in spirit.   

At the time of his death, Presley had sold more than 600-million singles and albums. He won three Grammy Awards, all for his Gospel Music. Globally, Presley has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist.  After Presley’s acceptance among main audiences of white American teenagers, African-American performances like Big Joe Turner, Wyonie Harris, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and white performers such as Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison,  Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Everly Brothers gained entrance to the music arena. Professor Michael T. Berbrand said in Race, Rock, And Elvis: “However much Elvis may have ‘barrowed’ from black blues performances, he barrowed none the less from white country stars and white pop singers….much of his borrowings came from the Church, its Gospel music was his primary musical influence and formulation.”

“I’ve tried to live a straight, clean life and not set any kind of a bad example,” said Presley, adding a phrase that may have been later used unwittingly by Ricky Nelson in his song Garden Party, “You cannot please everyone.”

“I’d like to thank the Jaycees for electing me as one of the outstanding young men.” Said Presley at his January 16, 1971 acceptance speech of his 1970 Ten Outstanding Young Men Of The Nation Award, ”When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book.  I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie.  So every dream I ever dreamed, has come true a hundred times….and these gentlemen over here {referring to other Jaycees named that year], these are the type of people building the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s not too far- fetched, from reality.  I’d like to say that I learned very early in life that ‘without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain‘t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend – without a song’.  So I keep singing a song…..”


“So much of life is an interpretation”, said Liz Murray, author of Breaking Night. It has to be this way for Allen, because if he was so whacked-out (fanatical) on such things as Rock N’ Roll, there are hard questions raised…..

(Allen’s sarcastic July 1, 1956 rendition of Elvis Presley singing Hound Dog on his television show in a tuxedo…..“The house singers on the early Tonight Show   were subjectedto many such stunts,” said, “In addition, Allen’s skit with Presley was actually less a put down of Presley and mainly a satire of country music stage shows.”  Allen thought the controversy  was all “nonsense” and he had no objections to Elvis or his sensual body movements, Allen just wanted to use Elvis in his show’s comedy style “and fabric of our program”.  [Allen‘s show beat competitor and TV host Ed Sullivan in the ratings for the first time:  Ed Sullivan, however, invited Elvis on his show several times hence!] On July 31, 1956, a little more than two weeks after its release, Hound Dog sold a million copies. [Illustratively, Allen also lampooned I Left My Heart In San Francisco  as  I Left My Nose In San Francisco: does that mean  he hated that song too?]  Blog reader Smithdsmit summed it up nicely in September, 2007:  “That this was done just to be funny. It was comedies show….It just seems like this was done all in good fun to me….I do know the media at first hated Elvis.  But he was such a nice guy and so talented: He won them over. They couldn’t help like him after meeting him.”)…..

Why did Allen play the part of Benny Goodman in the movie The Benny Goodman Story? As is with so many things that Allen espoused: there is a direct contradiction (and error {he wasn’t infallible}). Surely he was aware that Goodman’s style was a growth of a very lively and radical “background” which included Rock N’ Roll.


Benny Goodman was a direct child of jazz and swing! Many parents were very suspicious of the new “jazz movement”. It was the younger generation that carried it through (and many oldsters joined in later. Arthur Murray Dance Studios billed itself as The King of Swing and taught the Charleston and the Lindy Hop). And like so many ‘movements’, the youngsters carried the wave.  It had been a vibrant force (the Nazis censored the Swing Kids for fear of revolt- – – – -Russia did the same thing at one time: “…listening to smuggled jazz records was tantamount to political rebellion.…artistic freedom was strictly underground, considered by the authorities to be either dangerous subversives or misguided fools…”, ‘Guitars Of The Cold War’, Jan. and May, 2002, Vintage Guitar Magazine). Larry Schweikart in his Seven Events That Made America, America  said  that Rock N’ Roll, as a musical device of the 20th Century, helped bring the Berlin Wall down.  It was so American; so Jazz – and – Country.  Its very structure speaks to freedom: The individualism of the 1960s. The same phenomena happened with the Beatles: young people all over the world used this music as their Marching Orders and their inspiration to challenge tyranny and bad government. (

It was J.A. Rogers that said in Alain Locke’s 1925 anthology, The New Negro  (new York, N.Y 1925): The true spirit of Jazz is a joyous revolt from convention, custom, authority, boredom, even sorrow – from everything that would confine the soul of man and hinder its riding free on the air…it is the revolt of the emotions against repression.”

Lucy Moore said in Anything Goes: “More importantly, jazz served a vital function as a social leveler.  It made people more natural with each other, less artificial, and gave hope to those who believed that old restrictions upon society might one day fade away entirely.”    


Len Weinstock said jazz originated somewhere about 1895-1917 by Creole musicians that had trained in  conservatories in Europe; European music that was blended with Blues, Ragtime, Brass Band Music, hymns, spirituals, minstrel music,  and Work Songs, mixed with African polyrhythm and European dance rhythms.   Kansas City’s jazz roots began in the 1900s when marching band music, Ragtime music, and Blues music started to merge.  Piero Scaruffi tells  us that when  jazz moved to Chicago, jazz musicians were often employed by gangsters.  Their first audiences were the “mob”. New York’s jazz pianists began blending Blues and Ragtime. The Stride Piano appeared on the scene. In Atlantic City jazz was supported in the red-light district and in many cities Rent Parties were thrown where predominantly white tourists paid to listen to black bands and the money was used to “pay the rent”. There was Eubie Black from Baltimore (1906), Lucky Roberts from Philadelphia, Willie ’the lion’ Smith and James Johnson (1914) from New York. In the 1920s, Harlem was home to Blues music and white tourists visited The Savoy and the Harlem Cotton Club. Charles “lucky” Roberts reworked Ripples of the Nile (1912)into the classic Moonlight Cocktail (1942) for the Glenn Miller band. He also wrote Miniature Syncopated rhapsody. The Big Band sound was gaining momentum. Fletcher Henderson (1920) and Benny Carter were two progenitors. Keep A Song In Your Soul (1930). Jean Schwartz: Chinatown My Chinatown (1930). And then, guess who?….Benny Goodman – – – – New York, 1928. Benny employed Fletcher Henderson to arrange Jelly Roll Martin’s King Porter’s Stomp.

A cavalcade of music: Moon Glow, Juke Box Saturday Night, Satin Doll, Tuxedo Junction, In The Mood, Mood Indigo, Woodchopper’s Ball, Cherokee, Take The ‘a’  Train, Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, Sky liner,  Green Eyes  and many, many more.   

Said  in “jazz”: “The 1920s are still called the ‘jazz-age’. Ladies shortened their tresses and bobbed their hair, they hiked up their skirts, rolled down their stockings, and rouged their lips.”

“In 1920 there were only 750 beauty salons in New York; that number had risen to 3,000 in 1925, and by 1930 there were 40,000 nationwide,” said Lucy Moore in Anything Goes, “….launching flourishing business empires capitalizing on the Flapper’s obsession with her looks. Far from liberating women, bobbed and bleached hair necessitated frequent visits to the coiffeur; nail varnish was considered delightfully daring; lipstick, rouge and powder had become everyday essentials.”

Welcome! Louie Jordan and his hipster slang and saucy double entendre (Caldonia, Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?), Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Raymond Scott (Harry Warnow)……Kansas City Jazz, Boogie Woogie, The Shouters, and the Crooners. “During the 1940s“, said Scaruffi, “The Big Swing Band had become the voice of America abroad.” Benny Goodman played at the Palomar Ballroom in August, 1935.  There was Fletcher Henderson and an audience of young white dancers were moving to “hot” rhythms” and daring “hot swing” arrangements. Soldiers and sailors in the 1940s: Swing becomes our patriotic syncopation. We all remember Glenn Miller’s rendition of ST. Louis Blues March.  Dance styles ran the gamut: the Short George, Hip Cat, the Jitter Bug, Cats, Brook Position Jitter Bug, The Boogie-Woogie, Hit That Jive, The Black Bottom Rag (The Benny Goodman movie also highlighted the Lindy Hop, Baboa, West Coast Swing and musicals such as Let’s Dance, California Here I Come, You Turned The Talles On Me, Sing-Sing-Sing, Bugle Call, Tiger Rag, Roll‘em, Hot House, Gotta Be This Or That, featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Harry James).

“Tain’t no sin to step out of your skin and dance in your bones”- The Big Band Era: “Swing was ‘the’ thing, and ‘jump-jivin’ ‘kats’ and ‘kittens’ were Lindy hopping in every ballroom and dancehall in the land……” (Big Bands Database,

Clara Bork, my mother, oft times spoke of going to Dance Clubs and “cutting a rug” as a teenager and a young woman. “A powder compact hidden in a shoe-buckle was aimed at the modern party girl, dancing too uninhibitedly to carry a handbag,” said Lucy Moore in Anything Goes, “Movie stars and society beauties appeared in aspirational advertisements promoting face creams, soap and make-up. The message was that women were constantly on display – and it was their responsibility to make the best of themselves by using the best products they could afford.”

The beauty industry was a $1.5 million a year advertising investment in 1915.  In 1930, it was spending over 10 times that amount.  

(And as far as Allen and Swing: If Steve Allen couldn’t “Rock’’, he certainly could “Roll” into swing:  Whydid he write the 1963 Grammy award-winning jazz  piece, The Gravy Waltz?)


Rock music was born out of a hybrid of Rhythm and Blues music and Country music, originated in the Appalachian-mountains, part Irish fiddle, part German derived dulcimer, and African-American banjo. Anglo-Celtic ballads and dance tunes, immigrants brought to America were come to be known as “old time” music that ranged from 1900 to the 1930s: A mixture of vaudeville music, African-American minstrel show tunes, the 1930s brought Hank Williams and Brother Groups like the Delmones, the Stanleys, and the Louvins. Jimmy Rogers. There was Okie Boogie; Cowboy Boogie; Honky Tonk. There was Eddy Arnold. There was the introduction of Swing, horns, electricity, and Bluegrass. Songs like Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Carl Perkins recalls his early battered acoustic guitar lessons with fellow field worker John Westbrook, “uncle John”. who told him: “Get down close to it! You can feel it travel down the strangs, come through your head and down to your soul where you live. You can feel it. Let it vib-a-rate!”)  In 1955, Perkins made the original version of Blue Suede Shoes. The old traditional music of the mountains gave way to the beginnings of modern commercial country, or, as Syd Masters (The Swing Riders) would say, “Vintage western cowboy swing.”

About the time that Ethel Waters and Trixie Smith were singing tunes like My Man Rocks Me, Bill Haley was listening to Jimmy Preston and Haley would travel to the Marcus Hook Theater to see his idol, Gene Autry.  It was the “Hillbilly” era. Ralph Peer (1926) typified the Antebellum Folk Songs of string bands and Appalachian fiddles. Marion-Troy-Slaughter. There were “okehs”. Henry Whittler, Emmett Miller. There was the group called the Georgia Crackers (which included bandleaders Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey on trombone and saxophone). Ralph Peers discovered Jimmy Rodgers in 1927. John Clifton said: “Like Roy Rodgers and other hayseed Hollywood harmoniums, Autry dipped liberally into jazz and swing, giving his music a nice little bounce.” This became the hallmark of legendary figures such as Bob Wells and Roy Acuff, as well as Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry, through the 1930s – 1950s. Country Pop typified by Lloyd Perryman and The Gold Star Rangers (1937) was also seen in movies such as Outlaws Of The Prairie and Spoilers Of the Range. It became to be known as the “Swinging Hollywood- Hillbilly-Cowboys”.

Bill Haley tried to imitate his idol Gene Autry and could be found “singing like Autry” at the Booth’s Corner Auction Mart (1946).  Haley went on to join groups as Shorty Cook’s Down Homers and The Range Drifters.  But…“G.I’s returning from World War II were looking for something different, something more upbeat and exhilarating,” says Jim Dawson and Ian Whitcomb, “and they were finding it in California’s hillbilly boogie, Texas’s Western Swing, New Orleans’ Rumba.” It was flavored by piano R and B, Chicago’s electrified Mississippi guitar blues and St. Louis’s Swing Jazz. (for Steve Erdmann this all came together at Mary’s Confectionary on South Broadway in St. Louis where he and the “gang” listened to the best of all worlds on Mary’s juke box  ). Haley found employment at WPWA radio where many young whites continually requested rhythm and blues records. The Jimmy Preston radio program as heralded by the noisy theme song Rock The Joint. It was a time of Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys (“The Tennessee Waltz”), James “Slim” Allsman, and the premier of the electric Gibson: all made popular with the help of the Philadelphia crime syndicate and their mafia-owned juke boxes. Rock was a money-maker and the mob knew money: Roulette Records was mob owned and had Rock singer Tommy James in their palm (Me, The Mob And The Music, Simon & Schuster, 2010).

About this time, media producer Dick Clark – American Bandstand – came upon the television scene with groups like Danny and the Juniors and their Rock And Roll Will Never Die and At The Hop.  Started in 1957 – the show eventually moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood in 1964. Elvis Presley appeared on January 8, 1960. During its run, one had the opportunity to have seen Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Annette Funicelo, Frankie Avalon, James Brown, Fabian, Bobby Darin, and Paul Anka and many other stars.  Rock steps such as The Slop, Bop, Hand Jive, The Stroll, The Twist and several others became popular and featured dance routines.

Every pub, every tavern, from open windows, through-out Carondelet came the plaintive soul-jerking voice of Hank Williams.  The juke boxes were a blend of the best of all worlds but Hank seemed to hover about the rural town migrants that settled in many homes in Carondelet.  Williams spoke to them with strains of back-home hands in the soil music. It broke my heart to hear his pleading twang and I often wondered if the teenage girl or boy or rural-minded adult that played that record did so to tease an orphan like me.

But the Williams music was no respecter of families: It was the blood of the rural working poor.  He was born in utter poverty and suffered pain all his life from an undiagnosed case of spina bibida and died from the effects of alcohol and pills at the age of twenty-nine. “Country music has often ignored fashion and the delicate feelings of the bourgeoisie in order to portray the real world,” said Donald Clarke, The Rise And Fall Of Popular Music, “The fact is that a great many Americans lived from paycheck to paycheck and spent much time drowning their sorrows or trying to enjoy themselves in the sort of taverns where Williams had served his apprenticeship.  He knew these persons’ hopes, dreams, and fears, and wrote their songs for them; he was among the greatest of folk poets.”

Lonnie Rulo, Louie Bach (and sister Carol), Bob Hanger (and sister Darlene), Rick and Dave Rappults, Ray Carter, Donald Spese, Barbara Novy and so many others, spoke with a country twang and roamed the streets of Carondelet, looking for adventure. Some were kind, some were cruel and some were as wild as the Appalachian country side their descendants reigned from. Some were just hard-core Southern Missouri Country but they seemed every bit as wild as if they walked directly out of the rugged northern part of Georgia out of James Dickey’s novel Deliverance. These were The Broadway Gang that I, as the expression goes, “hung out with”. These songs were on their lips, amongst the rock favorites at that time.

I Go Out Walking After Midnight – Patsy Cline,,,,    Young Love – Sonny James

What’d I Say – Georgia – Ruby – I’m Movin’ On –     Hound Dog — Elvis Presley

 (Ray Charles)….                                                                Gotta Travel On – Billy  Gra-   

Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry….                               mer                                                      

I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash….                                  Oh lonesome Me – Don Gibson

Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis….                   City Lights – Ray Price

Hey Good Lookin – Hank Williams….                           Crying Over You….Webb Pierce

Dream Lovers – Bobby Darin…..                                    Country Girl – Faron Young 

Nagel Street ran all the way down to the Sand Bar Club, a tavern that stood cozily and somewhat forlornly at the foot of Nagel Street and faced the Mississippi river. Nestled near-by where three or four “stilt-legged” homes – usually little three-room shanties propped up in case the river rose and tried to flood them. Margaret Martin and her mom lived in one shanty (although distanced by a rather large vacant lot they still were a short distance from Mary’s Confectionery on Broadway): it became a regular meeting place the gang could gather. banter and flirt with their girlfriends and swagger their cigarettes, usually Lucky Strikes, Camels or Marlboros, to prove their toughness. In the sweltering summer air (or in the bone chilling cold of winter), surrounding the allure of teenage excitement and romance, vibrant juke-box music of 1960 would come floating into our gathering:

El Paso – Marty Robbins       

Beyond The Sea –Bobby Darin

Time After Time – Frankie Ford

Let It Be Me – Everly Brothers

Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin

Mediterranean Moon – The Rays

Good Timing – Jimmy Jones

What In The World’s Come Over You

Kathy’s Clown – Everly Brothers

What In The World’s Come Over You –

Jack Scott

Ring Of Fire – Johnny Cash

Lonely Blue Boy – Conway Twitty

Problems – Everly Brothers

Stuck On You – Elvis Presley

Wild One – Bobby Rydell

Chantilly Lace – The Big Bopper

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams

Cold, Cold Heart – Hank Williams

China Doll —- The Ames Brothers

Oh Carol —- Neil Sedaka

“The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart….Why can’t I free your doubtful mind….And melt your cold, cold heart?”  (Hank Williams)

The Ames Brother’s rendition of China Doll proved prophetic in as much as I become attracted to Asian and oriental ladies in the latter part of my single years and that song would often drift into my memory. I bought into and tried to adapt to the “humble and faithful Asian women syndrome” 20 years later after being tempest-thrown and shipwrecked by social, political and legal realities.  

For myself, I loved girls, but was painfully shy due to an increasing case of teenage acne. It seemed to run in the family.  About the time my brother John was outgrowing a rather severe episode, it was an increasing problem for me….and I was quit embarrassed by it. Not just that problem: but the “living under the shadow” of the whole family fiasco of fights, drinking and the beatings, had me feeling somewhat subhuman, ashamed, worried and standoffish. A young girl down the street, Barbara Desmondi, had a girlfriend, Sharon Rooney who was the epitome, the very image and essence, the soul of the sweet. charming, swank, pretty girlish idol that the best of the teenage girls exemplified in the 1950s-1960s. Sharon had a long dark auburn ponytail that would swish and swing along her back and up to her shoulders that was typical of those Chantilly Lace (The Big Bopper) girls at the time.  All of her sisters and she had that characteristic Celtic magic, that Irish air of the pixie will-of-the-wisp enchantment. She was every bit of a petite teenage doll so many songs portrayed in the Rock N’ Roll century. She was too good to be true.

Ray Carter heard by the grapevine, primarily, Barbara Desmondi that Sharon wanted to meet me and get acquainted.  I refused to commit myself.  Frankly, I was scared out of my wits.  But carter and Barbara were expert match-makers, and in a subsequent visit to Margaret Martin’s riverside shanty, I noted Desmondi approaching with another girl. 

Steve, here is that girl that wants to meet you, Sharon!” Ray threw up into the air in his usual brazen and bold manner.

I panicked and began to run across the vast expanse of a vacant lot that was next to the Sand Bar Club, actually, in a vain attempt to run to Mary’s Confectionary. After about a hundred feet I stumbled and fell. Realizing the  hopelessness and embarrassment of being cornered and trying to escape, I sheepishly walked back to the visitors. My heart was beating like a drum. The conversation probably was awkward and strained. Hopefully, Sharon denoted my peculiar behavior, in addition to being unskilled in girls, as being completely stunned and amazed by her attractiveness.

But somehow groping and testing and walking about the neighborhood for a while, the match was made. It was understood I would see Sharon that weekend at the other favorite teenage hangout – the Michigan Theater. Though some said that, at least at the time, with the typical hairstyle, I had a nodding resemblance to the late Ricky Nelson (everyone tried to replicate Ricky or Elvis in 1960), but for the world-of-me, I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve such a beauty as Sharon. She was above me; I was totally out of her league: The attraction was like a “bolt out of the blue,” might say angelic.  I needed someone to care for me then – I was feeling completely out of the ranks of normal society. School was sinking rapidly as an ambition. And, although I sought out adventure to take my mind off the debasements of life, I was totally unworthy of a “teen angel” like Sharon. She was never arrogant, crude, or unforgiving. In looking back, I recall the time he fought a girl in defense of me, jealous perhaps, but this was no switchblade brawl, but one very concerned, caring girl charging out to protect her ‘man.’

But here she was; and I agreed to not argue – I’d soak up all the affection and love I could get. I felt she somehow sensed the hurt, the fear, the shame, the torment I was going through (and she as well?).  To this day, I regret that I chased her away – pushed her apart from me – partly because I felt too far below her – partly because I was a hurt, selfish kid – partly because I felt she could do better than what my family had to offer her (worse yet, I somehow got the sneaking feeling that my mother had talked to Geneva and discussed me as a real problem, a very bad penny for Sharon! {way to go mom}. If some measure of manly bravado had been instilled in me long before that point, I would have done everything that a man should have done. But it was then; I was no man; and events slipped into the Never-Everland of ‘should- have- did’s.’ I regret that she may have mistook my mysterious behavior as a rebuff of her personally.  She was — and still is – an eternal doll.  I wanted her and needed her very badly. And still do.

I tried to contact Sharon one time – it was a successful.  I sent a letter to an old address at which the Rooney family had lived at one time at 6706 Michigan. I asked them to deliver the letter or pass it along. A few weeks later, while driving to work down Michigan Avenue. I saw Sharon coming out of that very house (presumably to carry parcels to a white van; apparently my letter had made contact through interceding parties) – still as pretty and sweet looking as ever (she would have had to have been about 53-years-of-age at the time I mailed the letter). If it was not her; it was her spitting-image of a daughter.

I put on my brakes to stop the car. I heard myself exclaim “Sharon!” –   But I couldn’t stop and run out; I guess I had said everything in the letter:  how sorry I was if she felt I never cared for her, how I thought see was and is a living doll, and I hope she is having a happy life.  I wonder about her often.  I wonder what could have been – if …… if……

The family included three other sisters; all teenagers. I did meet her mother, Geneva, and only saw her father one time tending bar at a speak-easy-type bar on the corner of Mott and Michigan Avenues (apparently they had lived up the street at one time at 6601 Minnesota, then lived at 3807 a Potomac Avenue till they moved to the apartment on Vermont). The family was regular members of the Carondelet Sunday Morning Athletic Club on Loughborough Avenue. I believe the father tended bar there, along with other activities. Their upstairs apartment on Vermont Avenue was typical upper-lower income family with modest trappings and furnishings.  This allowed a certain amount of kinship to Sharon with me, as being of similar background.  I gathered that the family was struggling like everyone else in that area.

Was that the year of the backyard apparition? Was a prayer answered?


Rockabilly partly came out of Haley with his “cowboy yodeling.” But there was also Jimmy Rodgers who fused Hillbilly Cowboy, gospel, jazz, blues, Pop, and Folk. “And then, out of nowhere, came Bill Haley…..Crazy Man Crazy… exuberant, pulsating blend of guitar, sax, and piano, riding the best of a slap-back bass and a whip-crack snare,” said Michael Satchell, “It was utterly different from any music we ever heard….now, we had music we could dance to. It was exciting.  It was cool.  It was ours……(he was) a cowboy poet.” Haley had tired of country yodeling – western swing: he changed his band’s name from the Saddlemen to The Comets (based on the tales of Mark Twain and Hailey’s Comet): became one of the most successful of the early “blue-eyed” Rockers. Later, Ray Charles expanded on the tradition of Country Swing with songs like Hit The Road Jack, I Got A Woman, Georgia, Born To Lose. (“I was born with music inside of me…music was one of my parts, like blood. It was a force already with me when I arrived on the scene”, said Charles.) Billie Barnette. Mama Thornton (Hound Dog). Fats Domino (made the Top Ten with Aint That A Shame, 1955). Jackie Deshannon. Buddy Holly – The Big Bopper – Richie Valens (“We sang dirges in the dark the day the music died…..”, Don Mclean’s American Pie.). Chuck Berry (which I saw often passing through Lambert Airport). Jerry Lee Lewis. Ricky Nelson (I’m walkin, Stood Up, It’s Late, Lonesome Town, Poor Little Fool, Hello Marylou: “His artistry in using his ‘smooth’ monotone tenor to subtly and feelingly convey a wide range of teen angst emotions”) {Wikipedia}. Eric Hilliard Nelson (Ricky) preferred Rockabilly and up-tempo Rock songs like Believe What You Say and I Got A Feeling.  Little “Ricky” was a prophet:  he would say on The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet television program: “I don’t mess around, boy!”

(His father, Ozzie Nelson, had the number one hit And Then Some in 1934 and his rendition of Ain’t That A Shame made the top ten in 1955; Nelson made the 1957 Rutgers University “Doctor of Humane Letters”, and ranked number 21 in the TV Guide’s list of the 50 greatest TV dads of all time)

About this time, media producer Dick Clark – American Bandstand – came upon the television scene with groups like Danny and the Juniors and their Rock And Roll Will Never Die and At The Hop. Started in 1957 – the show eventually moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood in 1964. Elvis Presley appeared on January 8, 1960. During its run, one had the opportunity to have seen Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Annette Funicelo, Frankie Avalon, James Brown, Fabian, Bobby Darin, and Paul Anka and many other stars.  Rock steps such as The Slop, Bop, Hand Jive, The Stroll, The Twist and several others became popular and featured dance routines.


Charles Holly’s, better known as Buddy Holly, success lasted only a year and a half, but, as critic Bruce Elder said, Holly was “the single most influential creative force in early rock n’ roll…” His early version of his hit song That’ll Be The Day took its title from a line that John Wayne’s character says repeatedly in the 1956 film The Searchers. That song topped the U.S ‘Best Sellers’ chart in stores September, 1957. By coincidence, Sputnik took off that year as well. On October 21, 1958, Holly recorded a ballad for his wife, True Love Ways. On February 3, 1959, due to a tight tour schedule, during very inclement weather, Holly traded a bus seat with artist Waylon Jennings for a seat aboard a small chartered airplane – along with recording artists Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson —- which crashed ending the lives of all three artists.  Holly and singer Waylon Jennings had jokingly traded friendly bards before the flight; Holly said to Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!”  Jennings replied: “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!”  It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for years to come. This incident made its way into Don Mclean’s American Pie…..”…..the day the music died…..”     


(“Through my singing and acting and speaking, I want to make freedom ring. Maybe I can touch people’s hearts better than I can their minds, with the common struggle of the common man.” Paul Robeson)   

Ronnie Smith and I would venture about Carondelet, St. Louis and often travel to the Vulcan Street bridge in the “patch”, and there listen to the Dixie and Rag rhythms that came floating through the summertime breeze as we faced the Showboats catering to tourists traveling on the Mississippi River; In the air was that special primal and primitive smell of mud and waste from the river,

Says “The Mississippi River has been host to a musical heritage ranging from Native American drumbeats to Anglo-Celtic ballads, French folksongs to African-field-hollers. Emerging in the late 1800s, an original American sound drifted up from the southern cotton fields, choir lofts, juke joints, and river barges….Distinctive songs of suffering were sung by the poorest, mostly illiterate blacks, a reaction to the demeaning existence lived by sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta. Accompanied by acoustic guitar or harmonica, these earthy songs were primitive and gritty….The Delta blues became the cornerstone of modern music. It became the basis for Gospel, Jazz, Dixieland. Ragtime, Bluegrass, Country, Rock and Roll, Rhythm And Blues, Soul Music….A gumbo mix of blues, ragtime, Spirituals, and Caribbean Music erupted….Musicians worked the riverboats and spread their hypnotic rhythms and brassy tones up the Mississippi, and by the 1920s and 1930s, Dixieland brass ensembles were all the rage.” I am reminded of Paul Robeson’s rendition of Ole’ Man River (he sang it in the “oldie but goodie” movie Show Boat, 1936; baritone William Warfield sang that song in the 1951 Show Boat version ). Robeson owed much to his pianist, arranger and accompanist-manager, Lawrence Brown, who helped organize the  Songs Of Free Men.

Though an avowed and active Communist, many say that Robeson was deluded and unaware of Stalin’s Death Camps and murdering atrocities, and he was blinded by the Russian propaganda of a better world for Negro people, void of racial bias and hatred. They say he could not be convinced otherwise; devoting himself to the love of the poor and down trodden citizens; particularly that of the negro people.

In the 1890s, a group of musicians, including Scott Joplin, were living in and around Sedalia, Missouri (1894) writing rags. “Ragging” of songs were especially popular with dance music and some dances were called “rags”. Joplin studied music at the George R. Smith College in Sedalia, and eventually taught musicians Scott Hayden and Arthur Marshall. Joplin moved to St. Louis in 1900 where he wrote the popular The Entertainer, Elite Syncopation, March Majestic, and Ragtime Dance.  In 1903, he wrote his opera A Guest of Honor.  Joplin had severalmarriages; his first wife, Freddie Alexander, died at age 20. Two months After their wedding, Joplin wrote Bethena (1905). Joplin’s belief was that “Ragtime should never be played fast”, according to biographer Rudi Blesh (1909).  In 1914. Jelly Roll Morton popularized Joplin’s Silver Swan Rag.

“River traffic increased so rapidly that by the 1830s, it was common to see more than 150 steamboats on the St. Louis levee,” said, “and the wharves were filled with workers shifting goods on and off the boats.”  Historian William B. Faherty said that in 1841 St. Louis had 186 steamboats to have landed 1,976 times discharging 263,681 tons of goods. A popular riverboat tune of that period was Steamboat Bill (, “Steam boating On The Mississippi”). In 1810, there were 20 steamboats on the rivers; in the 1830s, there were 1200 ‘hulls’.

“By the 1820s, with the southern states joining the Union and the land converted to cotton plantations so indicative of the Antebellum south, methods were needed to move the bales of cotton, rice, timber, tobacco and molasses. The steamboat was perfect,” said, Steamboats Of The Mississippi, “America boomed in the age of Jackson. Population moved west and more farms (and more slaves) were fueled first by wood, then coal, which pushed barges of coal from Pittsburg to New Orleans. Regular steamboat commerce begun between Pittsburgh and Louisville.”

“Early jazz and blues influences flowed north on riverboats that plotted a course into town from New Orleans, the Mississippi Delta and Memphis, while ragtime, blues and R&B flowed down from St. Louis.  That was a common migration path from  the 1880s to World War II,” said, “The up-tempo beat of ragtime, coupled with the frequent arrival of the riverboats with their musicians, hustlers, drifters, pimps and  prostitutes, created a perpetual transient energy that pushed social mores and interaction  between the races….Joplin resided here for several years and became one of the city’s favorite sons, particularly after he composed The Cascades for the 1904 World’s Fair….”

Joplin performed at the Columbia Expedition in Chicago in 1893. John Philip Sousa played ragtime and also introduced it and the Cakewalk to Europe. He advertised for such compositions. Gershwin, Romberg, Kern, Berlin and Porter wrote ragtime during their early years. Classical composers such as Ives, Dvorak, Hindemit and Debussy used Ragtime themes in their works. (Rachel Sahlman.  Warren Trachtman.  

“The Zebulon Pike and her sisters soon transformed St. Louis into a bustling boomtown, commercial center, and inland port”. By the 1830s more than 150 steamboats landed at the St. Louis levee at one time.  Immigrants flooded into St. Louis after 1840, particularly from Germany; during reconstruction, rural southern blacks flooded into St. Louis as well, seeking better opportunity. “By the 1800s, St. Louis had become the largest U.S. city west of Pittsburgh, and the second largest port in the country, with a commercial tonnage exceeded only by New York.”  

The panopy of river steamboats are endless: The City Of Baton  Rouge  – 1870s. City Of Cairo – 1856.  City Of Chattanooga – 1892.  Streamer City – June 24, 1861.  City of Keithsburg – 1864.  Sawmill Clipper – 1880.  Clara – 1856.  Clara Hine – 1850s. Comet – 1813.  City of Gadsden – 1899.  City Of Jeffersonville – 1891. Natchez I, II, III -1823-1848, New Orleans – 1811, Floating Theatre – 1831, Robert E. Lee – 1836, White Cloud – 1823, Hannibal, Mississippi King, American King, Proud Mary, River Queen, New Sensation, New Era, Water Queen, Princess, Golden Rod, Sunny South, Cotton Blossom, New Showboat, King Of Mississippi, Southern Belles, The American Queen, Sultana, the Sprague, the largest stern-wheel towboat ever built, launched in 1901, eventually became a showboat and museum in 1948, ending in a fire in 1974, S.S. St. Paul, S.S. Sidney, S.S. Captiol – with showmen such as Zutty Singleton, Norman Mason, Sidney Desuignes, Amos White, Henry Kimball, and so many more.

“The New Orleans bands, like the riverboats themselves, wintered in New Orleans and came north into dock and operate from St. Louis all summer,” said John Szived. So What; The Life Of Miles Davis,, “St. Louis regularly got to hear New Orleans musicians like Fate Marable, Louis Armstrong, and Red Allen on those boats and off them. New Orleanians like drummer Zutly Singleton and Jelly Roll Morton recorded with local St. Louis bands, and area musicians such as Charles Creath, Dewey Jackson, and Elwood C. Buchanan, Sr., were heard on the boats when they reached New Orleans.”  These riverboat musicians played simple dance music, gracefully and easily – laying the basis for the jazz music to come in the years ahead.  “By the early 1900s, St. Louis may have been the center of ragtime, but it was also primed for the development of jazz.”


The legend of the origin of the word ‘jazz’ could be traced to multiple origins; one popular legend if that the word was derived from the rhythm and blues played on the J.S. Deluxe Showboat – commonly referred to as the “J.S.” and repeatedly pronounced “jezz” or “the jezz” – eventually become the byword for the particular River Boat swing, Dixie and Blues.  The boat actually belong to the John Streckfus boat line – hence the JS. It was launched in 1901 for excursion traffic from New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota with the theme “rolling on the river”.  The JS had a large dance floor and bandstand. The boat burned on June 25, 1910.

Another legend was Jess Stacy – August 11, 1904 to January 1, 1995 – an American jazz pianist during the Swing Era; Jesse Alexander Stacy, lived in Bird’s Point, Missouri , and by 1920 he was playing piano in saxophonist Reg Meyer’s jazz ensemble at Cape Girardeau High School and at the Bluebird confectionary at Broadway and Fountain, as well as at the Sweet Shop on Main street. Jesse played for Reg Meyer’s Melody Kings and played on the Majestic and other riverboats.  He eventually worked for Paul Mares and lived in Chicago, Illinois.   


Louis Daniel Armstrong played a “particularly influential and controversial role in the riverboat experience,” said William Kenny.  In 1919, 1920, and 1921, his unusually rapid improvisational program accelerated on the Streckfus Line excursion boats. 

“Jazz skills, jazz ideals, and jazz’s alienation from mainstream middle class culture functioned as a body of knowledge with which one could live and work while on the move, particularly on the water”, said William Howland Kenny, author of Jazz On The River, “Armstrong owed much to his musical experiences in New Orleans. But from 1919 to the end of the summer of 1921, he tramped the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers….his music expressed the special kinds of movement characterized by migration, diaspora, and steamship voyages.”    

Louis Daniel Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 in the Storyville district of New Orleans, the famed red-light district called the “Back of the Town”. It was often referred to as “the battlefield” because of the gambling, drunkenness, fighting and shooting. His father was a laborer that abandoned Louis, his mother and family right after Louis’ birth. Louis’ mother was a part-time prostitute: William Armstrong and Maryann Albert. There was Sister Beatrice Armstrong Collins and Uncle Isaac. His very early life in New Orleans was grim, rough and tumbles.  Louis hauled coal by day and played his cornet by night.

In 1907, Louis stayed with a Jewish family in New Orleans, Louisiana, which taught him racial equality,” how to live –  real life and determination” – and eventually lead to the Karnofskys Project. Louis wore a Star Of David most of his life.  Armstrong tells about the Karnofskys in his book Louis Armstrong And The Jewish  Family In New Orleans, La., The Year Of 1907.

He was sent to the Fisk School for Boys and the Colored Waifs Home because he shot off his stepfather’s pistol in a New Year’s celebration; he was oft times considered a juvenile delinquent. Professor Peter Davis took note of Louis and the Home Administrator Captain Joseph Jones asked that Louis be tutored. Cornet Bunk Johnson taught the 11-year-old to play by ear at Pago Tony’s Tonk in New Orleans. He stayed in the school till 14-years-of-age. Louis later gained the nick name “satchmo” because of his broad, wide, joyous grin he often displayed to the public. He became entranced with music and played for passing pedestrians on street corners. One of his haunts was the ‘quabrille’ where they did licentious dancing, such as the Funky Butt and “ragtime” (Jazz was very new and embryonic then). There was also Joe Oliver’s Pete LaLa’s Club. His first dance hall job was at Henry Ponce’s club. Black Benny became one of the first of a line of protectors, handlers and guides. He was a student of Burk Johnson and Buddy Petit Kiory; Joe ‘King’ Oliver, however, became his primary mentor and father figure.

Despite his tenacious and mean rearing, Armstrong often spoke of his youth with fondness; well-liked (and made himself so) by the prostitutes, pimps, gamblers and toughs of that neighborhood. Satchmo Armstrong “Apparently felt relatively secure in this rather vicious environment.” (

He sang in a boys’ quartet in 1913; studied with the Joe ‘King’ Oliver Band and later joined the Kid Ory Band in 1919.  For two years he also played on the St. Louis river boat that housed Fate Marable’s Band (he referred to Fate Marable as “going to the university”), where upon he was introduced to the Streckfus Mississippi Boat Lines and became a river boat musician. One of his bands he called the Tuxedo Brass Band. He later formed the Hot Five and Hot Seven Bands.

Armstrong’s first wife, Daisey Parker, died on March 19, 1918, shortly after their divorce. They had adopted a 3-year-old boy, Clarence Armstrong, who sustained a head injury and needed special care there-after.

Armstrong played on the S.S. Sidney and S.S. St. Paul riverboats and he wrote glowingly about “going back to his Storyville haunts with a wad of riverboat dollars in his jeans”. His major themes were of the black Mississippian and his great migration revealed in his own hot, stomping, swinging manner, sometimes in a tempo much faster than riverboat captains had allowed.  His lyrics spoke of the sadness of the black south, but Armstrong frames those moments in his own “sunny optimism”. Said Kenny: “He’s a son of the south very much on the move, dressed even better than Fate Marable, and moreover, stepping to some really hot jazz, much too searing for old wooden paddle wheelers.”

In Billy Baskette’s Mighty River, the lyrics actually herald the sound of a departing steamer’s whistle and bell, announcing a slow voyage back home “to a girl (like Daisy Parker)”.

A Victor Records recording session in 1933 produced Mississippi Basin, Dusty Stevedore, St. Louis Blues, There’s A Cabin In The Pines, Mighty River, He’s A Son Of The South. Decca Records recorded in 1939 and 1940 bannered his lively Shanty Boat On The Mississippi and Lazy Sippy Steamer.

Shanty Boat evokes the jerry-rigged houseboats of poor black people along the Mississippi and tell about the feelings of an exhausted laboring man who looks forward to the day that he and his wife can “kick back” and release daily burdens on his own shanty riverboat.

Louis invented ‘scat singing’, a form of bebop rhythm in lyrics, and the “uniquely gritty correlation of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated.” In 1923 Louis correlated and arranged music with Hoagy Carmichael and Bix Beiderbecke. Rockin Chair was one of Carmichael’s best renditions. Armstrong recoded Lazy River in 1931 and in 1945 he formed a six piece band called the All Stars. In 1968 Armstrong recorded What A Wonderful World: a lyrical, musical travel log of life’s best moments And memories. In 1990 Louis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

Louis ‘Satchmo’ Daniel Armstrong died on July 6, 1971 at 69 years-of-age. “Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine”, Armstrong had said, “I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans. It has given me something to live for.”    

Louis Armstrong became one of the greatest riverboat celebrities of the 20th century with his “hot” jazz tempos.  Said Armstrong: What we play is life!”   


(Otherwise known as ’Smock! Smock!’)

Steve Allen would be the last to stifle creativity (he personally used it in the creation of his brash and upbeat theme song This Could Be the Start of Something Big). He often extolled creativity. In the 1995 No. 61 General Semantics Bulletin , Allen said of himself: “I’m just a musical illiterate…I cannot read music….I’m just versatile….some little tiny little thing is  where that talent comes from….that’s way in the Twilight Zone….(but) so is the whole universe… cannot make scientific statements so ephemeral as humor….eye of the beholder….there being no further testimony in this case, the jury will now retire to render a verdict….”

Steve Allen would outline the lives of people like automotive tycoon Charles Kettering as a gifted child who worked his way out of extreme poverty, and used those gifts to obtain grand success. But I also agree that those people could have easily been overlooked if they did not get help and support along the way.  Sometimes talent and support don’t always mesh in life.

Or as Steve Allen would tell his television audience from time to time: “Smock!  Smock!”


It was at one of usual cold winter Steak N’ Shake meetings that Wild grimaced in his steely voice about the creeping menace of Communism.  The meeting, decorated by ice-filled streets and drifts and banks of dirty white snow in a harsh zero-degreed St. Louis weather, was one of several terse scenarios with Wild.

“We have nothing against what has been called soft music, crooning, classical or light sounds: not at all,’ I told him, “These are all interesting and sometimes greatly entertaining. We have no special fight here other than some music and songs we like much better than others. We have no special agenda other than popular criticisms or opinions. I like Bobby Darin ballads (Somewhere Beyond The Sea – 1959 – also sung by Gisele Mackenzie and played by Benny Goodman – 1948 – and also Annuncio Paolo Mantovany) and Frank Sinatra ballads (Laura, Young At Heart, Without A Song), Nat King Cole (Ramblin Rose, Mona Lisa, Autumn Leaves), and especially Perry Como (Shadows Follow Me and his 1955 hit It’s Impossible), Jo Stafford (You Belong To Me) – – – – and pass over the usual ironies and conflicts in their backgrounds.”  The list of such music could go on and on: Enoch Light And The Light Brigade renditions of 30’s and 40’s: Marie, April In Paris, I Can’t Get Started With You  (but his jazz renditions as well: Sing, Sing, Sing and Tuxedo Junction). Eddie Fisher recently passed away in September, 2010: you may remember his ever popular tune Oh My Papa.


“I even like Ludwig Von Beethoven, and his Choral Symphony No. 9  really “Rocks” — – – – it picks you up and shakes you down to the core of your being!”  I explained to Wild. And again there are his symphonies No. 5, 3 and 7! Wikianswers says: “Beethoven bridged the classical and romantic periods of music. The latter period involved less emphasis on strict rules and more on pure emotion.  Beethoven’s style, particularly later in his life, reflects this period well.  His works involve strong emotion and broke several of the musical rules that existed in the Barogue and Classical periods…late classical and early romantic styles….” His music searched out vibrations that where so dynamic that some people believed he must had an African heritage.  Ira F. Brillant says: “He was the first composer to invigorate European Classical music with prodigious use of this decidedly inherent African rhythmic trait….one of the first composers to deviate from the musical template of eighteenth-century rules and regulations……” Max Chandler says that many musicians and writers today were heavily influenced by Beethoven: Bud Powell, Dave Brubeck, Charlie “bird” Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles  Mingue, Orenette Coleman and others (and writer Anthony Burgess and movie producer Stanley Kubrick on their respective works on A Clockwork Orange  depicting a futurist society chuck-full of Beethoven). Wagner said of him that Beethoven faced the world with a defiant temperment and kept an almost “savage” independence. He rejected sham, humbug, conventionality above all things: Beethoven may have been our First Rock Star!

“In part, the problem is that we don’t live in a black-on-white reality and we are wanderers with eccentric philosophies trying to force ourselves into round holes when we are square pegs. Schizotypal personalities, such as ourselves, often have difficulty,” I went on to explain the Wild, “We tend to relinquish to our obsessive-compulsive square pegs and see our views as the best of everyday, real-world “holes”. We are playing “Connect – The – Dots”- – – – drawing lines between dots all over the page of life (dots that are topics or subjects that strictly support our deep prejudices, biases, idiosyncrasies) and then we pull a magic little string at the bottom of the page that draws all those ideas and topics into a stiff, straight line of “dots” and we call these eccentricities: The real factual world. We all do it – some worse than others. Even so-called professionals: they are not getting it right.  Like Tim Zell use to quote someone (Carl Sagan?): ‘the universes are a lot bigger than our head.’”


No one was deliberately performing for Wild personally so that they could be gauged by Wild’s private obsessive-compulsive and pensive review of their every action. This reminds me of the Jack Nicholson’s performance of Marvin Udall in the movie As Good As It Gets.  Marvin was surrounded by everyday people doing everyday things on a regular outing and being their everyday selves.  Udall, in the movie, as a misanthrope and masochist, hated everything and everybody (I hate that when it happens to me).  I don’t believe we were worried about matching up to someone’s esoteric-philosophical library in someone’s head that day of the outing. Myself, my diabetes was acting up (since 2008 – I’ve gone from pills to insulin: in July, 2010 my kidney stopped functioning for a few days) and I was feeling “out of sorts” that day in 2008 — and I had my broken toe and joint arthritis to contend with; my hips are painful, even when I walk a short distance; the family doctor says it may be also due to diabetic neuropathy). As Carol Connelly said to Marvin in the movie (Udall was both a brilliant writer and a literary artist): “Do you have any control over how creepy you allow yourself to get?” (Udall had allowed everything to be viewed through the prism of his sickness).

On a “picnic” (do you remember the movie Picnic?Steve Allen wrote some of the music for that movie) people don’t usually approach it as if were involved in a political dissertation a professional symposium, inquisition, or a trial…..They just want to be “cool” and relaxed and “let their hair down” so-to-speak: But it still is a matter of give and take. Without some leeway, it could turn out to be a “political dissection” and a clash of our base philosophical and  emotional (maybe puritanical) rigidities.

But beware – – – – beware of the world of contradiction – – – – (and more on that next time) – – – – our recusant separatist has such a tight noose around his neck, that even when “he” claims his pristine black-on-white world as the only correct world, out of his library world of books and paper, through the corner of his eye, he sees other people somewhere watching, causing him to think there just might be much more to life out there, and the noose is not really a halo of glory.


DECEMBER 22, 2008


The preceding was held off from mailing and probably would have been regulated to the waste basket or some far distant revision, for fear of not being “purist” enough to match Moriarty Wild’s atelophobia, tropophobia. allodoxaphobia, polyphobia, or whatever combination of social phobia or philosophical derivatives he evolved from. Claiming a personal philosophical psyche is Wild’s inherent personal right. It is mine too. I enjoy many of the things in my life, and I do not feel that I need to be a “pure scientist” (there is no such thing!)  or stand “aloof” from “humans” because I want to match what various “ideologues” say in books and papers that assuage my psychological world: I much prefer “real life”.

Says Humanistic Theories Of Psychology: “Alfred Adler….in applying holistic principals to psychology, Adler argued that if we want to understand humans, we need to view them as whole (or individuals) rather than bits and pieces (i.e., Freud’s ‘id’, ‘ego’ and  ‘super ego’). Holism also emphasizes the need to take human’s physical and social environments into account when trying to understand them, therefor the concept of ‘gemeinschaftsgefuhl’ (Boeree, 1997).”   

While I did not have debunkers like Phil Klass as a personal mentor, I did have what could be called mentors of sorts (Keyhoe, Ruppelt [the early version], Ray Palmer, H.G. Wells, others; but also Space Patrol, Space Cadets, Sky King, Howdy Doody, Mr. Wizard, Jules Verne’s From The Earth To The Moon, Walt Disney, Sputnik, Wernher von Braun, Herb Philbrick: I led Three Lives, Alfred Hitchcock, Dave Garroway, Science-fiction Theatre, The Twilight Zone, The Loretta Young Show, the movie The Wizard Of Oz, and so on), none of those could compete with my ‘fulltime’ occupation of staying alive physically, psychiatrically and psychologically, and fitting in and creating my own Wonderland of Adventure amid the harsh reality of my life in the 50s and 60s (most of which only a few people around me could have been aware of).

It was a Dark verses a Happy Sunshine world I lived in. And I had hoped that the Sunshine adventures I got into would cast over the Dark Side- – – -that was before Star Wars movies– – – – but like Luke Skywalker, I hoped my happy-go-lucky Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer adventures would save me from  going “over to the Dark Side”. My life in Carondelet was a symphony of tragedy, happiness, adventure and mysticism, stark, raw life and naked brutality, the life or a boy and, soon, teenager in the 50s – 60s with all the panorama of A Rebel With out A Cause and other traits of that era. My life was several movie and television scripts come to life. My mom would often compare me to Timmy in the television program Lassie or Ricky from Ozzie And Harriet. Said of “little” Nelson:  “…he was ’an odd little kid’….likeable, shy, introspective, mysterious and inscrutable……” Later, I guess, I could be compared to teenage movie parts that the late actor Vic Morrow played. Parts like Artie West in The Blackboard Jungle, Richard Brooks’ 1955 drama: “A scary and unfamiliar fringe of the youth movement.”

When did you graduate from that upper-class, high-style “finishing school”? Was there one in Carondelet? And how did you get “protected” from being a real life scene out of The Black Board Jungle movie?  I did attend that school! I didn’t get a chance to attend the Finishing School. Not many people were envisioning great and wonderful things for me: other than myself.  But I lost track or got “sucked under” (as one might say) by the muck of blue-collar workaday fiasco and drama of lower middle-class lifestyle and teenage depression and psycho angst. Let’s see: you lived on Pennsylvania Avenue which was not far from where I lived on Michigan Avenue and that was not too much distance from where John Moeller lived on Field Avenue. Are you saying those “books” you were reading at 16-17 years of age “thrust” you into that more elite and magnanimous lifestyle? And when did you receive a degree or post-graduate degree? That always makes you a better human and good-hearted-person, doesn’t it? If not that, at least “superior”!

The closest I was able to get near that ‘high style’ was when I watched the late Louis Rukeyser (that “rakish raconteur” and the “most sartorially elegant host in America” on Wall Street Week  television) speaking in an “inimitable and always delightful style” of the wealthy, walking into a “fustily elegant” Baltimore hotel, ”unhip, unabashed, unbeaten”, “exquisitely tailored” and ”pun-loving”,  “light-hearted, free-market oriented” (at a time when American mutual funds numbered a scant 323), looking shockingly similar to an aristocratic George Washington. On many days, withdrawing from the hot-steaming metal of the boiler fabrication shop, and escaping from the painful stabs of a cold wife unbeknownst to me as planning a divorce conspiracy, I’d recline on the floor in front of the TV, Allowing Rukeyser’s tranquil and soothingly firm Mr. Fred Rodgers – Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood-type-children’s’ show voice to become “talk therapy”; God bless you, Mr. Rukeyser!

However, I did have the opportunity to hypocritically refer to myself as a somewhat of a journalist (“maybe”).  But it would be a journalist that has no firm, innate, rigid, convictions. I don’t think I claim to be one of those arm chair pseudo-scientists of some fundamentalist “Rationalist” Cult (you’ll soon notice that I stopped using “skeptic” as a title description in as much as skeptics are not “debunkers” at all: in fact the term has been greatly misused…..

Said Celeste Adams: “Dr. (Raymond) Moody explains that the so-called ‘skeptics’ are not skeptics at all: ‘the skeptic tradition goes back to ancient Greece, and it’s a spiritual tradition about not drawing conclusions. So when someone says, ‘I’m a skeptic…I think it’s just (this or that),’ they have contradicted themselves.  They have said, ‘I am a person that doesn’t draw conclusions,’ then they draw a conclusion….to be a genuine investigator….belief or disbelief is irrelevant. We only need to ask ‘What’ is the ‘Nature’ of what we’re dealing with.’” Scientist Dr. Bill Bankston concurred: “The ego needs to get out of the way. Not a lot to do with trying. Let nature take its course. Be a Lightening rod. Let it happen…..inside and outside the box. Thinking in a different box, but we ignore the anomalies to keep the box we are in: it’s the way we frame the world….a good scientist is a skeptic: cautious but in a fluid state. A Believer already says he knows the answer, he is not “open.”  It is scary both ways; to be open, fluid, and willing to be wrong”…..).

I am not a scientist (obviously) and I don’t believe I have pawned myself off as one. Maybe I am a true Skeptic, the average “Joe Citizen” kind as a work-a-day-world-kind-of-a-Skeptic. I see you as more of a religious quest on behalf of the Debunkers Over All Church, much like John Schroeder is spreading the UFO Spaceship Religion. It’s all religion; just at the opposite ends of a scale. Could be that this is caused by the pontifical ideology of the various political and Cultist religions and feelings involved? There is a world of scientists out there interested in UFOs and psychic phenomena, such as Robert Bigelow and Jacques Vallee, thousands of others. There is The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Society for Scientific Exploration. Others; consisting of legitimate scientists. I’m not about to call them idiots as Moriarty would. He’d call Einstein an idiot, if it served his Religion. And you might include Brian Greene, Michio Kakui, Charles Seife, Martin Rees, Marcelo Gleiser, Ralph Alpher, John Wheeler, David Bohm, M. Talbot, Alan Guth, David Gross, Paul J. Steinhardt, Burt Ovrut, Kip Thorne, David Deutsch, Lawrence Kraus, Phil Marshall, Andrea Ghez, Phil Plait, Max Tegmark, Andrea Ghez, Joe Silk, Joan Swartz, Amanda Peet, Edward Whitten, Joseph Linken, Frank Tippler, Andrew Cleland, Nick Poplawski, Andre Linde, Frank Wilczek, Peter Higgs, Stephen Hawkings, Phil Rivera, John Jackson, Ray Downing and a whole host of others like them.  Might as well, they are pushing the Outer Limits of science. I’m just not prepared to castigate them. Moriarty can do that. Neither am I able to adjudicate and ostensibly expatriate the fate of Carl Jung or many other scientists. Maybe after I get to attend that Finishing School Moriarty attended. However, maybe I can hope and see Magic still going on in the universe.  Maybe………….


I recall you going about social and public circles back through years 1967 (circa 60s to the near present), smirking, like some little Shaverian-Dero-hobbit, cackling, “idiots!,” “you’re a liar!,” “trash!,” “crazy!,” “junk!,”  and other symptoms of seeming schizoid tourettes-like coprolalia (normal acid drollery or stereotypic movement disorder? You said you didn’t remember going about making such remarks). Michael Guillen, PH.D., Senior Science editor for ABC-TV had a much more refreshing use of the language (1998): “my goal is to report accurately and open-mindedly any interesting and credible goings-on within science, be they orthodox or iconoclastic….apply the scientific method…only through rigorous studies…can we get beyond the endless and largely emotional- philosophical arguments between ’skeptics’ and ’believers’….they’re open as evidenced by the continuing disagreement among intelligent, well-educated people….many of today’s research results….are routinely contradicted by some subsequent study….it’s not the nature of science ever to know anything with absolute certainty.  Which is why Mr. Park’s remarkable ability to know exactly what is and isn’t possible, to distinguish between ‘good’ and ’bad’ science with such complete confidence strike me, well, as just so much voodoo….”

I recall you were castigating people for their opinions way back in 1967. I was a “liar” when I published Thomas Fairbanks’ letters as MR. X in Dissenter/Disinter Magazine (which claimed he knew David Ferrie in New Orleans and some of the other people who were interconnected in the Kennedy assassination). I was not supporting his comments at that time; just reporting them without any absolute judgment. Subsequently, apparently, Fairbanks’ comments had some merit. I didn’t deserve Wild’s attack: Fairbanks ran into some of those characters while living in New Orleans.

But furthermore: when the public and Forteans went to listen to Dr. Allen J. Hynek’s 1967 lecture on his investigations into the UFO phenomenon in the St. Louis Washington University Graham Chapel, I had taken note of and later presented his comments in my magazine Dissenter/Disinter, also marking his comments that he was beginning to suspect that the oddities in that phenomena indicated a metaphysical or psychic aspect in its nature.  I later pointed out this revelation to Wild, where upon Wild again surprised and shocked me by saying I was a “liar” or a “god-damned liar” (I can’t remember which of the two phrases he spurted out to me). Of course, these were not my words I reviewed, recorded and  presented, but Dr. Hynek’s; I don’t, however, recall Hynek getting into some lengthy discourse on thesupernatural nature of the UFO, but he did indicate something paranormal wasgoing on(apparently Wild felt just the mere mention of anyone’s viewpoint opened the commenter to Wild’s censure in some kind of religious inquisition and verbalcastration [caused partially by Wild’s scholastic academics]); and – again – as events in the subject developed and further lectures and papers by  Hynek came out, the doctor , indeed, had said something paranormal seemed to be going on in that phenomenon). This I did pick up from his lecture and wrote about it in my magazine.

Thoughts on the nature of UFOs as “space machines” piloted by almost unrecorded pilots – had been framed by pulp fiction writers in the 1930s and earlier fiction writers such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and the ‘contactee’ stories of George Adamski, Howard Menger, Daniel Fry, Truman Bethurum, George Van Tassel and others, following closely the story line of pulp writers of the 1930s – 1940s such as Frank R. Paul, Raymond A. Palmer, Richard S. Shaver and others. Only a few writers suggested more than one cause for the sightings.

It is amazing that two listeners’ notes I discovered on that lecture (one set of notes written on 12/21/67 by Moriarty Wild) did not record or pick-up on Hynek’s reference to the ‘paranormal’ as I did: so strong was the willingness to “cleanse” any thought or perception in Hynek’s words that a new and strange phenomena may be involved including the metaphysical. Major Donald Keyhoe of NICAP fought vigorously against any such notion, even to the extent that he avoided that bizarre and strange humanoids were sometimes reported. The following reveals the growing tendency – even before 1967 —- of Dr. Hynek to suspect an origin other than just ‘classical’ machines from the far distances and regular worlds in space:

Dr. Hynek spoke on this point in a June, 1975 Fate Magazine interview: “I always start with the incontrovertible facts that UFO reports exist and humanoid reports exist. I don’t like it ___ I’d much rather talk about nocturnal lights and daylight discs but no scientist throws out data just because he doesn’t like it.  If he does he’s not a scientist. The data of the reports are there.  If you go through the files of the Flying Saucer Review you have case after case. NICAP threw them out for years. They just refused to think there could be anything like that; therefore they weren’t going to touch it.  But that’s not science.” (Page 51)   

It is odd that Dr. Hynek – on the same weekend he gave his Graham Chapel lecture – also was interviewed on WIL radio on November 25, 1967 and made similar allusions on UFOS: “….that’s a terribly loaded question….Do we really have an unexplained phenomenon? I think so. But it’s only after I have, or somebody has, the data really in form to study, in appropriate form to study, then one is ready for theorizing….The problem is, within the framework of our present-day science, we have no conceivable means or ideas of how that civilization could communicate with us because the distances are so utterly, utterly vast….it may also turn out to be something that we just don’t know about at all, in the same sense that a hundred years ago, the whole concept of nuclear energy would have been totally foreign to our way of life…I rather use the term ‘UFO’ than ‘flying saucer’ because ‘flying saucer’ is a loaded word, it..…already carries with it an answer…UFOs….do not seem to be explainable in the present scientific framework.…reports of extremely strange sightings made by reputable people in many cases….”  It was apparent that on November 25, 1967 that Hynek was disenchanted with flying saucer machines from normally envisioned interplanetary worlds. 

One can see Dr. Hynek’s growing suspicions and his increasing evolution about the true nature of the UFO reality even before 1967; having lived with the UFO phenomena “up close and personal”. In 1953, his suspicions leaked out into a April, 1953 article in the Journal Of The Optical Society Of America wherein he says true UFOs may be an unknown terrestrial phenomena: “But, do we have an natural phenomenon?”

The September-October,1966 issue of the now-defunct APRO Bulletin, chastised Hynek for hiding a more liberal viewpoint on UFOs before that time, when, in fact, he had suspicions that a really unusual phenomenon existed: “(Hynek would) ….bide his time until an opportunity came to arouse the interest of other scientists….a psychic revolution….” 

Another case in point (apparently circa 1967-1968): in Leslie Kearn’s 2010 book UFOs: Generals, Pilots, Government Officials Go On The Record  (Harmony Books, New York, 2010) speaking about the Condon UFO Project and the subsequent July, 1968 Hearings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics, Kearn reminds us on page 113 of her book quoting Hynek’s early belief: “As hynek pointed out at the time (emphasis, mine….SE), Condon and his supporters mistakenly equated the notion ofUFOs with something extraterrestrial…..”  Again, this appears to be about 1967-1968.   

On December 27, 1969 (just two years after his speech at Graham Chapel) at a General Symposium of the American Association For The Advancement Of Science, 134th meeting, Hynek, conjoining and speaking of Canadian Philosopher of Science, Thomas Goudge, indicated that a genuinely new-empirical observation and new explanation scheme including new, basic concepts and new scientific laws, needed to be established, and that the reported occurrences violate the “methodological criteria governing the advancement of science”: new observational data must occur, allowing new concepts, explaining new observational data. Hynek quoted Schreedinger: “….be curious, capable of being astonished, and eager to find out……”

Dr. Hynek spoke on February 23, 1973 at the Marriott Motor Hotel in St. Louis for the Northwestern University Alumni Club of St. Louis: “….the problem of the Northern Lights….nobody knew what caused it, because, simply, we didn’t know enough physics yet. And we may be in a sort of a similar situation with the UFO phenomenon; it may be opening a totally new domain of nature that we are, as yet – after all, just because it’s 1973 doesn’t mean that we know the things that we’re going to know about the universe in the year 4000….There remains no doubt in my mind that a real UFO phenomenon, of some sort, exists, which may, or may not, have extraterrestrial origin. Indeed that is the problem….these persons, adjudged responsible by all ordinary standards….to hold that they furnish as data that may be of decided, potential, scientific value…..”  These notes were recorded by Moriarty Wild in March, 1973.

At a 1973 MUFON Annual Symposium in Akron, Ohio, Hynek said in a piece called “The Embarrassment Of The Riches”: “……but many thousands every year? From remote regions of space? And to what purpose? To scare us by stopping cars and disturbing animals and puzzling us with their seemingly pointless antics?”  

In the Spring, 1974 issue of Probe The Unknown Magazine, Dennis V. Waitecomments on and quotes Hynek on these matters: “To say that life (as extraterrestrial-alien-visitors…S.E) has visited us — that’s another question.…ships from outer space” ‘explanation may just be too pat. Something is happening, Hynek says, something very real and frightening to many people’…”We have to take this phenomenon seriously whatever it is”….’There’s no conclusive evidence, he points out, that UFOs are ”nuts-and-bolts hardware”..…not with a predetermined judgement that they do not exist or that they are alien spacecraft, but with an open, constantly probing and thorough scientific sleuthing.’

In the January 20-22, 1975 AIAA 13th Aerospace Sciences meeting in Pasadena, California, Hynek said in “The Emerging Picture Of The UFO Problem”: “Eyewitness reports of actual space ships and actual extraterrestrials are, in themselves, totally unreliable. There have been numerous eyewitness reports of almost everything that most rational people do not care to accept….formulation of an hypothesis – or hypotheses – that encompass the established parameters of the UFO phenomenon – no matter how far beyond the boundaries of present-day science it may have to be….the trouble is, that whatever the UFO phenomenon is, it comes and goes unexpectedly. There is no way of examining it systematically. It appears suddenly and accidentally, is partially seen, and then it’s more or less inaccurately reported….the signal-to-noise aspect of the UFO problems aggravated to a high degree because the signal is a totally unexpected signal, and represents an entirely new set of empirical observations which do not fit into any existing framework in any of the accepted scientific disciplines….the signal itself signals the birth of a new scientific discipline…It is indeed sobering, yet challenging, to consider that the entire UFO phenomenon may only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg in a signaling an entirely new domain of the knowledge of nature as yet totally unexplored, an un explored and as unimagined as nuclear processes would have been a century ago… .”

Likewise, speaking at a January 23, 1975 Annual Meeting and Banquet of about 900 assembled Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Hynek said: “We have an  unidentified phenomena which we are trying to study….The UFO phenomenon poses a research problem, and the hypothesis of visitation by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization is only one of several possibilities.”  (these quotes were transcribed by Moriarty Wild ).

The September 27, 1975 Joint Symposium of the American Institute Of Aeronautics And Astronautics and the Los Angeles chapter of the World Futures Society proceedings record Hynek in saying: “ But what is by far the most appealing things about UFO facts is that they are not acceptable pieces in the scientific jig-saw puzzle. They are pieces that seem to belong to an entire different jig-saw puzzle….Bridge and tennis are just two different games and are played by different rules. And it seems clear to most of us that UFO’s don’t obey the rules of the present day scientific game….All these things seem to call for a Paraphysics, a metaphysics, of a transcendental physics…” 

Hynek said in the Cincinnati Horizons Magazine of October 1975: “We might condition them slowly, make appearances, and do strange things…But we surely wouldn’t travel the great distance involved to do prankish things like stopping cars and frightening animals.  It would make no sense.”

Hynek was quoted in the June 26, 1976 Daily News of Chicago: “(Are UFOs interplanetary?) Not likely. It’s just too far a distance to travel….We couldn’t possibly do it with our technology. Of course, there might be a more technologically advanced civilization out there. Maybe they could travel here, but it probably wouldn’t be in anything like a flying saucer…We just don’t have enough information to answer that. Whether they are from outer space, or something even more bizarre than that, like visitors from a parallel reality….”

In a June, 1976 published interview in FATE Magazine No. 315, Hynek had a lot to say: “…(Life in the universe) it does not follow that this explains UFOS in the sense of nuts-and-bolts hardware which is as far as most scientists are willing to go….(why) done entirely on the physical plane?….communication and exploration …not in the ordinary sense….There are other planes of existence ___ the astral plane, the etheric plane and so forth….that space and time are essentially interchangeable. Suppose it was possible to travel in time rather than in space…The new puzzle pieces are being given to us by the whole parapsychological scene ___ ESP, telepathy, the Uri Geiler phenomena, psychic healing and particularly psychic surgery….They clearly are parts of another jigsaw puzzle…there’s going to have to be an interface between these two pictures and this is part of that psychic revolution….This relates to the whole UFO picture; I have come to believe UFOs are part of the larger paranormal picture which has two aspects…physical effects occur apparently without physical causes….’psychic construct’ is a loaded term….modern UFO investigators tend to slough it off…doesn’t belong in our UFO wave. But it does…related to other paranormal phenomena and possibly is part of a slow conditioning process…this psychic construct has the ability to imitate, camouflage or mimic…if you once talk about consciousness and intelligence existing  apart from protoplasm….it has paranormal aspects but certainly but certainly it has very real physical aspects…We haven’t come up with an  answer. People always seem to want answers and I keep telling them, look, it’s a research problem.  In research you don’t know the answers.”

In an August 16, 1976 People Magazine interview, Hynek had this to say (page 53): “(Do UFOs come from outer space?) It doesn’t seem possible, but who knows?…People get excited at the thought UFOs might be from outer space. But it would be just as exciting if UFOS were from inner space, from an alternate or parallel reality…through expanded consciousness we were able to come into contact with a parallel reality?…that an entire parallel universe exists in these spaces between the parts of an atom…if the sheer weight of evidence finally forces us…a mighty and unexpected quantum jump.”  

In an interview with Hynek published in the April,1977 OUI Magazine (Jerome Clark, Carl Macki), Hynek made his theories much clearer: “One might even begin to speculate that the UFO itself, even though it manifests physical effects, may not be completely physical.  We don’t know.  We don’t really know, when a UFO is ‘seen,’ if there is an  actual image on the retina…a relationship might be discovered eventually, but in the poltergeist phenomenon we have something that has physical effects without being physical itself….the subject is much more complex than any of us imagined when we first got started in it.  It’s naïve to expect a simple solution…something that is far more complex than mere hallucinations or apparitions.  UFOs, although they may have no physical reality, can and do affect matter….the universe is not all that simple. Mystics, for example, have always talked about how matter vibrates at different rates of speed, but the scientist doesn’t know what the mystic is talking about…there is a lot that the spaceship concept doesn‘t explain about UFO phenomena.  You have to disallow or neglect overlook all sorts of things if you accept the idea that nuts-and-bolts craft are coming here from outer space —– the so-called extraterrestrial hypothesis….We’re going to have to broaden our scope and admit other things into our playing field of science….But it would be wrong if we pursued that path to the exclusion of everything else.  If the evidence suggests that there is a paranormal dimension to the phenomenon, we’re going to have to pursue that.”  

At a 1977 International UFO Congress in Chicago, Hynek said: “I hold it entirely possible that a technology exists which encompasses both the physical and the psychic, the material and the mental….there may a civilization that is millions of years more advanced than man….million-year-old civilization may know something that we don’t….I hypothesize an ‘m and m’ technology encompassing the mental and material realms.  The psychic realms, so mysterious to us today, may be an ordinary part of an advanced technology.”

In the November 21, 1977 (page 97) edition of Newsweek (“The UFO’s Are Coming”) by Peter Gwynne and Katrine Ames, Hynek is quoted as saying: “We have the questions, not the answers”. The authors say: “But he emphasizes that speculation should not be limited to flying saucers.  UFO’S, he says, may be psychic phenomena and the ‘aliens’ may not come from outer space but from a ‘parallel reality’: (Hynek) ”….I will speculate that a very advanced civilization might know something about the connection between mind and matter that we don’t.”   

In the December, 1998 Saturday Evening Post Hynek was quoted: “The fourth possible explanation of UFOs is that we are dealing with some kind of natural phenomena that we as yet cannot explain or conceive of.”                       

Sadly, no apology came from Wild; Wild apparently felt it was his imagined “academic” duty to psychologically assassinate his friends ( and I did consider him my friend at those moments, somehow; even though I was suspecting his personal life had its own peculiarities). But he shouldn’t have been “wrong” — he was not permitted that in what could be called the schizoid “PERFECT WORLD” – – – – – was that the ‘world’ taught to people in that Secret-Carondelet-Finishing-School?

Alfred Lord Tennyson saw this too:

“It is well within the range of science, glorying in the time, city children soak and blacken soul and sense in the city slime. There among the gloomy alleys progress halts on palsied feet; crime and hunger cast out maidens by the thousands on the street….”  

Robert E. Haggard speaks of it in The Persistence Of Victorian Liberalism “….by definition dreary, squalid and filthy…fetid…..poisonous…gangs of burglars, garrotters, and pickpockets operate almost without check…”


In America, similarly, horrid conditions were found in the Five Points district of New York circa 1842-1863. Says Gregory Christiano:  “The name Five Points evokes images of poverty, rampant crime, decadence and despair, that’s true. The Five Points was a lurid geographical cancer filled with dilapidated and unbelievable tenement houses, gang extortion, corrupt politicians, houses of ill-repute and drunkenness and gambling. This was a place where all manner of crime flourished, the residents terrorized and squalor prevailed….Among the places the most crowded in proportion to their actual size, the worst ventilated and whose mortality is the greatest at all times….the term ‘cellar’ are not conveying a proper idea of the place when used as a residence….these dens, or artificial caves of the earth….often send bands JUST WHAT DO YOU ‘MEAN’ : SHAVERIAN HOBBIT!?

(A little “sidebar” on the Richard Shaver Mystery and why it is such a continued motif of legendary significance to me; I guess like Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer and other mystery noir (Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe; others?), that are inspirational to detective and mystery fans, the time was “right” for many science-fiction and prophetic stories of controversial reputation. For Morgan Robertson in 1898 it was writing his novel Futility—-The Wreck Of The Titan which seemed to foreshadow [14 years ahead of time] the real sinking of the Titanic. Jules Verne prophetic fiction that heralded nuclear submarines, trips to the moon, and H.G. Wells spoke of time travel and a future World Pax where science reigned supreme. Richard S. Shaver, along with writers William  Beebee, Dr. John Coleman, The Reverend Jim Slaw, Dr. Anthony Sutton, George A. Lehew, Jerry La-Prione, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and many other mystery noir writers spoke of our world being scrutinized by evil beings that have controlled us from time immemorial. A.J. Streichert said in 1958:  “…most dangerous because its nonsense seems to make sense.” John thine added more insight: “Shaver’s delusions are the dark and cloudy glass that which we see myths at the end of history; his obsessions mirror the concerns of us all, and as we look into his private abyss our fears and hopes as a species emerges out of the emptiness. Shaver’s work is not fact, it is not even true; it is real, in a way only the right myth at the right moment can be real…. ”)

(In Shaver’s particular mythos, noble and genetically pure Supermen — The Elder Race — lived out in the dark reaches of space away from the detrimental effects of the sun’s radiation…..

“……………..Princess Vanic……..sunless Nor…….Nortans…..dark space is filled of Titans, Atlans and Nor-tans..….it’s high time  we ran away from the Black Death. I’ve worried and waited  for it to strike me long enough. The Elder station on the cold  planets are the best natured men you can find in space:  Haven’t been near a sun in centuries, and don’t know the meaning of the word ‘evil’.”  (I Remember lemuria, 1948)………                                 

                               “…… will go at once far beyond any influence from mother Mu’s rodite, under another space- group of planets, and there we will learn how to live where such things as the  black death does not exist…….”                          

… escape war and the “black death” of de-te-rio-ra-tion (Mantong: an incredibly ancient language: a type of cipher translating English letters into symbolic meanings) the Elder Race came to earth and placed a canopy of protective vapor around the planet: which eventually proved inadequate against the sun. The canopy collapsed and many raced into the interior of the earth were the Super Technology backfired and their machinery actually began to poison them — yet force them to stay alive for a span of time. They were “abandondero”, and they consisted of two camps, those who were progressively “evil” [Dero} and those who somehow had avoided the poison – Tero. The vast majority escaped into the far reaches of outer space…..

                          ……”Our sun has begun to throw out great

                           masses of these poisonous particles. They

                           fall upon Mu  in a continual flood, enter- 

                           ing into living tissue, and infecting it with

                           the radioactive disease we call age……”

                           The Teacher, I Remember lemuria, 1948…..)

(A large range of writers had an effect on Shaver and Shaver had a wide range effect on a lot of writers. H.P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, james  Churchword, Guy de Maupassant’s The Horla, others. Shaver said the Dero caused all kinds of havoc, terror and destruction on the “surface world”- – – – – and while most people slough off his story as the outcome of his stay in a Ypsilanti state hospital [Jim Pobst said it was only two weeks and only for disorderly conduct. His former wife Sophie said Shaver had gone on a binge and she asked that he be held on July 27, 1934 {July 27 is also Steve Erdmann’s birth date} for observation]- – – – -Shaver’s “discoveries” were far more ebullient. Publisher Ray Palmer said: “On December 27, 1949, Albert Einstein came out with a new theory of gravitation and electromagnetic fields’’, taunted Palmer, “months before that, Mr. Shaver (minus the mathematical formula) told me the same thing! For the record I want to say that if any credit for a new and revolutionary theory of gravity goes to anybody it should go to Richard S. Shaver on the basis of prior publication.” Palmer went on to expound: “Shaver described the Flying Saucers and predicted their appearance. And all this he said came from the information he got from the caves.  So whether or not [the story] came from his own mental process of some kind, the information was correct and the information he’s given us has been correct so many times it’s impossible to discard it as fiction.” Website said: “Shaver claimed he owed all this astounding information to technologically advanced beings that, like it or not, communicated with him.”)


(Later in 1971 in his Hidden World series, Palmer admitted that Shaver’s conduit to his Caves [though highly debated and resisted by Shaver] were by way of an Altered-state of consciousness similar to a hypnotic trance or what might have occurred when in psychic states such as that of John Ballou Newbrough [1828-1891], when he did inspired writing of the Oahspe Bible. Nandor Foder, psychoanalyst, author of On The Trail Of The Poltergeist and The Haunted Mind, asked: “Is there a possibility that the human psyche, in a parthenogenesis fashion similar to the division of the cells, may give birth to another junior self?  In the light of this query, are split or multiple personalities strictly morbid or are they evolutionary manifestations of an unsuspected human potential?”

Even “debunkers” such as Michael Shermer (who at one time denied that hypnotism existed), in reviewing Robin Waterfield’s Hidden Depths: The Story Of Hypnosis, had to admit the reality of altered-states: “….an altered state of consciousness explains little for a simple reason: we don’t know what consciousness is, making it difficult to explain what an altered state of it means..…in that borderland between reality and fantasy where the power and mystery of hypnosis lies..…It is with hypnosis in particular that I depart ways from many of my skeptical colleagues who argue that it is nothing more than fantasy role-playing, or worse, pure fakery”. [Shermer was hypnotized successfully on his own television show]).


(Some of this debate almost seems immaterial with topics such as Ted Phillips’ search for Tony Horak’s Slovakia [Project Moon Shaft] cave [in the Tatra Mountains in the north-central area; October 23, 1944] which housed an ancient artifact, perhaps millions of years old; not to even mention reports of our own government shoveling out huge underground facilities; there are said to be an estimated 100 secret exits in the Archuleta Mesa on a Dulce, New Mexico complex, as testified by John Anderson and Paul Bennewitz. The Madigan Military Hospital complex near Fort Lewis in Washington state; the Jicarilla Apache Reservation; the complex under the New Denver International Airport, east of Denver, Colorado; China Lake Naval Weapons Centre in the California desert; the town of Ridgecrest near Death Valley; Page, Arizona; Taos, Carlsbad and Patil, New Mexico; as well as Springs, Creede, and Castello, Colorado. Chris Tinkler speaks of existing tunnels and nuclear Safe-havens below Canbeira near the Australian location of Melbourne and Townsville [not to mention historical reports such as the 1700s “hatch” reported by Dr. Plot at a Staffordshire. England entrance consisting of a large oval and ring {A History Of Staffordshire}. There is the Bell Witch Cave found by William Mitchell Mott in the 1800s in Robertson County, Tennessee, or the Moon Pool found by Abraham Mott in 1919, or Norman Kinley’s find 90 miles southeast of Marthon, Texas at the foot of the Del Norte Mountains, or the cave with a smooth stone wall and staircase  found by Tal and Mary Levesque in Hell Canyon 62 miles north of Branton, California, or the talk about a huge network of underground caverns beneath the Caribbean island of Bonaire.])

But perhaps no better tribute can be made than that which Richard Toronto gave: “(my) one and only mentor as writer and artist was Richard S. Shaver, who had a good heart no matter what history says about him.” Science-fiction/fiction has a way of forecasting reality.

Maybe Shaver was just seeing , envisioning, feeling human nature for all its scope and grandeur its breath and even horror; Shaver said: “The unseen world beneath our feet, malignant and horrible, is complete in its mastery of earth. And most horrible of all, it’s a world of Madmen.”

(As an even further aside topic [“big” sidebar], in Michael Greenberg’s telling of his daughter’s slide into insanity, the story reveals how little we know about mental illness in the more hardened cases [far more complex than I can go into here: Or even the panoramic descriptions of various states of consciousness]. In describing a moment of his daughter’s dementia: “….a wavelet of energy swelled through the center of being. She could see the hidden life in things, their detailed brilliance, the funneled genius that went into making them what they are.  Sharpest of all was the misery on the faces of the people she passed. She tried to explain her vision to them but they just kept rushing by…Spinoza spoke of vitality as the purest virtue, the only virtue. The drive to persist, to flourish, she said, is the absolute quality shared by all living beings…Spinoza’s virtue is inverted, and instead of flourishing, one is driven to eat oneself alive….” (Hurry Down Sunshine , 2008, Other Press, New York, N.Y. )

Comparatively, David Darling, Ph.D., (English Astronomer and Science Writer) speaks of these states in his Soul Search: “There will always be a gap between what science can measure and what human beings feel. Yet everything we know about the way the two brain hemispheres work, everything psychology has taught us about the constructed nature of the world, and everything that those who have had mystical experiences told us, point to the same direction….Hindus call it Samadhi, Buddhists…Nirvana…Rinzai school of Zen…Satori….Zen Masters and others are powerless to relate how it feels. Words and descriptions do not encompass it.” (Ken Wilber summed it up this way: “I believe that logic has its limits and needs to be transcended in order to gain deep knowledge and wisdom….”)


Shaver’s World View certainly punched holes in your “good ole’ days” peruse; that view  might  be said to be just as much  a “myth” as is your feelings on UFOs and psychic phenomena as myths: Otto Bettmann said so  in his The Good Old Days – They Were Terrible! Bettmann concentrated on the 1820s to 1890s period, and while it might be said to be not so bad for the very affluent in society, it was terrible for the average person. There was manure piled up high on sidewalks! There were no 40-hour work weeks but just unrelenting sweatshops. No osha. Constant disease and fly infestation. On and on, so forth.  This book explains why the “good old days” were only good for a preferred few and why they were unrelentingly harsh for most and very sobering.


Writer Jack London (1876-1916), a Capitalist (all his life….[read Wolf – The LivesOf Jack London, James L. Haley]), joined the Socialist Movement upon seeing and experiencing personally the harsh realities of man’s inhumanity to man…..

(London was born a working-class, fatherless Californian in 1876.  In his youth he was a boundlessly energetic adventurer on the bustling West Coast…playing the role of hobo, sailor, prospector, and oyster pirate)….

He wrote about the lower-class often: “In his research, Jack discovered that these people who lived in the slums did so not by choice and not through laziness, but because of old age, disease, or accidents that had reduced their labor value.” (The People Of The Abyss, Macmillan, 1903).Speaking of the ghetto, London said: “a new race has sprung up, a street people.  They pass their lives at walls and in the streets.  They have dens and stairs into which to crawl for sleeping purposes, and that is all.”

“This was the most striking thing, the general heartlessness exhibited on every hand,” said Wolf, “It is a commonplace. The homeless on the benches, the poor miserable folk who may be teased and are harmless. Fifty thousand people must have passed the bench while I sat upon it, and not one, on such a jubilee occasion as the crowning of the king, felt his heart-strings touched sufficiently to come up and say to the woman: ‘Here’s a sixpence; go and get a bed.’ But the woman, especially the young women, made witty remarks upon this woman nodding, and invariably set their companions laughing….to use a Briticism, it was ‘cruel’; the corresponding Americanism was more appropriate—it was ‘fierce’….” (      

of murderers, who live by thieving alone….”

Charles Dickens likewise was astounded at what he saw in 1842: “This is the place – Five Points  —-  these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left.  Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at doors have counterpart at home, and all the wide world over.  See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays.  Many of the pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu of going on all fours? And they talk instead of grunting?….All that is loathsome, drooping, and decayed is here.”

Martin Scorsese fashioned his film The Gangs Of New York on such a reality: “It was chaos, tribal chaos….claustrophobic, where everyone was crushed together…70,000  men and women…rampaged through the streets of New York, setting houses afire, battling police and lynching African-Americans. Federal troops had to be brought in to quell the disturbances….confronted one another in the streets of New York. Here competing groups vied for living space and economic survival in a cramped district near the tip of Manhatten….” Police records indicate that nearly every building did house a brothel.  Gangs so vicious that they posted signs warning police to stay out of their neighborhoods. Saloon halls, gambling dens, and winding alleys; destitution and shocking violence – a turbulent era – rogues gallery of prostitutes, pimps, poisoners, pickpockets, murderers and thieves. Carol D. Bos.,J.B said: “Tammany Hall….degenerated into a power-hungry greed machine, its members  looked to local gangs as ‘enforcers’….”

Names denoted the reality: Slobbery Jim, Sow Madden, Piggy Noles, Eat’em Up Jack, McManus Hell-Cat Maggie, Bowery Boys, Dead Rabbits, Plug Uglies, Short Tails, Slaughter House, Swamp Ants, Billy The Butcher. Says historian Tyler Anbinder: “In ‘Five Points’ tenements, families and other groups lived crammed into one or two dark rooms. The outhouses were too few and often overflowing. Sewage and pigs ran in the streets….the whole neighborhood just stank….some holding camphor-soaked kerchiefs to their noses to ward off the stench….middle-class tourists would go ‘slumming’ in Five Points __ escorted by the police….Some of the hard-to-believe stereotypes are true.”

A Methodist reformer, of that period, said: “Five Points, the synonym for ignorance the most entire, for misery the most abject, for crime of the darkest dye, for degradation so deep that human nature cannot sink below it.”


What could be said of Five Points could be said of many an untamed town stranded out in the western frontier: Dodge City, Deadwood, Tombstone….but there was also Las Vegas, New Mexico. So said Howard Bryan in Wildest of The Wild West….

“Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws that did Las Vegas,” said historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell, “before long, outlaws, bunko artists, murderers and thieves were becoming so common that the eastern part of the settlement had become utterly lawless…”

There was Handsome Harry, the Dance Hall Rustler, the Dodge City Gang, J.J. Webb, Mysterious Dave Mather, Joe Canary, Dirty Dave Rudelbaugh, Hoodoo Brown, Doc Holliday, Mike Gordon, Big Nose Kattie, Jesse James, Billy The Kid, Bob Ford, Web-fingered Billy, Rattlesnake Sam, Cock-eyed Frank, Hook-nosed Jim, Wyatt Earp, StutteringTom, Durango Kid, and Vicente Silva and his gang called the White Caps and the Forty Bandits.

Said the vigilantes of the town:

“The flow of blood must and shall be stopped in this community, and the good citizens of both the old and new towns have determined to stop it, if they have to hang by the strong arm of force every violator of the law in this County.”


Wednesday, August 17, 2011: This Day in Wall Street History: 1877:  Billy the Kid kills his first man:

Though only a teenager at the time, Billy the Kid wounds an Arizona blacksmith who dies the next day. He was the famous outlaw’s first victim.

Just how many men Billy the Kid killed is uncertain. Billy himself reportedly once claimed he had killed 21 men – “one for every year of my life.” A reliable contemporary authority estimated the actual total was more like nine-four on his own and five with the aid of others. Other western outlaws of the day were far more deadly. John Wesley Hardin, for example, killed well over 20 men and perhaps as many as 40.

Yet, William Bonney (at various times he also used the surnames Antrim and McCarty) is better remembered today than Hardin and other killers, perhaps because he appeared to be such an unlikely killer. Blue-eyed, smooth-cheeked, and unusually friendly, Billy seems to have been a decent young man who was dragged into a life of crime by circumstances beyond his control.

Such seems to have been the case for his first murder. Having fled from his home in New Mexico after being jailed for a theft he may not have committed, Billy became an itinerant ranch hand and sheepherder in Arizona. In 1877, he was hired on as a teamster at the Camp Grant Army Post, where he attracted the enmity of a burly civilian blacksmith named Frank “Windy” Cahill. Perhaps because Billy was well liked by others in the camp, Cahill enjoyed demeaning the scrawny youngster.

On this day in 1877, Cahill apparently went too far when he called Billy a “pimp.” Billy responded by calling Cahill a “son of a bitch”  and the big blacksmith jumped him and easily threw him to the ground. Pinned to the floor by the stronger man, Billy apparently panicked. He pulled his pistol and shot Cahill, who died the next day. According to one witness, “[Billy] had no choice; he had to use his equalizer.” However, the rough laws of the West might have found Billy guilty of unjustified murder because Cahill had not pulled his own gun.

Fearing imprisonment, Billy returned to New Mexico where he soon became involved in the bloody Lincoln County War. In the next four years, he became a practiced and cold-blooded killer, increasingly infatuated with his own public image as an unstoppable outlaw. Sheriff Pat Garrett finally ended Billy’s bloody career by killing him on July 14, 1881.

Recent movie depictions granted more human character and portrayal of the real west such as the early years of Billy The Kid portrayed by Michael J. Pollard in Stan Dragoti’s 1972 movie Dirty Little Billy on the early years ofWilliam Bonney (aka William McCarty). The movie also depicted early western towns as they probably really were: barebones and often ramshackle.

Coffeyville, Kansas, which was depicted in the movie, as told by Frank W. Blackman and William G. Cutler and “…much disorder prevailed in the small settlement, so much so that the main thoroughfare took the name ‘Red Hot Street’, and crime and murder were a common occurrence….1872….New Town site….earned Coffeyville the status of yet another lawless Kansas Cow Town….the town was wild with excitement and society was a chaos.  The reckless cowboy knew no restraint, gamblers plied their avocation openly, and saloons were quick to ply their customers with liquor…the streets resounded with the rattle of beer glasses and the clickings of the Keno and billiard rooms; quarrels were frequent, and the reports of the pistol, announcing that some unfortunate man had fallen victim to the well- aimed instrument, were common… halls with lewd women lined the streets…..

                   ……(The Mayor)  instructed the police officers

                   to invade and arrest the offenders….before

              the judge…..wassurprisedto find before him,

              the majority of the City Council…..”


But much of the 19th century crime was of course big city crime; as indeed it was in Chicago: the curious case of Dr. Herman mudgett, alias Henry H. Holmes (1896). After graduating from the University Of Michigan medical school, he embarked upon a life of swindling, torture and murder. The second floor of the lodge building he built at 63rd and Wallace was designed expressly for the purpose of murder, being equipped with gas chambers, of incinerators and other horrible devices, chutes and a variety of inventions to dispose the bodies he killed. He Had about thirty known victims and was suspected of murdering hundreds of others using poison and gas.

In Erik Larson’s book Devil In The White City  (VintagePress, 2004), the events are described as taking place at Holmes’ World’s Fair Hotel west of the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition. There they found a dissection table and a 3,000-degree crematorium. In the book, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age comes alive as never before, forging questions as to the relationship between opulence and grandeur of the Fair and the poverty and the degradation that surrounded it. Larson Said: “The juxtaposition of pride and unfathomable evil struck me as offering powerful insights into the nature of men and their ambitions.” (page 393)

“Chicago in the 1890s was a time of great strikes, fierce nationalism, social activism and protest, an unpopular foreign invasion and building – of street car lines, factories, meat packing plants, businesses, libraries, and civic and art institutions,” says, “The city’s political and legal culture was characterized by energy, corruption and ambition.  During the Pullmen strike more than n 5,000 federal troops were encamped along the lake, and the legacies of Haymarket were palpable.  The Vice District, the Levee, was as famous as the city’s skyscrapers and elevators….”

“As for most people, his initial sensory contact with Chicago had been the fantastic stink that lingered always in the vicinity of the Union Stock Yards, a Chinook of putrefaction and incinerated hair,” said Larson about Holmes’ initial probable entrance to Chicago. Larson quotes Sinclair Lewis: “…an elemental odor, raw and crude; it was rich, almost rancid, sensual and strong.” Larson said: “Most people found it repulsive.  The few who found it invigorating tended to be men who had waded in its ‘river of death’, Sinclair’s phrase, and panned from its great fortunes.” 

“A nineteenth-century Chicagoan looking for a prostitute could easily find one in any of the city’s wide-open vice districts,” says, “Like gambling houses until they were dispersed by raids in 1894, brothels and street walkers clustered in those areas partly because they were convenient for customers, but mainly because of selective law enforcement. Public officials and many private citizens viewed prostitution as a necessary evil that should be segregated into a few poor neighborhoods to protect the rest of Chicago.” Prostitution thrived along the southern edge of the “Loop”, Near West Side and Near North Side. The brothels paid bribes to police, politicians, and politically connected crime bosses.

Holmes’ World Fair Hotel was constructed in ragged stages and slowed in winter at the end of the “building season”.  I t has been said to be odd that Holmes erected his building during the same period in which the London Jack The Ripper  began his spree of killings in 1888; after November 9, 1888 they appeared to stop — or so it seemed. Holmes was intensely interested in the Ripper murders. Construction, coincidentally, was greatly finished on the hotel by May, 1890. 

“The Levee”, on the Southside, was one of the nation’s largest vice districts, controlled by imaginable late-century crime bosses and racketeers: There was alderman “Bathhouse John” Coughlin and Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna. “The residential slums began about a mile west and south of the loop.  The poor, many of them immigrants, lived in old wooden houses standing cheek by jowel with factories and bars or in once elegant apartments and mansions converted into rooming houses and mansions converted into rooming houses and then tenements,” says Alice Sinkevitch in AIA Guide To Chicago, “Some lots were filled front to back with ram shackled frame houses; others became refuse pits in front of houses that had not been elevated when the street grade was raised.  Many of the tiny units had no bathroom or kitchen. While other neighbors were adopting electricity and steam heat, the slums had yet to see gas lighting or coal stoves in every room.”

Then came the “vanishings” — perhaps unnoticed at first by the public at large — but like a creeping, macabre “fog” that seeped and intimidated the gutters and alleys of society, parents, a few detectives, some police began an increasing worrisome search. But since the mystery largely surrounded persons who had no “strings” – common people, ordinary children and women — and no great amounts of money were involved, the growing flood of disappearances seemed happenstance and haphazard. “Women and men vanished in equal proportion,” said Larson, “…the Tribune said, ‘as completely as though swallowed by the earth.’ The women were presumed to have been ravished, the men robbed, their corpses plunged into the turgid waters of the Chicago River or the alleys of Halsted and the Levee and that hard stretch of Clark between Polk and Taylor known to veteran officers as Cheyenne.”

Eventually a Mysterious Disappearances Department was set up and half the city’s detective force became involved. Like the Union Stock Yards, Chicago wasted nothing.     

The working conditions for the thousands employed at the Union Stock Yards were terrible. Laborers on the killing – floors had to work amidst the stench and piercing shrieks of animals being slaughtered while standing on blood-soaked floors. They worked long hours – usually ten to twelve a day – in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in the summertime.  Employees could beg wages low and withhold benefits due to the ready supply immigrant workers desperate to earn a living. The situation is adequately described in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. 

Carl Sandburg chose the word “brawling” to describe Chicago of this period.

And the children? “But why would any kid want to be an orphan?” asked Peggy Thomson Greenwood.

“In St. Louis, orphanages, children’s homes, receiving homes, foundling homes, and asylums continued to increase and were filled to capacity,” said Greenwood.


Peggy Thomson Greenwood said in St. Louis Orphanages, “Beyond The Orphanages”, Part II, ( “But meander through the mean streets of the late 19th century.  The years 1870 to 1900 were years of chaos in America.  It was a century in the throes of an industrial revolution that would change America from a nation of small farms to a giant of technology in 50 short years. And the same forces that gave some Americans the highest standard of living in the world also created sweatshops and rabbit-hatch slums…..wealth and pauperism, side by side, were the result of industrialization, urbanization and immigration.”

Greenwood eludes to the opening act of the musical Annie, the 1977 stage version of the Sunday comicsserial,quoting the somewhat criminal matron of the orphanage, Mrs. Hadigan: “Why any kid would want to be an orphan is beyond me.”  Indeed, why would a child want to be an orphan in St. Louis or in any major metropolis in or near the turn of the century?  St. Louis did not escape the wounds of industrialization as it made its struggle from a commercial and mercantile center to a heavy-industrial producer and wholesaler marketing center. “As the impersonal gears of industrialization gained strength and momentum, the depersonalized laborer became a powerless cog in the wheel,” said Greenwood, “The sweat labor lubricated the vast new industrial machine twelve hours a day, seven days week a week, for eight cents an hour. Unorganized, abandoned by government, deprived of legal help, the American laborer was powerless when the industrial giant flexed its muscle, casting into living perdition the weak, the injured, the old, and the sick.”

People flowed into the cities from the prairies, the farms, the defunct mining towns, the war-ravaged South, and foreign countries, said Greenwood.  San Francisco had its Tenderloin District, New York had its Hell’s Kitchen. “St. Louis also had a nightmare in stone,” said Greenwood, “a district so filled with violent crime and human degradation that even police officers feared its cobblestones. Slum neighborhoods proliferated on the fringes of the new industrial centers. Slums were savage places. Although St, Louis had few tenements, 100% use of the lot space with buildings on the front, back, and down the middle of the lot created the same effect.”  The Carr Square had an area with as many as 1900 residents per acre. The average living space was 16.9 square feet per person with an average of one bathtub and four toilets for 2479 people. The Average rent was $1.00 a week. “Human waste and garbage accumulated in the few open spaces,” said Greenwood, “And in these ill-ventilated, foul-smelling shacks and cellars were found saloons, bakeries, grocetarias and laundries.”

A steady torrent of immigrants provided cheap, unskilled labor in St. Louis by 1880; largely German, many were Irish, Austria-Hungarian, Italian, Polish and Russian. “Bright-shawled, quaint-jacketed aliens….were visibly and volubly different…the new immigrants took their places in the industrialized machine in an aura of fear and suspicion….in ethnic neighborhoods where strangeness could be cushioned by clinging to old ways.” also spoke of an earlier period: “Immigrants flooded into St. Louis in the 1840s, particularly from Ireland due to the potato famine, and German and Bohemians after the revolutions of 1848. The population grew from less than 29,000 in 1848 to 77,860  in 1850, to more than 160,000 by 1860….Omnibuses began to service St. Louis in 1843, and in 1859, St. Louis’ first streetcar tracks were laid.”              


Greenwood outlines that some 1.75 million children across the U.S. helped feed the ”industrial monster”, barely seeing the light of day or the delight of play.  Wages were about 25 cents a day if at all: a small price to pay for a childhood.  Victims of the second industrial revolution, it was from this grey shadow-world that juvenile institutions were created to blunt unprotected child labor and the slavery of apprenticeship.

Most children of this period called utter poverty – death, disease, malnutrition, neglect, abuse, abandonment and delinquency — their “home”, as prevalent victims in a rabid urbanization. This infestation of neglect did not go unnoticed, giving rise to the growth of juvenile institutions. Trapped in this bizarre conflict of old and new worlds, children carried the deepest scars of social conflict and alienation: “Ravaged by poverty, neglected by necessity and buffeted by violence,” said Greenwood, “the children were the catalyst that spurred the rescue effort represented by the mushrooming juvenile institutions in the City and County St. Louis.”  Innocent victims of a colossal industrial revolution, over-rapid urbanization and flood-immigration, they were the New Orphans of the 19th century in America’s Children Homes.

It is speculated that the classical writer Charles Dickens’ somber and somewhat forlorn tales of London’s dark side of the poor and destitute, ranging in his novels such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver, and Hard Times. was inspired from his January 22, 1842visit to St. Louis, and his learning of the child-labor and sweat shops, “Some of these ancient habitations, with high garret gable windows perking into the roofs, have a kind of French shrug about them; and, being lop-sided with age, appear to hold their heads askew besides, as if they were grimacing in astonishment at the American improvements”, Dickens said.  Two of St. Louis’s slums were the Cross Keys and Clabber Alley.      

These are just conditions of the 19th century as existed in America and England; to get into similar or worse conditions in other countries (the disease, crime, poverty) are beyond the limits of my time. Nor have we really gotten into the mountain of facts about the matters of disease, plague, poverty, and destruction in 19TH century America: Such as the Civil War (61,800 dead with direct costs of 3.3 billion dollars to the confederacy).

Others: World War 1 (20 million injured and dead with direct and indirect costs of 337 billion dollars); World War 2 (over 60 million injured and dead and total costs of 2,091.3 billion dollars); the influenza pandemic of 1918 (20 to 40 million dead): “The most devastating epidemic in recorded history”. So on. 


The argument as to whether UFOs exist as “space ships” from outside the earth or from Fourth Reich Nazi strongholds — or exist as myths or delusion or outright “lies,” is somewhat immaterial to me.  I tend to approach this subject as I do other subjects; as a writer   who tries to write a fairly interesting story. That can mean I can write or might write from a certain “point of view” and that can depend on multiple factors.  I recall attending a speech or rally at a north St. Louis church in which Dick Gregory and fellow members spoke of the black man’s plight in society. I wrote a short piece from the speaker’s point – of – view as best I could. Does that mean I agree 100% with everything they said? Not necessarily. And that is the way I usually write; I keep a little part of me to myself and my own private feelings — that doesn’t always come out in my format. And, then again, it does at times; depending on what I write about, how I feel, and to whom I am targeting. Private “feelings” are still allowable in America: even yours, Moriarty Wild. Many writers love to “brain storm” or even listen to gossip:  such is life.

 And what ”if” you had been born black in the 19th century?



Since you have directly involved me by referring to my private UFO sighting as a “Mr. X,” it behooves me to make a reply; although I don’t intend to get into a real lengthy debate. UFO debates are and can be a bottomless pit!

The sighting, which may have happened in either the summer of 1959 or 1960 – depending on which date and which showing of the Steve Reeves movie at the Fox Theatre in up-town St. Louis (Hercules – 1959 – Hercules Unchained – 1960 [I believe]) was happening. And the object which I saw was significantly different and bizarre as to its nature as to classify it as a UFO. You refer to the “moon”, “flares”, “floating hoax balloons”. Without getting into a lot of “action-packed” descriptions (which you probably expect of me), allow me to quickly go through your references:

I have noted, this last August, (2010)  in fact, that when the moon arises from the horizon, the altitude in the sky starts from zero at the horizon  at a certain time at night and can almost reach “high noon” (so-to-speak) azimuth and altitude. Now, the time at which I had my “sighting” (delusion, misconception, lie) was somewhere about 1200 a.m. or later – – – after midnight. The moon would be at a certain summertime azimuth and altitude at that time. Comparing the position at which the moon would be in the sky about 12:30 a.m. (give or take some minutes), and comparing how it really was being seen between the branches of a tree (at first) and where that would place it in the sky: It would have to have been in an approximate 9:00 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. position – – – approximately, an estimated, 30-degrees or so in its arc across the sky, as opposed to its almost 80 to 90-degree position it would have been after midnight. No, there could be no doubt it was near or after midnight — but since you feel we are all deluded liars — anything is possible.


(“……it’s that old devil moon, that you stole from the skies…..”, Old Devil Moon, Frank Sinatra)

The length of the gangway is fairly short, just the length of the house; and the tree was at the very end of the gangway, it would be assumed that the object had to be not above the tree at a “high noon” position, but about 30 to 50-degrees above the horizon azimuth and altitude along the transit of the meridian, allowing it to be seen through the tree limbs and branches from a gangway position. When viewed in the “clear” portion of the sky —- which appeared to be on the other side of the tree —– it was as if I were viewing it directly north and somewhat ‘above.’ Since that was a “clear patch” of sky directly over my neighbors’ yards and my own, there were no good reference points to measure its size or distance. Even when it disappeared, it did so still in those clear patches of sky, arcing upward – to about the middle of my yard — and then moving away and up until it faded beyond my range of vision at about an 80-degree angle. These are all estimates.

Fifty-years ago are a long period to bring back crystal-clear memories, but I still believe I have one of two striking impressions. At the moment I first saw the object through the branches of the tree there may have been a slight “bounce” to it as if a ping-pong ball was gently placed on fluid water, but since I was not completely focused on it yet, I cannot be sure.


You refer to this UFO as a “flare” in a “heavily industrialized” area. Well, first of all, it just didn’t act like a flare — even fancy fireworks: and, boy, I’ve seen my share of fireworks. But, yes, it is possible that somebody worked up a sophisticated “fireworks” that were designed to portray a mysterious event: I suppose that is possible. I mean, I just didn’t have my million-dollar instrumentation with me at the moment to catch this thing on film and graph! And whom might “they” be that did this time-consuming prank? You once mentioned a hologram: I’ve seen holograms and they look pretty real: I just don’t know how that would work in this instance, if the technology was possible in 1959-1960 to be contemporary with  what  I  saw.  And how would they hide the equipment?  I sat stunned on my back porch for a long time and did not hear a sound, not even dogs barking, if I recall correctly. But the incompetent boobs that we are, anything………

A heavily-industrialized-area? Yes, there are businesses in the area (there are businesses all over  St. Louis and Carondelet: there was a lumber-yard one block away near Tesson street: but that is south of my northward sighting!), but the major ones are southeast of my sighting: the grain silos on the river directly in line with the east view on Primm Street is about a mile or so away; the Titanium Smelting Facility, and the ship fabrication yards which are directly across the railroad tracks from the Titanium facility. That’s about as industrialized as you’ll get in that neighborhood. Those are all at the foot of Davis Street which is southeast of the slightly mid-north view I was having. The object did head over to that area, but went suddenly straight up into a clear patch of sky until it went out of my range-of-vision — ascending upward at a great rate of speed.

There are  barges  moving up and down the river, but in the many years of living in Carondelet, I’ve never seen flares being shot off barges in that fashion (unless it was the 4th of July Famous and Barr display: which is quite a distance away and very different). The cardboard factory is west of my sighting, across Michigan Avenue. You don’t think those guys were playing with matches that night, do you? In the slightly northwest area at which I saw this UFO, it was a clear patch of sky. There are some Illinois and Missouri  facilities that are across and near the Mississippi river, such as the factories in Saguet….but that is up-river across from mid-town St. Louis (there was the Monstanto plant [which produced polychlorinated bipheryls into the Dead Creek: you don’t think it came ‘aflaming’ over to Primm Avenue, do ya?]; and there was the W.G. Krummich Plant, the Clayton Chemical property). You don’t think the guys over at those factories were sending flares over to Primm and Michigan and Minnesota Avenues, do ya?  (Actually, this UFO would be slightly hanging to the northwest side of that open piece of sky over Primm Avenue; maybe more mid-Primm Avenue rather than Minnesota Avenue.) Railroad employees sending off a flare?  But why would the flare be an “in-coming” object from the north over mid – Primm and near-by Michigan and Minnesota Avenues and the railroad tracks are south of Primm by one block at Tesson? Which business or person do you want to ‘pin’ or blame this hoax on? There are thousands of possibilities, I guess, especially with us lying boobs looking on………..


(“When you wish upon a star.….makes no difference who you are.….anything your heart desires.….will come to you…”, Leigh Harline, Ned Washington,1940, Cliff Edwards, as Jiminy Cricket, Pinoccio.)

When I first saw this object (or, what seemed to me to be an object) it appeared seemingly motionless beyond the tree at the foot of my gangway to the house. No real motion was noticed until I turned back to take a hard look at it.  At that point, as I approached my back steps and I stood to take a deliberately- strong look, it appeared to “quicken” into action – – – it now reminds me of the video technique used in some movies were they are showing a “still” frame of a photo (or scene) and then “suddenly” spring it “into action” as supposed real people walking or moving. In that split moment I saw it “hanging” in that clear patch of sky, I was electrified. I had a feeling of tremendum mysterium !  It was as if in a moment of time I had come face to face with some unexpected miraculum – keuthonymos!  Of course, that is quite personal and quite subjectively psychological, but, hay, you were not there!

“Plastic balloons with candles in them?” The summer of 1960 some pranksters were sitting up these balloons and were caught. If my UFO were in fact these balloons: boys, you are master pranksters! I would say “no”, but how can an incompetent boob be sure?  And that poses some other questions: Why 1960? Might it have been 1959? No mention of prank balloons then. But debunkers are so stringent in their rear-view mirror hindsight coaching, they have no leeway for “error”: They cannot be wrong: they “must” be absolutely correct! They have no excuses! They demand absolute perfection of their subjects and themselves (sadly that perfectionism is not possible, nor is it or was it shown in the life of Moriarty Wild).

(And the debunker  ‘The Amazing Randi’  confessed to being a homosexual?!  And the correct name for Peter Kor is ‘TomComella’. [true-skeptics, on the other-hand, do have excuses!]).

And, why “July” for my sighting; why not August, June, or September?

(The question has been asked me: Why have I been so sloppy in my investigation? You are talking about a 15-year-old boy from a lower middle-class family: One family which was hell-bent on destroying itself amidst my personal teenage angst and tragedy (of which you only have been told a small portion). I was more interested in “surviving” (we are dealing with real, physical danger; not a very protected and loving environment from which you operated); and I had several “personal- mechanisms” to do that. There was no UFO Study Group of Greater St. Louis then. I was much more l interested in girls and roaming the Carondelet neighborhoods with Ronnie Smith or John Moeller or the South Broadway “gang.” I believe at some point I became interested in Space Exploration and, later, model rocketry; but that may have been after age 15. From where should I have gotten this sudden “sophistication”?)


Why didn’t I go to the newspapers the next day – – – or, in fact, go down to the papers that night? Or call the police?! Or go banging on the neighbors’ doors?!  I mean, if I was sincere and not one of the lying boobs? You obviously are not aware, or had missed out, in part, of what are some of the daily activities, and the living, perilous times of a 1960s teenager! You ask: Why did I not mention it to someone immediately! Well, I did: my mother, the very next day. But the problem child that I was, I don’t think my mention carried a lot of weight. I did write it up in my diary — some loose pages tucked away in my desk. But my mother discovered them in one of her snooping ventures and destroyed the pages because it carried descriptions of family fights and horrors. In fact, sometime around 1967 (possibly), once my ‘space’ interest kicked off into a ‘UFO’ interest, I wrote a short piece for a UFO magazine which is now in the garage storage; so unsophisticated, ill-timed, ill-planned, and not according to script.



“Life” is not according to script. Not all teenagers in the 1960s were interested or capable of protesting the educational system, or taking trips to England to visit Summer Hill College as you were doing. However, I do believe there is a “NEXUS” here, because – – – – like so many children in the 1960s — – – – you and I (like others) were into the “protest” movement. It was the age of the JFK assassination, the Vietnam War, controlling, and oft-times “destructive” parents (at least, in my case; of course, my family had good times, how else could I have survived?). I know you were involved in personal, private struggles of your own (and still are), and though not identical to mine, we both seemed to carry burdens that were in some way very similar, though not strictly replicate. It led to varying degrees of “fear-flight syndrome” and schizoid behavior. Somewhat of an elongated “post-traumatic stress syndrome” (events compiled over and over in a life-time, in what could be said to be, in retrospect, ramified [divorce, controlling power or government structures, menacing and frequently unquestioned and often corrupt “professionals”, such as power-hungry, greedy lawyers, etc.]), unrelenting and leading into chronic conditions. I am reminded of the battle-in-life the Nick Nolte character, Wade Whitehouse, had in Paul Schrader’s 1997 film (based on the Russell Bank’s book) Affliction. [I understand: you’ve said you don’t believe there is such a thing as mental-illness.]. Persons with a lot of support groups and psychological and physical backing “snap out of it”; wealthy families or families or friends with great resources of love and various kinds of support (what I understand from your reports and photos, you had, relatively speaking, fairly loving and stable parents). Even wealthy-motion-picture-Stars can “come back.” I believe ‘our’ UFO movement came out of this syndrome and era: at least, the UFO movement as we know it: UFO researchers against evil governmental authority: that was attractive to many people. That may have been where we came in; as well as your interest in astronomy and mine in space exploration.)

What did I see? I don’t know!  I have some favorite theories; but I would not give them to you to “feed” off.  I will say, UFOs were not consciously on my mind at the moment, other than we had just seen a movie about an hour or more earlier on Greek legend. And, of course, 15-years-of-age is a typical age of teenage angst when poltergeist activity has been reported. And as far as UFO sightings go: Mine just isn’t that interesting —- not in a news headlines sense —- I’ve read far more interesting UFO cases.  But mine was personal!

(John Wheeler, professor emeritus, Princeton University, has said: “May the universe in some strange sense be ‘brought into being’ by the participation of those who participate?” [G. Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters {pg. 54}]. John Allero, M. Ed., MAPP, might add more insight, this way: “When we are not intentional in our thinking, life brings us things from our dark subconscious, whether we consciously want it or not. Jonathan Hardt would say that the elephant overtakes the rider, life brings its own stretch goals……).   

That I did not “parade” my UFO sighting at the time and since contradicts the theory that all UFO witnesses run amuck to get publicity; It would seem that you can’t have it both ways – – – – – unless you are fair-minded and objectively explorative.  


(“Bond: ‘Who are you?’ Pussy: ‘My name is Pussy Galore’  Bond: (looks away and smiles) “I must be dreaming…..’”, aboard Auric Goldfinger’s jet, GOLDFINGER, 1964.)   

In your critique of the UFO situation, you mention and debunk past UFO Greats and their erroneous UFO sightings: Walt Andrus, Leo Wicklinski, and others.  I wish you could have confronted them while they  were living: these people are all dead and have no way to confront you or defend themselves.

I hope you didn’t think I was sending you UFO and other materials to “pick a fight.”  It just was my way of sharing and trying to inspire. As far as the UFO Mystery itself: I am just a simple observer that is just as ‘completely’ lost as anyone else. It makes no difference to me whether they are spaceships from mars, another dimension, multi-universes, government projects, etc. In fact, I suspect the Mystery is “multifarious.” There is no “one” explanation; and one aspect is as interesting as another – – – – especially to a journalist. Some people have turned it into a religious battle: the Spaceship Doctrine versus the Pure Bunk Debunkers. I’m afraid it is far too complex to show this kind of if arrogance. And if Bigelow and Vallee want to use their time and money to investigate- – – – it’s their time and money and no government, yet, can stop them! If sociologists like Leon Festinger want to study them as myth, that is real science – – – – they should go for it! Michel Monnerie (What If UFOs Don’t Exist?), Bertrand Meheust (Science-fiction And Flying Saucers) and Carl Gustav Jung all spoke of UFOs as psychological-psychosocial phenomena using pre-existing motifs and memetic selection (though Jung saw more “meat” to UFOs, as an intelligent phenomenon, having synchronisms other than rumor). A description of The Society for Scientific Exploration describes their Ufological interest as varying from fringe proponent  David  Icke to respected mainstream scientists like  Peter A. Sturrock, Jacques Vallee, James E. McDonald, J. Allen Hynek or  Auguste  Meesen, some of whom argue that UFO reports are as worthy of study as any topic, and deserve case by case analysis using the scientific method: and not all ufologist–scientists believe that UFOs are necessarily extraterrestrial spacecraft, or even that they are objective physical phenomena. Even those UFO cases that are exposed as hoaxes or found to be delusions or misidentification may still be worthy of serious study from a psychosocial point of view.

(It may be out of this “soup” that some of our 20th century “marvels” and scientific inventions have appeared; certainly our Space-Program. Recently it was announced that our Army had obtained a 4 million dollar ___ Carnegie-Mellon-“electroencephalography”-program ___ at the United States University of California-Irving to invent “thought helmets” for jet pilots to communicate by brain-wave [sounds a lot like Richard Shaver-type material such as the Telog, Ray Machines, Elder-Mech, Stim-Rays, and {guess what?} “thought-machines”]).

Similarly, Winston Wu, Graduate from California State University, had this to say on Carl Sagan’s approach: “Carl Sagan, though an amazing thinker, was wrong here.  Extraordinary claims merely require evidence. Good evidence has to exist before we can draw conclusions, to be sure, but certainly not extraordinary evidence….legitimate science is conducted by examining all evidence, not by myopic rushes to judgment.”

Diana Palmer Hoyt described it this way: “The UFO seems to bear a closer resemblance to problems in meteorology than in physics. The phenomena are observed occur episodically, are not reproducible, and in large part, are identified by statistical gathering of data for possible organization into patterns. They are not experiments that can be replicated at will at the laboratory bench under controlled conditions.”  

What is wrong with a multifaceted study? Life is multifaceted: why pull that string on the bottom of life’s page and try to force all those dots into a straight line? We won’t see that “STRAIGHT LINE” for millions of years, if ever. It is not the “scientific method” or the scientific community that should be faulted (right or wrong, they’ll do what they have to do), but individual maniacs with a deprived sense of value that parade as “pure scientists.” You’re not going to claim, as some do, that Hitler was always on a quest for “pure science” – – – his “pure race” ideas: The Reich’s talk about “pure-science,” “pure-books”? Hitler was ill! History says he was suffering from Huntington’s disease and there apparently was a linage of mental illness.

(Hitler’s Reich has its origins in Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebanfels’ “theozoology”; Madame Blavatsky’s “The Order of The New Templars”. Many of his SS and military were steeped in esoteric, occult practices, such as the Thule Society, called the Black Order, and The Vril Society: spoke of the “vril force.” Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering considered Hitler as the ‘King of Fear.’ The Edelweiss Society spoke of the Nordic Master Race, the Aryans, The Thule Society, and Rudolf Glaver, Dietrich Eckardt. Jorg  Lanz  von Liebenfels  spoke of “castration” of subordinates and victims).   

Some other miscellaneous comments: yes, animal mutilations exist, cats, dogs, rabbits, cattle – – – – no way around it ——  cow hearts cut out and put in a bucket, mutilated cows left with scalpels, on and on.  What you would like to see, and perhaps are doing, is trying to frame the mystery as “Mutilations As An‘unknown’” versus The Grand Debunker Gang (in regards to and as much as they are against ‘space ships’, ‘ghosts’, etc. [There’s that “Black on White again”]): and that, I, or other people, won’t do: That is giving into your jaded psychological Doctrines (just like John Schroeder has his perverted Doctrines on the other end of the scale).

Yes, there are and were real stealth craft made by terrestrial governments: And on some craft, there are even patents in the government patent offices.

You comment that in the James Fox production on UFOs called Out Of The Blue, that the name of Major Hector Quintanilla was ‘misspelled.’  If we are going to hold the UFO community guilty of such High Crimes then we will have to do the same to Moriarty Wild and one of his Debunking Mentors: Phillip Klass: In The Skeptics UFO Newsletter, September1,1998, Klass “misspells” presumably as “…..presum –ably (sic)”. 



However, I can greatly sympathize with Moriarty Wild’s position on some matters, or I would be contradicting myself. The paranormal or Fortean field of study is rift with deceptions, absurdities, unfounded religious belief (the believers) and fraud. No doubt about it. And I agree with Wild that after so much exposure, one can only become loathsome of the topic and its pranksters. When this becomes obvious to me: I get quite upset. It is a department of study of its own dimensions. If a UFO organization presents itself  –  more or less  –  as a fact-finding, scientific organization but continually is side-tracked into obvious sessions of story-telling and even science-fiction and invention: they obviously are not fulfilling their charter to the public ———- only to the their perverted or questionable egos. They can be basically nice, sometimes eccentric, people or they can be stinkers in disguise.  But aren’t we all that way?

Several incidents arose in my meetings with the Study Group that, as Moriarty Wild would agree, would cast doubt on their sincerity. UFO Study Group member Lee Pope (not his real name), on a visit to his home, introduced me to a neighbor who, at one point, almost as if prompted, began to speak about his personal UFO sighting of a “boomerang” UFO. I noticed that both had smirks and grins on their faces at the telling. There had been several incidents that seemed suspiciously insincere. One “field investigation” ( on Taylor Avenue) by Lee Pope to a family whom reported several Fortean incidents in mass (a one-day incident), including a Bigfoot sighting, here in St. Louis County, almost seemed “staged” and even rehearsed. And, yes, I recall the barely subdued grins once again! The UFO field certainly seems dull or even bleak without fresh, dramatic UFO and Fortean cases coming in every day, and the stench of overlaid lies and fabrication amidst large clumps of “play acting”, makes the subject very difficult and risky (Voodoo Histories, David Aronovitch – 2009: recommended with reservations). Most people have turned their backs on the topic because of this. There are the “Repeater” Phenomena, where persons continually have Fortean events, causing great suspicion. John Schroeder may be one of those as his life is a long string of weird paranormal events, nonstop, almost always lacking in hard evidence. Most of them are not very believable (not that I can’t sympathize with that plight having been a ‘victim’ of a UFO sighting myself). 

One example: several years ago the Rev. Schroeder had a Parapsychological Subcommittee of the Ufosgogs that would meet at his home; at that time on Miami Avenue. At this particular time, Schroeder was conducting sessions of the supposed hypnotic regression of a member in an alleged “ET” contact. I invited Tim Zell, a professional psychologist and a trained hypnotist to witness the affair. It was not very long into the session before Tim Zell exposed the fallacious hoax that it was – – – – – Schroeder and ‘company’ were at a loss for words that their ploy fell through. The ‘minutes’ of the meeting weakly mentions having better “controls” of any experiments in the future. Good suggestion: but I have never seen it practiced or hoax prevented in the Ufosgogs. Recently, Reverend Schroeder had visions that the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek was a “Reptilian” monster in disguise (I wonder how professional paleontologists would handle the factson the reality of Reptilians bodies never being found in the last 100,000 years?); Schroeder often says he gets his information from god! The “scientific controls” need to be greased and shined-up and brought back out of storage!

That UFO Cults are heavily weighted in various forms of psychobabble and esoteric mannerisms is true, as Leon Festinger and co-workers will testify (When Prophecy Fails, University of Minnesota Press) in their 1956 expose’ of a UFO cult. These “groups” are rift with what I suspect would be ample medical histories in various psychiatric files: Histrionic or Schizotypal personality disorder, Paranoid-narcissistic personalities, superiority personality syndromes, antisocial personalities, fantasy-prone minds, confabulation, fantastical-myth-mania, capgras delusion, fregoli delusion, delusional disorder (yes, yes, I’m in there somewhere), so on and so on: but most are just average street people with varying degrees of neurosis and stress (count me in that bunch!). There is a list of psychiatric syndromes that could very well come into play in the topic of Fortean events; and never make mention outside of the doctor’s office. There was a study dated 2001 called Fantasy Proneness And Other Psychological Correlates Of UFO Experiences byGow, Laurie, Popper, Powell and Basterfield (almost sounds like the name of a law firm that I know: Buoy, Wee, Cheetham and Howe, LLP), Which suggests that those individuals with a high threshold for fantasy (like fiction writers and science-fiction writers) are more apt to have UFO experiences (and that does not necessarily denote fabrication!): opens a whole dimension for study  (not myopic censorship, debunking  or avoidance).

That paranormal participants and critics will admit to these findings: are  doubtful. And, yes, even debunkers have psychological defects and questionable motivations:Phyllis Glade noted in her “I See By The Papers” column in Fate Magazine  that a chemical was medically discovered in the bodies of ‘debunkers’ that might be a clue as to their cynicism; recently, moreover, studies on epigenetics [the study of how people’s experiences and environment affect the function of their genes] seem to indicate that chemical markers set-up a biological competition between maternal and paternal genes leading to impacted behavior at the epigenetic level. Other laboratory studies indicated a variant of serotonin receptor 2A gene – 5HT1A and 5HT2a – in male carriers of T/T genotype of 5HTR2A (UCL School of Life and Medical Science, 2007).  Genotype – phenotype correlations of personality traits reveal that genes determine ‘belligerence’ (bel), ‘cynicism’ (dub), ‘lack of personality’ (dul-1), plus others such As ‘obsessive-compulsive behavior’  (pic-e) (

 As one person, having schizoid personality disorder, confessed: “I went from being a recluse who didn’t give a fuck about others to a genial, appreciated successful guy who still doesn’t give a fuck about others, but pretends he does – and people fall for it…I basically have two personalities inside me…a selfish, narcissistic prick who doesn’t give a shit about others…then…my Coping Personality…to function on the outside world….was able to infiltrate the texture of society….”

Hilary Freeman wrote in Psycho Bosses on The Loose (The Guardian, March 10,2001,“Not all psychopaths areviolent criminals and fewer still have a desire to eat you for dinner.  Many are highly successful businessmen and women, lawyers, academics, politicians, doctors and teachers.  Psychopaths wear suits too; in fact, there could be one in your office.” Robert Hare, professor of psychology at the University of Vancouver, says: “These individuals are every bit as egocentric, callous and manipulative as the average criminal psychopath.” John Clarke, psychologist at the University of Sydney, refers to “serial bullying” rather than “serial killing.” (One could also add “serial hoaxing,” “serial hating,” “serial lying,” and so forth. Sadly, neither  is Moriarty Wild “beyond” this panoply of psychiatric accusations, though he has hidden himself in a shroud of arm-chair book-reading on various topics used to attack others, safely keeping the finger of suspicion pointed away from himself.


And the ‘media’ misrepresentation can go hand-in-hand with the above as well as I witnessed in Elsberry, Missouri in the 70s as the ‘hysteria’ by UFO enthusiasts and some public concerning cattle mutilations and UFOs.   

(Might as well include my TIA [“mini-stroke”] episode from back in 1973-1974 at this point, wherein I described a daytime sleep [though I was not asleep] paralysis and “tunnel” travel [in a room with bustling kids, a house-cleaning wife, and streaming sunlight through uncovered windows]: that was a weird medical state! I  described that episode in detail to Doctor Eric J. Lenze, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Washington School of Medicine, St. Louis, and he definitely said it was ”not” a TIA [maybe some other kind of crazies; but not a TIA]; Just another “speed bump” on the road before “armchair paranormal debunking”!)

The RRR Group in said: “Displaying everything UFO-related won’t ever get to the heart of the UFO mystery. The panoply of flying saucer detritus merely showcases how discombobulated the UFO community is, with an obvious lacuna in serious research.”

Of course, the other extreme, of which Moriarty Wild adheres to, yet fails to accept or even examine, is also likely true: Trying to “‘sanctify” human enquiry according to some private cultist-distorted “perfectionism” and “uncontaminated” (in this case as a Moriarty personal, private prejudiced ideological…) version, is just as distorted, whereby he, in effect, forces the  elusive “scientific method’ (or, regressing its application) back to the17th 0r 18th centuries.


Moriarty Wild has said in a past bibliography that he had considered past members and some late members of the Ufosgogs  as his friends (written in 2008), and that I  suppose that is true enough(and it is true enough for me as well for I recall some affection and affinity with them) – – – – but, apparently, they were not friendly enough to prevent him from questioning their integrity as far and in regards to their respective UFO sightings or Fortean beliefs: these he has later questioned and even attacked repeatedly; Strange friendships. His friendship with Lee Pope (not his real name; Pope was a Study Group member who was vital in the groups incorporation) may have been built on more than a UFO connection: and these all seem very conflicting and contradictory: Pope was a strict right-wing Roman Catholic (Wild does not believe in any religion at all or, apparently, as  even having a belief in God [in the 60s he was labeling himself as an atheist]); likewise Pope had a personal UFO sighting, along with his son Larry (not his real name), the whole family – including son Larry — were alleged to have been involved in several Fortean, even Satanic, events (Moriarty disowns any belief in any Forteanisms; at least his dark diatribes of anything related to the topic gives that impression: he even told me at one time he was an Atheist). The only possible true kinship Wild had with Pope then or since may have been with pope’s vehement and virago “anti-Semitism” (Pope may have been making allusions to Super-rich Jewish descendants and families only and not average Jews, I am not sure; some of the literature he was reading and had shown me struck me as somewhat Hitlerian: he demonstrated a strong kinship with Hitler’s hatred of Jews and the cold strength and power that he brought to Germany as he took control). One time, I recall Pope marching into the Study Group engaging Leo Wicklinski in a conversation in which Pope announced that the “Jews” were behind the Flying Saucers! I spoke to Pope several times at which he announced the same topic and other things about the Jewish “takeover” and the theory that the Jewish Holocaust did not happen (but I keep reading something about, like, 9 million Jews were murdered). Now, these are beliefs that Wild maynot” have been so tightly against!

Wild summarized that Lee Pope, as far as he can remember, actually shied away from the ET hypothesis as a weak theory: in actuality, in many conversations I had with Lee Pope, “ran the gamut” of all kinds of theories and possibilities, including Jewish-Zionist-Cabal-inventions, and secret government inventions, as well as other realm dimensions, and all kinds of possibilities. He had a theory for everything, including his own son having been demon-possessed.

What could have been behind Wild’s quizzical pattern that allowed his incongruousness in associating with an avidly traditionalist Roman Catholic who believed in the customary miracles, God, doctrines of which Wild vehemently rebuked on the one hand. What Wild also failed to utilize or even recognize was that Steve Erdmann had multiple visits and episodes with Lee Pope over the years, going into as much as interviewing Pope, visiting and having many general associations with him as did Wild, maybe even more so; so much so that the Lee Pope story does not end just yet on the above mentioned few curiosities mentioned Wild describes as a staunch and upright example of the century’s emblem of the best “good citizen” does not quite hold-up. This “pretense” is ‘not’ entirely true, and is not identical to the Lee Pope I knew.

But the ‘Lee Pope’ several paragraphs earlier, but are highlighted even further by additional oddities. Wild, as a purported strict atheist, seemed All of this makes for incongruous and strange ‘bed fellows’ for Wild (who emphatically denounces the ultimate reality of anything at all of the spiritual, supernatural or religious nature) and those he esteems as associates, for Wild is constantly on a mission, every moment of the day, enduring, unrelenting, to discover those enemies that are ‘improper,’  “nonfactual,” “imperfect,” and have been “contaminated” by the Fabien conspiracy (and other societal contaminations, at least, as he sees them from his arm-chair diagnostics) and at almost any cost. 

It is nice and perhaps wonderful that Wild had become friends to Lee Pope, as Wild’s discourses praise Pope highly, and that he deliberately marks Pope’s military career with esteem, and that the Popes treated Wild so kindly and fondly, but this ultimately says nothing at all about the underlying stark reality of the baser side of the family and the discordant and conflicting practices they held that are so in variance with the ending and final Doctrine of Wild’s Cultist and  private peaching. It is nice that Pope’s wife, Marian (not the real name), baked cookies and served meals to him in friendship (they did the same to me as well), but this should not, in the framework of Wild’s stringent, unyielding, crass, Doctrine of “perfectionism” allow one iota of leeway of divergence from the strict reality that he has enshrined himself in. 

Likewise, I too had many friendly conversations with members of the Ufosgogs, and if compatibility were any criteria for putting these people as one-off, icons of virtue, merely because of their friendliness, then most of those—as well as many in the so-called UFO community— should receive the same stamp of approval and almost deification.

And that Lee Pope had served in the military and was a veteran, should in no way, abate or delineate from the millions of other men who served in and perhaps gave their lives in the service of their countries; again, not one iota. This includes both my brother and half-brother and my cousin George Banjak—and myriad others.

Spirituality and a host of other religious sentiments:  Wild was fervidly opposed to these. What could have been the kinship between these elements that appeared to be so incongruous?  The answer is: shared Cultist-beliefs[1], almost in concert and replica, if not identical, but certainly in large part.  Both Wild and Pope were sterling attackers of the “Fabian-sponsored” Communist conspiracy to over-throw America (which I am also a dissentient, but in modified degrees and severity), as well as the conspiracy of Jewish-aristocrats (which some presently are labeling Zionists) to help destruct authentic American culture.

In many discussions with Pope, Erdmann discovered that Pope had a wide-interest in a large range of topics that were very “‘speculative,” “‘visionary,”  “‘on-going,” and “intrigued,” and, what be termed by some, as “wide-eyed”— “Mysteries.” They usually reflected major paranormal topics floating around at the time.  At one interval, as example, when the book and movie THE EXORCIST was popular, Pope divulged, under strict secrecy, that his son Larry had “also” become possessed by demons and he had a personal story in this matter.  I told him I was going to write on that topic for BEYOND REALITY Magazine and asked if I could interview him; yes, I could, but he and his family could not be identified (and they weren’t in the article at all). Unfortunately, for Wild (and Pope), the whole interview was “taped” on cassette tape of which I still have and was not destroyed in a later storage debacle.

But Wild shouldn’t have liked his “friends” to hoax, spawn weak theories, or be incompetent (for Wild has said he is against all these things). Wild speaks in sardonic tones when he speaks against UFOs as spaceships (he implicates, as well, there should be “no” serious study). Yet when the late Leo Wicklinski, his good friend, spoke about the July 27, 1978 Clora Evelyn Winscher UFO case (in which an, alleged, pursuing UFO hit her car and left several dents in the rear of her automobile), at a room-filled Sunday Ufosgogs meeting circa 1978, Leo announced this case as evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships thousands of years in advance of terrestrial technology (to the hysterical applause of enthusiastic on-lookers): was this not in direct confrontation and contradiction with Wild’s core belief?

Ufosgogs members Rosetta and Dick Holmes, also declared as friends, were practitioners of the extraterrestrial theory and had intimately sponsored the late Betty Hill (of the famous September 19, 1961 UFO abduction case) lecture of which  she was speaker at the Forest Park Community College in the 1970s.  

Which all goes to prove that friendships can be stronger than politics or beliefs (and it can also go to show how we can have strange bed-fellows; which is a good thing)!

Iranian soccer players matched against American teams, and despite intense competition, they had developed intimate and deep friendships that went beyond the sport or even country patriotism. As one of the Iranian players said later: you don’t let politics get in the way of good friendship.  (Among friends, you tend to loosen your behavior and act more spontaneously because of the bond that may have developed; this can be a “trap” depending on how deceptive your ‘partner’ really is: and why trust in marriage or other partnerships are so vital and so exhausting)

(on the doctrinal or political horizons, I suppose I am an Agnostic; politically, I like to call myself an “Independent” with  leanings towards the Conservative side – sometimes toward the Right, but not very far.  In fact, and usually depending on individual case-histories, I can sympathize with people on the left – the ‘common’ person – I am and have been there – I have no reason to not empathize in their plight:  I am not a relic of past elite aristocracy.  Moriarty, as compared, seem a staunch Conservative Right-wing Aristocrat that deems the masses incapable of uplifting themselves to higher levels (except by nature of their given hard-work and destiny), and they must drown in their putrid ignobility as a lesson to all. And who can argue with this absolute correctness? All of this can be said to be subjective malarkey; this is why “friendships” can’t be based on such polarized and inflamed, diametrically opposed positions – and true friendship, comradeship and love must exceed such limits.) As John F. Kennedy said:

“If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal….Best we shall also do our part to build a world of peace, where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success.”   

For those who wish to see more on the history of Moriarty Wild, they can read the sister episodes at:



Moriarty Wild has sent out letters and opinions on movies and television and different societal mannerisms and functions of modern-day society and how it has degenerated, especially since the 1960s  — but, then again, generally somewhere from the late 1880s through the 1920s and on into the 1960s. I recall one day we were at the Record Exchange (a record, CD, disc and DVD shop) on Hampton Avenue in St. Louis, and I was trying to help him select a movie, unfortunately from a very current date, and he shrieked like a wounded animalbut I am child of the 60s!”  Moriarty had and still has some very stringent and psychologically deep philosophies that have been developed over the years as his personal belief-system – – – – a form of anthropophobia, however, makeshift to his personal liking, based on books and articles he is reading at the time. This is somewhat different from my glassophobia: which is very real at times and is not a product of any “psychological play-acting” on my part (and play-acting may be part of the problem in this topic). Some of his complaints I agree with, but not in the depth and dark psychology (extreme?) he has developed. I have watched Moriarty on occasion “struggle” with a decision to exchange a DVD he was returning; and he was eyeing the supernatural-themed movie the Mothman Prophecies,  but apparently deciding not to exchange it because it collided with his deep beliefs. As in most religious belief, everything has to be carefully and soulfully weighed. I have watched Moriarty with the same struggle after winning a raffle at a Citizens’ Council picnic and he torturously wrangled mentally to decide (as to whether) to take a copy of one of David Icke’s paranormal books on ‘reptilians’ offered at the gift table.

Certainly I am exaggerating the drama of these incidents; any person will do expressions such as the above at any given time for a variety of unknown and innocuous reasons.  A lot of Moriarty’s feelings also related to language and its use: he was impressed with George Orwell’s diatribes of the slovenly and tricky use of the English language, such as portrayed in his novel1984  (I even doubt Orwell would have gone to the murderously bitter and  puritan-melodramatic [fanatical] lengths, however, that Wild does; Orwell, himself, was against the fanatic consternation of words, and he said: “Most of us have a lingering belief that every  choice is between good and evil, and that if a thing is necessary it is also right. We should, I think, get rid of this belief….in politics one can never do more than decide which of two evils is the lesser…..” [emphasis added…SE).  But we pause to highlight this activity in this case because Moriarty Wild would also micro-analyze the behavior of others, lending to his base puritanical belief of the Evil World versus Moriarty Wild. But this seems to change at times, as well; and as I said before, we all apparently become psychologically demanding of others until that self-centeredness (like Scrooge in Dickens’ ever popular A Christmas Carol) has it knocked out of us: Provided that we don’t venture into another “extreme” at ‘that’ time; which very well can  happen as a Phobic!

His complaint that modern movies are not only bad but almost evil is both true and not so true.  His approach is almost Christian Fundamentalist (almost puritan) — but Wild disavows religion.  (A Very Divergent Side-bar [eluding to Wild’s belief in ‘purity’]: The Pilgrim Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 was described as a big three-day party, breaking racial barriers, “…all slumbering discontents they smothered with common rejoicings.”,  W. Deloss Love, Jr.) And I definitely will agree that some movies seem so much better than others: that is for a variety of reasons and personal tastes. The one complaint Wild holds seems to be the use of a lot of modern technology in movies rather than “pure acting” – – – like in the “oldie but goodies” movies (there is that allusion to “pure” again). And this also seems tied in to one’s personal preference, guided howbeit from our subjective psychological mayhem. But, hey!, we are also children of our present milieu: and I don’t think Schroth has been able to escape that entirely, no matter how much his “play-acting” or phobias comes into action.

Another area that seemed to be heavy on his mind is that of public etiquette and “manners”  —-  over and above  what  might be  termed  “common street behavior”:  perhaps from that Carondelet Finishing School or perhaps from some Victorian Age of which he may be reincarnated (but not in a religious sense, no). Moriarty has, in the past, shown skepticism on the growing use of television as a virus to good thinking and the use of the cell-phone for the same reason, especially cultivating the growing minds of youth and radical minority groups. I am afraid I did not have that opportunity to hobnob with the Victorian elite. I stuck to and found myself in the midst of the “average person”; particularly, those working-class people of South St. Louis in the 50s and 60s.

My role models were scattered and somewhat distant. My one brother was a typical teen-ager who was employed as a bus driver right before the time he died – – – it now reminds me of the HONEYMOONERS in the 60s television program with Jackie Gleason. He often talked about Ahmad Jamal as one of his jazz musician favorites, and I often remember his listening to jazz on the radio (i.e.,Poinciana, 1963).  He liked to draw and paint.  Other than that, he was a typical, affable and likeable, 1950s teenager: with “buddies” and girlfriends and a pompadour hairstyle and even those dark teenage moods. It was a time when the ‘Beatnik Era’ had appeared as a curiosity (“….a new trend analogous to the influential Lost Generation….[there was the] Dobie Gillis television show….The beat philosophy was generally counter cultural and ant-materialistic and it stressed the importance of bettering one’s inner self over and above material possessions….antipathy towards capitalism….much of the beat culture represented a negative stance rather than  a positive one, it was animated more by a vague feeling of cultural and emotional displacement, dissatisfaction and yearning….”) And, I must say: many of the kids, and me, were influenced by this idea in the 50s and 60s [I recall Ronnie Smith and I had our little ‘club’ room in his basement where we played a jazz radio station and drew ‘art]. [I miss my brother something terrible at times!] My other step-brother (much like a real brother) was a strong role-model and ended up with a great amount of success as a Manager at Caterpillar Tractor in Illinois. [He is a proud and good brother! He tried to be a stalwart stone and a good example in the midst of all the family turmoil and storm] Next-door neighbors Ronald and Phyllis Smith were fairly good models: Ronnie Smith now owns and operates a successful printing firm with over 200 employees (or so I am told; I believe I located Ronnie’s business: R. L. Smith Printing Company, Inc., 4030 Simon Road, Youngstown, Ohio. 44512-1320 [10 employees: 1 million dollars in business a year]) and Phyllis Smith has been on the cast of the famous and successful television programTHE OFFICE.   Phyllis has luckily branched out into the entertainment industry and become a ‘movie and television star’ (as of 2018).

The flip side to this card (outside of a teenage girlfriend which I adored and may have been my salvation), is twisted, sometimes sordid, a somewhat darker side. No one told me of or led me to the door of the Carondelet South Side Finishing School.

Edward Hoffman Passes Away

It was with regret that in 2016 my Half-brother (“my brother”) passed away from a number of ailments that time could not surpass.


Barbara Streisand highlighted these longings (as did Morris Albert in his song Feelings). Streisand sang them in her rendition of The Way We Were (..…Memories, may be beautiful and yet….what what’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget… it’s the laughter, we will remember, whenever we remember, the way we were….) She even sang it more poignantly in Memory (..…..Memory – all alone in the moonlight, I can dream of the old days….Life was beautiful then…..I remember the time I knew what happiness was.…Let the memory live again….”)

I sometimes long for the memories of my childhood — the good portion — “this” nostalgia is all that I have; and aside from that, “it is still me” (My mother trying to teach me to polka in our kitchen on Michigan Avenue while she was busy fixing our usual – full-bloomed – Sunday dinner [a booming voice on the radio with a heavy German brogue announcing records on the German Hour radio program]. The summertime, back-yard barbeques with various laughing and friendly aunts and uncles and relatives arriving — roll out the barrel! — [when my mother danced the polka {and I’ve seen her in action} it was what she called “authentic German Polka”: flipping her heels and giving a “yip! Yip! Yip!” hollers….and so much more……..).

When we talk about the nostalgia of earlier days, that haunting and mysterious feeling about past lives and homesteads, we are also talking about their “spiritual” dimensions – a feeling of “saudades” – we are also speaking of those people whose lives are composite of all their beliefs, faiths, loves, longings, mishaps in life. When we travelled about Carondelet looking at relics of times past, the styles of their lives: this is not just a cold, aloof, dissecting “chopped liver” approach to the past, but one that sees the totality of those lives, even in  intimate detail; their “longings”; their hopes; their aspirations; their religions. Yes, many of them had religious beliefs that they strongly upheld and it is often embedded in to the architecture of their homes. It could be said that these ingredients go into cases of “hauntings.” This takes a certain amount of human empathy. It is an embodiment of what they were and may still be and how they synchronize with the extent of history as a whole.


Andrew Carnegie could be an interesting example in a microcosmic sense. Here is a man of multiple layers of wealth and great accomplishment. In his youth he lived in a typical weaver’s cottage with only one main room consisting of half the ground floor which they shared with the neighboring weaver’s family: the main room served as a living room, dining room and bedroom. At the time of his death, Carnegie had a 64-room mansion with a private Otis elevator: many years of wealth in between. But those years also included his philosophic and religious struggles – he spoke about the irresponsibility and ostentatious living of the wealthy, was vehemently against war, helped form the League of Nations, turned from an atheist to a Positivist and then  to a person who believed in “an infinite and eternal Energy from which all things proceed”; an “infinite intelligence.” When we look at the artifacts of Carnegie’s life, we are seeing much more than steel, wood and cloth (or even the music he loved to listen to): We are seeing and feeling the very essence of the psychic qualities imprinted upon them.

“Today’s brain imagery techniques lend support to the theory that thoughts and beliefs not only affect one’s psychological state, but also cause the body to undergo measurable biological changes,” said Doctor Jeffrey D. Palmer, “what is known, beyond doubt is that we can create healing energies with our minds alone….what we know and understand about the nature and mechanism of thought and thought energy pales in comparison to the vast amount of information that we do not have….expectation, beliefs and thought energy related physiological and biological changes….thoughts are real….a real influence on people, places and objects which is not bound by time or space.”

Researcher Stephen Wagner said it might be possible for events to be imprinted on the environment in some holographic- psychic way that we do not understand yet. “Oft-repeated events remain recorded in the environment in which they originally occurred,” he said.


(“The anarchic principle follows from quantum mechanics, which tells us that all particle interactions that can happen will happen.  In quantum field theory, everything that is not forbidden will occur”, Lisa Randall, Ph.D., Warped Passages,, HarperCollins, 2005: Randall is a theoretical particle physicist and is a student of warped geometry, sink holes, and branes. She received the 2006 Klopsted award from the American Physics Teachers (AAPT), and the 2007 Julius Lilienfeld prize from the American Physical Society.)


We often see and find “coincidence” in this respect – but some coincidences are, as Peter A. Jordan said, “almost too purposeful, too orderly” – and boarder on what Leibnitz calls “monad” – pre-established harmonies – or, as Schopenhauer called it – “interrelated and mutually attuned”.  It is what Braina Lolgram, Carl Jung, and neuroscientist (Stanford University) Karl Pribram labled “patterns inherent in the human psyche and shared by all mankind – – – – primordial images.”  Jung also spoke of synchronistic phenomena of strange coincidence too striking to be mundane, in case after case. Meg Lundstrom said in A Wink From the Cosmos, “participants  in a sensitive flowing  web of information. Physicists have shown, for example, that two protons are separated, no matter by how far: a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other”.

Shirley Maclaine, a life-long mystical practitioner, artist and motion-picture actress, had this to say: “Jung defined synchronicity as ‘any apparent coincidence that inspires a sense of wonder and personal meaning or particular significance in the observer…it is a perceived conviction between two or more objects or events or persons without any recognizable cause’…..I don’t think it can be called coincidence. I don’t think it can be called accident….we are beginning to realize that we’re connecting with the very essence of primordial life itself, and maybe to the roots of what I call time-less consciousness….point towards an organizational principle of the universe and suggest that our connection with a higher order of consciousness is never far from the surface of ordinary awareness….The right person, the right place, the right time enters our life as a strategic moment, which seems blindingly without logical motivation.”  

(Closely aligned to the Cosmic-Consciousness idea is that of the Gaia hypothesis or principle that the planet earth is an interacting system, a homeorhesis, on an earth feedback loop as a single organism. A number of scientists support this idea, including William Golding, James Lovelock, Microbiologist Lynn Margulous and others. Carl Sagan, speaking of (1959) space probes, said planetary observations appeared to say that planets have the “character of a planet preparing to go to seed…..”)                       

St. Trinity recently announced that the church will have to close down in a few years because of their expenses and lax membership. When that congregation passes away, so will the embodiment of hundreds of memories and sentiments that gave those persons’ lives meaning: in their minds, those days will live on. To me: it will be a haunting by memories of Christmas celebrations, school episodes, love affairs —- cold winter days — and hot summer nights — the kisses of Margie  —- John Moeller/Steve Erdmann ‘Army-Navy Club’ —– the invigorating smell of church banquet dinners……..

Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein were not oblivious to this side of human nature; they spoke of it often: (Carl Sagan) “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known…science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality..…imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”  (Albert Einstein) “There are two ways you can look at the world: one as if nothing were a miracle, the other as if everything was a miracle”.

“Quantum physics will in the near future be an inevitable, indispensable and useful part of everyday life,” says Johan Hansson, “It is coming, and is impossible to stop. In fact, we are already there, but have yet only scratched the surface of an enormous iceberg, the majority of which is hidden and unused…..”  (

Mark Stevenson said about his book Optimist’s Tour Of The Future (Profile Books, 2011): “It is impossible to stop the Advancement of knowledge, and to ignore it is foolish!”   

(Speaking of coincidence: we once talked, Moriarty and I, about traveling to the old north St. Louis area were the Sportsman’s Park use to be to take photos, and decided it would be too dangerous.  I had work as security guard on the weekends at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club on Dodier Avenue at that precise spot, next to the old Carter Carburetor site; and I’m more accustomed to that area now: still want to take photos?  Come along!)     


But Moriarty Wild has been an admirably dedicated, innovative and self-determined “researcher”: of that there can be no doubt. I’ve seen some of his exploratory researches into crime (particularly in the Black communities where the “gangsta” mentality has been glorified by the youth and some adults), the tracing of liberal philosophies into the Communistic Movements of the 30s and 40s.  How the term “liberal” had been shanhaied into the Communist Movement (he once showed me a flowchart by the late Nesta Webster (I believe) of the many branching Communistic movements flowing through the Fabian vein and into such organization as the American Civil Liberties Union); and that the word “Liberal” (as in the Liberal political movement) is nothing but a “front” for the values of Karl Marx and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and their motto to bring America to its heels. His research ranks similar to that of John Earl Haynes (American Communism And Anticommunism: a Historian’s Bibliography And Guide To The Literature, February 18, 2009. Wild indicated that the black community is and has been a “wedge” caused by decadent socialism in America.

W.E.B Dubois was an independent socialist since 1904, who travelled extensively in the Soviet Union in 1926, 1936, and 1949. Through the 1940s he believed that the black liberation movement in America had to incorporate a socialist perspective and be in the forefront in promoting peaceful co-existence with the Soviet bloc. But the Communist party had its roots in black culture as early as 1919 when Cyril Biggs, African Blood Brotherhood leader, spoke of Marx and how African-Americans could find their home and be taken seriously within the Communist Credo. “here was a party that seemed to have the goal of the lower-class citizen in mind and was out in public being vocal and defiant to white power,” says Denman, Scullin, and Goracy in Black And Red: a journey Through Communism In The Black Community (, “They  realized that the black social status was not much different from that of Americans as a whole….they decided to focus their energy on the lower class.”

In his book review of The Secret World of American Communism by Klehr, Haynes, and Firsov, Irving Louis Horowitz says in the Fall, 1995 Orbis: “The Secret World of American Communism makes no attempt to be clever or overly interpretive.  Its analysis is based on ninety-two documents from the early 1920s through 1945, each one a part of the secret Soviet archives of the American Communist Party. These previously secret memoranda, letters, and other classified documents demonstrate for the first time the full extent to which the American Communist Party evolved an elaborate scheme of espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union”.   

Similar views were espoused by Claude Lightfoot in his Black Power And Liberation: A Communist View: “The present moment can be characterized as one charged with economic, political and social turbulence….the people are striking back. Sometimes they strike according to plan. Sometimes they erupt spontaneously….these are all struggles by the people against a system…..must go forward today in new forms…..yesterday’s approach is too mild to meet the problems of this storm period.”

Time Magazine Authors Adi Igatius, Nathan Thornburgh, Simon Sebag and Monte Fiore spoke in the December 31, 2007–January 7, 2008 issue of modern-day Russia as just as dangerous and unchanged: “Putin is, above all, a pragmatist, and has cobbled together a system – not unlike China’s – that embraces the free market (albeit with a heavy dose of corruption) but relies on a strong state hand to keep order…a dark side…to achieve stability, Putin and his administration have dramatically curtailed freedoms…he has made the security organs as powerful as they were in the 1920s through the 1950s.”

Jonathan Brent in his Inside the Stalin Archives: Discovering the New Russia (Atlas & Company, 15 West 20th Street, #2, new York, N.Y. 10010, 2008, 335 pages) outlines how modern-day Russia stills clings to old dictatorial ways and idolizes Stalin as an icon and hero.    

In Jim Marrs’ The Trillion-Dollar Conspiracy  (HarperCollins Publishers, 2010), he spoke of “creeping socialism”: “A few older citizens may recall the words of Norman Mattoon Thomas, a pacifist who ran for president six times between 1928and 1948 under the Socialist Party of America banner. ‘The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism…But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.’….In  a 1948  interview, Thomas said he was retiring from American politics because both the Democratic and Republican parties had adopted every plank of the Socialist’ platform and there was no longer a need for the alternative Socialist Party.”

In a meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, 1959, former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson quoted Khrushchev as saying a reasonable facsimile (there is a debate over when and where): “You Americans are so gullible.  No, you won’t accept communism outright.  But we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you finally wake up and find you already have communism.  We won’t have to fight you; we’ll so weaken your economy until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.” Khrushchev made a similar, earlier remark on November 18, 1956:  “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side: We will bury you…….”

H.G. Wells described this feeling of fear and boom so well in his science-fiction piece The War Of The Worlds  (about the unsuspected invasion of earth by evil and malevolent Martians): “….as he described an invasion so vividly realistic that it exposed the facility of the human mind when confronted by unfathomable fear,” said writer Kyle B. Morton in the September-October, 2010  (number 712)  FATE Magazine, “And with the additional adaptations over the years, I began to understand this story’s message of hubris and destruction was applicable to any era or country in which people reveled in their perceived dominance while unforeseen annihilation waited in the wings…..”  


Gary Allen said in None Dare Call It Conspiracy: “If one understands that socialism is not a share-the-wealth program, but is in reality a method to consolidate and control the wealth, the seeming paradox of superrich men promoting socialism becomes no paradox at all.  Instead it becomes the logical, even the perfect tool of power-seeking-megalomaniacs. Communism, or more accurately, socialism, is not a movement of the downtrodden masses, but of the economic elite..…If you wanted to control the nation’s manufacturing, commerce, finance, transportation and natural resources, you would need only to control the apex, the power pinnacle, of an all-powerful socialist government. Then you would have a monopoly and could squeeze out all your competitors.  If you want – a worldwide monopoly, you must control a world socialist government. That is what the game is all about….Communism is an arm of a bigger conspiracy to control the world by power-mad billionaires (and) brilliant but ruthless academicians who have shown them how to use their power….” (Concord Press, 1971)

Allen described these “robber barons” that are willing to fix prices, rig markets, establish monopolies, buy politicians, exploit employees and fire them the day before they are eligible for pensions, but are also planning to rule the world and even use Communism “as the striking edge of their conspiracy”.  That “striking edge” became Jack the Ripper in America on Wall Street in 2008! 

“Incentives to make good investments had  deteriorated as the free-market-food-back-loop was being distorted: bad investments and irresponsible behavior was being rewarded on a massive scale, encouraging even more misallocation of capital and sloppy habits,” said Gabe, September 30, 2008, Did Minority Lending Drive Crisis?,, “the frugal and ‘old fashioned’ were being made losers by a system backed by a Greenspan Put and bailout ideology, thus encouraging even fewer to be frugal or cautious. The habits and values most important to free-markets were being destroyed – – – the 5th plank of the Communist Manifesto was doing its work and slowly destroying our economy….” 

W. Cleon Skousen in his The Naked Capitalist (Buccaneer Books, 1970) outlines 45 “declared goals” by communists to overtake America. Some of them stick out like a sore thumb in the growth of the 2008 Crash. Joseph M. Schwartz, professor of Political Science at Temple University, blames a 30-year “joint” project of Republican monetarios and Democrat neo-liberals going back to Jimmy Carter’s deregulation, Reagan’s “gutting” of regulation, and Clinton’s abolition of the Glass-Steagal Act. This all worked hand-in-glove with a liberal (defined and used more recently  as ‘liberal’  in Socialism) move such as a ”drive” by Bill Clinton to increase home ownership primarily to the lower-income and despite racial questions or warnings of repercussions……

(Fannie and Freddie popularized low-income securitization. The government pushed for greater mortgage securitization in an effort to increase CRA [Community Reinvestment Act] lending: A study put out by the Treasury Department in 2000 found that the CRA encouraged the mortgage services to provide loans to low-income borrowers; further, these lax lending standards spread to the rise of the market. Said John Carney about Clinton: “His administration went to ridiculous lengths to increase the national homeownership rate..….paper-thin down-payments….shaky financing and income..…opened floodgates to minority lending.”, Business Insider…...

…….Communist rule no.32: support any socialist movement to give centralized control over to any part of the counter-culture…..Communist rule no. 15; capture one or both of the political parties in the United States……Communist rule no. 40: discredit the family as an institution…….)

“Liar Loans” were given carte blanche and triple-A ratings and packaged in speculative investment banking and sold as derivatives around the world. Said former U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairperson Brooksley Born: “The market was virtually unregulated and many, many times as big as the trading on the futures exchanges. The commission had kept some nominal authority over the market, but there was no mechanism for enforcing the rules. For example, anti-fraud rules were retained, but no reporting was required. The Market was completely opaque. Neither the commission nor any other federal regulator knew what was going on in that market!”…..

……[Communist rule no. 37: infiltrate and gain control of big business……

“Meanwhile, economists were screaming from the rooftops that Democrats were forcing mortgage lenders to issue loans that would fail the moment the housing market slowed and dead-beat borrowers couldn’t get out of their loans by selling their houses”, said Charlotte Iserbyt, “A decade later, the housing bubble burst and, as predicted food-stamp-backed mortgages collapsed, Democrats set an affirmative action time-bomb and now it has gone off.” 

“Although it’s well known that the economic mess began with the banks, mortgage lenders, and real estate companies,” said Jim Marrs, “the current housing and mortgage mess actually was the result of maneuvering by both Democrat and Republican politicians, a fact that adds considerable weight to the argument that both major parties are controlled by the same globalists seeking to install a worldwide socialist system.” (The Trillion-Dollar Conspiracy)   

Said Joseph E. Stiglitz in Freefall: “….(banks) engage(d) in excessive-risk-taking and to lend to those who can’t repay, There have been repeated instances of such lending giving rise to housing bubbles. It’s one of the reasons for regulations..,  …Yet, in the deregulatory frenzy of the 1980s, 1990s, and the early years of this decade, even attempts to restrict the worst lending practices ___ such as the predatory lending in the subprime market ___ were beaten back.”

In 1999, the campaign speared by Senator Phil Gramm of Texas was successful in an appeal, and Congress repealed Glass-Steagall.  Gramm’s efforts had the full support of Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, treasury secretary Robert Rubin, and President Bill Clinton.  Robert Rubin believed Glass-Steagall as a “roadblock” to the rise of Globalization and he wanted a more open and flexible environment — as were many others such as Sandy Weill, head of Traveler’s Insurance and its merger with Citiban, with John Reed’s unabashed backing of Greenspan’s campaign.  These were only a small few of the many crony-capitalists and wealthy, highly bonused, Wall Streeters.

Said Robert A. Sroze in Wildfire ( Tate Publishing & Enterprise , 2010: the Financial Accounting Board has determined that the Wall Street criminals could hold their derivatives and value them at any price.  The IRS does this kind of accounting as well. “They Argue about deck chairs on the Titanic while the whole side of the boat is split wide open,” said Sroze on April 13, 2011 during a Coast To Coast radio interview: One and over a half trillion dollars a month in the red; Two and almost 3 billion dollars in income during March 2011, while over 100 times that are running debt and growing.”

It has been estimated that the debt averages to 3.48 billion dollars per day since September 28, 2007.      


Said DREA, April 29, 2009, in Economy, People, Politics (“25 Men Behind the Financial Crisis” – “Although the Reagan Administration handled the S & L crisis well, the Teflon President seeded the risk-taking, Master-of-Universe mentality that spawned the current crisis.  Reagan turned deregulation into a dogma strong enough to blind business-peoples’ ethics.”

Reagan’s megalomania may have begun many years earlier with his fascination with politics, even as a motion picture actor, and later as the Governor of California, where he attended the infamous Bohemian Club  on July 23, 1967 (the Club is an exclusively private all-male group headquartered in San Francisco and displayed at pagan retreat ceremonies at a 2700 acre redwood forest at Monte Rio, California since 1872, catering to every Republican President and some Democrat Presidents since 1923, cabinet members of congress, and many powerful CEOs and business directors, such Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Casey, A.W. Clausen, Elliot Richardson, the Bush Presidents, and many powerful men into networking).    

Ronald Reagan later spawned more than just radical, voodoo deregulation, he also helped invent the Plunge Protection Team also known as The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, said Drake Bennett on September 21, 2008:  “….was created by Ronald Reagan  in 1988  in response to the stock market crash  of the year before.  He tasked it, however, not with buying up stocks or stock index futures (the Fed is not allowed to do this directly) but with planning for and responding future financial crises. While the Department of the Treasury doesn’t comment on the market manipulation accusations, a spokeswoman described the body as a sort of high-level discussion group.”

One 1989 op-ed written by former Fed governor named Robert Heller suggested that the government inject “money directly into the stock market”, while Clinton Administrative  Advisor  George Stephanopoulos, said on September 11, 2001 that the PPT was ”empowered to buy  stocks”, though he was unable to describe the  PPT’s creation mechanisms.

Enter the Bilderberg Group,  that mysterious  organization closed to the public (consisting of about 50 delegates  and 130 guests  from  22  countries that started May, 1954 and meets around the world in secret) and states its aim as ”promoting Atlanticism.”  President Reagan sent his official delegate, American political advisor  and lobbyist, Assistant Secretary of Defense, and member of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee,  Richard Pearle, as his liaison. The Bilderberg elite demanded that President Reagan parlay $50 billion taxpayer dollars from the U.S. Treasury over the period of  Reagan’s  Presidency  –  8 years  –   to be given to the Third World Bank and the IMF (International monetary fund).

“These treasonous acts constituted a redistribution of money from American taxpayers’ pockets into bank vaults,” said Deanna Spangle  in,  “The poor received no benefits….it was the Bilderbergs who decided that hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars should feed the new democracy in the former Soviet Union…..”

Said Will Bunch of the Reagan Administration in Tear Down This Myth  (Free Press,2009) : “The jingoistic military moves, the glow of hyper patriotism, and the pure plays for public emotion, held together by the glue of Reagan’s personal popularity and skills as a performer in the public eye, were critical to cementing the president’s popularity In the mid-1980s, because of a dirty little secret so rarely reported in the press,” Bunch went on and said, “The majority of voters disagreed with him on most of the major issues  facing  America  from time he took the oath of office until the day he left.”

But, as it, so often, really exists in Washington (things are never what they seem): each administration is but the setting-of-the-stage for events in the next administration. In the Reagan Washington, it was really a Busch administration: “George Busch: The  Unauthorized Biography  says that Busch was pretty much running things during the Reagan presidency”, said in “A Scary Tale”, referring to the Tarpley-Chaitkin book, “Reagan was the front man, telling funny stories but doing nothing more than  reading scripts.  He needed long naps in the afternoon.  Reagan was manipulated through the influence of James Baker on Nancy Reagan, a vain and shallow woman who was mostly interested in how she was perceived in the press.”  Tarpley-Chaitkin outlined the “Busch Reich”.

“…but Reagan’s policies had the opposite impact, swelling the debt to nearly $3 trillion while raising the government’s interest payments to $260 billion, or nearly the amount that taxpayers were spending at the time on national defense,” said Will Bunch, “….The 1991 deficit alone was initially projected to use $300 billion, a new record….the U.S interest payment on the debt accumulated mostly under Reagan and Busch were a still-staggering $200 billion a year, equal to 3.5 percent of the gross national product….the accumulative debt, which had been 25 percent of the gross national product when Reagan took office in 1981, was now more than half of the GNP.”

Said Paule Burke, author of Journey Home, on August 10, 2010: “The power grab was when Reagan took office and rolled back taxes for the richest 1% ‘only’.  Those richest 1% are the ones who have grabbed power, re-written the laws and crippled the middle class…..the power grab continued with creating a Supreme Court based on ideology instead of precedent. The power grab was the Office of the President itself by George ‘W’ Busch. The power grab was Cheney’s closed door meetings with national oil producers, handing them the keys to the kingdom and the rule book re-write. The power grab was the dismantling of all the common sense regulation developed after the first Great Depression. It took five decades to have selective amnesia thanks to greed and reject the lessons of reason, logic and pragmatism embracing ideology like a rabid cult.”  


Rhodes Scholar (a graduate of the – gold and diamond magnate – Cecil Rhodes’ Round Table organization for a “new world order”) William Jefferson Clinton was also an attendee to the Bilderberg Group in 1991 (Germany) and 1999 (Portugal). (Enabled Clinton to visit very wealthy and powerful people; started its practice in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands) Hillary Clinton, our present Secretary of State and President Clinton’s wife, recently attended a Bilderberg meeting in 1997). (The William J. Clinton Foundation has a worth of over 300 million dollars to date)

Our current President Barrack H. Obama was said to possibly have attended a Bilderberg meeting in 2008.

“There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the Radical Right believes the communists act. In fact, this network which we identify as The Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups, and frequently does so.”  (Tragedy and Hope: A History of The World In Our Time, Carroll Quigley, 1966, Macmillan Publishers)

Barrack Obama began his left-wing leanings as a teenager listening to his “uncle Frank” (Frank Marshall Davis), who was a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). John Edgar Tidwell says that Davis had ties with several communist-front organizations. Later Obama aligned with far-left community forces such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in his days as community organizer in Chicago. There were associations with former Weatherman terrorist William Ayers, European socialist groups, Socialists International (SI), Students For A Democratic Society (SDS), Carl Davidson, and in 1996, Obama gave his endorsement of the Chicago branch of the DSA. Obama eulogized for Saul Mendelson, a long-time socialist in the Chicago Democratic Left.      

Speaking of the present Barrack Obama Washington administration, created in the heat of the 2008 Wall Street “meltdown”, Micelle Malkin (Culture Of Corruption, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2009), said: “Obama’s team – the ‘best of the Washington insiders’, as David Brooks called them – is a dysfunctional and dangerous conglomerate of business-as-usual cronies….they are every bit as disreputable and demanding as their 1940s  counterparts….ethically challenged bailout-burglary money men (such as) Larry Summers and Tim Geithner at Treasury, crime-coddling corporate lawyer Eric Holder at DOJ….Executive Ron Sims at the Department of Housing And Urban Development, fined for suppressing public records from taxpayers……”

As the build-up of the housing and mortgage fiasco was progressively put in place prior to 2008, Obama had his own 1.7 million dollar Chicago manse financed with a discount mortgage from Northern Trust, associated with convicted felon/donor/developer tony rezko. One of the “boiler pot” companies in the Meltdown, Countrywide, gave Obama minion Jim Johnson more than 7 million dollars in below-market-rate loans from Countrywide. The left-wing Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was deeply involved in  the housing contribution to the sub-prime housing bubble (over-shadowed by the CRA), worked hand-in-hand with the rubber-stamp leftist SEIU (Service Employee International Union). “These foreclosure con artists are just the top of ACORN’s fraudulent enterprises….voter fraud, corporate shakedowns, partisan bullying, and pro-illegal immigration lobbying,” said Malkin, “This is the bread and butter work that ACORN does.  President Obama knows it, and he appreciates it.”

The Obamas worked on the boards of the left-wing Woods Fund – along with Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers – and the Joyce Foundation: both which poured money into ACORN. But there was a Republican/Democrat agenda! “In October, 2008 under the Bush administration, HUD announced more than 44 million dollars in new housing counseling grants to over 400 state and local efforts. The Bush Whitehouse increased funding for housing counseling by 150 percent since 2001.”

One example of HUD-like interference is the Housing Welfare Program in Detroit, a microcosm of the housing:

Detroit’s miserable history: the city’s change to a Democratic government and eventual downfall into a welfare state: The failure of Detroit’s Model Cities program, which wasted nearly $1 billion attempting to renew inner city slums. Here’s an synopsis of that failure:

Five years of centralized planning, higher taxes, and a fleeing population, what did the government decide to do with its grand experiment, its “Model City”?
Seeing it had accomplished nothing but failure, the government endeavored to do still more. The Model City program was expanded and enlarged by 1974’s Community Development Block Grant Program. Here again, politicians would decide which groups (and even individuals) would receive state funds for various “renewal” schemes. Later, Big Business was brought into the fold. In exchange for various concessions, the Big Three automakers “gave” $488 million to the city for use in still more redevelopment schemes in the mid-1990s.
Even with all of their power and all of the money, City Planners couldn’t make good with any of their plans. Nearly all of the upper, middle and poor class left Detroit. The Model City area lost 63% of its population and 45% of its housing units from the beginning of the program through 1990.
(3) Detroit’s exodus crisis is getting worse… The Census Bureau released data yesterday showing the city’s population has fallen to a level last seen in 1910 – the city has fallen back 100 years. Middle-class African Americans are fleeing to the suburbs, cutting Detroit’s population 25% in the past decade, to 713,777. What’s the only city to suffer a worse population loss since 2000? New Orleans lost 29.1% of its population. But New Orleans also suffered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Detroit’s decline was pure mismanagement.

(4) Detroit’s population peaked in the 1950s at around 2 million (when the auto industry was booming). And population declines have accelerated in recent years due to the automotive industry’s failure and the mortgage crisis (more than a fifth of the city’s housing is vacant). But this fundamental deterioration of a once-great city couldn’t be the reason for everyone’s exodus… It’s got to be a problem with the Census. At least Local officials were expecting a count closer to 800,000. And he requested a recount: City Planner David Bing said (at least to himself, convincingly)… “If we could go out and identify another 40,000 people that were missed, and it brings us over the threshold of 750,000, that would make a difference from what we can get from the federal and state government.”

(5) Government officials get creative when something stands between them and “their” money. And we’re sure David Bing will find a way to add 40,000 to Detroit’s population… Whether it’s pulling homeless people off the streets or bringing them in by the truckload. And we’re sure that extra money will go to good use.

Purchases of new U.S. homes fell nationally in February to the slowest pace on record. Sales fell 16.9% to a $250,000 annual pace (economists expected a gain to a $290,000 rate). And the median price dropped 8.9% from the same month in 2010 (its lowest level since December 2003). To date, Congress has NOT extended a rope for American homeowners to hang onto. Worse still, Wall Street took the 0% emergency loan – extended to it by the Federal Reserve and reinvested it in Treasury bills and other government securities to earn another quick fortune. So, in effect, Wall Street borrowed from the government, lent those funds back to the government, and earned the spread. The Power Elite gets a healthy cut of the proceeds, of course. In an interview with “60 Minutes,” famed author, Michael Lewis, called this practice – one still happening today – an “elegant form of theft.”

ACORN and the recent housing debacle emphasized the crisis:

ACORN suffered two 2008 set-backs that crippled funds that the organization received. The million-dollar embezzlement within the organization that was covered up in 2008, as well as the negative publicity that caused donors like George Soros to stop funding it. Undercover video tapes by two conservative activists, Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, revealed that ACORN employees unknowingly aided and abetted this couple in their sting operation as a pimp and prostitute who wanted to open brothels for underage girls from El Salvador; a brothel for pedophiles. Supposedly, the clamp-down on ACORN supposedly caused their bankruptcy.  But ACORN is already planning to reorganize under a new name, said Matthew Vadium, senior editor at the Capitol Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy for left-wing activist groups.

Vadium said that sources with ACORN have confirmed that the organization is not really dissolving. On ACORN’s website it still heralds “to organize a majority constituency of low-to-moderate-income people across the United States….to take on issues of relevance to their communities whether those issues are discrimination, affordable housing, a quality education, or better public services.”  ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis is quoted telling of a strong list of activities that ACORN still wishes to advance.

But Vadium said ACORN is “not a benign social welfare organization”, having rather sinister goals, corrupt and promoting big government at all costs “ and by any means possible, in accordance with the teachings of the late Saul Alinsky”

Radical professor Frances Fox Piven of Project Vote, the ACORN affiliate President Obama worked for in the early 1990s, and an  author of the of the Cloward-Piven strategy, a 1960s proposal to bring socialist revolution to the United States “by flooding cities with welfare applicants, bankrupting them, and provoking collapse.” The website honors New York City’s 1975  bankruptcy to this plan.

Vadium told WND: “These are dangerous radical people who don’t believe in the American system; ACORN is a shell corporation that runs hundreds of nonprofit affiliates.  It is going bankrupt, but it’s not going away, it is simply changing into a new legal form!…”         

Socialist Barbara Ehrenreich confessed:  “The truth is that we, the Socialist International Conspiracy, not only saw this coming, we are the ones who made it happen. The plan took shape during a particularly intense criticism/self-criticism session at our 2000 annual convention in a booth at an Akron IHOP….we would focus on destroying capitalism, hedge fund by hedge fund.  First, we selected a cadre of crusty punks from  the streets of Seattle, stripped off their Che t-shirts, suite them up in Armani’s and wingtips, and introduced them to the concepts of derivatives and dental floss,” she goes on to say, “Then we shipped them to Wall Street with firm instructions: Make as much money as you can….send it out to make more money by whatever dodgy means you can find – subprime loans, credit default swaps, pyramid schemes….we could not have inflicted such massive damage to capitalism if we hadn’t also painted skilled agents in  high places within the government and various quasi-government agencies.  Phil Gramm will be getting a Hero of Socialism award……” (        

“The mortgage crisis, for example, arose out of a long-standing erosion of the property rights concept – first on the part of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but also on that of the Federal Reserve” said Bloomberg columnist Amity Shlaes, “Broadening FDR’s entitlement theories, Congress taught the country that home ownership was a ‘right’. This fostered a misunderstanding of what property is. The owners didn’t realize ownership entailed – that is, they didn’t grasp that they were obligated to deliver on the terms of the contract of their mortgage.  In the bipartisan enthusiasm for everyone an owner, our government debased the concept of home ownership.”

“….trying to assign blame to either Democrats or Republicans is pointless,” said Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, “Everyone is culpable.  From the early 1980s when Ronald Reagan deregulated banks, through the two Bushes, Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama, each administration has endorsed – and each Congress has helped tweak  —-  laws and rules that made systemic abuses and the meltdown not only possible but, looking back, inevitable….many investment bankers knew the mortgage loans they were packaging and selling were junk.  They knew because their own analysts told them so.  Tens of thousands of loans failed to meet basic underwriting standards, according to recent testimony before the Financial Crisis inquiry Commission, a bipartisan group created to examine the causes of the meltdown. Not only that, (but) Wall Street insiders were betting against their own customers and institutions.”

“….as it’s being reported on all other (web) sites we look at, the Communist and Socialist elements of the Democrat party have never been on prouder display…Since 2008, these people have really come out of the woodwork and are no longer working in the shadows,” said Kevin Dujan on, “No one at the DNC is keeping them in the closet anymore, or hiding them in the basement.  They feel like they own the DNC now, and in fact the Left really does. They have taken off their mask sand have revealed themselves for who they really are: anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-everything the majority of this country believes in.”

The Communist Party USA official website (according to World Net Daily quote and coverage) quoted the CPU as having said on December 30, 2007:” Our Party actively supported Obama during the primary election.” This referred to Obama’s 2004 election to the Senate, and it spoke of how the African-American community and trade unionists played key roles in defeating the “ultra-right.” The article (John Bachtell, National Board member, December 30, 2007, Communist Part USA)  went on to say how the Party actively supported Obama during the primary election (a screen shot captured by the New Zeal blog). This comment has since been “scrubbed” off of the CPU site comments. The Political Affairs Magazine, the Communist Party USA’s magazine, quoted AFL-CIO President John Sweeney (a longtime member of the Boston chapter of the Democrat Socialists for America) saying about his hope for Communists to work with Obama: “The election is just step one in delivering the change we need. Working men and women are poised to keep the energy pumping to help the Obama administration lead the change we need. There will be no gap or letdown.”

Leaders of the CPU spoke of their agenda for Obama: regulating Wall Street, International Trade, health care reform, a second stimulus package, and overhaul of the criminal justice system, plus assorted Communist goals.  “All these – and many other things – are within our reach now!”  exclaimed Sam Webb at a speech for the official Communist newspaper, the People’s Weekly World. ( “Communist Party covers up support for Obama”).

Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily’s senior staff reporter, spoke of the infiltration of Congress by Socialists (August 18, 2010). He specifically pinpointed Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat-Illinois and her husband Robert Creamer: a convicted felon and political consultant to the Obama administration. Both have endorsed Socialist policies such as a radical new health-care plan, and the distribution of wealth and power. “As WND reported Monday, the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, boasted in a newsletter to insiders that 70 of its members currently serve in Congress, including Schakowsky,” said Klein.

While running for Congress in 1998, Schakowsky was “endorsed” by the DSA and was listed in the socialist group’s official newsletter as an “old friend” and a “real fighter”. While in federal prison in 2006, Creamer wrote How Progressives Can Win.

Likewise, the Republicans were nothing but disguised and masqueraded liberals. Said Lucian E. Marin and Canarypapers – October 27, 2008 -12;53 p.m. in McCain-Gramm Economics; Communism with a Capital “G” ( “If David Addington is the architect of the Bush-Cheney assaults on the U.S. Constitution (and he is), then McCain’s long-time economic advisers/gurus, Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan, are the architects of our collapsing economy.  And John McCain, his finger ever on the pulse of what’s best for America, has approved – bill by bill, measure by measure – eight years worth of assaults on our economy….If you trust in nothing else, trust in this: These crooks know exactly what they’ve done and what they’re doing.  That’s why they want to avoid close scrutiny to the blame game….these crooks, who have benefited to the tune of millions and billions of dollars over the past (11, s.e.) years (since 2000, s.e.), will only continue to rake in millions and billions more from the so-called bailout….December 15, 2000….the U.S. was rushing to pass an 1,000-page government –spending reauthorization bill….Sen. Phil Gramm…a 262 page amendment, called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000….’credit default swaps’ – a legalized form of gambling, whereby financiers could place bets on  whether people defaulted on their mortgages.”

Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican member of Congress from Texas, said on April 27, 2010, Socialism vs. Corporatism, that calling President Obama a Socialist was not entirely accurate: Socialism is a system where the government directly owns and manages business; Corporatism is a system where businesses are nominally in private hand, but are in  fact controlled by the government – they act in collusion with their favored business interests with policies that cater to interests in a monopoly position to the danger of “both competitors and consumers”.  Obama is a cunning version of Socialism-Plus: Corporatism.  Hitler had a similar scheme during the rise of the Nazi party whereby he was funded by international corporate concerns.

Author Jim Marrs sees this culmination in the New World Order promised by Adolf Hitler and signed off by President H.W. Bush.  These Globalists are above petty nationalism and are now guided by what Janine Wedel spoke of in Shadow Elite as “flexions” who manipulate global economics as “poker chips” in some vast, unseen, poker game —  or some Ponzi Scheme of which they stand aloof and above —  and utilize to their own advantage.

The Rockefellers, Jack Schiff, Elihu Root, J.P. Morgan, The Harriman family, others, sponsored the Russian Revolution and the Bolsheviks. The same globalists sponsored National Socialism in Germany; John J. McCloy, Schroeder Bank attorneys Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles, Prescott Bush, director of Union Banking Corporation and the Hamburg America Shipping Line.

The late Hollywood producer Aaron Russo quoted Nick Rockefeller (a participant in the World Economic Forum and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations): “The end goal is to get everybody chipped, to control the whole society, to have bankers and the elite people control the world.”  

Robert F. Brunner and Sean D. Carr outlined the roots of the problem in their book The Panic Of 1907 (John Wiley & Sons, 2007). Credit default swaps were then called “bucket shops” – and for nearly 100 years were outlawed as a felony; surely, known by Greenspan and Gramm: “their crime was one of foreknowledge”, said Canarypapers and Marin. John McCain embraced these giant betting parlors, and he still does, as surely as the Bush Administration protected and threatened to veto any attempt to regulate the credit default swap market. We can call it fascism, communism, plutocracy when trillions of dollars is spread by the government to cover and pay off sleazy casino bets of capitalists.

On June 5, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt entered America into bankruptcy and into the hands of 115 creditors in receivership and new government securities as monetized debt (; effectively, America had become The New World Order.                                                          

In 2008, America entered into a multi-trillion dollar debacle when its economy collapsed, rankling and kidnapping the security of foreign countries, and bringing America to its knees!

Greg McCoach, Wealth Daily  financial analyst, said on December 24, 2010 that that sovereign debt problems in Europe were systemic, could no longer remain solvent, along with states in the U.S, were on the road to ruin – the derivative problems had been passed to Europe in a  worldwide “perfect storm” of financial insanity about to be unleashed.

Just one of several diminishing countries, years of unrestrained spending, cheap lending and failure to inaugurate financial reforms, left the country of Greece badly exposed when the global economic downturn struck; in 2011 their national debt was listed as $413.6 billion.

U.S banks are on the books for $41 billion if Greece defaults; the Bank for International Settlements, French and German banks combined are on the hook for more than $65 billion contagion in Spain, Portugal and Italy. The European Central Bank also owns around $50 billion euros worth of Greek bonds.  In 2010, Eurozone bailed Greece out to the tune of 110 billion euros ($157 billion American dollars).

The Brookings Institution, in June, 2009, reported that U.S. consumption accounted for more than a third of the growth in global consumption between 2000 and 2007. “The U.S economy has been spending too much and barrowing too much for years,” said, “and the rest of the world depended on the U.S consumer as a source of global demand.”  The dollar serves as the basis of the world’s economy and monetary system.  If Europe implodes, as it must on the course it has set, dollars will be used to bail it out; this is already a crack in the damn – the U.S provides much of the funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – whose funds are being funneled to Greece.

Athens followed a model of borrowing money to boost current consumption. But Greek debt exploded to $481 billion (340 billion euros) Government debt as a percentage of GDP will be 166% by 2012.   


(“There is no subtler, surer means of overturning society than to debauch the currency.  The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction and does it in a way that not one man in a million is able to diagnose.” [John Maynard Keynes})

Jim Rodgers, economic analyst, spoke of the current Obama Administration’s “Rescue Plan”:  “The New Financial Rescue Plane may not work and could even make things worse because it plunges the U.S further into debt and it is designed by the same people who failed to forecast the crisis and take measures.”  Rodgers said that Geithner, who was President of the New York Federal Bank, “…has been dead wrong about everything for 15 years in a row, and so was President Barack Obama’s economic advisor Lawrence Summers, who acted as Treasury Secretary at the turn of the century….these guys have been wrong year after year consistently and they are again making the same mistakes again.  This is not going to solve the problem. It’s going to make it worse.”

Len Bracken said in the summer 2009 issue of Paranoia Magazine, ‘‘The Invisible Currency of Fascism”: ‘We know that on May 5, 2006, the same day that Porter Goss resigned as the director of the CIA, President Bush gave his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, the authority to excuse publicly traded companies from their accounting and securities disclosure obligations. This was the first time such authority has been delegated to someone outsider of the Oval Office, giving Negroponte the ’function of President’ under the law in question.”  In early  2006. Wall Street’s major firms agreed to standardize credit default swaps on collateralized debt obligations, enabling speculators to pay very small fees and gain enormous rewards as the bonds began failing and reneging.  At the center of it all was the “greed factor”, using collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs), at firms like Goldman Sachs, through fictional, evil, imperious “tranches” that would never supposedly default as far as “as any kind of debt” and was  housed in  collateralized loan or debt obligations.

Kevin Horrigan said in the Sunday, September 4, 2011 Post-Dispatch News: ”The top 25 hedge fund managers in the United States made a combined $22 billion last year (2010), enough to equal the combined income of 441,000 median-income families.  But we prefer to call most of our income ‘carried-interest’, so it’s taxed at the 15 percent capital gains tax rate….plain old ‘income’…would have been) 35 percent incomer tax.”  

Nicholas Vardy in his February 23, 2011 “The Financial Crisis of 2008: Nothing New Under The Financial Sun”, The Global Guru, said the past financial crises of 1837, 1866, 1873 all had common characteristics with modern crashes: excessive leverage.  He quotes Wall Street Financial Engineer Nicholas Taleb and author of Dynamic Hedging (a bible on derivative trading), and his 2007 The Black Swan, that Fannie Mae was a powder keg ready to explode.  Yet, for all the latest “tweaking”, the problem is still highly delicate, unknown and speculative; “It’ll take a lot of thinking – and a lot of luck – for financial regulators to get it right this time around.”

Hale “Bonddad” Stewart, former bond broker, tax lawyer, and financial blogger, saw it as pretty uncomplicated when he said on December 23, 2008 that “actually, it’s pretty simple. There has to be oversight of the mortgage underwriting industry. There must be strict rules about who gets a loan and when they get a loan. This means some people will be (gulp) turned down for a loan at least initially…This problem comes down to oversight of an industry.  There have to be regulators who are looking over the shoulder of anyone who underwrites mortgages.” (

Moriarty Wild’s eyes narrowed into a head-on penetrating stare as his face grimaced into almost a grotesque sneer upon reading Stewart’s words at a Winter meeting at the Carondelet Public Library, “And who is going to stop them from doing it again, if not with to homes, then some other industry?”  Wild glanced to one side and to the floor, almost as if he were going to spit.  His gaze drew serious and his eyes darted back to stab through my consciousness, “They are out to destroy us!  It’s like I told you; it’s been going on for hundreds of years.”  There was always that protruded silence before his next remark.  “It is not over this time, anyway; what’s the use of talking about a next time?”  Wild stood to gather his newly purchased grey trench coat, briskly buttoning the front and twisting the coat belt into a knot and drawing it tightly together.  “Besides, you are dealing with Civil Rights, so-called Power to the People, remember?  Communists bent on revolution; bent on taking this country down-hill – and like most dictatorial regimes, the Puppet-Masters are set up to take the spoils.” I stood a few feet behind Wild as he starred out into the icy wind whipping along the street, bracing himself.  I glanced down to the steps to brace myself as well.  And when I looked up, Wild was gone.    

Floyd Norris said that the current Wall Street practices may have begun in the 1920s, “…collateral trust securities….Wall Street sharpies thought they had found a way to make lots of money while not bearing the ultimate risk if the game suddenly ended.” (

 Extracts from “The Great Crash: 1929”, John Kenneth Galbraith, First Published 1955:

During 1928 an estimated 186 investment trusts were organized; by the early months of 1929 they were being promoted at the rate of approximately one each business day, and a total of 265 made their appearance during the course of the year. In 1927 the trusts sold to the public about $400,000,000 worth of securities; in 1929 they marketed an estimated three billions worth. This was at least a third of all the new capital issues in that year; by the autumn of 1929 the total assets of the investment trusts were estimated to exceed eight billions of dollars. They had increased approximately elevenfold since the beginning of 1927.

“The Great Crash: 1929”, John Kenneth Galbraith, Published 1955, Page 27:

“The U.S. stock market boomed in the 1920s. Prices reached levels, measured as a multiple of corporate dividends or corporate earnings; that made no sense in terms of traditional patterns and rules of thumb for valuation. A range of evidence suggests that at the market peak in September 1929 something like forty percent of stock market values were pure air: prices above fundamental values for no reason other than that a wide cross-section of investors thought that the stock market would go up because it had gone up.”

By 1928 and 1929 the Federal Reserve was worried about the high level of the stock market. It feared that the “bubble” component of stock prices might burst suddenly:

“It argues that one of the primary causes was the attempt by important people and the media to stop market speculators. A second probable cause was the great expansion of investment trusts, public utility holding companies, and the amount of margin buying, all of which fueled the purchase of public utility stocks, and drove up their prices. Public utilities, utility holding companies, and investment trusts were all highly levered using large amounts of debt and preferred stock. These factors seem to have set the stage for the triggering event.” Harold Bierman, Jr., Cornell University, Friday, February 5, 2010. (

“Thirty-eight states had closed all their banks, and everywhere else withdrawals were sharply curtailed”, told Michael Perino speaking of the 1928 Crash (The Hellhound Of Wallstreet, The Penguin Press, New York, 2010), “Outright bank failures numbered in the thousands annually. In those days, before deposit insurance, one in four families lost their life savings. The economy was in full retreat, industrial production was half of what it had been just four years earlier, and unemployment was an appalling 25 percent.  Farm incomes were decimated after a decade of plummeting crop prices. Shantytowns of the dispossessed, sarcastically dubbed Hooversvilles, dotted the landscape, breadlines stretched around many blocks.  Homes were foreclosed, renters evicted, and signs of malnutrition among school children were increasingly evident.”

History always seems to repeat itself. Similarly, on May 31, 1931 the oesterreichische Kredit-Anstait was declared insolvent, and it was the largest bank in Austria. The bank had been founded by the Rothschild family in 1855, and became the leading bank in Europe. The Rothschilds created a bank in every city across Europe. When the Rothschilds bank came to the recuse of a weaker bank, the Boden-Kredit, financiers like J.P. Morgan, Schroeder of London, and the Rothschilds of Vienna, found themselves wrapped up in the market crash of 1929, hoping to repair the Banks’ loan books. However, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 split their world’s economy in half, raising taxes on 20,000 imported goods, causing governments to retaliate with matching duties on American exported goods: the world’s economy collapsed.

In response, Austria sought a 1931 free-trade agreement with Germany. The French feared a upsurge of a reunited German economy, demanded an immediate redemption of all the short-term loans they had extended to German and Austrian banks. The International exchange was gold. Kredit-Anstalt could not meet the demands of the French banks, and panic spread throughout the world.  Rescue attempts by powerful financiers did not work Austria itself went into bankruptcy; unable to meet the demands in gold, Austria was forced to adopt a paper currency. Panic spread throughout the world to England and America, declaring a banking ”holiday” in 1933, was followed by FDR’s confiscation of all privately held bullion.

After the collapse of Kredit-Anstalt, the Rothschilds merged it with their Wiener Bank-Verein, called Kredit-Anstalt Bankverein and that bank morphed over the years until WWII and merged into the national Bank of Austria Kreditanstalt.  After that it transformed into the German-Bavaria’s HVB in 2000, and in 2005, it merged with Italy’s Unicredit. Unicredit, a magnanimous bank of Europe, is about to collapse and again bring another global crisis and the end of the U.S. dollar standard.

This Day in Wall Street History: 1933: World Economic Conference Ends in Frustration:

“By the summer of 1933, the Great Depression had long since spread from the shores of the United States to vast chunks of Europe. Earlier in the decade, America’s decision to raise revenues by adopting hefty tariffs had shattered Europe’s fragile finances. Awash in red ink, Europe’s leaders imposed their own stringent set of duties on American goods, causing international trade to grind to a halt and both the U.S. and Europe to sink further into the depths of the Depression. It was against this dire backdrop that American and European big wigs gathered in London to hash out a fiscal remedy. Though the World Economic Conference stretched on for a good bit of the summer, running from June 12 to July 27, the talks yielded few tangible results. In the main, the Conference stalled on differing opinions on how to revive international trade. European leaders pushed for the stabilization of exchange rates as a measured first step that would initially boost international prices and eventually goose global trade. But, with an eye clearly cast on national interests, recently elected American President Franklin Roosevelt balked at this ‘internationalist’ solution. Much to the chagrin of ‘American internationalists,’ including Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Roosevelt maintained his refusal to liberalize trade by reigning in the dollar throughout the rest of 1933.” Source:

Now, once again, like dominoes, the highly indebted economies of Europe – along with  America – are going to topple.  Analyst Martin Weiss referred to it on July 5, 2011 as the coming American Apocalypse, saying that Fed Chairman Bernanke’s recent money printing made sub sequential printing frenzies look like “tiny hiccups” by comparison, eluding to the money-printing in  the Weimer Republic in Germany in pre-world War II.  It took three trillion marks then to buy a single dollar.


Martin Hutchinson, financial analyst, said on June 28, 2011 that he ran a modest derivatives desk from 1982-87. They were looking at ways to design derivatives that worked with credit events. A market existed for shifting credit from banks to such entities as insurance companies and pension funds. Banks could originate loans, but had limited balance sheets. Insurance companies and pension funds, however, had a very limited ability to source loan assets, but loved to consume properly remunerated credit risk.

Unfortunately, there was no fair way to calculate the payoff on bankruptcy, nor was there an error-free means to manage the multiple situations that were not quite formal bankruptcies.

In 1995, another 10 years, when the first credit-default-swap agreements were finally carried out, a late date indicating the shakiness of the structure.

Those evil practices took a definite turn for the worse in the 2008 fiasco as those con-artists became seriously diverse: “Yes, I am choosing to remain a coward,” said whistle-blower Zero Hedge Blog, “I just have been waiting for this shoe to drop for a long time. The last thing I want to do is have to explain myself and get my ass sued for defamation.  Not worth it. This much I can tell you: we had no idea what is in those packages (mortgage Backed Securities). I personally packaged billions in MBS which have been placed on public shelves. Those assets were underwritten by Goldman, Morgan or numerous investment banks….I started packaging loans as early as 2003, at the beginning of the crisis……We take the pool to the ratings agencies, S&P, Fitch, or Moody’s where we get levels of over collateralization required for the waterfall of public tranches offerings: this is where the process breaks down.”

Zero hedge blog  went on to explain that the underwriters failed in applying  “due diligence”  –  failed to check  every asset and used only “sampling” to verify the makeup of the pools. “We’ve done some pools that came back very different from what the trader originally told us,” he said, “We threw all the stated income assets out of the deal….I told my boss on several occasions that it was real funny way of doing things. But as everyone was also doing it, my coworkers, the guys from Goldman, the agencies, I just kind of went along with it.”  S&P put their name on the package, Goldman underwrote it, and sent it out to hedge funds and pension funds.  There far too many instances of incorrectly labeled loans, in correct documentation, so that the pool information was vastly different from that which was the actual makeup of the pool. “I knew there was shit floating around in the pools we were putting together, but the sampling technique and level of due diligence was never going to clean it out.  During the heyday of securitization, due diligence was something we tried to limit: we relied on the threats of reps and warrants to help us feel comfortable.  We’d have no idea what was in those packages.”

Felix Salmon, one of the inventors of derivatives on Wall Street, warned of the problems in their misuse: “you are creating an agency problem and you are creating a potential for asymmetries of information. You are creating the possibility of the originator having different information from the buyer.  Not only is there information asymmetry but in this context there are perverse incentives: the originator has an incentive to provide distorted information. The buyers should have been aware of this, but it’s quite apparent that they weren’t aware of this as they should have been about risk diversification, systemic risk; and securitization helped create systemic risks.”

Porter Stansberry, Stock and Market analyst, said in December, 2010: “we haven’t had capitalism in this country since before World War II.  What we’ve had ever since then is this sort of phony corporate state capitalism, really sort of socialism-light. So you have to have sound money….otherwise, the economy can’t function appropriately or efficiently….I mean either gold and silver as money or a sound backing for such a currency.”  

In the Spring of 2011, Moriarty Wild sent a news clipping in the mail from a blog on  the internet.  At the top was a note he had written: “He is closer to the truth than  you think!” It was a column from Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (FSK) and his  Feb . 5, 2011 Blog “Fsk’s Guide To Realty”.  It was titled “Communist USA: The Five Year Plan”. It read in part:  “In the Soviet Union, state leaders would talk about their ‘Five Year Plan’.  They announced all planned production for the next five years. In Communist USA ,state leaders don’t plan that long: a CEO talks  about his ‘three month plan’ or ‘twelve month plan’. A politician doesn’t plan past the next election.  Instead of the politburo controlling the economy. The US economy is controlled by a handful of CEOs.’ The plan is to maximize short term profits; if there is a short-term collapse in five years   – that is someone else’s problem.  Cash out!  In Communist USA, state leaders  don ‘t  plan past  the next election or earnings statement. State leaders control resources they don’t actually have own. “The incentive is to steal as much as they can, and passing problems to the next guy.”              

Barry Ritholtz went further when he said on March 14, 2010 (

“In addition to tarnishing what little name Fuld had, the tentacles of the (Anton R.) Valukas (2,200 page) Report are reaching the NY Fed and Geithner, Ernst and Young, even Linklaters, a firm in the UK that blessed repo 105 for the British subsidiary of LEH as kosher.”

“….the report made a strong case that Lehman was hiding the truth in the months before it fell,” said Maria Bartiromo, “(It used) a device called repo 105 in the second quarter of 2008 to move $50 billion off its balance sheet….in repo 105 (it) was Lehman (which) recorded it as a sale and no longer had any record of the assets on its balance sheet.  Nor did the firm disclose repo 105.”

Portfolio Magazine titled Fuld  as the worst CEO of all time. But case after case of Wall Street leniency throughout the 2000s emboldened them to rob. Lehman Brothers lawyer Oliver Budde discovered cooked books time and again and even turned in proxy statements and hid accounting to the SEC, only to be ignored or misled. The law firm of Simpson, Thacter and Bartlett hid additional Fuld salary of $263 million in the fine print.  Later, this same law firm received a lucrative contract to serve as federal legal advisor to the TARP bailout.

There was six solid months that they could have moved against Fuld, but didn’t.  Concealed also was $50 billion dollars in loans. Fuld told Representative Henry Waxman during the House Government Oversight Committee  hearings that he had earned a paltry $310 million (a grating Hoovers Ville amount in Wall Street dollars), when  actually it was $529 million. Said Oliver Budde, comparing the Justice Department’s lack of zeal to prosecute Fuld as compared to the perjury of sportsman Roger Clemens: ”At least Roger didn’t screw over the world…green flag on a new stealing season.”  

Wild parties and wild money seemed to be part and parcel of the pre-2008-2009 ‘gang’ on Wall Street (reminiscent of the ‘roaring twenties’). Ex–hedge funder Raj Rajaratnam held eager parties as he hobnobbed with big shots the day before his arrest. He boasted of being “the last man standing”. He controlled 130 employees, held $7 billion in assets and masterminded the biggest insider trader ring since the late 1980s.  He went from a net worth of $1.5 billion in 2009 to $700 million in October, 2010, along with 13 counts of Conspiracy and Securities Fraud.

For his 50th birthday, Raj chartered planes and flew 70 friends he called the Raj Tribe (The Riotous Rowdy, Rebellious Raj Tribe, said their T-shirts) to a birthday bash. On a Manhattan cruise, Danielle Chiesi, a well-coiffed blonde consultant for Bear Stearns, took to the dance floor to demonstrate her allure. A year earlier, Raj joined in a strip poker game hosted by Salomon Smith Barney of boys and girls alike. (Power and Pleasure, Anita Raghavan,

Speaking of a similar mood in the crash of 1929, Lucy Moore could have just as easily been speaking of 2008, when she wrote in Anything Goes, “and so the crash came, arriving with a kind of surrealistic slowness – so gradually that, on the one hand it was possible to live through a good part of it without realizing

what was happening, and, on the other hand, it was possible to believe that one had experienced and survived it when in  fact it had no more than just begun.”                    

(“Dr. No: ‘The Americans are fools.  I offered my services, they refused.  So did the East.  Now they can pay for their mistake.’  Bond: ‘World domination. The same old dream.  Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon.  or God’.”, DR. NO, 1962)                                              


(Kevin Kerr. Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 7:30am):

“The mighty U.S. dollar’s fall from economic grace didn’t happened overnight. It’s been a long and painful process driven by bad judgment, irresponsible fiscal policies, and arrogance.

Like many fiat currencies before it, the greenback’s paper and the ink printed on it is only worth what individuals are willing to assign to it. Otherwise it becomes as worthless as green wallpaper with numbers on it, just as happened in Rome.

Nero and other Roman emperors debased the currency in order to supply a demand for more coins. Sound familiar? By debasing the currency, instead of a coin having its own intrinsic value, it was only representative of the silver or gold it had once contained. That’s all well and good as long as the silver content is what they say it is.

But by the time Claudius II Gothicus (268-270 A.D.) took power, the amount of silver in a “100 percent” silver denarius coin was only 0.02 percent. This led to widespread severe inflation and instability….. shows just how that inflation occurred, eerily much like it is today in the U.S.

In addition to recklessly devaluing the currency, the Roman Empire tried to ratchet up revenue through extreme taxation and finding new sources of wealth. We’re now seeing this in the U.S. as municipalities boost taxes while home values plummet. Plus they’re slapping citizens with fines and tickets for even the most minor violations, all in a desperate effort to stop the flood of red ink.

In Rome, the poor and wealthy alike were taxed extensively. Eventually the wealthy and powerful were no longer rich or powerful.

To escape the burden of tax, some small landowners actually chose to sell themselves into slavery, since slaves didn’t have to pay tax and freedom from taxes was more desirable than personal liberty. Eventually that didn’t even work, and Rome essentially imploded. The once mightiest empire on earth simply disappeared.

The same thing could happen to the United States. Let’s face it: The middle class and business owners are struggling, and disappearing fast! Unfortunately they’re also vital to the

U.S. economy, and any hope of recovery.

One modern day example of inflation run amuck is the African nation of Zimbabwe. The country is famous for having issued 100 trillion dollar notes during a period of inflation, which reportedly reached 231 million percent at the height of the disaster.

Much like Rome, and the United States today, the inflation was largely self-imposed.

Can you imagine walking into Wal-Mart and a gallon of milk going for more than U.S. $150? This is what it was like when Zimbabwe’s currency was destroyed by inflation.

When hyperinflation occurs it results in an imbalance between the supply and demand for money, including currency and bank deposits. Eventually a complete loss of confidence in the money is almost inevitable. The public panics, and global market participants dump the currency.

Just like in the U.S. today, Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation was a result of the monetary authority irresponsibly borrowing money to pay its expenses and obligations.

One of the biggest factors that has gotten the U.S. into the disaster we’re in, is the arrogance of the nation’s leaders. The belief that what happened in Rome and Zimbabwe could not happen in the U.S”. (

Stock Analyst Porter Stansberry examined the aftermath: “Currently government spending in the United States, just Federal spending, is 44% of GDP (October, 2010) which has never happened outside of World War II. On the revenue side, Federal government is 32% of GDP.  So it’s not even a misnomer any- more to say that we’re living in a socialist state,” he continued, “44 million people are on food stamps, 60 million people in the United States depend on the State  for either their income or their food.  Two-thirds of all the families in the U.S depend on the government, which is broke, and the debt per taxpayer is $122,000.

Said Greg McCoach, mining analyst of Wealth Daily, on December 3, 2010: “much of my investing decisions over the past ten years have been guided by watching the U.S. government’s abuse of the dollar into its current near-worthless state.  This has brought me to one basic conclusion: politicians on both sides of the aisle are not trustworthy or credible individuals, they are power-seeking liars, hoodwinkers, and bamboozlers,” he went on to say, “They’ll do or say anything to get you to hand your power over to them, i.e., vote them into office. And until a majority of Americans come to this understanding, nothing can fun fundamentally change within this country.”


(“Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond, it may be your last.”  Auric Goldfinger, GOLDFINGER, 1964) 

Maria Bartiromo, TV hostess, financier, recalls the wild devil-may-care- atmosphere of the Wall Street Gang at one of the many  parties they held leading up to the 2008 explosion.  She recalls one specific holiday celebration in 2006:  “The high-profile  party  was crowded with well-known Wall Street faces. The host was dressed as James Bond, 007, and ‘scantily clad Bond girls’ roamed the party serving drinks,” told Kerry Hannon, USA Today writer, about Bartiromo.  “looking  back  on those parties,  I can recall this giddiness in the air,” said Bartiromo, “the extravagance, the excess.  It is burned into my memory – the sight of all those incredibly accomplished and wealthy men and  women  laughing and drinking.” Bartiromo saw well-known Wall Street faces: john thain, Chief Executive of the New York Stock Exchange, who recently had purchased a 27.5 million-dollar apartment.  Investment bankers  from Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Golden Sachs. Paris Hilton. Jimmy Cayne, the flamboyant Chief Executive at Bear Stearns, took friendly bards from guests about his 15- million-dollar Christmas bonus. Dick Fuld, the head of Lehman Brothers, preferred being a lone-wolf and would hug one corner. Hold private conversations, and “look uncomfortable”.

A couple of Bond Girls slid next to Fuld, along with a photographer: “take your picture?”, asked the photographer.  Fuld rushed off in protest: “I’m not getting my picture taken with any Bond Girls!” he snapped and rushed off. Cayne was amused by the whole thing.

“The Bond theme was an interesting commentary on the era. Schwarzman might well have imagined himself as the 007 of Wall Street, smoothly sailing above the troubles that afflicted others,” said Bartiromo, “He appeared to enjoy playing the sophisticated man’s man; the male ideal; a magnet for power, money, and women for whom danger and intrigue were all in a day’s work.”

The apartment in which the Bond Party took place was purchased by Schwarzman

From previous owner Saul Steinberg (Bartiromo’s father-in-law), and was once owned by John D. Rockefller in 1971. A story of the world’s richest apartment building; old money, oil money, new money, and barrowed money. The Steinbergs were the ”‘undisputed Dean and Doyenne of Nouvelle society,” said Johanna Berkman in New York Magazine, “He…as one of Wall Streets most feared Masters of the Universe…she…the ultimate trophy wife.” Saul Steinberg was CEO of the Reliance Group Holding Company, having taken a 311 million-dollar loss in 1999. A 150-guest April 4 cocktail party found the Steinbergs “stock-rich, but cash-poor”. Their earlier lifestyle lingered like rum tobacco smoke: Gayfryd Steinberg’s 3 million-dollar “French Directoire-themed affair” for 500 guests (and 50,000 French roses) in the marriage of Saul’s daughter to a scion of the Tisch family, and the $1 million fiftieth-birthday party themed in Saul’s love for Old Master paintings (this particular party highlighted a nude female dancer celebrating Rembrandt’s danae), Saul had been advertised in a 1968 Forbes  as making more money than  any other U.S citizen under 30-year-of-age.     

(“Bond: ‘I admire your courage, Miss…..’  Sylvia Trench: ‘Trench….Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr.…..’

Bond: ‘Bond.…James Bond’.”, GOLDFINGER, 1964)

Steve Schwarzman’s 60th birthday celebration at the cavernous Park Avenue Amory on February 14, 2007 was a 3-million dollar  extravaganza fit for a king. Schwarzman was not exactly a king, but not far behind with his company, The Blackstone Group, holding $88-billion in assets and 112 companies worth $200 billion: Schwarzman was worth $677.2 million in a public offering of Blackstone and $7.8 billion in  shares.

James  B. (Jimmy) Lee, vice-chairman at J. P. Morgan Chase, sent him a June 21, 2007 email: “You were like Indiana Jones over the last few weeks….they rolled giant boulders at you….fired poison darts at you ….threw  you  into that giant snake pit…..and yet you still found the grail and got the blonde….bravo.”  Said Daniel Gross in his June 19, 2007 “The Golden Ass” ( “he’s like an NBA  player who, having gone the length of a court for a slam-dunk with the game already put away, starts trash-talking, jumps atop the scorers’ table, gestures obscenely at opposing fans, pinches a cheerleader, chest-bumps the referee, sticks his tongue out at the camera, all the while grabbing his crotch and yelling loudly that he’s the Man. That would certainly get the attention of the ordinarily forgiving disciplinarians in the league office.”   El-Erian, CEO of Pimco, the world’s largest bond holder, said of Schwarzman: “He was everywhere that year, bullish verging on boastful about the wonders of private equity and by implication, his own golden touch.  When I lunched with him at the Four Seasons Restaurant in January, 2006, he was ebullient: twenty to fourty billion dollar deals in a very short time, a phenomenal uptick in the amount of money  flowing  into private equity, at least a twenty per cent annual return on investments.”

George McCartney said on August 10, 2007 in “Jekyll And Hyde In A Box” ( “Schwarzman, George W. Busch’s roommate at Yale and Skull and Bones brother, wished to inform all who cared that, when  he pursued a deal, he wanted to ‘inflict pain’ and ‘kill off’ his rivals,” said McCartney, ”So there we have it.  In American business today, it pays to have murder in your heart.  Who can doubt the wisdom of Schwarzman’s lethal intent.  He’s a billionaire seven times over. Can’t argue with that.”  “You watch,” Schwarzman would boast to Dan Dorfman, “Like the Rockefellas, i’ll own the world.  I could be the first Jewish President.”

In his senior year of school, Schwarzman wrote W. Averell Harriman, war-time Ambassador to Russia and former Governor of New York, during the Paris Peace Talks at the time, because of his admiration of Harriman as a fellow Skull And Bones member. He met with Harriman for lunch at his upper east side townhouse:

“Young man, are you independently wealthy?”  Harriman asked.

“No, sir, I’m not” was the answer.

“Well, I am the son of a very rich man, which has made an enormous difference ____that’s the reason you’re seeing me.  If you have any interest in the political world, I’d advise you to become independently wealthy yourself.” 

“His business philosophy is ’I want war – not a series of skirmishes’ and ‘I always think of what will kill off the bidder’….the combination of self-indulgence, seeming disregard for those less privileged, and militant hostility towards rivals inflamed many on Wall Street.….Schwarzman’s holiday parties were always ‘themed’.  That year’s theme was Bond – as in James, not municipal,” Said Maria Bartiromo in “Eyewitness To The Crisis” pdf (, “The host was dressed in a snazzy  tux, portraying 007, with Christine shimmering at his side in a silver gown.  Scantily clad ‘Bond girls’ roamed the party serving drinks and hors d’oeurres.  There were repeated joking references to ‘Goldfinger’ throughout the evening.”

Novelist Jane Stanton Hitchcock said: “Steve, I always knew you were going places, I just did not know you would end up owning them all.”

The Valentine celebration at the Armory was in the same Roman-type-Saturnalia celebration. A full-length portrait of Schwarzman by Andrew Festing was brought in, and dinner was served in a faux  night-club setting, with orchids and palm trees, lobster, stone crabs, filet mignon, baked Alaska, and an array of expensive wines. A Palm Beach chef complained about an employee’s shoes because he found the squeaks of the rubber soles disturbing.

Composer-pianist Marvin Hamlisch played a number from ‘a Chorus Line’.  Patti LaBelle, along with the Abyssinian Baptist Church choir, sang ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’. The headliner, Rod Stewart, among other songs, sang ‘Tonight’s The Night’ and ‘Reason To Believe’.  Stewart was paid about one million dollars for his performance.

In a decadent modern-day reenactment of Petronius Arbiter’s Satyricon, said Ron Mwangaguhungr in his blog “The Corsair”, was an army of power and obscenely wealthy people such as real estate kingpin Sam Zell. Zell exemplified the stratospheric rise of private equity: the then sixty-five- year-old billionaire was the wealthiest men in the world. “Crusty, confident, and an unrepentant potty-mouth,” said Bartiromo, “zell was both admired and feared for his ability to play extremely high stakes games.” Zell owned Equity Office Properties Trust, a conglomerate of 573 properties.  Zell sold to Blackstone Group for $39 billion.  Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group, then flipped hundreds of the buildings for $27 billion.

(“Bond: ‘Do you expect me to talk?’ Auric Goldfinger: ‘No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!’”,  GOLDFINGER, 1964, said while agent James Bond is about to be dissected by a lasar beam.)

Zell stood to make $900 million from the Blackstone sale. “For Zell, the vote ends another chapter in the career of a real estate developer known as the ‘grave dancer’ ”, said Brian Louis and Bob Ivry in, “for spotting opportunities in distressed properties.”

After the sale, Zell approached Tribune Company (which owns 11 daily newspapers), buying a stake in that company.  For Steve Roth of Vornado Realty Trust, the other bidder, the purchase would have allowed Vornado to bolster its East and West Coast holdings.  In the end, Vornado benefited by buying some Equity office properties that were put up for sale by Blackstone.

Samuel Zell was the only son of a Polish Jewish couple who fled their native country shortly before it was invaded by German soldier hordes in 1939. The couple immigrated to Chicago where Zell was born. At the age of 12, travelling on the way to Hebrew class, Zell noticed out-of-the-neighborhood sales of Playboy Magazine at a 50 cent price – and Zell would resell the magazine for $1.50 to his classmates. Zell would later use his ‘greed is good’ acumen upon forming the Equity Finance and Management Company in 1968 with partner Robert Lurie, acquiring distressed properties from developers (some inhabited by squatters), renovating them into fully rentable units at highly inflated prices, earning him the nickname of “the Grave Dancer”.

Zell was able to slink through the recession of the early 1990s at a lesser pace until REITs were created by Congress in 1960 (allowing real estate investments much like mutual funds), and in the 1990s, became an attractive way for many private real estate companies to raise funds; and by converting their holdings into REIT shares, Zell could postpone paying capital gains taxes.


In 2001, EOP Acquired Spieker Properties, Inc., the largest REIT on the West Coast. The $7.2 billion price included $905 million in cash, $431 million in stock, $3.6 billion in equity, and $2.1 billion in debt. In October 2001 EOP became their first REIT to be added to the S&P 500 and the only member of Fortune 500.

Like most real-estate, REITS carry large amounts of debt on their books. REITS enjoyed a sturdy bull market from 2003 to 2006 and Americans went insane for real estate – launching further into 2007 with soaring prices and big firms leveraged with increasing debt to the exploding craze. Sam Zell sold Equity Offices Property Trust to buy-out-firm Blackstone in the largest takeover ever of a real estate company –a $36 billion deal.  Then the bubble burst.

Sam Zell told CNBC television on March 3, 2011: “My single biggest financial concern is the loss of the dollar as the reserve currency. I can’t imagine anything more disastrous to our country…you’re already seeing things in the market that are suggesting that confidence in the dollar is waning….I think you can see 25% reduction in the standard of living in this country if the U.S dollar was no longer the world’s reserve currency.  That’s how valuable it is.”  

During the Populist Egyptian uprising and over-throw of President Hosni Mubarak in February, 2011, there was particular attention and suspicion as to the where-about of Mubarak’s billions of dollars (much of it confiscated from the donations of United States taxpayers) and how handler and spy Hussein Silem, similar to many of Mubarak cronies, played a part in the transfer of such funds.

Ibrahm Oweiss, a Georgetown University economist, warned of Zell’s connection to the 2007 shares he had in an Egyptian company that shipped natural gas to Israel. John Kosmon, Philip Shenon and David Wurmser of the Delphi Global Analysis Group referred to it as a $220 million energy bet in the middle east, and Zell held a 10 percent stake in the natural-gas consortium, the East Mediterranean Gas Company ( Feb 12, 2011, John Kosmon. USA Today, Philip Shenon, Feb. 16, 2011., “Tracking Mubarak’s Fixer”.).

Seemingly not fazed by any crisis, in June, 2011, Sam Zell continued his climb in commercial real estate: Zell had just purchased a controlling stake in a 40-story office tower in Chicago – an estimated $106 million value.  


(Otherwise known as Fuld’s Foolish Funds)

Dick Fuld came to be known as “The Gorilla of Wall Street”; steering Lehman Brothers deep into the business of subprime mortgages, bank-rolling lenders across the country that were making convoluted loans to questionable borrowers. Fuld used several highly questionable accounting practices enabling him to earn $469 million in stock sales between 2000 and 2008. Said Reuters on April 29, 2010: “Oliver Budde, former Lehman lawyer, spent many years drafting the bank’s compensation disclosures and hiding the redirected astock unit (RSU) component of Fuld’s pay.  An email sent on April 14, 2008 to the SEC’s Enforcement Division never heard anything (never brought a response – se).”

Dick Fuld studied business and he received a B.A. and a M.B.A from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the New York University’s Stein School of Business.  After being discharged from the Air Force, he began his career with Lehman in 1969 as a commercial paper trader. His competitive nature aided his Advancement to Power.  At the time of his departure he had worked 40 years in the industry; another ‘gorilla’ pouncing his chest in defiance.  

Tyler Durden ( spoke out on the Shadow Economy on March 11, 2010: “Lehman employed off-balance sheet devices, known within Lehman as “repo 105’ and ‘repo 108’ transactions to temporarily remove securities inventories from its balance sheet, usually for a period of seven to ten days, and to create a materially misleading picture of the firm’s condition in the late 2007 and 2008,” Durden went on to say, “Lehman accounted for repo 105 transactions as ‘sales ’…. by recharacterizing the repo 105 transactions as a ‘sale’, Lehman removed the inventories from its balance sheet.”

Christian A. DeHaemer, market analyst, said on December 6, 2010: “I’m of the opinion  that you can’t spend your way out of a debt crisis but Ben ( S. Bernanke, chairman of the U.S Federal Reserve) believes in ‘priming the pump’ by spending – loaning to banks, anyway. And by banks, we mean massive trading companies that got us into this mess to begin with.”

Swell Chan and Jo Craven McGinty said in the December 2, 2010 issue of The New York Times thatunder a Federally mandated release of 21,000 transactions, it has been revealed that in the financial Crash 0f 2008, the Federal Reserve had paid out to troubled institutions on a shockingly wide scope. Citigroup sought help at least 174 times during a 13-month period. The British bank Barclays owed nearly $48 billion to the Fed. Goldman Sachs was offered billions at rock-bottom rates. The Fed catered “…far beyond Wall Street, touching manufacturers like General Electric, Detroit automakers and Harley-Davidson, central banks from Britain to Japan and insurers and pension funds in Sweden and South Korea.” The Fed lent money banks, brokers, businesses, investors and prominent names such as John A. Paulson, Michael S. Dell, the pension funds of the Philadelphia Teamsters, and Omaha’s teachers under the canopy of emergency lending programs and other arrangements the Fed conjured up in response to the Wall Street virus.

The, then, Fed’s Vice Chairman, Donald L. Kohn said: “perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations.”  From December 2007 to October 2008, the Fed opened swap lines with foreign  central banks, allowing them to temporarily trade their currencies for dollars to vent dangerous pressure on their financial markets. The European Central Bank gulped American funds with much gluttonous relish, along with Australia, Denmark, England, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland.

In America, from March 2008 to May 2009, the Fed extended a cumulative total of nearly $9 trillion in short-term loans to 18 financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch – the last three tapped the Fed more than 100 times. Foreign banks that sucked-up funds were UBS of Switzerland Mizuho securities of Japan, and BNP Paribas of France; going well beyond Wall Street, entrenching money-market mutual funds and even commercial paper in aiding companies make day-to-day payroll and paying vendors, including mutual fund giants such as Fidelity, Blackrock, Merrill, T. Rowe Price and Oppenheimer.

The Fed Commercial Paper Funding Facility bought more than $225 billion in debt their first week from companies such as the Ohio’s Fifth Third Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sumitomo, the weakened automakers, and bank franchises of Europe and Asia; as well as ties to Caterpillar, McDonald’s and Verizon. The commercial paper sickness went well in to the latter half of 2009.


The Fed Term Asset-backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) forced the Fed into fantastic positions: “…of supporting small business, auto, student, and credit card loans,” said Chan and McGinty, “Plentiful helpings of low-cost debt encouraged institutions to ramp up lending and lured back private investors.”  Among them were H. Wayne Huizenga, Julian Robertson, Kendrick R. Wilson III (a former Goldman executive who had been a top aide to Henry M. Paulson, Jr. [the Treasury Secretary during the crisis]), and Christy K. Mack, the wife of John J. Mack, the former chief executive of Morgan Stanley.

Big institutions that sucked up funds from TALF included: the American International Group (AIG: the insurer bailed out by the government), Jonathan S. Sobel (who ran the mortgage department at Goldman Sachs), Pimco T. Rowe Price and Blackrock, California Public Employees Retirement System, as well as “several insurers and university endowments.”

In 2007 when the crisis had already broken out in the USA and was spreading to the EU, Alan Greenspan, former Director of the US Federal Reserve, wrote: “A recent financial innovation of major importance has been the credit default swap. The CDS, as it is called, is a derivative that transfers the credit risk, usually of a debt instrument, to a third party, at a price. Being able to profit from the loan transaction but transfer credit risk is a boon to banks and other financial intermediaries, which, in order to make an adequate rate of return on equity, have to heavily leverage their balance sheets by accepting deposit obligations and/or incurring debt. Most of the time, such institutions lend money and prosper. But in periods of adversity, they typically run into bad-debt problems, which in the past had forced them to sharply curtail lending. This in turn undermined economic activity more generally. A market vehicle for transferring risk away from these highly leveraged loan originators can be critical for economic stability, especially in a global environment. In response to this need, the CDS was invented and took the market by storm. The Bank for International Settlements tabulated a world-wide notional value of more than $20 trillion equivalent in credit default swaps in mid-2006, up from $6 trillion at the end of 2004. The buffering power of these instruments was vividly demonstrated between 1998 and 2001, when CDSs were used to spread the risk of $1 trillion in loans to rapidly expanding telecommunications networks. Though a large proportion of these ventures defaulted in the tech bust, not a single major lending institution ran into trouble as a consequence. The losses were ultimately borne by highly capitalized institutions—insurers, pension funds, and the like—that had been the major suppliers of the credit default protection. They were well able to absorb the hit. Thus there was no repetition of the cascading defaults of an earlier era.”[3]

In 2007 the IMF issued the following declaration referring to the health of the United States and particularly CDSs, labeled new risk-transfer markets: “Although complacency would be misplaced, it would appear that innovation has supported financial system soundness. New risk transfer markets have facilitated the dispersion of credit risk from a core where moral hazard is concentrated to a periphery where market discipline is the chief restraint on risk-taking. (…)Although cycles of excess and panic have not disappeared — the subprime boom-bust being but the latest example — markets have shown that they can and do self-correct.” (IMF, 2007 Consultations Report, article 4 with the United States)[4].

Clearly, certain supposedly reputable banks are still covering themselves against defaults through CDSs. Thus the Deutsche Bank announced at the end of July 2011 that it had reduced its exposure regarding the Italian debt by 88%. The principal German lender claims to have reduced its exposure in Italy from EUR 8 billion to EUR 997 million. According to the Financial Times, the Deutsche Bank achieved this not by selling over 7 billion euros’ worth of Italian bonds, but by a stroke of book-keeping wizardry, buying up CDSs to hedge its investments against possible default on the part of Italy.[5]

[3] Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence, Adventure in a New World, London, Penguin, 2007, pp. 371-2.

[4] See . For more on the IMF’s errors of judgment concerning the USA and Ireland, see: François Sana “Zéro de conduite pour le FMI”

[5] Financial Times, “Deutsche hedges Italian risk”, 27 July 2011, p. 13.

Shilomo Maital, academic director of the Technical Institute of Management in Israel, said in a Barrons editorial commentary, ”Blame The Fed”, Dec. 13, 2010, that the low interest rates and easy money caused housing prices to double between 1997 and 2006. Many Americans believed that they needn’t save money because their soaring home values were saving them by creating wealth.  The Fed ignored the chance to warn of the impending mortgage crisis. “In three forthcoming academic papers, Brown University economist Jerome Stein shows there were early-warning signals in 2005 that financial institutions were overleveraged,” said Maital, “….applied to economic analysis, stochastic optimal control would read changes in capital gains, interest rates, debt and supply and demand for goods and services, identifying excessive, unsustainable leverage and generating early-warning signals to monetary policy.”

Maital asks: quantitative analysts use sophisticated math to create risky instruments; why not use it as well to track risk?  He said that Greenspan’s Fed failed to curb irrational exuberance during the dot-com asset bubble in 1996-2000 and the real-estate asset bubble of the 2003 – 2007.  ”Instead, the Fed waited for the bubble to burst, and then tried to clean up the mess,” said Maital, “Let the Fed refrain from creating bubbles and there will be fewer messes to clean up. Bernanke say, in effect, that the Fed can only hope to be clever. It must be wise, or it must stop trying to be so clever.”  

Len Bracken wrote in “The Invisible Currency Of Fascism” In the summer 2009 issue of Paranoia Magazine (  “Bernanke was reportedly furious when he learned that AIG’s financial product unit had created so much debt with its credit default swap contracts….The worldwide notional value of outstanding derivatives is now estimated to be $1.405 quadrillion, up 22 percent from the 2008 level. D.K Matal of the Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance notes that a conservative 10 percent default or decline could result in $100 trillion of payouts.  Financial institutions, nation states, even blocs such as the European Union will be unable to fund these obligations, often owed to speculators by bankers who grossly mispriced risk.”

Senate panels were sit up to investigate shady dealings of companies such as Goldman Sachs, a company that the courts deemed them to pay $550 million in the summer of 2010 to settle federal fraud charges from an offshore mortgage deal. Goldman Sachs, however, failed to tell investigators about a second bundle of $2 billion of risky mortgage securities – on which they were secretly betting on their default, the Senate panel charged April 13, 2011. When the value of the securities plunged, Goldman confiscated a $1.35 billion profit at the expense of their investors. Democratic Senator Carl Levin, the panel chairman, will refer those facts to the Justice Department and the SEC for enforcement.

Rolling Stone writer Matt Tabbi  (“The people Vs. Goldman Sachs”. Issue 1131, May 26, 2010) spoke of the 650-page report of the bipartisan senate subcommittee: Speaking of the Crisis perpetrators:  “To get $1.2 billion in crap off its books, dumps a huge lot of deadly mortgages on its clients, lies about where that crap came from and claim s it believes in the product even as its selling $2 billion against it.  When its victims try to run out of the burning house, Goldman stands in the doorway, blasts them all with gasoline before they can escape and then has the balls to send a bill overcharging its victims for the pleasure of getting fried.” 

Descriptions used by Tabbi include ”CDO-squared”, “highly dubious doubled-down”, “magically converting risky subprime mortgages into AAA investments”, “ The Big Short”, “myriad deception”, “misfortune to their own clients”, “gouging customers”, “trapped”, “failure to disclose”, “corporate sociopathy”. Tabbi says Federal crimes were committed and jail sentences are in order; he points out that the subcommittee report has been passed on to the Department of Justice.  He points a finger at Lloyd Blankfein, David Viniar, Daniel Sparks and Michael Swenson.

On April 15, 2011, Senator Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, said the constant referrals to the bailout as $800,000 was inaccurate – it was more like $8.5 trillion.

(Challenging the popular misconception about Republicans as being fiscally responsible, specifically, they did four things: cut taxes [with a heavy tilt toward the rich], waged two wars on the national credit card (one of which was against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no serious threat to America), passed a prescription drug benefit with no pay-for [the first entitlement in American history without a revenue source], and deregulated Wall Street [which helped turn the American economy into a casino and touched off the Great Recession] Tsunami? No hurricane that wiped out our surplus. It was instead a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican president who squandered the surplus. In full possession of the federal government for the first time since Eisenhower, the GOP—with, to be fair, some help from some very foolish Democrats—systematically dismantled the economic and fiscal policies that produced the strongest economy and largest budget surplus in our history.

Specifically, they did four things: cut taxes [with a heavy tilt toward the rich], waged two wars on the national credit card [one of which was against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no serious threat to America], passed a prescription drug benefit with no pay-for [the first entitlement in American history without a revenue source), and deregulated Wall Street [which helped turn the American economy into a casino and touched off the Great Recession]).

Chris Weber, financial researcher at Stansberry & Associates, said on February 14, 2011: “Understand, we as Americans are about to see a major, major collapse in our national monetary system and our normal way of life….even if all Americans gave away 100% of their income right now it would still not be enough to balance the Federal budget! We’d still have to borrow money just to maintain the status quo….what are we doing to repay our debts?  You guessed it….we’re printing more money….creditors….will stop accepting the U.S. dollar….” 

Financial analyst Allan Sloan of said in “Relief from Economic Turmoil”, Vol. 164, No. 4, Sept. 5, 2011, page 56, “The root of our current problem is that there are no grownups of serious power in Washington. I’ve never felt this way before….now I do….we’ve got this problem because our leaders rolled over to pressure from big companies instead of breaking them up into pieces small enough to be allowed to fail.”                                                    

(Christian  A. DeHaemer  said of Japan’s  similar  decline:  “The country was run by one political party – the Liberal Democratic Party – from 1955 to 2009…..the political party’s  main platform was ‘spend money and create growth’….it tried stimulus after stimulus….they’ve built bridges in  mountainous villages where few people live….they’ve forced banks to take on massive debt, and shuffled other debt to different banks….and after twenty years of spending, Japan has $9.7 trillion in public debt – twice its GDP in 2009….they still have no growth….the Greece Prime Minister warned the Japanese Parliament, ‘It is difficult to sustain a policy that relies too heavily on  issuing debt’….Japan has been in a deflationary spiral for 20 years.”

“Just as inflation scarred a generation of Americans,” says Martin Fackler of The New York Times , “deflation has left a deep imprint on the Japanese, breeding generational tensions and a culture of pessimism, fatalism and reduced expectations….it faces an increasingly grim situation, particularly outside the relative economic vibrancy of Tokyo, and its situation “provides a possible glimpse into the future for the United States and Europe, should the most dire forecasts come to pass.” “Deflation destroys the risk-taking that capitalist economies need in order to grow,” said Sumpei Takemori, an economist at the Keio University in Tokyo, “Creative destruction is replaced with what is just destructive destruction.”)


(“The bomb would irradiate all the gold inside the building and make it unusable….international liquidity would seize up, and the Western trade and monetary system would collapse.” Auric Goldfinger, 1964, GOLDFINGER, describing Operation Meltdown.)

Contributing Money Morning editor Shah Gilani, said near the first week of June, 2011, that if something isn’t done now to  fix the U.S housing market it will “drag the rest of the economy down into a hellish bottom that will take years, if not decades, to crawl out of”.

As Mike Larson, financial analyst said onFriday, July 15, 2011 at 7:30am. (Weiss Research, Inc. 15430 Endeavour Dr. Jupiter, FL 33478. 1-800-291-8545):

“There is NO EASY FIX! Nothing can be done to eliminate the multiple threats facing us right now. They’re the result of years and years of failed policies, out-to-lunch regulators, too much easy money, and more.

The only ‘cure’ is a long, drawn-out period of paying the piper. Or as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner finally came clean about in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press a few days ago:

‘It’s going to feel very hard, harder than anything they’ve experienced in their lifetime now, for a long time to come’ “.  (

(At the end of March, 2011, America’s debt ranged approximately 24.46 billion dollars a month.  In August, 2011 the national debt was about 14.3 trillion dollars, 3.80 billion per day, and 14,142 dollars per citizen)

Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.  (Monday, August 1, 2011 at 7:30am)  All told, U.S. financial institutions now hold an astonishing $6.3 trillion in securities subject to immediate or future downgrades in the wake of a U.S. government debt downgrade. (http: //

August 2, 2011: Congress approved a deal to raise our national debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion – supposedly enough to fund the government through 2013 – with conditions for automatic spending cuts to reach a goal of cutting $2.4 trillion in spending over the next decade. PIMCO co-CEO Mohamed El-Erian’s partner, Bill Gross, spoke in his monthly investment outlook that  the biggest shortcoming of this deal is its failure to address the “debt men walking” – the 330 million living Americans with promised entitlements. While the U.S. claims $10 trillion in liabilities, the present value of these future obligations is an additional $66 trillion. With no severe spending cuts or revenue increases, the government has no way to fund its current liabilities, much less Gross’ “debt men walking.”

Even though Congress voted to confront the debt ceiling and the growing national debt, here are final facts: This deal does nothing to reduce America’s debt burden. In fact, the $14 trillion we owe now could very easily exceed $23 trillion by 2021. That’s a 62% increase. The deal brokered by Congress cuts spending by just $917 billion over a 10-year period, with a special congressional committee assigned to find another $1.5 trillion in deficit savings by late November.

That’s $2.5 trillion in “savings” over a 10-year period and is inconsequential when you consider that President Obama added nearly $4 trillion to the national debt in just a few short years in office.
No progress on the debt front when you’re adding $4 billion in new liabilities every day?

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that the $2.5 trillion the government claims to be saving is quickly dematerialized by inflation and lost economic output. (

The deal brokered by Congress cuts spending by just $917 billion over a 10-year period, with a special congressional committee assigned to find another $1.5 trillion in deficit savings by late November.
Even if you round up, that $2.5 trillion in “savings” over a 10-year period is inconsequential when you consider that President Obama added nearly $4 trillion to the national debt in just a few short years in office. How can you make any progress on the debt front when you’re adding $4 billion in new liabilities everyday? And the story is even worse than that: According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), even the $2.5 trillion the government claims to be saving is quickly vaporized by inflation and lost economic output. (Martin Hutchinson, Contributing Editor, Money Morning: August 6, 2011).

Investment analysts clearly hoped the $125 billion Fed-orchestrated bailout of Greece would be the end of Europe’s sovereign debt worries. They say these small economies “don’t matter.”
Many of the world’s developed economies have been forcing growth with foreign debts. This growth and the asset values created under the euro standard are unsustainable for the simple reason that debt service cannot be made and creditors are unwilling to extend these debts on suitable terms: running from creditor to creditor and intensify as the market realizes these defaults are unstoppable. The next major country likely to experience a credit crisis is Italy, which has enormous exposure through its banks to Eastern Europe and the rest of Europe’s weak economies.   Italy’s public debt totals €1.7 trillion – seven times the size of Greece. Italy is the world’s third-largest sovereign borrower. It cannot be bailed out – it is simply too big. It cannot pay back its debts as long as it remains in the euro. Italy has been in recession almost since the day it adopted the euro: Its economy has grown by a total of 0.54% over the last decade. The total public debt to GDP will soon surpass 120%. At that point, it will become progressively more difficult for Italy to extend its foreign debts because all of the foreign creditors will know these debts will never be repaid. A default and devaluation will be the only way to restart Italy’s economy. (Stansberry’s Investment Advisory, June 2010). Porter Stansberry, Baltimore, Maryland, August 5, 2011.)   AN EYE TOWARDS THE FUTURE

We paraphrase Shah Gilani, Capital Waves Strategist, Money Morning –  August 19, 2011: Violent volatility is now the new normal:  Massive market moves in the week of August 10, 2011 saw the Dow Jones  tumble 419.13 points: Wall Street wants these moves to amass their personal wealth in a scheme utilizing dramatic volatility in capital investments.   The roots of manufactured market volatility can be traced back to an obsession Wall Street has with disadvantaging the public while giving itself every advantage it can.

In 1969, Institutional Networks Corp. launched Instinet, the original off-exchange “communications network” designed for private use by institutional traders and dealers.

Instead of placing their orders and transacting on the principal exchanges where stocks traded almost exclusively, Instinet provided its members a competing venue where they could show each other bids and offers that the public wasn’t privy to.

The club became so successful (I was member myself) – partly as a result of its exclusivity – that it eventually spawned competition. In fact, it spawned a lot of competition.

What eventually became known as electronic communications networks (ECNs) proliferated in the 1990s. Eventually the multiple electronic exchanges, fashioned after Instinet and the over-the-counter (OTC) exchange that became Nasdaq, ended up competing for orders from brokers, dealers, institutions and a new breed of gunslingers known as “day traders”.

All of this competition dispersed trading to such a degree that it was difficult to know where to go to get the best price when trying to buy or sell stocks. But Wall Street eventually saw the benefit of the wide price discrepancies across multiple trading venues: It increased volatility, creating new trading opportunities. Working (Over) the System   Nobody on Wall Street believes you can ever have too much of a good thing. The first result was that big-name trading shops and old-world exchanges bought up the more profitable ECNs and start other private exchanges and trading conclaves known as “dark pools .”

In order to drive business to their trading venues, these synthetic exchanges pay for “order flow” and offer incentives to attract bids and offers for blocks of stocks.

The game, invisible from the surface, is designed to accomplish several things. If you control a venue that generates a lot of buying and selling, you can “internalize” the order flow. That means you don’t have to trade outside your house – you match orders internally because you have so many buy and sell orders coming in. And then there are transaction fees.

If you are the “house,” you can also take the other side of any trade you want, which has its advantages.

But the biggest advantage these venues have is that they “see” what orders are coming into them. And, regardless of whether or not it’s legal, they trade against them and take advantage of knowing the specifics of other pending orders that can be used to backstop losses. I’ll get to that is a moment.

Another piece of the market-volatility puzzle was neatly fitted with the advent of “decimalization.”

Beginning in 2000, and finally encompassing all stocks on July 9, 2001, trades could take place in increments of one cent. Prior to the implementation of decimalization, stocks traded in increments of eighths. Stocks used to trade in increments of $0.125, $0.25, $0.375, $0.50 and so on. You couldn’t buy or sell a stock for $50.01 or $50.05, for example. You would have to transact at $49.875, $50.00, $50.125, or $50.25. Even though changing to one-penny increments was sold as a way to reduce spreads and transaction costs, the hidden agenda was to increase volatility.

Decimalization didn’t make for more liquid markets. It simply encouraged more risk-taking. Trading and holding horizons became shorter. And institutions stopped putting down big limit orders, because traders used those orders as backstops to sell into if their speculative buying didn’t work out.

Markets got “thinner” and less liquid as a result of smaller orders being put up. Instead of lowering transaction costs, decimalization increased transaction costs: It now takes a lot more trades to buy or sell large blocks. It also can take a lot more time and expose buyers and sellers to steeper price moves.

The increased number of venues combined with more risk-taking to increase volatility exponentially. It was all working.

But there was still one little problem that Wall Street wanted out of the way. The New Abnormal   Wall Street finally got what it wanted on July 6, 2007, when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) did away with the “uptick rule.” As of that day, it was no longer necessary to wait for a stock to go up in price before short-selling it. Without the uptick rule, short-sellers can short any stock, at any price, at any time.

There’s plenty more that Wall Street has done to ratchet up volatility. It has flooded the world with derivatives that aren’t regulated, and blessed high-frequency trading. It also introduced innumerable securities and financial instruments that it can arbitrage for healthy profits against unsuspecting institutions and the public.

Not surprisingly, market volatility is now a tradable product. And now that Wall Street has taken us down this path of entrenched, institutionalized volatility, there’s no going back.

Don’t expect any respite from what’s going on in the markets now. On the surface, it’s all about Europe, debt, downgrades, earnings, fundamentals and technicals. But underneath all those prime movers are the real shakers, the greasy palms of the markets hidden hands.

Abnormal is the new “normal “.   (   “Faced with the choice of profits or prosperity, Wall Street made its decision.  Closing their eyes to the problem loans, the banks kept feeding them in to the mortgage machinery….the bank made sure the renders cut them enormous discounts on the costs of the loans….they simply increased the profits earned by the investment banks on the garbage loans….It was like warning an alcoholic not to take a drink.” (Reckless Endangerment, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner, Times Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York. 2011. Page 289)   It seems the U.S. government isn’t the only such organization thirsty for funds. The International Monetary Fund (to which the U.S. is the largest contributor) wants more money. At a Council of Foreign Relations event in New York on August 13, 2011, the head of the world’s bailout fund, Christine Lagarde, said, “The question is, do we still have the level of resources that is now needed and appropriate to address… the crises? Maybe it could do with more. In the not-too-distant future, we will probably have to revisit this issue.”   WORLDWIDE

The IMF has already increased its resources several times since 2007. It doubled its fund last year. The fund now has around $1.5 trillion of commitments (though the IMF says only around $396 billion of that is available to lend in the next year… and most of that will go to Greece).

Once the IMF exhausts its funds saving Greece, Italy and Spain (both of which would bankrupt the IMF and European bailout funds on their own) remain. Yields in Italy and Spain are still rising. The euro is falling in August, 2011. And the European Union still says it won’t increase the size of the 440 billion euro European Financial Stability Facility. It’s only a matter of time. If the American economy falls back into recession, as many economists are now warning, the damage and terror could be a lot more horrific than the last time around. Given the chaos of the Great Recession, skeptics tell that this is not true. But the economy is much weaker than it was at the outset of the last recession in December 2007, with most major measures of economic health — including jobs, incomes, output and industrial production — weaker today than they were back then. And growth has been so miniscule that it seems invisible, even though a recovery technically started in June 2009. “It would be disastrous if we entered into a recession at this stage, given that we haven’t yet made up for the last recession,” said Conrad DeQuadros, senior economist at RDQ Economics. (CATHERINE RAMPELL: August 7, 2011 ).
 (Catherine Rampell writes for the New York Times and is editor of the Economix Blog.)
Following through on a months-long threat, S&P cut the U.S credit rating to AA+ from AAA late Friday, August 6, 2011, sending global stock markets tumbling and a flood of investors to one of the few safe havens available – gold.  

 Money Morning Contributing Editor Shah Gilani warned back in July, 2011:
“After studying everything that could happen due to a downgrade of the United States’ top-tier AAA credit rating, and the potential default on its debt, we found a scenario that would result in forced asset sales that are so widespread that global stock-and-bond markets would plunge — and economies around the world would crash”. (

August 9, 2011: The market’s in crash mode. The rubber band broke. Comparisons to 2008 abound, The Dow Jones tumbled 643.76 points yesterday on August 8 – the sixth-biggest point fall in 112 years and the biggest drop since December 2008. The Dow sank more than 500 points last Thursday. The S&P 500 is down 18% in the past two weeks. The market is crashing. Investors are terrified. Thursday, 11 Aug 2011 | 7:51 AM ET, Jesse Eisinger, The New York Times, asks: When European banks destruct, what will happen to American banks? Investors and analysts seem nonplussed. American banks disclose some of their exposure to specific countries, but the information isn’t up to date and the figures depend on weak estimates of how well invested the banks are. Analysts differ on the amounts at risk. Unfortunately, we simply don’t know whether the analysts are right. Neither the Fed nor the Securities and Exchange Commission has forced United States banks to make as detailed disclosures as the European stress tests did of its banks. So it’s a matter of having to trust the banks and the regulators. Jesse Eisinger is a reporter for ProPublica. The above are summary comments from his story that appeared in The New York Times. A messy Eurobond default, or the breakup of the euro zone, would have consequences on the scale of the Lehman bankruptcy that triggered the long, global, all-market dive in September 2008. And this time, there would be no magic tricks in the Federal Reserve’s or European central banks’ kit bags to pull economies up by their bootstraps. (Aug 11, 2011 12:18 AM EDT, Charles R. Morris, a lawyer and former banker, is the author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown (2008) and  The Sage [2009]). The government and the Fed have bailed out or guaranteed at least $12 trillion in debt so far. The guarantees to Fannie and Freddie alone are larger than $10 trillion. People doubt real estate prices, stock prices, and commodity prices. Sooner or later, they will also begin to doubt the value of the paper bills that delivered them into debt and deprivation. When that happens, we will have a crisis. (Sean Goldsmith, analyst, Stansberry And Associates, Baltimore, Maryland August 12, 2011.) Foreign leaders like People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have sternly attacked the United States for failing to control its economy. Putin said Monday, August 7, 2011, that the United States was “leeching on the world economy,” and questioned the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve .currency. “They are living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the U.S. dollar,” said Putin. “If over there (in America) there is a systemic malfunction, this will affect everyone. Countries like Russia and China hold a significant part of their reserves in American securities … There should be other reserve currencies.” (“Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He has fired rockets to the moon, split the atom, and achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor, except crime.” Auric  Goldfinger, 1964, GOLDFINGER) A USA Today/Gallup Poll in July, 2011 showed that just 7% of Americans believed their representatives in Washington were negotiating in good faith when it came to the debt-ceiling debate. What’s wrong with Congress – and the overwhelming majority emphatically agreed: Elected representatives are only out for their own interests, not those of the people. An economic meeting Tuesday, August 16, 2011, between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy converged on the current problem: New data show Europe’s economy grew slower than expected during the second quarter, with the German economy—so far, the best-performing in the Western world—completely stopping. The German GDP grew by only 0.1 percent between April and June, while the French economy did not grow at all. The average growth for the 17 euro-zone nations was 0.2 percent, behind expectations of 0.3 percent growth. Can the Germans solve the debt crisis? Currently, the total-debt-to-GDP ratio in the U.S. is almost 400%. (Total debt is the combined federal, state, municipal, corporate, and individual debt in the U.S.) Crushing debt loads have already destroyed the real estate market and led to an economic decline. For now, the government has stepped up to replace the private borrowing and spending. As a result, we’re now spending close to half our GDP merely on interest and government taxes. This simple fact should give everyone a reason to worry about the future of our country. Spending half your production each year on the government and interest payments doesn’t leave much to live on or invest for the future.

In Europe, the problem is a bit different. Most of the debt in Europe is held by the big banks, not the sovereigns. Look at just two French banks, for example. Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas have combined deposits of a little more than 1 trillion euro. But they hold assets of 2.5 trillion euro. Those assets equal France’s entire GDP.

And those are only two of France’s banks. Right now, the tangible capital ratios of these banks have fallen to levels that suggest they are probably bankrupt – like UniCredit in Italy and Deutsche Bank in Germany. BNP’s tangible equity ratio is 2.85%. Credit  Agricole’s  tangible equity ratio is 1.41%. (UniCredit’s  is  4.42%, and Deutchse Bank’s is 1.92%).

These banks have long been instruments of state policy in Europe. They’ve funded all kinds of government projects and favored industries. Making loans is far more popular with politicians than demanding repayment for loans. As a result, these banks are left with nothing in the kitty to repay their depositors. If there’s a run on these banks (and there will be), how will they come up with money that’s owed? No one’s saying.
The numbers are similar across most of Europe’s biggest banks. And the money that’s owed is staggering. The reason the market fears these debts so much is that there’s no clear mechanism to increasing the money supply enough to paper them over, as there is in the U.S. As strange as it may seem, investors prefer the U.S. Treasury market precisely because they know there’s nothing to stop the Fed from buying as many Treasury bonds as the market wants to sell. On the other hand, in Europe, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that the ECB will continue to buy the sovereign bonds – and there are even rules that explicitly forbid the ECB What’s the end game? How will this huge mess be sorted out? The essential problem is there’s too much credit and too little money. So a lot more money is going to be created.    (Porter Stansberry, S & A Digest, August 19, 2011)   Financier Tyler Durden mentions about June 20, 2011 that the derivative market and CDs’ around the globe has become a ticking time bomb to the tune of 600 billion to 1 trillion dollars. Ron Paul, Presidential candidate, said in July, 2011 that the national debt was about 14 trillion dollars, with net liabilities of 200 trillion dollars, and A Federal Reserve debt of 1.6 trillion; he called this a “government debt bubble” and that we must end “loose central bank monetary policy”. According to the Daily Market Briefing of December 9, 2011, the bailout given from the Federal Reserve amounted to 29.616 trillion dollars; Keith Fitz – Gerald, Chief Investing Strategist for Money Morning, spoke of $600 trillion in loss if the banks of Europe failed (October 12, 2011). Analyst Neil Garfield also mentioned a $600 trillion credit derivative crunch (November 29, 2010). 

(“Come and sing a song of freedom.…sing it like you never sang before….let it fill the air….tell the people everywhere.…we, the people here, don’t want a war..…”  Bobby Darin, Simple Song of Freedom, February 6, 1971).

 (The events involved in the financial debauchery of 2008 are far more complex than this short rendition, and all areas would need to be aired and investigated [and even challenged by opposing viewpoints for clarity and revision]).


“The decline of the American family has reached critical and truly dangerous proportions….The breakdown of the family now touches virtually every American. It is not only the major source of social instability in the government..….the erosion of marriage, out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and fatherless children are now mainstream problems that threaten the general society.”  (Taken Into Custody, Stephen Baskerville, Cumberland House, 2007)

”As we will see,” said Baskerville, “the astonishing but incontrovertible fact is that with the exception of convicted criminals, no group  in  our society today  has fewer rights than  fathers….parents summoned to these courts have entered a nightmare world where children are abducted and exploited and even  abused by government order, where parents are forced to stay away from their children, prevented by the police from protecting them, incarcerated without charge or trial, and driven into bankruptcy and poverty, and where the Bill Of Rights may as well not exist.”

He continued: “Far from merely exploiting family breakdown after the fact then, domestic relations law has turned the American family into a game of ‘prisoners’ dilemma….willingly or not, all parents are now prisoners in this game….In short, state officials now possess the power to break up families by imposing divorce on happily married parents….Harsh as it may sound, it cannot be denied that these officials are united by one overriding interest; having children separated from their parents. Without the power to remove children from their parent – and most often the father – this industry cannot thrive, and these officials will have no business….put simply, the first principle of the divorce industry, the basic premise without which it has no reason to exist, is the removal of the fathers from the family. Once this is accomplished, the state is free to assume control over mothers and children as well.”

Baskerville quoted Rabbi Lapin in The American Enterprise in Lapin’s quoting of Adolf Hitler: Hitler said “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasury of the people. As long as government is perceived as working for the benefit of children, the peopled will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty.”

Comparing Child Support enforcement to institutionalized Marxist principles (“from each according to his ability, to each according to her need….”), Baskerville says child support has nothing to do with “justice” but is interwoven in a long panoply of unusual punishments and punitive measures in a regime were the father is forced “to finance the filching of his own children”, becoming the subject of a national demonology as officially designated villains whose “guilt is assumed unquestionably by politicians, press, and public alike….Not since the collapse of the Weimar republic have the top leaders of a major western democracy used their public office to verbally attack millions of their own citizens.” As an example of ‘Soviet Logic’, Ronald Henry, says that coerced child support is not predicated on uniting children with Fathers but keeping them apart: “despite the touchy-feely language about family and stability and relationship, such decisions have nothing to do ‘with enforcing anything other than financial obligations’”.

Walter Olson wrote in The Litigation Explosion: “Lawyers have more power to ruin your life in America than they do in any other advanced country…..power without responsibility.”  “The legal system is increasingly run for the enrichment of lawyers and not the public,” writes columnist Robert Samuelson. “The idea that American courtrooms strive toward justice is no long taken seriously…the courts are greatly feared for their ability to ruin…” said the Wall Street Journal.

Family law today is the largest and fastest-growing sector of the civil judiciary, accounting for at least 35 percent of all litigation.  It is estimated that, as a percentage of the state cases filed between 1984 and 1995, family cases grew by 70 percent. Much of this growth is self-generating. “Child-support enforcement is now a $4 billion national industry in terms of the money expended,” says Baskerville, “in terms of the money it aims to collect, it is a multibillion-dollar enterprise with targets upward of $100 billion.”          

Some 24 million American children or about 34 per cent live in households without their fathers.  For African-American children that figure is 66 percent.  Nearly 2.5 million children join the ranks of the fatherless each year. Since automatic wage garnishing has been mandatory for all new child-support orders since 1992, the question arises as to how so many fathers allegedly avoid their payments? The principal method is by being unemployed. Sherri Heller, OCSE Director, says that about two-thirds of the debt and about two-thirds of the people who owe it earned less than $10,000 last year.  It appears that most of the debt is owed by extremely poor debtors.                      

As of 2018, the Debt Continues to Grow

A somber reminder remained as of 2017 that the national debt—relating back to 2008—continued to multiply by the millions of dollars every minute, despite what the present President had done.


(“Surely, if we have learned nothing else, this war has taught us pity – pity for those witless souls that suffer our domination”, H.G. Wells speaking of the Martians that attacked and almost destroyed the earth in his story The War Of  The Worlds.)    

Poor people (including Socialists and persons on the Left), however, are not all the evil, heartless, deprived people I seem to depict in the above remarks on Socialists (certainly, most do not knowingly consider themselves as Communists). Neither are lowerincome and poor people included as knowingly evil. Most are warm, caring, kind people who see the more elitist and aristocratic areas and people of society as the truly evil elements. The real witches cackling about the caldron may be closer to home and even more deeply implanted. Concerning the “common  poor  person”  (and I am one of them, by the way): I had the opportunity to live with the poor in my trips to Jamaica, West Indies.  They, as john F. Kennedy said, breathe the same air, have blood in their bodies as well as the next human, a beating heart, and the pains and hopes that all other humans do. They have feelings of love, passion, fear, hunger as other life-forms that we call “human beings.”

A father of a very wealthy family took his son to visit a “poor” country family for one day as a lesson  (the kind of bravado that only  rich people can provide: sort of, “if you can hold your head up with magnanimity after being kicked in the nuts by a Clydesdale, then you can call yourself a man” mentality) about how  ‘good of a life’ their rich life-style entailed. After a day of visiting, the father smugly asked the son: “What did you think of being poor for a day?”  The son smiled and began: “Well, we have one dog – but they had four! We have a pool that runs to the middle of our garden: but they had a creek that never ends!  We havea patiothat runs to the middle of our front yard – they have a front yard that runs to the horizon!

Barron’s Book notes at spoke of the empathy that novelist John Steinbeck had for the poor and down-trodden (my mother had left my father’s collection of Steinbeck’s books to me upon her death): “Closely related to the Common Man theme is Steinbeck’s creation of a naturalist or realistic atmosphere. Steinbeck is not a romantic who makes a big deal about people or natural wonders. Like a scientist, he observes things as they are and sees people as just a small part of the overall natural world.”

Adds “throughout history, less fortunate people have been set apart or shunned from the general public. In The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, this statement holds true. Through-out the book, all of the less fortunate people are treated like they aren’t human.  This is not much different than how our society is now….in The Grapes of Wrath, and in the present time, the general public has set the less fortunate apart from themselves without even realizing it….”

Latoya Peterson, commented on the report Insight Center for Community and Economic Development, “As the report explains the key to financial stability is wealth (for example, assets, savings, stock holdings, business income) which can be passed from generation to generation to ease the path for those struggling in their youth. However, for more than 46 percent of single-parent black households that have zero or negative wealth, there is literally nothing to pass on….”  Says Megan Cottrell: “..…(we) lift as we climb, but we’re also bogged with baggage – positive or negative – the baggage our parents left us.”

The number of people in poverty rose to a record level in  2009, 14.3 percent, a national rate which is the highest since 1994  and, among the work-age poor, the highest level since 1960s in the U.S. population, grown by more than 130 million  in that time. Recently, a shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty or 12.7 percent of the population – the highest percentage in the developed world. Photographer Glenn H. Austin said 32.9 million. Sandy Franks of the Taipan Publishing Group said that in November, 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, poverty in America hit a new high: 43.6 million. Each year since 2001 their numbers have grown. During George Bush’s Administration an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line: yet they are not examples of the destitute or even the unemployed; some work and have two jobs. Films such as Once Upon A time In America show the poor in searinghonesty.

The United States had 403 billionaires in March, 2010: the highest number in the world with an estimated $1.3 trillion dollars total; but that was quickly outdistanced in 2011 with 413 and a $1.5 trillion total.

Fox News on Varney & Company television said 0n 12 -15- 2011 at 8:23 a.m. CST that 49 million American citizens lived in poverty. MSNBC “Morning Joe” listed at 6:31 a.m. CST on January 12, 2012 that the figure was 46.2 million Americans, and 50.7 were uninsured.

Photographer Glenn Austin went about State Street visiting the homeless ( and had this to say: “They are not cardboard – cutout- poor people; they are real, living, breathing, human beings. They have problems and feelings…..they are the discards of our society: the poor, the veterans, the homeless, the drug addicts, the alcoholic, the runaways, the abused, the unemployable, that nobody wants.  They deserve something better than the lives they lead now, but these photos are not about how bad their lives are.  These pictures are mostly how good their lives are….stop and talk to these folks that you have previously been ignoring.  You will discover that they are just people.  Contrary to popular myth, poor people do not enjoy being poor, and they do not enjoy panhandling.  They panhandle because they are poor….jails and prisons are filled with poor people.  (There are very few rich people in prison;: I guess they don’t commit any crime?) They give each other social and physical support, acceptance and human touch. ‘We are family; the State Street family,’ one person said. Disabled people on crutches, quite a few who are mentally ill, can come to State Street and find unconditional acceptance, not as freaks, but as human beings”.  One is reminded of scenes in the movie Down And Out In Beverly Hills.

“We are complex beings. I believe that there is a great deal more to us than  the ubiquitous battleground of good versus bad,” said Charles S. Weinblatt, “Most of us are not one or the other, but both. We are beautiful and ugly, soothing and terrifying, brutal and caring: we love and we depose…I believe that people find it easy to hate because tolerance requires effort. Haters live with haters in a community of malevolence…..” (                      

There “is”a lot Moriarty Wild is correct about   –   and a lot he is not(if only on a personal, private level). It is hoped that this lengthy treatise, if only scratching the surface of the debates and problems inherent herein, can shed some light. I thank him for the opportunity to speak my mind on these matters. I hope that, even we as Marvin Udalls, will (at least) agree that differences of opinions are allowed.


Arlene (my wife since 1985) and I, as well as some of the members at St. Trinity, were quite concerned with Wild when Wild spoke of an illness – possibly cancer. There was talk about getting him free or reduced medical help. I personally tried to find some patient care for Wild. Also, the pastor and I discussed having the parish nurse visit Wild, or other avenues of help. I hope that it was nothing as serious as that. From what I last heard, Wild’s pains were related to pinched nerves. Now, I know how that can be after dealing with a herniated disc and surgery of my back. Wild was talking about the expenses involved (I believe you were out of work at the moment, and we were trying to map out the possible avenues you might take as suggestions). There appeared to be some miscommunication; It is hard to interpret everything that is going on about Wild, especially when a number of people are involved and there is unplanned and hidden information involved. This is why good communication and information is always necessary.

(And to mention again, in September, 2010, after several meetings, the laity voted to ‘close down’ the church as soon as possible due to lax membership and rising expenses; fortunately, near 2012, a new Pastor was elected and is attempting to revive the strength of that congregation)   

In so many ways, I understood Wild’s alarm at and disgust with “the human situation.” I’ve about given up on pleasing people – “costumer service.” Those humans can be hard to handle and even “devastating.But I find myself caring for many of them some-times: strangest doggone thing. People can be pretty rough and raw (“Society is full of hypocrites, arrogance, self-righteousness, thoughtlessness ignorance, envy, etc. These are things evident and rampant in our society,” said Me, Atheist in, “and these weren’t mentioned just because of the Seven Deadly Sins and that religion thing”.): I have seen and even have been victim of immense cruelty of humans by humans time and time again (if only I could tell you). To that extent: your point is well taken. Why should we forgive anyone? Because we are human also, and we make mistakes – sometimes, great mistake! “We think that when we forgive, we need to reconcile….for those whose lives have been tragically altered by the mindlessness of others, this process can take a long time because the wound could be very deep,” said Rosanna C. Rogacion, “Forgiveness is a process and it is one that must not be rushed.  The important thing is to take the first step: make the decision to forgive……” We are going to be here in this life only a short time. And when you get a certain age, you are so tired of the struggle: you don’t care who wins the “boxing match” and you just want to turn the television off. Does that make me a “humanist”, a “sophist”, a “Communist” or just “hissed”? But, still, you wish for some “hope” – and you dream  (“Take a bolt out of the blue….Fate  steps  in and sees you through.…when you wish upon a star your dreams come true….”, On Disney Songs The Satchmo Way,  Louis Armstrong, May 16, 1968) Please keep in touch.…….

“To my mind, there is no better demonstration of the folly of human concepts than this distant image of our tiny world. To me it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and perceive and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known…For small creatures such as when the universe is bearable only through love.”’  (Carl Sagan)

IT Doesn’t Get Any Easier

Writing an autobiography from memory, instantaneously and without revisions (hoping someone will later pick up the pieces and do the grammatical and prose housekeeping), one tends to leave out large “gaps” in the telling, often hopping around in hop-scotch-fashion, causing some incoherency in the tales of one’s life. I will attempt to fill in some of the more recent and concurrent happenings since writing Part V.

Missing are the 1960s—with expectations were confused, dreary but a teenager could always hang his hopes on music like TELESTAR, the mysteries of TWILIGHT ZONE television, and the passing of time reading science-fiction and the promises it gave for the future—but also the under-scoring of real life terror and fear that seemed to encompass the present.  (“Telstar” is a 1962 instrumental written and produced by Joe Meek for the English band the Tornados.)

Sometime around 1983

Stephen Erdmann: I can add some coincidental comments. I worked in a plastics factory that had a Teamster Union (apparently having little consequence or influence) and was “wide open” in almost every other way: there was gross dating of employees and bosses galore, sexual allurement on the part of both sexes, and torrid stories about the escapes the bosses conducted with the female employees. When a particular boss’s birthday came around, they would gather selected employees (included the Union Representative shop steward) into the lunchroom, and have a paid ‘stripper/dancer’ come in to celebrate the boss’s birthday (I swear!). The three big factors the company had going for them was the bought-and-sold Union that would have done nothing to discipline the situation, and the ‘fear’ of employees losing their job (which many employees desperately needed; in fact, with fire-at-will laws [and a next to nothing Union] employees were being dismissed like flies in an electric debugger), and lastly, the eagerness for some employees to participate in the fluid dating scenario in the plant. I had other jobs in which a similar situation existed. It wasn’t until one particular employee as a ‘runt’ was selected as a whipping-boy, did the crap hit the fan, and most stood behind management to cover-up the true facts; sad reality in the real world (at least, in America in the 1980’s).




(Unless “I” deem otherwise)

Letter to Movie Star Phyllis Smith


Steve Erdmann

Hello Phyllis, your old-time neighbor and friend from your childhood here speaking to you, I guess you’d call me a voice from the past.

Since once again seeing you several years ago suddenly appearing at celebrations at the homes of Roger Bauer and other family relations (Roger, being another old-time friend and currently a brother-in-law), many things have happened to both you and I over the years, causing some distance from the times I spent on Michigan Avenue as a next-door neighbor to your Mom and Dad, Glenda and Loy Smith and your brother Ronald.  My life has not been as illustrious as yours (seemingly) over the ensuring years, but still interesting.  Never once, never, however, have I looked back on my years as your former neighbor with disdain, shame, contempt or foreboding to my time spent with your family and the companionship with “Ronnie”— dim, enginn, wala, aucun, zaden, wala — none. Yet, despite this, during the last few years, especially beginning with the time I went to St. Anthony Hospital to visit your mother, along with John Erdmann (my nephew), pertaining to your mom’s broken hip and surgery, like a creeping mist rolling along the forest surface and foliage, bits and pieces of ‘rumor’ and ‘gossip’ have kept popping up that seem disjointed, inexplicable, bizarre and unexplained to me. Perhaps we should spend some time here, at this point, reviewing, questioning, and examining some of these peculiarities in hopes of finding solutions to those mysteries, or, perhaps, explanations that could possibly reconcile the events.

When at the hospital trying to see your mom, she appeared in great pain, and I believe she has been calling out for help from the hospital staff, sadly coincided with my and John’s stepping into her cubicle to see her. Trying to be a patriarch (which I, indeed, am in the hierarchy of our, the Erdmann, family, despite whether you or anyone else agrees with that historical fact), I asked you to please keep me informed of your mother’s condition. Even at that point, I was rebuffed somewhat unkindly, and I got the indication of some discordant tensions.  Again, my remarks, and my intentions for making those comments, and gestures, was ‘sincere’ and presented as concern for your mother’s well-being. There were no evil connotations or anything bad about my remarks.

Let’s go back a few years and months in my recollections and see some other incidents that would give ‘focus’ to the events I am about to described.

Occasionally, John Erdmann would announce, either by phone or message that our family was trying to get together at Pietro’s Restaurant on Chippewa Avenue in the county, making an invite. Sometimes, my half-brother was invited and his sons, other times, different people whom John somehow felt would add flavor to these family gatherings. A few times, I believe, there were birthday celebrations that included John’s mother and, even ‘your’ mother, surprisingly. I never did mind that, as being a friendly gesture, and I considered your mom as close to our family because of being neighbors at one time. If I am not mistaken, there was a lady there who was, in actuality, Trudy Williamson, also a neighbor from Michigan Avenue. One time I jokingly asked your mom if some our (Ronnie’s and myself) ‘antics’ as kids bothered her: she replied something like “nah, you were just kids.”  And that pretty well sufficed the general sentiment at that time—this was about eleven years or so ago.

Fast forward to John and Gina’s Anniversary celebration about 10 years ago at Crusoe’s Restaurant in south St. Louis where I also met your mom and dad once again. Your mom seemed in good spirits and was proudly showing me photos of you in your new job at the studios of The Office.  I also greeted your dad rather warmly, which sadly was the last time I saw him before he died (I would have gladly gone to his funeral, but, here again, I was excluded mysteriously and no one informed me; it would have been nice to have seen Ronnie again [John tells me that he asked Ronnie if he missed me, and Ronnie has said ‘yes’: what has happened since that remark?]). 

Now, fast forward again to about three or four Christmases’ ago when Roger Bauer held a celebration at his home and also you and your mother attended.  Your mom appeared to be her usual self, and my wife and I remained somewhat sedate in the background.  At one point your mom came over and presented my Christmas card that I mailed to her that had a home and snow scene on the front, and she asked him if that was my house. Of course, it wasn’t, as many Christmas cards are stock-features and relate in no way to actual scenes.  But your mom seemed pleasant, and hopefully, so did myself.

(No, Phyllis, I have no mansion or fancy home.  The family home I ‘had’ with fireplace and other more rustic settings—bought and paid for with a lot of over-time work—was destroyed when my first wife filed for divorce and the legal cabal and racket got their mitts into my affairs and bank account—I had to make drastic living standard adjustments and bought a much cheaper and smaller home, which I have remained in to this day, and will probably be my second and last home until I die. Many a divorced man, caught in the web of the ‘divorce mill’ and industry, often become ‘slaves of the court,’ and their private and personal circumstances or contorted often for the worse.)

Fast forward to a following Christmas celebration, after your mom’s accident, and after a special Thanksgiving celebration given by myself at the Lemp Restaurant, and I was greeting your mom and yourself in Roger’s basement in which I ‘thought’ was being quite cordial and respectful, realizing your mother was still recuperating and still had difficult moving about, I said, holding her hand, “Now, you take care of yourself, okay?” Your mother exploded into a frenzy of anger that quite shocked me. Usually, when a response is given out like that, it means, “something is in the air,” something unbeknownst is going on, causing such an inappropriate remark.  There was absolutely no evil intentions meant by myself,  dim, enginn, wala, aucun, zaden, wala, none—but something was amiss. It hurt me and I was in pain, shocked, at that moment as I had, despite the entire rumor, gossip and hard feelings, unbeknownst to me at that time, looked upon the Smiths as my “Second Family” next door.  I spent more time there on certain days than I did in my mom’s house, my own house.

(The Lemp Restaurant celebration was my way of repaying back my family for the several times they sponsored celebrations, and I felt it was my ‘turn’ to commit myself to showing the same.  I believe it was a fine celebration for Thanksgiving, unless someone, somehow, in their misguided endeavors has found some inappropriate evil in it.  Janet Erdmann – my sister-in-law by direct blood relationship — seemed to enjoy herself greatly, last big celebration before she passed away [speaking of poor Janet, I recall a younger John Erdmann, upon returning from a dinner-out event with them, of which I treated, John sarcastically referred to his mother as ‘that looney.’ Much more about toxic family relations will come later in this syllabus {John certainly changed his viewpoint about his mother as he mentioned her attendance and celebrating at the Lemp meeting and said many nice things for the funeral of his mother}] Sad to say, upon continually discovering more toxic gossip, ridicule and cruelty in people mixed in my family sitting, it probably will be my ‘last’ event by myself.).

I suppose I could have selected a different expression like “nice seeing you,” “happy holiday” or some such—none of those would seem to fit the moment.  And, looking back now, I feel that no other expression would have made a difference as there was something bizarre going on, as I said, ‘something in the air.’  Your further co-greeting to me upon saying hello in the basement was, “I didn’t get you a Christmas gift, Steve, because I didn’t know that you were going to come.” It didn’t bother me that you excluded me from a gift, but your mother’s outburst did. And the further thought occurred to me: why wouldn’t I come? I had been sent a “physical invitation,” I was a genetically and officially a member of the Erdmann family, a brother-in-law, an Uncle and a direct relation in the family: why was it such a surprise to you? 

Such incidents have continued right up until very recent times, unfortunately. We had a funeral ceremony in the March of 2018 with the death of John and Christy’s son.  Someone called me and I was invited: Suit and all (unlike Roger who wore a Batman or Superman tee-shirt),   I had just gotten out of the hospital (same date and time as the deceased’s  trip to the same hospital) for a gall-bladder operation (at 74, it does not come easy) and was in much pain from just a day or so earlier. Darlene announced she had such an operation, and I was eager to talk to her and compare notes.

From the minute I walked into the parlor, I started to receive glaring looks from some family members, many not in suits.  John was obviously in pain and unhappy, desperate to see I walk in and I consoled him briefly and discussed the incident, of which I had little knowledge. From the time I wished John and Christy condolences to the time I consoled Gina to the time I walked into the parlor luncheonette, I got the feeling I was shunned because I wore a suit (what a crime!): Or was there something ‘else’? There is always ‘something else,’ I am beginning to understand and discover.  It was almost as if “I” had been the cause of the victim’s death, MiiMii Perez actual hid and glared at me (I realize it was a very depressing and solemn occasion, but ‘glaring’?), you and Darlene skittled off to the lunch room, whereupon I discovered you two and Roger in some deep conversation, which (guess what?) apparently had been about yours truly because the first comment out of your mouth was “what year did you get out of the orphanage?”

(As far as I recall, I came over to the table, quite innocently, to discuss and compare Darlene’s gall bladder surgery against mine, I had no idea I was interrupting your private interrogation about me.)

(I went into the Lutheran orphanage about 4-years of age, or close to it, and must have come out of there about 7 or 8-years-of-age, which brings us to another situation where family members really show their asininities and ignorance: guys, it was a Lutheran home for lost or indigent children, it was not a ‘reformatory,’ or a jail, but had uses for all sorts of families and children, it was not a criminal facility, and the ignoramuses in my family that abound, don’t have the slightest clue as to why my mom put me in there, and one family members was so asinine as to ask: “Did you do something ‘wrong?’” Of course, I explained why my Mom found herself in a situation where she felt it best to put me into the orphanage till I was old enough to go to school and stay by myself.  Not that it will mean anything to the pompous asses that claim to be righteous Christians but are totally ignorant of the facts.)

Here are some March 29, 2018 comments I posted on Facebook, that I posted along with a group photo of myself and some fellow children staying at the orphanage (see downloaded photos at the end of this article):

Here is the “Lineup” of some of my fellow felons and criminals jailed in the orphanage, wrong-doers all, especially the one top far right, dastardly-acting reprobates out to cause terror and crime to adults, SE. ************* As to those family and friends (?) that are attaching to and utilizing ‘rumor’ about my being in an orphanage for three years at the age of six, please get your facts straight, as to what I did “wrong.” A six-year old is hardly accountable for any dastardly-done deed, but other than that your ‘witnesses’ weren’t there and could not possibly know ‘anything’ but rank speculation and, what is now appearing to be, cruel and idle-minded talk. If you want to get fresh and real ‘facts,’ talk to my cousin Betty Banjak (and her husband George) that were on the scenes and part of my life back then and can testify first-hand as to what happened. I talked to George recently and repeated this rumor, and he said “No, Steve, you did absolutely nothing wrong to bring that about, it was all caused by your mother and some the adults at that time, you did absolutely nothing wrong.” Betty Banjak lived with my Mom on Castleman Avenue and was like a co-parent, and knew intimately some of the problems. Here are some facts for your “Case File”: 1) my father, Steve, died when I was 10 months old  and my Mom could no longer be a stay at home mother. She had to go to work, to adequately support a household, and with bothers not able to stay with me, and relatives in the same fix, not enough avenues were open: she would leave me by myself part of the day—-this did not work out so well when the neighbors discovered I was home alone at that tender age, and some were threatening to file complaints with the city. 2) It did not help when I was able to escape now and then through an unlocked kitchen window and roam the streets until the police picked me up (eventually, my grandmother Bork could babysit me until that time I was in school and could stay by myself for a few hours). The orphanage was the best solution as far as babysitting, they had all the facilities and care one could need (though I was heavily heart-broken for those years). It also gave my mother time to sort her personal life out (and that entails some other rumor, if you are interested to accumulate for your “Case File”). Of course, being a problem like that to ‘adults,’ I suppose is a ‘great crime,’ but four-to-six-year-old children are noted for being grand criminals and doing those criminal things to grown adults. George and Betty said they, as well as other relatives, when learning of my Mom’s decision to use the orphanage as a babysitter, were very willing to take me in for those years and help out, but my Mom couldn’t be dissuaded….and then, maybe the city had more to do with her situation than you “adults” were aware. Did “I do something wrong?” Oh sure, like so many other fellow 2 to 6-year-old’s I met in the orphanage, criminals all, out to blacken the lives of “pure, sanctimonious, holy” adults. Get your facts straighten, or bring forth the source of your accusation, or remain silent and ignorant. ********* Now, here is another sick, sordid alley for your investigators of childhood children gangsters: My father, Steve Erdmann, sr., died when I was 10-months-old and the death certificate said he died from “fluoride poisoning.” What a tidbit for our sanctimonious investigators: A 10-month-old baby poisoning his own father: think of the implications! No, it was something much more mundane than that extravagance: He died the year and the same time that the State of Missouri decided to place fluoride into the drinking water of its citizens, and the fluoride reacted with my father’s ulcerated and ill stomach condition. But, hey, you can’t be too careful about those 10-month-old to eight-year-old-child suspects, they might actually find something “bad” us adults might really be doing and make us look “bad.” Shucks, back to the family mystery novel.

Stephen Erdmann to Donna Maxwell: Well, Donna, they haven’t gotten that far yet in regards to my father died when I was 10-months old, it takes time and more sardonic imagination, and gossip, to get to that point—so maybe I shouldn’t have given them ideas. But they did ask me “if I had done something ‘bad'” for my mother to have put me in an orphanage. Weird. I don’t remember it like that, neither do some of my relatives (like Betty and George Banjak), rather they remember relatives feuding and fighting and nobody wanting to take me in as a babysitting situation, so when I did get out of the house, I guess my mom threw in the ‘rag’ and used the orphanage in as much as a solution. Actually, I had a lot of care and even fun out there for those two or three years. But who and ‘why’ do people think up these things and what motivates them? It is almost as if some kind of adulthood-guilt lies in their lives that they even have to think up such fiction! George — and my late half-brother Ed — make a few illusion to ‘friends’ my mom gathered around her while I stayed out on Manchester; now there is something their loose imagination can play with! Hey, go for it!

Stephen Erdmann  Donna Maxwell:  I didn’t exactly find anybody to play with. Rather, I recall roaming the neighbor crying, “Mom! Momma!” I remember it was rather cold or cool and I was in pajama shorts. Finally, a family called me over to their porch and asked questions and a police cruiser came to pick me up, my half-brother showed up at the station and bicycled me home in his front basket. Looking back, it was all kind of amusing (only those years out at the orphanage seemed very gloomy at times).

 — At Lutheran Orphanage on Manchester Road, St. Louis, Mo.

The time and setting for me in the orphanage was somewhat different than the latter years that you probably remember of the 60s; the “atomic” age was upon us, and I remember sitting in the lunch room watching the atomic tests on the television that was provided for the children and adults. We had “duck and cover” exercises to do, in fear of atomic bombs being dropped. News events were posted on a bulletin board and had pictorials of the Korean War and various mafia shootings.  It was the early dawning of the ‘space age’ and the news talked about the progress of rockets and V-2 simulations by captured Nazi scientists (mainstay news, until 1957 and the orbiting of Sputnik). It made an impression on me. Not to mention Saturday TV fare with SPACE CADETS and SPACE PATROL.[2]

Despite my home-sickness, the orphans  and children had all that they needed: a farm with rows and rows of fresh crops, hogs and cows for milk and fresh meat (slaughtered right on the farm), apple trees for apple sauce—and in the summer, picnics galore right on the premises, Ferris Wheel, tilt-a-whirl, you name it: Schooling and teachers, onsite nurse and medical facility, trips to circuses, the now defunct Manchester movie drive-in, horses to ride—quite a bit for lonely children.  Not that It meant a heck of a lot to me at that time. 

And I was not “abandoned” — My Mom, grandparents, brothers, relatives, came to see me regularly on weekends in frequent cycles.  Eventually, yes, actually, I was allowed to come home on the weekends to stay with my Mom and my brother John Erdmann, all tailored to my eventually coming home to be on my own and go to school, and also, at one point, stay with my Grandma Bork, who eventually consented for me to live with her some time before entering St. Trinity.  Of course, only a certain segment of society will be familiar with and sympathetic to the plight of the “working mom.” All this orphanage stuff happened in a span of two to three years, yet my mother’s employment struggles continued for a much longer period.

Were you ever been a “working mother,” Phyllis, did you ever care for children on a daily basis, especially at a tender and infant age? Or, were you protected from this segment of society, of which there is a large, large portion. Were you aware of the plight of “working mothers” in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a special time of hardship for mother and widows?

Not that this information is ‘really’ going to make one darn bit of difference to those who have dedicated and preconceived notions and disjointed facts already lined-up in their heads to slander, defame or further use their evil-thinking to distort and attack. However, for you and me, Phyllis, I will be happy to answer any or questions in a private meeting, in hopes of filling out the truth, until that time it becomes obvious as to those who might be a real enemy and not a friend, in some insuring intrigue and gossip. Contact me at any time. 

But all this, still deeper (or, higher), lurk some formidable questions.  For all the present ‘intrigue’ and ‘gossip’ being discovered and seeping out from the cracks, how come I don’t see my “Second Family” as a bad part of my life but have fond and happy memories of the Smiths? Strange, isn’t it? Where you are finding all kinds of childhood scandal, I remember pleasant playtimes, happy adventures and exciting Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn rustic pleasure with Ronald Smith. Let’s move along and recall some of those pleasant childhood memories that either you were not a part of or deliberately now fail to see.

The trips with the Smiths to Kohler City to visit the town large sale shop and pavilion.  Visits to the Broadway Drive-in Theater (now defunct).  A picnic with Loy’s Baptist church to Meramec Caverns. The trip to the Lemay baseball field and Heine-Meinie’s 4th of yearly July fireworks. Glenda took Stevie to a relation’s rodeo event with the relative riding an actual broking-bronco horse that he owned. Ronnie and Steve’s trips along the railroad track down past the shipyards and Titanium smelters all the way out to Cliff Cave Road where we explored the cave, and climbed up to the bluff and have a cook-out on the cliff. Bicycle trips to Jefferson Barracks several times a year (on one trip, we discovered an old wood-plank-encased ‘fox hole’ along with old Army Canteen food tin cans back in a wooded area—now gone because of the  veterans’ cemetery).  Loy’s church service and baptismal events at the Southway Theater in Lemay. The three to four or more times a year that Ronnie and Steve went to the famous Admiral Boat on the riverfront and took river cruises; Trips to downtown St. Louis for adventure and shopping. The ‘Diggers’ Club’ in your dirt floor basement were we worked many days digging down until Loy said to fill it up. The “Rocket Club” where we made and ‘flew’ actual rockets from and  in the vacant lot next to the Coca-Cola plant, some more successful than others: but they flew —one right out of your backyard barbecue pit — right at dusk — a beautiful sight as it climbed into the sky. Took several minutes before we heard it hit the street over on Minnesota Avenue.  Must have gone very high. Ray Carter was a witness to that one (ah, yes, the infamous Ray Carter, I will have much to say about him shortly). The tent-‘camp-outs’ that Ronnie and I did in his backyard and my back yard: along with snacks and my telescope to watch the night skies. We both swore that if you stared long enough at various stars, they move eventually ‘move.’ The “tree climbers,” we had a favorite tree at the corner of Tesson and Michigan at which we’d practice our climbing skills. The magnificent ‘two-stage’ rocket launch at the vacant lot (electronic ignition, miner’s helmet, and all)[3] out of a ‘launching tube”: blew the whole apparatus to smithereens, and Loy came following after this announcing this was the end of our ‘rocket career.’[4] The many times Ronnie and I stood on the Reilly Street Bridge and watched the Admiral steamboat on the river and its calliope musician perform loudly on its top deck. Ronnie discovered a neighbor ‘mutt’ running wild, of which Ronnie took a liking to, fondness to, and trained and kept the dog for a few days. The dog would follow him about and take any instruction Ronnie gave him, the two had an obvious attraction and affection to each other. Sadly, your mom and dad somehow made a determination that the dog had a ‘disease’ and would have to be “put away.”  Ronnie was heartbroken. I know the feeling, having had to put-down Sparky our pet dog for almost 12 years in the 60s, after some unbeknownst punks had dropped by to visit and attacked Sparky, breaking his spine. Poor sparky had a heck of time, including the times Othie Wright, from across the alley, kept trespassing through our yard, despite Keep Out and Beware of Dog signs and a chain on Sparky. We had to get Sparky out of the dog pound that one time, begin a loyal protector of property, Sparky bit Othie (Sparky had all his shots) and Sparky was arrested by the city and put in jail: but I don’t believe Wright trespassed again. (I pray for Sparky’s forgiveness, every day, as he was a completely innocent ‘person,’  loyal, caring, loving, as so many pets are, and so much better than the ‘humans’ walking the earth.)  I know how Ronnie felt. [5]

The “Cannon Club,” inspired by my reading Jules Verne’s FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON and Verne’s mention of a giant rocket and cannon, and this was a prelude to the “Rocket Club” that came a little bit later. Ronnie went a little further than I did and invented a Civil War-type model of cannon on wheels; I stuck with straight-up pipes and wooden bullets. I shot many of those off in the backyard and that may have caused Darlene’s recollection of someone firing a gun “out back,” and not Ray Carter.

The “Beatnik Club” probably was created in that time period when the Beatniks came on the scene. And we constructed a room down in your basement where we could listen to jazz music and do art and poetry. In fact, I asked Ronnie to paint a nighttime scene of a symbolic road leading towards a horizon bright moon; typical Beatnik stuff.  Also inspired by my late brother John’s ‘art’ and ‘painting’ ambition, with which he had done many paintings, many created working late into the night. John switched to Cleveland High because he heard they had a good art program. It was my Brother John Erdmann’s interest in jazz and art that led me into a similar interest in writing and the paranormal.

Likewise followed by the “Go Cart Club,” (this venture led to ‘speed’ contests on the slope of the downhill Riley Avenue part of the bridge—and Ronnie fell victim to us boys pushing him too hard down the hill and he lost control and crashed; not the first crash the boys encountered, by the way)[6] “River Raft Club,” “The Rocket Room” (simulating the pilot cabin of a spaceship with electronic dials and the whole bit), the “Tree Climbing Club” (the corner tree at Michigan and Tesson, as I already mentioned) and not the least, the “Hikers’ Club.”

Midge and Red, neighbors directly across the alley from our house, address on Minnesota, were typical Carondeleters of the 50s and 60s, and good friends to my mom and stepdad.  Midge was, of course, a midget, and Red was the taller of the two.  Midge had the fame of playing one of the “Munchkins” in the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ (1930s version). Whenever the movie came on television, she would run up to the screen and would point herself out on the TV set.  Both Midge and Red shared the normal fare of being part of the Carondelet scene with factory and household jobs that most in our neighborhood held, and, of course, the corner tavern on Michigan and Primm where a lot of the neighborhood would gather (and held many unpleasant, scary, frightening memories for me).

Dave Schroth and I had had joined the Carondelet Historical Society for many years (Dave, much more intently than I), and for a period of time, would go about Carondelet (and other neighborhoods) photographing and documenting older sites and homes and interviewing the homeowners about the history of the home or business. In a few moments of inspiration, I called your mother, thinking of the history of the building in which your family had lived, but also the rich tales you family could tell about being a south St. Louisan, as I esteemed in my memories of the times with my Second Family. It would have been like old times, I thought to myself. Sadly, your mother brushed us off, and I believe the second call was a promise to get together “far in the future.”  Well, that happened, but, sadly, in a strange and cryptic way.

Not to underestimate our almost weekly trips to the local Michigan Theater a few blocks up Michigan Avenue where we had our imaginations stoked by the continual venue of movies of the 1950s, many science-fiction, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, RIDERS TO THE STARS, THE THING (my brother, John, originally took me to see this movie the first time at the Shenandoah Theater on Grand), GONE WITH THE WIND, EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS, THE HOUSE OF WAX, and so many typical 1950s movie fare.  All of this was adjunct to the similar television programs we were watching at the time, such as SPACE PATROL, SPACE CADETS, TARZAN, LASSIE, and a long spectrum of 1950s media production.

My media ‘training’ actually began in the Lutheran orphanage where the kids could watch in the lunch room televised atomic bomb tests out in the Nevada proving grounds. Of course, we had a number of television sets there, and we saw the usual 50’s media fare of THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE LONE RANGER, MR. PEEPERS, THE LIFE OR REILLY and HOWDY DOODY (we even had a political campaign amongst the children of Mr. Bluster verses Howdy Doody for Mayor of Doodyville. One of the television stations got wind of the campaign and had a Piper cub plane fly over and drop voting leaflets over the orphanage). 

EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS, as I recall, was a particular inspiration, as Ronnie and I would go over to the large vacant lot just south of Loughborough (now a shopping plaza) and ‘play act’ the Army defending against the saucers, the two of us running over grassed mounds of dirt there, throwing imaginary hand grenades and shooting rifles.

I recall the day that, the then,  poor Bobby Williamson was one of the children that was jumping off a makeshift ‘wood plank’ they invented over at the box-factory vacant lot and it did not go well for him and he landed on his back breaking both of his arms.  

Recalled, also, are the many times we walked by 7905 Minnesota, after our neighborhood ‘ventures,’ and passed a child parked on the porch there in a wheelchair—the child, with a deformation due to his hydrocephalus. The child appeared to be happy and eager to see us and always attempted, in not speaking well, to mumble some salutation, of which we giggled to ourselves and ignored him and walked on past. Like so many of our other childhood ‘antics,’ I now regret that greatly and tell myself we should have attempted to be kind to this child who  obviously was in need of love and attention.  We should have been kind to Mary Swartz across the street, despite the gossip and childish remarks about her “mustache,” as all she wanted was kindness, love and affection.

I recall the time my mom asked Loy, Wesley, and my stepdad to help tear-down an old shed in the back yard of 7910 Michigan, and they worked late into the night, seeing their deconstruction job by campers’ lanterns.

And then there is the case of that mean ole’ Raymond Carter; I’ve heard him referenced several times by yourself and Darlene Faulkner as a terrorist from the past.  He was a pretty mischievous child, of that there is no doubt, as were many in the Carondelet neighborhoods, especially those who were living fatherless and with somewhat destitute mothers. Many lived around and right up the street from us, classic cases of the Carondelet class of people. You were a classic case. I defy anyone living in the area to claim a pristine and aristocratic background. But times change and lives move ahead. Since those ‘very early’ days, Ray has left behind many of the things that you and Darlene are trying to ‘nail’ to his hide (like some are trying to do to myself). Ray spent several years in the Army serving in Germany in a Tank Division (I saw his photographs), serving with honors, and then marrying to his childhood sweetheart (as my brother, John, did with Janet Bauer), enjoying many grandchildren, owning now a 12-room-home and also quite a few acres in the Missouri countryside. Also in the ensuing years, Ray (like your dad, Loy) has embraced the Baptist religion and also become a minister of the various churches to which he belonged, Bayless Baptist Church at the present time. He has talked about the various ministralial services and activities he had been a part of, family care, neighborhood ministry, baptisms, outreach services, caroling, others.  Ray would, at times, walk about the pond at Carondelet Park and talk about his church and Christian Gospel in his visit with the other visitors. Yes, this is the ‘same’ terrorist Ray Carter that you, Darlene, a few others, so fondly remember with long noses and tinges of contempt.

Recently, I was invited to have a luncheon with Ray, his wife, and several other members of his church at Miss Sherry’s Restaurant: they all seemed solid people from Lemay, south St. Louis, and thereabouts, many retired and having sober and also congenial stories to tell.

Ray (as do I) recalled many of the same childhood events on Michigan Avenue, clearly, and much in fondness and cherishment (alien to the seeming and sudden probing and diminishing recollections you and Darlene seem to share now) as those happy moments in childhood. It is sad and amazing in how we block-out all that childhood stress with pleasant recreations of our own imagination. Ray remembered using the wood ‘out-house’ in the backyard, playing in your family’s ‘dirt basement’ (one time, because of the darkness, Ronnie asked to guide Ray by his hand in the dark. Ray asked why, and Ronnie said  that in that way Ronnie could plug it into the light socket and shock him; another time, Ronnie was playing with his blaster-squitter gun and the water canister was swung and hit Raymond in the mouth, chipping a chunk out of his front tooth which is visible to this day;  ah, kids!), he remembers the times your Mom had to give you a bath on your kitchen sink because you had no bathroom, he remembers all that and much more. 

As much as we wish our childhood could have been shining examples of pure aristocratic physiognomies, they were not, and kids, such as me, spent a lot of time creating fantasies and imaginative games to compensate, and we pretended we were kings “of our own domains” away and apart from the cruelties about us. [7]

Rather than comparing and remembering the incidents of childhood back on Michigan Avenue as mysterious acts of noir terrorism and crime, actually, to be honest, I would compare those childhood antics to the illustrious antics of The Little Rascals movie themes, and the teenage antics to the Bowery Boys movies.

So many of those “South Side” Carondeleters took consolation and solace in their ‘past memories’ — so much so that some of them advertised a ‘reunion’ of “Old Farts” of the 1960s Carondelet. I am quite sure this group has a more scientific name. Ray discovered them by accident, seeing two of the “Southsiders” putting a sign-up asking people of that era to contact a telephone number for the purpose of reunion. I attended the last meeting, and I was surprised to meet many of them now married, some retired, Louie Bach having worked years in the auto manufacturing industry, quite a few other familiar faces, all now grown, settled in, matured and regular citizens. I met “Victoria,” (another product our common south St. Louis heritage of which we both belong) who said she knew you when you attended Cleveland High School, and would wait for the bus at the corner of Primm and Michigan, drank hot chocolate together and did high school things together. Victoria said to tell you “hello,” when and if I saw you.

These are the same bedrock people that you and I arose from in Carondelet and Lemay:  none that were, now, “looking down long noses” in shame, horror, disrespect, or other invidious glances or gestures, and all apparently, happy and cherishing their ‘memories’ and ‘old times’ in some forms of comradery. As the old saying goes; “It ought to be a book.” I am quite sure these citizens had ‘dark moments’ in their lives of which they had regrets and battles with, the same as you and I had, Phyllis, and. in fact, no one, any one in my immediate family relations could possibly be holding their lives up as being pure. pristine, holy and without blemish; that would be a mistake. We all hold secret tragedies, regrets that everyone probably wishes they had not happened, but none of us request eternal or continual judgment or blame from fellow humans standing in guard over us.

And I bet almost all of us would be very willing to ‘forgive’ each other for past mistakes, as everyone, all, have things that each of us need our fellow person’s forgiveness to live amongst each other.

We hold on to those carefree and happier moments that have helped each human surmount the painful and horrible episodes in their lives in a world that continues to consist of vanity, hate, murder and horror that your Hollywood has also been mirroring pointlessly and hypocritically glorifying. We Southsiders, and those like them in spirit and kind around the globe, are pining and yearning for, in the words of Dorothy, “somewhere over the rainbow.” 


Katie Zenkert  That’s beautiful. I hope he gets in touch. My mother tried to drive a wedge between my father and I, but when I grew older I saw the truth. I always loved my father, no matter what she made me say. The trouble is, those hateful words were the last he heard from me before he died. I never meant them. He loves you.

1Stephen Erdmann  See my Fathers’ Day tale on my meeting with my daughter, I forgive her, though I am not sure there is any way to get that message to her.

  • Katie Zenkert  Stephen Erdmann I can’t seem to find it. Still looking. Hire a private detective to track her email, phone or social media down. My father died without me ever knowing if he forgave me for the hateful things my mother made me say to him. That’s haunted me my whole life since age 12, when he was (possibly) killed. Someday when she is older, this will haunt her as it does me, not knowing if you forgave her. Please don’t let that happen.
    • Stephen Erdmann  Katie Zenkert That’s the uneven part of the equation; your part and feelings; both are so smudged over by PAS there is no telling what is really going on. She told me (shouted at me) that I ‘abandoned’ her— which is absolutely silly in light of the facts, and how much time we spent together after the divorce.(which I didn’t want, even after discovering my ex-wife’s lovers). How far back does this ‘hoax’ go and why did my daughter even participate in it?
    • Stephen Erdmann  I am thinking of writing a letter detailing all the unmentioned details, put it in my safe deposit box, and, have a lawyer type it up and notarize it.

Katie Zenkert  Stephen Erdmann welllll, if it were me, imo, I wouldn’t put the details in a letter typed by a lawyer. It sounds to me like what happened to me might have happened to your daughter. Maybe not all of it, but some at least.

You see, my dad got caught on the phone with his girlfriend, who he had introduced to me a year and a half or so prior. He did so because he and I had the stronger bond by far, and he understood that his coming home at 5am or not at all sometimes made me nervous. Knowing why he was late or absent would comfort me, and it did. I liked his girlfriend immediately. She was warm and genuine, and I kept his secret because I am my father’s daughter and my mother and I didn’t really get along. She was nearly impossible to live with and I knew it.

But, when he got caught and she demanded he leave, I was losing the one parent who understood me, and who protected me, literally, from my mother. I was so upset that he wasn’t taking me with him. He sat me down and said, “Your mother’s gone off the deep end (I knew that), but I have to leave.” He didn’t have to leave. The house was in his name, he could have demanded to stay….with me, for me. So…in the ensuing weeks, my mother took this small flame of upset and lied to me about my father, every day working on me, fanning the flame until I wasn’t upset and sad, I was angry. She caused and manipulated that, completely. She turned to his family, my Oma, my dad’s mother, who I loved. She demanded I tell Oma she no longer had a granddaughter, and I was the only female grandchild in the family.

Then came the day my father was coming to get some things from the house. She rehearsed with me what she wanted me to say. I didn’t say it. In front of him she prompted me, and I knew what was in store from her if I didn’t say what she wanted. So, I did. And I was firm about it. It was hateful. I regretted it afterwards. I thought about calling him when things got bad, but I traced his number in her phone book so many times after she had gone to bed or passed out. She was a light sleeper, though, even when passed out, and she had an extension in her room. She lifted it and listened in on calls with my friend from school often. I knew I could get caught so easily, and if my dad couldn’t or wouldn’t come get me, the consequences would be disastrous for me. I won’t even tell you what she threatened to do to me if I breathed a word about her, her drinking and her behavior toward me to anyone. She promised me no one would believe me. I had a guardian ad litem for the divorce, but it was a man, and I was nervous around him, plus my mother’s threat was foremost in my mind. I thought, what if the judge makes me live with her despite what I say? It was the 70’s, when women were given custody pretty much by default and I knew it. I was 10 or 11, but very smart at figuring things out, plus my mother gave me the legal play by play of the divorce daily. A lot of it was lies, I found out later. It took until her death to find out the extent of the lies she’d told me. So, I told the guardian I wanted to live with her. I didn’t.

Then she manipulated the situation so that my father couldn’t get his visitation with me, and I knew how and what she did. I never saw him again until he died. I regret what I said and think about it a lot. But it took me getting out of her house and beyond her threat to grieve for my dad, to acknowledge out loud to myself how much I always loved him.

My mother created and perpetrated the hoax. She fanned the flame of my sadness and upset at being left behind, she worked on me daily, she lied to me about my dad and his family. I initially believed the lies, and was pretty scared, upset, angry at being left behind and she used that, manipulated it, threatened me until she got me to say what she wanted.

Here’s the thing. No one knew about the drinking, or the threats or anything she was doing to me. No one. Not a single person, because her threats were enough to keep my mouth shut until I was in college and my roommate saw her drunk once – long story why I went back to that house, with my roommate and best friend in tow, no less. I still said nothing until I met my husband, and I trusted him with a little bit at a time. She had me afraid to say a word for so many years.

I always loved my dad. He taught me things I am forever grateful to have learned. I regret forever saying what I did, but it took a LONG time for me to even talk about it, or let go of the anger she created. It took her death to understand the depth of the lies.

What I am saying is, you don’t know what your wife said to your daughter. You don’t yet know if she’s afraid to tell you what might have gone on that you would never have guessed in a thousand years. But know this…a daughter never stops loving her father. Never. And this…. the opposite of love isn’t hate and anger, it’s indifference. She’s not indifferent, she’s angry. I know for certain that means she loves you underneath that.

I don’t know how old she is, but reach out, yourself, not through a lawyer. Do whatever you need to in order to find her and then just remind her of all the things you did for her out of love, the good times, good memories, times when you both connected over something. Tell her how you feel about her, that she’s amazing, that you’re proud, that you would walk through fire for her. That you would never abandon her.

Give her a chance to vent residual anger. Tell her that divorce is tough on kids, she has every right to be angry and sad, and to put it all out there onto you, you can take it, because she is your daughter and that is what you want because you love her so much. Tell her what it’s been like without her. Tell her everything when you have a chance to get a word in edgewise. If she’s still buying into lies told by her mother, just apologize, even if you have nothing to apologize for. Just do and say whatever needs to be done and said in order to get your second chance, for all of us who wish we had one.

When she is older she will understand, she will see the truth and she will regret what she said more than you can possibly know, but we never know how much time we have. My dad’s death taught me that the hard way. Sorry this post is so long, but I felt like the details might help. I wish you all the luck in the world with this. I truly hope you and your daughter find your way back to each other. ❤🌅✌💪♾

Stephen Erdmann  Sounds pretty much like PAS but with a few details on the other sex; new. I did not have a girlfriend, I WANTED A TRADITIONAL GERMANIC MARRIAGE, and I fought to keep it that way; but I began to notice the devil in the details. I caught her in an affair, forgave her, and worked with counselors, told her the main problem was her spousal support (much like her brother and his wife had together; she supported him through law school) I also asked her to do a ‘remarriage’ in the Catholic Church, which we did. Little did I realize it was a farce. Later, my little daughter kept dropping hints inadvertently (names, details) (we had my daughter after this first affair and with remarriage–my ex requested it.) I kept my visitation up on weekends. We did a lot of ventures together. But the bond was under heavy fire by way of new boyfriends and girlfriends that were posing heavy interference. A lawyer said I needed documentation, which I attempted with a telephone wire-tap. It revealed the conspiracy that had been going on for years, (lawyers, girlfriends, other—for years), but I could not use it in court because it was an illegal wire-tap. A contested divorce occurred, and I requested custody of my children; but you know how that goes. Years later, my daughter was of an age that she rather be with her friends, but she wrote me one day and asked to visit with me, and we did for a number of months. I had asked her if everything was okay or if she has any hard-feelings, she said “no, not at all.”‘ She even said my ex-wife wanted to get back-together again. This was a bit of a shock to me, and all I would say is that all I ever wanted from her mom was her love and support. But this all was part of some kind of hoax, a realization that my ex-wife was applying PAS. Much detail has to be left behind because of the length; leave me to say, my daughter disappeared, moved out of her condominium, just about the time I discovered she had a daughter. Emily; a daughter that she lied about and denied. I did discover her new address (about a mile from my Ex’s place). And we would send cards and brought flowers, but could never get her to the door. That ended this Fathers’ Day when we caught up with her pulling up and she cursed me out in a demonic rage. Emily was attendant. Said she would get a court-order if I continued. This is leaving out a lot of intimate details, which I hope to write-up some day. She said I “abandoned her,” that seems to be the opposite of what actually happened. Millions of stories like this exist, but to collect them under one-roof would mean expense and the revelation of the multi-billion-dollar-divorce-racket. My daughter was 51 and my son a little older at this date; I could see the Dark Hand slowly working behind the scenes but could prove nothing.

Katie Zenkert  Stephen Erdmann what is PAS? I tried to do a search on this and didn’t come up with anything.

You wanted a traditional marriage. You were faithful. My Oma and Opa (I’m Austrian/German) had a traditional Germanic marriage: strong, committed and they ap…See More

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Robyn McCoy Had an evil stepmother and she turned my father against his own family, very sad!

Stephen Erdmann  Your welcome to tell your story here.

Robyn McCoy Stephen Erdmann , it’s just too horrible to tell. She’s gone and the world is a better place. My father went first and she did her best to turn me against my own family.

Katie Zenkert  A similar thing happened to my husband and I. His family, especially his mother, didn’t like me. So they/she created such a negative situation that he had to walk away from them and put distance between them. It’s sad. He has 2 nephews he saw just once, when they were babies. They live 15 mins away. There’s just so much anger on their part, I am guessing b/c he didn’t listen to them and chose me instead. We’re married 32 years, so we both chose well.

Additional Divorce Comments: Stephen Erdmann

December 8, 2017

Letter to the Editor/Post-Dispatch News:

Dear Editor: Karin Mark’s letter in the Wednesday OPINION section on December 6, 2017, A 14, “Men also responsible for children born into poverty,” belies the stigmas already placed against men in domestic and divorce cases where penalties are placed against males for all sorts of extravagant and disproportionate reasons (men eventually find out they have only five foes in domestic court: his lawyer, her lawyer, the judge, her innate allurement, and the status quo). Truly, as Mark propagandizes “it take two to tango,” so-to-speak, and here Mark appears to assume that the female quotient in the equation should be near invisible in responsibility, as if men can only carry the full burden and guilt. That needs to be fully explored and scientific investigated.


Steve Erdmann

Steve Erdmann

Recent Update:  7/15/2021 9:52:44 AM

7/15/2021 9:52 AM

Significant and meaningful changes  

have been made since the last update:

please note from last copy

[1]  In Wild’s criticism of Ufoloogist David Marler using the term “skeptical believer,” Wild likewise fits a bizarre and incongruous term I would apply to  Wild as a “religious cultist/atheist.”

[2]  Loy had World War Two photograph-encyclopedias with very graphic scenes of slaughtered, attacked and maimed people of that war that he occasionally allowed Ronnie and I to review, but even we felt it was far too graphic.

[3]  This was reminiscent of the book and movie OCTOBERT SKY about some teenage rocket scientists.

[4] One rocket-launch preparation went haywire in my own room in our house from packing the cap dots, match head ‘fuel’ and compressing the fuel with the end of a wooden spoon:  the fuel ignited and the rocket flew about the room in circles ( of which I was reprimanded by the head of household).

[5]  About two years ago, while I sat on my front porch recuperating from open-heart surgery, I had the opportunity to get to know and become friends with two Tabby cats and their babies, and as the summer wore on, we became close friends. MiiMii was then called “Mama” and the other one, not having her spayed as yet, we named in a misnomer as “Dexter.” I made a promise to Mama that I would do my best to take care of her and Dexter.  Well, the babies were adopted by Joey across the street, and as the winter became more and more hostile, I took my friends into the house for permanent shelter.  Mama became “MiiMii,” and Dexter stayed Dexter, even though “he” was actually a girl. MiiMii would cry at times, though she appeared healthy.  I told her when we got her spayed we would discover the source of her problem. That we did, the vet came back and told us someone has ‘kicked’ her when outside and she was in desperate need of surgery or other.  We barely—barely—got her into a specialty hospital out west of St. Louis: they did immediate surgery, and, like her daddy, she has to have CPR done to her, and with many prayers, she somehow survived.  Then, two years later, we again had to contend with hospitalization once more as she ate something toxic and it blistered her tongue, as she did not eat while in the hospital, nor for some time at home when we brought home to see if she would eat. After much worry, the vet’s medications strengthen her and she came out of a ‘slump’ and is presently a frisky, scampering feline daughter at home.

[6] I had written a science-fiction story on note paper about a machine that was rocket-powered and would reach fantastic speeds on a long ramp, and I asked your Mom to read it as I wanted to get her opinion, and she did that over several days.

[7] I had located Ronnie’s place of business on the Internet, telling about the Company, and it also listed an email address.  I felt positive it was his business and wrote a short hello to him asking if, indeed, this Smith was the same Smith I grew-up with.  I same sure it was.  There was never a reply. 


Photos Extra Steve1 34934490_10156520897824595_8244253719684710400_n

Steve Erdmann – Independent Investigative Journalist

Another version of this article can be seen at The Boys From Carondelet | The UFO Spotlight On…

Rex’s Story

The Saga of Rex Smith


Steve Erdmann

Copyright, C, 2021

Another version of this article can be seen at The Story of ole’ Bud! | The UFO Spotlight On…


Here’s to Rex Smith –

One hell of a man –

He could beat you at Checkers –

With one tied hand –

He knew every red space –

Every black square –

And spot –

And if you thought you could beat him –

You’d have to learn more than –

A lot.


But life was not his checkerboard –

Please crown him now King –

The moves he made while living –

Required a few more things –

His cluttered, dirtied apartment –

Did not royalty make –

And iced and strewn sidewalks –

Threatened his lower flank.


Still Rex –

(Some called him, Bud) –

Persisted to lavish his friends –

And those befriended –

(And quite sure he took with him –

Fond memories of men –

 And those left unattended –)

With his love for Virginia –

Not much stronger then he –

And by her side did stand –

Undauntedly vigilante –

Till she crossed into that –

Spiritual land.


I remember the time –

He and his girlfriend did not speak –

Two weeks without discourse, phone, or gram –

Rex would be seen on porch –

Vodka in hand –

I’d swear if he would not be there –

That tiny porch would collapse –

But often he’d stand there –

Heavy thought –

And time passed.


Heavy breathing –

And drinking –

And talk about friends –

Family and happiness –

Shuttered the man –

As girlfriend Virginia passed away –

His Security Check in hand –

And some token appreciation from a widow’s providence –

Bud still took care of Virginia – and Virginia them –

Without a whimper –

A fight for survival –

Followed the man.


“Stop tht damn drinking –

“My neighbor and friend.’’ –

His double-chin would wobble –

Cigarette in hand –

A twinkle in his eyes, he’d muster –

His rough texture would past –

“Do you give a damn about me? –

“Will your friendship last?’’


Did I or didn’t –

Rex’s health had laid plans –

“Would you come to visit at Piggott?

‘‘There’s a grave in that land –

‘‘It’s held in reserve by family and I –

“And it’s there in that plot –

“That I’ll soon see Arkan.”


I knew Rex was no daisy –

Or flower in full bloom –

But you’d take him for granted –

Like an old tavern spittoon –

He’ll always be here –

That old buzzard and friend –

He’s had a few good years –

If no real wins –

But extremely lonely –

He’ll keep that inside –

But you could tell by his demeanor –

He needed allies –

And he was willing to pay –

A price, a ransom –

To always hold hearts –

To treat people as grandsons –

To wish for fresh starts –

His choice, his selections –

Left much to be mentioned –

Some were drinking buddies –

And some were just spies.


But it became clearer and clearer –

His contribution to time –

His presence on sidewalks –

Cooking, coffee –

Taking rides, sweepstakes tickets—

Baseball and rhymes –

His kitchen window, aglow –

A beacon in the night –

All these contributions did Bud –

Towards life, make a strike. 


These things and places –

Bud would make sight –

Kitchen-window, I can see it from here –

A harbor spotlight, you knew he was there –

Sitting at his table, fumes in the air –

Watching his TV favorite, ear glued to the phone –

While his voice somewhat quivering –

Would tell his sis a poem –

His humor, his wisdom –

Reflected his line –

And he became as one with cantor –

Ribald jokes and rhyme.


And then there was the night –

The old country-boy departed –

For weeks on end, no whiskey or drink –

Did his weaken frame sorted –

But rather, a quiet burden –

A silent  contention –

Seemed to muscle his humor –

And one night early –

Rex became broken hearted –

No longer a rumor.


Outside the Quick shop, he grunted and groaned –

“Are you all right?” —

 “Hell, yes but let us move on!” –

But he wasn’t, tears in his eyes –

But he need not, should not have lied –

Back in the car, drops in his eyes –

His breathing did fly –

Cold sweat descending –

“To the hospital old boy!” –

“No, no, no, to my house let us drive!” –

His eyes ten-feet tall –

“Are you sure?” His lungs filling with fluid –

“No, I am really not sure at all!”


Back on the driveway –

I rushed inside, while Bud assured me –

It would all subside –

A cigarette he lit as if nothing was astride –

But he could not speak –

With the fury he hid inside –

Within minutes I assembled three neighbors –

To observe, but believe I would not –

A strange fate was to occur – I’ve never seen –Sickness come so stalking –

And envisioned a good bath and rest –

On clean sheets –

Would put Bud tip-topper –

And suited for health the next day –

Or the next –

But no more of this stealthing.


Call 911, a neighbor instructed –

“No, oh no, you won’t!” –

Bud suddenly interjected –

Listen, we told him, you go now –

Or go later –

I will not –

He murmured and mumbled –

And continued to argue –

With ambulance coachmen –

I stood by the tele –

Waiting a call from his dear sister –

When his buddy, George, said ‘head on’ –

“Go Take him, he’s acting peculiar’’ –

“He’ll willingly go with you –

“And none other.’’

“This time he’s not lying.”

The ambulance driver would follow—

To swerve and park –

If Bud looked like dying.


Bud wanted to know if the ambulance followed –

But at the hospital entrance –

The coffer-driver departed –

A wheelchair is needed, Bud instructed –

An attendant emerged, “be careful of his polio leg.’’

The ole’ boy even smiled as he rolled down the corridor –

His last –

Never to smile –

As he did in the past.


They all knew Rex down in Piggott –

By his casket, they did bow! –

The checkerboard was now closed –

And shelved –

The game over and gone –

Not another significant sound  —

From the ole’ hound.


Another version of this article can be seen at The Story of ole’ Bud! | The UFO Spotlight On…

Photos Extra Steve1 34934490_10156520897824595_8244253719684710400_n

Steve Erdmann – Independent Investigative Journalist

Hidden World of Symbols!

This article can also be found at The Hidden World of Symbols | The UFO Spotlight On…

Who Are the Illuminati: The Secret Societies, Symbols, Bloodlines and the New World Order (Unabridged)

Frank White

Publisher Description

Hidden behind the veil of their secret society the group known as the Illuminati have still managed to garner great attention and acclaim. They have been blamed for everything imaginable such as being the igniting force behind the French Revolution and being the real masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks. They have even been credited with assassinating both Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, because these two celebrated presidents made the unfortunate mistake of trying to usurp their unquestionable power.

The so called conspiracy theorists say that they are hell bent on ushering in their new world order which consists of the establishment of a one world government, a one world army and destroying the sovereignty of every nation. They are said to be implementing their New World Order through organizations they are identified with as being part of like The Bilderberg Group, The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, The Club of Rome and many others. There are prominent families who are also said to be part of the Illuminati like the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. But are these assertions valid? Does popular society have it right or have they simply misunderstood this secret group? Have they been given a bad rap?

In his revealing book entitled

Who Are the Illuminati: The Secret Societies, Symbols, Bloodlines and the New World Order author Frank White takes a critical look at this powerful underground secret society, who they are and what their intentions are in a world filled with scorn for them. He explores not only the true facts about the group, but also the urban legends attributed to them, some of which are true and others of which have been greatly exaggerated. For example, do they really control the world and everyone else are just slaves to their whims and madness? Do they have a stranglehold on the entertainment and music industries and are the popular stars just puppets carrying out their agenda to the masses? Did they really order the murder of pop superstar Michael Jackson? These questions and many more will be answered in this explosive book.


Darkness is a symbol of evil or mystery or fear. The darkness is almost a monster waiting to swallow you whole. It is the absence of light. Scientifically it is only possible to have a reduced amount of light. The emotional response to an absence of light has inspired metaphor in literaturesymbolism in art, and emphasis. The story of the Light versus the Darkness is one that everyone thinks that they know. The Light is good and the Dark is bad. However, this is too broad of a generalization, for not all of those who follow the Light can be considered to be “good,” and many good people do indeed follow the Dark—you may even know a few yourself.

Underneath all of the issues the Light and the Dark are very simple. It simply has to do with one’s personal point of view. A person who sees the world as a bad place, who sees nothing good anywhere he or she turns, and who thinks that there is no hope of anything better is someone who has a “dark” mind. These people are not necessarily followers of the Dark, but they ARE the basis of that particular orientation. On the other hand, a person who has a positive outlook on life, who tries to find the good in everything, and who often tries to point out that the world is not as bad as people think is a person who is of the Light. Neither one of these ways of thinking is necessarily right or wrong, and both can make good arguments for their own point of view, which is where, ultimately, the problem lies.

Over the years, all of the wars and conflicts that have taken place for anything other than land disputes have been somehow in the form of Light against Dark (in the universe of Firefly Cross, not necessarily always true in our own history). People who had extreme opinions on either side would spark up problems. Once the problems had begun, other people who would normally have been more in the middle, would choose one side or the other based on their opinions at that time, and wars would develop. This is how the whole problem began. The designations of “Light” and “Dark” began to be used to differentiate between the two sides, for “good and evil” were not appropriate since neither side was good and neither side was evil. For it is true that too much light can do as much or more harm than too much darkness, and wherever you find one, the other must surely exist. They are exact opposites, but there will never be one without the other, they must balance each other.

As a quick explination of these two sides as they related to the different conflicts that arose:

Dark: Followers of the Dark with be those with very pessimistic attitudes. They find fault with everything in the world, and humans are one of the greatest sources of those faults. They like to use creatures that aren’t human and can be easily controlled, giving anyone too much freedom is a recipe for disaster in their eyes. The negative aspect of the Dark’s view is that nothing positive can ever come from it, there are always more and more problems to solve, the world is never a good enough place for them. A leader of the Dark may try to conquer the world in order to force his view on how things should be done upon the people, in other words conquer in the name of an idea. (Such as Hitler and the Nazis attempted—there were many people who saw them as heros, and as the Christians acted in the Crusades.)

After Fate took control of these conflicts, they started to be more organized and simple. With the power that Fate had given to each side, there were fewer people just “in the middle.” Everyone chose one side or another to be behind this power. There were fewer “innocents” in the struggles. As the power on each side began to grow, creatures of magic began to appear that were created by and would supplement the power of each side. For the Light, the creatures that were created included the likes of unicorns, nymphs, and dryads. Darklings were creatures such as vampires and werewolves. After a time, it became possible to gauge the power of the Light and the Dark based on how many of these creatures existed.

It so happened that after Fate took over, the Light began to win almost every battle against the Dark. This was due mainly to the Dark’s negative outlook, they were constantly underestimating the Light, while the Light’s positive outlook gave them confidence in every battle. This is when the concepts of Dark and Light as evil and good began to emerge. People thought that the “good” would always triumph. Even so, this angered the agents of the Dark, and eventually pushed them to take actions which concluded with the control of the battle outside of Fate’s total control. (see the page on the history in order to get this in more detail. This is where the two pages begin to cross information.)

Once Fate began to lose control, everything began to change. All the centuries of control after the initial chaos broke down, and the conflicts became more chaotic than they had ever been. Since Fate’s control still had some influence over the Dark, she was able to hold them together fairly well, but the Light began to fall apart, and when a foolish keeper was chosen, the Light was finally defeated…and it was to remain defeated from that day on.

In the present time of Firefly Cross, the Dark has ruled from more than a thousand years, and their power has only grown in all that time. The people of this world are very cynical, and cannot seem to see the good in anything. The Light has become nearly non-existent. All of the creatures of the Light, Unicorns and such, have long since gone extinct, and all that remains of the Light’s power is Chaerius (the dragon), Ra’yl (the guardian), and the sword, Ra’grathon. Fate has charged these few and their new keeper with an important task. Their role is not to be victorious, for the Light does not have enough power for that to be possible, but they are to try to bring the conflict back under Fate’s control. They are to stop the Dark and reduce their power to that of the Light, so that it all may begin again. 


Ancient Symbols and their meanings

Secret Society Symbols

Secret societies were and still are popular around the world. From the ancient Greeks to the Freemasons, secret societies have become a part of history and have influenced politicians and presidents. Most secret societies have symbols that are only known to their members. Here is a list of some secret society symbols.

Secret Society Symbols

Elk Symbol

Symbol of pride, guardianship, stamina, and strength

Elk symbolism comes from Native Americans. It was believed that the elk protected women and would lead them home if they were captured by enemies. Elks were symbols of bravery and were used as a symbol for the warrior’s societies. The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks is a secret society that was founded in 1868. It was originally a social club in New York City. The society originally was only composed of white men and only later admitted people of colour and women. The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks helps many charities, youth programs, and veterans. Its symbol is an elk superimposed on the face of a clock that reads 11:00. There is a red star above the elk. The eleven o’clock significance goes back to one of the founding members, Charles Richardson. He was born and raised in England and then moved to New York City. In England, people would raise their glasses at 11:00 as a remembrance of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After the battle, a curfew was put into place that started at 11:00. The 11th hour also suggests the eve of battle. It is also the Hour of Recollection and members of the club who have died are remembered at that time. While a red star signifies communism, communists were barred from the group. The star represents unity and the elk represents pride, strength, and guardianship.

Elk Secret Society

Because people of colour were not admitted into the original Elk society, the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World was formed in 1897. Their symbol is an elk running on the globe. This symbolizes protection, stamina, and guardianship throughout the world. This organization was founded by B.F. Howard and Arthur J. Riggs. They wanted to form a branch of the Elk’s society but were denied because they were people of colour. They formed their own society instead and it is still active today. They have 500,00 members in 1500 lodges worldwide. This order also helps charities, youth programs, and veterans. They provide spiritual and financial support to their communities. Members wear a ring with an Elk on it. Above the Elk is a five-pointed star surrounded by Roman numerals similar to a clock face. The letters BPOE appear under the Elk. The star symbol represents excellence and divine protection and guidance.

Skull and Bones Symbol

Symbol of death. The Skull and Bones secret society is found at Yale University. It was founded after a dispute between some debate societies at Yale. Its symbol is a skull and bones with the number 322 underneath. The skull symbolizes death and the number 322 symbolizes the death of the Greek orator Demosthenes. When he died Athens became a plutocracy and only rich people were considered citizens. Another name for the Skull and Bones is the Brotherhood of Death. The society was founded in 1832. The Skull and Bones meeting place is called the Tomb. The members are called Bonesmen and they are picked from the elite of Yale University. Until the 1970s the membership was white Protestant males with occasional males of other faiths or races. Females were finally permitted to join in 1992. The society has been known to steal from other societies and keeps its treasures, including human skulls, in the Tombs. Presidents and business people have been members of this secret society.

Skull and Bones Symbol
Skull and Bones Symbol

White Lotus Symbol

Symbol of mental purity, spiritual perfection, rebellion

The White Lotus Society was a secret society founded in AD 402 in China by a monk named Master Huiyuan and a group of like-minded monks. The group was named after a large lotus pond built by Master Huiyan. They observed the Buddhist’s five rules of discipline, they worshiped the Amitabha Buddha and illustrated the teachings through pictures and drawings. The White Lotus Society also encouraged men and women to intermingle which was not done during those times. Later the society took on a millenarian aspect when the members started to believe that the Buddha would return to the Earth and bring mankind salvation. They brought about the destruction of the Yuan Dynasty. The following Yuan government banished the society. Over the next decades, secret societies were made illegal and then legal again. The White Lotus Rebellion which lasted from 1796 – 1804, was brought about by the White Lotus Society. The Qing government quashed the rebellion but not before the members diminished the wealth of the Qing government and weakened its power. Up until 1912 people associated with the White Lotus Society could be served and processed.

White Lotus

Green Ribbon Symbol

Symbol of agriculture, activism

The Ribbon Society was a secret society formed by poor Catholics in Ireland. They formed in contrast to the Protestant Orange Order which was founded to oppose Catholicism. The Ribbon Society called its members Ribbonmen. They were formed to help poor farmers and tenant workers in 19th century Ireland. They were active from 1835-1855. During that time, the landlords of the farms would just kick farmers and tenants out of their houses. They raised taxes beyond what people were able to pay. The Ribbon Society members would attack the process and tithe servers. The Ribbonmen and Orange men clashed in a number of confrontations ending in some deaths. The Ribbonmen wore a green ribbon in their lapel as a symbol of their membership in the society. Green is the colour of Ireland and agriculture. It is symbolic of the earth and activism. The Ribbon Society met in lodges in secret to plan and organize the tenants and farmers in rebellion. They helped establish the policy of Tenant’s Rights.

Green Ribbon
Green Ribbon

Crocodile Symbol

Symbol of power, death, and rebirth. The Neegee Crocodile Society in West Africa is a cannibalistic secret society. They are mostly located in Libya and have been there since the 1800s. The Negee Crocodile Society takes people and eats them to appease the crocodile god and gain power. They believe that eating a person gives them magical powers to help them transform into crocodiles. This group is called the Crocodile Society because their members usually live near water. The members dive underwater with the help of a gourd and wax in their nostrils, and knock over canoes or take people from the edge of the water and drag them underneath the water as a crocodile does to its prey. After killing them, the members imbibe on the person’s flesh. To become a member of this society, a person must sacrifice a family member. This society was believed to still be active in the mid-2000s.

Red Spear Symbol

Symbol of protection, anti-government.

The Red Spear Society was founded in the 1920s in Northern China. This society challenged government control in Northern China. Buddhist monks usually led the Red Spear Society and they carried red spears into battle. The red symbolized protection against disaster. The Red Spear Society was formed to help protect tenants from warlords, bandits, tax collectors, Japanese, and Chinese communists. From 1928-1929 the Red Spear Society rose up against Liu Zhennian, the Nationalist warlord ruler. Liu raised taxes and his army brutalized the tenants. The Red Spear Society rose up to protest the way the tenants were being treated. While they won some skirmishes and managed to set up their own proto-state, the rebellion was eventually crushed by Liu. It was believed that over 3 million people participated in the Red Spear Society.

Yellow Sand Symbol

Symbol of protection and anti-government.

The Yellow Sand Society was a secret society founded in China in the early 1900s. The Yellow Sand Society was a millennial group that believed the only members of the Yellow Sand Society would be spared in the upcoming armageddon around 1919. They were against government intrusion and increasing taxation. They were involved in many uprisings but were usually crushed. When the People’s Republic of China was formed, they outlawed secret societies, but there were still active members of the Yellow Sand Society into the 1980s. The Yellow Sand Society wanted to restore the idyllic Ming Dynasty. They believed through magic, that they were immune to gunfire. They carried a yellow flag during uprisings. The Yellow Sand Society wanted a reign of happiness and justice for all people.

Rosy Cross Symbol

Symbol of consciousness, education, knowledge.

The Rosicrucians were a secret society formed in Europe in the early 17th century. They believed in a universal reformation of mankind. Their main symbol was a rosy cross symbol. This was a calvary cross with a rose in the middle. This symbol first appeared in Byzantine and was adopted by the group. Some people believed that the cross was a representation of the human body and the rose symbolized the opening of the consciousness. Christian Rosenkrutz formed a small circle of friends in 1407 who agreed to help the sick without receiving payment and maintain a secret fellowship. This was the foundation of the Rosicrucians. Manifestos were written by Rosicrucians about astrology, philosophy, and alchemy. These manifestos helped promote and expand the group throughout Europe. The Rosicrucians were the foundation for many other secret societies later in Europe, some of which are still active today.

Rosy Cross
Rosy Cross

Square and Compass Symbol

Symbol of morality.

The Freemason Society was established in the 14th century by local stonemasons. They have different degree levels that include: Apprentice, Journeyman/Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. As they progress through these levels they learn new information about the Freemasons and are trusted with different responsibilities. The Freemasons meet in private lodges where they bestow degrees on their members and listen to lectures about Masonic history. They are guarded by an armed swordsman at the door who is there to keep non-members out of the lodge. The Freemasons’ main symbol is the square and compass symbol. The square symbolizes squaring their actions by a square of virtue to all mankind. The compass symbolized how to conduct yourself within certain boundaries. Put together, the square and compass symbol symbolizes wisely conducting actions within boundaries. The Freemasons support charitable causes that contribute to health, education, and old age. The Freemasons are sworn to secrecy about their society and symbols.

Square and Compass Symbol
Square and Compass Symbol

Hatchet Symbol

Symbol of survival, power.

The Carbonari were a secret society in Italy. Their name means charcoal burners and they were founded by charcoal burners in the 18th century. They called their meeting place a baracca which is a hut. The interior of the baracca was called the vendita which is a coal-burning term meaning the place for selling coal. The members were called good cousins and non-members were called heathens. The members consisted of apprentices and masters. The masters wore a small hatchet signifying their rank and were bound to secrecy about the Carbonari. They organized to establish a constitutional government and defeat tyranny. They also defended the common people against tyranny. They rose against King Ferdinand I in Italy in 1820. Because of this uprising King Ferdinand I agreed to a new constitution. The rebellion was beaten down and the Pope excommunicated members of the Carbonari. In 1831 they rose up again in support of Duke Francis IV of Modena. The leader of this uprising was arrested and condemned to death before the uprising could take place. The Carbonari continued until 1848. They were an influence to other secret societies that arose afterward in Italy.

Double Leaf Symbol

Symbol of growth.

The Double Leaf Society was founded in Japan in the 1920s. It was a secret military society composed of majors and colonels who had graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. They wanted to oust Choshu elements from the Imperial Army who held higher ranks. Because the Coshu had been given these ranks, the members of the Double Leaf Society were less likely to be granted higher leadership roles. The Double Leaf Society also hoped to prepare the Army system for national mobilization. The members of the Double Leaf Society ended up merging with another secret military society.

Black Dragon Symbol

Symbol of nationalism, vengeance.

The Black Dragon Society was a secret nationalistic military society in Japan founded in 1901 by martial artist Uchida Ryohei. Their goal was to keep the Russian Empire out of East Asia. Its members included high ranking military officials, Cabinet members, and secret agents. They were in charge of an espionage training school that trained spies to spy on Russia. The members of the Black Dragon Society were active in the Russo-Japanese war as spies and assassins. They also waged a successful psychological war against the Russians. The Black Dragon Society formed alliances with different Buddhist sects. In 1946 the Black Dragon Society was disbanded.

Black Dragon Symbol
Black Dragon Symbol

Owl Symbol

Symbol of knowledge.

The Bavarian Illuminati was a secret society that was founded by Adam Weishaupt in Germany. The society lasted from 1776-1785 although some people believe it is still around today. The Illuminati believed in Enlightenment ideals. Weishaupt wanted to promote those ideals throughout the German elite. He hoped that the new members would be well versed in philanthropy, reason, and other more secular values so they could spread their influence in politics. Members of the Illuminati would infiltrate other secret societies, such as the Freemasons, in order to recruit people to their society. The members of the Illuminati wanted to infiltrate and overturn the monarchical rule. Eventually, the Illuminati hoped to take over the world. They used many bizarre means to keep their identities secret including spy-like protocols. One of the Illuminati’s symbols was an owl on top of a book encircled by laurel leaves. These symbols together mean the victory of knowledge over religion. The Illuminati was disbanded in 1785 when Karl Theodor, the Duke of Bavaria outlawed secret societies. After they disbanded their myth still lives on. They were accused of infiltrating the Freemasons and were accused of being behind the French Revolution. George Washington mentioned the Illuminati in a letter that kept the society and secrets alive in America.

Bavarian Illuminati Owl
Bavarian Illuminati Owl

Horse rider Symbol

Symbol of wealth, sportsmanship.

The Bullingdon Club was established in 1780 at Oxford University. It was started as a sporting club that was dedicated to horse-racing and cricket. Members of the Bullingdon Club are known for extravagant meals and destruction. Their uniforms are expensive and tailored. The president of the club is referred to as the General. He presents the winner’s cup at an annual horse race. The symbol for the Bullingdon Club is a rider on horseback playing cricket with a flag and the letters BC included. The horseback rider symbolizes wealth and power. Members of the Bullingdon Club have gone on to be prominent politicians and members of society.

Red Cross Symbol

Symbol of charity and martyrdom.

The Knights Templar were a secret society dedicated to helping Christians on their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. They were active during the Crusades. Members of the Knights Templar pledged obedience, poverty, and chastity. They abstained from alcohol, swearing, and gambling. They formed a bank with pilgrim’s money and loaned money to kings. Their symbol was a red cross which is a symbol of charity and martyrdom. The three ranks of Knights Templar included the noble knights, the non-nobel sergeants, and chaplains. In order to join the rank of knights, members had to have already been knighted. The Knights Templar were founded by Hugues de Payens in 1118. He was the first Grand Master who oversaw the whole operation including the financial operations and the military operations. Their surcoat and mantle each bore the symbol of the red cross. The order of the Knights Templar was dissolved in 1312.

Red Cross
Red Cross


   To a child, signs and symbols emerge in the consciousness prior to an understanding of governing rules. Children see the world in deeply symbolic terms. We teach children through signs and symbols, red means hot, blue means cold, an arrow means to go this way or that, etc. The physical world is discovered through tactile sensation; the feel of a mother’s breast, the touch of a bare foot on wet grass, the way food feels on the lips. All the senses combine to create the initial response vocabulary through which the child interacts with his or her surroundings for the rest of their lives. Hot, Cold, Up and Down, Over there and Over here begin with the physical senses. But tactile sensation is insufficient for creating the intellectual vocabulary that the child will employ to define his or her place in the world. This requires an initiation into semiotics (the study of signs and symbols). By developing an understanding of the meaning behind signs and symbols the child learns to see beyond the surface to what lies beneath and to develop a critical eye for nuances; to discern between the representation of the thing and the thing itself and thus to see the genuine from the artificial. This ability is of great importance as the child grows to adulthood. It is the means by which they differentiate the friendly other from the threatening stranger; the honest teacher from the propagandist; the statesman from the politician and most importantly to disambiguate their own true selves from the many false but alluring identities modern culture will inevitably thrust upon them. We must teach our children the value of sign and symbol, the meanings they possess and how to interpret them. To do less is to leave them blind in a world that can be hostile and dangerous. 

   How do we teach this? By engaging our children from an early age in thoughtful, introspective contemplation of what things mean beyond what things appear to be. Literature plays an important role in this, especially children’s literature and fairytales that employee symbolism in very insightful ways.  But also by living symbolic lives ourselves, acting with the knowledge that we are being watched by our children and that they interpret what they see in very symbolic terms that border on the language of the mythic. For example, a son looks at his mother not simply as a provider and nurturer but in much more complex and iconic terms. She becomes THE mother so when she acts in a fashion that goes against this mythic interpretation of her role she diminishes more than the way she is viewed by the child, she diminishes the very concept of what motherhood means. It is no different for the father. For sons, and especially daughter’s a father is more than his mothers mate. He is the all father, Odin, Zeus, YWHE at their most mythic level. The father is possessed of what is understood to be a supernatural virility and potency. What son does not become fascinated at the moment he stands beside his father to pee out of doors? This is a rite of passage most sons will go through at some point and while it may seem vulgar it is an important moment with tremendous psychic weight. Or the times a father and son spend wrestling on the living room rug. These are spiritual moments as much as physical. They harken back to Jacob wrestling with God or The trials of Hercules. It is at moments such as these the child first understands the father to be something great, then as he grows into adolescence something familiar and finally with the progression into young adulthood something akin.  

   Daughters likewise have their own rites of passage which they must (or at least should) go through. When a daughter proclaims that she wants to marry her daddy the statement is not an idle off hand remark, or a cute childish fancy to be laughed at, because indeed that child wants to grow up to embrace the essence of the true father figure. This is not an example of a masculine sexism. Quite the contrary. All beings define themselves by reflecting on what they accept as being the other or opposite. In the case of women that means men and in the case of the wife the other is the husband and for daughters the other is the father. In the absence of parents living symbolic lives the child is left without a vocabulary by which they can define themselves. This is not to say fathers and mothers must follow some assigned role from a religious play, or Greek theater. Symbolism is only important when the symbols themselves reflect something attainable and understandable. If we as parents fall into the habit of making every action an exercise in symbolism then we fail to progress and we fail to instill in our children a desire to move forward, to examine the world and to be critical of what he or she encounters. While teaching children the importance of symbols we should take care not to become a parody of the symbol. We should remember that we are the thing and not simply a representation of the thing. In my case, I am to be a father. My task is be a father and live symbolically for the benefit of my son not to become an abstract symbol of fatherhood.


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Politics, Religion & Ideology 

Volume 19, 2018 – Issue 4: Symbolism and PoliticsSubmit an articleJournal homepage

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Introduction: Symbolism and Politics

Graeme Gill &Luis F. Angosto-FerrandezPages 429-433 | Published online: 13 Dec 2018


Symbols are central features of organized human life, helping to define perception, shaping the way we view the world and understand what goes on within it. But, despite this key role in shaping understanding, there is never a single interpretation of a symbol that everyone within the community will accept, and the way in which symbols can mobilize antagonistic political factions demonstrates that they are as much a central element for power struggles as they are avenues to facilitate processes of identification. This dual potential is the object of discussion in the papers in this special issue, which sheds new lights on the understanding of the political function of symbols in a historical period characterized by volatile electoral behaviour, fragmented societies in search of collective identifications and growingly polarizing political models.

Symbols are central features of organized human life. While most apparent in some formal spheres of activity, like organized religion or the emblems of statehood (flags, hymns, escutcheons), they are actually present in all walks of life. This is because they perform an essential service in making complex phenomena appear simple and legible. They represent, in simplified form, complex ideas, reducing them to simple images which convey the complexity they represent. For example, in the Christian religion, the symbol of the cross represents a whole panoply of assumptions and beliefs about life and the hereafter, while in international politics the national flag represents the essence of the nation and its identity. Symbols facilitate understanding of the world by rendering complexity in ways much more easily understandable by reducing that complexity to simplified images. In this sense, symbols help to define perception; they shape the way we view the world and understand what goes on within it.

Although symbols play a key role in shaping understanding, they are not univocal. This means that there is never a single interpretation of a symbol that everyone within the community will accept. Different groups and individuals will interpret symbols differently because they all have the capacity to create the virtual reality within which they operate. For example, while the fervent Catholic will see the cross as representing true faith, for the atheist it means blind acceptance of myth and superstition; and while much of the population may view the national flag as a symbol of the united national community, in former settler societies indigenous groups may see that flag as a symbol of oppression, of the invasion of their land by the settlers. Symbols are thus multivocal, having different meanings for different people. This multivocality of symbols means that symbolic discourse is a battleground of ideas and interpretations as individuals and groups struggle over political questions and seek to mobilize symbols in support of their cause. This combination of the centrality of symbols and their multivocality means that in any political conflict, it is important for the different sides to try to secure the dominance of their particular mode of symbolic discourse, of their interpretation of the symbols. If they can achieve this, and thereby have the particular dispute framed in terms of their preferred symbolic discourse rather than that of their opponents, they will have an advantage in the playing out of the political conflict.

This is evident in the papers in this special issue. Authors come from a variety of disciplines (history, anthropology, cultural studies, political science) and the case studies from different countries, but they all testify to the irreplaceable role of symbols in the formation and maintenance of political communities. In our day-to-day life, symbols are key markers in the shaping of (apparently homogeneous) collective identities. But, at the same time, the way in which symbols can mobilize antagonistic political factions demonstrates that they are as much a central element of power struggles as they are avenues to facilitate processes of identification. The way in which one of the most potent symbols of all, the dead human body, has been mobilized in symbolic conflict reflects this dual dimension of political symbolism, and some of the papers in this issue revolve around this question.1

The visceral nature of the human corpse means that, symbolically, it has a great impact, and therefore the struggle to define it and its meaning in any particular situation can have significant, even existential, implications. The ability to frame death and control the disposition of the body has been one of the most powerful things appropriated by organized religion, but it has also been important in political terms. As Verdery shows, the exhumation and reburial of revolutionary leaders, heroes, artists and ordinary people in the wake of the collapse of communism has been instrumental in the widespread revision of common understandings of the past and in the reorientation of society into the future. In this sense, the bodies took on new political lives—as did the societies in which those bodies were re-situated. This is evident in the piece by Robbie Peters in this special issue. Peters shows how the treatment of those who died during the Indonesian revolution in 1945 became a weapon in the struggle for primacy between the local community and the new national state. On the one hand, a patterned contrast in the treatment of the corpse of (foreign) enemies and that of Indonesian soldiers contributed to provide nationalist framing to the emergence of the new state. In parallel, burial of revolutionary heroes in the local kampung cemetery constituted an authentication of the importance of the local community and a statement of its identity, in direct contrast with the burials in national graveyards, which represented an affirmation of the national community and state. The body and its treatment thereby became a key object of disputation in the tug of war between local and central power and of the battle over how the community should be conceived, locally or nationally.

The role of symbols in defining identity and in the process of opposing central power is also suggested by Michael Humphrey’s study of the ‘disappeared’ in Colombia. The search for the bodies of those killed illegally in former years and the struggle to define them represent an effort on the part of elements in the society to call the state to account for past abuses. While the ‘disappeared’ remain unknown and unidentified, they represent the impunity of their killers and the continuing exclusion of them from the imagined national community. Their exhumation and identification, plus the re-labelling of them from the ‘disappeared’ to the ‘missing’, means their readmission to that community and a calling of the state to account for its actions. As a symbol, the dead are therefore central not just to the contemporary course of day-to-day politics, but to the very trajectory of the state and its political system and its relationship with the broader community. If reconciliation is to be brought about, it is through the treatment of these bodies that it will have to be achieved. Symbols are thereby central to creating the conditions on which both the community and the state will advance into the future and how they will relate to each other.

Bodies can be crucial in the structuring of the relationship between state and society in another way as well, highlighted in the paper by Luis F. Angosto-Ferrandez: the treatment of the body of former dictators and heads of state. The importance of such treatment is reflected in a number of historical examples. The discovery and destruction of the body of Adolf Hitler was crucial to the allies’ attempt to bury Nazism, while the Italian partisans’ abuse of Mussolini’s body and that of his mistress was important in their sending of a signal to both the allied forces and the Italian population. The removal of Stalin’s body from the Lenin mausoleum in Moscow and its burial near the Kremlin wall in 1961 (plus the bust placed over it in 1970) were important messages about official policy and how it was changing. But perhaps the clearest attempts to use bodies in this sort of symbolic fashion have occurred where the bodies of national leaders are placed in mausoleums and put on show. This was particularly common in communist regimes, where Lenin, Mao, Ho, Dimitrov, the two Kims and temporarily Stalin were treated in this way. But it was not only fully fledged communist regimes that acted thus. Franco in Spain and Chavez in Venezuela were also placed in mausoleums in a clear attempt not only to maintain their ideological authority but to buttress the legitimacy of the regime following their demise. The attempt to transform them into objects of veneration thus reflects both the desire to rewrite (and sanitize) the past and to prolong the regime into the future. This illustrates the important temporal dimension of symbols; they can mediate change over time, but similarly, their meaning will also shift as time passes.

The attempt to project the past leader’s body as a symbol of legitimacy (or in the cases of Hitler and Mussolini, of delegitimation) highlights the significant stake state elites have in seeking to control the symbolic discourse. Given that it is impossible for state elites to so control their populations that they can make symbols univocal (i.e. ensure that everyone understands the symbols in exactly the same way), the best they can hope for is to bring about the hegemony of their understanding of the discourse to ensure that their interpretation is the dominant one in the community. This can be the basis for the generation of consensus, although if the attempt at hegemony fails, it could lead to instability and conflict. This is particularly important when regime change comes about, and the new regime seeks to consolidate itself in power. Replacement of the former symbolic discourse is the aim because this will help to consolidate control, but as Graeme Gill shows, this is not an easy thing to achieve. Given that the multivocality of symbols is rooted in part in the personal experiences of society as a whole and the constituent parts of it, that multivocality is impossible to overcome. Nevertheless, regimes do seek to achieve this, principally through the generation of a narrative that will organize and integrate the symbols into a compelling story. Yelena Nikolayevna Zabortseva shows how the Niyazov regime pursued that objective in Turkmenistan, highlighting the relationship between the regime’s symbolic discourse and its political structure.

But it is not only at times of regime change that the creation of a coherent narrative explaining the symbolic discourse is necessary. As Christopher Houston shows in his study of Turkey following the purported coup attempt in 2016, governments expend significant efforts to frame political developments in such a way as to justify action they might take. In this case, the framing of the coup in terms of distinguishing between plotters and martyrs was central to the government’s attempts both to delegitimize the coup and to legitimize the changes to the political structure that it has brought about in the wake of the coup’s failure. The manipulation of symbols is thus central not just to immediate political developments but also to the course of regime construction beyond those developments. Government difficulties in exercising effective control over the symbolic discourse in society, or a significant shift in that discourse as appears to be occurring in the contemporary US, are quite reliable symptoms of political instability.

As the earlier discussion of bodies shows, it is not only governments that seek to use symbols for political ends. Mary Hawkins and Helena Onnudottir show how political parties, in this case in Iceland, make use of symbols to express their identity and to attract support in the electoral arena. This occurs in all societies and has been at its most stark in countries where literacy has been limited and parties have had to rely on visual images (such as colours or animals) to make contact with voters. The generation of such images can also be important in times of substantial change when new parties emerge and existing parties must re-orient themselves. But to be successful, such symbols must resonate with the populace (or at least part of it), and therefore the most successful appear to be those that have some cultural or historical appeal. It is by linking with the intellectual and emotional underpinning of the society that symbols are best placed to harvest support for parties (and regimes) and thereby to become key elements in the continuing political process.

Similarly, opposition elements will seek to generate symbols with such resonance in their attempts to challenge the status quo. Peter Morgan shows how the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare sought to define the public persona of the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha in an attempt to influence his actions and bring about a possible change of regime trajectory. This is an example of a significant strand of dissident literature common across communist Eastern Europe in which official symbols were mobilized to critique, and hopefully educate, the regime. This a good example of how official symbols can be manipulated and reframed by oppositionists and how this may be difficult to combat at the symbolic level; the Albanian regime had to resort to administrative means (censorship) to overcome Kadare’s symbolic assault.

As a whole, the papers in this issue constitute a stimulating platform for the production of knowledge about and better understanding of the political function of symbols in society. In a historical period characterized by volatile electoral behaviour, by increasingly fragmented societies in search of collective identifications and by the confrontation of political models, we hope that the interdisciplinary effort encapsulated in this issue contributes to revitalize the analysis of political symbols, and also that it provides new grounds for comparative study.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. Notes on contributors

Graeme Gill is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. He is a long-time scholar of Soviet and Russian politics, also with interests in the state and its development, and in authoritarian regimes more generally. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a former president of the International Council for Central and East European Studies.

Luis F. Angosto-Ferrandez is Senior Lecturer in the Departments of Anthropology and Spanish & Latin American Studies at the University of Sydney. He is author of Venezuela Reframed (2015), co-editor of Anthropologies of Value (2016), The Politics of Identity in Latin American Censuses (2016), and Everlasting Countdowns: Race, Ethnicity and National Censuses in Latin American States (2012), and editor of Democracy, Revolution, and Geopolitics in Latin America: Venezuela and the International Politics of Discontent (2014).

Luis F. Angosto-Ferrandez


The classic study is Katherine Verdery, The Political Lives of Dead Bodies. Reburial and Postsocialist Change (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).


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Paleoanthropologist Discovers Set Of Geometric Signs Used Around The World 40,000 Years Ago


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Karlstads universitet 651 88 Karlstad Tfn 054-700 10 00 Fax 054-700 14 60 Estetisk-filosofiska fakulteten Engelska Björn Bruns The Symbolism of Power in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies Engelska C-uppsats Datum: Hösttermin 2008/2009 Handledare: Åke Bergvall Examinator: Mark Troy The Symbolism of Power in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies An important theme in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies is social power relations. These power relations are everywhere on the island, and are shown at different levels throughout the novel. These power relations are illustrated by symbols in the novel, which center on two different power systems, a democratic system, with Ralph as the head, and a dictatorial system with Jack as the leader. Sometimes these symbols are tied so closely together to both power systems that they mean different things for each of them. The aim of this essay is to investigate the different kinds of symbols that are used in the novel, and to show how they are tied to its social power relations. Those symbols that I have found are always important items that either Ralph or Jack use intentionally or unintentionally. The use of symbols is crucial to this novel, thus Golding shows us that an item is more powerful than it first seems. – 1 – An important theme in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies is social power relations. These power relations are everywhere on the island, and are shown at different levels throughout the novel. The novel, according to Kristin Olsen, concentrates on describing “the desire for power, […] the fear of other people, anger and jealousy” (2). The power relations in the novel reflect Golding’s own “experience of the war, […] the use of the atomic bombs on Japan, in the postwar revelations of the Holocaust and the horrors of Stalinist Russia” (Baker, “Fables” 315), in particular the battle between fascism and democracy, seen in World War II and the battle between dictatorship and democracy during the Cold War, which had just begun. These power relations are illustrated by symbols throughout the novel, which center on two different power systems, a democratic system, with Ralph as the head, and a dictatorial system with Jack as the leader. Sometimes these symbols are tied so closely to both power systems that they mean different things for each of them. The aim of this essay is to investigate the different kinds of symbols that are used in the novel, and to show how they are tied to its social power relations. A central symbol at the beginning of the novel is the conch shell. It is Piggy who finds it. He has seen this shell before and he has heard that it can be used as an instrument to make a loud sound (Golding 15). This gives him the idea to give it more purpose than just a sound machine. Whoever holds the conch in their meetings has a right to speak, and everyone accepts that. What power the conch really possesses is made clear by Golding when he describes the situation after the election of Ralph as the leader: “[M]ost obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch” (Golding 22), i.e., the boys gain power through holding the conch. This rule is made by Ralph, through Piggy (Golding 33) and shows that the conch stands for law and order, a main trait of a democracy, since everyone has the right to free speech with the conch. The shell becomes “a symbol of parliamentary order” as Piggy, together with Ralph, turns it into “a tool of civilization” (Olsen 6). The conch shell is a – 2 – symbol of democratic power; in fact it is “more than a symbol – it is an actual vessel of political legitimacy” (“Themes, Motifs & Symbols”). As John Fitzgerald and John Kayser argue, by introducing the conch, “Piggy can […] be deemed the true founder of the parliamentarian society created by the assembly” (81). These assemblies are important, because that is where the conch is used as the tool of power, since everyone listens to the holder of the conch and has to wait for their turn to speak. Once they get the conch, they get to speak and everyone listens. The conch thus provides freedom of speech, as well as law and order. The conch’s power, though, is completely dependent on the recognition by the boys (Fleck 34). But when the power shifts over to Jack, the conch slowly loses its influence. At the end of the novel, the democratic power system is symbolically terminated by the destruction of the conch: “[T]he conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist” (Golding 181). With the conch gone, the dictatorial system prevails: “The shattered conch symbolizes the end of reason and a once known civilization with all of its structure and ideals pertaining to it. In correlation to the view of the author, after authority is destroyed on the island, the boys succumb to savagery” (“The Use of Symbolism”). In this case, the conch is the last thing that is holding the democracy together; with the conch shattered, all that Ralph and Piggy have fought for is destroyed and gone forever on the island. Another symbol for Ralph’s group in the novel are the shelters they build (Golding 52). After Ralph is voted leader, he decides to improve and organize the conditions for everyone on the island. Not only do the shelters provide safety from wind and weather for all the children, but they also act as a sort of team building that everyone finds worth participating in. Furthermore, it is a way to maintain civilization on the island. Having something that the boys can call a home also helps them overcome their fears. The very first step to make civilization for settlers was to settle themselves down by building homes. This is exactly was Ralph wants to do too. This is reinforced by the map over the island that makes – 3 – all the boys feel even safer (Golding 27). The map would show where it is safe and what things are important to know. It is like a life saver for the boys that are afraid of exploring. Ralph’s organization, the shelters and the map are symbols for the making of a democracy, because, in a democracy, everyone should have the right to live free and without fear. The glasses are another important symbol on the island. It is Piggy who has this very important tool of power, being the only one with glasses. Once the boys decide to make a signal fire in hope of getting rescued, Ralph comes up with the idea that Piggy’s specs can be used as a lens to focus the sunbeams on one point which leads to making fire (Golding 40). Without Piggy’s specs it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to get a fire lit (Golding 40). The boy having the specs can therefore be considered as the lord of the fire on this island. The person having command over this tool of power has a big advantage over everyone else. In the beginning it is Ralph who has the power, since Piggy is in his team. But later on, when the power systems change, Jack decides to steal the specs because he knows that they are important and powerful (Golding 166-67). Hence Jack acquires this important tool to create fire. This makes him the new lord of the fire, and gives him even more dictatorial power. He now has one important tool that Ralph and Piggy do not have anymore, which in turn diminishes their power. Also, the glasses were used for two purposes before Jack stole them. They were used to make fire (Golding 41) and to help Piggy see. After the theft, Jack can only give them one purpose, to start the fire round which the tribe gathers. This means that the tool is converted into the dictatorial arsenal, at the same time that it neutralizes Piggy because he can no longer see clearly. Jack offers a man for his personal, and his tribe’s gain. In the beginning of the novel, there is serenity. Then there is loudness after Jack and his tribe take over the island. Of course, even from the start the boys are shouting every now and then when they play, but overall the atmosphere is calm. This peacefulness is also a symbol for the democratic power system. The blowing of the conch is the loudest thing on the – 4 – island to that point (Golding 17). Since the conch is the symbol for the democratic power system, it is fitting that it is the loudest, and that it demands silence: “By the time Ralph finished blowing the conch the platform was crowded. […] Silence now” (Golding 32). When the military boys with Jack in front meet up with everyone else after Ralph blows the horn, Jack asks: “Where is the man with the trumpet?” and Ralph responds: “There’s no man with a trumpet. Only me” (Golding 20). The conch is so loud that one can hear it far away. The assemblies are normally not topsy-turvy and no one shouts, except for Jack. Loudness is what Jack needs, and this is only one of many examples when Jack is very loud. This is somehow ironic, since he is the leader of a church choir where harmony, not noise, is the norm. His role as “chief” for the dictatorial power system requires him to be loud. Everything he does is noisy. He does that because he needs the other boys to be drowned out. When he speaks to his fellowship, he either yells at them or talks to them in a very clear voice. He never whispers or uses any form of silence except while ambushing (Golding 166). Jack’s whole tribe are loud while dancing, hunting and killing (Golding 152). These are the main things they do on the island and they are all noisy actions. This means that loudness in the novel becomes a symbol for the dictatorial power system. The fire itself, after being created by Piggy’s glasses, is a very important symbol for both the democratic and the dictatorial power system. It stands for either a beacon for Ralph’s rescue and safety, or for Jack’s food and war dance. The signal fire has to be lit at all times, so that passing ships can pick up the lost boys: “The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don’t keep a fire going?” (Golding 80). But the boys find it hard to keep the fire burning. Most of the boys really do not understand the importance of the fire and therefore tend to ignore it. Especially Jack is not very keen in dealing with the fire as a symbol of need for rescue. First after a ship misses them because the fire is out does Jack apologize to Ralph because he sees that it clearly was a – 5 – mistake. Ralph tries to talk sense into Jack and is upset at how Jack feels about the fire: “I said before, the fire is the main thing. Now the fire must be out- […] Hasn’t anyone got any sense?” (Golding 102). Ralph and his democratic camaraderie feel safe when the fire is lit. It gives them hope. Also it saves them from being attacked by the beast or any other malevolent creatures. For Jack, the fire also provides a place of safety and a sense of being home, but he goes further than just that. He uses the fire as a weapon too: “Ironically, at the end of the novel, a fire finally summons a ship to the island, but not the signal fire. Instead, it is the fire of savagery – the forest fire Jack’s gang starts as part of his quest to hunt and kill Ralph” (“Themes, Motifs & Symbols”). After Jack steals the specs from Piggy, giving him command over the fire, he uses it for his own tribe’s interests. The fire from now on stands for Jack’s and his tribe’s camp, their cuisine, their dance area and their social meeting point, the place where Jack and his followers meet to discuss their work, the hunt. Eating is another symbol in Lord of the Flies. When the children eat fruits, they live off the island and do not work to get their food. Eating pork instead is a dictatorial demand, Jack’s way of persuasion, since they had to kill for this meal. But Ralph is not doing any of this. Instead he bites his nails until his fingers bleed (Golding 131). Ralph’s behavior could be interpreted as self-cannibalism, slowly gnawing and consuming him to defeat (Olsen 11). When Jack and his group meet to feast at the fire, they eat pork, which they get as a result of the hunt. This is also why more and more boys join Jack’s tribe: to get pork. Since the boys are bored with eating fruits and crabs, they want real meat. This decreases Ralph’s power, since he has no experience in hunting and wants everyone to focus on other tasks. This pork, though only food, becomes the island’s currency: “It is hard to obtain but can be gotten with hard work and skill” (Olsen 9). Since there is no money on the island, something else must have a value. As stated before, the hunt is Jack’s tribe’s work. As a result of hard work, one gets a reward; in our world it is money, for the boys it is pork to feast on. – 6 – The tribe is without a doubt the biggest symbol of Jack’s dictatorial power system. All other symbols of the dictatorial system are subordinate to the tribe. Without the tribe, neither Jack nor his dictatorial power system would work. Only as part of a group can Jack sustain his ambition to conquer his rival Ralph and his whole social power system. Jack’s power therefore stands and falls with the tribe. The tribe makes him strong. Not only is he the leader of the tribe, he is also the brain, the founder and the string-puller. It is Jack’s top concern that the tribe is intact at all times. He can only be as strong as his tribe, and he therefore strengthens the tribe by weakening the democratic power. Furthermore, Jack needs the tribe to survive, and the tribe needs Jack to survive. The boys in Jack’s tribe certainly need someone to tell them what to do. Jack, on the other hand, needs the tribe for his plans to be a “chief” of both the boys and the island. Once Jack’s tribe is in perfect sync, defeating everything in his way, he has all the power he needs. The hunt is another important symbol of Jack’s dictatorial power system. It is what binds Jack’s group and it is also their work together. The one object that lights up Jack’s eyes in the beginning of the novel is the sow he saw while exploring the island (Golding 31). When Ralph tells Jack that his choir can be whatever he wants them to be, he immediately responds that they will be hunters (Golding 23). This is not enough for Jack though. After a while, since Ralph himself is no hunter, Jack feels that he needs to take the power away from him so that the hunt, his specialty, can get more power than before. Jack finds it to be so important that he makes everything circle around the hunt. On the island they hunt to live and they live to hunt. Just like killing opposing forces in the army, he now wants to hunt down and kill wild pigs on the island. To hunt one has to have a weapon. Since Jack’s knife is not enough, the boys create spears: “We better take spears” (Golding 103). The boys always keep their weapons with them, which gives them more confidence and power on the island. The spears are the most dangerous weapon that the boys come up with. Later on, when the power – 7 – system changes in Jack’s favor, only Jack’s tribe has the spears. The rest of Ralph’s group does not feel that they need any weapons to survive, but can manage on this island without them. But Jack’s tribe wants complete power and therefore carry the spears around all the time, especially to protect themselves from any harm. One could say that the spears give Jack’s tribe as much safety (Golding 91) as the signal fire gave Ralph’s group when they had the power. The hunt is the first sign of a power shift to Jack’s advantage. Another powerful symbol is the beast, which embodies the power of the boys’ fears. All the boys can be frightened. They are scared of something that does not even exist. When Jack finally converts this fright into a creature, the boys call it the beast. Especially the littluns are afraid, and Jack uses this fear to make his dictatorial power system stronger. After the boys find a dead parachutist, their fear of a beast from the air makes them even more afraid than before. Jack “uses its existence to make the other boys willing followers of his commands. — Fear is the source of Jack’s power” (Winfriedschule Fulda). Thereafter, most of the boys join Jack’s new-found tribe to find safety, which he promises. Jack thinks that he can win over even more hearts of the boys by hunting the beast down (Golding 91). Yet, “he is the one being a beast by building up a reign of terror. His behaviour has to be regarded as the evil in every mankind, the ‘beasty side’” (Winfriedschule Fulda). But Jack is afraid himself. He can convince the boys that there is no beast, but he cannot persuade himself. He never tells anyone about his fright, but deep inside he knows that he is afraid. That is why Ralph always has to go first when Jack thinks that the beast might be near (Golding 104). Simon is the only one to know the truth about the beast: “There is a beast, but it’s only us” (Baker, “Beast” 78). The beast, only dreamt about by littluns, has always been in their minds, but never before their eyes. Although the boys mistake Simon for the beast, while he was running towards them, they never saw the beast. The pig head created by Jack’s tribe is a symbol of cruelty and power. After – 8 – killing the first sow, Jack decides that the sow’s head should be on a stick: “Sharpen a stick at both ends” (Golding 136). Since the tribe is afraid of a beast roaming around the island, Jack decides to offer something to the beast, in order to win its goodwill: “This head is for the beast. It’s a gift” (Golding 137). But the pig head becomes more than just a sacrifice. Very quickly the rotting head is surrounded by insects. This makes the pig head the lord of the flies. The meaning of “lord of the flies” is a translation from Hebrew, which stands for Beelzebub, a synonym for the devil. It is a “symbolic dramatisation of human evil” (Winfriedschule Fulda). On one level Jack is the real “lord of the flies” if we see the boys as worthless flies that need a vessel, Jack, to be able to live their lives, but the pig head is also more than that: it can be seen as the symbol of evil on the island. Golding tries to “emphasize the existence of evil inside man and its part in the human condition” (Winfriedschule Fulda). For every human, good and evil can be next to each other. Golding tries to show this by having the island’s most evil thing, the pig head, and the best thing, Simon, closely together. The imaginary beast of the boys speaks to Simon, using the pig head on the stick as a vessel: “It is Simon who witnesses [the great god’s] coming and hears his words of wrath” (Baker, “Beast” 79). “You [Simon] knew, didn’t you? I’m [the beast] part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?” (Golding 143). Also, Golding makes fear in the boys minds prevail. After their imaginary conversation, Simon runs off to the others but gets killed. After he comes running towards the boys, while they are dancing and celebrating the hunt, they get scared, mistake him for the beast, and stab Simon to death. “Ironically, they have killed the one person who could have saved them from bestiality” (Hynes 62). The boys protected themselves from what they thought to be a beast. “It was dark. There was that-that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We was scared!” (Golding 156). But since Jack’s tribe is so cruel, they do not care what it was they killed. The pig head is still there. Epstein sees the lord of the flies as Golding’s “modern – 9 – equivalent, the anarchic, amoral, driving force that Freudians call the Id, whose only function seems to be to insure the survival of the host in which it is […] embodies, which function it performs with tremendous and single-minded tenacity” (108). Golding makes the pig head the real leader of the island, hence evil prevails. Not only the pig head, but also the imaginary beast is still there in the boys’ minds. But most importantly, Jack’s dictatorship is the last power system standing. The use of uniforms becomes a symbol of transformation that bonds Jack’s tribe even closer together. Already from the beginning, when Jack is introduced as the leader of the church choir, they wear uniforms: [D]ressed in strangely eccentric clothing. Shorts, shirts, […] but each boy wore a square black cap with a silver badge on it. Their bodies […] were hidden by black cloaks, which bore a long silver cross on the left breast, and each neck was finished off with a hambone frill. […] The boy who controlled them was dressed in the same way though his cap badge was golden. (Golding 19) These uniforms mark them as a team. Once Jack’s tribe is established, however, they have a new kind of military uniform: different colors of dirt as dazzle paint (Golding 140). Once a boy “converts” to Jack’s tribe, he gets the dazzle paint to show that he is one of them now. Everyone in Jack’s tribe gets marked with the dazzle paint to distinguish themselves from Ralph’s group. Also, as the uniforms did for the choir, the dazzle paint strengthens them as a team, like soldiers going to war. The dazzle paint is meant as camouflage, so they cannot to be seen. The paint also robs the boys of their personal identities, making them do things they could not do as individuals, like killing a person: “When the hunters paint their faces and kill pigs, they are losing their individualism, and becoming part of a group mentality of savagery” (Stein et al.). The paint separates them from their usual principles, such as choosing what is right and wrong. Jack wants the individual to be nothing and the group to be everything – 10 – (Alpers 30). A good example is Sam and Eric. In the beginning, they are twins with different names. But as the novel moves on, they are named as one person, namely Samneric. This shows that they are also stronger as a team than alone. Another example is when Jack does not care about that a boy from his choir is fainting (Golding 20). But the dazzle paint does one more thing. Jack himself alters his personality by painting his face. After that, his name becomes “chief” instead of Merridew, and he gets even more aggravated and goes berserk. Jack’s “[p]ersonality is overcome by power and he loses his name” (Gregor and KinkeadWeekes 31). One consequence of the symbolism of tribal hunting as well as the military symbols is killing. If Jack clearly knows that a boy cannot be convinced to join his tribe under any circumstance whatsoever, there is only one way to defeat his enemy: by killing the boy, getting rid of the enemy. This happens twice in the novel. The killing of Simon we have already discussed. The most tragic one, and the one that Jack is responsible for, is the death of Piggy: “[Roger’s] one hand […] on the lever. […] Roger […] leaned all his weight on the lever. […] The rock struck Piggy in a glancing blow from chin to knee” (Golding 180-81). Although Roger does the deed, Jack is still to blame for this catastrophe, because Roger is the right hand of Jack and does what is best for the chief, and therefore best for the chief’s tribe. Jack also wants to get rid of Ralph. He knows that Ralph has nothing anymore. Since democracy is no more, he can hunt him down like an animal: “Roger sharpened a stick at both ends” (Golding 190). Jack plans to kill Ralph and put his head on this stick in the ground, as he did with the pig they once killed. In other words, in the end, it is war to the death between Jack’s tribe and Ralph. Jack and his tribe fail to kill him only because Ralph stumbles upon a naval officer (Golding 200). This is another example of the symbolism for the violent tribal hunt. Dancing would normally be a symbol of joy, pleasure, and of community. – 11 – However, in the novel it instead becomes a decoy, not seeing or feeling the fright on the island. When the members of Jack’s group are scared, they dance around the fire. When Jack feels that fear starts to grow among the boys, he gets them to dance. For example, in one situation of the novel a thunderstorm is approaching: “The flickering light became brighter and the blows of the thunder were only just bearable. The littluns began to run about, screaming. Jack leapt on to the sand. ‘Do our dance! Come on! Dance!’” (Golding 161). Focusing on something else, it gives the boys the feeling of not being alone and therefore takes away their fears (Gregor and Kinkead-Weekes 34). But they also dance in connection with the hunt. They do this either before or after the hunt, but it has always the same pattern. They scream, shout and dance. The dance is like a role play, or an Indian war dance. One boy is the sow and the others hunt him down while they scream, laugh and try to stab the boy with their spears. One important slogan is screamed and sung each time, because it is like Jack’s tribe’s sacred words: “Kill the beast. Cut his throat. Spill his blood” (Golding 152). By analyzing only the verbs in this saying it is clear that the shouting leads to violence and destruction. These are words of power and dominance, the words of a dictator. The implied violence symbolized by the military uniforms and the war dance is directed not only outward, but within the tribe as well. Jack can grant or withhold food and hunting whenever he feels like it. To control others in order to keep discipline is one of his uppermost priorities. He has no problems in blackmailing a boy to get what he wants. Firstly, he is still somewhat calm: “If you want to join my tribe come and see us. Perhaps I’ll let you join. Perhaps not” (Golding 140). He makes clear that he is the authority and that he decides what should happen. But he can also yell at the boys to make them feel inferior (Golding 20), and he loves to punish everyone for breaking the rules: “I said ‘grab them’! […] Tie them up! […] Go on. Tie them” (Golding 178, 179). Sam and Eric, for example, get tortured by Roger on Jack’s order: – 12 – The hangman’s horror clung round him [Roger]. The chief said no more to him but looked down at Samneric. “You go to join the tribe.” “You lemme go-“ “-and me.” The chief […] poked Sam in the ribs. […] “What d’you mean by not joining my tribe?” The prodding became rhythmic. Sam yelled. […] Roger edges past the chief [….] Roger advanced upon them [Samneric] as one wielding a nameless authority. (Golding 182) Jack orders their torture because he wants them to join his tribe, and nothing else. He gives them only two options: join the tribe, or die. Also, at one time Robert and Roger are talking about Jack’s punishment of Wilfred: “He’s going to beat Wilfred.” “What for?” […] “I don’t know. He didn’t say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up. He’s been”-he giggled excitedly-“he’s been tied for hours, waiting-” “But didn’t the chief say why?” “I never heard him.” (Golding 159) These situations clearly show that Jack is willing to do everything to remain the chief of the island. If punishment is the only thing that works on the boys, then Jack has no problems in announcing a punishment for them. And apparently, Jack’s strategy bears fruit. Sam and Eric decide to join Jack’s tribe after being in captivity because they know what Jack is capable of. – 13 – Symbolizing the society of the island, there are tiny creatures along the shore. When Henry walks along the beach, he discovers these tiny creatures: He poked about with a bit of stick […] and tried to control the motions of the scavengers. He made little runnels that the tide filled and tried to crowd them with creatures. He became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things. He talked to them, urging them, ordering them. Driven back by the tide, his footprints became bays in which they were trapped and gave him the illusion of mastery. (Golding 61) It clearly shows that everyone wants to be a leader sometime. As long as one is faster, stronger and taller than others, then one has the power to control them. “[B]ecause there is savagery in all of us, civilization is a thin and fragile veneer” (Dalrymple 26). Henry is in this case not better than Jack, because Henry rules over the small creatures in the sand like a dictator. He does not care how the creatures feel about his decision to poke around them with a stick and disturbing their lives. He just does it, just like in a dictatorial power system. No one is right but the leader, in that case Henry. The little critters have no other chance then to allow Henry to do what he does in order to survive. This shows us that savagery is in all of us. The critters can be compared to the littluns since they share the same problems facing a strong leader without a possibility to change the situation. This savagery is the way the boys behave on the island. To sum up, one can see that many of the symbols in the novel are tied to a social power relation. The conch is the most powerful symbol for the democratic power system. Yet the shelters and the map are also important for democracy. Since the democratic system is associated with peace, silence is an essential symbol. As for Jack, noise describes his tribe. Also Piggy’s glasses can be considered a democratic symbol, since they provide vision and are used to bring the group to safety by lighting the signal fire. When Jack steals them later – 14 – and uses them for his and his tribe’s purposes they no longer provide vision but are used to light the tribal fire. The fire can also be a symbol for both power systems. The democratic power system uses the fire as signal while Jack’s tribe uses it as a centre for food and dance. Eating is also a symbol that can be tied to both power systems. In the beginning they only eat fruits because Ralph cannot hunt. Jack’s tribe hunts and therefore they get pork, which can be considered the island’s currency. Jack’s tribe itself is important as a dictatorial symbol. Everything Jack does is because of or for the tribe. The most important symbol that the tribe does is hunting. They even dance around the fire to celebrate the hunt. The dancing itself is also one of many symbols that are tied to Jack and his power system. The uniforms and the dazzle paint are used by Jack’s tribe and are therefore tied to Jack as well. What the boys fear is the beast. This symbol that should be tied to the dictatorial power system is imaginary, yet it is in every boy’s head. Without the beast, Jack’s tribe would have been different. This is also why he decides to erect a pig head on a stick, the cruelest symbol in the novel, and one that represents evil. Since Jack’s tribe created the pig head, it belongs to the dictatorial power system. Lastly, the society on the island is shown by the tiny creatures that Henry plays god over. This symbol for the society shows how Jack is “chief” over the boys in another way. Those symbols that I have found are always important items that either Ralph or Jack use intentionally or unintentionally. The use of symbols is crucial to this novel, thus Golding shows us that an item is more powerful than it first seems. – 15 – Works Cited Primary Source: Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin Group, 1959. Secondary Sources: Alpers, Benjamin L. Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. Baker, James R. “Golding and Huxley: The Fables of Demonic Possession.” Twentieth Century Literature 46:3 (2000): 311-38. Baker, James R. “The Meaning of the Beast.” In Swisher 75-82. Dalrymple, Theodore. “Desert-Island Reading.” ew Criterion 6 (2005): 21-27. Fleck, A. D. “Mythical Elements in Lord of the Flies”. In Swisher 30-39. Fitzgerald, John F. and John R. Kayser. “Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Pride as original sin.” Studies in the ovel 1 (2002): 78-89. Gregor, Ian, and Mark Kinkead-Weekes. William Golding: A Critical Study of the ovels. 3 rd ed. London: Faber and Faber, 2002. Hynes, Samuel. “Several Interpretations of Lord of the Flies.” In Swisher 56-64. Olsen, Kirstin. Understanding Lord of the Flies: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000. Stein, Ted, et al. “Lord of the Flies.” 09 Nov. 2008. . Swisher, Clarice, ed. Readings on “Lord of the Flies”. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. “The Use of Symbolism in Lord of the Flies.” 09 Nov. 2008. . “Themes, Motifs & Symbols.” 09 Nov. 2008. . Winfriedschule Fulda. 30 Oct. 2008.


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Bernard D. Beitman M.D.

Connecting with Coincidence

Synchronicity and Symbols

We live in a symbolic matrix.

wikimedia commons

Norse Yggdrasil (Tree of Life) from Icelandic Prose Edda from 1847, by Oluf Olufsen BaggeSource: wikimedia commons

I am developing a taxonomy for coincidences. Early botanists noticed similarities and differences among plants and categorized them; I’ve noticed similarities and differences among and between the coincidental flora in the forest of daily life.

To develop a scale for coincidence sensitivity, I asked participants to rate the frequency of common coincidences. The list of common coincidences was gleaned from a much longer group of possibilities. The result was the Weird Coincidence Survey. The 12 items of the WCS can be found on my website. You can take the survey to see how sensitive to coincidences you are.

From 1551 respondents to the WCS, the most common coincidences were:

  • I think of a question only to have it answered by an external source (i.e. radio, TV, or other people) before I can ask it.
  • I think of an idea and hear or see it on the radio, TV, or Internet.
  • I think of calling someone, only to have that person unexpectedly call me.
  • I advance in my work/career/education by being in the right place at the right time.

Most intriguing to me are the connections to our media. Are we becoming nodes in the vast internet connectivity? I explore this idea in this PT post.

Ray Grasse has a grander view. He starts with synchronicity and then expands to the symbols all around us. He notices what happens at the beginning of a process. One of his examples involves two people meeting for the first time and a car exploding outside as they talk. Foreboding for the relationship! And it was. The relationship did not go well.

Grasse quotes Emerson: “The whole world is an omen and a sign. Why look so wistfully in a corner? The voice of divination resounds everywhere and runs to waste unheard, unregarded, as the mountains echo with the bleatings of cattle.” (The Waking Dream, p.251)

You see a car on fire, a knife injures your foot, you have an argument with your spouse and Mars is in transit. Each of these has in common a force of some kind.


Grasse, Ray. The Waking Dream (1996): Unlocking the symbolic language of our lives. Quest Books. Wheaton, Ilinois, USAMorereferences

  • About the Author

Bernard Beitman, M.D., is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia. He is the former chair of the University of Missouri-Columbia department of psychiatry.


Satanic Symbols

A List Of Satanic Symbols That Are Strangely Inspirational

Daniella Urdinlaiz

Not all satanic symbols are as evil as they appear and that is because satanism isn’t about sacrificing animals and causing bloodshed. Satanism is more about self-identity. Since you are probably doubtful about a group that has been given such a poor reputation, this is a list of satanic symbols that can inspire you to take control of your own destiny.

The Order Of The Nine Angels


The Order Of The Nine Angels is an occult group that pushes its members to find and surpass their mental, physical, and psychical limits in search of spiritual ascension. They are based in the United Kingdom, but they have affiliated groups around the world. 0% The Leviathan Cross

This is also known as the cross of Satan. The double cross symbolizes protection and balance while the infinity sign represents the eternal universe. The symbol was created to mock the cross and make a point about humans being their own centrum of balance and truth.

The Inverted Pentagram

An inverted pentagram, which is facing the ground instead of the heavens, represents independence, personal power, sexuality, and accomplishment. It is a rejection of Christianity’s dominance over society and a reminder that you are in control over your own fate.

The Original Goat Pentagram


This is the official insignia of the Church of Satan, chosen as a visual representation of their philosophies. It contains an inverted pentagram with a goat’s head in the center, and the Hebrew letters at each point of the pentagram spell out Leviathan, which is a deadly sea monster.

The Grail


The grail holds the elixir of life. It represents the potential we all have within ourselves. It is a reminder that you alone are able to achieve anything that you wish as long as you take it upon yourself to act instead of waiting for a higher power to take control for you.

The Inverted Cross

The cross represents the death of Christ who died upon a cross for our sins, so turning it upside down is meant to disrespect Christ. It represents the choice to rebel instead of submit and obey God.

The Winged Serpent


The winged serpent is a symbol of enlightenment. It represents intense awareness. It is a reminder to stop allowing your circumstances to control what happens to you and to start creating what happens to you.

The Eye Of Providence


Some people believe The Eye of Providence represents God watching over everything and seeing everything. However in satanism the eye, which is wide open and surrounded by light, represents the third eye that allows you to see the truth.


Baphomet represents the equilibrium of the opposite. This symbol contains binary elements representing the sum total of the universe (male and female, good and evil). It also represents a tradition that should result in a perfect social order.


This is considered the number of the beast, the number associated with the devil himself. In the bible, the number seven typically represents perfection, which suggests the number six is incomplete or flawed in the eyes of God. That is why satanists have embraced the number.

The Sigil Of Lucifer

This symbol is a visual invocation of the angel Lucifer. Even though some people consider Lucifer a symbol of evil, Satanists consider Lucifer a symbol of freedom and independence.

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If you’re going to f*cking panic — this book is here to help

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Symbols Rule the World

Published at: November 16, 2017 / Category: Media & InformationScience & TechnologySecret SocietiesTelecommunications / Comments: No Comments

If you have ever started your own business or created a website for yourself then you already know the importance of a logo or symbols.  It’s easier to remember the logo of a company than it’s the actual name.  The subconscious mind is much more powerful than we realize.  

There are symbols everywhere.   We see them so often but yet most of us don’t have an understanding as to what they really mean.  Secret Societies use symbolism to communicate with others and to hide the true meaning behind them. In today’s world, those symbols that most don’t understand and are used by secret societies are considered “evil”  or “satanic.”  

Just because a group  of people are using the symbol and have a sinister agenda does not mean they own the origin of that symbol and that everyone using it is connected and “evil.”  That’s just religious fear mongering to keep us from the truth.  Once you understand the symbolism in addition to what words mean in other languages (spells) then the whole house of cards collapses which would expand your consciousness.

Take the pentagram for example.  In some modern day religions it is viewed as some sort of evil symbol  and associated with witchcraft.  When in reality it has a very profound and ancient meaning.  If you draw a pentagram, the lines automatically divide themselves into segments according to the Divine Proportion. The ratios of the line segments in a pentacle all equal PHI making this symbol the ultimate expression of the Divine Proportion.

For this reason the five-pointed star has always been the symbol of beauty and perfection associated with the Goddess and the sacred feminine. The Sacred Geometry of nature, again is all about the Goddess, Mother nature, who gives us life.  Associated with the feminine aspect of consciousness.  The serpent is another symbol for that too.  

Be wise as serpents—and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 KJV

The serpent energy is definitely one of the most primeval archetypes and in all ancient cultures was intimately connected with the mysteries of the divine female – Crompton

The “G” in the Freemasons logo stands for gnosis (knowledge) as in knowledge they are hiding from us within their secret society. 

“Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries … By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language. Rejecting man-conceived dialects as inadequate and unworthy to perpetuate divine ideas, the Mysteries thus chose symbolism as a far more ingenious and ideal method of preserving their transcendental knowledge. In a single figure a symbol may both reveal and conceal, for to the wise the subject of the symbol is obvious, while to the ignorant the figure remains inscrutable. Hence, he who seeks to unveil the secret doctrine of antiquity must search for that doctrine not upon the open pages of books which might fall into the hands of the unworthy but in the place where it was originally concealed.”

—Manly P. Hall, “The Secret Teachings of All Ages,” (page 20).

“Signs and symbols rule the world, not words nor laws.”- Confucius

The network of secret societies controlled by the Illuminati always use symbols of the “all seeing eye.”  The origin and meaning behind that symbol doesn’t belong to any secret society.  It’s the eye of Horus, which is your pineal gland,  opening  your third eye, your spiritual eye. 

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” – Matthew 6:22 KJV

The geometric shapes of vibration are what creates our physical reality.  Which most of these symbols all tie into.  

This is a great video about Saturn symbolism.

Symbols Rule the World

Published at: November 16, 2017 / Category: Media & InformationScience & TechnologySecret SocietiesTelecommunications / Comments: No Comments

If you have ever started your own business or created a website for yourself then you already know the importance of a logo or symbols.  It’s easier to remember the logo of a company than it’s the actual name.  The subconscious mind is much more powerful than we realize.  

There are symbols everywhere.   We see them so often but yet most of us don’t have an understanding as to what they really mean.  Secret Societies use symbolism to communicate with others and to hide the true meaning behind them. In today’s world, those symbols that most don’t understand and are used by secret societies are considered “evil”  or “satanic.”  

Just because a group  of people are using the symbol and have a sinister agenda does not mean they own the origin of that symbol and that everyone using it is connected and “evil.”  That’s just religious fear mongering to keep us from the truth.  Once you understand the symbolism in addition to what words mean in other languages (spells) then the whole house of cards collapses which would expand your consciousness.

Take the pentagram for example.  In some modern day religions it is viewed as some sort of evil symbol  and associated with witchcraft.  When in reality it has a very profound and ancient meaning.  If you draw a pentagram, the lines automatically divide themselves into segments according to the Divine Proportion. The ratios of the line segments in a pentacle all equal PHI making this symbol the ultimate expression of the Divine Proportion.

For this reason the five-pointed star has always been the symbol of beauty and perfection associated with the Goddess and the sacred feminine. The Sacred Geometry of nature, again is all about the Goddess, Mother nature, who gives us life.  Associated with the feminine aspect of consciousness.  The serpent is another symbol for that too.  

Be wise as serpents—and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 KJV

The serpent energy is definitely one of the most primeval archetypes and in all ancient cultures was intimately connected with the mysteries of the divine female – Crompton

The “G” in the Freemasons logo stands for gnosis (knowledge) as in knowledge they are hiding from us within their secret society. 

“Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries … By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language. Rejecting man-conceived dialects as inadequate and unworthy to perpetuate divine ideas, the Mysteries thus chose symbolism as a far more ingenious and ideal method of preserving their transcendental knowledge. In a single figure a symbol may both reveal and conceal, for to the wise the subject of the symbol is obvious, while to the ignorant the figure remains inscrutable. Hence, he who seeks to unveil the secret doctrine of antiquity must search for that doctrine not upon the open pages of books which might fall into the hands of the unworthy but in the place where it was originally concealed.”

—Manly P. Hall, “The Secret Teachings of All Ages,” (page 20).

“Signs and symbols rule the world, not words nor laws.”- Confucius

The network of secret societies controlled by the Illuminati always use symbols of the “all seeing eye.”  The origin and meaning behind that symbol doesn’t belong to any secret society.  I