UFO

It was pouring rain, and dark. There was a gap in the driver's side wiper blade that messed the windshield in a way that forced me to squint a bit. Larry Carlton's "Room 335" was blasting on the car stereo - the perfect driving song in the early eighties. It was around nine, on a weeknight and I was on my way to play a club in the valley. There were no cars ahead of me on the freeway. There hadn't been for a while. No tail lights to follow through the downpour.

As I rounded a corner I saw moving lights in the sky up ahead. They were above an upcoming overpass - off to the side, not over the freeway. I slowed and saw that the lights seemed to be connected in a line and ... I pulled over.

 An internet-procured photo of something similar to the thing I saw

An internet-procured photo of something similar to the thing I saw

I got out of the car and stood in the rain, staring.

When I was eleven years old I was the editor of a newsletter called "The UFOEO Reporter". It was printed on the mimeograph machine at James Douglas Elementary school, thanks to Mr. Capon, the kind-hearted principal there. UFOEO stood for "Unidentified Flying Objects Enthusiasts Organization". There were about 15 members of the group, and none of them were in Vancouver, where I lived. They were also UFO enthusiasts, from places all around the world, and most of them had newsletters of their own. The idea was to report UFO activity in our locals and share the accumulated news through the mail by way of these hand-made publications.

I was also the youngest member of the "Vancouver Area Flying Saucer Club". My Mom and Dad took turns driving me to meetings in Kits, and I was warmly welcomed by an eccentric group of truth-seekers who thought I was just the cutest thing - until the night I stood up and mockingly questioned a presentation about two Australian boys and their suspicious close encounter of the third kind. 

I was a curious kid and often drawn to themes that called from the fringes of accepted science. UFOs played a large role, but if the topic could be found in FATE Magazine (used copies of which were available at Ted's Book Bin, on nearby Fraser street) I was determined to remain open-minded about it. Open-mindedness was a badge of honour for me in those days.

The string of lights seemed to be circling around something, or to be attached to something that was circling around. The object floated, or "hovered" as UFO folks used to say, above the overpass - occasionally lilting slightly, as though suspended from a string. There was no sound. The rain soaked through my coat as I stood on the highway shoulder watching the lights going around, and the UFO going nowhere. It was about the size of a quarter held at arms length, but I couldn't sort out a dependable sense of scale. The rain didn't help. 

Despite my youthful immersion in UFO culture, my first thoughts focused on a terrestrial explanation. I tried to imagine a balloon with lights tracing around it, and how big it would have to be if it was tethered to, or controlled from, the overpass. I was surprised to realize that the theoretical balloon would be roughly the width of a car. If this was an elaborate prank involving a very large prop, I thought, why pull it on a night like this? It was past nine on a weeknight, there was no traffic to speak of and it was raining hard. 

Fate Magazine was a small format pulp magazine that dealt with UFOs, psychic abilities, ghosts and hauntings, cryptozoology, alternative medicine, life after death, mental telepathy, ancient astronauts, and, as Wikipedia goes on to say; "other paranormal topics". I was into all of that. My open mind was often strained, as it was at that final "Vancouver Area Flying Saucer Club" meeting (I'm sorry Mrs. Beaton), but I valiantly attempted to know the unknown and stay abreast of, or even a few steps beyond, an unfolding future. 

A car pulled to the shoulder behind me and the driver got out. 

"What is that?" he called to me. 

I grinned in the dark at the idea that he expected a useful answer. I had been thinking, when he arrived, that if it wasn't right above the overpass and actually further away, it was very large. If it was a mile away, it was huge.

"A UFO, I guess." I called back. 

The object began to move. Slowly it moved off to the south and, although it was hard to be sure, away from us. Soon it disappeared beyond the tree-line - either descending or getting further away - it's lights still tracing at the same speed. 

As the night seemed to darken, buddy laughed awkwardly, said goodnight and got back into his car. He pulled away. Maybe it lasted five minutes all together. Maybe longer, I don't know. 

Music began to overtake my interest in the paranormal. Alternate realities, real or unreal, were becoming increasingly inconsistent with the world I needed to live in. Also, some of it was starting to scare the shit out of me. I sold my paranormal library for $30. I bought forty-fives with the money. I started singing in a band. 

I always believed that in exploring the unknown and otherworldly, I was learning about unfolding truths that would soon become self-evident to the world at large, and that much of what was called fringe science would be proven out over time and become real science. In the sixties, I was sure that proof of the existence of UFOs would arrive soon, and that we'd find out what they were and where they came from. Science would connect the dots and track down the facts. 

But it never happened. The evidence failed to arrive. 

So my trust shifted over time. Eventually, I came to agree with Marcello Truzzi, the founding co-chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, who said: 

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Or, put another way by the inimitable Christopher Hitchens; “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” 

I believe I still have an open mind. Where the truth is concerned, it's not over till it's over. 

I also believe I saw something hovering above a freeway overpass, out in the valley, one dark and rainy night many years ago. I'll just never be able to tell anyone, for sure, what it was. Which is OK with me. One last quote. My all-time hero; scientist, teacher, raconteur and musician Richard Feynman said this:
 
"I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong."
 
 
* I did not take a photo of the UFO. What I saw was similar to the internet-procured (and altered) shot above - only further away. About the size of a quarter, held at arm's length.

The Death of Facts

The other day, The Chicago Tribune featured a satiric story about the death of Facts. A sad story, but possibly true.

When I was a teenager, I'd often call the downtown Vancouver Public Library where the staff there would look up facts for me. Although it's hard to believe now, they'd put me on hold and rummage through the appropriate reference books until they found the answers to the questions I'd asked. The librarians always seemed happy, and maybe even a little proud, to be able to help me in this way.

Later in life, a large part of my fascination with the computer revolution hinged on the very real possibility that facts would someday become easily and instantly available without the necessity of those phone calls. The internet tied all the computers together and it soon seemed as though we would presently have access to a worldwide library wherein all truth could be found.

I signed on with more passion and conviction than anyone I knew, and sure enough, the internet eventually became my personal and dependable fact repository. Then a strange thing began happening ...

As the internet began to become *everyone's* personal library and access to facts became ubiquitous, those same facts began to lose their lustre. As they became less rare - they seemed to become less valuable.

And as the internet democratized the collection and storage of facts, institutions formerly trusted to caretake them - The Encyclopaedia Britannica, The New York Times, the Vancouver Public Library for instance - were eroded and undermined. The conflicting agendas of the online masses and the new media they aligned with began to create, re-purpose or spin facts to support whatever opinions they felt required supporting.

For a while there, I thought I was losing my mind. My searches for dependable information became less and less fruitful. Reputable and supposedly trustworthy experts delivered black-and-white opposite versions of what should have been the simple truth. Trying to identify definitive facts became next to impossible for me. I yearned for the nice ladies at the Vancouver Public Library.

If my Dad was still around, he'd be reminding me now that the press and media - and anyone else trusted with the power of information (or simply "the power") - has always lied - twisting or inventing the facts as they pleased for their own purposes. He was right, I know, but this is different.

I didn't become a news junkie until September 11th 2001. Before that I'd check the news in the morning the way our parents quickly scanned the front pages of the morning paper. On that Tuesday morning the news page I frequented was simply a white background with black headlines, saying only that New York City was "under attack".

After 911, I was addicted to unfolding history. I was drunk with the power the internet gave me to parse every molecule of information at the moment it became available. I kept a bottle of Visine beside my computer screen.

Soon, questions arose. A theory was advanced that controlled demolitions had brought down the World Trade Centre buildings. A YouTube clip demonstrated that a 757 couldn't fit into the hole in the Pentagon wall. If these citizen journalists were actually on to something, the ramifications were almost impossible to consider.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars just added important questions that demanded answers. I waited for those answers to emerge, but the people and institutions now in control of the information simply continued to generate more facts, or statements with the appearance of facts, without ever taking responsibility for their veracity. Fair and balanced now seemed to mean that flat-earth believers still had viable facts to contribute to the news cycle.

While Obama restored my hope, his presidency has since become the focal point of some of the most egregious misuse of the f-word. Ridiculous assertions now stand as fact - unchallenged. Opinion is all that remains.

The Chicago Tribune story, while satirical, contains quotes from Mary Poovey, a professor of English at New York University and author of "A History of the Modern Fact." Both the professor and her book are, in fact, real. She says:

"There was an erosion of any kind of collective sense of what's true or how you would go about verifying any truth claims," Poovey said. "Opinion has become the new truth. And many people who already have opinions see in the 'news' an affirmation of the opinion they already had, and that confirms their opinion as fact."

The world wide web has brought people together in a way that has never before been possible and helped us accumulate a shared treasury of knowledge that's unsurpassed in history, and yet it's become a free-for-all in which the truth is threatened by dogma, superstition and politics.

I mourn the passing of Facts. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for truth and wisdom.

Steve

"Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
~ Steve Jobs - From his 2005 commencement address at Stanford

The Politics of Songwriting - Part Five

The three members of Green Day split songwriting royalties evenly despite the fact that, from what I can tell, Billy Joe Armstrong writes the lyrics and melodies for their songs. Kurt Cobain, on the other hand, received sole songwriting credit for all but a couple of Nirvana's songs (a co-write and a b-side written by the band's drummer Dave Grohl).

Two entirely different ways of approaching songwriting royalties. And there's everything in between. There are no rules, and that, I think, is as it should be.

Green-Day-Nirvana.jpg

Green Day's all-for-one attitude has kept the band together through a long and impressive career. Billy Joe's decision to share writing credits may play a major part in this.

There are many Green Day covers out there. I've got a great version of 'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)' recorded by Glen Campbell. Like the Green Day arrangement, it's mostly the singer, an acoustic guitar, and an orchestra. It's hard to imagine what role Trés Cool, and Mike Dirnt (the drummer and bassist) played in writing the song, but they receive equal shares of songwriting royalties from any cover versions. Best I can tell, Billy Joe is cool with this.

What if, though, one or both of Billy Joe's bandmates left the band in their early days - a situation that has befallen many young writers? They would continue to receive royalties, from songs they may not have contributed to, despite the fact that Billy Joe would now be performing with a new drummer and bass player in Green Day. Maybe they have a contract that deals with this. Maybe they don't care.

Kurt Cobain's band, Nirvana, had five drummers before Dave Grohl joined. Splitting his songwriting royalties with one of them might have induced that drummer to stay on (or made Cobain less-likely to fire him) and Nirvana could well have cemented an entirely different line-up - in the way that Green Day did. But that line-up would not, then, have included Dave Grohl - a significant contributor to Nirvana's aural appeal. Nirvana members Grohl and Krist Novoselic did not receive (with only two exceptions) songwriting royalties on Nirvana songs. Best I can tell, they were cool with this.

Since his days in Nirvana, Dave Grohl has become one of the world's most successful musicians and the "primary songwriter" for the Foo Fighters, just as Cobain was for Nirvana. Ironically, since I've referenced him in this ongoing rant about the politics of songwriting, Nirvana's bass player Krist Novoselic is currently active in ... politics, as an elected State Committeeman in Washington State.

UPDATE/CORRECTION:

Rolling Stone Magazine has run (in September 2012) an online version of a Kurt Cobain interview from their January 27 1994 issue. In it, Kurt Cobain breaks down Nirvana's songwriting shares. I was wrong about him receiving all the royalties. If my math is correct, it appears he took a total of 87.5% while the other two band members shared the remaining 12.5%, for a total of 6.25% each. Here's how he put it:

Haven't there been any issues where there was at least heated discussion? Yeah, the songwriting royalties. I get all the lyrics. The music, I get 75 percent, and they get the rest. I think that's fair. But at the time, I was on drugs when that came up. And so they thought that I might start asking for more things. They were afraid that I was going to go out of my mind and start putting them on salary, stuff like that. But even then we didn't yell at each other. And we split everything else evenly.

The Politics of Songwriting - Part Two

Any song you hear – live, online, on the radio or TV, on a computer playlist, CD, record or tape – is referred to in the music biz as either an “original” – a song written by the performer or performers you’re hearing – or a “cover” - a song written by someone else. Nazareth’s powerful 1975 version of “Love Hurts” was a cover, as was another of their hits; “This Flight Tonight”.

Nazareth

Joni Mitchell wrote “This Flight Tonight” and recorded it on her album “Blue” in 1971. The sparse recording features just Joni and her open-tuned guitar with a brief addition of extra voices and a slide guitar in the bridge. The focus, though, is on Joni’s urgent vocal delivery and introspective and regretful lyrics.

Joni-Mitchell.630.jpg

Joni Mitchell

Nazareth’s version of the song could not be more different. Manny Charlton’s driving electric guitar groove rocks hard and Dan McCafferty’s vocal adds a swaggering tension to the lyrics. This is one of the rare cover versions I like better than the original.

Nazareth’s reworking of “This Flight Tonight” is a radical but classic example of what's called an "arrangement" – the changing of the presentation of a song in a way that stamps it with a new musical personality. Transforming a Joni Mitchell song into a rock anthem is no mean feat, and the band's unique arrangement – the parts invented by the musicians (or an arranger or producer), the phrasing of the singer, the sequence of verses, choruses and bridge – was fundamental to the success of their recording. Nonetheless, the basic integrity of the song itself – the lyrics and the melody – remained the same.

In the case of all "cover" versions, the relationship between a song and it's arrangement is simple: there can be no arrangement, without there first being a song to arrange. As a result, the recipient of the songwriting credits, and royalties, is equally clear and uncomplicated.

The members of Nazareth receive none of the songwriting royalties generated by "This Flight Tonight" or their version of "Love Hurts" – but their recordings of those songs have brought them other, significant, rewards.

For one thing, additional royalties are also paid by the record company to the artists themselves when copies of their records are sold or downloaded. A cover that becomes a hit can propel record sales – and those royalties – dramatically. Hits also make touring more likely. Live shows create additional income and help develop an audience that will buy the artist’s recordings and so on ...

Covers have also been seen as a good way to attract and win over new fans. If someone already knows the song, the thinking goes, they’re half way to liking your recording of it. As an example, six of the fourteen songs on the Beatles' first album were cover versions.

The other eight songs, though, were written by two members of the band – John Lennon and Paul McCartney - and this idea of the self-contained rock band, writing their own songs and playing their own instruments, arguably marked a turning point in the history of popular music – and of songwriting.

As song creation began taking place within autonomous bands, the traditional view of what a songwriter was – and what constituted songwriting – began to become less clear. The question of who was entitled to the songwriting credits – and royalties –began to come up more often.

I’ll start on Part Three now ...

Joni Mitchell’s version of “This Fight Tonight”

Nazareth’s version of “This Flight Tonight”

Rogers Canada iPad Data Charges

When you buy gas for your car, you purchase as much as you need and use it till it runs out. The same is true of electricity, in the sense that you pay for what you use. When I buy data for my iPhone, though, I pay $30.00 for access to 6 gigabytes of data per month. Although I generally use only a third of that, Rogers Canada denies me the use of the remaining 4GB, despite the fact that I've paid them for access to it. When the next month begins, I'm billed again for 6GB. This is not Rogers' only iPhone data plan, but it was, regrettably, the best option for me.

Then I bought a 3G iPad.

I signed up for the less expensive of Rogers' two iPad data plans: $15 for 250MB. This, incidentally, is 1/24th the amount of data that comes with my iPhone plan for 1/2 the price. I used all 250MB in a day or two.

Rogers has only one other option for iPad data access advertised on their web site: $35 a month for 5GB.

Seeing this iPad data price of five dollars more for 1GB less data than my iPhone plan got me thinking. I realized that not only was their iPad data pricing higher for access to the same data, they also appeared, in my case, to be selling access to that data twice, just because I owned two devices that could access it.

I navigated to their customer support page and wrote a quick email:

"I have a 6GB data plan for my iPhone. I recently purchased a 3G iPad and added your $15 data package for a month. Using the iPad less than my phone I ran that out in a few days. I have not used any 3G data on my iPad since.
I usually use no more than 2GB of data on my phone, despite the fact that I pay for 6GB. I think it's usurious of Rogers to not allow me to access the data that I'm already paying for on a second device - and instead insist that I pay AGAIN for that data.
Think about this. I'm somewhere with my iPad and my iPhone. If I need to access the web I have to go from my iPad to my phone to use the data I pay for. What's the difference?? It's *my account* logging in to use the product I purchased from you. It's like an electric company saying I can plug in a toaster, but if I want to plug in a microwave I have to pay them again for access to the electricity I buy from them.
Please pass this complaint on to the appropriate department."

Rogers' customer service responded. After assuring me they take my concerns very seriously and appreciate the feedback, they informed me that for an additional sum (less than the advertised $35/5GB), my iPhone and iPad could share the 6GB of data on my account. The offer they made me is not advertised anywhere on their web site (and in fact, they state here (2nd page) that "Currently, there are no sharing plans for iPad available to Rogers customers"). The specific details of their offer might be covered under the "any review, dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail or any of its content is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful" boilerplate included at the bottom of their email, so I can't include them here.

Since this plan offered me the ability to share data between two devices through my single account, they had confirmed that there is no technical or administrative problem with doing so. Nonetheless, for simply turning on that ability, they wanted me to pay hundreds of dollars per year. I wrote back:

"Thanks for your response,
Could you ask someone closer to the issue to please break down for me what exactly that additional [amount] is purchasing? I can see how there might be an initial set-up charge to acknowledge the existence of a second device using the account, but after that point it's the same 6GB of data and the same account.
Although the [amount] you mention is less than the $35 you charge for iPad access without a smartphone, it seems to me you're still charging your smartphone data customers twice to access, on their iPad, *the same 6 GB of data* they have already purchased from you.
Please pass this on to someone who can address the concerns expressed in this, and my original, email …"

Sometimes I get this picture of myself as a small dog that has bit into someone's pant leg and will not let go. Sometimes that small dog is rabid.

On the one hand ... in our not too distant future, digital data could become as important as gasoline and electricity. The companies that currently control that data are now testing the waters to see what the market can bear. Unfortunately, we are their real-time test-market, and our responses to the policies and pricing they propose today will shape those of the future.

On the other, I'm just curious to see if someone has a justification for this policy - other than the fact that they seem to be getting away with it.

My Rogers story gets a little silly from this point. I'll try to encapsulate the subsequent email runaround in an upcoming post. In the meantime I am still waiting for a response that confirms that someone at Rogers takes my question seriously.

My End of the Decade Story

Just before New Years, I began writing an ‘end of the decade’ piece chronicling my frustration with the general lack of trustworthy sources of legitimate and reliable information in this digital age. I researched carefully, in order to accurately present both sides of conflicting arguments championed by intelligent and convincing spokespersons. I sweated the details so that my dilemma would be clear. Both sides can not be right, and finding the truth of a thing seems to be growing harder and harder as more and more information becomes available.

I wrote the post using a beautiful and innovative new word processor that fills the computer screen with a peaceful white snowscape, eliminating all distractions. It truly seemed to help me focus exclusively on the writing. The essay grew long, but I was happy with the way it was coming along.

On New Years day, I opened the file to finish it up.

The serene white winter scene filled the screen, the program’s pleasantly unobtrusive music began to play quietly and my story appeared before me. In Chinese.

Or Mandarin. Or Chinese (Simplified) or Chinese (Traditional) - other options I learned about from Google Translator where I later vainly attempted to return my writing to my mother tongue.

The software’s website did have a reference to this problem. “If you get gibberish (oops)” they offered glibly, you could “try” their “workaround”. It didn’t work. I’ve contacted tech support but I am not hopeful.

Trooper and the Cracker Company

In the last few weeks, friends, fans and a couple of people on the street have brought up the ‘Raise a Little Hell’ Cracker commercial. Some have congratulated me. Others have joked about lifetime supplies of saltines. Others, knowing that I don’t watch TV, simply wanted to be sure that I’d heard about it. As it turns out, I found out about it the way they did. I heard the familiar ‘A’ chord ring out from the living room as I worked at my computer here in the den. I jumped up, and Debbie and I watched, fascinated, as the slow motion crackers dropped into the waiting bowls of exploding tomato soup.

I’ve explained Trooper’s relationship with the Premium Plus cracker company to many people, and now would like to explain it to you. We don’t have a relationship with the Premium Plus cracker company. They don’t send crackers for our dressing room rider and we played no part in the choice of soup used in their commercial. The entire deal was done not only without our involvement, but also, without our knowledge.

Here’s how it works.

Universal Music owns the recording of ‘Raise a Little Hell’. Sony Music Publishing administers the use of the song. In both cases we are supposed to see royalties from the deal that’s struck, but we have no involvement in or control over it. No one even asked.

My share of the royalties won't be a lot of money considering the song I co-wrote will be repeatedly played on TV - in a cracker commercial - until next March, but not bad considering it just fell out of the sky onto me.

Thing is though, I’d prefer the song be covered by a kick-ass rock band and become a huge international hit. Hopefully said rock band will not see the cracker commercial.

More on the Wired Story About the H1N1 Vaccine

From the Amy Wallace story:

The rejection of hard-won knowledge is by no means a new phenomenon. In 1905, French mathematician and scientist Henri Poincaré said that the willingness to embrace pseudo-science flourished because people “know how cruel the truth often is, and we wonder whether illusion is not more consoling.” Decades later, the astronomer Carl Sagan reached a similar conclusion: Science loses ground to pseudo-science because the latter seems to offer more comfort. “A great many of these belief systems address real human needs that are not being met by our society,” Sagan wrote of certain Americans’ embrace of reincarnation, channeling, and extraterrestrials. “There are unsatisfied medical needs, spiritual needs, and needs for communion with the rest of the human community.”

Looking back over human history, rationality has been the anomaly. Being rational takes work, education, and a sober determination to avoid making hasty inferences, even when they appear to make perfect sense. Much like infectious diseases themselves — beaten back by decades of effort to vaccinate the populace — the irrational lingers just below the surface, waiting for us to let down our guard.

UPDATE: FactCheck.org article: "Inoculation Misinformation - Claims that the "swine flu" vaccine is dangerous range from seriously overblown to flat-out false."

Regarding the H1N1 Vaccine and the Campaign Against It

I've just received an email warning about the dangers of the H1N1 Vaccine. You may have received it too. That's why I'm writing this. I urge you all to take the time to read this story in the current Wired Magazine called " An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All"

It's a well-reasoned and heavily researched story about vaccines in general and the H1N1 vaccine in particular. Usually I'd say that folks should make their own choices and not care what those choices are  -  but this story has convinced me that in this case it really can't work that way. If enough people refuse to take the H1N1 vaccine - it will put everyone else in their community at risk.

Here's one of many key quotes from the Wired article:

The frightening implications of this kind of anecdote were illustrated by a 2002 study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. Looking at 3,292 cases of measles in the Netherlands, the study found that the risk of contracting the disease was lower if you were completely unvaccinated and living in a highly vaccinated community than if you were completely vaccinated and living in a relatively unvaccinated community. Why? Because vaccines don’t always take. What does that mean? You can’t minimize your individual risk unless your herd, your friends and neighbors, also buy in.

By contrast, here's the Wiki page on Russell Blaylock, who wrote the H1N1 email that was forwarded to me. And here's an excerpt from that page:

Blaylock has asserted, among other things, that behind the US drug problem was a "nefarious program created in the former Soviet Union that exceeds even the far-reaching imaginations of Hollywood writers". The drug problem, he writes, would weaken the resistance of Western Society to Soviet invasion, undermine religion (which he calls 'the foundation of Western stability and morality'), target schools, harm the work force and work ethic, make the youth "unable to resist collectivism", and create a "totalitarian mindset within the United States government". He implicates Fidel Castro, Nikita Kruschev, Leonid Brezhnev, organized crime syndicates, and their American "leftist accomplices" in the formation of US drug culture.

Blaylock implies that the Soviet program was linked to crack-cocaine, fentanyl, ecstasy and methamphetamine, and that it was responsible for "an epidemic of hepatitis, AIDS, venereal diseases and highly resistant tuberculosis". He accuses the US media and the US government of knowing about the Soviet plot, but failing to expose it. As part of his evidence, he quotes from the "Communist Manual of Instructions of Psychological Warfare", purportedly by Lavrenti Beria. However, many people have doubted the authenticity and authorship of the work, including the FBI.

The Wired story is not as short and exciting as the anti-vaccine email that I received tonight, but it should be required reading for us all.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof"

~ Marcello Truzzi