Saturday, March 5

Another Midwich Cuckoo? (5#) -

One evening this past week, a guy on the
C2C radio program mentioned Julian Assange . . .

disclosing that Assange had been exposed to a weird mind control cult during his childhood. He said we could read about it in the Wikipedia article about Assange. And so I did. I read the article about Assange and then read the article about the cult.

One of the peculiar characteristics of that cult was that the female leader used to dye the children's hair very blond. Thus, a group portrait of the children is evocative of the Midwich Cuckoos. Did you ever see that movie? It's a British movie from 1960 about a strange group of blond children who have psychic powers of mental telepathy - the ability to read people's minds - and can compel people to act according to their group will.

Is that what the cult was all about? For what purpose was the leader training those children? What were the goals she wanted to achieve? What were her aspirations for them? What was the intellectual baggage of the group? There seems to be very little of that kind of information about them currently available to us. The leader was reported to have had an affinity for hatha yoga, but the practice of hatha yoga does not produce results like that cult. What other intellectual influences contributed to her modus operandi - Madame Blavatsky? Wikipedia does not include the more esoteric aspects of the cult.

But when Julian Assange appears in public affecting platinum hair, which is associated with that Australian cult and the Midwich Cuckoos, that hair makes him look like the ambassador from a possibly sinister flying saucer group. Prof Rosen's "Voice from Nowhere" is now speaking to us from Zeta Reticuli? Caution - there may be a bumpy road ahead!

Steven Spielberg has optioned a biopic of Assange. Well, Spielberg has done some Sci-Fi before. Will Spielberg keep the spacey hair? Hmmm.

Not that Assange's WikiLeaks is a novelty, since we already have a website that's been publishing "leaks" for years. It's called Cryptome. Why would we need another? I don't know.

I have a customary orbit in cyberspace, as most people do. I read some blogs, newspapers, and websites, maybe not every day, maybe I drop in only once a week. As I am surfing my usual rounds, Julian Assange has popped up and intruded into my little world more than once recently. There are lots of theories about him going around.

More intriguing, however, is the chatter on the Internet. The latest chatter is wondering whether there is any connection between Julian Assange's rather strange choice of pals and the men who were threatening the late Stieg Larsson. I don't know the answer to that question. I have never read Larsson's books because they were described as very violent.

John Young of Cryptome has just posted a backgrounder by Robert Manne on Assange. It's good, but very long.


Tuesday, March 1

A Different Dimension -

Cult cartoonist and offbeat
social commentator Ben Katchor returns with a new
book of picture stories called The Cardboard Valise.

It will be released by Pantheon on March 15th.

Katchor is the first comics creator
to receive a MacArthur "genius" grant.

:: Newsweek by Malcolm Jones ::

:: Pub Weekly ::


Colorful Characters (5#) -

Salvo Montalbano wakes up
to find a dead horse outside his home . . .

Crime Scraps reviews Andrea Camilleri's
Track of the Sand in its English edition.

# Miranda Seymour reviews David McKie's
Bright Particular Stars - Glorious British Eccentrics.

# Comic strip detective Dick Tracy's
latest artist, Dick Locher, retires.

# Getting animated: Who are the best
and worst Simpson-ised celebrities?

# A significant new American Literary Review.


Monday, February 28

FL Bookish Notes (5#) -

The Adam Walsh Case is revisited
in a new book by Joe Matthews and
Les Standiford: Bringing Adam Home.

# Chauncey Mabe discusses
Dystopian Novels on his Blog.

# Not Simpatico Anymore: The "unfriending" on an internet social network erupted into violent confrontation in Brooksville FL. [SPTimes]

:: According to Wikipedia: "Bob Clark's 1972 horror film Deathdream (aka Dead of Night; The Night Andy Came Home) was filmed entirely in Brooksville."


Sunday, February 27

Mez: Migrating Verdicts -

Amanda Knox, Meredith Kercher & Perugia:
What if the ancient Romans had helicopters?

Claudio Giusti, in an effort to bridge the international gap in understanding, has written an Op Ed piece positing the hypothetical premise "what if the Meredith Homicide in Perugia Case had occurred in America." He then goes on to compare systems and results from his perspective. I think his attempt to bridge this gap is worthwhile, but I disagree with him on some points.

Where does the situation stand today? Don't worry: if I make any serious errors, some legal scholar will correct them.

The Italian Court's verdict seems to be the equivalent of a Manslaughter conviction here in the U.S. There is only one debate left unresolved between Prosecution and Court. It essentially revolves around the role of Drugs in this crime.

:: The Court recognizes the central role Drugs played in this crime, but claims the Drugs constitute a Mitigating Factor so as to result in the Diminished Capacity of the defendants.

:: The Prosecution likewise accepts the centrality of the Drugs, but claims they constitute an Aggravating Factor resulting in the equivalent of Depraved Disregard.

If the Prosecution is validated in this claim during the Appeal process, it would raise the conviction level to the equivalent of Murder 2. But, even if the sentence were increased appropriate to Second Degree Murder, the defendants would not be exposed to the Death Penalty in the United States.

The Prosecution, on this basis, is asking for an increase in the sentence to a term of Life, but the Italian definition of Life sentence does not stipulate "for the rest of your natural life." It is, rather, commonly presumed to mean a term of 30 years.

Mr Giusti has made some astute, humorous, and opinionated observations about how the American Public views criminals in cliches, memes, and readymade templates.

Actually, even though Amanda Knox et al would not be exposed to the Death Penalty in the U.S. because this was a lenient (lower court) verdict, many Americans would be contacting the DOJ in DC, demanding that the DOJ bring Federal Civil Rights charges against the trio for violating Meredith Kercher's Civil Rights as a racial minority living in that cottage.

Thus, Amanda Knox would be facing
an entirely new and additional set of charges.

The facts are the facts. And the fact is that Meredith Kercher was an Asian Indian carrying British national papers. There is already a legal precedent established on this: the notorious Dot-Busters Case of New Jersey.

Our legal system and the Italian legal system may differ in the ways they go about a case, but both are trying to achieve the same result: Justice.

The crime of Perugia in America by Claudio Giusti

:: Original Article in Italian ::

:: Google Translation ::


An Episode of Coffin Trolls -

The mastermind who
ran a Fort Lauderdale gang . . .

of coffin trolls was sentenced to prison Friday. He
apologized in court, where his lawyer disclosed
that his client had substance abuse problems.

The coffin trolls preyed on
grief-stricken mourners at funerals.

The gang shadowed funeral processions in order to break into automobiles parked at graveyard services, then disguised themselves with wigs and other paraphernalia to impersonate the victims at their banks, stealing money from the bank accounts.

Charges included Identity Theft and Bank Fraud.

:: Sentinel: Paula McMahon ::