Late Night Thoughts About Science” from Peter A. Sturrock is a teaser as well as a repast. It’s a repast because the short examples of a variety of scientific anomalies, as orthodoxy styles them, is in itself rich and rewarding. Examples of, for instance, remote viewing or clairvoyance or well-documented UFO phenomena are carefully chosen and challenge readers who bring arch-skeptical attitudes toward such things. Either his examples are invented or mistaken or even fraudulent, the reader might think … OR, the book clearly suggests, it is facts themselves that are are damned, as Charles Fort said, by an orthodoxy which will not or cannot entertain them as incontrovertible facts. The reader who is willing to choose the latter option is at the beginning, not the end, of an intellectual adventure.

Chapter after chapter, the facts are presented carefully, quietly, matter-of-factually, until the burden is on the reader to refute them or – one intention of this short collection, I believe – use the well-chosen suggestions for further reading to explore each subject in depth and detail on his or her own.

The seventeen chapters open with four instances of unresolved issues that would be well known to scientifically trained persons – ball lightning, the Allais effect, low energy nuclear reactions, and properties of beta decay. This frames the inquiry in a way that is well within orthodox science, since these puzzles are part of the lore of orthodoxy itself and ought to be somewhat familiar. They are bread crumbs that one follows with easy acquiescence into the darkening forest of edgier facts where night is falling.

With the chapter on precognition, the text moves into what some call “paranormal” (in order to make clear they know what is normal and what is not), and that’s when the reader either tosses the book away with a snort or says, hmmm, if this single account is true, what else might be true about this mysterious universe, final knowledge of which I certainly do not have, and how can I learn more? The “further reading” suggestions point the way. The segue from daylight science to nighttime reflections is seamless but as one reads about psychokinesis or crop circles, the night-time thoughts persist until the dawn and then they remain in the daylight.

Richard Feynman observed that a fact that is both a fact and anomalous is the most interesting fact because it suggests at the least that something has been overlooked or smoothed out on behalf of a coherent but false hypothesis. At the most, however, the anomalous fact might become the cornerstone of an entirely new way of framing what we know. Sturrock’s lifetime of work is a testimony to that open-minded approach and where it might lead. My review on Amazon of his book “A Tale of Two Sciences” goes into much more detail about Sturrock’s courage and career and the toll it takes to ask questions that respectable circle-the-wagons science prefers not to hear. He is an esteemed physicist who made major contributions to plasma physics and a thinker who has studied and asked hard serious questions of well-documented UFO phenomena, preferring to let the evidence suggests answers rather than making his prior answers distort or dismiss the evidence. If the reader’s curiosity is stimulated by this collection, there is a lot more Sturrock-work to explore.

Late Night Thoughts” is wise, thoughtful, careful, mature reflection, a good complement to his other books and evidence that at 92, Sturrock continues to find both fascination and fertile grounds for exploration in domains that others are too timid to touch.

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Remembering (Again) Who We Are

by rthieme on March 4, 2016

Remembering (Again) Who We Are

by Richard Thieme (www.thiemeworks.com)

 

Why do we so often forget the important things and lose ourselves in trivia? Why do we need to be reminded, again and again, what matters most?

We’re built for the mundane, I guess, but I recently had one of those reminders and I can’t put it down.

Twenty years ago I wrote in “Ferg’s Law,” an “Islands in the Clickstream” column, that “we are built to live in space that is gateless, unbounded, free.”

Ferg’s Law was simple: “when things can go right,” Ferg said, “they will, and at the best possible moment” — a good antidote to Murphy’s more pessimistic law.

Five years ago, I wrote “Remembering Who We Are” (see The Second Edition section and then find “Ferg’s Law” in the Islands in the Clickstream section). It was about a psychic event that illuminated something of the hidden universe, The friends involved in that event are involved in this one too.

That column was about getting “distress signals” from a friend, a married woman I wasn’t seeing much anymore as our lives took different paths. This time it was about both husband and wife instead of the wife alone. Out of nowhere, the names of the couple came into my awareness with intensity. They seemed to come in waves: “Bob and Alice … Bob and Alice … Bob and Alice …” (not their real names, of course). The “probes” were strongly felt, kinesthetically perhaps, then articulated as I said their names aloud. Something was seriously wrong, I felt.

Those “pings” are always an invitation to action. The need to respond is a mandate of the fact of the happening itself, not added. “Incident response” is inherent in the incoming communication.

After seeing them five years ago, we did go separate ways again and we had not talked in many months. So when I felt that distress it was an anomaly and a message, not something imagined or thought.

I have learned over the years to distinguish often between my thoughts and feelings and that “ping,” that communication, which must come into a different part of the brain than that which generates the stream of consciousness we call “our waking self.”

But I hesitated to respond, again, because it had been such a long time. After three days, however, the “pinging” had not decreased. I told my wife what was happening, wondering if I should call. She said, wouldn’t it be odd, given how long it’s been, only to call when you think you’re “getting a message?”

“I guess,” I said, choosing the more “appropriate” option. I did nothing.

 

The next morning I met a different friend for coffee, and after talking for an hour, he said, I saw [Bob] last night. Did you hear what happened?

I shook my head, feeling that twilight zone tingling.

My coffee pal said he had even asked permission from our mutual friend to tell me the details of his crisis. Bob said yes, he should tell me, and when I heard the details, my heart went out to him.

So this is the sequence of events: (1) I felt those pulses; (2) we had not been in touch for a long time so they came out of nowhere, so to speak, not related to external events or conscious thoughts; (3) the names of both husband and wife came in, whereas the first time it had been the wife alone; (4) I stated what I experienced when I discussed it with my wife the night before I met the man who told me what happened; (5) when I called my distressed friend, he spoke of a second crisis as well that compounded his distress.

“You nailed it,” he said, deeply touched by my genuine concern.

You can call it coincidence if you like, but I can’t. In the domain of UFOlogy, we joke that there are skeptics and witnesses. It’s the same when we discuss these kinds of things. I often know the difference between “waves of communication” pinging me and my own feelings and thoughts. The pings translate into thoughts and feelings and then spoken words; they do not occur in the same stream that my brain is generating all by itself. There is a palpable difference.

Many people have similar experiences, often when a strong emotional charge is present. The point is not that I have a special ability, but that this is the condition of humanity. Like personal power, it is axiomatic to our human condition, and the only way we can lose it is if we are convinced we don’t have it, so we don’t cooperate with it and nurture it. Then we will stop being aware of it and it will not happen. The “executive function” of intentionality still seems to drive much of what we allow ourselves to experience.

We are like cells in a single body. That body extends throughout the universe. What we think and feel and do affects the whole body. The universe has come alive, in other words, it is a form of forms for energy and matter which is shaped by ourselves in turn. The modern cult of individuality emphasizes “cellness.” These events emphasize “bodyness.”

We are bound to one another deeply and inextricably, and the matrix of our mutuality is the most expansive meaning of “love.” We may be apart but we never really leave one another. The links between us are energy and information framed by our attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. This is simply how the universe works.

We quickly arranged to have dinner with our friends and talk about everything. “Alice” – when I asked if she knew what this experience was like – said, “Yes. When it happens, we’re home.”

We’re home.

I can’t say it better than that.

So when it happens, our obligation is to respond with generosity of spirit, and concern, and love. And if we’re wrong, and are just reaching out without a beckoning, what do we lose by doing that?

The universe cannot be half meaningful and half meaningless. It is all one or the other. And when we realize it’s meaningful, we have a deeper obligation to ourselves and others to construct our lives so we are reminded to remember, again and again, that this is simply what’s so, and act on that awareness. Then reciprocity becomes a feedback loop in a continuously spiraling upward call … to live in a space that is gateless, unbounded, free.

My novel “FOAM” is brimful of instances of non-local consciousness and psychic connections. It is an imaginative way to say that we need a “physics of information” to understand how meaningful information traffics through consciousness and seems to do so on behalf of the progressive need to learn to love rightly.

The universe is more mysterious than we can imagine, and the world of the spirit permeates energy and matter and consciousness. The aggregation of collective awareness in all the habitable domains of all the galaxies and planets tie into a skein of intelligent sentience which challenges our simplistic provincial notions of who and what we are. Daring to know that is a challenge – a challenge to leave our comfortable rooms, as Rilke wrote, every corner of which we know, and venture forth into the universe.

March 4, 2016

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Government and corporate structures become more opaque while intrusion and surveillance makes the notion of “privacy” 20th century old-think. The interface of humans with other information systems slights the human itself as an open system of information flow. Research in biotech/nanotech/electromagnetic fields is being integrated with security/privacy concerns.

Current research in neuroscience and the extension and augmentation of senses is proceeding in directions that might sound like science fiction. Progress is rapid but unevenly distributed: Some is directed by military, intelligence and corporate interests but beyond their aims, we can discern the future shape of human identity in nascent forms. Identity – the self we think we are – is undergoing transformation as a result. We are thin-skinned, vulnerable open systems of energy and information interacting with other systems. As IT eroded boundaries in the geopolitical world, biotech is eroding boundaries around individuals and species.

The human body/brain is being hacked to explore radical applications for helping, healing, and harming this and future generations. It is all dual use. One area of research is the recovery of memories, the deletion of emotional charges from memories, the removal of specific memories, the alteration of the content of memories, and the implantation of new memories, some from other organisms and some false. Another area seeks to “read minds” at a distance and extract information. Another explores the use of genomes to understand and replicate thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns. Another implements mind-to-mind communication, using neuroscience to understand brains best suited for remote viewing as well as implants and non-invasive technologies that control the electromagnetic energies of the brain to enable psychokinesis, clairvoyance and telepathy.

Augmentation of human abilities is being achieved by splicing information from sensors into existing neurological channels. To feel the magnetic field of the earth, see the infrared and ultraviolet parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, discern the yaw and pitch of airplanes, see and hear by going around our eyes and ears — all this means we are experience the “self” in new ways.

“We” are more than we think we are, and not what we thought we were. This presentation seeks answers to the question the caterpillar asked Alice: “Who are you?”

 

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A Keynote for Code Blue – Tokyo Japan 2015

Keynote for Code Blue 2015 in Tokyo – “The Only Way to Tell the Truth is in Fiction: The Dynamics of Life in the National Security State” is now online at

 

Over a decade ago, a friend at the National Security Agency told Richard Thieme that he could address the core issues they discussed in a context of “ethical considerations for intelligence and security professionals” only if he wrote fiction. “It’s the only way you can tell the truth,” he said.

Three dozen published short stories and one novel-in-progress (FOAM) later, one result is “Mind Games,” published in 2010 by Duncan Long Publishing, a collection of stories that illuminates “non-consensual realities:” the world of hackers; the worlds of intelligence professionals; encounters with other intelligent life forms; and deeper states of consciousness.

A recent scholarly study of “The Covert Sphere” by Timothy Melley documents the way the growth and influence of the intelligence community since World War 2 has created precisely the reality to which that NSA veteran pointed. The source of much of what “outsiders” believe is communicated through novels, movies, and television programs. But even IC “insiders” rely on those sources, as compartmentalization prevents the big picture from coming together because few inside have a “need to know.”

Thieme asked a historian at the NSA what historical events they could discuss with a reasonable expectation that their words denoted the same details. “Anything up to 1945,” the historian said with a laugh – but he wasn’t kidding.

Point taken.

This fascinating presentation illuminates the mobius strip on which all of us walk as we make our way through the labyrinth of security and intelligence worlds we inhabit of necessity, all of us some of the time and some of us all of the time. It discloses why “post-modernism” is not an affectation but a necessary condition of modern life. It addresses the response of an intelligence analyst at NSA who responded to one of Thieme’s stories by saying, “most of this isn’t fiction, but you have to know which part to have the key to the code.” This talk does not provide that key, but it does provide the key to the key and throws into relief everything else you hear – whether from the platform or in the hallways – inside this conference or any other conference – and out there in the “real world.”

“Nothing is what it seem.”

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“UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry” – the 2013 video

Two versions of a presentation on “UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry” by Richard Thieme, a contributing author to the work, celebrated for its robust sourcing and scholastic rigor.

The first is for the bsides 2013 Las Vegas parallel conference. The second is for Def Con 21 a few days later where Thieme spoke for the18th year.

https://archive.org/details/bsideslv2013

There is no one “government.” There are many components of government that interact and respond to challenging and anomalous events, often contending with one another – and leaving their disputes on record.

UFOs were challenging and anomalous since the 1940s, when “foo fighters” trailed planes on bombing runs over Germany and Japan. But strange flying vehicles did not go away when the war ended. In the 1950s, the CIA advocated training observers “inside” to learn what they could while dismissing reports from “outside.”

To understand why and how a government responds that way is analogous to hacking a complex system. One has to do appropriate reconnaissance, then execute effective counter-measures, then engage in offensive operations.

The proliferation of reliable reports of unidentified flying objects elicited a response that feels familiar in the days of Assange, Snowden, and the NSA. UFOs were anomalous, well-documented, and challenging because, as Major General John Samford said, “credible people have seen incredible things.” Snowden, too, thought he had seen incredible things that needed to be brought into the light.

But this talk isn’t about Snowden, it’s about how governments manage these challenges. An NSA veteran thinks that Thieme’s talk is “perfect timing – it’s about how the government deals with serious yet largely unknown or not understood potential threats, while trying desperately to keep the public from knowing what they are doing. What better way to discuss the current situation at a meta level, without ever getting into the knee-jerk muddle of response to current events? You can’t ask for a better context for this talk.”

Richard Thieme was privileged to be invited to join the UFO History Group which includes the best researchers in the field. After 5 years of work, they produced “UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry,” an outstanding work of historical scholarship that reads like a fascinating detective story. In almost 600 pages and with nearly 1000 citations, the work illuminates the response of the government since the early 1940s. how and why policies were set, and how they were executed. Reviewers say, “this is the best book about the UFO phenomena that was ever written” and “UFOs and Government is a triumph of sober, conscientious scholarship unlikely to be equaled for years to come.”

Don Quixote said, “Insanity is seeing things as they really are.” This speech uses UFO phenomena as dye in the arteries of “how things really are.” And how governments carry out cover and deception with all of the best intentions in the world.

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A Review of FOAM

by rthieme on January 11, 2016

Richard Thieme is not the sort of author who will appeal to everyone, but those who are willing or able to tune into his particular wavelength will find the FOAM trilogy to be worth the trip (choice of words intentional). As with Philip K. Dick, the plot is almost beside the point, being a delivery vehicle for ideas and insights which will linger independent of the story. Not that the story doesn’t also hold many charms, it’s just that this is not the sort of book where the story is all there is to it.

The plot is one consisting of many disparate characters increasingly intertwined in a six degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of way, but without the connections and intermingling seeming overly contrived. It’s the sort of story that might been seen if one were given the ability to observe what happens to those one interacts with daily in the hours when they are not in one’s presence. Truth is stranger and more complex than any fiction that humans can create, and Thieme’s book is one of those stories where the author’s view of the truth is put forward in the guise of plausible fiction – a more easily digested and familiar form to deliver the dose of “WTF?” (think of P.K. Dick or maybe Haruki Murakami) that is also provided gratis as part of the deal.

Richard Thieme is also a speaker, consultant and observer of the human condition (including time spent as a priest) in “real” life, and those who have interacted with him in those roles will find this book to be enjoyable on another level, as references familiar and obscure are woven throughout the tale. Much as an audience member who is also a musician can find pleasure in noticing the fragmentary riffs that a musical performer has appropriated from many sources and playfully inserted into an epic solo, those who have been exposed to Thieme’s work in other contexts will recognize recurring pop-culture touchstones and themes (pardon the pun) from various sources. We are all products of our experiences, and both Thieme and his characters rely on shared experiences and reference point to establish bonds and communicate – sort of like that Star Trek TNG episode where the alien species communicates by way of references to history, myths and legends, allowing a short phrase to convey not only direct meaning, but contextual reference and nuance derived from shared knowledge of the source narrative.

What’s it all about? It would be easy to tersely sum up the plot, but doing so would likely lead many to either dismiss it or flock to it, with both groups likely missing the point in the process. The context is the content. The best that I can say without prejudicing the prospective reader is that it’s ultimately about being conscious and being human, with the recognition of all the glories and flaws inherent to both conditions. Perhaps the most interesting character is the one that does not covertly appear – the overarching entity consisting of the interactions of all the characters and contexts presented, which is in its own way a character on a larger stage that is left to the reader’s imagination.

Should you read the book? Maybe, maybe not. It’s not the sort of book that will please everybody.

If you’ve gotten through this review and become at least mildly curious about what exactly could be in this book that I’m tap-dancing around, you might be the sort who will at least give Thieme a chance. You might like his style and ideas, or you might not, but books aren’t all that expensive, so how much have you really got to lose? Donate the thing to the local library or to a thrift store if it doesn’t meet your needs, or give it to a friend (or enemy) whose neurons need to be tweaked a bit.

If you are the sort of reader who would prefer a nice, neat plot summary filling in the usual check boxes in one of any number of familiar genres and formulaic templates, this book at the very least is going to prove difficult to pigeon-hole. Even for you folks, it might be worth giving this a chance. It might change your life, or at least change the boundaries of your choice of reading materials.

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HOLIDAY SALE ON 3 THIEMEWORKS TITLES

by rthieme on December 2, 2015

NO BLUE SEASON WITH THIEMEWORKS GREEN HOLIDAY SALE

DECEMBER 1 – DECEMBER 31

WHATEVER YOUR HOLIDAY, ENTER GIFT HEAVEN!

FOAM

an astonishing new novel, regularly $30, NOW $20 + $5 mailing

in one complete volume or three volumes

UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry

Hard-cover: regularly $35, now $30 + $5 mailing or

Soft-cover: regularly $30, now $25 + mailing

Mind Games

regularly $20, now $15 + $5 mailing

Read all three books and you’ll never see the world the same way again. You will leave the comfortable room of your life and venture forth into the universe.

It’s all out there … it’s only a matter of going.

Pay by check or paypal to rthieme@thiemeworks.com

POSTAGE IS USA ONLY. FOR OTHER COUNTRIES REQUEST QUOTES.

Richard Thieme

ThiemeWorks

PO Box 170737

Milwaukee WI 53217-8061 USA

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FOAM a new novel from Richard Thieme is HERE!

by rthieme on September 6, 2015

FOAM

a stunning new novel from Richard Thieme available at Amazon in a single volume print edition and in three print volumes as well as three e book volumes for Kindle and Nook.

FOAM IS UNIQUE

What does it mean to be human? What is the human condition? Can a person be transformed by the power of love – even if they come from another planet?

These central concerns of the novel are also the concerns of the unusual protagonist of FOAM: extraterrestrial Jack Teufel, who appears in the sagebrush in Utah one day in a flash of light and travels to a city “somewhere in the upper Midwest” in the middle of a bitter winter.

The tale follows Jack as he practices being human by using the internet, cable TV, and other media, seeking to understand human beings, and wandering into serendipitous contact with a skein of characters whose diverse paths fold into a satisfying and unexpected unity.

At the same time, his more-than-human brain broadcasts his encounters to a vast galactic audience for whom “humans are the funniest species in seventeen galaxies … and one of the sexiest.”

A student of improv, Jack tries to always say “yes.”

FOAMs disparate cast members include:

Heidi, with whom Jack hooks up at the bus station when he arrives in the Midwest, who is completing training as a masseuse and making money on the side with fetish sites;

Her favorite model, Roni, unbalanced by her lover Jimi’s transition into a male identity as Jimmy;

Her go-to guru for strength and support, Dr. James John Gillespie, who leads small groups to discover that the “paranormal” is normal;

Bobby Jakus,  who knows Gillespie is right, as he already communes with discarnate spirits through automatic writing;

Bobby takes a job with janitor Juicy Fruit, where he meets Pancho Sanchez a hard core hacker who partners with Don Coyote (a righteous vigilante patrolling the mean streets of cyberspace) in pursuit of corruption in cyberspace and beyond;

Rupert Rapell, coping with a midlife crisis by having an affair with Carrie Fischetti at the bank where they work – and where Rapell does his fair share of corrupting more than cyberspace;

Bunny Isadora, a customer at the Oasis Café, who confronts Jack as a “walk-in Nordic” from another planet.

Dade the barista at the cafe who provides the illusion of stability in a coffee shop likened to purgatory.

By the time most major characters arrive at two climactic meetings – the men at Sex Addicts Anonymous and the women at Women Who Love Too Much Anon – Jack is in danger of going native and must choose between remaining on earth or returning to “The Skein,” a network of trans-galactic sentience, from which he believes he came.

The narrative is wildly satirical and laugh-out-loud funny as well as deeply touching as it explores the power of love to make an alien soul more human.

The novel draws on the rich experiences of the author, Richard Thieme, over a lifetime of exploring spirituality, religion, sexuality, technology, and the worlds of hackers, security professionals, spies, and in a serious scholarly work of history, the relationship between governments and UFOs.

Four appendices support the narrative – a short story, “Species, Lost in Apple-eating Time,” about the evolution of consciousness (published in anotherrealm and Mind Games); an interview with Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell about his life-changing experiences returning from the moon; an interview with Joe McMoneagle, a remote viewer in the Stargate Program; and an interesting idea from Bucky Fuller.

Praise for Richard Thieme

Your mind is a door I didn’t know existed.”

The depth, complexity and texture of Thieme’s thought processes break the mold.” – Brian Snow, Senior Technical Director, NSA (ret.)

I quite liked your story. I’ve been reading science fiction lately and yours was right up there.” – John Updike, author

Give me Richard Thieme. His mind is in orbit but his feet are on the ground.” – Dan Geer, CISO, In-Q-Tel (CIA)

I am deeply grateful to you … one seldom finds one so sympathetic and discerning. Once on a snowy morning in Moscow, Boris Spassky declaimed four pages of Bullet Park in Russian. I was very encouraged as I am by you.” – John Cheever, author

Thieme’s very imaginative writing has a complexity that raises the narrative to the fringes of slipstream. We’re left wondering what’s real and what’s not.” – Steven Pirie, The Future Fire, UK

Thieme takes us to the edges of cliffs we know are there but rarely visit. He wonderfully weaves together life, mystery, and passion with creativity and imagination.” – Clinton C. Brooks, Senior Adviser for Homeland Security and Asst. Deputy Director, NSA (ret.)

Richard Thieme earned his ‘wings’ in cyberspace. He shares his intelligence – his brilliance, really – as he steers his starship through the stars.” – Jennifer Leigh Marais, science writer in South Africa.

Beautiful descriptions and intriguing concepts” – The Fix (UK)

Thieme is truly an oracle for the Matrix generation.” – Kim Zetter, author of Countdown to Zero Day.

Richard Thieme: GENIUS!” – Thuthuka Sithole, a Zulu security researcher in South Africa

Richard Thieme sees deeply into the nature of the human spirit and expresses with great clarity what he observes.” – Joel Garreau,, Washington Post

You are a practitioner of wu wei, the effort to choose the elegant appropriate contribution to each and every issue you address.” – Hal McConnell, NSA analyst (ret.)

Richard Thieme’s clarity of thinking is refreshing and his insights are profound.” – Bruce Schneier, author and security guru

Richard Thieme teaches experts to see with ‘beginners’ eyes’ and hackers to think like philosophers. More than a great thinker, Thieme is an original soul. When you read Richard Thieme, you believe in the Matrix.” – Sol Tzvi, Senior Security Practitioner, formerly with Microsoft Israel, rock star, and entrepreneur

Richard Thieme has inspired me to see myself and the world around me in a different light. His writing represents a glimpse into the inner workings of a most extraordinary mind.” – Becky Bace. NSA (ret.)

Thieme’s writing illuminates unorthodox but deeply profound ways of understanding ourselves and everything around us.” – Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford University Center for Internet and Society

Thieme’s words more than inspire, they teach us how to think. The reader is left reeling, dizzy with insight.” – Robin Roberts, CIA R&D (ret.)

Richard Thieme is the real Enoch Root” – anonymous

A Review of FOAM

A book that will prompt a “WTF?”, in a really, really good way – at least for some readers

January 10, 2016

Richard Thieme is not the sort of author who will appeal to everyone, but those who are willing or able to tune into his particular wavelength will find the FOAM trilogy to be worth the trip (choice of words intentional). As with Philip K. Dick, the plot is almost beside the point, being a delivery vehicle for ideas and insights which will linger independent of the story. Not that the story doesn’t also hold many charms, it’s just that this is not the sort of book where the story is all there is to it.

The plot is one consisting of many disparate characters increasingly intertwined in a six degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of way, but without the connections and intermingling seeming overly contrived. It’s the sort of story that might been seen if one were given the ability to observe what happens to those one interacts with daily in the hours when they are not in one’s presence. Truth is stranger and more complex than any fiction that humans can create, and Thieme’s book is one of those stories where the author’s view of the truth is put forward in the guise of plausible fiction – a more easily digested and familiar form to deliver the dose of “WTF?” (think of P.K. Dick or maybe Haruki Murakami) that is also provided gratis as part of the deal.

Richard Thieme is also a speaker, consultant and observer of the human condition (including time spent as a priest) in “real” life, and those who have interacted with him in those roles will find this book to be enjoyable on another level, as references familiar and obscure are woven throughout the tale. Much as an audience member who is also a musician can find pleasure in noticing the fragmentary riffs that a musical performer has appropriated from many sources and playfully inserted into an epic solo, those who have been exposed to Thieme’s work in other contexts will recognize recurring pop-culture touchstones and themes (pardon the pun) from various sources. We are all products of our experiences, and both Thieme and his characters rely on shared experiences and reference point to establish bonds and communicate – sort of like that Star Trek TNG episode where the alien species communicates by way of references to history, myths and legends, allowing a short phrase to convey not only direct meaning, but contextual reference and nuance derived from shared knowledge of the source narrative.

What’s it all about? It would be easy to tersely sum up the plot, but doing so would likely lead many to either dismiss it or flock to it, with both groups likely missing the point in the process. The context is the content. The best that I can say without prejudicing the prospective reader is that it’s ultimately about being conscious and being human, with the recognition of all the glories and flaws inherent to both conditions. Perhaps the most interesting character is the one that does not covertly appear – the overarching entity consisting of the interactions of all the characters and contexts presented, which is in its own way a character on a larger stage that is left to the reader’s imagination.

Should you read the book? Maybe, maybe not. It’s not the sort of book that will please everybody.

If you’ve gotten through this review and become at least mildly curious about what exactly could be in this book that I’m tap-dancing around, you might be the sort who will at least give Thieme a chance. You might like his style and ideas, or you might not, but books aren’t all that expensive, so how much have you really got to lose? Donate the thing to the local library or to a thrift store if it doesn’t meet your needs, or give it to a friend (or enemy) whose neurons need to be tweaked a bit.

If you are the sort of reader who would prefer a nice, neat plot summary filling in the usual check boxes in one of any number of familiar genres and formulaic templates, this book at the very least is going to prove difficult to pigeon-hole. Even for you folks, it might be worth giving this a chance. It might change your life, or at least change the boundaries of your choice of reading materials.

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Why We Are All a Bit Crazy

by rthieme on January 11, 2015

 

http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/

RICHARD THIEME
Why we’re all a bit crazy

James Jesus Angleton embodied the inevitable trajectory of a person committed to counterintelligence. Maybe he got a little crazy at the end but that might explain why we are all getting a little crazy, too.

Angleton was director of counterintelligence for the CIA from 1954 until 1974. Fans of spy fiction might think of him as John Le Carre’s George Smiley, but that portrait puts a benign and smiling face on the grimace that counterintelligence practitioners can’t completely hide.

For 20 years, Angleton’s job was to doubt everything. This enigmatic figure presented puzzles for people to solve in every conversation, stitched designer lies into every narrative, trusted no one.

The task of counterintelligence is to figure out what the other side is doing, how it is deceiving us, what double agents it has planted in our midst. CI is predicated on double-deceiving and triple-deceiving the other side into believing fictions nested within fictions, always leavened with some facts, just enough to seem real.

Counterintelligence is a dangerous game. You have to be willing to sacrifice pawns to save queens. Those pawns may be loyal agents but nothing you have told them, no promises or pledges, can stand in the way of letting them go when you have to, letting them be tortured or killed or imprisoned for life to protect a plan of action.

Angleton came to suspect everyone. Whenever a mole was uncovered in our ranks, he believed that he had been allowed to discover that mole to protect a bigger one, higher up.

You see how the Moebius strip twists back onto itself. Every successful operation is suspect. If you discover double agents in your own ranks, it is because the other side wanted you to find them. The more important the agent you uncover, that is how much more important must be the one you have not yet found.

Example. The Americans built a tunnel under the Berlin Wall so they could tap Soviet military traffic. In fact, a mole working for the Soviets told them about the taps. But he told the KGB, not the military whose traffic was tapped. The KGB did not tell the military because then the military might alter the traffic, which would signal that the Soviets knew about the taps. That, in turn, would mean there was a mole. So to protect the mole, the traffic was allowed to continue unimpeded.

The Americans, once they knew about the mole, concluded that the intercepted traffic had been bogus because the operation had been compromised from the beginning, when in fact the Soviets had let the Americans tap the traffic, saving their mole for future operations.

You get the idea. It’s not that we know that they know that we know but whether or not they know that we know that they know that we know.

It takes a particular kind of person to do this sort of work. Not everyone is cut out for distrusting everybody and everything, for thinking that whatever they accomplish, they were allowed to do it to protect something more important. Daily life for most people means accepting the facts of life at face value and trusting the transactions in which we are engaged, trusting the meaning of words, trusting that there is firm ground under our feet.

Otherwise we inevitably tend where Angleton tended. Every defector considered a plant, every double agent considered a triple agent, everyone in the American network considered compromised. Angleton tore the agency apart, looking for the mole he was sure the moles he found were protecting.

I am struck lately by how many plain people, mainstream folks uninvolved in intelligence work, volunteer that they distrust every word uttered by the government or the media. How many treat all the news as leaks or designer lies that must be deconstructed to find a motive, plan or hidden agenda. Daily life has become an exercise in counterintelligence just to figure out what’s going on.

It’s not a question of party politics. This is deeper than that. It’s about trying to find our balance as we teeter precariously on the Moebius strip of cover and deception that cloaks our public life, that governs the selling of the latest war, that called the air in New York clean instead of lethal, that has darkened the life of a formerly free people who enjoyed constitutional rights as if there’s a midday eclipse. We see our own civil affairs through a glass darkly and nobody really knows what’s what.

As the envelope of secrecy within which our government works has become less and less transparent, the projection of wild scenarios onto that blank space where the truth was once written has become more evident. But that only makes sense. The inability to know what is true unless you are a specialist in investigative work makes our feelings of dissonance, our craziness, understandable.

We are all getting a little crazy about now. We are becoming the confused and confusing person of James Jesus Angleton in a vast undifferentiated mass, a citizenry treated as if we are the enemy of our own government. We spend too much time trying to find that coherent story that makes sense of the contradictory narratives fed to us day and night by an immense iron-dark machine riding loud in our lives.

It got to be too much and at last they let Angleton go into that good night in which he had long lived where nothing was what it seemed and everyone was suspect. So he retired and went fishing. But where can we go? On what serene lake should we go fish, listening to the cry of the loons, trailing our hands in the cold water because cold is at least a fact we can feel, one of the few in a world gone dark and very liquid?

Richard Thieme (thiemeworks.com) is a Milwaukee-based author and professional speaker. He has spoken about security issues for the National Security Agency, the Secret Service, and the FBI and at the security/hacker conference Def Con for 19 years.

 

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This speech was given at Def Con 22 in Las Vegas in August 2014, the 19th year I spoke at Def Con. A graphic represntations of speakers at Def Con over the year showed that I had spoken there more than anyone else, which means the company of a LOT of greater people.

 

Video and additional files of
“The Only Way to Tell the Truth is in Fiction: The Dynamics of Life in the National Security State” – my talk at Def Con 22 (2014)

Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdsJulQdUcg

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