Mobius: A Memoir – Available Now

by rthieme on December 13, 2020

book cover

A Limited Edition of 100 copies of Mobius: A Memoir by Richard Thieme printed by The Workshop (Arcadia CA) has sold out.

Signed copies will continue to be available from the author. A copy is US$25 + $5 mailing (in the US) by Paypal ([email protected]), Venmo (rthieme_thiemeworks), or check to Richard Thieme. Mailing costs to other countries provided on request.

Printed copies of Mobius: A Memoir are also available at Amazon for the same price and for Kindle ($15).

Thieme considers Mobius: A Memoir his finest work. See “About Richard Thieme” at for a full biography.


The Shamanic Journey

by rthieme on July 31, 2020

The Shamanic Journey

Every week a project called Storyworth asks a question and saves my answer. After a year they will create a book of the responses. (This was a gift from my daughter). Last week, the question was:

What is one of the strangest things that has happened to you?

And this was the one that I chose to describe:

    I often engaged in periods of meditation. They always resulted in mildly altered states, nothing unusual, but once in a great while, they resulted in something major. I slid into a different “space.” That happened one afternoon and I found myself experiencing something like a lucid dream, a very vivid experience of a journey into and through diverse environments and being mentored by a wise old sage. It’s not unusual for “guides” to be wise old sages in different “genres.” Anyway, it was a powerful experience, deep and meaningful, and that’s what Bishop Charles affirmed when we discussed it and I asked for guidance, what you know for sure is, you have had the experience.

    Now that same week or the next week – I don’t recall which – I was browsing in our counterculture book store in Salt Lake City called the Cosmic Airplane I think it was. I saw a paperback called “The Shamanic Journey” and bought it. I read it avidly and the author outlined the typical shamanic journey in quite some detail. It was not similar to but identical to what I had experienced, symbolic events and images and all.

    I took that immediate discovery of that book and what it illuminated as obvious synchronicity and still do.

    I have said about “conversion” experience, that human brains are hardwired to have a “hierarchical restructuring of the psyche” when the right triggers, internal and external, cause it to happen as they did in my instance. It can lead to transformation or psychosis I think. In my case the dice fell onto transformation and higher integration and a realization that I would never again see the world the same way. I am referring to the prolonged experience(s) that resulted in my trajectory toward the ministry.

    The key there is that the experience completed and could be integrated with other experience and a changed direction in life. That relates to a shamanic journey in this way – as a therapist said about dissociated states, the important thing is not that you have them but that you know how to come back home.

    If you go over to the far shore and cannot get back, that’s trouble. But if you can come back and know you always can – then you are empowered to “go crazy on behalf of the community” because your “crazy vision or crazy wisdom” can be used to illuminate the consensus reality of the community. That is how I came to understand the priesthood and endeavored to live it out. Preaching was a way of like doing the Tarot for a community using images not from the deck but from the assigned scriptural passages of deliverance, healing, and transformation. You “read the space” of the community and gave them a reading that scattered bread crumbs toward the vision. You spoke to the collective unconscious and when people “got it,” they said, like, “you were speaking directly to me.” As indeed I was, also.

    The genuine religious vision is transformational and counter-cultural.

    Acting on confrontational principles on behalf of justice or other genuine values will elicit a less than welcome response. The ministry as a profession meant learning to walk the razor’s edge between being booted out and being one of the crowd and complacent about it. That was not trivial as a challenge.

    As it is not trivial in any area of life. We all maintain our integrity as we can and we are all assimilated into self-interested structures and behaviors to a degree. It’s how much one tilts one way or the other that makes a difference, in my experience. The depiction of Jesus is of a person – historically correct or not – who maintained integrity all the way. And got what one would expect.

    So that’s a bigger view of how I understand what happened.

    If you are interested in some of the details, you can find them in my short story “Silent Emergent, Doubly Dark” in “Mind Games” or as always free at my web site. I present in sci-fi tropes an “anthropologist” visiting successive alien cultures while I am in fact depicting deeper and deeper states of consciousness.


Turning Context into Content – a How-to

by rthieme on May 6, 2020

Seeing Beyond the Trees -How to Turn Context Into Content We Can See – Richard Thieme

For those bored by the quarantine, this is the audio of a talk I gave today, May 6, for Secure360, a cybersecurity conference restructured from physical to virtual. The topic – how to manage the identification of a new paradigm and the ways it will change the contents of life and work – was formulated before the pandemic, so happened to be perfect for our times. I try to do justice to how the digital/computer revolution changed everything and how the pandemic will change everything because both are engines of transformational dynamics and we are going through the looking glass once again.

When I gave it, I was aiming/pressing beyond the blank screen of my monitor to an imaginary audience, so I was projecting hard and it sounds louder than I thought at the time,. So modulate the volume 🙂


Remember Victor Frankl

by rthieme on March 22, 2020

Victor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist whose life was shredded by the holocaust. When times are bad, I think of his example.

His professional life and work as a neurologist and psychiatrist ended. His home, his office, his library were all destroyed.

His family was murdered in the Holocaust. He lost them all.

His name, his identity, was taken away and replaced with a number on his arm.

His clothes, a support for a social identity, were replaced with the striped pajamas of a concentration camp inmate.

His sense of predictability and stability were destroyed by frequent beatings and privations and the constant threat of death.

His response, when everything had been taken from him that constitutes a person, was to find scraps of debris in the camp and scribble sentences on them for a work he intended to create on the other side of horror. He wrote the plan for the work in his mind. He imagined a meaningful future, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Frankl survived and wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He created logotherapy, based on his own experience, a school of psychotherapy based on the premise that, even with nothing left, a human being was free to create purpose and meaning in his or her life, and that freedom gives us the ability to endure and transcend anything.

Frankl responded to horror with courage, resilience, and heroism. Not because he was special or different, but because he was human.

That capacity for response is intrinsic to every human being. It is a quality in our very souls. We too can respond to whatever life brings by creating meaning and purpose to see us through the darker times. We too can respond with dignity, elasticity, and when the chips are down, genuine heroism.

I remember Victor Frankl.

March 22 2020


An Unusual Event

by rthieme on July 27, 2019

[I was invited to give a guest lecture for a class at the University of Tubingen. I had never been there before and gladly accepted. I flew through Frankfurt and took a bus from the airport to the city center. I chatted with someone on the bus and we got off together and were walking to the east, I think it was, when I realized I had to get to the university right away. The class was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. and it was getting close to that. I asked where the university was and someone pointed to the west and said, “It’s right down this street. Just walk that way and you’ll come right to it. It isn’t far.”

I did walk a few blocks and there was the campus. I found the building for the class and was ten minutes late, which in Germany is not a trivial sin. Still, there was a lunch hour on the other side of the scheduled lecture so it was not a problem. There were several dozen students and as I began to speak “from my overflow” about the powerful changes technology has caused, they engaged in a flow of Q and A that made the dynamic conversation vibrate with energy. They were so smart and the questions were so good.

When we finished, most of them left to go have lunch, but about eight of us pulled our chairs into a circle to talk some more. The woman to my left was older, her hair was silvery white and came down straight, and her face was thin and her manner reserved or aloof. I did not feel extroverted vibes from her direction but when she spoke I was struck by the brilliance and sophistication of her insights. She used metaphors to express herself, one I forget and one was about money, and they so perfectly communicated the gist of what she wanted to say that, again, I was struck.

When the circle broke up and we stood around deciding where to go have lunch, I looked around for her after a few minutes, but she wasn’t there any longer. I asked the professor – a man with gray hair and a beard — who she was. Who who who? he asked. The woman sitting to my left, I said, The older woman who made those great comments. The one with silvery hair combed straight down, not particularly arranged, with angular features and a very cool manner. Her insights were striking.

The professor stared at me.

“Richard, there was no one in the chair to your left. The chair was empty.”

I described her again in more detail and the professor paled.

“I know only one person who fits that description. You are describing Frau —- (he said her name but I forget it) and she was killed in an auto accident in Zurich last month.]

I put that account in brackets because it was a dream, an uncharacteristically complete dream that I remembered in unusual detail when I woke. I googled the University of Tubingen and the map was exactly as I had dreamed, the street in the center of the city and down past a park to the west was the campus.

It is best to pay attention to the interpretations that suggest themselves to us as those too come from the psyche that was dreaming and have information for us.

The one that I thought at once was an echo of the concluding lines of James Joyce’s famous short story, “The Dead,” that the snow was general all over Ireland and falling on the living and the dead alike, uniting them in a communion of spirit. I have recently lost too many friends and the few relatives who were peers and not a day passes that I do not think of them and direct energy toward their presence and memory. I am also hyperconscious of how much I have learned has been transmitted in books, films, and more, by those who are dead. And this week we lost Rutger Hauer whose magical lines in Bladerunner as his character died, “all those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain,” were on my mind. And I am writing a novel, “Mobius: A Memoir,” that was stimulated by the loss of my dear friend Ken Olthoff but which took a different turn, drawing not so much on our conversations but on my entire lifetime of engagement with the sometimes conflicted as a friend and counselor.

But my wife had a different thought. She understood the woman to be my anima, the feminine dimension of my soul, which has animated so much of my life and creative energy, the “feminine dimension” for which I have been so grateful. Over twenty-five years ago I had another Jungian “Big Dream” in which I walked through a mansion and found many more rooms, richly appointed, than I thought were there. I came upon a woman – named Chris Martel, as it happens, a parishioner in Utah once upon a time — who was also richly attired, sitting at a writing desk in a lush study. “I had no idea you were so wealthy!” I said. She quietly smiled and went back to her work.

That dream was a communication from my psyche that I was in a transition between stages of life and my creative resources were so much more than I had known or could imagine. Midlife was not a crisis so much as a splendid opportunity — your second birth, Jung said, is your own creation. That dream turned out to be prophetic. 25 years of professional speaking and writing followed once I had the courage to leave a successful career and venture into the unknown. My first book was published when I was 60 and four more, fiction and non-fiction alike, have followed in the fifteen years since. “Mobius” is almost complete, I am co-editing a sequel to “UFOs and Government,” and my brain is mapping out another novel to be started as soon as this one is done. All God willing, of course, inshallah, as they say.

This is a reflection on the fact that we do not know ourselves as deeply as we think, and the rooms of those magnificent mansions, our psyches, those are the cells in our honeycomb souls, the house a familiar symbol of the psyche after all (think haunted houses, symbolizing fears of the unknown or the darkness in ourselves) and I share this simply to stimulate reflections on your own lives. If it doesn’t, well, delete is a handy key to the right.

Richard Thieme ( is a professional speaker and author. He mines the recesses of his soul as best he can and tries to bring up strange luminous fish from the deep.


A colleague who worked for an intelligence agency in information security and related areas for decades shares his reflections on ethical challenges and – well, a bunch of things that go bump in the night .… challenges that do not apply only to his work. They cross boundaries into a variety of professions, perhaps all professions. James Baldwin said, after all, “The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.”

We’re no longer the only game in town. We know what Google, Facebook, hackers, the Russian mob, <insert foreign country of your choice> and others can do, and we understand the implications. Some of them scare the hell out of us.

There are things we simply do not understand. There are instances where we see evidence of anomalous things which imply impressive capabilities, yet we have no idea who it is or what they are up to. Unknowns are a scary thing.

We can conceive of “game changing technologies” but we don’t know if we’ll get there first. Worse, we know that there are “unknown unknowns” and the possibility that they might become “known unknowns” to somebody else first is scary.

China recently landed a robot on the backside of the moon. We understand the implications of the moon as the ultimate high ground from a military point of view. Imagine a rail gun on the moon, and what could be done with a basic knowledge of celestial mechanics. Why haven’t we returned?

When I am working on a project … am I the only one who knows about this that thinks it’s a <good, bad, righteous, immoral, evil> idea? If so, am I the sane one or am I the one who’s gone terribly astray? Difficult questions when there are only N people who know, and you can’t get a sanity check from anybody else.

My coworkers, who are in some ways closer to me than friends or family, think this (whatever it is) is <good, bad>. I don’t. What do I do, now that I don’t fit? Who do I talk to about it?

When is it right to stay to try to change things from the inside or go because there’s nothing more one can do?

How sure am I that I’m right, and am I right to be so sure (whether or not I’m right on the underlying issue)?

What if it were my family whose wedding reception was mistaken for an enemy summit and vaporized by a missile? Or what if my family were the next to die, because the bad guys got away with an attack due to my hesitation based on the first question?

If my older or younger self saw me now, would he be proud or ashamed?

If my friends or family knew what I’m doing would they be proud or ashamed? And in either case, would it still be the right (or wrong) thing that I’m doing?

Will I know if/when this job starts to change me in ways that are against my beliefs, or my health? Will I know what to do if/when I do realize it? Will I be able to do what needs to be done?

I’m not comfortable with this job, but would I be more or less comfortable if somebody else were doing it?

What if I don’t really know what’s going on? What if I’m working on the deception, or the cover story, not the real operation? (He learned years later than a sizable project was in fact a cover story or diversion and neither he nor his colleagues knew it until the project was declassified.)

What if some or all of the context, the requirements, and the criteria I’m working against are only part of the real story? And when if ever do I get the “whole story?”

What sorts of “what if” scenarios do I need to warn about? Am I an alarmist or a voice in the wilderness that needs to be heard?

Who do I trust? Who should I trust? Who do I not trust? Who should I not trust? Who CAN I trust? And if I cannot trust anyone at all … how do I live in isolation with rising anxiety, paranoia, fear?

We structure ourselves to mirror the enemy. We train ourselves to think like the enemy, so we can anticipate what they will do. At what point do we know them so well that we become them, and would we notice? “Beware when you stare into the abyss … etc.”

How many secrets are enough? How many secrets really are secret? How many secrets should not be secret? Didn’t Senator Moynihan have something to say about this, and wasn’t he, as usual, ignored? How many secrets are secret to cover up wrong-doing rather than to enable us to do right? Would the world be a better place if I revealed some or all of what I know, either in classified specifics or unclassified generalities?

Who profits from the action I am about to take, and how has that played into the decision? Did I make the decision or was I ordered to do it? Am I a patriot or a “good German?”

The tools, procedures, policies and systems exist to serve the mission. How do we recognize when the mission has become subservient to the tools, procedures, policies and systems?

“It’s a Wonderful Life” – if I were not here, what kind of world would Clarence the angel show me? Would it be better, worse, or does my presence make no difference at all?

If there is a God, and I’m one day called to account for the things that I’ve done, will I be found to have done ‘the right things?”

How many deaths have I prevented or caused? (How many “normal” people ask that question,  or have any reason to do so?)

Is there anybody in the rest of the world who sees me personally as a target, and if so, why? Is it “just business” or “personal”? As my colleague said, “I may be paranoid, but people ARE out to get us.”

What underlying assumptions do I make subconsciously because of what I’ve seen and done that my friends or family don’t share? In what ways have I moved through the looking-glass into a hall of mirrors and not even know it?

Does my work prevent me from being my true, authentic self to my friends and relatives? Would their opinion of me change if they knew the full, real, me, which includes the “work” me? What does it mean for my relationships that I can never be forthright, fully “myself,” with anyone, including my family?

My actions or decisions led (however circuitously) to somebody being killed. What was that person really like? What is/was that person’s family like? What happened between birth and death to put that person on that path – a path they chose and, then, we chose – so that my actions led to that person’s death?

Why am I doing this ? Have I consciously chosen the path I’m on, or is it the result of happenstance and my inability or unwillingness to consciously make a different choice?

Is this all real, or am I individually delusional or part of a larger collective delusion?

What are the basic assumptions, and when is the last time I explicitly questioned them or sought proof that they are true?

Would I be proud to have people know my name in conjunction with what I’m doing or have done (regardless of their opinions)?

What are the odds that a nuke will drop on my workplace today, given that I work in a place that is certainly a “top <5, 10, 50, 100, 1,000>” target?

What will advance my career, and how much of my values am I willing to trade? Yes, this happens in any career, but the potential repercussions are different in our business.

Most of this boils down to the isolation of the individual in a context where (due to compartmentation, clearances, “need to know”, operational tempo, office politics, etc.) it is often difficult to consult with any trusted and impartial mentor or peer to align your compass or get a second opinion, whether for moral issues or operational issues. Thus, the individual is left to struggle with who to believe, what to believe, what one’s bottom line values are (which might turn out to be different than one expected when one faces a real, no kidding, crisis of conscience), and what price one is willing to pay for staying true to whatever one clings to in such times, all in a context where the savvy individual knows that he or she might not know critical pieces of information which would considerably change the picture.

And then he goes even deeper:

I hadn’t thought of it before, but what if the effects of my work over time are related to those resulting from sensory deprivation? Sensory deprivation leaves one’s mind trapped in one’s head with no information about the world outside one’s head. The situations we are talking about give one sensory input, but one’s mind knows that the senses are almost certainly not delivering a complete and accurate picture. Over time, might the path to disorientation and possibly mental illness be the same, only slower, even if one gets to clock out and “go home” (which in some contexts, such as tours in a combat theater, is not possible)? And can a drone operator really go home when he/she leaves the bunker and drives to the kid’s soccer game or a family dinner?

And related to that … all sorts of work is being done on how the brain can physically change under different conditions. If we were to MRI a large set of people when they EODed into the intelligence community, or got read into compartments, or got assigned to a “advanced interrogation team” or whatever, and we followed them long-term, re-MRI-ing them every N years, what might we find compared to a suitably-selected control group? What if it were to be shown that IC members might have as much brain damage as the average NFL player, not due to physical injury, but due to brain plasticity reshaping things in response to (or to cope with) the cognitive environment?

Last but not least, he shares the (unproven) speculations of a co-worker who theorized that “our employer’s workforce probably has a statistically significant bulge in percentages of people from broken or abusive families, children of alcoholics or substance abusers, closeted homosexuals, dyslexics, and other traits. Why? They are just the sort of people we want – they’ve spent their lives keeping secrets.” (In AlAnon, the children of alcoholics learn, “Don’t feel. Don’t trust. Don’t tell.”)


Richard Thieme News

by rthieme on May 21, 2013

Hello! I will be using this section of my home page to keep you updated on current projects, plans, things I’m thinking about, articles, speaking engagements, etc.

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25 Years of ThiemeWorks on September 1 2018

by rthieme on August 28, 2018

A Quarter-century of ThiemeWorks 1993-2018

On September 1, 1993, the first year commercial enterprises were permitted on the Internet, I took a leap of faith, left a successful career, and launched ThiemeWorks as a platform for professional speaking, writing, and consulting.

That was 25 years ago. In 23 years of speaking for Def Con, I have morphed from “a father figure for online culture” (London Sunday Telegraph) to “a grandfather figure for online culture” (witty hacker). You can not predict the future but with luck and the generosity and good will of others, you can co-create it. My gratitude is too deep for words.

We are built to live in space that is gateless, unbounded, free.” – Ferg’s Law in “Islands in the Clickstream.”

have mouth, will travel.


















The Hague

Ghent Belgium



Wodz Poland


Victoria BC







Eilat/Tel Aviv

Kuala Lumpur



closer to home …



New York


San Francisco CA

San Diego CA

Monterey CA







Kansas City

Burlington VT

Woodbury VT


San Antonio




New Orleans

Baton Rouge




Louisville KY

Murray KY



Kansas City

Columbus OH



Sun Valley ID

Los Alamos NM


Des Moines IA

Iowa City IA

Davenport IA

St. Louis

Las Vegas

Lake Tahoe


Provo UT

Charlotte NC

Washington DC

Fort Meade MD

Arlington VA

Norfolk VA

Hampton VA

Charlottesville VA

Springfield VA

Lafayette IN

Indianapolis IN


local …

Minneapolis MN

St. Paul MN

Stillwater MN

Edina MN

Eden Prairie MN

Richfield MN

St. Louis Park MN

Minnetonka MN

Wayzata MN

Eagan MN

Woodbury MN

Shakopee MN

New Hope MN

Mankato MN

and …


Milwaukee WI

Madison WI

Green Bay WI

Eau Claire WI

La Crosse WI

Sheboygan WI

Racine WI

Kenosha WI

Appleton WI

Waukesha WI

Beloit WI

Whitewater WI

Port Washington WI

Mequon WI

Shorewood WI

Whitefish Bay WI

Brookfield WI

Wauwatosa WI

Oconomowoc WI

Clintonville WI

Green Lake WI

Ripon WI

Grafton WI

Random Lake WI

Butler WI

New Berlin WI

West Allis WI

St. Francis WI

Burlington WI

West Bend WI

Waterford WI

Delafield WI

Muskego WI

Mukwonago WI

Elm Grove WI

Pewaukee WI

Menominee WI

Chippewa Falls WI

Antigo WI

Greendale WI

Hartland WI

Franklin WI

Germantown WI

Lake Geneva WI

Janesville WI

McFarland WI

Wales WI

Oostburg WI

Fontana WI

Manitowoc WI

Mishicot WI


and …


Chicago IL

Crystal Lake IL

Zion IL

Grays Lake IL

Waukegan IL

Lake Forest IL

Winnetka IL

Wilmette IL

Northbrook IL

Hillside IL

Galena IL

Oak Park IL

Rosemont IL

and invited, but unable to go for various reasons, to …





Sao Paulo


Abu Dhabi




New Delhi

and some writing along the way …

The Road to Resilience: Strategies for Playing Through the Pain” – ICS2 – Nov-Dec 2018.

The UFO Phenomenon (co-editor) – coming soon from Anomalist Books

a review of “UFOs: Reframing the Debate” –  Journal of Scientific Exploration. Fall 2018

A Richard Thieme Readera 5-volume e-book anthology of fiction and non-fiction on Kindle, spring 2016. On Kindle.

FOAM – a novel (Exurban Press: September 2015)

Mind Games, A Collection of Nineteen Stories of Brave New Worlds and Alternate Realities Duncan Long Publications, April 2010

Richard Thieme’s Islands in the Clickstream, a collection of non-fiction, Syngress Publishing (a division of Elsevier), July 2004. (The column, “Islands in the Clickstream,” was published in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Toronto, Djakarta, Dublin and Capetown and distributed to thousands of subscribers in 60 countries before Syngress published the collection.)

UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry (Anomalist Books: San Antonio, TX: 2012) by Michael Swords and Robert Powell, with Richard Thieme, Clas Svahn, Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, Bill Chalker, Barry Greenwood, Jan Aldrich, and Steve Purcell – a team effort by a collection of veteran UFO historians and researchers who spent four plus years researching, consulting, writing, and editing to develop a work of historical scholarship on government response to the UFO phenomenon from WWII to the present. Recommended by CHOICE for inclusion in all academic libraries, currently in 100+ university and public libraries..

Silent Emergent, Doubly Dark” in Subtle Edens (editor Allen Ashley, Elastic Press: Norwich UK: 2008)

“I Remember Mama” in New Writing, Volume One: An Anthology of Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Drama From Press Americana (2013)

Entering Sacred Digital Space” published in New Paradigms for Bible Study: The Bible in the Third Millennium from T. & T. Clark, Ltd., June 2004.

Identity/Destiny” published in Prophecy Anthology, Volume 1”  a full-color book featuring sequential art by artists such as Shannon Wheeler, Scott McCloud, Sho Murase, Yuko Shimizu, Nathan Fox and Bernie Mireault by Sequent Media (2004).

“The Changing Context of Intelligence and Ethics:  Enabling Technologies as Transformational Engines” in Defense Intelligence Journal. Published in an adapted version in the proceedings of the New Paradigms for Security Workshop (NPSW 2008) and at the Ethical Spectacle (January 2009 – as “Changing Contexts of Security and Ethics: You Can’t Have One Without the Other.” Commissioned by the University of Maryland.

Short stories in Analog Science Fiction, Ascent, The Puckerbrush Review, Timber Creek Review, Porcupine, Zahir, The Future Fire, The Ranfurly Review, Bewildering Stories, anotherealm, Pacific Coast Journal, The Potomac Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Karamu, Combat, Heartlands, The Circle Magazine, The Listening Ear, Words on Walls, Nth Degree, Down in the Dirt, EWG, Phrack, Cantaraville (Eight), Chaos Theory: Tales Askew, Wanderings Magazine, BigCityLit …

articles in: Forbes, Salon, Information Security, SIGNAL, American Center for Democracy, Review Americana, The Gardian (Infragard), Secure Business Quarterly, Cyber Defense Magazine, ICS2, LAN Magazine, Village Voice, LA Weekly, South Africa Computer Magazine, Wired, Counter Punch, The Pedestal Magazine, Common Dreams, alternet, Internet Underground, National Catholic Reporter, Anglican Theological Review, Asia Times Online, .net, Internet Today, Pravda, rebelion, ATTAC Madrid, Computing Japan, Business Times of Singapore, Convergence (Toronto), Computer Underground Digest, CTHEORY, DoubleClick, Ethical Spectacle, Small Business Times, Computer Mediated Communication, Skeptica (Denmark), Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Informatiebeveiliging (Netherlands). Now Magazine (Toronto), Future Briefs, Access Control & Security Systems, The Bangladesh Report, Phrack, The Witness, Interesting Times … translated into German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Slovene, Dutch, Hebrew, Danish and Indonesian and taught at universities in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

articles anthologized in Digital Delirium, Cyber Reader II, Cyberculture (UK).

fiction anthologized in CyberTales: Live Wire; Chaos Theory; Distinguished Writing: A Master‘s Journal; Whortleberry Summer; Autumn Glory; and Subtle Eden (November 2008, London, Elastic Press). Non-fiction anthologized in New Writing, Volume One: An Anthology of Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Drama From Press Americana

the short stories Gibby the Sit-down King, published in the Timber Creek Review, and The Man Who Hadn’t Disappeared, published in Karamu, were nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


The Road to Resilience is on you tube

by rthieme on August 24, 2018

“The Road to Resilience: Strategies for Playing Through the Pain” by Richard Thieme at Def Con 26 (August 11 2018) is now available on you tube. 23rd year at Def Con.  Connecting with the heart of a left-brain crowd.

The Road to Resilience: Strategies for Playing Through the Pain

by Richard Thieme –

At one end of the spectrum, stressful events at work can add up to just another bad day. We have all had those. But toward the other end, information security work – which shades easily into work for the intelligence and defense communities – can be traumatic and impact us deeply.

Sometimes the darker knowledge we gather can not be forgotten and abrades the way we like to think of ourselves or life in general. Sometimes we encounter momentous challenges to the ethics or morality we believe governs our actions. Sometimes we are compelled to do things that so seriously assault our core selves – our very sense of who we are – that it rises to the level of “moral harm,” a category of damage often discussed today in relationship to war.

We all bear scars. Resilience includes learning to live with them. But sometimes the challenges go beyond that. We deny or minimize or rationalize our experience in order to deal with it, but those strategies are ultimately self-defeating. The traumatic impact of what can never be forgotten – what we did or know others did while we stood by – can erode our enthusiasm for getting up in the morning and rising to the challenge of the everyday.

Information security can bring us into situations we did not anticipate when we thought of the job as merely technical. Engaging with malevolent actors from individuals to criminal networks to nation states can call our fundamental assumptions into question. The real cost goes beyond dollars. It is measured in family life, relationships, and mental and physical well-being. The real impact of this work on people over the long term has to be mitigated by counter-measures and strategies so scars can be endured or, even better, incorporated and put to use.

Richard Thieme has listened closely for 25 years to information security and intelligence professionals who often struggle to “play through the pain.” He presents meaningful strategies for transcending the consequences of being on the front lines of an undeclared war without borders where attackers have taken the high ground. He discusses these issues aloud to combat the silence that so often attends their mere mention.

This conversation needs to happen.


Me and Jim Carrey: Wild and Crazy Guys

by rthieme on May 14, 2018

Jim Carrey, the entity once known as Jim Carrey I should say, is catching flak these days from those who cannot understand what he is saying. He is saying lots of things, including that none of us exist, not the way we think of ourselves, that is, that the universe we inhabit is nothing but a dance, a dance of ecstatic energy, and the names we attach to ourselves are stickers that seem to adhere and suggest a permanent identity but don’t, and — here, listen for yourself. (be sure to add – doing it this way to keep the links optional)



Now, some say Jim is crazy. That’s what humans say when they cannot understand a point of view that differs significantly from their own, when their model of reality of challenged. I myself have been called crazy a few times. Here are a few instances.

Many decades ago, I had an epiphany while playing a computer game (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from Infocom). I saw that my thinking was being changed as I engaged with a computer, but beyond that, I myself was being changed. I saw that interacting with the symbol-manipulating machine called a computer did different things to me than reading the symbol-manipulating machine called a book.

I had studied and taught English literature and writing so I had a clue as to how text worked, how meaning was mediated by writing and print, and by contrast, I saw that meaning was mediated differently by computers. So as more and more people interacted with computers and computers with one another, as the symbiotic network expanded, the social, cultural, political, and mental worlds we inhabit would alter in significant ways.

I was still an Episcopal clergyman then, so I addressed what I saw in terms of religious images, ideas, structures. I wrote an essay called “Computer Applications for Spirituality: The Transformation of Religious Experience” and sent it to the Anglican Theological Review.

The Review rejected the essay out of hand, but it was in the margins that I found the most interesting comments. “He must be insane.” said one. “God forbid!” said another. And on it went, the paradigms within which the editors lived rejecting fresh insights the way a body rejects toxic bacteria.

Years later, a new editor dusted off the piece and wrote that the Review would be honored to publish my “cutting edge essay,” – the technical references in which were long obsolete. (moos and mushes instead of MMORPGs).

What had changed was the context in which the essay could be read. The digital revolution had begun to socialize people to its frames. “Wisdom and insanity are contextual,” I noted, the frames determining which pictures could fit.

Here’s another instance.

After I spoke for a technical conference in Nashville TN, the technologists in the audience invited me to speak for a conference at a school in western Kentucky. I offered a variety of topics and the conference chose “The Future of Hacking.” I liked that. The topic allowed me to explore the real meanings of hacking in several fields and to swing for the fence, describing as best I could what the future held..

I misjudged the second audience, however, which consisted of computer operators in small businesses in western Kentucky, not upper level technologists. The data entry folks tried to follow along but it sounded crazy to many.

After the speech, a woman approached me and said, “You should know what some of us are discussing.”

I raised my eyebrows in expectation.

“We are discussing whether or not you are insane.”

I laughed. “Thank you” I said. “That’s a compliment.”

“No it is not,” she said. “I mean that. We think you may be insane.”

They were saying in effect that the context of their lives and the frames it enabled could not contain the ideas I advanced. And since they were sane – everybody thinks they are sane – and what I said did not make sense, I must be crazy.

In both instances, events have proven me far-seeing and right on the money. When you get older, you get a track record, the downside of which is you have to get older to have one. I described the future by following the contours of emergent properties as a result of technological transformation to identify the shapes of relationships, organizational and geopolitical structures, everything. I was not crazy, I was early in terms of their timelines. (My mistake as a speaker was not understanding who I was addressing and communicating appropriately).

Back to Jim Carrey. If you have listened to him or watched the documentary on his transformation as a result of engaging with the personas of Andy Kaufman in “Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond” on Netflix, then you can understand why some think he is crazy. Hopefully you can also see why he isn’t crazy at all. His transformation led into the right-brain frame where boundaries dissolve, categories evaporate, and the fluid unity of everything can be experienced.

I interviewed Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell (it’s an appendix in my novel FOAM and on my web site at Mitchell recounts how, returning from the moon, he went in and out of altered states and experienced the unity of all things. It changed his life and he struggled to communicate what he discovered for the rest of his days. The remarkable thing, he said, is not that we experience everything as interconnected, but that we experience anything as separate.

For a neuroscientific approach, read Jill Bolte Taylor’s “My Stroke of Insight,” or watch her TED talk or interview with Terry Gross online. She describes the serenity she found in the “right brain” experience after her stroke wiped out linear and logical distinctions. The anxieties of worldly attachments disappeared. She described in effect what people report after taking psilocybin, what Buddhists call nirvana, what Jews and Christians call “the peace that passes all understanding.”

No wonder those who take religious and spiritual experiences seriously sound crazy. Their experience leads them to rethink how they ought to be in the world, once arbitrary labels and categories and distinctions no longer hold. The knowledge that we are all part of One Real Everything compels a different ethical and moral approach to life, since everything we do affects – well, everything.


The artist formerly known as Jim Carrey is not crazy. He saw the light and chose to speak out about what he knew. Shamans experience that, too. A priest, like a shaman, is empowered to go crazy on behalf of his or her community, but the trick is, they have to know how to come back. When you can transit between states, you can see the world from a different point of view, and coming back, you can use language as best you can to say what you experienced. But language breaks, and we are left grasping for meanings. We seek metaphors that might make sense of a different landscape.

I wonder what “Jim Carrey” will do next. Will he create personas that let him make more brilliant films like “Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” or “The Truman Show?” or “Man on the Moon?” Or will he do something entirely else?

The only thing I know is, it doesn’t matter. “Jim Carrey” knows that, too. It really doesn’t matter.

And it doesn’t matter that some of what I see and say, once again, sounds crazy. So when I say that I know the universe is teeming with life, when I say that “visitors” have been coming to our planet for many years (a US Air Force text book suggested in the 1970s that at least four different civilizations accounted for some UFO phenomena), when I illuminate the “wilderness of mirrors” where illusions are manufactured and disseminated, when I try to hint at how it feels to have the very cornerstone of one’s construction of reality pulled out by an intelligence professional disclosing what they did – some will call what I say crazy.

Wisdom is making a distinction between what one knows one knows and the vast rest of it, what one knows one does not know. I’ll stick with what I know and partner with those who know other things. It worked when I went to hackers half my age and said, show me, please, what kind of world you are building, that the rest of us will inhabit. The gift of their vision suggests that’s a good way to learn, and I hope I will still be a learner in coming years.

The readiness is all.

Richard Thieme ( is an author and professional speaker who addresses what’s past, and passing, and to come.


New Old Videos on YouTube – May 2018

May 10, 2018

Richard Thieme on This Week WSN TV Milwaukee 1994 Richard Thieme is interviewed by Wayne Youngquist in 1994 on “This Week” – WSN Channel 12 Milwaukee. Thieme was less than one year into a new career as a professional speaker and writer and discusses his focus at the time. Richard Thieme Speaks for the […]

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