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THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Apophenia



 

Since I last filled up this space with notes about a possible alien invasion, the world has only descended into more outlandishness. But if you’re perceptive enough, none of this should strike you as too surprising at this point. Earth is and always has been home to endless absurdity. I’ve seemingly become a magnet for the strange and unusual, an unwilling conduit for the elder gods and ghosts.


In a draft document March 7, Pentagon officials suggested an alien mothership is dropping UFOs akin to “dandelion seeds” into our atmosphere as part of some ongoing interstellar inquisition.


“ … An artificial interstellar object could potentially be a parent craft that releases many small probes during its close passage to Earth, an operational construct not too dissimilar from NASA missions,” read the report written by the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office Director Sean Kirkpatrick and Harvard astronomy head Abraham Loeb. “These ‘dandelion seeds’ could be separated from the parent craft by tidal gravitational force of the Sun or by a maneuvering capability.”


The sci-fi hypothesis came after “Chinese spy balloons” recently breached national airspace and caused a mini-international panic.


Then just this week, on Monday, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory released images of a massive “coronal hole” on the Sun’s surface. While it’s not a physical void, but a large area that isn’t burning as hot as the surrounding surface and appears black, the phenomena is firing off high-speed solar winds (500-800 kph) that will hit our planet by the time you read this.


“The current coronal hole, the big one right now, is about 300,000 to 400,000 kilometers across,” Alex Young, NASA Goddard’s Heliophysics Science Division associate director, explained to Insider via email Tuesday. “That is about 20-30 Earths lined up back-to-back.”


Officials say flares of this kind are harmless, normal even, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that dandelion seedlings don’t require that much force to break loose. An expected increase in the Sun’s activity, as outlined by several experts in the field, during the coming years means there will only be more solar flares, which can cause widespread power outages, disrupt radio communications and ground flights. Again, these types of outer-space disturbances are common and often don’t register as anything noteworthy, let alone hint at extraterrestrial alliance. Plus, most recorded UFO sightings throughout history have happened within the United States, so Americans are either wildly interesting to Martians or we’re all grandiosely delusional.


Like the ominous orbs recently, which have since fallen from the mainstream media’s attention, some suggest there are more concerning man-made ills that deserve our immediate attention.


“I believe the threat of America being hit by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapon is the single greatest danger to the survival of America,” best-selling author Dr. William R. Forstchen shared in a publicity email. “EMP is a byproduct of detonating a nuclear weapon. If you detonate a weapon 200-250 miles above the center of the United States … the gamma ray burst when it hits the upper atmosphere starts a chain reaction. … By the time this hits the earth’s surface at the speed of light, it is a giant electrostatic discharge … it blows out the entire power grid of the United States. Game over.”


Such an attack “would cripple the already vulnerable U.S. energy grid, wiping out power and setting off a cascade of deadly events,” he added. To find out what exactly would happen, and how close we are to nuclear annihilation, you have to buy his new book, of course — Americans like to monetize the end of days.


Meanwhile, between writing columns, dozens of dead whales mysteriously washed up on the shores of New Jersey. Mass fish kills crowded the Darling-Baaka River in Australia with carcasses after recent floods and a heat wave rapidly depleted the water’s oxygen levels. The Creature of the Black Lagoon died. Dairy cows in Wyoming are running away and joining wild bison herds. Hundreds of black birds inexplicably fell from the sky one afternoon in northern Mexico, killing many and covering the small village in loose feathers and expired fowls. A previously uncontacted tribe in the Amazon was discovered via a drone. An asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool may strike Earth 23 years from now on Valentine’s Day, of all dates. College students are slowly drinking themselves to death, thanks to a social media trend relating to “borgs” (aka black out rage gallons) filled with vodka.


A disastrous Norfolk Southern train derailment single-handedly sent the good people of East Palestine, Ohio, into the dark ages, ruining their water supply and air quality for generations all because important people insist deadly chemicals must continue to be shipped throughout the country via Industrial Revolution technology. My parents live less than 17 miles from the doomed town. Next time I go home, they very well may have tentacles growing out of their torsos and 35 eyes.


But the only thing my anxiety-induced apophenia is good for is making this fodder, as I begrudgingly perceive a connection between singular events that are inherently unrelated, like the sage astronomers who glanced into the night sky and connected the dying dots to create unicorns and sea serpents and mermaids.


In my mind, the apocalypse isn’t waiting for us at some future date certain, but is already happening, all around us, all the time.


“The apocalypse is not something which is coming,” Terence McKenna has said. “The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it’s only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.”


The Chopping Block is Rev. Justin Criado's monthly column for the Telluride Daily Planet newspaper. It also appears in the monthly Four Corners Free Press print edition. This piece was originally published on Thursday, March 23.

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