Archive for February, 2009

Priceless conspiracy theory

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 by quantummoxie

This is classic.  Among other claims, it says 

According to mind control researcher David Hoffman, in 1946 Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory was founded including the “Fund for the Study of Human Ecology.” The “fund” was a CIA financing conduit for mind control experiments by émigré Nazi scientists and others under the direction of CIA doctors Sidney Gotttlieb, Ewen Cameron and Louis Jolyn West. Gottlieb, of course was the director of the CIA’s infamous MK-ULTRA mind control program. 

I interned at the company Cornell Aeronautical Lab became when the university sold it off (see below) and studied under a number of folks who were there at the beginning.  The lab started when Curtiss-Wright aircraft pulled out of the aircraft business wholesale in the late 1940s, leaving a half-finished wind tunnel across from the Buffalo airport.  They sold it to Cornell for $1.

Cornell was later absorbed into Calspan Advanced Technology Center in Buffalo, NY. The company continued experiments in mind control and artificial intelligence. In 1997 Calspan was in turn absorbed by Veridian Corp. Veridian (Calspan) is deeply involved in artificial intelligence. In August of this year giant defense contractor General Dynamics acquired Veridian-Calspan. 

It was not “absorbed” by anything.  The university spun it off as a private company that took on the name Calspan.  It was independent for a couple of years before being purchased by Arvin Industries.  The history can be found here.  The Veridian and General Dynamics connections are correct, but I sure didn’t see any mind control stuff when I was there and I could pretty much walk just about anywhere on the campus.

Here is a strange “coincidence.” After Timothy McVeigh left the army, he joined the Army National Guard in Buffalo. He landed a job with Burns International Security and was assigned to guard the premises of (you guessed it) Calspan. McVeigh had told friends the army had implanted a microchip in him during the Gulf war. (We now know that a number of soldiers were implanted with microchips explained as an experiment to keep track of their locations during battle.) The CIA doctors at Calspan were experimenting with merging brain cells with microchips. 

OK, first, it wasn’t a “strange coincidence.”  McVeigh was from the Buffalo area.  I know someone who dated him in high school.  At one point or another most people in the area have some tie to the aerospace industry (hell, the X-1 was invented there).  Anyway, yeah, he was a guard.  When I interned there they had his picture up on the door of the fridge so they could toss insults at him.  He was apparently a freak when he was employed there according to some guys in the shop I hung out with.  

In any case, the only doctors I ever saw in my year as an intern in the hypersonic shock tunnel group, were PhD aerospace engineers, many of whom doubled as my professors at UB.  The security at that time was a joke.  I had a little badge I used to get into the parking lot, but the gate wasn’t manned.  Plus anyone could have walked in through the back door at any time.  There were no off-limits corridors or areas that I remember, and I wandered all over the place – in fact I got a whole tour.  And I was just a student!

This would be really funny if it weren’t for the fact that the sad person who wrote this really seems to believe it.

Buffalo tragedy

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2009 by quantummoxie

Unless you’ve been living in a cave (which is unlikely if you’re reading this) you’ve heard about the crash of Continental Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo.  Buffalo, despite having a metro-area population of well over one million, is one of those places where everyone knows everyone else either directly or through someone else.  It’s more like three degrees of separation there.  Luckily I haven’t heard yet of anyone I knew having been on the plane and I did not know the folks inside the house.  But this one just seemed a little too close to home – literally.  The plane itself was designed and built a scant jog up the QEW in Toronto and a very good friend of mine is a design engineer for Bombardier who built the plane.  He has photos in his house of field tests he participated in with that model of plane (though possibly an earlier version).

What else can one say in the face of such a tragedy?  Shit.  My thoughts and prayers are certainly with the victims and their families and friends.  If you’ve got time, splease ign The Buffalo News’ online condolence book.

The price of unabashed vitriol?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9, 2009 by quantummoxie

I’m a Unitarian which is a bit like the “religion for non-religious” folks. For the most part Unitarians are socially progressive. In general I am a “live and let live” sort of guy (politically I’m libertarian). In July 2008 Jim Adkisson went on a shooting rampage at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, killing two and wounding several others. His motive was simply to kill liberals. Today he was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to the charge. At his sentencing he smiled and showed absolutely no remorse. Church member John Bohstedt, who helped tackle Adkisson, had this to say:

Unbalanced, yes. Bitter, yes. Evil, yes. Insane, not in our ordinary use of the word… There are a lot of people who hate liberals, and if we stir that around in the pot and on the airwaves, eventually there will be people (like Adkisson) … who get infected by the violent rhetoric and put it into violent action… Do you think there are other Jim Adkissons out there listening to hate speech? I do.

I hesitated in titling this post. At one point I was tempted to exchange the term ‘unabashed’ with ‘unchecked.’ As a libertarian I am fundamentally against controlling free speech and using the term ‘unchecked’ implies I would be in favor of regulating speech, which I am not. So I chose ‘unabashed’ because it nails exactly what Bohstedt is talking about. We have reached the point in this country where people who unabashedly spread vitriolic hate are no longer at the fringes of our society. How long will it be before we end up as fascist as the Nazis we fought in World War II? Perhaps with the Obama administration in place we’ve made a change for the better (regardless of whether or not they’re a generally good administration, they are at least attempting to raise the standards of discourse). But I can’t help but feel that it’s only a temporary change. And that is frightening.

Dream Research Visits

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2009 by quantummoxie

If you could spend a week or a month with any research group in the world in your field, where would it be? Personally I’d have a tough time choosing, but I think my number one choice would be with Zeilinger’s group in Austria (I know The Pontiff and Shtetl-Optimized think some of the recent work out of there is ‘fluffy’ but, nonetheless I think the Vienna guys are a creative bunch). I’ve had a few interesting conversations with Caslav Brukner over the years and would love to pick his brain a bit more. And Zeilinger himself is an extraordinarily creative guy.

Many of the top research groups in quantum information actually have visiting researcher programs, notably both of the Waterloo-based centers (IQC and Perimeter). For largely undergraduate researchers the Kavli Institute has a nice program. There are plenty of others. Have I actually done any of them? Of course not. But I do intend to get off my back side and apply to one of these soon.