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Enhanced? Or faked? Today the very idea of photographic veracity is being radically challenged by the emerging technology of digital image manipulation and synthesis. Photographs can now be altered at will in ways that are virtually undetectable and photorealistic synthesized images are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from actual photographs. Continuing William Mitchell's investigations of how we understand, reason about, and use images, "The Reconfigured Eye" provides a systematic, critical analysis of the digital imaging revolution. It describes the technology of the digital image in detail and looks closely at how it is changing the way we explore ideas, at its aesthetic potential, and at the ethical questions it raises.
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The Seventy Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals
by Jonathan Vankin, John Whalen

This is a great book for anyone who wants to know more about Big Brother and all the other things 'they' don't want you to know about. Not only is it full of interesting ideas but it is backed up with a biblography for each conspiracy. New to this edition of the classic text are theories on the death of Princess Di, the vast right-wing conspiracy, the real men in black, Armageddon countdowns, and much more. review
Conspiracy Culture: From Kennedy to 'The X-Files' by Peter Knight
Peter Knight provides a cogent analysis of the development of conspiracy culture, from 1960s' countercultural suspicions to the 1990s. Conspiracy Culture analyzes conspiracy narratives about familiar topics like the Kennedy assassination, alien abduction, AIDS, and the New World Order, as well as more unusual ones like the patriarchy and white supremacy.
Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture
by Mark Fenster

"Just because overarching conspiracy theories are wrong does not mean they are not on to something," opines Fenster in this commendably level-headed analysis of the grip that conspiracy theories maintain on contemporary America. He does not bother sifting for truth in the The X-Files, the Clinton Chronicles or JFK, but he does pay close attention to those who believe and promulgate conspiracy theoriesAwhat he calls the "conspiracy community." Even if every conspiracy theory is patently false (Fenster does not marshal evidence either way), he argues that mainstream culture's affinity for conspiracy theory is an important phenomenon itself. The "conspiracy" tag can be used to delegitimize others' opinions, as when the allegations that the CIA helped bring crack into East L.A. were written off as part of the African-American community's supposed susceptibility to conspiracy. And conspiracy theory is too often simply the cover story for racists and anti-Semites. But Fenster also notes that conspiracy theory serves a useful purpose as a balm to the politically alienated segments of society, and he optimistically interprets the popular pursuit of uncovering the hidden mechanics of power as evidence of a latent populism waiting to harnessed. By neither dismissing conspiracy theorists as paranoid kooks nor being seduced by their yarns, Fenster constructs a strong case that even while we do not believe, we should nonetheless listen.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia
by Peter Knight (Editor)

Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
by James W. Loewen

Americans have lost touch with their history, and in this thought-provoking book, Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying twelve leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one does a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past.
In ten powerful chapters, Loewen reveals that:

    The United States dropped three times as many tons of explosives in Vietman as it dropped in all theaters of World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki
   Ponce de Leon went to Florida mainly to capture Native Americans as slaves for Hispaniola, not to find the mythical fountain of youth
   Woodrow Wilson, known as a progressive leader, was in fact a white supremacist who personally vetoed a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations
   The first colony to legalize slavery was not Virginia but Massachusetts

The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to NASA
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Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside the U.S.-Russian Space Alliance
by James Oberg
The Making of a Soviet Scientist: My Adventures in Nuclear Fusion and Space From Stalin to Star Wars by Roald Z. Sagdeev
"This is a powerful yet charming account of the Soviet Union's scientific, space, and military enterprise, characterized by Sagdeev's frank and insightful style mixed with delightful humor and humanity."—Charles H. Townes Nobel Laureate in Physics University of California, Berkeley

21st Century U.S. Army Law of Land Warfare Manual (FM 27-10) Rules, Principles, Hostilities, Prisoners of War, Wounded and Sick, Civilians, Occupation, War Crimes, Geneva Conventions


Note: Anyone who wishes to become a columnist
or submit a column or a response to a column
please contact Alllie.

Every Picture Tells a Story

By Alllie

One of our chatters lives in Texas. One night she came in with a description of how her father had seen a huge, strange jet flying low over Houston. He had taken a picture of it, recognizing it as a Russian jet. When he got home the local media was reporting that the large plane was "the NASA shuttle transport aircraft here for a federal aviation study." The story was posted on along with pictures, pictures of a different plane than her father saw. See what you think. (More)

This is a picture of the Boeing 747 that transports the shuttle.
It is not uncommon for it to fly over Houston. (Houston, we have a problem.) On December 10th, 2003 a large jet was flying low over downtown followed by a small jet. ABC13 reported it was the shuttle transport and put up these pictures.

This is supposedly a picture of the NASA T-38 that trailed the larger jet.
December 10th, but there's a lot of green in the trees.
They seem to be trying to reassure everyone that this was a NASA jet by showing this logo. But the tail is very large and clear so I doubt it's from the same series of pictures.
Notice how hazy the atmosphere is in these pictures.

Okay, now look at the picture our chatter's father took on December 10th.

Notice how clear the air is. Notice how brown the trees are. Hardly seems like the same day, does it? Click here for a larger picture.
This is a cropped and sharpened close-up of the plane, which is clearly NOT the NASA Shuttle Transport. Notice it has 6 engines while the NASA Shuttle Transport has 4. Notice it has no tail fin but the NASA Shuttle Transport does. This appears to be the Russian Shuttle Transport, the Antonov 225.

Notice the 6 engines. Notice the lack of a tail fin.

The Antonov 225 transports the Russian Shuttle.
The American shuttle is transported by a modified Boeing 747.

So what was going on here? That is the question. Were there two big jets in the air that day? Was the NASA shuttle transport there as a cover for the Antonov? What would the Antonov be doing over Houston? Was it all coincidence? That might be except that the pictures of the NASA shuttle transport seemed to have been taken on a different day. A day when the trees of Houston were still green. A day when the sky was not clear but rather smoggy. What is going on? I can't guess.

I have some questions about other pictures. Remember those pictures on TV of a crowd of Iraqis pulling down a statue of Saddam.

Turns out that was as staged as a play with members of Chalibi's entourage participating (Chalibi is the US-appointed head of the Iraq governing council), US troops securing the area and a US vehicle pulling the statue down. Up close it looked like a crowd but there were no more than 150 people involved, most of them US soldiers. The area was guarded by 3 tanks and there were TV cameras present and transmitting as if it was real. But it wasn't real. It was a play. It's a clear indication of how much fakery there is in news these days.

If that was fake, what else is fake? The pictures of Saddam's capture seem to have some suspicious elements. Let's look at them and ask ourselves, "What's wrong with this picture?"

Well, first of all, there are yellow dates on the trees. Dates get ripe in August. They are not still on the trees in December. We have some chatters from the Middle East who will confirm that for you. It's like if you saw a picture of someone and in the background there were peaches on the trees, you would know it wasn't December.
In fact the more I look at the pictures of the place where Saddam was supposedly captured (above) the more it looks like an abandoned structure that was taken over and used as a set.
Saddam was supposed to be captured December 14 but the trees and the grass are green despite the soldiers being warmly dressed and wearing gloves. There's even a US soldier covering his face. Is that normal? Or was it so cold that he needed to. But if it was that cold why are the trees and grass so green.

Click for larger image.

This is very much a trophy picture, like one of those pictures that hunters have taken of themselves holding up the bloody corpse of some animal, preferably a dangerous one, but one that was no match for a hunter with a gun. Saddam is bleeding and seems nearly dead so he's perfectly cast as the trophy. This is something the Geneva Convention forbids, i.e., taking humiliating pictures of a Prisoner of War. Of course in BushWorld there are no legitimate Prisoners of War and no Geneva Convention. Given Cheney's love of killing animals for sport, I bet he appreciates this picture and has probably had more than a few similar ones taken over the years.

There are some strange things about this picture:

  • I've lightened the ground of this image but the original seems to have been taken at night. Or in the dark.
  • The soldiers' uniforms seem fresh, some even ironed. Is that normal for a field exercise?
  • Saddam has a cut over one eye and blood in his mouth. But they told us he put up no resistance.
  • The soldier in the back seems to be wearing fresh suede shoes. They look too clean. Almost new. I know from experience that suede shoes are dirt magnets. Do soldiers wear suede shoes? Light suede shoes? (According to our chatter weenerdog the answer to that question is "Yes, they do." Government issue desert boots come in a very light tan suede. If the boots in that shot look almost new they probably are. It doesn't necessarily mean the soldier was dressing for a photoshoot. Though that isn't totally ruled out.)
  • The soldier is also wearing knee pads. Is that normal? (According to weenerdog, for some soldiers it is, though this picture is the first time I have seen a soldier wearing them.)
  • There is a camera and a suede tan and black camera bag on top of Saddam. The bag is new-looking, not dirty or scuffed up. Do soldiers carry large camera bags into battle (Go digital guys!) Would a suede bag stay clean?
  • The ground looks weird to me, mud with green leaves stomped into it. Very pressed down. Like it was wet when the leaves were pressed in but it doesn't look muddy in the picture and there's no sign of any footprints.
  • The ground above and to the right of the soldier holding Saddam looks strange. It seems to have an edge, like quarter round.

I suppose it is possible that this is all set up. That the pictures were taken in December with the yellow dates and certain other elements added to signal to a middle-eastern audience that the pictures were taken in late summer. The dates certainly look stuck in. I suppose the pictures and the announcement of Saddam's capture might have been planned for summer. NEXT summer. Say, right before the Republican convention but when the Kurds went ahead and announced the capture that ruined that plan. Or maybe Saddam was captured last August with the announcement delayed till December when Bush's approval ratings were dipping and Rove felt they needed a boost. The pictures seem to raise more questions than they answer.

It's horrible to believe your government is lying at every turn. From Mad Cow to Saddam's capture.

Pictures do tell a story and sometimes even a fake picture can tell one, a story of lies and liars. It can clue us in on its own falseness. If we look closely enough.

Thanks to ItsMarty for his recommendations.

© All, 2003

Reader Response
e-mail alllie with any responses

Further comments from the chatter who's father took the pictures of the Antonov 225 over Houston.

There are some news articles about the Antonov 225 being in Houston, but at other times... the funny thing is that when I first learned about this, which was about 7-10 days after it happened, I did a search on Google for *Russian plane Houston TX* and *Antonov 225 Houston TX* and nothing came up ... but if you do that same search now, a lot of stuff comes up.

I find that very curious in and of itself, aside from the fact that the media obviously lied about what kind of plane it was that was being called in about to the various local news stations

On the ABC Channel 13 message board, there is some mention of it, and one guy says that *it was neat to see the Space Shuttle Transport flying around downtown that day* ... so I posted there and asked if anyone had actually seen it well enough to know for sure that it was a 747 .. and this guy posts back to me that it was definitely the NASA 747 ... he saw it ... and that there was nothing else in the sky that day.

Well that [the pictures on the ABC13 site] COULD be explained by the fact that they have file photos ... except that they show a photo of the 747 with the T-38 accompanying it as if it was from THAT day.

And I can buy that there are legitimate reasons for the plane [the Antonov 225] to be in Houston ... apparently some Houston company has leased it for heavy transports ... but what still bugs me is this ... WHY was the plane flying so low ... from the direction of Mexico (not the direction of airport) and why was it eventually being escorted by an fighter jet (not necessarily the T-38, that's just what they said)?

And I have to say... even my dad thought, that night when he got home and heard the news reports say it was a 747 .. he thought that maybe it was ... and that he had just been mistaken about how big it was and how many engines he had seen .. he got the pictures developed RIGHT away so that he could get another look at it ....So you have to know that anyone who saw it and maybe thought something strange ... when they are told by the media that what they saw was a 747, they just say "oh okay .. that's what it was" cuz they have nothing to check their first inclination with. Why not mention that [that the Antonov 225 was also in the area] in the news reports ... and what are the odds that both of those planes would be in the air that day and both of them flying so low that it caused people to be concerned?

Note: The Antonov 225 is the largest plane in the world.


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