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Weather or not you believe this....

07.06.2006 5:08 p.m.

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Not-So-Daily Blatherings

Many years ago while surfing the internet I came across a strange website called Rense has become a favorite source of entertainment for us, because it is basically a clearinghouse for bizarre “news” stories that you will not find reported anyplace else - at least not by legitimate news media. I put “news” in quotations like that because many of the articles you read on Rense are unverified reports and conspiracy theories by any crackpot with an internet connection. Typical headlines might read “UFOs Spotted Over Downtown Phoenix” , “Big Foot Sighted Again Near Canadian Border”, “The Lost City Of Atlantis Kept In Secret Government Warehouse In NJ”, “Messages From Ghosts Predict Stock Market”, “Number Of People Being Possessed By The Devil Declined In 2005”, “Wealthy Republicans Spotted In Fuel Efficient Car” and similar fringe-reality concepts.

Rense is even officially recognized by the U.S. State Department as a source of “misinformation”. When the government takes time out of it's busy schedule to list a specific website as one of three places on the whole internet which has bogus information, you just know its gotta be good stuff.

These reports and articles are submitted by ordinary citizens and self-proclaimed reporters from all over the world, and are posted on the internet for us to laugh at. Legitimate news media would never cover such stories because no one would believe them. So instead the legitimate media take believable stories and lie about what really happened, so I guess we don't always believe them either.

One of the “news stories” I first read about on Rense was this completely ridiculous theory about something they called “Mad Cow Disease”. Mad Cow Disease was supposedly an epidemic in the making. They claimed that cattle farmers were taking old or dead cows and grinding them up to feed to other cows, and this was somehow causing or spreading a disease that the meat industry was trying to keep secret, and there was all sorts of discussion about whether or not this disease was contagious or if it could spread to humans. This was completely preposterous, of course – who in their right mind would believe that farmers were grinding up cows to feed to the other cows? Aren't they vegetarians? Isn't that kinda sick?

Imagine my surprise when, several months later, Mad Cow Disease begins getting covered by the news all over, and later there is practically a worldwide ban on any meat products exported from England because of it. Today, of course, we are all familiar with the term, and you hear about it in the news all the time. I was just surprised to see something I read about on Rense actually being true. I had no idea people actually ate food from England.

We also read about this crazy thing called “West Nile Virus”. I didn't take it very seriously, of course, probably because it was listed right between “Moon Landing Was Faked” and “Ashlee Simpson Starts Music Career”. However, some weeks or months later we begin to hear about West Nile Virus from other news sources, and soon it became a hot topic. Now our bottle of mosquito repellent says “Helps Prevent West Nile Virus” and crap like that. Nothing about “Helps Prevent Ashlee Simpson” though.

There was also the report I remember about a small village somewhere in India that was being terrorized by a strange monkey-like creature with glowing eyes. It reportedly would come at night, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, breaking in through people's windows and attacking them, making horrendous noises and busting up the joint before it would disappear into the night. I filed this story away in the back of my brain with the report about the three hunters who watched a UFO hover 100 feet over their heads. Three or four days later, I was watching the ABC Nightly News, and just about crapped my pants when they reported about the glowing-eyed monkey as well, and said that a search-party had been formed to track down the mysterious creature and kill it. I was standing there in my living room, pointing and the TV and jumping up and down in exasperated surprise and making monkey noises at Tom Brokaw. That was the third time that had reported something before the major media covered it, and the second time I had made monkey noises at Tom Brokaw.

I eventually learned that you have to take the stories on Rense with a grain of salt, but to keep an open mind about what I read because you cant always tell the nonsense from the real.

One example of nonsense was the regular discussions on the website about the concept of “Chemtrails”. “Chemtrails” are similar to the jet “contrails” you see when you look up in the sky at a jet flying overhead – they often leave a white trail of water vapor and exhaust behind them that stays in the air long after they have flown away. You see them all the time. However, there are a bunch of conspiracy theorists who believe that some of these contrails are actually chemicals being sprayed by jets as part of a secret government program to control the weather. The government denies this of course, or refuses to comment because they are too busy rolling on the floor with laughter. This was an endless source of entertainment for us too, since people from all over the country would regularly submit photos of these “chemtrails” and reports of sightings with location, date and time, noting patterns in air traffic, whether and temperature etc. It was hilarious.

Until last Saturday.

Last Saturday we stopped into a coffee shop to grab something to eat. It was one of those hippie-commune coffee houses where someone buys a newspaper and they keep it in the shop for days so that every customer can take turns reading the same newspaper without having to buy their own copy and afterwards they recycle it into little paper-mache sculptures which some stoner paints like disturbing tie-dye Keith Herring nightmares and hangs them on the wall as “Art” in the hopes of selling enough to unsuspecting customers so that someone can make enough money to buy the newspaper the next day. Of course, everyone has to share the same newspaper so it gets broken up by sections and eventually after they are done fighting over the classified ads everyone has just one page. We ended up with a portion of the World News section of last Friday's USA Today which featured a full-page article on how China is preparing to host the next Olympics.

I don't really care about how China is preparing to host the next Olympics, but it was the only page I had, and I was intrigued by the photo of a man seated at the controls of a large military anti-aircraft gun. I was hoping that maybe the next Olympics would be more exciting and they were adding an event called “Shooting Down Planes”, which would be really cool, but it wasn't about that. It was even cooler.

In America, if we were worried about it raining during the Olympic opening ceremonies, we would build an Olympic Arena with a roof over it. In China, when they are worried about it raining during the opening ceremonies, they change the weather.

Apparently, with the help of about 37,000 volunteers and a surplus of 1960's military hardware, they have figured out a way to shoot specially designed silver iodide shells into the clouds to cause it to start raining. They have been doing this for years now as a way to prevent droughts, irrigate farmland, put out forest fires, and cancel unwanted Dave Matthew's concerts. They have gotten quite successful at it, and are now planning to use it to intercept rain clouds before they get over Bejing during the Olympic ceremonies. The Bejing Weather Modification Office (I'm not making that up), which oversees this work, apparently includes 4,000 rocket launchers, 7,000 artillery pieces and 30 aircraft which they use all over the country to make it rain when they want to. I was astounded.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, says government rainmakers flew 3,000 cloud-seeding flights from 2000 to 2005 and triggered rainfalls that dumped 275 billion cubic yards. [...] Aircraft spray the chemicals from beneath their wings or fire chemical flares into clouds. Dry-ice pellets are also used. Planes are the most expensive method of rainmaking but can cover a wider area than ground-based artillery.” - USA Today

The article also said that the U.S. pioneered this type of cloud-seeding in the 1940's and 50's but had limited success and has mostly left the operations and experiments in the hands of private companies. There are apparently similar programs in Russia and Israel, but China is the leading rainmaker.

You gotta be fucking kidding me, I thought – this stuff is for real? Once again, Rense seems to have proven me wrong.

This is a disturbing realization, of course, because it makes me wonder what other crackpot theories listed there are more fact than fiction. Some of the articles later get labeled as “HOAX” with green letters right next to the headline, so we can assume those aren't real, but who knows.

Maybe wealthy republicans really were spotted driving a fuel efficient car.

 0 wrote to say im an idiot.

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