Sunday, September 28, 2008

Visiting the Minister of Words

For the past two days, I have been visiting the Minister of Words, an Original Dreamland Interceptor (ODI), at his East Coast Ministry outside New York City. As you can see above, the Minister's condition has deteriorated considerably. More photos are available in this album...

Touring the Hudson with the Minister (60 photos)

BTW: Here's a facility in Hastings-on-Hudson that the Minister is associated with...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Photos from Tikaboo Peak and the E.T. Highway

Here is a album of photos I took on Saturday on an Area 51 visit with a couple of Brits...

This alien dude is new. It's a store near the start of the highway that calls itself "The Alien Research Center, Area 51." There appears to be no research going on there. The facility also claims to be a "museum" but there were no displays apart from the original E.T. Highway sign. It's just a gift shop, open only Fri-Sat-Sun. The sales clerk said it had been open for about 9 months and was owned by a George Harris in Las Vegas.

I was there for a while before I realized, "Hey, this is a total rip-off of my Area 51 Research Center!" I'm not particularly upset, though. I don't expect this place to last for long.

Prison for Rachel: Bring it On!

An article in the 9/18 Las Vegas Sun reiterates Rachel residents' opposition to a proposed prison in their valley.

The Lincoln County Planning Commission has approved a permit for a prison near the town that has earned pop culture cachet for claims of alien sightings and its proximity to Area 51, the government testing facility long shrouded in secrecy.

The county limited the private prison to 1,500 beds, although developer Jim Toreson had asked for 2,000. Toreson will have to pay for infrastructure improvements including roads, and water and electric lines to the 100-acre site four miles from Rachel.
After lurking on the sidelines and carefully considering the pros and cons, this blog has finally decided to take a stand on the proposed prison. Now what do you suppose our stand should be?

Let's do the math. The Little A'Le'Inn opposes the prison. All of the Rachel residents who talked to the newspaper oppose the prison. The entire on-line community of Area 51 watchers seems to oppose the prison.

Add it all up, and it's a no-brainer: This blog SUPPORTS the building of a prison near Rachel, Nevada!

Alas, this is little more than empty jabbering on both sides, since the prison doesn't have an ice cube's chance in Hell of actually being built.

Quoting from the article...
Toreson plans to build the prison and find a company to operate it. He expects the state to house overflow inmates there.
In other words, Toreson's got nothing solid behind him. This is like you saying, "I'm going to make a major motion picture," so you approach your local Town Council to ask permission to film your movie there. The Town Council says, "Sure, why not?" but that doesn't mean you have the FUNDING to make the movie or the MARKET for the movie once it is made. Without funding or a market, no commercial project is going anywhere.

Right now, Old Man Toreson doesn't appear to have anything more than a worthless hunk of land, some big talk and maybe a little bit of naive seed money. Where, specifically, is Toreson going to get (a) the company to run the prison, and (b) the prisoners?

A little known factoid about Lincoln County is that it already had a for-profit prison. The facility was actually built in the early 1990s on the outskirts of Pioche -- and it failed. The idea was for the Lincoln County Sheriff to run the prison, while a for-profit company would fund it and supply the prisoners, supposedly based on overflow from Las Vegas and elsewhere. The derelict building is probably still there if anyone cares to open a new private prison on the cheap.

What's so special about Toreson's project that it's going to succeed where the previous one failed? If a bona fide private prison operator decided they absolutely needed to open a facility in Lincoln County, wouldn't they look at the existing building in Pioche first?

The mantra of real estate is "location, location, location," and in Rachel the location truly sucks -- even for a prison. There's no existing pool of labor, no local services and huge transportation costs. The only thing Toreson has in his favor is cheap land, nothing more.

Yes, Nevada's prisons are severely overcrowded, but that's a function of funding, not facilities. The state already has an underutilized prison in Jean, 30 minutes south of Las Vegas. Why would the cash-strapped state turn over some of its prisoners to Toreson at a presumably higher price than housing them itself?

Real private prison operators are different than Toreson. They look for governmental opportunities around the county, bid for a contract, then build a facility to suit. They are going to judiciously choose a location that best meets their needs. Toreson is working from the other direction. He's got this empty land he's desperate to do something with -- this white elephant he is already chained to -- so he's dreaming up fantasy options with no grounding in the marketplace.

But let's say the prison turned out to be a viable option and actually got built, what's the damage to Rachel? Sure, there may be more light pollution in a distant part of the Sand Spring Valley, but its a BIG valley and if you want more darkness, you can always go to the next valley -- or the next or the next. From an economic standpoint, the choice is between upsetting a handful of UFO and aviation watchers who contribute next to nothing to the local economy and having some real jobs and real economic stability in town. The A'Le'Inn could probably increase its business many fold if a prison (and the construction crews building it) actually came to town.

If you think of prisons as being a "dirty" industry, compare them to the alternatives. Why does Rachel and nearly every other town in the Nevada outback exist? Mining. Now there's a dirty industry, devastating the landscaping and usually contributing only briefly to the economy. There was never any opposition in Rachel to the potential reopening of the nearby Tempiute Mine. How is that better than a prison? Prisons don't pollute, and once one is established it is usually sustainable, since the supply of prisoners is never going to run out. Isn't this better than the boom-and-bust cycle that made and broke Rachel?

This knee-jerk opposition to a hypothetical business proposal just reinforces Lincoln County's reputation for opposing and disabling economic development wherever it threatens to emerge. It seems county residents WANT to be impoverished. They want to preserve their open desert and their "rural way of life," but they can't fathom that there's plenty of emptiness and ruralness out there and it's never going to be used up.

Back in the mid-1990s, a small film production company approached the Lincoln County Commission about using the old Lincoln County Courthouse to shoot a small-budget TV movie. The commission hemmed and hawed, demanded more information and more assurances and delayed approval for months. One commissioner even wanted approval authority over the script. Eventually, the production company gave up and withdrew its request.

It would have been easy money for the county and its businesses, but that's not what local residents seem to want.

They prefer hard money.

Posted from Las Vegas

Friday, September 19, 2008

Interceptor Nominee: Chameleon

A new member seems to have mysteriously appeared in the ranks of the Groom Lake Interceptors. She is Chameleon, a shape-shifter.

Chameleon's special Interceptor superpower is that she can turn into almost anyone at will. This is accomplished through a combination of method acting, voice control and secret holographic technology that changes her facial features. Chameleon's unique skills are best illustrated by her very, um, interesting day job, show in the posters below.

That's right: She's a professional Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera impersonator! She makes good money at it touring the U.K., Europe and the Middle East. She also does a killer Marilyn Monroe and can even sing up a storm in her own voice.

You may also notice that she has another unique superpower: When she's in character, SHE CAN COMPLETELY FRY THE BRAIN OF ANY MALE WHO LOOKS AT HER! The body you see above has not been retouched in Photoshop. It is the product of 1000 sit-ups a day and an intense on-stage work-out whenever she puts on a show.

Imagine the use we can put her to at Area 51! She could paralyze the Cammo Dudes by singing a Britney Spears number while we sneak in the other way.

You may ask: How do we, the male Interceptors, look at her and not get our brains fried? This is accomplished with a set of special sunglasses available from me for $20. She's also not lethal when she's not in character. Off stage she has a fantastic mind and an ageless wisdom that seems quite inconsistent with her various bimbo personas. Hopefully, she will add some much needed balance (or better yet, imbalance) to our group.

One thing you need to know about Chameleon: No one knows what she really looks like. "White chick" is about all that any of us can nail down. Her real identity is a closely held secret, and the rest of us are only beginning to fathom it. The whole shape-shifting thing apparently started as the result of an accident in a government lab, but we haven't learned all the details yet.

Ms. Chameleon fits into my own nefarious plans to revive the Interceptor franchise. No longer are we going to be held down by OLD PEOPLE who hardly do anything, as though their TV series has been cancelled. We're going to build a whole new "Next Generation" of Interceptors who go boldly where no Interceptors have gone before.

(Cue music and warp-drive whooshing sound!)

Icon source

YouTube: Louis Theroux

While on the subject of YouTube and its uselessness, someone in the UK forwarded me some YouTube links for a documentary that I appeared in. Now, this PROVES how useless YouTube is!

"Glenn Campbell, you get the fuck out of here!"

The documentary is at least 10 years old (filmed when my hair was naturally brown) and I have only a vague recollection of filming. There were so many documentaries back then, without much variation, and I probably only saw half of them when they were completed. Nothing would bore me more than wasting 20 minutes of my life watching this one (I viewed only a few seconds of each part.), but I provide it here for my gullible readers.

Part 1...

Part 2...

The last one contains the famous line, "Glenn Campbell, you get the fuck out of here!" which just proves that you can say "fuck" on British TV.

BTW: The Area 51 Viewer's Guide that the host is seen reading is still available from me via Amazon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

YouTube: What's It Good For?

Young folks these days seem to be addicted to something called "YouTube." I can't say I understand it. It seems to be like "America's Funniest Home Videos," except that instead of getting a half hour of stupid videos you get HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HOURS of stupid videos.

Why when I was a kid we read books, and when we wanted to see something, we went there and saw it. (We also walked five miles to school in the snow and didn't complain about it.) Kids these days don't need to go anywhere or do anything; they just call it up on YouTube and get a low quality rip-off of the experience.

When I typed "Area 51" in the YouTube search box, I was amazed! Does anyone on the North American continent have a life? They all seem to have made the same repetitive video of driving down Groom Lake Road to see the restricted area signs.

Now I'll admit that YouTube might have the potential for some sort of productive use. I just haven't figured out what it is. The image quality is very low, hardly comparing to even pre-HD television. For conveying visual data, a still photograph seems far better. If you want to show how visual elements relate to each other, you take several photographs, or you draw a map.

The only personal use I have ever found for YouTube is playing purely audio information. For example, if there's a song I want to hear, there's a good chance YouTube has it, perhaps as a music video. In no case, however, have I ever cared about what was happening on the screen as I listen to the audio. The video portion is just a distraction. A lot of videos, in fact, just show a static picture while the audio is playing. They appear on YouTube only because that's the universal place where people exchange media files.

I challenge my readers to show me ANYTHING meaningful or useful on YouTube -- on Area 51 or anything else -- apart from purely audio information. I'm open-minded. I'm willing to embrace newfangled conveniences like washing machines and pop-up toasters as long as you can show me that their value exceeds their cost.

So where is it? Show me that one useful YouTube video -- something truly meaningful that can't be accomplished with words, a photograph or an audio file -- and I'll shut up.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rachel Nevada News Article

An article in Sept. 7 Las Vegas Sun profiles the current residents of Rachel, Nevada, which appear to number about 65 actual living souls.

On Thursday many of the residents of Rachel will meet at the A’Le’Inn to caravan 110 miles to Pioche, the Lincoln County seat, to try to stare down the proposal to put a prison four miles from their community center.

The prison lights alone will ruin the gorgeous sunsets and stargazing available where there isn’t a man-made light taller than a front porch within 100 miles.

The man who wants to build the prison on 1,000 acres here also wants to build a housing tract next to it called Lincoln County Estates. Over the years there’s been talk about building a solar plant and an old folks’ home on the land, but those turned out to be just rumors.

But the prison talk is real and the Lincoln County Planning Commission is being asked by the developer to grant a special use permit allowing a medium-security prison. ...

Toreson’s plan is to build the prison, find a company to operate it, and then for the state, whose prisons are crowded, to pay to house overflow inmates in Rachel. California has private prisons; Nevada does not.
Naw, not real. We think it's still a figment of Toreson's imagination. Totally Looney Tunes.

Nevada's prison's are overcrowded not because of lack of prison's per se but lack of money. There's still a state facility at Jean that is underutilized.

Like in the movie business, people in the desert with big ideas are a dime a dozen. People with funding, however, are rare, and Toreson obviously doesn't have any. All he's got is the land.

The most imporant thing missing from the proposal is labor. Where are the prison guards and staff going to come from? The commute time from Las Vegas or even Alamo is huge, and you'd have to pay a huge premium for force people to live in the middle of nowhere.

It's a fantasy proposal that will go nowhere.