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Saturday Night

AJ Gulyas
The Mott Foundation Building- Flint, Michigan

The Mott Foundation Building- Flint, Michigan

It’s a Saturday night and this post is mostly to test out some automation stuff at a time when few(er) people are probably paying attention…

The picture to the right is of the Mott Foundation Building in Flint, Michigan.   I took the photo last night, around 11:00 PM, and cranked it about in Instagram to make it look a bit more faux-vintage.  I talk about some of the implications of this sort of atemporal treatment in The Chaos Conundrum of course, but I remain amazed at how easy it is to make these sorts of changes to photos.

As an historian, I find this a bit disconcerting–If new things can be made to so easily resemble old things, the old stuff may lose a bit of its cool-ness.  I don’t have any worries that it will lead to historical hoaxing (at least not any successful hoaxes) but…

Shocking slide of a Transformers cartoon DVD!

Shocking slide of a Transformers cartoon DVD!

The discussion, of late, about alleged slides of the Roswell aliens lead me to consider the uses of modern technology to create a new, previously-nonexistent past.  Now, slides are a physical thing and (the coolness of 3-D printing aside) there’s little danger that the physical slides could be successfully recreated.  But–and I’m really cynical here–the need to produce slides would come after a lot of the actual money and publicity had been garnered by…whoever.  Put some suitably manipulated pics online, drum up some interest, gain some notoriety, and then cash in.  Now, it’s UFOlogy, so the cash in question is pretty limited, but it’d be fun to pull a hoax like this, if I had nothing else to do.

Note: I’m not saying the current Roswell slide thing is a hoax–I’m just using it as an example of how modern digital photo trends could lend themselves to this sort of thing.  

Anyway, some things I’m thinking about tonight, between watching old Transformers cartoons and trying to decide whether I should grade papers tonight or tomorrow.

Radio interview December 7- Where Did the Road Go?

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December 7 at 11:00 PM Eastern, I’ll be on Where Did the Road Go? with host Seriah Azkath.  The show streams live from its home station, WVBR in Ithaca (the streaming link is on the main site, linked above).

Aaron J Gulyas will be our guest. We will be discussing his latest book, The Chaos Conundrum. In ‘The Chaos Conundrum,’ historian Aaron John Gulyas examines how the paranormal has intersected and influenced our culture in myriad ways, from the conspiracy beliefs of William Cooper and Exopolitics to the challenge that the stories of Gray Barker presented to our concept of self and time. He looks at the maelstrom of personalities, agendas, impressions, data, confusion, and contradictions that can be found in the world of the weird, and demonstrates how they have become an integral part of our lives, whether in the form of flying saucers, hauntings, religious revelations, psychic abilities, or dozens of other guises. Gulyas delves into the stories of the people who have attempted to create order out of the chaos. Along the way he recounts his own journey from enthusiastic believer in the ‘shadow government’ and their underground bases to jaded academic skeptic, and then finally to someone who thinks there might just be something to the paranormal after all… but not what we have been led to expect or believe.

Commemorating the 1956 Hungarian Uprising

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In the Wild

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The new book, Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales since the 1950s is now listed on the publisher’s website and is slated for a Spring/Summer 2013 release.  It’s also listed for pre-order on Amazon and B&N.  Strange to see it out there.

I’ve seen preliminary versions of the cover and it’s very nice (and includes a cow).   

Review: Murder in Their Hearts: The Fall Creek Massacre

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Murder in Their Hearts: The Fall Creek Massacre
Murder in Their Hearts: The Fall Creek Massacre by David Thomas Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Murphy has not only written a great treatment of the Fall Creek Massacre but also a wonderful overview of life on the Indiana frontier in the 1820s. The interaction between the local, state, and federal governments, and between the white and native populations were incredibly complex and Murphy does a good job of examining the gray areas and ambiguity in this case–particularly its astounding lack of long term impact on white/native relations in the Old Northwest.

One of the problems with the Massacre is the lack of documentation (the trial transcripts were lost in a courthouse fire). The book is also a good primer in the imperfect craft of reconstructing historical narratives from whatever sources are available.

If I were to teach a section of my early US history survey for honors students, this book would be on the list.

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