« Experiment succesful, patient dead. | Main | iPod Random Generator August 2010 »

20100821

Metallic Spheres

Entry 1714 posted in: 4. Orb Weavers, 5. The Pink Thing


Marija Oršić, your planet or mine? About, let me count, thirty-four to thirty-five years ago I was seriously investigating the so-called UFO phenomenon. Or whatever serious means for a sixteen years old adolescent who urgently wants to get laid but has found out that the chance to witness an encounter of the third kind is statistically more probable than to have an close encounter with the opposite sex.

I was a member of the Belgian Sobeps association, long before the Belgian UFO wave hit the skies and as the Internet was still a science-fiction thing we had to rely on their magazine Inforespace and the books, case files and real UFO pictures they sold by mail-order to their members. They also had an electronic UFO detector in their catalogue what made me wonder, already then, if they just weren't a bunch of petty crooks. I must still have a Betty and Barney Hill picture somewhere that I bought through their shop and who were then (and maybe still now) regarded as the proverbial Saul-stroke-Paul of the Holy Church of Ufology.

After a while opportunity knocked, even for me, and I didn't see the purpose anymore to devote my life to the flying saucer - abducting people for out-of-orbit enemas - enigma. But I am still mildly amused by the phenomenon, especially from a historical perspective. Not that long ago (at least not on the cosmic timescale) I partially read The Coming Race (1871) from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a (rather tedious) adventure book that apparently inspired Nazi-Germany to start building flying saucers. An internet search lead me to through several dubious websites, some that might even be legally forbidden to consult in my country as they vehemently propagate what I will mildly describe as Aryan beliefs, and only strengthening me in my opinion that for crackpots from all over the world the internet is Ultima Thule indeed.

If I have understood it well American secret services grabbed nazi occult mysteries by the truckload although it is not clear if they could ever restore the phone lines to the Aldebaran star system that became an après-guerre nudist resort for the mystical and mythical Vril Society pin-up girls (see image above and try not to drool). Thanks to these secret nazi inventions the Americans not only landed on the moon (although paradoxically enough conspiracy theory buffs deny this ever happened) but they also tested anti-gravity engines in earth-designed flying saucers and solved the so-called zero-point energy problem.

How do I know all this? Because Gary McKinnon told us so.

Beam me up Scotty

Gary McKinnon is a Glasgow hacker who thought for a while he was a Lone Gunman on a mission against the American government. Wanting to prove the things mentioned above he hacked into 97 United States military and NASA computers over a 13-month period between February 2001 and March 2002, using the name 'Solo'.

Hacking is not really the term one should use here, more trial and error. Consulting a 1985 copy of Hugo Cornwall's The Hacker's Handbook McKinnon copied a Perl script that looked for Windows computers without a password and to his amazement there were still lots of unprotected computers residing in the NASA and military networks 15 years after the book appeared. One can duly wonder what these CIA, FBI and military secret service IT security guys had been doing in the meantime. Playing Pong, probably.

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.", wrote Douglas Adams in the twelfth chapter of Mostly Harmless (1992). That quote may not be entirely his. Nobel price winner and inventor of the H-bomb Edward Teller noted down a couple of years before: "There's no system foolproof enough to defeat a sufficiently great fool." Anyway, in 2002 Gary McKinnon was the fool who undermined the American's pigheaded assumption of safety. Military security thought they had devised this big unsinkable Titanic and all it took was a entrepreneurial nerd with a screwdriver and a sack of sugar to pour inside the gas tank.

Rather than admitting they had done an enormous security cock-up the American powers-that-be turned Gary McKinnon into a terrorist super-hacker whose sole intention it was to metamorphose American secrets to putty and hand them over to Al-Queda, who - as we all know - have been praying a long time for this UFO technology. In consequence Gary could face a 60-years prison sentence if condemned before an American judge. Unfortunately the UK voted the 2003 extradition act making it possible to extradite UK citizens for offences committed against US law, even though the alleged offence may have been committed in the UK by a person living and working in the UK. A review of the extradition act was voted down by British parliament although there is a growing consensus amongst British members of parliament that Gary McKinnon will not stand a fair trial in the US.

Several charities have been raised to help Gary McKinnon in his struggle against the extradition and in August 2009 David Gilmour, Chrissie Hynde, Bob Geldof and Gary McKinnon recorded the Chicago (Change The World) single. The only awareness it ever raised was that extraditing Bob Geldof to Guantanamo Bay would be a benefit for mankind to say the least. Perhaps the US authorities could consider that for a while.

As a Pink Floyd collector for over thirty years now, with over a dozen legit versions of Dark Side Of The Moon, I was obviously offended. Probably I am just being jealous here but I still can't grasp the concept that a lawbreaking idiot with a UFO fixation got a chance to make a record with one of the ten best guitarists of this world while moi who has in his possession the ridiculously shaped Love On The Air (1984) picture disk and Gilmour's lamentable Smile (2006) single will never get the change to meet his idol from less than a 100 meters distance. Phew, nice I have finally got that off my chest.

Metallic Spheres (picture by Simon Ghahary) Pink Florb

Last year, in the aftermath of the Chicago single, Alex Paterson of the ambient house band The Orb made a strange announcement:

I’ve just started work on an album with David Gilmour from Pink Floyd which I think every Orb and Pink Floyd fan will want to hear.

The news was almost immediately downsized by David Gilmour who acknowledged he had jammed a bit in a studio with Martin 'Youth' Glover but that nothing had been confirmed 'with regards to any structure for the recordings or firm details re: any release plans'.

But this week David Gilmour's blog had the following news:

David's 2009 jam session with ambient collective The Orb has grown into an album, Metallic Spheres, to be released via Columbia/Sony Records in October. David's contribution to the charity song Chicago, in aid of Gary McKinnon, sparked the interest of producer Youth (Martin Glover), who remixed the track and invited David to his studio for a recording session. With additional contributions from Orb co-founder Alex Paterson, the album took shape from 2009 into 2010, eventually becoming Metallic Spheres, to be released by The Orb featuring David Gilmour.

The album will be divided into two 25 minutes parts with five movements each, a 'Metallic Side' and a 'Spheres Side'. The Orb will consist of founder Alex Paterson (sound manipulation, keyboards and turntables) with part-time member Youth adding bass, keyboards and handling the production. It is not certain if Thomas Fehlmann (full member of The Orb since 1995, absent on The Dream (2007), but back on Bagdhad Batteries (2009)) and long time Orb and Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt will be present or not. For the moment it looks like a three men line-up with David Gilmour contributing guitar, lap steel guitar and some of his Chicago vocals.

Simon Ghahary created the artwork (see image above) and all artist royalties will go to helping Gary McKinnon fight his extradition.

When Gary McKinnon logged in on the military computers he allegedly found proof of extra-terrestrial involvement in the NASA space program, but unfortunately his telephone line did not allow him to download the pictures and documents. The only tangible result of his actions will be a Floydian cooperation that Orb (and some Pink Floyd) fans have been dreaming about for the last two decades.

Long live Gary McKinnon, long live the greys! U.F.FlOrb is finally on its way! And don't worry, I'm sure those pretty Aldebarans will rescue Gary if he ever gets imprisoned in the land of the free.


Pink Dreams (first announcement of the Gilmour Paterson cooperation)
The Orb section: Orb Weavers 
The Pink Floyd section: The Pink Thing