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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Could Aliens Buy America?

We Americans live in a beautiful country.  Here in Southern New England we have rolling hills covered in deciduous trees, dotted with middle class homes and large estates.  There are abundant fish in our clean(ish) rivers, places to hike and bike, and sandy beaches with gentle waves.  Further north we have the evergreen-carpeted Adirondack, Green, and White Mountain ranges.  To the west we have nearly every type of topography and geographic features on Earth, all in one country.  We are lucky to live in such a place.

The Beauty of Connecticut
The Beauty of Connecticut

Sometimes I think about how this all came to be.  There were other people living here before our European forefathers established this country.  For the most part, these aboriginal inhabitants did not believe in the concept of land ownership the way we think of it, although they did respect territorial boundaries.  They did not believe in the rule of law, as imposed by a federal government.  Everything was more localized.  Rules applied to your extended family or what we often refer to as a "tribe".  Your land was shared with members of the family and owned by the whole community.  What did these people think when pale-faced men with muskets spoke with them about acquiring some of this land?

Much is said about how the White Man "stole" this land from the Indians.  Yes, that happened; in many places people were forced to pack up and move, under harsh conditions.  With the exception of the Dutch, if a European felt they "discovered" some land they tended to plant a flag on it and it then belonged to them.  But not everyone, everywhere, was like that.  Here in New England, in the earliest days of Colonial America, there were deals.  Land was purchased.  Treaties were signed.  There was an attempt at doing things the right way, whatever that meant.

In my state of Connecticut, there is great pride in the story of the founding of the town of Ridgefield.  Local history expert, Jack Sanders, spoke with me about some men from down the hill in Norwalk and Milford, now known as "The Proprietors."  These men came up to the village of Ramapo and negotiated with a Sachem, Chief Katonah (a.k.a Catoonah).  They paid the Sachem 100 Pounds Sterling for 20,000 acres of his people's land to create my town, Ridgefield.

This got me thinking - what if aliens came down and offered one of our leaders some sum of money to buy some land?

Could Aliens Buy America?

It seems impossible, at first glimpse.  But roll with me on this one.  Sanders tells me there is no historical documentation in the official town records of how Katonah's Ramapoo people felt about their Sachem's sale of their land.  New England Pre-history Archaeologist Lynn-Marie Wieland was able to shed some light on this for me.

Wieland tells me, by the late 1600's the Indians of New England had been completely decimated by disease.  Those who survived had a reckoning of their situation.  They embarked on a long process of consolidating their land holdings.  By this point they had learned the White Man's concept of land ownership and would often sell portions of their lands.  They sat on so much land and there were so few people left on it, it must have seemed like a no-brainer to cut their losses and get some money or goods (guns, coats, tools, etc.) for it. 

Sometimes, Wieland says, they would sell the same piece of land over and over.  I suppose, if you do not believe in our concept of land ownership in the first place this might seem like a funny joke to play on people - kind of like selling someone the Brooklyn Bridge.  More likely though, Wieland says, while the Indians knew they had sold the land, their concept of the deals was more like they were renting the land to the White Man and if the buyers did not continually occupy and improve the land, the Indians would simply reclaim it.

There is no record of how Katonah dispersed his 100 Pounds amongst his people, if at all.  However, history tells us that keeping the money for himself would have been considered unthinkable.  Wieland explains, "among hunter/gatherers, the person most admired is the one who shares his wealth with his community."  The funds were probably distributed in an equitable manner, although no one knows for sure.  Katonah could have kept more for himself or he could have given some hush money to dissenters.  While the cultures of many Indian people were very different from those of their new European neighbors, people are people.  The funds could have been distributed in any manner Katonah saw fit.

Little is recorded indicating whether or not Katonah was even endowed with the authority to make the sale.  However, the deal was signed by several others of his people, along with a few other outside witnesses (John W. DeForest, 1851. History of the Indians of Connecticut from the Earliest Known Period to 1850, Connecticut Historical Society) and Wieland says it was probably authorized by every adult male in Katonah's community.

Chief Katonah was offered, what to him must have seemed like a fortune, to pack up and go elsewhere.  And there was plenty of land available over in what would eventually become the town of Katonah, New York.  (You see what he did, there?)  So why not?

Ridgefield today on left, Wappinger village of Ramapo in 1665 on right.  
Katonah, NY is just west of Cross River.
Much of Rt. 7 from Massachusetts to the Long Island Sound 
was once the Berkshire Path, an Indian foot path.
This begs the question.  If someone of dubious authority can sell the land out from under his people, to "alien" settlers, just 300 years ago, could it happen again?  I say, "dubious authority" because before Europeans came here there were no deeds certifying land ownership.  There were no surveys or maps.  The Indians were able to sell their land because Europeans said so.  We brought our concept of land ownership over here and imposed it upon them.  So could something like that happen again?  Could people from another place come here, make a deal with an authority figure, and boot us off our land?  I think so.

But wait, you say, we have laws against that.  Yes, we have laws against that.  But aliens may not.  I believe that when Chief Katonah stood before his people, laden with silver, at least one of these folks must have stood up and said, in his best John Mulaney voice, "Excuse me, um... Chief... you did wha...?"  There had to be some people who disagreed with the sale.  This is beautiful country.  Some people must have said, "Well, I ain't goin'!" 

You did wha...?
Wieland says yes indeed, some people did stay.  Whether it was because they did not support the sale, or not, is unknown.  Katonah was listed on the deed as being from New York so most of the family or tribe may have already left by then.  But I am imagining a conversation in one home that went something like this:

Husband: Land is sold.  We should start packin' up.
Wife: Why, is someone moving here?  To this very spot?
Husband: Um, this spot?  I don't know.
Wife: OK then, we'll stay until they tell us to leave.
Husband: Well, we should really...
Wife: We'll stay until they tell us to leave!
Husband: Yes, dear.

For the folks who stayed in the new town of Ridgefield after the rest of their Ramapoo people moved west, they would have found that things changed for them pretty quickly.  Suddenly, there were once familiar places which now had fences around them, barring entry.  Old paths were widened to allow horse-drawn carriages to pass while other paths were blocked by houses or fences.  If you came across berries or wild fruit trees you may not be permitted to pick them because they were on someone else's private property.  Hunting was restricted.  "What have they done to my land!" they would have thought.

The Ramapoo who stayed would have found themselves living under the legal jurisdiction of an alien power they did not recognize as theirs.  But like it or not, they were forced to abide by this new rule of law.  What, you do not like it?  Perhaps you would like to put on these shackles and visit the Magistrate with me.  Or perhaps you would like to speak into the barrel of my musket.  I can get the constable or even a militia to help me, if needed.

Could it happen again?

Let us bypass the question of, "Could Aliens Buy America?" and keep it more simple.  Could aliens buy my house?  Why not?  As long as the check clears.  My neighbors would probably be pissed.  They would be like, "Aliens!  There goes the neighborhood."

For Sale signs would go up all over the place.  Pretty soon, more aliens would move in.  Eventually this would become an alien neighborhood.  At least, this is the pattern which has been repeated over and over again when one ethnic group starts to move into another ethnically homogeneous neighborhood, all across America.

Why would it be different if aliens moved here?  Sure, at first it would be novel to live next door to the alien family.  The conversations over the hedgerow would be interesting and thought-provoking.  But once they started to cook their strange-smelling foods, park their old beat-up spaceships on cinder blocks in the back yard, and blast their alien music at all hours of the night, people would bolt.  I am not making this up, it happens time after time, not with aliens, but there is no reason to believe it would be different with them.  People are people.

 The Indians of old Ridgefield

The Indians who sold Ridgefield to the Proprietors are sometimes referred to locally as the Lanape.  Wieland says decedents of these people prefer to be called Ramapoo.  They belonged to the Wappinger Indians who were related to the Lanape.

In total, there were nine transactions which together created the current town as we know it.  Some people stayed in the town, sometimes re-selling the same land more than once.  Others moved on to Katonah, NY with their Sachem.  Others relocated in between, to Lake Kitchawan.

Wikipedia reports that some of these people moved even further west and settled in what are now the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey.  Though, Wieland indicated this may not be true.

Once a certain area became an enclave of alien people, they might be inclined to buy up the whole darned town.  Indeed, if I could afford it, I would not mind owning this town.  It is a nice town.  If you had the ability to travel from there to here, perhaps hundreds of light-years or more, would you come with an empty wallet?  Probably not.  More likely, you would come with some form of currency which the native people would accept and then you would start bargain hunting.

Not too long ago, it was possible for a Westerner to travel to a developing country and pay a paltry sum for all types of native wares, with both parties of the transaction believing they got a great deal.  Indeed, the other day one of my students in a business course I teach told me he recently went home to his native Egypt and pulled out an American one hundred dollar bill in a marketplace.  Shop-keepers closed off the markets so he could shop, undisturbed.  Certainly the same would be true of any transaction conducted with aliens.  They would come with today's equivalent of 100 Pounds Sterling and buy up our land - perhaps the whole town.

After securing a foothold here, aliens would then be free to start making their own rules.  One would think they might adopt our democratic ways and hold a referendum which the people would vote on.  But why would they have to do that when they could simply say, "This is our town, we make our own rules."  That is what the people of Ridgefield did when they bought this land from the Ramapoo.  They did not care what existing rules the Ramapoo had.  They did not care what the Ramapoo's system of rule-making was.  They bought the land and they were going to impose their Common Law system on all people living in it.

It was not just the local town laws which applied either, 300 years ago.  Anyone living in the colony of Connecticut would have been subject to the laws of its governor.  Europeans did not ask the Indians if they wanted this land to be called Connecticut and if they wanted to live under its colonial laws.  They just drew a boundary on a map and said to the Governor, "This is the colony of Connecticut.  Go govern it."  Many of the local Indians and the coastal Algonquians to the east would not discover they were living in someone else's country, under someone else's laws, for decades.

Perhaps, somewhere on another planet, leaders have drawn lines on a map around all of New England and said to one of their people, "This is New Glaxon.  Go rule it."  We could, right at this moment, be living under the jurisdiction of an alien power and not even know it.  Perhaps they have drawn a line around all of North America.

That being the case, what would then stop an alien power from doing what Europeans did to Indians?  I am not saying they would come here and force us off our land and commit genocide - not at first, anyway.  They might just come and try to buy the land, either house by house, or entire towns, states, even countries.  Along the way, we might be exposed to their alien diseases, just like the Indians.

Forget about our existing laws, because aliens would not necessarily recognize them - Europeans did not recognize Indian rules, why would aliens recognize ours?  With that in mind, an alien emissary could feasibly walk into the White House and offer our president, say, one trillion dollars (perhaps in some other currency but still the equivalent of a trillion dollars).  Would the president sell us out for a trillion bucks?  The speculative answer to that question probably depends on which side of the political aisle you stand on.  But suppose he did.

The president of the United States is not endowed with the authority to sell our country to aliens.  There is no land deed that I know of which bestows ownership of the entire country onto any one person.  Also the people living here would not stand for it.  But he could still take the money, either willingly or under duress.  Perhaps they will make him an offer he couldn't refuse.

I made him an offer he couldn't refuse
Or perhaps aliens would first come and (inadvertently or purposely) infect us with alien diseases we cannot fight off, leaving our population decimated and our economy in shambles - like Europeans did to the Indians!  Would our leader want to put in the hard work to rebuild a ruined country, infiltrated and overrun with amok aliens, or would he prefer to cut his losses, take the cash, and move on to greener pastures, like Chief Katonah did.  Depends on the president.

Just to legitimize the deal, the president might offer each of his cabinet members a billion dollars to also sign the deal.  The heads of the opposition party each get five billion, to look the other way.  They all then relocate to the Bahamas or various other hospitable places, and name those places after themselves, à la Katonah, New York.

Once that alien document was signed by all the heads of the country, once the deed to our land was in their long spindly hands, aliens would have the ability to say the deal abides by the terms of their legal system (which unbeknownst to us had been superimposed over our legal system when their maps had been overlaid on our maps).  

At that point, all humans in the country would fall under the rule of the new governor.  What, you do not like it?  Perhaps you would like to put on these shackles and visit the Magistrate with me.  Or perhaps you would like to speak into the barrel of my death ray.  I can get the constable or even a fleet of killer spaceships to help me, if needed.

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If you have seen an alien spaceship or any type of unidentified flying object (UFO) contact me using the Contact form on this page.  You may remain anonymous if you want.  I will not ridicule you or try to tell you why you are wrong.  I get it, I saw one too.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Great Conspiracy Conspiracy

Last week I posted my first blog article in a while.  I had taken the summer off from blogging in order to focus on business and also some other writing projects.  The primary reason I am writing again is simply because some time has freed up, with the family all back to school now.  But as a wise old Jedi once said, "There is another."  Another reason, that is.

My mental image of "Book Launching"
Back in June of this year one of my neighbors, Rich Cohen, released his latest book The Last Pirate of New York.   He announced on social media and personal email that he was "launching" his new book.  That brought a couple images to mind.  One was of a book, duct taped to the top of a rocket, hurling into space at 18,000 miles per hour.  The other was something like the video below, but with a book.

Rich is a good guy and is good friends with some of my good friends.   So when he announced he would be hosting a book launching event, I thought it would be nice to go out and help the neighbor down the street celebrate a major accomplishment.  I also had some selfish reasons - being a would-be writer myself, I wanted to pick his brain on a few things.

I marked my calendar for June 6th at 7:00pm.  Unfortunately, I could not make the book reading part of the event because it conflicted with one of my kids' school concerts.  I was disappointed because the first five attendees to Rich's event were promised, "a free Mr. Microphone, which you can use to impress your friends!"

Dumb Stunts

In all sincerity, who does not like to impress their friends?  When I was a kid, the kids in my neighborhood used to build a lot of ramps to jump our bikes off of.  We would gather up whatever scrap wood our dads had lying around in a tool shed, the rafters of a garage, or under a porch, prop them up with a bigger piece of wood, or a log, or cinder block, whatever we could find, and race over them as fast as we could peddle.  We wore no helmets or pads back then and our bikes weighed like 200 pounds.  It is a wonder any of us survived.

Mr. Microphone
Impress your friends!
It only took a few inches of drop to get several feet of air if you went really fast and then picked up your front wheel as you went over.  Sometimes you would land on the back wheel and see how long you could do a wheelie.  Sometimes you crashed, got right up, and did it again.  We would do this for hours.

This one time, my next-door neighbor Jared and I had a little too much idle time on our hands and we "went to town" on a mega ramp.  We built this sucker up to a height of about four feet.  We were barely four feet tall ourselves so I do not know what we were thinking.  But it was a fun challenge to build and we had a good time doing it.  And then?  Well, if you build it they will jump.  Someone had to go off it.  But who would accept such a daring challenge?  I wonder who?

I mentioned in my last article that when I was younger I often had more courage than common sense.  And this is such a case.  I wanted to be the kid that made it off the four-foot ramp.  Kids in the neighborhood would be talking about this for days, maybe weeks.  It would be legendary.  Years later, movies would be based on the event.  I would go down in history.

I probably did not think any of that, at the time.  I just thought it would be fun to jump the ramp.  Maybe people would think I was cool, but that was subordinate to the thrill of flight.  I envisioned myself flying through the air, several feet off the ground and then locking the brakes and skidding to a stop in a cloud of dust.  That would be cool.

Evel Knievel Jumping Snake Canyon
My jump, in my mind
So I rode my Huffy BMX bike with the overstuffed next-generation banana seat, to the end of the long driveway, turned around, and stood astride my ride, looking ahead at my challenge.  I studied the vert and the drop, like The Terminator assessing a threat.  I looked at the spectators standing a little too close to the ramp.  I shouted, "Back up, everybody!"  They did - like all kids when you tell them to get out of the way, they stepped back about two inches.

I adjusted my peddles, certifying the one on the right was poised just ahead of the 12:00 position on the sprocket, for maximum thrust.  I anchored my left foot, mashing the pavement with my Montgomery Wards* sneaker, like I was putting out a cigarette.  I placed my right foot on the peddle, leaned on the handlebars, and went for it.  I stood on the peddles and peddled as hard as I ever had.  I rocked the bike alternately to the left and right, trying to build up enough velocity to clear the landing.  I must have accelerated to at least fifteen miles per hour.  I hit the plywood.  My speed instantly slowed by over fifty percent, as I climbed the insanely steep rise, analogous to a parachute being prematurely deployed.  I got to the end of the ramp and went straight down to the pavement, like a swimmer diving for a hockey puck.

Evel Knievel Crashing into Snake Canyon
My jump, closer to real life
My body was scraped, bruised, and banged up.  Tinned voices echoed in my inner ear.  Blood was everywhere.  As I stood up, before picking the asphalt out of my wounds or looking my bike over for damage, two thoughts came to mind:

1.  I should have picked up the front wheel
2.  That was "totally awesome" (it was the 1980's)

How much fun was that!  I would never again attempt any jump so colossally stupid.  How many times did Evel Knievel jump the Grand Canyon?  Well, zero but he did try to jump the Snake Canyon once.  Just once.  Both images above are from that near fatal stunt.


When Rich promised, "a free Mr. Microphone, which you can use to impress your friends," I was all over that like cheese on a hamburger.  But mis hijos son mi vida.  The concert would take precedence.  I told Rich I would try to make it for part of the reading but would definitely be there for the after party.  With kids a few years ahead of mine, he said, "Great! I know all about those concerts."

My wife and I drove separately to the concert.  She took the kids in the Subaru and I took the bike because when you ride a motorcycle you do it as much as you can, when you can.  It was June, it was warm, it was not raining (for a change) and I wanted to ride.  Also, anytime there is something going on at the school, there is nowhere to park and it is a pain getting out of there.  Bike = Solution. 

The concert was great and I was on my way.  I just missed the reading, though.  People were filing out of the public library when I arrived.  So I rode over to the restaurant where Rich was heading and got a seat at the bar.  Rich arrived around a quarter-after one beer.  I said hi, congratulated him on the new book, chatted for a minute and then let him go greet his wife, other friends, and assorted guests.  It was an interesting cast of characters; everyone seemed to be professional writers, at some point in their lives.  One guy used to write for MacGyver.  He told me about an episode where he came up with the MacGyvering.  It was a fun night.

MacGyver, MacGyvering something
MacGyver, MacGyvering something

Towards the end, I had a conversation with Rich about my own aspirations.  I wanted to pick his brain on how I could get my Close Encounter story out to the public.  I do not want to "impress my friends" à la Evel Knievel / Mr. Microphone.  I just want the world to know, to understand, to believe, we are being visited and to appreciate that we need to prepare for the inevitable Contact which will occur, geologically soon.

The hope was that Rich would point me towards a publisher, agent, production company, anyone who might be interested in my story.  Maybe even he himself would want to write about it.  Or better yet, Rich knows this article on UFOs needs to be written but he does not have the time for it himself and he does not know anyone else with expertise on the subject.  Hey Dave, you know something about UFOs.  Can you take care of this for me?  Sure, dude.  You came to the right person!

That was how I imagined it.  But like my jump over the 4-Footer, the conversation did not go the way I had envisioned.  Rich's only advice was to write about the experience. 

Later on, though, he did write about my experience, himself.  Rich put some thought into our conversation, over the summer.  Maybe it was because he was away from town, on vacation, without the normal distractions of everyday life, which provided him pause for contemplation.  Maybe it was being trapped in a cottage in Maine filled with kids and none of his regular grown-up pals to chit-chat with.  Whatever it was, Rich was inspired to write an article titled, "More UFOs Than Ever Before" for The Paris Review.

Rich Cohen Conspiracy

My first thought was, huh, where did you get that idea?  Then I read the article.  It was well-written and entertaining.  It reminded me of a three-part series I wrote last fall titled, Why are we being visited now.  I then noticed that he wrote another article prior to that, in July, which was reminiscent of my article, Apollo Wha???   Imitation, it seems, is the greatest form of flattery.  Thanks Rich.  I am humbled and honored.

David Marceau, Cool Dude
Me, trying to look like someone in a writing duel
no one cares about because it only exists in my mind
Rich was kind enough to mention his, "neighbor, who runs a blog called I Saw One Too" in the second article.  Thanks for the plug.   (Next time, please add a link, like I just did.)  But he completely dismissed the whole idea of visitation by people who may have evolved a few million years before us by saying, "If we were being visited, I think we’d know, that’s all. I don’t think there’d be any doubt. Hiding it would be like Columbus hiding his 'discovery' of the New World.  Impossible." 

Like, with the infinite number of stars in the Universe, not one of them could possibly have any planets inhabited by people who evolved before us and figured out Physics.  Set your Captain Picard face-plant memes to 'Stun'.

My public response on Rich's Facebook post about the article was, "Your neighbor sounds pretty cool."  But privately I was thinking his neighbor sounds like a crazy person.  You would have to be crazy to believe your own eyes when an enormous spaceship is about a hundred yards from you, right?

Rich is calling his series "Conspiracy," where he "gets to the bottom of it all."  It is his attempt to put his own spin on this hot new UFO Craze - a Point-Counterpoint where people like me write articles demonstrating the shortsightedness of non-believers and Rich replies with a complementary article about why realists are loony-tunes.  OK.  Game on, neighbor.

So here I am, back at the keyboard with a new purpose.  I suppose I owe Rich a beer for the inspiration to write about UFOs again.  I will buy the second round, my friend.


Enjoying this blog?
Also follow me
If you have seen an alien spaceship or any type of unidentified flying object (UFO) contact me using the Contact form on this page.  You may remain anonymous if you want.  I will not ridicule you or try to tell you why you are wrong.  I get it, I saw one too.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.

* I thought for sure that Montgomery Ward went out of business like 30 years ago.  I can't believe I found a link to them.