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Number 984, August 5, 2018

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Another Day at the Tinfoil Festival
by Jeff Fullerton
born2bewild1962@gmail.com

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

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I’ve been in a rut lately as far as contributions to this journal and writing in general are concerned. Between my regular job and looking after my animals and an elderly uncle and juggling the upkeep of two places ; there seems to be little time and creative energy to produce anything of value whenever I decide to attempt something. I’ve been trying every so often to launch a new installment of the Norseman’s Diaries and there is also a piece that I want to write on pursuing happiness and excellence in the reptile hobby that I want to do. Unfortunately it’ s always a matter of choosing between using my time to write and using it to get things done outside and I end up choosing the latter.

Talk about major league writers block!

And now it is the weekend of the UFO Festival in Kecksburg and Saturday I was mulling the prospect of writing a follow up to the article I wrote and published in this journal several years ago. Again I was busy much of the day taking care of business around home and then checking up on my Uncle and cutting his grass and before long it was the end of the day and the prospect of going to Kecksburg—let alone just winging an article in time to meet the Saturday night deadline was obviously a non-starter. That was obvious as I noted the fireworks display that initially looked like heat lightning on my drive home from Connellsville.

Sunday Morning. Last day of the festival. There is still time so I’ ve decided to go and see and write about it. That will give me a whole week to study and tweak the piece which is better than trying to throw something together at the last minute and at the expense of a nice day outside. And this is a rather busy weekend to boot with a military airshow ongoing at Palmer airport on the outskirts of Latrobe and the local reptile show in Youngwood.

So the plan was to visit Kecksburg after the reptile show which begins at 9 AM. Only I find out that I was off on my calendar and was greeted by an empty parking lot. So I was off to my next objective: the UFO Festival—which I affectionately refer to as the   Tinfoil Festival. I use a similar term for George Nory’s talk show “Coast to Coast AM ” which I dubbed “Tinfoil Theater” since many of his guests fit the Tinfoil category and some are literally madder than a tinfoil hatter!

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I arrived late morning and was able to find convenient parking at the bottom. It was not crowded like before when I did a previous feature for this journal in 2013 which I shall link here for reference. http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2013/tle732-20130804-06.htm

Then I had written an extensive overview of this quaint local tradition that goes back to 1965 when something crashed in the woods one night and the army came in to recover and haul it out on a flatbed truck. My first stop was of course the bronze colored mock-up of the acorn shaped object with strange writing on it that local eyewitnesses reported back in the day. Alien script or Russian Cyrillic , I tend to favor the latter theory that it was a fallen Soviet space probe or satellite that our military wanted to keep and reverse engineer to see how far the Russians were getting with their electronic guidance systems. It was after all near the height of the Cold War. That might tick off a few true believers in the ET theory and has mystified some of my friends and acquaintances through the years who often wondered how someone like me who is a pretty hard core fan of SF would be skeptical of the notion that we are being visited every second Tuesday by advanced extraterrestrial beings and the government is covering it up.

That seems like a really big paradox but an even bigger one is the tendency of those who believe in UFOs to be very skeptical or even put off by the idea of future humanity living in O’Neill cylinders or traveling at ten percent the speed of light to reach nearby stars. Yet in the words of a recent Issac Arthur video I watched; they get kind of irate when you tell them it is unlikely that they’ll be zipping around the galaxy at FTL velocities in the Millennium Falcon anytime soon. People do tend to be impatient with slow incremental progress and obviously they can’t see that without some lucky unforeseen breakthrough we are probably going to have to do O’Neills and slower ships first before we stumble across something better.

Unless the aliens come forward and give it to us—which may be a big part of that psyche. In my previous article I compared the UFO phenomenon to the cargo cults of Pacific Islanders who yearned for the return of American GIs who sojourned a brief time on their islands during World War 2 and gave them lots of candy and nice 20th Century gadgets.

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Overall the festival is nice thing to visit and raises money for the local fire and EMS service. In a way it doesn’t get more Libertarian than that. If only more funding for government services could be sourced that way.

I missed the crowds that were sure to come later in the day and I did not tarry long. I just made a brief walk through down the street past the vending stands and checked out the temporary store that sells a variety of UFO related literature and paraphernalia. That in itself was a great walk down memory lane with a lot of UFO and SF related toys and posters.  And I can best tell that story with pictures that are sure to stir some historic nostalgia for anyone who was alive and aware of UFOs or watched 1960s or 70s vintage Science Fiction!

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I remember reading about the latter one in the papers

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Was that worth reading?
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