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 Post subject: Art Bell's Dark Matter
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:01 am 
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I'm surprised there's been no review of Art Bell's Dark Matter. Google search yields basically no reviews. The buzz seems to have died almost as soon as the show came on the air ... I wonder if that's a bad sign.

I'll post observations on its first broadcast (Sept. 16) here, if only because there's nowhere else to put 'em.

Art Bell's Dark Matter - Sept. 16, 2013

First off, Art's voice is older and craggier. He sounded nervous on this first episode, though this will almost certainly improve over time. He lost his train of thought at least once, though quickly recovered, and even seemed to indicate by accident that his questions were on a list in front of him when he was searching around for a moment for a question to ask Kaku.

Even so, his radio delivery is still in a higher class than Noory's. He delivers his words in a way designed to sound interesting, whereas Noory by comparison delivers everything he says as if speaking to a slow child. Bell comes off as basically more intelligent, making it a lot easier on the ears.

Bell started the show with a statement about his grievances with former employer Clear Channel/Premiere, about their failure to support him during the Oates reverse-speech controversy (with its allegations that Bell was a child molester). Bell talked about it quite a bit on his Facebook page in the lead-up to his show. Bell, however, did not mention Oates by name on his first night. Nor did he mention how Noory brought Oates back on Coast to Coast just a week or two before his own new show was to start.

Bell started off by saying 'no rules' for his new show -- but foul language was prohibited. Now, there's no specific reason why foul language and obscenity should play any big role in a show positioning itself as fringe, science, paranormal -- but at the same time, since Bell's main gripe against Noory was that Noory isn't 'edgy' enough, starting your show by saying naughty words aren't allowed comes off as a bit sexagenarian. Also, all the old bumper music seems to be in play, which under the circumstances can only come off as nostalgic, rather than the sort of forward-leaning, future-oriented show to draw in new listeners.

Kaku, as first guest, seems to be Art Bell signaling that he is not just the UFO-radio host caricature that some others hold of him. In fact, Bell as much as said this when telling a story of two radio hosts he'd heard in the lead-up to the show making fun of him for being a radio host who only talked about aliens.

However, Kaku is everything that is wrong with science, and having to listen to him, the sort of milquetoast public proselytizer that he is, nearly bored me to tears. Yes, he is an accomplished scientist who can be counted on to say accurate things about the current state of quantum theory. The fact is, though, his three- or four-stage schema for the development of civilizations is pure fantasy. In fact, Kaku draws so heavily on examples from Star Trek whenever he explains his model that eventually you realize it is just Star Trek, and nothing else. During the conversation, Kaku revealed that he added his Stage Four representing control of the 'continuum' after a kid came up to him in London demanding it, and Kaku instantly put it in terms of Star Trek and the character Q.

Here's what makes me puke in my shirt about this: if I as some random kook came out with a theory on the development of intergalactic civilizations based essentially on Star Trek and nothing else -- would I get interviewed on Sirius/XM? Would I get book deals and looked to as an expert on the development of civilizations? The answer is obvious, and yet when a scientist advances an identical speculation based on zero data and basically only his love of Star Trek, the speculation is considered plausible, even authoritative.

Speculations by scientists today like Kaku on the nature of alien life, how intelligent aliens would behave, how civilizations grow across star systems -- are really very little better than the speculations by scholastics in the Middle Ages on the nature of angels, how many could dance on the head of a pin, etc. The Drake equation seems very authoritative and intimidating, but is likewise based on all sorts of quiet assumptions and just like all these other speculations, including Kaku's, may have no basis in reality whatsoever.

All this kills me as a sociological phenomenon. Worship authority is still very much in effect. We listen with quiet reverence to a Kaku, who presents himself appropriately as a kind of wise, beneficient, patient scientist according to established cultural formula. And yet, along with so many scientists who once you take them out of the realm of direct experiment or theorizing close to the data, prove themselves complete idiots -- Kaku is essentially spouting nonsense. Or to be a little more precise: his speculations are no better founded than anybody else's.

But they sound very reasonable, and Kaku reportedly understands a lot of thing we don't understand, so we give them a depth that isn't there. It's laughable, however, that these speculations are always very guarded, very qualified, and very in keeping with what is publicly permissible for a credentialed scientist. You wouldn't hear Kaku waxing speculatively on what happened to Building 7, for example. But he will offer perfectly prescribed and perfectly harmless explanations on the development of advanced civilizations -- something on which we have absolutely zero data.

The milquetoast, politically neutral (and neutered) scientist betrays himself again when he says in the course of explaining his schema that 'democracies don't make war on other democracies'. This is laughable when the U.S. is looking for any pretext to bomb Syria, has already devastated Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan, etc. Now, you might leap out of your chair to object: those aren't democracies! But Kaku is making his claim to imply that democracies in general are not warlike. This is clearly untrue. His claim can only be salvaged if you (rightly) admit that the U.S. is not a democracy, and that all the bombing campaigns occur with or without public approval. But then Kaku's system as a form of linear development loses its value, i.e. if the first great democracy of the world has already devolved out of it. All of this shows Kaku as a political theorist is just as inept and naive as other physical scientists. He sees democracy 'spreading', but doesn't see how in case after case that is the result of war. He also doesn't perceive how governments presenting a democratic public face to the world may really be very different forms of government when it comes to their actual organization and make-up.

So much for the first hour. Bell is still a bit shaky on his commercials. The discussion turns to nuclear power, Fukushima, and alternative energy. Nothing objectionable to my mind in this discussion, all basically straightforward. Kaku thinks fusion will be viable after ten years. Kaku then says "so far, so good" when it comes to fracking, despite the fact people are able to set their kitchen-faucet water on fire here and there in Pennsylvania and other places. Kaku as naive scientist emerges here again. The discussion turns to exoplanets, and Kaku says there are a billion earth-like planets. He mentions the so-called Fermi paradox, brings in his silly "I think they're probably Type 2, maybe Type 3" nonsense again. Art Bell asks whether we will make it, or whether anyone will make it. Kaku again (groan) declares: "Look at the spread of democracy!" He goes on to say today people take to the streets and take "control" of their destinies, whereas in the Cold War everything was frozen and this "didn't happen".

What? So the protest movements of the '60s never happened, hippy counter-culture, abolishing the draft, and so on -- but today, with a fizzled out Occupy movement and people too obese and sedated to get off their sofas, today we have healthy democracy? It's too exhausting to be laughable. The NSA is spying on everyone and everything is clear violation of the Constitution, and Americans by and large don't care. But Kaku thinks today we have healthy, vibrant democracy (that doesn't bomb anybody) and yesterday we did not.

Kaku essentially calls SETI 'stupid', which is a point in his favor. After the mid-hour commercial, the conversation goes to the Higgs boson and dark matter. Bell steps on Kaku's answers a couple of times, maybe because there's some sort of satellite delay in hearing the answers. Kaku spins the old scientist's fantasy of rivaling creation, describing super-colliders in terms of approaching 'genesis', and so on. This sort of mythology internal to science shows the degree to which science operates as a kind of latter-day theology, or a theology at one step remove. One of the reasons in my view why conventional scientists have so much animosity toward religion is the level of similarity between the two -- it's the hatred of proximity. Today's scientists are trained to hate organized religion and yet have this private quasi-theology among themselves about the powers of science approaching the divine, its promethean aspect, etc.

The second hour ends with an entertaining discussion of the earth's destruction at the hands of WR 104's gamma ray burst. Bell is suddenly back in his element: apocalypse and worldwide destruction.

The third hour begins with more discussion of the destruction of the earth. The conversation gels somewhat and gains some intensity. Art Bell's appeal back in the '90s was partly millennium anxiety: the destruction of the world with the turn of the century and millennium was looming large in the imagination at that time. No coincidence then that Art Bell focused on it with everything from guests like Ed Dames to books like "The Coming Global Superstorm". The conversation on this first episode went from death-by-gamma ray to death-by-coronal mass ejection from the sun, the latter term for which has always struck me as slightly obscene, like 'nocturnal emission'. If I drink a dozen beers, fill my pants, and wake up to the discovery, I might describe what I see as a mass ejection.

Kaku talks about decoding dreams, lucid dreaming (confirmed as scientifically real according to him). Bell seizes the opportunity and brings up the possibility of the NSA eavesdropping on dreams. Kaku makes an empty appeal to 'safeguards' protecting people from that sort of thing. In fact, he says: "Hopefully, democracy has checks and balances [...]". Then another questionable appeal, this time to the Internet as protecting freedom.

Kaku again claims it was worse in the past, actually bringing up MK-ULTRA. No concept that similar (or worse) shenanigans might be going on now. "But remember, that was the Cold War!" says Kaku. Bell calls him out on it. Kaku dodges somewhat by turning the discussion to suitcase nukes and away from the faultiness of his overall political sense. Kaku is knowledgeable about nukes, saying all told the USA and the USSR made around 60,000 nukes between them. Great.

So far, the show doesn't feel much like a live show. Expecting this to change when the calls come in. False memories inserted into mice. (How long till this is advanced as an explanation for alien abduction? Not by hypnosis, but by MILAB-style maliciousness?) Kaku complains about the giggle factor when it comes to science and threats from asteroids, etc. How about the giggle factor when it comes to UFOs, Kaku? Question wasn't asked.

First caller was a good one. Not a complete crank, well-spoken. Welcomes Art back to the air, but not too much ass-kissing. Kaku asked about string theory. Kaku plugs his website instead, then embarks on an answer. Answer is a pretty good one: strings as vibrations arranging themselves as if like musical notes, building into melodies, harmonies, symphonies, etc. Kaku says atoms make up only 4% of the universe.

Second caller asks about Yellowstone mega-eruption. Art Bell sounds a bit on edge with these calls -- like he's not really soaking in the praise. Careful to push them on into their questions quickly.

Third caller asks about theory of relativity and dark matter. Kaku tries to explain relativity in a nutshell.

Third hour ends. I'll stop here with the "review" because I'm sick of typing and am thirsty for a beer.


'Rock Bottom' Line

I think the show will be good once it gets rolling. Bell isn't too far past it. As he eases into his chair, "Dark Matter" will probably be a more than worthy substitute for Coast to Coast AM.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:53 pm 
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Great overview and observations of the show Old Balls.
I've been waiting to hear some feedback on the new show.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:52 pm 
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Hoagland-esque

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Can't wait for for some Art Bell fan pirate to start uploading these to youtube.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:08 pm 
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Thanks for the review.

I don't have Sirius/xm and don't plan on buying it.

I have no issue with art reading from a list of questions. For one thing, it means he has prepared for his show. Can't say that about every talk show host. :mrgreen:
And Have no doubt when a follow up question is born out of an answer, he'll shift from his prepared list, as any good interviewer would.

If the bumper music was dated, might it just be to give a familiar feel to his old listeners? Considering his age, I'm surprised he doesnt give a healthy dose of big band music, Sinatra and Elvis.

I know a professor who can't stand kaku, for many of the points you raised.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:39 am 
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A hearty 'You're welcome' to all who liked the review. Somebody is now posting Dark Matter on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/DMArchive

If I get drunk enough, I might listen to the Steven Greer interview. Though I don't know how anybody could take 3-4 hours of that under any circumstances.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:46 am 
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Hoagland-esque

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Awesome link. Thanks! I'm subscribin' to the one.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:59 am 
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Old Balls wrote:
If I get drunk enough, I might listen to the Steven Greer interview. Though I don't know how anybody could take 3-4 hours of that under any circumstances.

Yeah, I'm definitely a bit disappointed that he had Greer on, especially after that whole Sirius grift.

After watching Greer on Rogan, I don't know that I can take anymore of his melodrama with out
vomiting and shadow boxing.

I'm actually more curious to hear how Art deals with Greer, than
hearing Greer himself.

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"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine" Henry David Thoreau

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"Hey, I know that dude" Jeff Spicoli


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:51 pm 
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I listened to the Greer episode today. Don't think I'll be posting a big review of it. Art Bell called Greer a "friend" twice, I think. Gag-inducing. But Greer was on his best behavior. Of course, every story he told was about him meeting with high government officials, being called to secret island conferences with world leaders, with all the usual name-dropping. No mention of the event William Henry described recently on his radio show where Greer came into some sort of conference with a team of bodyguards who barred the exits illegally and blocked any entrance or exit during his presentation. Supposedly, the AC was not too good in the room and one woman who was trying to escape nearly passed out.

Just as with that Sirius documentary, it's all self-aggrandizement and ME ME ME with Greer, and that showed in the interview.

Art Bell is already sounding more like his old self. The show still doesn't feel as "live" as the old Coast to Coast. Maybe because he still lacks a welcoming intro and is uneasy with callers. It feels less like a live event and more canned. That could change.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:18 am 
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Awesome review Old Balls. Comprehensive and interesting.

As a lapsed former XM owner, I considered re-starting a subscription for a reduced rate but financial hard times are, well, hard.
It's just nothing I want to go out of my way to hear. Plus a friend recently got a new car with a start-up sub 8)

If some sort of Streamlink-type option ever comes about, I would totally consider it. Despite the hit and miss quality of C2C, $8 for a month is still a killer deal - especially to join back up once in a blue moon then engage in some power downloads to catch up, and then let it expire again.

As much as the old bumper music stirs nostalgia and all, Old Balls - does it every feel like you're listening to a rebroadcast from 1999 or something?

Funny thing about Oates, I got pretty into the old controversy and used to check out a site that he and his ex-wife posted on all the time in the late 90s. At one point, since I share the same first name as the reverse speech maestro, his ex-wife trolled the shit out of me for a few nights thinking I was him. I was like,
Quote:
"!mih ton m'I"


errrr,
Quote:
"I'm not him!"

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:53 am 
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I listened to part of the Hoagland show thanks to YouTube.


At one point RCH tells AB he got a note from GN saying that he hears AB is giving RCH a hard time and to go get him.
AB laughs and they agree they are having a spirited conversation.



Then RCH tells AB that he's known him since before G was out of the crib, well not quite that long.
"No one seems to understands that the way you get to the bottom of this is you have two very civilized people talk about real stuff without being personal and I love it when you challenge because it means you're listening to the answers."

AB: "uh, Richard, it's called a talk show."

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:07 am 
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Glad Art Bell is back, but here's my thoughts on the first week of the show:

1.) The guests he had this week were overall stale and in the case of Reed and Greer,
and most likely Hoagland, not credible AT ALL.

2.) Art spoon fed Jonathan Reed (Jonathan Rutter), who is a proven con man, gave
him a free pass, but he is all over Hoagland, questioning everything he says? I don't
really believe much of what Hoagland says, but the way he handled him compared to
Reed seemed a bit disproportionate.

I hope he starts getting more selective with his guests . A full night of open lines is
better than Reed or Greer.

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"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine" Henry David Thoreau

"Never go with a hippie to a second location." Jack Donaghy

"Hey, I know that dude" Jeff Spicoli


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 3:21 am 
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I thought the same thing about the choice of guests. It's possible Art Bell was going for maximum controversy for his first week. But to me, it didn't succeed at generating controversy, it succeeded in making me not listen. I haven't listened to the Jonathan Reed episode. I wasn't familiar with the case, never heard him interviewed. All it took was a glance at the alien ship photo (looks like an obvious fake) as well as the alien body photo (red-blooded earthly animal guts from a butcher shop oozing out of a papier-mache head wound) and I thought it hardly seemed worth it. A little digging and I, too, found how the guy is reported to have had a bunch of aliases. Now, it's one thing to have a guy like that on in the spirit of showmanship the first time (though even then it's questionable); but to have him on almost twenty years later after he's been shown a fake?

I haven't listened to Hoagland either. I don't have any special hatred for Hoagland. It's just that it doesn't seem worth the time.

Say what you will about the podcast scene, but I think in at least certain cases, different people have taken the self-policing idea to heart. Certain podcast hosts generally avoid guests who are absolutely full of B.S. Art Bell, for being master of his sphere, doesn't feel the need to self-police. The only people it seems he doesn't have on are people who have attacked him (Oates) or have made him look bad (Courtney Brown). And 9/11 truthers apparently.

There's a guy who has posted a torrent of a lot of early Art Bell shows, especially from the '96-'98 era. I downloaded some and listened for the first time to the Hale-Bopp show. What a mess. Great radio, but, man...

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:56 pm 
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Some of us wondered about Don Ecker's response to his show name being ripped off, well he posted on his Facebook page:

Quote:
Don Ecker's Dark Matters Radio There is only ONE original Dark Matters Radio ... since 2004! Accept NO IMITATIONS !!!
July 30 at 3:28pm · Like · 1

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:23 pm 
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Anybody else keeping up with the show? I get the impression it's fizzling out.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:44 pm 
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Hoagland-esque

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I really liked the Mike Heiser interview. But it seemed like Art was outclassed by his guest. It didn't leave me wanting to hear any more shows unless there is a guest I'm interested in.

I was hoping the Heiser show, since I'm a fan of both Heiser and Bell, would be a good one to start with. Mike was mind-bending and baffled guests and host alike. But it didn't leave me inspired with Art.


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