The perfect pitch deck.
July 9, 2020
Brian Charlesworth
Sketchbook
The perfect pitch deck.
Brian Charlesworth
July 9, 2020
Ornament of perception, Rostyslav Savchyn

ONE

morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked. "What's happened to me?" he thought.

It wasn't a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table - Samsa was a travelling salesman - and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer. Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel quite sad. "How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense", he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state couldn't get into that position.

However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before. "Oh, God", he thought, "what a strenuous career it is that I've chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing business like this takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on top of that there's the curse of travelling, worries about making train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them. It can all go to Hell!" He felt a slight itch up on his belly; pushed himself slowly up on his back towards the headboard so that he could lift his head better; found where the itch was, and saw that it was covered with lots of little white spots which he didn't know what to make of; and when he tried to feel the place with one of his legs he drew it quickly back because as soon as he touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder. He slid back into his former position. "Getting up early all the time", he thought, "it makes you stupid. You've got to get enough sleep. Other travelling salesmen live a life of luxury. For instance, whenever I go back to the guest house during the morning to copy out the contract, these gentlemen are always still sitting there eating their breakfasts. I ought to just try that with my boss; I'd get kicked out on the spot. But who knows, maybe that would be the best thing for me. If I didn't have my parents to think about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He'd fall right off his desk! And it's a funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there, especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is hard of hearing. Well, there's still some hope; once I've got the money together to pay off my parents' debt

On May 9, 2001, Steven M. Greer took the lectern at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., in pursuit of the truth about unidentified flying objects. Greer, an emergency-room physician in Virginia and an outspoken ufologist, believed that the government had long withheld from the American people its familiarity with alien visitations. He had founded the Disclosure Project in 1993 in an attempt to penetrate the sanctums of conspiracy. Greer’s reckoning that day featured some twenty speakers. He provided, in support of his claims, a four-hundred-and-ninety-two-page dossier called the “Disclosure Project Briefing Document.” For public officials too busy to absorb such a vast tract of suppressed knowledge, Greer had prepared a ninety-five-page “Executive Summary of the Disclosure Project Briefing Document.” After some throat-clearing, the “Executive Summary” began with “A Brief Summary,” which included a series of bullet points outlining what amounted to the greatest secret in human history.

Over several decades, according to Greer, untold numbers of alien craft had been observed in our planet’s airspace; they were able to reach extreme velocities with no visible means of lift or propulsion, and to perform stunning maneuvers at g-forces that would turn a human pilot to soup. Some of these extraterrestrial spaceships had been “downed, retrieved and studied since at least the 1940s and possibly as early as the 1930s.” Efforts to reverse engineer such extraordinary machines had led to “significant technological breakthroughs in energy generation.” These operations had mostly been classified as “cosmic top secret,” a tier of clearance “thirty-eight levels” above that typically granted to the Commander-in-Chief. Why, Greer asked, had such transformative technologies been hidden for so long? This was obvious. The “social, economic and geo-political order of the world” was at stake.

The idea that aliens had frequented our planet had been circulating among ufologists since the postwar years, when a Polish émigré, George Adamski, claimed to have rendezvoused with a race of kindly, Nordic-looking Venusians who were disturbed by the domestic and interplanetary effects of nuclear-bomb tests. In the summer of 1947, an alien spaceship was said to have crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. Conspiracy theorists believed that vaguely anthropomorphic bodies had been recovered there, and that the crash debris had been entrusted to private military contractors, who raced to unlock alien hardware before the Russians could. (Documents unearthed after the fall of the Soviet Union suggested that the anxiety about an arms race supercharged by alien technology was mutual.) All of this, ufologists claimed, had been covered up by Majestic 12, a clandestine, para-governmental organization convened under executive order by President Truman. President Kennedy was assassinated because he planned to level with Premier Khrushchev; Kennedy had confided in Marilyn Monroe, thereby sealing her fate. Representative Steven Schiff, of New Mexico, spent years trying to get to the bottom of the Roswell incident, only to die of “cancer.”

Greer’s “Executive Summary” was woolly, but discerning readers could find within it answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about U.F.O.s—assuming, as Greer did, that U.F.O.s are helmed by extraterrestrials. Why are they so elusive? Because the aliens are monitoring us. Why? Because they are discomfited by our aspiration to “weaponize space.” Have we shot at them? Yes. Should we shoot at them? No. Really? Yes. Why not? They’re friendly. How do we know? “Obviously, any civilization capable of routine interstellar travel could terminate our civilization in a nanosecond, if that was their intent. That we are still breathing the free air of Earth is abundant testimony to the non-hostile nature of these ET civilizations.” (One obvious question seems not to have occurred to Greer: Why, if these spacecraft are so advanced, do they allegedly crash all the time?)

At the press conference, Greer appeared in thin-framed glasses, a baggy, funereal suit, and a red tie askew in a starched collar. “I know many in the media would like to talk about ‘little green men,’ ” he said. “But, in reality, the subject is laughed at because it is so serious. I have had grown men weep, who are in the Pentagon, who are members of Congress, and who have said to me, ‘What are we going to do?’ Here is what we will do. We will see that this matter is properly disclosed.”

Among the other speakers was Clifford Stone, a retired Army sergeant, who purported to have visited crash sites and seen aliens, both dead and alive. Stone said that he had catalogued fifty-seven species, many of them humanoid. “You have individuals that look very much like you and myself, that could walk among us and you wouldn’t even notice the difference,” he said.

Leslie Kean, an independent investigative journalist and a novice U.F.O. researcher who had worked with Greer, watched the proceedings with unease. She had recently published an article in the Boston Globe about a new omnibus of compelling evidence concerning U.F.O.s, and she couldn’t understand why a speaker would make an unsupported assertion about alien cadavers when he could be talking about hard data. To Kean, the corpus of genuinely baffling reports deserved scientific scrutiny, regardless of how you felt about aliens. “There were some good people at that conference, but some of them were making outrageous, grandiose claims,” Kean told me. “I knew then that I had to walk away.” Greer had hoped that members of the media would cover the event, and they did, with frolicsome derision. He also hoped that Congress would hold hearings. By all accounts, it did not.

Man leads consumer out of sundries store.

“Hold on, boys! Consumer trying to boost the local economy coming through!”

Cartoon by Frank Cotham

Ufologists have perpetual faith in the imminence of Disclosure, a term of art for the government’s rapturous confession of its profound U.F.O. knowledge. In the years after the press conference, the expected announcement was apparently postponed by the events of September 11th, the War on Terror, and the financial crisis. In 2009, Greer issued a “Special Presidential Briefing for President Barack Obama,” in which he claimed that the inaction of Obama’s predecessors had “led to an unacknowledged crisis that will be the greatest of your Presidency.” Obama’s response remains unknown, but in 2011 ufologists filed two petitions with the White House, to which the Office of Science and Technology Policy responded that it could find no evidence to suggest that any “extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race.”

The government may not have been in regular touch with exotic civilizations, but it had been keeping something from its citizens. By 2017, Kean was the author of a best-selling U.F.O. book and was known for what she has termed, borrowing from the political scientist Alexander Wendt, a “militantly agnostic” approach to the phenomenon. On December 16th of that year, in a front-page story in the Times, Kean, together with two Times journalists, revealed that the Pentagon had been running a surreptitious U.F.O. program for ten years. The article included two videos, recorded by the Navy, of what were being described in official channels as “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or U.A.P. In blogs and on podcasts, ufologists began referring to “December, 2017” as shorthand for the moment the taboo began to lift. Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host, has often mentioned the article, praising Kean’s work as having precipitated a cultural shift. “It’s a dangerous subject for someone, because you’re open to ridicule,” he said, in an episode this spring. But now “you could say, ‘Listen, this is not something to be mocked anymore—there’s something to this.’ ”

On May 9, 2001, Steven M. Greer took the lectern at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., in pursuit of the truth about unidentified flying objects. Greer, an emergency-room physician in Virginia and an outspoken ufologist, believed that the government had long withheld from the American people its familiarity with alien visitations. He had founded the Disclosure Project in 1993 in an attempt to penetrate the sanctums of conspiracy. Greer’s reckoning that day featured some twenty speakers. He provided, in support of his claims, a four-hundred-and-ninety-two-page dossier called the “Disclosure Project Briefing Document.” For public officials too busy to absorb such a vast tract of suppressed knowledge, Greer had prepared a ninety-five-page “Executive Summary of the Disclosure Project Briefing Document.” After some throat-clearing, the “Executive Summary” began with “A Brief Summary,” which included a series of bullet points outlining what amounted to the greatest secret in human history.

Over several decades, according to Greer, untold numbers of alien craft had been observed in our planet’s airspace; they were able to reach extreme velocities with no visible means of lift or propulsion, and to perform stunning maneuvers at g-forces that would turn a human pilot to soup. Some of these extraterrestrial spaceships had been “downed, retrieved and studied since at least the 1940s and possibly as early as the 1930s.” Efforts to reverse engineer such extraordinary machines had led to “significant technological breakthroughs in energy generation.” These operations had mostly been classified as “cosmic top secret,” a tier of clearance “thirty-eight levels” above that typically granted to the Commander-in-Chief. Why, Greer asked, had such transformative technologies been hidden for so long? This was obvious. The “social, economic and geo-political order of the world” was at stake.

The idea that aliens had frequented our planet had been circulating among ufologists since the postwar years, when a Polish émigré, George Adamski, claimed to have rendezvoused with a race of kindly, Nordic-looking Venusians who were disturbed by the domestic and interplanetary effects of nuclear-bomb tests. In the summer of 1947, an alien spaceship was said to have crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. Conspiracy theorists believed that vaguely anthropomorphic bodies had been recovered there, and that the crash debris had been entrusted to private military contractors, who raced to unlock alien hardware before the Russians could. (Documents unearthed after the fall of the Soviet Union suggested that the anxiety about an arms race supercharged by alien technology was mutual.) All of this, ufologists claimed, had been covered up by Majestic 12, a clandestine, para-governmental organization convened under executive order by President Truman. President Kennedy was assassinated because he planned to level with Premier Khrushchev; Kennedy had confided in Marilyn Monroe, thereby sealing her fate. Representative Steven Schiff, of New Mexico, spent years trying to get to the bottom of the Roswell incident, only to die of “cancer.”

Greer’s “Executive Summary” was woolly, but discerning readers could find within it answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about U.F.O.s—assuming, as Greer did, that U.F.O.s are helmed by extraterrestrials. Why are they so elusive? Because the aliens are monitoring us. Why? Because they are discomfited by our aspiration to “weaponize space.” Have we shot at them? Yes. Should we shoot at them? No. Really? Yes. Why not? They’re friendly. How do we know? “Obviously, any civilization capable of routine interstellar travel could terminate our civilization in a nanosecond, if that was their intent. That we are still breathing the free air of Earth is abundant testimony to the non-hostile nature of these ET civilizations.” (One obvious question seems not to have occurred to Greer: Why, if these spacecraft are so advanced, do they allegedly crash all the time?)

At the press conference, Greer appeared in thin-framed glasses, a baggy, funereal suit, and a red tie askew in a starched collar. “I know many in the media would like to talk about ‘little green men,’ ” he said. “But, in reality, the subject is laughed at because it is so serious. I have had grown men weep, who are in the Pentagon, who are members of Congress, and who have said to me, ‘What are we going to do?’ Here is what we will do. We will see that this matter is properly disclosed.”

Among the other speakers was Clifford Stone, a retired Army sergeant, who purported to have visited crash sites and seen aliens, both dead and alive. Stone said that he had catalogued fifty-seven species, many of them humanoid. “You have individuals that look very much like you and myself, that could walk among us and you wouldn’t even notice the difference,” he said.

Leslie Kean, an independent investigative journalist and a novice U.F.O. researcher who had worked with Greer, watched the proceedings with unease. She had recently published an article in the Boston Globe about a new omnibus of compelling evidence concerning U.F.O.s, and she couldn’t understand why a speaker would make an unsupported assertion about alien cadavers when he could be talking about hard data. To Kean, the corpus of genuinely baffling reports deserved scientific scrutiny, regardless of how you felt about aliens. “There were some good people at that conference, but some of them were making outrageous, grandiose claims,” Kean told me. “I knew then that I had to walk away.” Greer had hoped that members of the media would cover the event, and they did, with frolicsome derision. He also hoped that Congress would hold hearings. By all accounts, it did not.

Man leads consumer out of sundries store.

“Hold on, boys! Consumer trying to boost the local economy coming through!”

Cartoon by Frank Cotham

Ufologists have perpetual faith in the imminence of Disclosure, a term of art for the government’s rapturous confession of its profound U.F.O. knowledge. In the years after the press conference, the expected announcement was apparently postponed by the events of September 11th, the War on Terror, and the financial crisis. In 2009, Greer issued a “Special Presidential Briefing for President Barack Obama,” in which he claimed that the inaction of Obama’s predecessors had “led to an unacknowledged crisis that will be the greatest of your Presidency.” Obama’s response remains unknown, but in 2011 ufologists filed two petitions with the White House, to which the Office of Science and Technology Policy responded that it could find no evidence to suggest that any “extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race.”

The government may not have been in regular touch with exotic civilizations, but it had been keeping something from its citizens. By 2017, Kean was the author of a best-selling U.F.O. book and was known for what she has termed, borrowing from the political scientist Alexander Wendt, a “militantly agnostic” approach to the phenomenon. On December 16th of that year, in a front-page story in the Times, Kean, together with two Times journalists, revealed that the Pentagon had been running a surreptitious U.F.O. program for ten years. The article included two videos, recorded by the Navy, of what were being described in official channels as “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or U.A.P. In blogs and on podcasts, ufologists began referring to “December, 2017” as shorthand for the moment the taboo began to lift. Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host, has often mentioned the article, praising Kean’s work as having precipitated a cultural shift. “It’s a dangerous subject for someone, because you’re open to ridicule,” he said, in an episode this spring. But now “you could say, ‘Listen, this is not something to be mocked anymore—there’s something to this.’ ”

On May 9, 2001, Steven M. Greer took the lectern at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., in pursuit of the truth about unidentified flying objects. Greer, an emergency-room physician in Virginia and an outspoken ufologist, believed that the government had long withheld from the American people its familiarity with alien visitations. He had founded the Disclosure Project in 1993 in an attempt to penetrate the sanctums of conspiracy. Greer’s reckoning that day featured some twenty speakers. He provided, in support of his claims, a four-hundred-and-ninety-two-page dossier called the “Disclosure Project Briefing Document.” For public officials too busy to absorb such a vast tract of suppressed knowledge, Greer had prepared a ninety-five-page “Executive Summary of the Disclosure Project Briefing Document.” After some throat-clearing, the “Executive Summary” began with “A Brief Summary,” which included a series of bullet points outlining what amounted to the greatest secret in human history.

Over several decades, according to Greer, untold numbers of alien craft had been observed in our planet’s airspace; they were able to reach extreme velocities with no visible means of lift or propulsion, and to perform stunning maneuvers at g-forces that would turn a human pilot to soup. Some of these extraterrestrial spaceships had been “downed, retrieved and studied since at least the 1940s and possibly as early as the 1930s.” Efforts to reverse engineer such extraordinary machines had led to “significant technological breakthroughs in energy generation.” These operations had mostly been classified as “cosmic top secret,” a tier of clearance “thirty-eight levels” above that typically granted to the Commander-in-Chief. Why, Greer asked, had such transformative technologies been hidden for so long? This was obvious. The “social, economic and geo-political order of the world” was at stake.

The idea that aliens had frequented our planet had been circulating among ufologists since the postwar years, when a Polish émigré, George Adamski, claimed to have rendezvoused with a race of kindly, Nordic-looking Venusians who were disturbed by the domestic and interplanetary effects of nuclear-bomb tests. In the summer of 1947, an alien spaceship was said to have crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. Conspiracy theorists believed that vaguely anthropomorphic bodies had been recovered there, and that the crash debris had been entrusted to private military contractors, who raced to unlock alien hardware before the Russians could. (Documents unearthed after the fall of the Soviet Union suggested that the anxiety about an arms race supercharged by alien technology was mutual.) All of this, ufologists claimed, had been covered up by Majestic 12, a clandestine, para-governmental organization convened under executive order by President Truman. President Kennedy was assassinated because he planned to level with Premier Khrushchev; Kennedy had confided in Marilyn Monroe, thereby sealing her fate. Representative Steven Schiff, of New Mexico, spent years trying to get to the bottom of the Roswell incident, only to die of “cancer.”

Greer’s “Executive Summary” was woolly, but discerning readers could find within it answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about U.F.O.s—assuming, as Greer did, that U.F.O.s are helmed by extraterrestrials. Why are they so elusive? Because the aliens are monitoring us. Why? Because they are discomfited by our aspiration to “weaponize space.” Have we shot at them? Yes. Should we shoot at them? No. Really? Yes. Why not? They’re friendly. How do we know? “Obviously, any civilization capable of routine interstellar travel could terminate our civilization in a nanosecond, if that was their intent. That we are still breathing the free air of Earth is abundant testimony to the non-hostile nature of these ET civilizations.” (One obvious question seems not to have occurred to Greer: Why, if these spacecraft are so advanced, do they allegedly crash all the time?)

At the press conference, Greer appeared in thin-framed glasses, a baggy, funereal suit, and a red tie askew in a starched collar. “I know many in the media would like to talk about ‘little green men,’ ” he said. “But, in reality, the subject is laughed at because it is so serious. I have had grown men weep, who are in the Pentagon, who are members of Congress, and who have said to me, ‘What are we going to do?’ Here is what we will do. We will see that this matter is properly disclosed.”

Among the other speakers was Clifford Stone, a retired Army sergeant, who purported to have visited crash sites and seen aliens, both dead and alive. Stone said that he had catalogued fifty-seven species, many of them humanoid. “You have individuals that look very much like you and myself, that could walk among us and you wouldn’t even notice the difference,” he said.

Leslie Kean, an independent investigative journalist and a novice U.F.O. researcher who had worked with Greer, watched the proceedings with unease. She had recently published an article in the Boston Globe about a new omnibus of compelling evidence concerning U.F.O.s, and she couldn’t understand why a speaker would make an unsupported assertion about alien cadavers when he could be talking about hard data. To Kean, the corpus of genuinely baffling reports deserved scientific scrutiny, regardless of how you felt about aliens. “There were some good people at that conference, but some of them were making outrageous, grandiose claims,” Kean told me. “I knew then that I had to walk away.” Greer had hoped that members of the media would cover the event, and they did, with frolicsome derision. He also hoped that Congress would hold hearings. By all accounts, it did not.

Man leads consumer out of sundries store.

“Hold on, boys! Consumer trying to boost the local economy coming through!”

Cartoon by Frank Cotham

Ufologists have perpetual faith in the imminence of Disclosure, a term of art for the government’s rapturous confession of its profound U.F.O. knowledge. In the years after the press conference, the expected announcement was apparently postponed by the events of September 11th, the War on Terror, and the financial crisis. In 2009, Greer issued a “Special Presidential Briefing for President Barack Obama,” in which he claimed that the inaction of Obama’s predecessors had “led to an unacknowledged crisis that will be the greatest of your Presidency.” Obama’s response remains unknown, but in 2011 ufologists filed two petitions with the White House, to which the Office of Science and Technology Policy responded that it could find no evidence to suggest that any “extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race.”

The government may not have been in regular touch with exotic civilizations, but it had been keeping something from its citizens. By 2017, Kean was the author of a best-selling U.F.O. book and was known for what she has termed, borrowing from the political scientist Alexander Wendt, a “militantly agnostic” approach to the phenomenon. On December 16th of that year, in a front-page story in the Times, Kean, together with two Times journalists, revealed that the Pentagon had been running a surreptitious U.F.O. program for ten years. The article included two videos, recorded by the Navy, of what were being described in official channels as “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or U.A.P. In blogs and on podcasts, ufologists began referring to “December, 2017” as shorthand for the moment the taboo began to lift. Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host, has often mentioned the article, praising Kean’s work as having precipitated a cultural shift. “It’s a dangerous subject for someone, because you’re open to ridicule,” he said, in an episode this spring. But now “you could say, ‘Listen, this is not something to be mocked anymore—there’s something to this.’ ”

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