Blog Archives

Tea’s Weird Week: 100 Seconds

TeaWeirdWeek

DOOMSDAY CLOCK HITS 100 SECONDS TO MIDNIGHT, #TRUMPCONSPIRACYCOUNTER 2020 CLICKS TO 08

While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I developed an annual tradition, one I guess I’m carrying on (old habits). Every January, I watch the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist’s Doomsday Clock reveal via live streaming video. The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor that shows how close we are ticking toward a major global catastrophe. Factors considered include nuclear threats, climate change, and emerging technologies. It was created in 1947, when the time hovered at 7 to midnight.

My intro to Apocalypse is titled “Two Minutes to Midnight,” which reflects where the clock landed in 2018 (and remained at last year), the closest we’ve been since the invention of the H-bomb. The chart below (from The Bulletin) shows the three times the clock has been this close as well as the furthest away the clock has been (1991, 17 minutes to midnight).

clocks

So, where are we in 2020? Not good news, I’m afraid. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the first time the clock has been measured in seconds and the closest it has ever been since the clock was created.

The board gave many threats as the reason for clicking forward. There were the same problems it considers every year, like nuclear proliferation, greenhouse pollution (which has put us in a “climate emergency,” the board said), the development of biological weapons and hypersonic weapons, and cyber information warfare.

Some interesting new notes– they cited the Space Force as a new factor as we introduce more combat capabilities, as well as the danger of deepfakes in spreading chaos. The labeling of credible news sources as “fake news” while actual fake news misinformation is spread as fact, the “disdain for expert opinion,” and “trashing of respected science boards has created “an unstable equilibrium around the world.” The board said that “the world is like a pressure cooker.” Close your eyes and count to 100. Then imagine the world blowing up.

“The time to wake up is now,” the board said. “We’re not there yet, but we have to pull back from the brink.”

clock

Speaking of misinformation, time for… #TrumpConspiracyCounter

#Trumpconspiracycounter2020

Tea’s Weird Week has a goal to catalog all of President Trump’s promotion and endorsements of conspiracy theories this year.

4.) January 16: Trump retweets a Breitbart News post endorsing a new book by conspiracy theorist Peter Schweizer. Trump says he had a “perfect phone call” with Ukrainian President Zelensky and that there was “no quid pro quo” in asking him to investigate the Bidens. But where did he get this idea in the first place? The answer is Breitbart News editor and conspiracy peddler Peter Schweizer, who stitched together the unfounded Biden theory in his 2018 book Secret Empires. The book got a lot of play on FOX, a channel Trump reportedly watches several hours a day, so he picked up the theory from there and ran with it.

For more, I recommend Jane Meyer’s article for The New Yorker, “The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine.”

5.) January 16: Trump retweets The Daily Caller writer Luke Rosiak, a main architect of the”Pakistani Mystery Man” conspiracy that suggested a DMC staffer was behind Hillary’s leaked e-mails, and not Russia. Will Sommer of The Daily Beast wrote about the failed theory in an article titled “Feds Debunk Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory ‘Pakistani Mystery Man’ Leaked.”

6.) January 17: Trump floats the theory that the “impeachment hoax” was designed by Nancy Pelosi to keep Bernie Sanders stuck on the Senate floor instead of on the campaign trail in Iowa, thus giving Joe Biden the upper hand. Source: “How Trump is Spreading a Conspiracy Theory About Pelosi, Biden and Sanders,” New York Times.

7.) January 20: Retweets a poll from Breitbart News. The #TrumpConspiracyCounter tallies every retweet of Breitbart News, InfoWars, and other conspiracy sites and theorists.

8.) January 21: Climate Hoax! This ties right into today’s Doomsday Clock announcement. Trump spoke at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and said that climate scientists are “alarmists” who “want absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives.” He also called them “prophets of doom,” “foolish fortune tellers,” and said that the US has the “cleanest air in the world.” That’s a lie. Source: “Trump Just Called Climate Scientists ‘Foolish Fortune Tellers,'” Vice.

Please note that these entries were before Trump’s major tweetstorm over the last couple of days. The counter has more than doubled already, but we’ll pick up the trail next week.

71W0ds4iljL

Pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

Follow me: Facebook//Twitter//Instagram

 

 

“For some reason, though some of his observations are alarming, whenever I read Tea’s work I feel better because of his level-headed reportage and humor.” –Lee Gutowski, editor, Riverwest Currents

Tea’s Weird Week: Introducing the #TrumpConspiracyCounter

TeaWeirdWeek

On Tuesday, I stood in line and shuffled into the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena to witness a Trump rally. I like to have experiences outside of my comfort zone to try to figure out what this weird world is all about. This one was pretty intense– imagine a stadium of ten thousand people screaming, totally high on hatred. I wrote about just a few WTF moments at the rally for the Shepherd Express in an article titled “The Top Ten Wildest Lines from Last Night’s Trump Rally in Milwaukee.”

TrumpRally

This was my view at the Trump rally.

I had another reason for attending– this year I’m closely monitoring Trump’s promotion of conspiracy theories and have been working on a new feature of my writing here. I’ll end some “Tea’s Weird Week” columns with a tally called the #TrumpConspiracyCounter.

It’s a fact, of course, that Donald J. Trump is a conspiracy theorist, sometimes legitimately, sometimes opportunistically. This is one of the reasons I believe that my upcoming book American Madness is very timely.

To give you a quick rundown of Trump’s greatest conspiracy hits so far: he was the person with the biggest platform to promote Birtherism, the racist conspiracy that suggested Obama was born in Africa and forged his Hawaiian birth certificate; that there was massive voter fraud in California that led to Hillary winning the popular vote; he kicked off his presidency by saying a media conspiracy had underreported his inauguration size; climate change is a “Chinese hoax”; the sound of wind turbines “causes cancer”; Ted Cruz’s father was part of the conspiracy to kill JFK; vaccines cause autism; 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was possibly murdered; there is a liberal “War on Christmas” (and last year mentioned a sequel “War on Thanksgiving”); he’s also given many endorsements of personnel from InfoWars and other conspiracy theorists.

And that’s just off the top of my head. Why is this dangerous? Trump is in the highest position of authority, he has 72 million Twitter followers and a cult-like population that accepts his every word as fact.

Every time Trump speaks or tweets something that is a conspiracy or shares from a known conspiracy theorists this year, it’ll be added to the #TrumpConspiracyCounter. I can only take so much Trump talk, so if you notice his promotion of conspiracy, please do help me out by commenting on the blog here or e-mailing me at: teakrulos@gmail.com.

To be clear, this is only tracking claims or associations that have an element of conspiracy to them. To see a tracking of straight-up lies and deceptions, you can look at CNN’s collection of 15, 413 (and counting) gumballs.

Here’s where we are 16 days into the year.

#Trumpconspiracycounter2020
1.) On January 2, Trump tweeted: “Their partisan Witch Hunt is hurting our Country do [sic] badly, & only bringing more division than ever!” It’s a term he tweeted out 11 times in December 2019 alone. In a rambling letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on December 17, 2019, regarding the vote on impeachment, Trump says he is being treated unfairly and that “more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”

At least 25 people were hung, pressed to death, or died in jail as a result of the Salem witch trials. Trump mentioned “witch trials” in tweets January 6, 12, and 13, to the press on January 7, and at rallies Jan 9 and 14.

I think this is a good place to start with the #TrumpConspiracyCounter. Note that Trump’s daily language is steeped in terms like “fake news,” a supposed media conspiracy perpetrated against him by CNN, NBC, the “Failing New York Times,” and the Washington Post, all of whom he refers to as “the enemy of the people.”  Investigations into him are a “witch hunt” and equivalent to a “lynching.” All of this normalizes conspiracy ideas and the language surrounding it.

I was originally going to catalog ever time Trump says “witch hunt” on the counter, but his volume of using that and related terms ( “hoax,” “scam,” etc.) is too much. We’ll count this as number one and then move on.

2.) January 3: Trump retweets Alt-Right troll and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, a correspondent of One America News Network. Posobiec has been a frequent InfoWars guest and promoter of Pizzagate, among other theories. The retweet was just a commendation of Trump’s killing General Soleimani, but the act of retweeting Posobiec is enough to get on the #TrumpConspiracyCounter.

3.) January 14: Back to the Milwaukee rally. I was wondering if he might leave some conspiracy gem, and sure enough, he brought back his old claim that Obama is guilty of “wiretapping” Trump Tower or in some other way spying on him, sometimes suggesting the FBI was part of “Spygate” as the conspiracy is known (there is no evidence of the theory). Here’s something I wrote for the Shepherd Express article but cut because of length:

“Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump told the booing crowd, “which [sic] administration loves spying on people’s campaigns. By the way, by the way, could you imagine if it was the other way and I spied on his campaign? What would these fake news people be doing?” Trump said, gesturing to the media in the back of the room.

##

With my book American Madness out this year, it’ll be interesting to see how many clicks the counter racks up by the book release date (Aug.25 2020). We’re at 3 now. What do you guess the number will be?


71W0ds4iljL

Pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

Follow me: Facebook//Twitter//Instagram

 

 

“Journalist Tea Krulos has made a curious and enlightening career out of examining groups of people with odd beliefs.” — Skeptical Inquirer

Tea’s Weird Week: Winter Reading List

TeaWeirdWeek

I read 6 out of 8 books on my Fall reading list, 3 fiction, 3 non-fiction. I’m glad to say they were all good choices. I recommend:
Fiction:
Someday Jennifer by Risto Pakarinen. This was an excellent novel that is themed on nostalgia and the desire to go back in time to get our lives right. As an 80s kid, I loved all the 80s references. Someday Jennifer is a fun read– great work, Risto!
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I wanted to read this book for years and I did and it was great.
Feed by Mira Grant. This was the Apocalypse Blog Book Club fall selection. I enjoyed it– a good spin on the old zombie story, with a media theme I found interesting.

Non-fiction:
Bitten by Kris Newby. Explores the theory that the government manufactured Lyme Disease as part of a biological weapon program. Disturbing and fascinating.
Good Time Party Girl by Helen Cromwell with Robert Dougherty. An entertaining autobiography (and a vivid history) by “Dirty Helen,” who lived an adventurous life and worked as a madame and speakeasy operator.
The Enemy of the People by Jim Acosta. An account by Trump’s most detested “fake news” reporter from CNN who writes about his struggle as a White House reporter. A great insider perspective.

Winter is, of course, a great time to read here in the Midwest, where the weather is often cold and gloomy. Here’s what I got on my list so far.

(1) A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

This was the winter selection for the Apocalypse Blog Book Club. I know nothing about it (other than it is hopefully dystopian themed) but I’m looking forward to get into it and discuss it with the club.

canticle

(2) Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson by Bruce Conforth and Dean Wardlow

One of my publishers (Chicago Review Press) put this out recently. I wrote a brief bit on Robert Johnson myths in a “Tea’s Weird Week” column here a few months ago and wanted to read more on it.

jump

(3) The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest by Tobias Wayland

New book on the Lake Michigan Mothman phenomenon from the Singular Fortean Society, who have been referenced in this column several times. Congrats, Tobias, looking forward to reading it!

mothman

(4) The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

This one got bumped from my fall reading list, I just didn’t get around to it, but it’ll make great winter reading. This book is the second in a fantasy series by Wisconsinite Patrick Rothfuss.

WiseMan

(5) Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night by Ryan Hurd

I’m just starting to work on a fiction novel, a horror story, and this book is a little background research.

51Aj+k4V8VL


71W0ds4iljL

Pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

Follow me: Facebook//Twitter//Instagram

 

 

“Journalist Tea Krulos has made a curious and enlightening career out of examining groups of people with odd beliefs.” — Skeptical Inquirer

Tea’s Weird Week: Dallas, Part 2: JFK Assassination Conference

TeaWeirdWeek

Conspiracy Month continues on Tea’s Weird Week as he continues to report live from Dallas…

I’m still here in Dallas. Tomorrow is my last day. I decided to come down here because I noticed the JFK conference which involves what is sometimes called the “Assassination Community” was happening a week after the Flat Earth conference. Both conferences have been interesting experiences. The JFK conference has been a smaller, older crowd, and it hasn’t been as eye-popping as the flat earth one (but what else could be?) Much like the International UFO Congress I attended years ago (while working on my book Monster Hunters) I find some of the talks to be really interesting and others are…well, pretty out there.

This is the last material gathering expedition for my upcoming book American Madness (out August 2020). The JFK assassination might be my last experience, but the event is where it all begins.

Before I went to this week’s conference, I stopped in the Sixth Floor Museum, housed in the former Texas Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy as he passed by in a motorcade. Of course, the people I’ve heard give talks these last couple days don’t believe that story. They have a wide range of ideas who the secret hand was organized the shooting, with bullets coming from all different directions– the famous grassy knoll, a bridge above the road, from within the motorcade itself. Oswald was just a patsy, they say. The nebulous “Deep State” are the actual murderers.

kenn02

The vantage point of the grassy knoll.

This picture grabbed my attention. It was taken shortly before shots rang out.

Kenn03

From the Sixth Floor Museum.

56 years ago today, President Kennedy was murdered and the course of the world was forever changed. The president died and our America the Conspiracyland was born.

kenn01

I’ve got a lot of notes and literature from my Dallas conference experiences and another day of the conference tomorrow. Then I’m heading home. Which is good– I need some time to chill out, collect my thoughts, then after a hot minute of rest work on my manuscript and Milwaukee Krampusnacht (milwaukeeparacon.com/krampus).

Facebook: facebook.com/theTeaKrulos Twitter:@TeaKrulos Instagram: @teakrulos

And if you want to buy me a Texas-size coffee for the road, I ‘preciate that:
Buy Me A Coffee

Tea’s Weird Week: Strange Birthday Adventures

TeaWeirdWeek

Some of my birthdays have been memorable and others mundane. I had a birthday yesterday, and I spent it doing what I love doing best– sitting around in pajamas, drinking coffee, reviewing a manuscript I wrote. I have a book out next year from Feral House titled American Madness. It’s a non-fiction that tells the action-packed story of a conspiracy theorist I met and the prevalence of conspiracy culture in America. There’s still work to be done, but a lot of progress has happened on the book over the last few months.

Sitting at home reading over my work was great, but my really fun birthdays have been getting out in the field. Here’s two memorable examples:

2013: I spent my 36th birthday in Portland, Maine where I interviewed cryptozoologist and author Loren Coleman at the International Cryptozoology Museum. What a wonderful place to be! I wrote about the experience as the first chapter of my book Monster Hunters, titled “The Monster Hunter and His Museum.” Loren named the book as the top of the “Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015” list and told me that the chapter was “required reading” for new staff, volunteers, and docents.

COLOR-001

I took this picture of Loren Coleman at the International Cryptozoology Museum.

2017: It was two days after my birthday, but I spent my 40th birthday preparing to voyage out to the desert to attend Wasteland Weekend, a post-apocalyptic festival. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had. I witnessed music, Thunderdome fights, a post-apocalyptic swimsuit contest, and much more, which I wrote out for a chapter of my book Apocalypse Any Day Now titled “Wastelanders.” I’ve really wanted to go back ever since, but this year my travel budget is tied up for a trip I’m doing to Dallas in November. Hopefully, in 2020 I can return to the Waste.

Wweekend

My selfie at the 2017 Wasteland Weekend.

If you’d like to support me on my birthday and help me go on more wild and crazy adventures, the best thing you can do is buy or support my books:

Heroes in the Night

Monster Hunters

Apocalypse Any Day Now

And look for links in 2020 to my new books. Wisconsin Legends & Lore is going to be a cool little book out from History Press and American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theory Hijacked American Consciousness will be out August 2020 from Feral House.

You can also buy me a birthday coffee here: www.buymeacoffee.com/TeaKrulos

And follow me on social media: Twitter: @TeaKrulos Facebook: facebook.com/TheTeaKrulos