A tour of recent topics
Since their publication, these stories have been augmented by additional information and further developments that beg to be passed along.
There is a there out there
The 2013 UFO Festival flew into town last weekend and, despite a wee bit of unwelcome water from the skies, the event that has become a McMinnville signature went better than ever.
Outside was all fantasy and fun with far-out characters piloting, riding on and striding beside even-farther-out modes of transportation, but inside, it was a different story.
The audiences that packed the McMinnville Community Center, paying for the pleasure, heard and saw some eye-opening presentations by some very serious people.
Presenters Nick Pope, Nancy Moulton Howe, George Knapp and Jim Sparks, not to mention emcee and moderator Peter Davenport, are all dedicated alien missionaries. They imparted a message that is no laughing matter to them.
They don’t flaunt their expertise on the subject of UFOs — or the beings on board — by berating those who pooh-pooh what they have to say. They simply continue to put their message out there wherever and whenever they can.
They are obviously true believers. They are convinced other intelligent life exists in the universe, most likely in our own galaxy, and cite others who have done their own legwork and come to the same conclusion.
The biggest frustration the group of UFO Festival speakers expresses is with the federal government. They think the feds are harboring information that could cast a lot more light on the subject.
The plain fact is, these researchers are absolutely certain there are ETs out there. They are equally certain our government, as well as other governments, have evidence to that effect.
Why are our leaders keeping what they know from us? What are they worried about?
The speakers have their own theories. These ETs have the ability to destroy us, but haven’t, raising perhaps the biggest “why” of all.
Online outlaw outrage
Clever con men and women are lurking around every corner these days. And, perhaps as much as any place, on your computer.
Whenever you open your e-mail, it’s not just to find a memo from an associate or someone asking to be your Facebook friend, LinkedIn liaison or Tweety pie.
These days, everyone receives outlandish e-mails from eastern Ethiopia, inner Mongolia or outer Uzbekistan, promising them newfound riches if they would just help a generous but desperate bureaucrat get some cash out of his corrupt country real quick.
There are plenty of stateside stings, as well. Get your grandson out of jail in Belize — one who, as far as you know, has never left home. Become a secret shopper — for a small fee you need to wire to your benefactor.
I couldn’t resist following up on that last one, when I was asked to compare products and services right here in my own home territory for $100 per report.
I reported on my experience in a March 15 take titled, “Ferreting out online fraud.” But a story this sleazy is worth repeating — or should I make that forewarning?
Wow. What a deal.
They give you money. You go spend it on some stuff, then send them a report on your experience. In exchange, you make money and get to keep the stuff.
If you actually go along, or in my case, pretend to go along, they send you a very genuine-looking check from a reputable financial institution for a couple grand. It’s made out to you, with your name spelled correctly.
You are supposed to deposit the check in your account, then withdraw the money, take most of it to Western Union and MoneyGram and wire it to a set of names and addresses as directed.
You get to keep the rest. You tell no one what you are doing and then report back on your shopping experience.
Here’s the catch: The check is fraudulent. It eventually bounces. But by then, you’ve withdrawn money from your account and wired if off to the perpetrators and their partners in the con.
I don’t know what they’d do if you didn’t have enough in your account to cover withdrawals.
But not to worry. For the fraction of a cent it costs them to send a solicitation e-mail to tens of thousands,if not hundreds of thousands, of addresses, enough people will inevitably fall for the scheme to make it pay. So they run it again and again, day after day.
The scumbags who perpetrate these scams just have to keep changing their e-mail addresses, phone numbers and check designs fast enough so overworked investigators can’t catch up with them.
And hey, even if investigators do catch up, it’s only a white-collar crime. If you stash the money in overseas accounts fast enough, and stay one step ahead of the law long enough, it’ s worth investing a couple of years in country club incarceration in exchange.
Voila. Easy livin’ in da Caribbean, mon.
I don’t mean to sound cynical, but even though I knew from the get-go that these people were scammers, being able to act rapidly enough to do anything about it would have required official connections and cooperation far beyond this humble journalist’s ability to summon.
John Trudel, who divides his time between Newberg and the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, has written two suspense thrillers and self-published them. I reviewed “God’s House” in October 2011 and “Privacy Wars” in October 2012.
Both novels were well-written and tightly plotted. Their premises drew you in and held your interest. In other words, page-turners.
Trudel has chosen one of the most popular literary genres. He has crafted his storytelling in the fast-paced, action-filled, visually descriptive mode that has worked so well for noted practitioners.
Still, a latecomer to a crowded field of already-proven pros, no matter how talented, won’t find the book world an easy nut to crack. He chose to go it alone because he was unable to interest an established publisher.
For him, the goal wasn’t to assuage his ego with a vanity press publication that winds up mostly in the hands of family, friends and whatever acquaintances one runs across. He was after mainstream distribution.
In that pursuit, he entered prestigious competitions, hoping high placement would garner interest from big-name publishers. And thus far, he’s fared pretty well.
In November 2012, “God’s House” was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer daVinci Eye Award. It was also named a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards in the cross-genre fiction category.
In March 2013, “Privacy Wars” earned finalist status for the Eric Hoffer Award, not to mention the Montaigne Medal for Excellence in Independent Publishing.
That same month, “God’s House” rose into the top 10 in Amazon Kindle Thriller sales and the top 400 for all Amazon Kindle books.
Having achieved this recognition, he is now determined to break into the ranks led by such longtime luminaries as Sidney Sheldon, John LeCarre, Robert Ludlum,Tom Clancy and Dean Koontz.
With the PCs of prolific authors like Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Greg Iles and Dan Brown still churning out superb stuff on a global scale, let’s wish him good luck, bonne chance, viel Glück, buena suerte, buona fortuna, etc.
And that’s what I found out while OUT and ABOUT — ducking into doorways, tracking down terrorists and generally living life on the edge through the pages of best-selling novels.
Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 503-687-1227.