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Thursday, November 27th, 2003
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

What's Going On? Pilgrimage to the Grassy Knoll

For years I've been increasingly fascinated by the JFK assassination, and this week I did the one thing every JFK researcher must do sooner or later: I went to the Grassy Knoll, to check out Dealy Plaza and the scene of the crime for myself. To maximize the interestingness, I decided to go on the 40th anniversary of the event, and it was indeed quite fascinating.

I went to the Grassy Knoll expecting it to solidify my belief in the conspiracy... but it didn't. In fact, while I return with an armful of persuasive books with titles like Who Shot JFK? and Cover Up, I also return with a feeling that Oswald might actually have been a just lone nut after all.

I went to the Grassy Knoll because I've heard from conspiracists that visiting Dealy Plaza is a transformative experience... that seeing it for yourself makes it clear that Oswald couldn't have done it alone. But after standing on the Grassy Knoll myself, and more importantly, standing on the X in the road where Kennedy was when that final shot was fired, I have to say, it doesn't seem all that hard to believe. As you can see in this picture of me in the fatal position, the window the shots came from does seem to offer a pretty clear shot. And as I stood in that tragically-cursed spot, I couldn't help but think, gee, it's really not that far away. I imagined trying to shoot at someone in that window from where I stood, and while I know nothing about rifles and marksmanship, it doesn't seem like it would be very hard for someone who was an expert.

I went to the Grassy Knoll because I knew there'd be original witnesses on hand who turn out for this event every year, whom I could find and talk to myself. I was particularly delighted to meet and talk with Beverly Oliver, who says she made a home movie of the assassination which disappeared at the hands of the FBI (a truly unique object which I've considered turning into a new Chrononauts artifact someday). But while there were indeed original witnesses at the Remembrance Ceremony who say they heard shots coming from the Grassy Knoll, there was also at least one guy on hand saying he'd seen it all quite clearly, and was certain the shots all came from the sixth floor window. And I know humans are often poor witnesses, and often make up stories. So I tend to distrust everyone in my search for that which rings the bell of truth.

I went to the Grassy Knoll because I wanted to see who else would show up that day, and the freak show did not disappoint. I was very excited to find a small game company set up in the pergola (that white structure just up from the Grassy Knoll) selling a board game they'd published called ConspiracyLand. Even though it was a huge box and it wasn't easy squeezing it into my luggage, I just had to buy a copy. (I've often joked about trying to create a JFK assassination parlor game, not really thinking such a thing was possible... but here it is!)

I went to the Grassy Knoll because I've come to think of the JFK assassination as the greatest murder mystery of all time, and as long as I was going I decided to also attend the conference of conspiracy researchers being held that weekend, a gathering I like to call GrassyKnollCon (thanks to Chris Welsh for that!) but which is actually named the "November in Dallas" conference, which is put on by a group called JFK Lancer. It's like a gathering of amateur sleuths all trying to unravel the same case, meeting together each year to compare notes.

The conference was actually pretty small... I'd say it was about the size of Lollagazebo, and seemed much smaller than the NORML conferences I've been to. There were only two vendors on hand, but they were offering an amazing assortment of JFK books for sale. (I bought 5.) Oddly enough, Jesse Ventura (who addressed the last NORML conference I attended) was in attendance, giving speeches both at the Remembrance Ceremony on the Grassy Knoll and at the JFK Lancer banquet that night. He talked about possibly running for president someday, vowing if he did that re-opening the case would be one of his priorities, and described his visit to ask Castro if he had any involvement in the JFK murder. (He said No.)

I went to GrassyKnollCon with no idea of what to expect, and frankly, I have to confess that I wasn't that impressed. I also have to admit that I was quite compelled by the Peter Jennings review of the case that was shown on TV a week ago. While they basically ignored a bunch of suspicious elements relating to the case, the detailed computer-models of Dealy Plaza did a pretty good job of proving the validity of single-bullet theory, upon which the entire case hinges.

I still have a lot of questions... there are a lot of strange things about the JFK case which haven't been explained to my satisfaction, and I plan to continue my own research into the mystery. I will continue to have an open mind about all the possibilities. However, I also pride myself on being able to change my mind when I'm wrong, and despite all the puzzles and misinformation, the case for conspiracy seems to demand too much Faith. (This was something many speakers said, including Jesse Ventura: "Keep the faith.")

Today's Conclusion: For awhile, I thought there had to be a conspiracy... but after returning from the Grassy Knoll, I am no longer convinced.

But it was a fun trip anyway... while there, I got to visit with some friends who live in the area named Leslie and Jeremy, and since Russell decided (again) to tag along, we got to spend another few days playing Homeworlds together. (I sure love that game... we played it 11 times!)

Contagious DreamsIn other news, we've re-arranged our webstores a bit. Our Contagious Dreams website was originally formed to sell cool games made by small companies, other than our own. Then some of the companies got too big to fit under that umbrella, and we found other games by larger companies that were really cool too, so we formed Good Schaufenster, as a place to sell those. Then there were other cool things we found that were not even games that we wanted to be able to sell, so we formed the Random Emporium.

Now it's all gotten to be just too much -- too many categories, and too many different little stores. We also want to minimize confusion as to which products are made by us, and which are made by other companies. So, we're keeping the concept of the Random Emporium, and collapsing everything not made by us into that (since "cool stuff we want to sell" can easily include cool games by other companies).

Random EmporiumSo here we are, The Random Emporium: Stuff made by other companies, that's so neat, we just had to carry it... games, non-games, little companies, big companies -- whatever. If it was so neat that we wanted to carry it at our site, even though we didn't make it -- then it goes in the Random Emporium.

AndyHappy Turkey Day!

the story so far

Thought Residue
If ever you're sending me email, don't make the subject "hi"... I now delete all such messages without reading them, thanks to the spammers...

"I'm always rooting for our side, but how come, when we kill them, it's war, but when they kill us, it's terrorism? I mean, we're all shooting at each other over there now, it does seem a little hair-splitting, especially since now it's soldiers who are mainly under attack. Also, I thought we said terrorism was when people target civilians, like Sherman in the South, or Hiroshima, but aiming at people in uniforms was kosher." -- Bill Maher's blog, on Iraq, Nov 14, 2003
"On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict? For children, almost everyone would answer at least a qualified yes. But for responsible adults, I, for one, would answer no. Reason with the potential addict, yes. Tell him the consequences, yes. Pray for and with him, yes. But I believe that we have no right to use force, directly or indirectly, to prevent a fellow man from committing suicide, let alone from drinking alcohol or taking drugs." -- Nobel economist Milton Friedman, in 1972


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