The historian Michael Barkun, author of the excellent Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, has a new book out, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. The publishers have put one chapter, on UFO Conspiracy Theories, 1975--1990, on-line, and it's very good. (Amusingly, as I write this there's some problem with the UC Press pages, since they're all either timing out or generating the message "Forbidden: Your client is not allowed access to the requested object".) This is not just for those who want to know where the whole X-Files mythology came from; the subject is, alas, of considerable real-world interest, and if you don't believe me, read Orcinus. I now covet Barkun's book with great feeling.
Now for the connections: Mark Kleiman posted about a scheme for deterring auto thefts, sparked by a conversation with his UCLA colleague, and my friend from SFI days, Jeff Brantingham. Jeff's an archaeologist who combines amazingly-cool field work on paleolithic cultures in Tibet with theoretically-clueful agent-based models. Kleiman's post led me to check out Jeff's new homepage, which has cool pictures from Tibet, a good explanation of his modeling work and why neutral models are important (they're error-probes), and the announcement for a forthcoming book he edited, The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe. This naturally took me to the UC Press's spring catalog, and so to Barkun.