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So why the pseudonym(s) of the past and present? Lots of reasons!
Let's sample just a few...
There's some stuff that just seems plain too dangerous to get caught publishing, even in the USA. For example, I've had content along the lines of what John Robb today publishes in his Global Guerrillas blog that I firmly believe would sooner or later get any author into deep trouble with the powers-that-be. So anyone publishing such stuff has to watch out! Today I worry about how long John will be allowed to continue his wonderful GG blog. If I was him I'd use a different name and host the account in a whole other country-- using various middle-men as a buffer. Especially with the ongoing descent of America into theocratic fascism. But John may be an ex-NAVY SEAL, and possess some nifty defense and intelligence connections, all of which he feels offers him some protection from certain of the scarier types of retaliation available out there. I hope he's correct. But in my own experience simply getting older and obtaining an ever wider circle of friends and family will increase your vulnerability in many ways. Ways that can be nearly impossible to adequately compensate for no matter what your background or resources.
There's a huge difference between putting up a 'Rambo' form of self-defense and keeping a large group of men, women, and children spread out across a thousand miles or more safe and secure. Yikes!
But the government and various corporate goons aren't the only folks you gotta watch out for. There's bonafide lunatics too. Like what the unabomber was when I first began publishing timeline-related articles. He was still at large then and mailing bombs at random to folks involved in various technological or scientific pursuits-- fields which easily included several of my own efforts. Plus, even if you ignore guys like the unabomber himself, there's plenty of other factions which might wish to 'punish' authors of certain things. The occasional delivery of unexpected packages bearing no return address or other identifying marks to my various physical addresses didn't help soothe my concerns either. Luckily none of them exploded. But several of them were suspicious enough that I treated them as potential bombs.
But hey-- the web is now bursting at the seams with wild and diverse subject matter, thereby hopefully making it safer for folks like me, and lessening the need for pseudonyms. So I've reduced the use of pseudonyms in past years (Reduced, not eliminated).
Plus, some things I've felt more comfortable writing about lately due to the realization I can mix fiction with fact to finally disclose some of the more interesting facets of my life to others without necessarily getting into trouble for it. And the comfort level rises still more with regards to real-life events which occured as long ago as decades-- such as in the case of The Shadowfast supercar driver logs. In this manner I should be able to provide lots of entertainment for others based on real life events and maybe profit commercially off it as well. With few if any risk caveats (hopefully, anyway).
There was also another reason for the pseudonyms. Namely, privacy. As friends and family can tell you, I'm not much of one for the spotlight. I enjoy my research and writing, and the feedback it brings me from my readers, but I do not relish the possibility of my work making me a celebrity, with all the new headaches and overhead that implies (the worst consequence might be the loss of free time to continue my work on various projects).
All this concerned me sufficiently to be one of the reasons for my many aliases early on. However, as quite a few years have passed now with pretty moderate effects in that area, I'm much less concerned than before on that particular point. Plus, I've found it can be quite a mess dealing with people's efforts to contact my various identities.
Nowadays (like many other strapped Americans) I find myself grappling with the need to raise my profile in order to make a living less dependent upon various corporate and government entities-- and thereby free myself of various onerous obligations to parties of questionable intent. Partly this has to do with my increasing reluctance to help governments (including my own) determine ever better ways to kill, coerce, or deceive people, both domestically and globally. Today I much prefer endeavors in the other direction, along the lines of Civilization's best defenses against war, terrorism, technological stagnation, and economic ruin, The rise and fall of star faring civilizations in our own galaxy, and How to live well on very, very little, as well as other projects I will not divulge here.
If I can garner sufficient resources to fully fund things, you will surely hear of the results through other channels. For most of the items are designed to benefit pretty much everyone.
I also have a growing number of loved ones to care for, as well as the inevitable mounting problems of my own approaching old age. So I'm trying to find a reasonable balance between raising my profile--without too much increase in risk for me and mine-- and still maintaining adequate privacy and free time to pursue on-going projects.
This means that I may well continue to use aliases and related web sites for certain content deemed high-risk in nature-- but I increasingly will not respond to messages sent to those aliases. Yes, I'll continue to read as much of the incoming communications as possible, but replying to such pseudonym-related missives is becoming too risky for me. Sorry! I hope that forums installed in some of those sites will help make up for such lack of personal replies.
As to what content I have out there which I consider too risky to present even on my official sites already sporting such controversial and potentially explosive items as The astonishing decline of America, The enormous hidden costs to society of 'right-wing' political governance, and To whom it may concern, part two--- well, you'll just have to discover that for yourselves.
If the world ever becomes a much safer place than it is today I'd love to sponser a competition to see who could determine every single alias I ever used online and what original content was associated with it. I'm pretty sure though that nobody could achieve a perfect score there. Even if we limited the scope to merely content and aliases current (accessible online) today. Why? I'm extremely well read and experimental. And there's tons of different tricks available (with more added almost every day). Have you seen the enormous body of research references existing on my official sites? That's just the tip of the iceberg. And lots of the stuff not posted has to do with techniques helpful to anonymity or misdirection online.
Heck, now there's even available a rudimentary system for identifying a writer solely from their style or syntax! Yikes! Fortunately there is a countermeasure or two for that...and since it'll be quite a while before the really dangerous folks out there are using that particular ID system in a wholesale manner, most of us can implement such counter-measures at our leisure over the next few years. But I've already done so. Yeah, sure, there's some old stuff out there I can't access for revision for various reasons, but all the pseudonyms associated with those have been cut loose already, and their damning signatures compensated for everywhere else. And there you have an example of a reasonably savvy person performing their own 21st century security maintenance.
For lots of reasons I've many times wanted to publish a page focusing on such security topics exclusively, in order to help others with similar concerns. But so far I've seen no way to do so without possibly compromising my own measures. Darn it.
-- J.R. Mooneyham, 2-2-2005