Canadians Hate Thanksgiving

And Four Other Bizarre Things I’ve Learned While Working at The Debrief

For all intents and purposes, The Debrief is a worldwide organization. Heck, even the three founders all reside in different countries. So, like many virtual workplaces, our daily operations function across a range of text messages, email chains, video conferences, and group chats, not to mention a dash of good old fashioned phone calling thrown in from time to time just to keep the old guy happy (which he does appreciate, btw).

Well, imagine my shock (said in 1940’s dramatic actress voice) when one of those intrepid co-founders, who are a born and bred, poutine-loving, politeness-spreading Canadian, noted offhandedly in one of those communication channels that, “Oh, yeah, I forgot Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.”

Sacre Bleu!

I mean, sure, this particular Editor-in-Chief, (whose name is apparently just a pair of initials like my high school weed dealer “CJ”) is known for his acerbic, emotionally disconnected nonchalance, which is clearly designed to keep him from killing everyone or crying profusely, or both. But to somehow conveniently “forget” Americans celebrate Thanksgiving was impressively dismissive even for this grumpy wilderness moose (and yes, I’m sure he is smiling while reading this, yet also mumbling “Whatever Chris, please start using Grammarly”). Fortunately for workplace harmony, the American contingent of The Debrief’s international assemblage seemed to mostly shrug off the boss’ convenient turkey-day amnesia, and the issue was more or less settled. Or so I first thought.

Not two days later, our Director of Public Relations, award-winning schmoozer, network-level podcast host and all-around media superhero Chrissy Newton (who as it turns out is also a government-safety-net-loving, maple syrup guzzling Canuck) jumped on another group chat to plan a meeting between herself, current YouTube Debrief team leader Cristina Gomez, and some of our new YouTube content creators. To be clear, everyone expected to be in that meeting resides down here in the lower 48.

Literally, and I mean literally, the first date and time Chrissy proposed for the group’s virtual chit-chat was Thursday, November 25 “at like 3 pm.” Seriously. And again, this isn’t MJ “I don’t care if they hate me, and curling is a real sport” Banias we’re talking about here. No, this is everyone’s bestest pal, Toronto’s top smile maker, and all-around girls-just-wanna-have-fun, I’m game for (almost) anything super trooper, Chrissy Rootin’ Tootin’ Newton!

Seriously, Chrissy?!

The new content creators tried to be all nice about it, halfheartedly offering a few “well, I’ll be with my family most of that day, but maybe I could get free for a few minutes” type comments until Chrissy suddenly “remembered” it was Thanksgiving for us red-white-and-bluer’s and apologized profusely. Sorry, ‘Mon Canadienne Amie,’ I’m not buying it. Fool me once, shame on MJ. Fool me twice? The answer is clear. Canadians hate Thanksgiving.


UFOs Are Insane

In the relatively unheralded yet surprisingly watchable 2010 film Edge of Darkness, there’s a nefarious character referred to simply as “Jedburgh.” A quasi-intelligence officer slash independent military-industrial complex ‘murder-is-always-an-option’ contractor, and someone whose job description seems to land somewhere between Richard Doty and Judge Dredd, Jedburgh has a scene near the end of the film that, in my opinion, sums up the UFO phenomenon perfectly.

It involves a dirty U.S. Senator and two heads of a major weapons manufacturer trying to figure out how to cover up their murders of a group of otherwise innocent people. Those do-gooders had themselves been killed for stumbling upon a cover-up of illegal weapons being made and sold by the aforementioned weapons manufacturer to America’s foreign adversaries with aid from the aforementioned dirty senator. And all in direct violation of about a zillion laws.

After laying out a scenario that seemed right out of a disinformation officer’s first-year handbook, Jedburgh tells the men, “Anyone that looks at the rest of this is going to see that something happened, but no one’s going to be able to figure it out. That’s your objective: to make it so convoluted that anyone can have a theory, but no one’s got the facts.”

I’d recommend watching the three-plus minute clip all the way to the end for Jedburgh’s perfect resolution to the massive clusterfuck the other men have created, if not the whole film, but that scene is one I think about all of the time when it comes to the topic of UFOs. See, I know I don’t fall into the hardcore skeptic’s corner where it is a 100% foregone conclusion that all UFOs are misidentifications, tall tales, or simply modern myths, even if many UFO reports are undeniably exactly those things, if not most of them. But I am also not a die-hard, no-doubt “ET hypothesis” believer that says the only answer is a non-human one, even if it makes a ton of sense and fits the facts very nicely (sorry if your preferred origin theory isn’t listed here, but I’m trying to make a point before my boss passes out).

I do feel confident in the amazing investigative reporting being done by people like MJ Banias, Tim McMillan, and Micah Hanks (and others I won’t name because they don’t pay my salary), along with the direct testimony volunteered by folks like Ryan Graves, Alex Dietrich, David Fravor and others (who I also won’t name because there are so many credible/incredible pilot and military witnesses that I actually forget them all), which all seemingly shows this is a real phenomenon that involves real craft performing seemingly unreal maneuvers, and often at seemingly impossible speeds through the air, space, water and who knows what other mediums.

Nonetheless, however one looks at it, the problem is still the problem. For the hundreds, if not thousands, of outwardly “credible” witnesses who report seeing seemingly “incredible” things every single year, the actual hard evidence (at least, the evidence the public has access to) is still woefully sparse and hardly dispositive (my wife the lawyer says that means it doesn’t prove anything).

So, like the hapless targets of Jedburgh’s nefarious disinformation campaign, we can all see that something happened and we can all have a theory (mine is later in this story), but the whole subject has become so convoluted that we may never know the truth. At least, not until we have all of the facts our “of the people, by the people, for the people” government may already have. Which, like UFOs, is insane.


I’m Dumb

Like many middle-class suburban kids put through America’s late twentieth-century public education system, and who had both a decent SAT score and a few honors classes under his proverbial belt, I always thought I was smart. I knew I wasn’t Good Will Hunting smart, but after enough teachers and other adults kept telling me that I was smart, I even started to believe it. I carried and nurtured this belief through much of my life, and found comfort in it during the dark times. Then one day I started working for The Debrief.

It was December 8th, 2020, and my first assignment involved contacting a research scientist at Purdue University who was working on a breakthrough 2D material called MXene. After reaching out to the aforementioned researcher, I received a cordial email reply with rather lengthy answers to what I had thought were pretty simple questions. Little did I know that this would be one of my easier story subjects and one of my simpler emails to decipher.

Since then, I have written over 150 stories for The Debrief (not-so-humble-brag) which has probably involved speaking to at least as many highly credentialed researchers across a full array of scientific disciplines. And I can say with no false humility that nearly every one of them was smarter than me. Like way smarter. Honestly. Like Bradley Cooper in Limitless versus Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump smarter.

Shoot, I once interviewed a young scientist who’d just published a scientific paper about her research into the genetics of corals, research which seemed to indicate that the plant-like sea creatures use sound to communicate. Effing sound! Corals!! And that brilliant 17-year-old did all of this while attending high school and college at the same time!

Seriously. If you are ever feeling too high and mighty about your own above average IQ score, or some intuitive understanding that you think you have, I invite you to sit in with the guys from the AIAA conference’s UAP session like I did this past August and try to understand more than 20% of their several hours-long discussion regarding the possible physics behind the Tic-Tac UAP. Even the crackpots, er, I mean, fringe theorists I regularly speak to at this gig can rattle off a dozen different principles of physics, chemistry, or biology in seconds without blinking an eye, and lots of the time I have no idea if what they are saying is accurate or not (which could also mean that they’re not crackpots at all, only I’m just too dumb to see it. More than one crackpot, er, potential scientific visionary has implied as much).

Many are like the slightly annoyed tech support guy who would happily explain to you in great detail how dumb you are while hammering the keyboard faster than Keith Jarret on two Venti double espressos. Only these folks do it with three PhDs from Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. That they got before they were 19. With one arm tied behind their backs. Blindfolded.

In short, the women and men doing scientific research at the world’s top educational institutions, as well as the many advanced degree-laden civilian and military contractors I’ve spoken with over the last year, are among the smartest people on the planet, if not simply the smartest. We’re lucky to have them taking on humanity’s biggest questions, even if they do sometimes get annoyed at having to re-explain to me what a Reeb vector is again (don’t ask. I don’t know).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still smarter than most of you knuckleheads in my Twitter DMs, but every time I find myself talking to someone like the guy who designed the Mars Ingenuity helicopter for NASA or the researcher at GE building a ‘vaccine in a box’ portable laboratory for DARPA, or the woman preparing to use the James Webb Telescope to search for signs of life in the Trappist-1 exoplanetary system, or the woman at NASA who is that woman’s boss, I am reminded why they are the ones actually doing the science and I am the goofy guy writing about it.

Of course, if one of you super-geniuses ever gets asked to roast one of your brainy colleagues at some fancy dinner, give me a call. I’ll write you a spitfire monologue that is at least as good as the one I wrote for Joanna Cassidy to perform at the Gloria Allred Friars Club Roast (Old person double-name drop. Boom.). ‘Cause smart as you science superstars may be, you folks are not funny. Really. Even you, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. You’ve got that undeniably confident smirk like you’re about to say something really side-splitting, but it never seems to get there. Now please don’t blow up the Earth (that last part was serious).


In My Next Life, I Want to Come Back as Ryan Sprague

Okay, don’t get me wrong, this one was a tough call between Sprague and Cristina Gomez, as that young woman is living her best life at like 21 or 22 or something (Like her show, much about this new friend, Debrief co-worker and rapidly rising media phenom is a mystery with a history. But that is all Cristina’s story to tell).

Point is, Ryan is talented, hilarious, actually seems genuine (which is insane considering how nice he is) and is the only person in the UFO YouTube/Podcast/Author/Reporter/TV hunk universe that gets my wife to stop what she’s doing and come see who I am watching. “Oh, is that Ryan?” she might giggle casually before settling down in front of my nachos and turning up the TV. “His new haircut looks good.”

Sure, McMillan is retired and living the guten life at some German resort or something. And he probably saw the triangle photo (or maybe not). And the dude is like a walking fucking encyclopedia on, well, everything. But I also hear homeboy be raising like 17 kids or something, and no longer has a job where he gets to shoot people. And don’t even get me started on Banias and his snow-covered home office/daycare-center-in-the-woods, or his middle-of-the-night phone calls to me to confirm that “Americans definitely don’t have Lays potato chips.” We do, boss. We didn’t get this fat by accident.

Okay, I’ll admit Micah Hanks is like the swingingest, handsomest, most talented smart guy-meets-rock-star-meets-southern gentleman east of the ol’ Mississip, but for my money, Sprague still slips past Hanksulah by a hair for one key reason. Young man has somehow traveled around the world like seven or eight times in the year I’ve known him, written books, hosted and guested on a gazillion podcasts, maintained an adult relationship and done a million more amazing things. And all with no money! I need that life. (Actually, I think I just described Micah’s life too. Hmm.)

So in conclusion: Next life, Sprague. After that, Gomez, then Hanks. Or Hanks, then Gomez. Banias definitely last. Heck, maybe The Debrief’s freelance flamethrower Jazz Shaw is really happier than all of us sitting up there in his upstate New York mansion with our dolphin overlords laughing and chirping at the little people. Would not surprise me in the least.


It’s Probably Aliens

Okay, look. If you’re deep enough into the UFO metaverse that you got any of the above references, then you already know one thing. No definitive evidence has been shown that proves it’s aliens, and no irrefutable evidence has been presented that easily explains the incredible things credible people have reportedly been witnessing around the world for decades, if not centuries. Okay, that’s two things you know.

Either way, and like so much in life, this also means you are forced to look at whatever is available, be it good, bad or ugly, and either make a best guess or continue to live in oblivion. And even then, as Neal Peart from the 70s progressive rock band Rush once wrote, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

By all accounts, the public’s new, currently acceptable, collective Occam’s razor position seems to have moved from “there is nothing to UFOs” to “there is something there or we’d have to call all of these military witnesses liars…but it still can’t be aliens.” That shift itself is not insignificant in the history of this controversial topic. It has also been accompanied by a growing body of mainstream science pointing to a high probability of habitable planets within our celestial neighborhood, as well as a number of breakthrough (if not still mostly theoretical) propulsion technologies that are quickly closing the credibility gap that exists regarding the idea of actually traversing these previously unthinkable interstellar distances.

Even the two collar-wearing clergyman who hosted the recent Washington National Cathedral symposium “Our Future in Space” openly conceded that there are likely habitable-range rocky exoplanets by the thousands, and that at least some of these “goldilocks zone” Earth-like worlds probably have microscopic life on them right now. The universe is just too dang big and whatnot, they both said with a shrug, as if they’d just thought of it. Woo friggin’ hoo, gentlemen. Welcome to 1997.

This point also seemed readily conceded by the two most educated people in the room, new Pentagon Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines and Harvard Professor Avi Loeb, as both repeatedly discussed the search for such “likely” microscopic life as simply a de-rigueur part of our government’s ongoing science objectives. The same point was also emphasized by new NASA head and former astronaut turned former senator Bill Nelson, who at this same event used the discussion on the search for signs of microbial life to bring up the whole UAP discussion, the pilot testimonies in particular. This shift was not discouraged but instead joined by Haines, who even used the somewhat oblique but decidedly not neutral term “extraterrestrially” to offer at least one potential sliver of a viable explanation for the vehicles of vastly superior capability that we hear about repeatedly outclassing our most advanced military aircraft from the folks flying our most advanced military aircraft.

The reason I point this out before offering you my personal opinion (an opinion surely given away in the name of this final section) and bring this magnum opus to a merciful close, is as follows:

In Nelson’s former role on the Senate Intelligence Committee and Haines’ current job, both have almost surely seen the most classified evidence available. Nelson has virtually declared as much a number of times since June, and Haines’ job would practically require it. This better evidence almost surely includes the “more videos, longer videos” and “more pictures, better pictures” referred to by Lue Elizondo in a number of different interviews.

This same general assertion about a glut of classified evidence that is not easy to explain as solely human in origin has also been made more than once by former U.S. Senator Harry Reid, who once stated that the evidence thus far released to the public only “scratches the surface” of the classified material yet to be released. And he kinda looks like Orville Redenbacher, so I trust him.

In the end, both you, I, and UFO Twitter are left with only two realistic options. We can join the latest intellectually comfortable position that UFOs are real but can only be man-made craft of some sort, regardless of how often those in positions to know have sworn that they are not made by any government or private human organization on Earth. Or we can follow the DoD’s own UAPTF report which reiterates the oft-repeated Elizondo-Mellon position that the U.S is developing no such craft in secret, and that our most powerful adversaries simply don’t possess the technology, much less the full range of technologies, witnessed in so many UAP incidents.

Sure, I see why the newly accepted position is a comfortable one for the two clergymen who co-hosted the national cathedral event, especially after both made sure to first reluctantly concede that microscopic life is probably out there, before also making damned sure to smirk for the cameras at the idea of any “highly unlikely” intelligent life having come all the way down to God’s green Earth for a visit. No, seriously, I get why they think that way. You see, for the microscopic life the two men of the cloth fully concede is increasingly likely to be found on exoplanets to have actually lead to intelligent life that can fly here in spacecraft, (or send probes, like we do all the damned time) one would also have to buy into that whole evolution thing, too (Gulp).

Either that, or one would have to submit that all life throughout the cosmos formed sometime after life on Earth, and therefore we just got to the space exploration phase of our evolution first. Again, this is a sticky calculation for those with science backgrounds like Haines and Loeb who almost surely concur that the universe has been around for almost 14 billion years, while Earth itself has only been around for the last four billion or so. Conversely, this may not necessarily be a problem for an Old Testament literalist who thinks ‘God’ made everything a few millennia ago.

Still, regardless of faith, if you remove human origins from the equation, the lone remaining good option is seemingly all that is left.

That option says that folks like Mellon, Elizondo, Nelson, and Haines, who have definitely not chosen to simply echo the safe interpretation, but instead have repeatedly talked about “life outside Earth” and “our ongoing search for life” when discussing the UAP topic, are trying to tell us something more. That the craft or crafts seen and possibly recorded on some sort of film, video or photos, (or even more advanced signal intelligence gathering equipment) are not ours, not anyone else’s, behave in advanced ways we can neither replicate nor readily explain, and are undoubtedly real. They are, for lack of a better term, alien. 

(Btw, I think this is a good time to note that many mainstream scientists and military types reached this identical conclusion way back in the 1950s before it became a taboo idea to say out loud, and well before my old ass was even born. Furthermore, the first UFO reenactment-style documentary on the subject made in 1956 about the early days of Project Blue Book and titled simply UFO closes on this very same point, and is free to watch on YouTube.)

Therefore, and in conclusion, if I had to choose between “life is out there but never evolved to the point of coming here,” or “life is out there and we are just now evolving to the point of understanding that they have been coming here for a long time,” the latter seems more likely to me than the former, and also seems to jibe with the direction I see our own mainstream science community currently heading.

Or as one of the tech guys at The Debrief who knows way more about this subject than I ever will likes to say, “It’s aliens.”

Either that, I sometimes reply, or it is all part of a decades-old secret military project involving the manipulation of mass and gravity, combined with the world’s greatest disinformation campaign and just a dash of mass psychosis for good measure. Which would also mean that in reality, those like Elizondo and Mellon who have been telling us for years that it’s not a secret human project are all just lying to cover their own breakaway-civilization-living, black-triangle-flying asses. Luckily those guys aren’t a bunch of former intelligence community types or I’d be worried.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


Writer’s Addendum:

In light of the exceedingly American holiday being celebrated this week, I would like to personally take this opportunity to give thanks to one of my fellow Debrief writers and fellow author, Mr. Graeme Rendall. 

Graeme is admittedly a Brit (nobody’s perfect), so thanksgiving in and of itself probably doesn’t mean too much to him. However, he is also likely one of the few people I know with both a sophisticated enough sense of humor and adult size attention span to have made it all the way to the end of this self-indulgent, Chris Plain holiday comedy opus (not to mention a “recently retired” status that offers a respectable gentleman like Mr. Rendall the three plus hours needed to complete such an arduous task).

So, for that herculean effort, as well as his killer writing, (have you read his book yet?) I say thanks Graeme, and cheers to you mate. Hope you liked the Canadian jokes, even if they were a little “North American inside” in nature. And happy package day, or boxes day, or whatever you Revolutionary War losers celebrate. Have some tea on me. It’s at the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Follow and connect with author Christopher Plain on Twitter: @plain_fiction