Saturday, June 25, 2005

Kenny-boy 1...what hath he wraught?

It was a 58 years ago (plus a day) when pilot Kenneth Arnold saw [choose one: a flock of birds; a fleet of UFOs; swamp gas; light reflection; all of the above; none of the above] and forever changed the tenor of UFO conversation and debate.

That the Arnold case still stands as a source of division and fierce argument is testament to the true strangeness of Arnold's experience, and either to the gullibility shared by those that hold to an ET solution or the unflappable(pun?) nature of skeptics.

Like Roswell, the Flatwoods Monster, Gulf Breeze, Billy Meier and Bob Lazar, the Arnold case will never be "solved". Seemingly that is not even a goal with any of these cases any longer. The incessant bickering between the "Hatfield's" of Ufology...the true believers...are forever at war with the "McCoys" of Ufology...the hardened skeptic...and the resulting mudbath does little beyond get mud on everyone involved AND whoever happens by.

Ufology as a discipline and/or science, displays little of either in most public forums. As a result, anyone who has yet to reach any conclusion on which to base a belief, and asserts so, is lambasted by both sides with a sort of, "My God, how can you still not be convinced" kind of barrage. Invoking the old 80/20 law, I will assume that 80 percent of this never-ending noise is created by 20% of the participants. Unfortunately, this noise often drives away all but the...uhh...hardened skeptics and the true believers. And so it goes.

I think that groups like Terry Groff's UFO Blog Coalition may go a ways toward providing a safe haven for thinking folk who want to know more but don't know where to go without incurring the wrath of one side or the other...or both...for asking a question that appears to "lean" one way or the other. I sincerely hope so.

I have said this many times in different forums, as well as face-to-face discussions..."I am neither an advocate for the ETH, nor am I an advocate for the skeptical crowd."

I am an advocate for common sense. I am an advocate for everyone having a full understanding that UFO evidence...especially video and image evidence...can easily be created, hoaxed, and foisted on an eager public. I also am an advocate for recognizing that sometimes the strangeness of a case is the BEST evidence of its veracity, particularly when no other evidence, pro or con, is at hand.

For my part, I can leverage my digital imaging, photography, and web development skills to attempt to recreate UFO images and videos; to provide a primer on how easy it is to create convincing output; to educate the public and the field on these techniques, and to help reduce the amount of spurious cases which serve as distractions from more significant cases. I do this knowing that I may fail, but even the process of failure is a valuable lesson.

I fully agree that being able to easily recreate an alleged UFO image or video does NOT mean that the pic or clip is a hoax, but it can at least reduce the "strangeness" level for those that initially are stunned and amazed. Likewise, if it cannot be easily recreated or duplicated, this does NOT mean that the pic or clip is real, either. But one of the first things one should ask when assessing such things is, "How strange is this really?" An educated viewer is our best asset.

If groups like the UBC grow, and more folks are drawn into the debate simply because they're not treated like crap, the field of Ufology may very well achieve discipline, and then it may be well-nominated for status as a true science.

Kenneth Arnold was rather excited by his experience, but was soon very fearful, and eventually did not want to talk about it. Not much has changed...

He would have been horrified at the state of Ufology today...a field he had a large (though unintended) hand in creating.

Oh, and on what Arnold saw...put me down for UFO fleet. The strangeness factor seems very high to me, and the bird explanation remains unconvincing in my view. I could be persuaded otherwise, but haven't yet.

Kenny-boy...what have you wraught, indeed?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Mostly invisible "critters" responsible for UFOs?

Trevor James Constable thinks so...(click Title to read more)

The idea that enormous, or even small, rarely visible creatures inhabit the skies is a fanciful one. Such "critters" (Constable's term) would certainly assist the explanation of a number of observed phenomena.

The "mosaic" of belief systems required to support the theory reads like a wiki of fringe ideologies. As ever, though, this alone doesn't mean it is invalid.

I remember seeing many years ago...in a copy of Playboy magazine "borrowed" from my father's secret stash(more on that later)...an article about possible life forms on other planets. For the gas giants, there was an illustration of a strange balloon-like creature that subsisted on hydrocarbon gases which are abundant in such climes.

The thing looked like a football, but with one point pushed back inside the rest, forming a "mouth" of sorts. The conjecture was that the "critter" floated through the clouds, maw a-gape, collecting dinner in much the same manner as baleen whales. (odd...balloon...baleen ).

I remember this image more than any of the others because it was so different from observed life here, and because it seemed to make so much sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

So, perhaps if this conjecture contains even a nugget of truth, Constable is onto something. If barely structured "jellyfish-like" critters are floating about, this might explain the transient UFO episode, as conditions occasionally conspire to allow us to see all manner of things we don't normally see. Eclipses...harbingers of doom, war and worse for millenia, tornados, lightning, etc.

I'm not very confident in this proposal, as I generally believe that most theories that depend upon several unrelated but similarly suspect disciplines for support, are bogus.

It did remind me of the picture in that article in Playboy, though. A lot.

Note...As a lad, I was neither above the occasional "borrowing" of Dad's Playboy magazines, nor was I above feeling guilty about it. As a result, I paid penance for the purloined Playboys by actually reading every article. My dad had about 10 years of issues stored. Needless to say, my mind got as much of a workout as any other organ...ahem. It was once a great magazine...besides the boobies.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Saucers and balloons - ne'er the twain shall meet?

Did 1940s-1960s Americans know the difference between an experimental balloon and a metallic saucer? Do we now?

Lonnie Zamora saw what he believed to be a solid, metallic "sliver-white" craft in Socorro. Many contemporary researchers surmise it may well have been a "silverized" mylar or polyethylene balloon. Likewise, the official story on Roswell declares that all the witnesses were similarly fooled. In fact, the government has declared as much on at least two occasions. The initial post-saucer "weather balloon" explanation, and the belated Mogul rawin reflector story. Nick Redfern's new book surmises that the real truth was in fact a combination...a very unusual balloon array carrying an equally unusual aircraft.

The point is that there are many folks who think Zamora and the Roswell witnesses could have been fooled into thinking that a solid metallic craft was actually something quite different. The "jury" is still out on Socorro and Roswell. That may not be true forever, though. But I digress...

With great frequency, we see video clips of "solid metallic craft" flitting about our skies, and many of these have turned out to be "silverized" mylar balloons. These video clips are common these days. Witness Prophet Yahweh, for one.

My question is, if we today are capable of being fooled into thinking a small mylar balloon is actually a large, intelligently-controlled, structured metallic craft, is it really far-fetched to think that folks in the 40s, 50s, and 60s could be similarly fooled by a highly unusual flying craft, or a huge litter-field of metallicized rubber, foreign writing, and aircraft parts the likes of which had never been seen before outside a secret military program? Remember that if one were to go hunting for anomalous aircraft in these United States, one could pick no better spot in the 40s, 50s and 60s than the desert of New Mexico.

One noteworthy possible obfuscation regards the planform of the Roswell craft. Much has been made of the military analysis noting the craft had "no apparent means of propulsion", and "no powerplant" visible or implied. In light of Nick Redfern's new book, this "evidence" of ET origin is suspect when you factor in the possibility that the craft was a glider...with no powerplant or propulsion unit of any kind. Eerie coincidence, or compelling clue?

The witnesses of Roswell had zero frame of reference upon which to base claims that what crashed was an ET craft. Mac Brazel did not know what he found. He just claimed that it was like no aircraft he'd ever seen, and opined that it "might" be one of those flying disks in the news. The American military is who declared it to be a flying (saucer) disk. If they had not, the entire episode might have been treated as just another wacky experiment by the "eggheads" of Los Alamos, a stray from White Sands, or any number of other secret projects.

Perhaps we apply too much deductive acumen to the people of this country in decades past. We know for a fact that many people even today can't tell the difference between a balloon and a solid, metallic craft. Either we have degressed in our observational abilities, or we never were very good at it. While the former is plausible, the latter is far more likely, in my opinion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Planetary Society's Solar Sail project a failure?

"If you're not taking risks...you're not doing the right thing"

Bruce Murray uttered these words as it became obvious that Cosmos 1, the pioneering "solar sail" craft, unique also in that it is privately funded, had failed to attain proper orbit due to a presumed booster failure.

Murray's words apply to so many diverse subjects, but perhaps none quite so much as space exploration. Like fish out of water, humans...or indeed human constructs...in space face numerous challenges just in getting there, not to mention space operations themselves.

Even in apparent defeat, Murray's words should propel us and the Planetary Society forward rather than back. This project had a $4 million budget, a paltry sum compared to the typical NASA cost-fest, and the benefactors have some deep pockets.

Here's to the "success" of Cosmos 1. Success? Most assuredly, as it was an important learning experience, and a timely reminder that we are not always infallible, if indeed we ever are.

Cosmos 2 is the only reasonable next step.

UFO Fleet Project - Phase 1 results

Due to pressure from the 16 year old, we have our first leak...

Phase 1 is over, and I'm releasing the clips for your viewing pleasure. Keeping in mind that these clips are made with me holding the camera in one hand and the glass in the other, I am unable to zoom in and out or focus in or out of the frame. Even so, I think the technique is suggesting itself in a few of these clips, and with refinement in Phase 2, we should see some major improvements.


This still frame shows a spot on the glass, and my reflection,
which needs not to be there. Still too much sun!

Click here to go to the Phase 1 site. (Once there, text links can be clicked to "open", or right-clicked to "save as..."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Redfern's 731xRoswell story - Old News?

An archived post to the old UFO Updates BBS may have seen the future

A post to UFO Updates, which was an archived copy of an older post from 1995, makes the connection between Unit 731 (as reported in an episode of Dateline in '95) and the Roswell case (as depicted in a movie of the same name and era).

Sue K. sent the copy of her 1995 post, and (having reading the excerpt from Redfern's book), this 1995 post seems positively prescient.

While this takes nothing away from the exhaustive work Redfern reveals in his book, the greater point is that the 731/Roswell "story" has been out there since...well...since at least 1995.

There is a moral to this story, but until I have read Redfern's book in toto I will refrain from stating an opinion on what that moral might be.

At the very least, Sue K. had her finger on a profound pulse that day in 1995. And a modicum of intellectual courage.

Nick Redfern: Roswell - Case Closed??

UFO researcher Nick Redfern has a new book out soon that provides a new twist on the Roswell crash.

His thesis...in a nutshell...is that the crash was that of a secret craft originally developed in Japan, consisting of a large balloon array with a gliding aircraft attached beneath, which was originally supposed to deliver a crew of Japanese soldiers to American soil. Upon reaching land, the craft would be released, and the crew were to glide to earth, where they might release bio-toxins or other nasty ordnance.

After the war ended, this technology was snatched up, as in Operation Paperclip with the Nazis, and modified and tested in the New Mexico desert. Per the story, the test went awry, with the upper cowl of the glider coming off, and one crewmember being sucked out of the craft. The cowling and the crewman fell to earth in one location, while the remaining crew and the bulk of the craft and array fell in another place. This supposedly explains the stories of multiple crash sites, discrepancies in the number of "alien" bodies found, and the nature of the debris collected.

Where it gets really interesting is that the government then allowed the UFO craft myth to prosper, in order to hide the fact that human lives were lost in a secret experiment using captured Japanese war technology.

An excerpted portion of the book is available here (Acrobat PDF format).

Sounds like a good read, but the community is sure to have a field day...on both sides of the fence.

Monday, June 20, 2005

New Scientist Breaking News - Could John Titor have been telling the truth?

New Scientist Breaking News - Taking a trip down memory-chip lane

This article in New Scientist ostensibly recounts how old PC tech is in vogue, for historic and nostalgic reasons. Included in the article is an interesting note however..."And within growing collections of original computers and home-made replicas, and the anecdote-filled web pages and blogs devoted to them, lies the equipment and expertise that will one day help unlock our past by reading countless computer files stored in outmoded formats."

This caught my eye because John Titor, the supposed time traveler, said his mission to our time, or more specifically a couple of decades ago, was to retrieve a computer which allowed access to "outmoded file formats", which no longer existed in his future time..

While John Titor was evidently a hoaxer, perhaps he was a little smarter than we thought.

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