Thursday, May 04, 2006

Space ship lands in Waterloo Place, London

To mark the beginning of a four-day "art production", Royale De Luxe planted the ship, and in the ensuing days, a 42 ton mechanical elephant and a female puppet will figure into the festivities.

More information can be found here.

[via BoingBoing]

Friedman vs. Clancy: Not Tom...the Other Fiction writer.

One of my UFOlogical heroes, Stanton T. Friedman, has sliced and diced the new book, "Abducted: How people Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens", penned by self-styled "UFO/abduction expert" Susan Clancy.

Man, I'm not sure Stan has had this much fun in a long time.

Clancy, clearly uncomfortable with the "reality-based community", strikes out on an adventure ripped from the headlines of her own fevered imagination to comfort herself and others with the good news that alien abductions...and yes, UFOs...are nothing more than the by-product of indigestion or sleep disorder, or even fraud.

Stan takes the book apart in what can only be described as scientific fashion, pointing out the alarming number of factual errors and pronouncements regarding such abduction and UFO cases.

"Confirmatory bias" is the catch-phrase which best sums up Clancy's effort.

Speculative fiction also comes to mind.

Writing such as Clancy's should dovetail nicely with the thought-set of the intended audience, since such folk are also seemingly just as comfortable with the "no global warming, WMD WERE there, Iraq is doing fine, Iran has nukes" kind of "reality".

Kudos to Stanton for pointing out that Clancy the "emperical Emperor", wears no clothes.

If you need to read only one line of a book to see its true color, try this one...

"Even better, alien abductees were people who had developed memories of a traumatic event that I could be fairly certain had never occurred." [emphasis mine...KK] WTF???

Such a ridiculous statement simply and decidedly disqualifies Clancy as a scientist, and paints her book as pointedly unscientific. For shame...and the Harvard Press printed this tripe?

So this passes for science in the "new reality" community? I am shocked that our current administration hasn't tapped Ms. Clancy for her "expert analysis" skills.

Susan Clancy...the thinking neanderthals' Ann Coulter.

Stan Friedman just proved once again that it is far easier to "talk the talk" than to "walk the walk".

Keep on walking TALL, Stan!

[hat tip to UFO Updates for the link]

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bubble boy trains for life under the ice on Titan...

Erstwhile "magician" David Blaine marks another spot on his path to being able to live under about ANY conditions. He's spent 30+ hours standing on a tall pole, 44 days living in a dangling cube, had a pickup truck roll over him, and now this...

Plunked down in the middle of New York City, Blaine is attempting to spend a week or so inside a transparent sphere. With air, liquid nourishment (and liquid waste removal) provided via a tube (hopefully not the same tube), Blaine will somehow have to sleep without drowning, or stay awake without going totally insane. Ooops...might be a little late there...

I've followed Blaine since his "street magic" days, and this is at least the "prettiest" of his hijinx. Insert your favorite "snow globe" joke here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A quiz

Ok...I'll play...

This from Mac Tonnies via Paul Kimball. The Me A-Z Meme...

Accent: American midwest. I took Speech and Debate in part to lose my "North Dallas drawl".

Booze: Very sparingly. I'll generally get a Long Island Tea and slug it down...that's all for the night.

Chore I Hate: Anything financial or dealing with banks.

Dog or Cat: Cats...intelligent, independent, indifferent.

Essential Electronics: My kick-ass PC, my big-ass TV, and my bad-ass that order.

Favorite Cologne: Patchouli oil or Obsession, depending on whether I'm wearing a Dashiki or a button-up shirt.

Gold or Silver: Gold

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Insomnia: Sure. Sleep is over-rated. Don't buy into the pro-sleep hype.

Job Title: Ex-IT consultant, currently photographer.

Kids: One rather cool 17 year old son. Plays sick guitar.

Living arrangements: the house my wife and I bought when we were married...with my now ex-wife and 17 year old son..

Most admirable traits: Memory for details (warehouse of useless information); helpful; vocabulary.

Not going to cop to: an interest in "robot porn".

Overnight hospital stays: Never once.

Phobias: Heights until I went para-sailing...that was the big one and it's gone now. Not fond of roller coasters or other amusement park death-traps. LOL

Quote: I'm talking and I can't shut up.

Religion: Raised Baptist; cured in college.

Siblings: I have a half-brother.

Time I wake up: 6AM unless I can claim a good reason to sleep in.

Unusual talent or skill: I play the doumbek (a middle-eastern goblet drum). I can also recite the complete script of Firesign Theater's "Nick Danger: Third Eye" in the Adventure they call "Cut 'em off at the Past", complete with character voices...even Nancy.

Vegetable I love: I think artichokes (and garlic) were left behind by the Gods themselves.

Worst habit: Cigarette smoking and procrastination, if quitting cigarette smoking counts.

X-rays: My teeth. Oh, and I once had a tiny camera on a flexible tube shoved up my nose. I have the videotape...compelling set design, but the acting is rather flat.

Yummy foods I make: Broiled marinated chicken breasts with roasted garlic and almond spinach; donuts; pancakes; smoothies; and of course sirloin steak on the grill.

Zodiac sign: Cancer.

Wow...I feel somehow cleansed. Confession good for the soul, indeed. LOL

Peace out, y'all.

Methinks thou dost...

An article in the LA Times goes into some (sarcastic) detail about the (in)famous "tinfoil hat". The article actually serves as the introduction to a more in-depth article and video due this weekend covering "the Retro UFO Convention at the 'Integratron' in the Mojave Desert".

The reporter appears to have a particularly light-hearted approach to the UFO subject, but take a moment and look at the event the reporter is actually covering...the Retro UFO convention at the "Integratron"...oh yes...the "device" built by George van Tassel, a rejuvenation machine. Oh boy.

The convention...a UFO convention, holds a "tinfoil hat" CONTEST. So, Mary Rinehart, our intrepid reporter did "as the Romans do" and entered her own creation, garnering 3rd place honors. LOL

Now, there are several ways to react to this kind of article. The knee-jerk reaction, exampled here courtesy of UFO Updates' Irene Rome, is anger and intolerance. This ironically shoehorns nicely with another Updates post wherein noted skeptic John Harney decries "...the strong emotional reaction to the suggestion that there is nothing to the UFO myth apart from popular belief and personal subjective experience"...

Where John is incorrect is when one considers that there ARE UFO events that defy any terrestrial explanation. One can argue whether the witnesses were mistaken, or that others have seen similar things that were eventually explained, ad infinitum, but in the end even the most staunch realist must admit that there are unknowns up there...whatever their source.

But Irene epitomizes the mind-set that John decries. The article in question is a report on an event of singular silliness...and that extends to the organizers of the event, otherwise why on earth hold something like a tinfoil hat contest? The kitch on display in photos from the event, from silver face-painted fat bald guys, to talks on the "angel/ET/astrology" connection, the Arcturian alien tribes, etc. Wow...what a serious UFO gathering that was...

So, Irene, let me ask you something. When someone writes a tongue-in-cheek story on the SETI initiative, in essence ridiculing it, does Seth Shostak run to the first available forum and renounce the waste of space"? Nope. Why not? Because when you do that you actually lend credence to the article in question. You "give the story legs". And the more debate you generate over the validity or invalidity of the reporting, the more you ensure two things. You miss the point of the article, and you keep the article itself "alive".

The point missed? Well, the event was ITSELF tongue-in-cheek. A tribute to the "retro" aspect of the UFO phenomena. Remember when martians were something to giggle about, before the advent of "Independence Day"? Remember "My Favorite Martian"? This event was all about the naive frivolity that attended UFOs in the 50s. So, Mary's article was most appropriate for the venue, and she would not have bothered to make a tinfoil hat at all if the event wasn't sponsoring a contest. So, if you want to blame someone for her waste of space, blame the event organizers. Mary simply played the news hand she was dealt.

Keeping the article alive could be harmful to serious UFO research, but in this case it doesn't really matter. It's a funny article about a bunch of funny people. Criticizing the article is just dumb, IMO.

But Mr. Harney hit the mark with his indictment of "emotional reactions". When someone ridicules evolution, or ridicules SETI, or ridicules any theory or theoretical endeavor, the best response...the intellectual response...the unemotional no response at all.

Or maybe just a little "LOL".

Good night Irene, methinks thou dost protest too much. [Man, from Ledbetter & Lomax to the Bard in one sentence...sheesh]

Monday, May 01, 2006

Random notes...

Musings on a cocktail napkin -

...The govt. has been saying it has no secret UFO info, and most UFO researchers state they are lying. If the govt. tomorrow announced that UFOs are real, would those researchers believe the govt. was now telling the truth?...

...Many UFO researchers seem to feel that instrumented field data-gathering is a waste of time or that it could never get funding or earn legitimacy. My question to them is, "Compared to what...the CURRENT methods of UFOlogy?". I cannot understand the objection to attempting to gather more than anecdotal or archival data....

...From this moment, today, the best way to attempt to divine the truth of the UFO enigma is to move in two directions...backward, to glean whatever tidbits of solid data are to be found in newspaper archives, libraries, and other sources of the past...and forward, to new ways to monitor the skies, capture information about the things flying around in them, and perhaps to catalog the findings so that some reasonable hypotheses may be formulated and experiments conducted to support (or not) those hypotheses...

...Why are there not many more UFO sightings these days, with relatively high-quality digital cameras available in myriad forms, and with security cameras becoming more ubiquitous every day? Are the better quality images simply revealing the mundanity of the vast majority of sightings, or are the UFOs reacting to our better "eyes" by moving just out of their view? Or did the UFOs just get bored when we failed to nuke ourselves into oblivion, spoiling their eagerly anticipated fireworks show?...

...Should UFOlogy NEED photographs or videos? Can we ever really trust them? Wouldn't radar returns, IR radiation readings, spectrographic and magnetic data do more to depict a true UFO than a blurry photo or a herky-jerky video clip? Heck, couldn't the same be said for eyewitness accounts? SETI garners more legitimate press, and far more scientific acknowledgement than UFOlogy ever has, and yet they have not one single coherent signal to show for it. Perhaps the reliance on anecdotal and photographic evidence actually hinders the field...?...

...With UFO organizations like BUFO, is it any wonder that UFO researchers are treated like lepers by the mainstream scientific community? Should we expect otherwise?...

Hmmm...last call...I'm outta here.

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