Saturday, May 13, 2006

More meanderings...

The newly released British MOD "UAP" report on the findings of Project Condign, could prove revelatory when the full report comes available on the 15th of May.

But whence the name "Condign"?

Merriam-Webster defines "condign" as an adjective meaning "deserved; appropriate". Hmmm...my understanding was that the projects name was chosen at random.

Peculiar choice if you ask me. Of course, anytime a government agency claims that a data-gathering project was given a name chosen at random, one should take that with a grain of salt.

What's in a name?
===================================================

Denny Klein believes he has found a way to sublimate distilled water into a gas that defies standard models of electrolysis. He further claims that his discovery allows for real-time conversion of water into usable engine fuel. He further claims that the energy required to produce the new gas is not more than what is produced.

What struck me as odd is that the scientist who discovered this has a familiar name...Ruggero Maria Santilli.

Yup, we know that name. While there may be no connection whatsoever between Ruggero and Ray, I wouldn't be surprised if a movie comedy about a car that runs on water comes out in the near future. LOL
===================================================

Until next time...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Meanderings...

UAP...the term some (including Paul Kimball) prefer to UFO, suffers one little problem. It doesn't "mesh" well with additional acronymical brethren. To wit...

MUFON works..."MUAPON" reads like a Tampax product for mathematicians.
(Although I tried for a while to figure out how to work BRAN or CORN or even COSMIC into MUFON
...BLUEBERRY MUFON, anyone?)

Both Paul and myself have mentioned the rather unfortunate
"UAPologist"...it has its own derisive invective built right in!!

UFOnauts (pronounced "Yew-Foe-Naughts") is far easier on the tongue than "UAPnauts".

How about Grass Roots Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Large-scale Instrumented Network Group
..."GRAUPLING"??

Or maybe Synergistic Terrestrial UAP Logistical And Foolproof Instrumented Network Group
..."STUAPLAFING"?

My favorite? Grass Roots UAP Network of United Technology Specialists
..."GRUAPNUTS"!! Somewhere Ewell Gibbons is smiling...

Most appropriate? Networked UAP Research Organization
...NUAPRO. (This has a built-in homage!!) Yup, that one might work...

But I'm afraid that UAP may just not have the panache required for wide-spread acceptance. Of course it is possible that panache (and maybe even widespread acceptance) is not required and in fact might be undesireable. Staying "under the pop culture radar" might have helped UFOlogy, in fact.

---oOo---


The guy...Gary McKinnon...accused of hacking sensitive American military and other computers to death (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars) faces extradition to the United States to stand trial. Saying he was looking for UFO information, and that the computers into which he "hacked" were simply machines which had unchanged "default" passwords, he seeks to avoid extradition since he might find himself hanging (in the figurative sense) at Gitmo with his ter'rist pals for an undetermined period, he plans to appeal extradition to the High Court.

My question is...if this guy was able to log into sensitive government computers with zero hacking skills, shouldn't we be giving this admittedly harmless dude a freaking medal for exposing yet another example of federal incompetence BEFORE some nefarious plot exploited this incompetence?

Imagine what a REAL terrorist hacker might have accomplished...my guess is that not a few govt fellows had a group sphincter-bunching.

---oOo---


UFO Updates has a thread running about the "Gumment UFO cover-up" wherein Dick Hall and Jerry Clark decry the "vast conspiracy" angle. Presumably (and arguably) the Feds are too incompetent to have kept their secrets under wraps for this long.

No word from Stan Friedman at this time. After all, if our Air Force was engaging in dogfights over US soil (a la Frank Feschino) including "shoot-downs" on both sides, what would have been required to keep THAT secret for all this time but a "vast conspiracy"? I'm thinking that it would be a little more difficult than hiding a few bodies and "discs".

But we've been told before...Eisenhower, Clinton, et. al...of the existence or the threat of a secret government inside the government, suffering no oversight, with its own agenda and an unoffical budget. These weren't conspiracy theorists making these claims...

So who's right here?

---oOo---


I just read Stan Friedman's latest paper. Is it just me, or is the old "Silly Effort to Investigate" moniker he coined for SETI getting a little hackneyed? After all, while Stan sits in a chair in the desert rehashing old UFO stories, SETI researchers sit in front of some of the most sophisticated gear on earth...DOING something. They have engaged the popular culture in a way that seems legitimate and useful (SETI@Home), and they attract great minds, gobs of money, and gigantic machinery to further their goals, and they have produced nothing of any significance to date. So who's really being "Silly"? No offense Stan...your dogged determination in leafing through untold thousands of pages of archival data is nothing to sneeze at..., but why the snarking? Unseemly IMO...particularly in a paper that claims a vast cover-up.

In the end, when you make claims about hidden UFO data and then call SETI "silly", when SETI enjoys great public support, you risk "alienating" the very people who you seek to inform. Unless your "preaching" is intended solely for the "choir"...

---oOo---


Until next time...keep looking up, but watch your step!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

MSNBC poll says UFOs exist...or does it?

MSNBC.com, sometimes referred to as a news source, ran a live poll about UFOs which seems to indicate that the majority of those polled believe that UFOs are real. But let's take a look at the phrasing of the poll...
The British Ministry of Defense confirmed that a secret study completed in December 2000 had found no evidence that "flying saucers" or unidentified flying objects were anything other than natural phenomena. What do you think?

- UFOs certainly exist. There's no way we're alone in the universe.

- UFOs might exist. Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

- UFOs are pure science fiction.

- I'm not sure.

OK. Statement number one found the majority in agreement...40%!! Man, seems pretty impressive for the pro-UFO camp, eh? But, in reality, statement number one is actually TWO sentences, isn't it? Let's take a look at that second sentence...

"There's no way we're alone in the universe."

I am confident that the vast majority of people believe this sentence. By tagging that sentence on to the previous sentence, and placing it at the end of the statement, is it any wonder that the majority agreed with that statement?

This also seems to indicate that when people think of UFOs, they think of spaceships from outer space...alien spacecraft. When the statement is phrased in this way, you may very well disagree that UFOs are certainly real, but you likely very much agree that we are not alone in the universe. So, the statement actually infers that if you believe we are not alone in the universe, then you obviously believe that UFOs are real. This is hogwash. Even though the majority agreed with this statement, less than half of those polled actually agreed with it. My suspicion is that if the statement had not included that second sentence, we may have seen even less agreement.

Now, the second statement sounds a bit more balanced..."UFOs might exist. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." But this statement is troublesome, as well. If I agree that UFOs might exist, am I agreeing that some UFOs are alien spacecraft, or am I agreeing that there are some flying objects that we have not been able to identify? Adding the sentence about absence of evidence seems to legitimize agreeing with the previous sentence, but it really has nothing to do with whether there are UFOs, since we all know that there are things that fly that we cannot identify. So the second sentence seems to imply that if you agree with sentence two, you must agree with sentence one, which again is illogical unless the premise is that UFOs are alien spacecraft. This statement found 32% of those polled in agreement. Less than a third.

The remaining statements are definitive, one sentence statements. Statement 3 is basically, UFOs don't exist except in science fiction. Well, this is patently false, since military, civilian, and commercial airline history all include stories of unidentified flying objects. So, if you agree with this statement, you must be saying that you don't think UFOs are alien spacecraft. 24% of those polled agreed with this.

And finally, we have "I'm not sure". A paltry 4% agreed. Of course, people who take polls usually have an opinion on the subject of the poll, so there's no surprise that very few had no opinion.

In summary, this was a very flawed poll. The clear intent of the poll phrasing was to elicit more agreement with statement one or two, and only a narrow-minded skeptic would choose statement 3. And most that aren't sure simply didn't take the poll.

There's nothing new about skewing poll questions to support a thesis. It happens in political polling all the time.

But as a method of determining what people think about UFOs, this poll is useless.

A far better poll might have been phrased this way...
Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements, with 1
representing total disagreement, and 5 representing total agreement...

1. UFOs are alien spacecraft from another planet, dimension, or some other place.

2. UFOs are misidentified or misunderstood phenomena, but they are not alien
spacecraft.

3. There isn't enough evidence available to determine what UFOs are. Just because we can't
explain something doesn't mean it's from elsewhere.

Now, where do you stand on THIS poll? I'm guessing I'd get an awful lot of 5s on that last statement...and a lot of 3s on the first two.

At least we would learn something from it, unlike this MSNBC mess.

[hat tip to UFO Updates]

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Puzzling curiosities...

Make Magazine is my new favorite mag of all time, and they've only published 6 issues! (Sorry Playboy...). One of the primary reasons to love it is that the mag introduces you to so many cool thinker/creators (i.e, MAKERs). This week, the online venue of Make has a podcast featuring Lee Krasnow.

Lee Krasnow creates tactile puzzles. He makes them out of wood and occasionally metal parts, with a simple table saw jig. Some of his pieces are simply incredible. View the podcast to see some of his stuff, and of course visit his website at www.pacificpuzzleworks.com

Download the video podcast...plays on Windows or Mac or... :)

[via BoingBoing.net]

Monday, May 08, 2006

UFOs explained!! They're...uhh...Plasma-tic!

Apparently, back in 2000 the British DIS (Defence Intelligence Staff) produced a report which explains UFO sightings as natural processes, some of which admittedly are more theoretical than proven...hmmm...just like the explanations that some UFOs are from elsewhere which are more theoretical than proven.

The report, which was deemed "Eyes Only" at the time, has now been made public through the efforts of Sheffield Hallam University lecturer David Clarke, and researcher Gary Anthony.

Well, we know that there are things "up there" that we can barely explain. Years ago there were sightings from the shuttle of odd colored lights appearing atop storm clouds. Scientists began to use "eyes in the sky" to search for these elusive phenomena. We now call them sprites, and we know little more about them now than we knew then. But we know they are there.

So, my inner devil's advocate feels compelled to offer a few observations...

1) If ionospheric plasma is not well understood, isn't it possible that they are by-products of a more anomalous cause? After all, many UFO researchers have suggested that ET craft might utilize or produce plasma as a result of their propulsion or movement through the atmosphere.

2) The report includes this statement..."No evidence exists to suggest that the phenomena seen are hostile or under any type of control, other than that of natural physical forces." Fair enough. But it also states, "People who claim to have had a "close encounter" are often difficult to persuade that they did not really see what they thought they saw". It sounds to me like they really mean, "What evidence exists that suggests these objects are hostile or under some kind of control, is due to the sightees being unable to be persuaded that they did not see what they think they saw". Does anyone else see the tautological nature of these statements?

3) The report also offers this..."Local [plasma] fields of this type have been medically proven to cause responses in the temporal lobes of the human brain. These result in the observer sustaining (and later describing and retaining) his or her own vivid, but mainly incorrect, description of what is experienced." But it also states this..."The method of formation of the electrically charged plasmas... is not fully understood." Ok, lets review...we don't know how these plasmas form, but we know that they can affect the mind of the viewer. And we somehow know that the viewers description must be "mainly incorrect". If this is so, how can we trust that the scientists studying plasmas aren't "mainly incorrect" in their explanation of such plasmas? Are they immune to the effects?

So, if these theories are right, we have little to fear from these plasmas unless we fly into one. But what if the plasma, and the mind altering, are effects of interaction between ET craft and the atmosphere and humans?

Oh right..."there is no evidence to suggest"...and we come fully 'round the tautoligical circle. How comforting.

One wonders if the report was secret for so long because it was just embarassing...

[hat tip to UFO Updates]

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