Wednesday, July 05, 2006

" as best you can, and do no harm..."

[Click title to read post in context]

The following was posted on UFO Updates way back in December of 2004. It was written in response to a post by James Smith, a fellow whom I admire for his rational and well-realized posts. To date, it is the post for which I have received the most private comments...both in quantity and in positive critique. I reprint it here a mea culpa.

"...This List is a forum for those that do not accept the party
line. We are tasked with... and provided space for... discussing
the UFO question in a free-form and decidedly theoretical
context. Dreamers are not only welcome, but it is darned near a

When we discuss, and find argument, the goal is to 'help those
around us as best we can', and this is accomplished by pointing
out the flaws in logic that stem from accepting the status quo
as the benchmark whereby to measure validity, or to show the
error of a flatly incorrect technical interpretation, vis a vis
Dr. Maccabee or Mr. Sparks.

But there's more... there is an emotional context for the
discussion as well.

While Dr. Maccabee can expound on the technical minutiae that
often prove a case, and while Brad Sparks can reflect on the
technical aspects of radar returns and decry the ignored pile of
hard data that is already available, and while Dick Hall can
recite chapter and verse a long list of very compelling cases,
and Stan Friedman can lecture ad infinitum on issues of saucer
crashes in the desert southwest, we all share an emotional
connect with the field.

Mr. Lehmberg is less bashful about it than most, and he has made
it plain that he no longer feels that casual dismissal is
innocent. That you and your comments represent what constitutes
the 'enemy' is not a result of his incivility, but a decided
policy of engagement. He no longer politely accepts the status
quo view, if he ever did. As he might himself comment, I admire
his pluck.

You might see Alfred, Bruce, Brad, Dick and Stan as disparate,
diverse voices. I see instead a unified front. Diverse in
expertise, disparate in writing styles, but all working to the
same purpose... to help those around them and do no harm.

The funny thing is, when dreamers dream, they harm no one. But
when a realist pooh-poohs a dreamer, the dreamer is cast aside
as so much detritus, until perhaps a later date when the dreamer
is vindicated. For the more passionate among us, your comments
literally mean war.

Like Roy Neary, we share a passionate belief in something we
know many do not. We seek to help those around us to see a more
expansive view, and to avoid the harm done... when we remain
silent. Like Roy Neary, many of us likely don't know exactly why
we are so... nor do we care.

When an argument is made, like yours, that bases progress on
practical realities, you are essentially advocating against that
passion as well as the opposing argument.

This is why you receive a response you find emotional. It is.

For decades these fine folks and many others have given much to
(in their minds)help those around them. I look at UFO photos to
find the good ones, and I let loose on the bad ones when I feel
strongly that it is a bad one. But I also keep looking, because
I believe very strongly that we do not know it all, and that our
mysteries are becoming more numerous and not less, and I believe
that most of us would agree that keeping this to ourselves...
not talking about it... would violate your rejoinder to 'do no

I hope to help people see through the obvious fakes, the easily
identified, and the repetitively misinterpreted because those
pollute the channel of good evidence. I question and I argue,
not because I think the argument is weak but because only
through testing an argument can its strength be known. But
saying an argument here isn't real or practical is not
constructive, it is deconstructive, and in this forum, that
reads as destructive. Why? Because it doesn't help anyone
understand it, and it does harm to the debate, which is what we
have to work with in this forum.

If you want to help others and do no harm, perhaps you would do
well to take a step outside the box of engineering, cost/benefit
analysis, and idea space management, and question things more.
Perhaps your feeling that things cannot change would be found to
be in error. Perhaps if more and more reasonable practical
people like you dreamed more, what is practical and real might
begin to take on a different hue entirely.

The point of all this is to remind you that these are uncharted
waters... by design... and he that finds that 'here there be
monsters' should not be surprised to find so. He should also not
be surprised when his clearly demarked 'map' is considered
suspect out of hand.

Mr. Lehmberg is motivated by it, Mr. Hall and Mr. Sparks are
discouraged by it, Dr. Maccabee is unmoved by it, and Stan is
nothing if not resigned to it, but they all share a disdain of
it. The it is the assured expert opinion that labels their
efforts as outlandish, or that presumes a reality over which we
have demonstrated an infinite capacity to remain ignorant.

For my part, I think it is time indeed to stand for the 'other'
way of thinking, not because it is ridiculous and maybe wrong,
but because the reality in which I find myself today is all too
ridiculous, and in my view decidedly wrong. Acceptance is no
help, and does plenty of harm.

If we help you as best we can to convince you to make the leap,
to push the envelope, to dream for the sake of the dream, and
the sake of a possibly better future, we will have certainly
done no harm.

If you help as best you can to convince us to remain safely in
the box, to accept a reality we find inadequate at best, the
harm done is not easily measurable, if not altogether

The discussion here is not just talk. There are careers and even
lives at stake over this 'silliness'. You must accept that as
dispassionate as your posts may be intended, they are met with a
passionate retort because the passion is borne of years of
scorn, ridicule and dismissal. This is a burden which you have
not had to bear, comfort zones being what they are.

Please help as best you can, and do no harm.

Best Regards,

Kyle" [Emphasis mine]

I have spent far too much time lately poking Dick Hall and others for various minor specifics, while completely blinding myself to the greater goal..."help each other as best we can, and do no harm".

I fully stand behind the post re-printed above, and re-commit myself to the goals as stated.

Another 4th of July at war...

"We are gathered here, friends," he said, "to honor lo Hoon-year Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya, children dead, all dead, all murdered in war. It is customary on days like this to call such lost children men. I am unable to call them men for this simple reason: that in the same war in which lo Hoon-year Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya died, my own son died.

"My soul insists that I mourn not a man but a child.

"I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays.

"But they are murdered children all the same.

"And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincere respects to the hundred lost children of San Lorenzo, that we might best spend the day despising what killed them; which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of all mankind.

"Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.

"I do not mean to be ungrateful for the fine, martial show we are about to see – and a thrilling show it really will be…"

He looked each of us in the eye, and then he commented very softly, throwing it away, "And hooray I say for thrilling shows."

We had to strain our ears to hear what Minton said next.

"But if today is really in honor of a hundred children murdered in war," he said, "is today a day for a thrilling show?

"The answer is yes, on one condition: that we, the celebrants are working consciously and tirelessly to reduce the stupidity and viciousness of ourselves and all mankind."

From Cat's Cradle
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

[h/t to The Rude Pundit]

"Star Wars Chess" anyone??

[Click title to visit site]

Remember that cool board game they played on the Millenium Falcon in the original Star Wars flick? Well, you might get to buy one for your own star freighter...or your living room...if these guys at the "Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)" and Burton Inc. have anything to say about it.

Using laser beams, it creates "dots" of actual plasma in mid-air above the device. A bit rudimentary just now, but the future looks...erm...bright! :)

[via Technovelgy]

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Heliodisplay: Minority Report-style!

[Click title to visit site]

io2 Technologies brings us the closest thing yet to the interactive "mid-air" displays shown in "Minority Report".

Using a thin stream of "altered air", the system incorporates a rear-projection system to simulate 3D, and includes an interactive system that allows the viewer to touch, move and otherwise interact with the projected images.

The title above links to the company "image and video" page, which includes a demo video clip of the system in action.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Ixtapa the presses...what's that?!

[Click image to read initial post]

The image to the left was taken on a plane by someone who described it as something that zoomed up to the plane from a distance.

I can't say for sure but I think it is far more likely an object of very small size within inches of the camera and probably held by its left end.

Notable in the shot is the fact that the left edge of the object is out of the camera frame. Also, neither the top, bottom or right edges of the plane window are visible. I think this is likely a cropped section of a larger photograph.

One very good reason for cropping something out of a larger photograph is to hide something that would make the photograph less..."strange". Hiding the left edge would also make sense if there was a human hand holding the object at that point.

If the object was outside the plane and lit as it is, the sun would have to be directly above or behind the plane (ergo the photographer). But if the sun was behind the plane the plane would cast a shadow on the object, and in fact the entire object would likely be in full shadow. And if the sun were directly overhead, you would expect the bottom or underside of the object to be far darker than it appears. No, the light reflecting off the object appears to be coming from the direction of the a flash. The flash would not appear so bright on a large object some distance from the camera...especially after passing through the plane window. Far more likely that the object is inside the plane and illuminated by the flash, while the camera is focussed on the clouds below, causing the object to be out of focus.

Besides this, the object appears to be blurry not so much because it is in motion, but because it is too close for the camera to focus. Note that the left and right "edges" of the object are not "smeared", but simply blurred.

Also, note that the clouds in the distance are quite in focus and not so brightly lit. Again, this could indicate that the object is very close to the camera and that the camera flash was used.

My guess is that this is a crushed aluminum can photographed on edge while being held by the extreme left end of the can. Or perhaps a plastic wrapper which has been crumpled and photographed edge-wise and again held by the left end.

UFO from outer space? Unlikely, IMO. But let's see what an eminent UFO authority thinks of this very sincere-sounding sighting.

Per Richard Hall...

"That's supposed to be a real UFO? Give me a break! Better yet,
give me a couple of witnesses swearing statements that they saw
this thing in flight doing anything remotely UFO like. Then I
might waste 30 seconds taking a closer look at this... obvious
non-UFO until proven otherwise."

- Dick
Ouch. Well, I probably wouldn't ever say that something is an "obvious non-UFO until proven otherwise", since that's a rather ridiculously...err...illogical...statement. I mean, is there ANY UFO photograph that has been proven to be anything other than a "non-UFO"? Hmmm...let's see, have the (possibly hoaxed) Heflin photos Dick defends so vehemently been "proven otherwise"?, not so much. :)

But hey, this is freaking Dick Hall we're talking about here, so it's a dang obvious "NO-FO" until "proven otherwise"...GOT IT?


[h/t to UFO Updates]

Craptacular site of the week

Star Force, the DRM company who crashes your computer..."for your convenience" offers DRM protection for "e-books". These clowns are also known for threatening to sue its critics.

But they're turning their attention to E-BOOKS. Umm, yep, those text-based files that you can easily copy and paste, or screen-cap, scan and OCR, or recite to a voice-activated typewriter, or dictate to a typist, or of course whose DRM you can hack.

An excellent business model, indeed. LOL

What moronical "vision".

[h/t to BoingBoing]

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