Friday, March 27, 2015

The gullibility of bigots like Mike Bara and Robert Morningstar

        Both Mike Bara and Robert Morningstar have today enthusiastically promoted a phony report that Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot of Germanwings 9525, was a convert to Islam. I'm not even going to put in a link to the report, but I'll just say that its provenance instantly labels it as provocative rubbish.

Bara's comment, on Twitter, was:
"And now we have proof of what we all knew 3 days ago"
        If that isn't a confession to bigotry, I can't imagine what is. Robert AM* merely shared to Facebook without comment, and I'm glad to say at least a couple of his fans didn't buy it.

        Here's my message to both these logic-challenged people: The flight was scheduled to last 90 minutes. At the time of the crash, only 40 minutes had elapsed. If Lubitz is supposed to have planned a jihad-style mass murder, how in the name of all that's scientific could he have predicted when and if his colleague was going to need a piss?

I will just add this link.

Update: After Mike Bara's brief commentary, brother Dave got in on the act, with his trademark belligerent intolerance.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Big Ben wrap-up

James Concannon writes...

I just posted the following to Robert AM*'s Fartbook page:
The image containing the feature you call "Big Ben on the Moon" is AS17-M-2366.

You have made yet another nomenclature error, and yet another image interpretation error. This is not, as you said, MAGAZINE M. All images from that mag would have the ID AS17-142- followed by five digits. Instead this is from the Mapping Camera, revolution 65. The location of "Big Ben" if it existed would be NE of crater Neper. Please check the LRO image library to see if you can find a clock tower.

Your image interpretation error is that you examined a bizarre version of this image, not realizing that it was over-brightened, Here is a correct version FYI. ====================================================
        Here, by the way, is the over-brightened version, and there's the smudge he thinks is Big Ben, on the limb of the Moon (zoom in.)

        And I thank 'Trekker' who found this for us and did the geo-location (seleno-location?)

Update 3/18: Today I asked the star of the morning what he thought the thing actually is, and what he estimated as its height. He replied that it was definitely not a clock tower -- probably an Earth observation post, or a Tesla tower. Although he promised to answer the second question, he never did.

Update 3/20: Happy Vernal Equinox.'Trekker' points out that in the very next frame, AS17-M-2367, Big Ben has floated off into space. I posted this comparison of the two frames to FB-AM*.....


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Robert Morningstar's weird math

James Concannon writes...

        A series of videos  has just been released, on the Tube that is You, of last summer's Secret Space Program Conference in San Mateo, California. I reviewed Mr. Robert Morningstar's presentation hoping to find a catalog # of the image that he has called "Big Ben on the Moon."

        Not to my surprise, I had to wade through quite a series of errors and misunderstandings on my way to that goal. Right at the beginning, he covered the famous Brookings Report, getting the date wrong, the title wrong, and utterly garbling the report's main message. I covered that already, in this blog on 22nd January. He still hasn't come up with any examples from what he called "The 1967 edition" and, of course, he never will since there ain't no such animal.

        At 52:15, he got around to his most embarrassing error. It concerns the Apollo 10 photograph of the piece of mylar that came adrift during the undocking in lunar orbit.

photo credit: SSP conference video

        AM* likes this a lot. So much that he slaps it up front on his Farceboo page. He calls it "The Sentinel," and insists that it's a space station in lunar orbit. The image ID is AS-10-28-3988 and the size of the mylar is about half a metre. Here's AM*'s explanation for why it must be larger.

        "See that shadow, on the left?" he says, marching up to the screen and pointing. "That's either the shadow of the Moon or of the spacecraft. But the sun is coming from the wrong direction for it to be the spacecraft, so it must be the Moon. Now, that arc is about ten degrees. Ten degrees is 1/36th of a circle. 1/36th of about 6000 miles (actually 6779) -- the circumference of the Moon -- is 156 miles. This object is about 156 miles in the vertical."

        So, unbelievably, this man who calls himself a "civilian intelligence analyst" and an expert in photography somehow doesn't understand that a half-lit floating piece of mylar can have a curving shadow just because of its shape, and can look at the horizontal limb of the Moon and relate it to a vertical shadow. Not only that, but implicit in his logic is that shadows of things must always be the exact same size as the things themselves. Mind-boggling.

        I had to wait all the way to 56:28 for the image he calls Big Ben. He said it was from Apollo 17, Mag N, image #2366. Well, here's everything from that mag. Damned if I can see a Big Ben.

Update: 'Trekker' found it, it's from the Mapping Camera, not the Hasselblads. See next thread.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Prior work?

        Yesterday NASA put out a news release announcing that Mars once had more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean. Mike Bara immediately blogged that of course he and Hoagland published this back in 2001. He wrote, in his usual ungrammatical style:
"I'm gratified that NASA has finally admitted that Hoagland and me were correct all those years ago."
        Stuart Robbins points out that a search of the literature reveals prior work on this going back to 1988. Robbins covers this so well that he's saved me the effort of writing today.

Read this please.

        The only thing I would add is the hilarious fact that the 2001 "paper" by Hoagland & Bara is the one that looks like this in Firefox and Chrome:

        They've now made a pdf version, dressed up to look like a real science paper, identifying Bara as "Executive Director, Formal Action Committee on Extraterrestrial Studies."


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reflections on the Moon

        In a lecture at the Earth-Keeper 2014 Star-Gate Event in Arizona late last year, Richard Hoagland attempted to deal with a logical objection to his interpretation of this lunar image:

image credit: China National Space Administration, corrupted by RCH

        The image is from the Chinese Chang'e 3 lunar lander that touched down in Mare Imbrium on 14th December 2013. Hoagland loaded it into Photoshop™ and used the EQUALIZE tool. I commented on the technique a year ago when Hoagland first explained it, and astronomer Stuart Robbins did his typically rigorous job on it, on 1st May 2014. Hoagland tells his fans that the CCD detector noise in the sky is not noise but part of a vast glass dome over Mare Imbrium.

        The logical objection (other than the simple fact that the whole idea is crazy) is that the same noise pattern can be seen everywhere else in the left half of the image where there is black. Specifically, in the deep shadow under the spacecraft. In the Arizona lecture, Hoagland pre-empted this objection  (at 1:27:00 in the Youtube vid) by reminding us that the lunar regolith is rich in micro-particles of glass, and that therefore it's not surprising that we see that pattern down there. It's simply a reflection of the sky.

Proposition: Lunar regolith is reflective.

Corollary: From chest height, standing on the Moon, the all-black sky will be seen, reflected, in the lunar surface.

Experiment: Go to the Moon, take a good quality photograph from chest height.

 image credit: NASA/JSC
The proposition is falsified.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The pseudomind of Jason Martell

        I'm obliged to Mike Bara for Youtubifying the "Ancient Aliens" panel at the recent Conscious Life Expo. It gave us all a chance to contemplate the howling factual errors presented during those two gruelling hours.

        First up was conspiracy theorist Jim Marrs, who perhaps should have stuck to JFK assassination theories, a topic on which he still has a modicum of credibility. On this occasion he told his audience that NASA offers us no better resolution of images of the Moon and Mars than 100 yards, and at that, they all have "blurred out areas." One wonders where he's been for the last 20 years.

        Jason Martell was an unfamiliar name to me — although I guess I must have seen him on the all-bullshit cable TV show Ancient Aliens, and I probably read Jason Colavito's scholarly put-down in 2013. On the basis of an Arts degree from Mira Costa (a minor community college in S. California) Martell styles himself an expert in ancient technology. His youchoob demo of the Baghdad battery has given many a laugh to people who actually understand electro-plating. His ideas about astronomy are mind-bogglingly incorrect. Here he goes, on the subject of precession and binary star systems:
51:06 "Over 30 ancient cultures used astronomy, and basically used the 12 houses of the zodiac that we have today as like a grand celestial clock. And I've been starting to come in alignment with the idea that the ancients knew a lot more about the rise and fall of civilization, the repeating pattern that seems to happen here on Earth. You guys have heard of the Dark Ages, and the Golden Age -- well, these seem to be terms connected to a larger cycle of time, that the ancients were aware of. Precession today is based on what they call some wobble on the Earth caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon, and various things. And there's like 2,000 variables to it -- to describe the precession of the equinoxes. It's really kind-of out of control. There's a new model that's been catching a lot of publicity, based on some of the new science we have in space -- looking externally at other solar systems. Most solar systems are binary. We're starting to see that they have at least two suns -- sometimes even six, an intricate  dance. So it's very possible that we are a binary solar system -- that we actually have two suns. Our second sun would probably be a brown dwarf -- a dark star at this point, not giving off a lot of heat, not very easy to detect. But a lot of the evidence is pointing to the fact that if we are a binary solar system, the model to explain precession is getting disrupted. If we are a binary, that means that we have two suns in orbit around each other .... so that means that our Sun is literally orbiting around another sun. ?? concept, because that means that we too are moving along through space. If we're orbiting the Sun, we're going along on that journey as its orbit takes place. So there seems to be a correlation between the orbit of these two suns -- and when the suns are at their farthest point we're in the Dark Ages. When the suns are at their closest point we're in the Golden Age. [gesture indicating two objects coming together] Now, if you think about this for a second, this is a very large cycle of time -- a 24,000-year cycle -- and the ancients watched this by every 2,000 years we kind-of point to a new north star, a new direction.

[repeats the point]

If you think about that, all the energy we get from the sun -- you wake up in the morning, you feel the sunlight, gets us going... plants that lean towards the sun. Everything slows down when it's cold. What if we could introduce the electro-magnetism, or whatever these energies are, of two suns, and it exponentially wakens us, so gives us the ability to tap into a higher consciousness. And this is what seems to be taking place."
        Well, let's see... The mathematics of precession are very well understood. Lunisolar precession is caused by the gravitational forces of the Moon and Sun on Earth's equatorial bulge, causing Earth's axis to move with respect to inertial space. Planetary precession is due to the small angle between the gravitational force of the other planets on Earth and the ecliptic, causing the plane of the ecliptic to shift slightly relative to inertial spacenote 1. There is absolutely nothing "out of control" about it.

        Binary stars are reasonably common in the universe but it's by no means true that "most" solar systems are binary. It'snote 2 entirely false of Mr. Martell to suggest that our sun has a dark-star binary companion that we haven't detected. Infra-red telescopes would see such a companion star, and visible-light telescopes would see occultations  caused by such an object on a fairly regular basis. There are three possible planetary orbits around a binary systemnote 3, and in all three cases the presence of the binary would announce itself by very much more extreme annual temperature variation than we actually observe.

        But Martell's biggest screaming error was in describing the two suns as varying from a very distant approach to a very close approach over a cycle of 24,000 years, giving rise to a cycle between Dark Age and Golden Age. In fact, stars in binary formation rotate about their common barycenter, and the distance between them does not necessarily vary greatly or even at all. As for "tap into a higher consciousness," I don't know what that means and I bet the panelists don't really know either, although I don't doubt that they all use that phrase or something similar.

        The audience applauded at the end of this train-wreck of a lecture. If I'd been there I'd have thrown rotten fruit. Binary tomatoes, perhaps.

[1] OK, I confess. I copied those two sentences from wikipedia.

[2] Astroguy corrects me on this point -- see first comment.

[3] The three are orbit around just one of the stars (S-type orbit,) orbit around both (P-type,) and orbit alternately around star A and star B (the figure-eight orbit.)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Review of Mike Bara on Coast-to-Coast AM, 1 February

        With Jimmy Church guest-hosting, Mike Bara was allowed out of the stable to frisk around the paddock for a couple of hours last night. An opportunity to pre-plug his next load of rubbishbook, Ancient Aliens and Secret Societies -- also to preen about what he thinks of as a successful prediction.

        It was quickly obvious that the new book will be another lame anti-NASA rant. Mike reiterated his false claim that Buzz Aldrin conducted a Masonic ritual on the Moon (it was a form of catholic mass, actually) and asserted that there was at least one freemason on each of the Apollo flights. I'd like to see his sources on that second claimnote 1, but even if the data is correct, I can't quite see what could be deduced from that. To Mike, it indicates that NASA had an astronaut selection bias toward people who could be trusted to keep secrets. Ergo, to him, this proves that there were secrets to be kept. Ergo, there are aliens on the Moon. Q.E.D. How very, very weak. How pathetic.

        Mike seems to have swallowed Zecharia Sitchen's Nibiru/Annunaki ideas hook, line and sinker — since he regurgitated them (without attribution) last night. I guess he thinks that's what the woo audience wants to hear. Any readers of this blog who don't know what I'm talking about could google Annunaki and settle in to read 861,000 pages of garbage. Alternatively, just pull up Mike Heiser's web site Sitchin Is Wrong.

Planet X, Planet Y
        The Planet X idea officially died last March, when the final results of the WISE infra-red survey were announced. There are no Saturn-sized objects out to 10,000 AU, and no Jupiter-sized objects out to 26,000 AU.note 2 A Scientific American podcast gave the news.

        But it seems the Planet X idea won't lie down. Just recently, astronomer Carlos de la Fuente Marcos of the Computense University of Madrid (with co-authors in Cambridge, UK) publishednote 3 findings on perturbations of the orbits of small extreme trans-Neptunian bodies which suggest the influence of one or two larger bodies out there.The survey is highly preliminary, and based on observations of only 13 small bodies, but that's good enough for Mike Bara the world-renowned planetary astronomer. The basis of his TOLDYA claim is that, in his book The Choice, he ripped off a Richard Hoagland notion that a relationship between angular momentum and luminosity could be seen as predicting trans-Neptunian planets. This blog dealt with that four years ago.

        So how come WISE missed these large bodies? "Oh," quoth the world-famous astronomer, "Maybe they detected them but decided to keep it quiet." As he said that, I felt the anger rising in me -- but then I thought it was better to just laugh it off. After all, when somebody has to posit something as ridiculous as that to make their story stand up, the weakness of the story becomes bloody obvious.

The Haters (that's us, I guess)
       Right at the end, we were treated to Mike's current thoughts about his many critics. Jimmy Church asked how he was coping with that — it went like this:

“You know, Mike, you’ve been rolling that rock uphill in a lot... for a long time, for, uh, you know, twenty years.  And, what do you do, because— what do you do to fight uh, the, the wave that is going against you?  And, not only the skeptics, but the ones that just want to combat you at every step of the way? Because, you know, you choose... and like I said at the intro,  you’re steadfast in... in your research and your belief, and you don’t waver.  How do you keep up the good fight?”


“Well, you know, for me it’s that I know that we are all right about all this stuff.  I mean, there.. there may be certain issues that we’re wrong about.  There may be, you know, maybe some of the 9/11 stuff really isn’t all that serious. Not to bring up a sore subject, but, you know, there are going to be parts of what we believe in as a... as a unit, as a... what do you call them? ‘Fadernauts’ or the Coast to Coast AM audience, or anybody who’s interested in these kinds of TV shows and programs. We... we are gonna... Maybe there’s parts of the story that we’ve got wrong, but the VAST majority of it — 80% of it — we’ve got it right.  And it’s the truth.  And knowing that it’s the truth keeps pushing me forward.

"And, again, I don’t care about convincing those other guys.  I’ve  gotten to the point now where I’ve completely blocked out the people that attack me.  I... you know, I responded for a long time, it takes a lot of energy.  I basically set up a page where I said, ‘If you believe what these people say, here’s my counter-argument,’ uh... a dozen of them or so, and that’s it!  That’s... I’m just gonna let that stand.note 4

"Ummmm, and now I only wanna talk to the people that are actually interested in listening, and knowing that there are people out there that wanna listen, knowing that there are people out there that are gonna make their own discoveries because they’ll be inspired by me, or you, or George Noory, or listening to these programs, or some of the other guests you have on, just... That’s what fuels me — that’s what gets me up every day saying, you know, ‘Hey! We... we need to move forward with this.’

"And the other thing that’s really important, I think, that fires me up, is we are not the weird ones.  They are.  The people that look at us like we’re black sheep — like we’re crazy because we believe this weird stuff, they’re the ones who aren’t awake.  They’re the ones that aren’t paying attention, they’re the ones that are living with their heads in the sand.  So, I really have... feel like I’m on a quest to make people feel comfortable with who they are and with their fascination with this whole realm of stuff that’s out there: All these different issues that we talk about on shows like this."

        So Praise the Lord, Mike admits he might be wrong some of the time. On the other hand, Curse the Lord, Mike has a new policy. It's known as LAAAA LAAAA LAAAA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

[1] According to this list, only Apollos 7 (Eisele,) 10 (Stafford,) 11 (Aldrin,) 14 (Mitchell)  and 15 (Irwin) qualify.

[2] For comparative  reference, the Kuiper Belt, of icy asteroids, extends to 50 AU. The Oort cloud, containing millions of comets, is at roughly 30,000 AU (80% of a light-year).

[3] C. de la Fuente Marcos, R. de la Fuente Marcos. "Extreme trans-Neptunian objects and the Kozai mechanism: signalling the presence of trans-Plutonian planets? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters 443(1): L59-L63, 2014. Here's a summary.

[4] This is the page he means. Note the barefaced lie: "As you will see, I never said that orbital eccentricity was measured from the Earth, that centrifugal force makes you heavier..." (See Ancient Aliens on Mars, p.42, and The Choice, p.32.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Robert Morningstar squeezes the truth again

with apologies to Randall Munroe of xkcd

James Concannon writes...

        There, I fixed up a famous internet cartoon, to bring it up to date.

        Appearing on blogtalkradio, 20 January, Robert Morningstar the "civilian intelligence analyst" and Regents Scholar of Fordham University was mostly rapping on about the Kennedy assassination, but he took a little time to drop one of his famous misunder-standings. On the subject of disclosure (of the presence of ETs) he said this:
"The question was decided by the Brookings Institution a year before Apollo 8. It said we shouldn't tell the world because it would be too disruptive.... etc."
        On the Book of Farces, I pointed out, first, that the Brookings Report was submitted to congress eight years before Apollo 8, and more importantly, that it didn't say what AM* thinks it said. I wrote:
"Morningstar grossly mischaracterizes what the report said. It recommended that the question of disclosure SHOULD BE STUDIED but did not itself express any opinion on the matter. In fact, no such study was ever carried out so the idea that Brookings somehow muzzled NASA is completely wrong."
...and I cited an article from Rational Wiki in support.

        After some banter, in the course of which AM* called me "a persnickity nit-picker, who loves to snipe with a little snicker" (which I took in good part), he came up with this beauty:
"The fact is that the Brookings Report began to issue recommendations in 1960, but it was revised regularly through 1967. I use the 1967 Editon of the Brookings Report, not the 1960 edition. Is that clear to you yet, or do I have draw you a pictuRe? ->M*"
        THE 1967 EDITION?????? If that exists I'll eat my hat. It appears that what Mr. Morningstar mostly learned at Fordham was how to wriggle out of admitting one's boners.