Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Gravity of a flat Earth

        First let me remind you, if I may, that the force of gravity is the attraction that exists between any two masses. We feel it as "weight", but it's expressed mathematically as the force of attraction between our body mass and the mass of the planet beneath us.

        If you placed two cricket balls on a flat surface, not touching, there would be an attractive force between them. To be sure, it would be negligible, but mathematically it would exist. We can calculate it, in fact.

Data:
Gravitational constant G = 6.673 x 10-11 N m3 kg-2
m, Mass of each ball 0.163 kg
d, Distance between their centers (say) 0.12 m

Formula:
f = G mm/d2

Calc:
f = 6.673 x 26.5 x 10-14/1.44 x 10-2
f = 12.28 x 10-11 newtons.

        Of course, the force of attraction between a cricket ball and planet Earth is not negligible at all. It is the ball's weight, or its mass multiplied by the acceleration due to gravity.

0.163 x 9.8 = 1.6 newtons

        We could calculate the atraction between a cricket ball here on Earth and the planet Mars. It would be even more ridiculously negligible but, again, mathematically it exists.

Expat rides a hobby-horse:
        If you're American, you've been taught that an object of mass 10lb also has a weight of 10lb by definition, and isn't that convenient? Yes, it's convenient but it's also confusing. It accounts for the misunderstanding of the difference between mass and weight in the average American mind.

Flat
          All right, enough of the Grade 6 physics. Let's think about a flat Earth. Such a concept is usually depicted roughly thus, an obtuse cone:

Consider a man standing in the center:

        That's him, standing proudly erect, with the force of gravity as a vector acting vertically. It's perfectly possible for him to feel the same gravitiational force as he does on a spherical Earth.

        But now, get him to walk half way to the edge of the flat Earth.

        If he tries to stand vertically, he's got a problem. Consider the planet beneath him as two pieces, separated by the vertical line. The right piece is way larger than the left piece. It is therefore also way more massive, and exerts much greater attractive force on our man than does the left piece.

        The gravitational vector is not, in this case, vertical, and our man is going to have to lean left to avoid falling down.

        I've attempted to draw the vector such that it bisects the flat planet.

        Now let the man walk all the way to the edge. The gravitational vector is now almost horizontal.

        This model may be flat, but to its inhabitants, it would seem like a rather steep-sided bowl.


Refutation 
       Of course, we don't need any more reasons to refute the claims of flat Earthers. We already know that the Earth is a solid sphere. But if you should happen to find yourself having a beer with some of those maniacs, try telling them about the gravity vector on their hypothetical planet.

Friday, July 24, 2020

NYT chases UFOs again

        Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean were two of the authors of the New York Times article of 16th December 2017, revealing for the first time that the US Navy was interested in unexplained things in the sky. The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification program had spent $22 million investigating reports from some of its pilots that they had observed distant objects that did not appear to be behaving aerodynamically.

        To say that this caught the attention of ufologists is an understaatement akin to saying that Donald Trump is mildly interested in being elected to a second term. DISCLOSURE AT LAST!!!! they screamed. But, as this blog reported at the time, there was no indication that the Navy or its pilots favored an extraterrestrial origin for these phenomena, and in any case the whole program had been de-funded and shut down in 2012, having reached no conclusions.

        Now Blumenthal and Kean have published again, in an  article headlined No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon's U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public which ran in yesterday's editions. They reveal that AATI was shut down in name only, and in essence was simply renamed and made part of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
« Despite Pentagon statements that it disbanded a once-covert program to investigate unidentified flying objects, the effort remains underway — renamed and tucked inside the Office of Naval Intelligence, where officials continue to study mystifying encounters between military pilots and unidentified aerial vehicles.
Pentagon officials will not discuss the program, which is not classified but deals with classified matters. Yet it appeared last month in a Senate committee report outlining spending on the nation’s intelligence agencies for the coming year. The report said the program, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force, was “to standardize collection and reporting” on sightings of unexplained aerial vehicles, and was to report at least some of its findings to the public every six months.»
The Russians are coming?
       Yesterday's piece will doubtless be a major disappointment to the UFO crowd, as it documents the fact that Navy Intelligence is not very interested in extraterrestrials.What concerns them far more is the possibility that these artifacts are advanced aviation developed by a hostile foreign power, representing a real threat to US defenses.
« While retired officials involved with the effort — including Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader — hope the program will seek evidence of vehicles from other worlds, its main focus is on discovering whether another nation, especially any potential adversary, is using breakout aviation technology that could threaten the United States.
Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who is the acting chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told a CBS affiliate in Miami this month that he was primarily concerned about reports of unidentified aircraft over American military bases — and that it was in the government’s interest to find out who was responsible.
He expressed concerns that China or Russia or some other adversary had made “some technological leap” that “allows them to conduct this sort of activity.” »
        Of course, nothing will curb the enthusiasm of MUFON — not even the arrest of one of its executive directors on a charge of soliciting sex from a minor — but at least the rest of us can take comfort from Blumenthal and Kean's report that no extraterrestrial attack is imminent.

        In a related blog, Jason Colavito comes to similar conclusions about Marco Rubio's recent UFO comments.

Thanks to James Oberg for monitoring

Monday, July 20, 2020

Hoagland says this is conspiracy month

"We're in the midst of an interplanetary war".

        That was Richard Hoagland, early in last Saturday/Sunday's Other Side of Midnight blogradio show. His guest was Christopher Knowles, who calls himself a symbologist — and having such an anti-science person around seemed to encourage Hoagland himself to stray far, far away from anything to do with verifiable fact.

        The first of many ridiculous connections he made was between the US Navy's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, revealed by the New York Times on 16th December 2017, and the recent fire on USS Bonhomme Richard in the Navy Yard at San Diego.
26:06 "The US Navy is almost at the center of a real awakening, and a deepening of the whole idea of Unidentified Flying Objects being intelligently controlled by somebody. And then a ship of the line — another aircraft carrier — based in San Diego suddenly catches on fire, and there's an explosion that is heard 13 miles away, after the fire starts. If that doesn't spell sabotage I don't know what does."
        So an explosion during an extremely hot fire is taken as evidence of sabotage? Right, Richard, got it. What was that you were saying about your science credentials?

Everything's a symbol, apparently
        In case you were wondering what a "symbologist" is and does (and certainly I was), Knowles then proceeded to illustrate it by constructing a tottering edifice of symbolic meaning out of completely random events. I didn't follow it all but it went something like this:

        First, Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on 2nd July, "World UFO Day" and an anniversary of the Roswell crash. Then, the following day, Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) Executive Director Jan Harzan was arrested in Newport Beach, California, for allegedly soliciting sexual activity from a detective who was posing online as a 13-year-old girl. Then on 18th July the cathedral of Nantes caught fire, causing extensive damage. Meanwhile, a comet was in the sky and we all know that comets are harbingers of bad luck. There's another San Diego connection there, since the last easily visible comet — Hale-Bopp — was the occasion of the mass suicide of a San Diego cult, "Heaven's Gate".
38:52 RCH "These are thoughts on a chain that is incredibly meaningful to only a certain few. And everybody else just dismisses it as a .. as..Oh! Coincidence!"
CK: "Yeah, that's what I'm saying. This has been a very strange month."
        Seems to me that this chain of events is only meaningful to people who don't require any evidence in order to draw a conclusion. To say that Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on 2nd July, and Nantes cathedral had a fire 16 days later is not coincidence, IT'S NOT ANYTHING.note 1

        So now we know what symbologists do — they make stuff up. Fans of nonsense like this got a chance to hear it all over again 24 hours later, when Hoagland re-ran it owing to yet another power outage in New Mexico. That's been happening an awful lot lately.

================/ \ ====================
[1] If Harzan had been arrested on World UFO Day that would certainly have been an ironic coincidence, but that's not what happened. Pull Me Under, the blog of UFO Watchdog, just published a useful guide to all the legal problems MUFON leaders have suffered.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The plague and Joseph Farrell

        Last Tuesday, a case of bubonic plague was confirmed in the city of Bayannur, Inner Mongolia. This follows two cases in Outer Mongolia a year ago and another suspected case in the same area five days ago. Both the recent cases are thought to have resulted from eating marmots. Heavens, marmots!! First it's birds, then snakes, then bats, then pigs, now cute little furry critters -- whatever next?


Gasbag
        Joseph Farrell is another gasbag like Steve Quayle and Richard Hoagland, beloved of talk show hosts because you just have to press their button and away they go, needing almost no questions to prompt them. Talk shows inevitably introduce Farrell as  having a doctorate from Oxford University — which is true, but the doctorate is in patristics (a branch of Christian theology) and lends no particular authority to theories about the Nazi Bell, interplanetary warfare, psyops and the "secret space program"—all of which topics Farrell has published on, and pontificated about ad nauseam.

        Two days ago, Farrell vlogged about the bubonic plague on his web site, The Giza Death Star. He speculated that the coronavirus pandemic is just a rehearsal for the real whammy, a worldwide bubonic plague pandemic that will kill millions. People who pay attention to Farrell (and that only occasionally includes me) are quite used to his alarmism. A contributor to the Paracast Forum wrote just the other day:
« . He's saying the [corona]virus was released as part of a deep state operation to bring down Donald Trump. He's saying that Dr. Fauci very likely engineered the virus himself, in Wuhan China, and he was responsible for its release. He's saying nano-tech particles have been found in the genetic makeup of the virus, but that this scientific information has been suppressed by the media. He's saying Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft in 2014 in order to oversee the global spread of the virus. But, at the same time, he's also saying Covid-19 isn't nearly as dangerous as the media is making it out to be, so he refuses to wear a mask when he goes out. »
        By all means pay attention to Dr. Farrell, but only if the topic is Christian theology. On the subject of pandemics, he has no useful information to impart.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Kerry Cassidy stranded in UK

        Kerry  Cassidy never made it to Corfu, where she was planning to scout for a video documentary on the subject of Empress Sisi. Her flight from UK to Corfu was cancelled at the last minute, which she ascribes to .a sinister plot by the Illuminati.

        "Empress Sisi", more properly Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Queen of Hungary (1837-1898) was a legendary beauty who married Emperor Franz Josef I at the age of sixteen. The Corfu connection is the Achilleion palace, that the Empress had built in 1890 as a retreat for herself and her entourage.



        I dunno, if I was planning a docco about the Empress I'd start in Budapest — but then, I'd be stuck with goulash and tokaj rather than moussak√† and retsina. Kerry is known to be a fan of Greek island life (I wonder if she gets naked on the beach, as so many tourists do).

        The empress was assassinated in Geneva by Luigi Lucheni, an Italian anarchist. I  had to LOL when I read Kerry's 30th June blog. This is her version:
« She was killed supposedly by a lone gunman type person…using a knife but indications are it was an illuminati hit »
        Actually it wasn't a knife but a 10cm needle file. Lucheni had travelled to Geneva intending to assassinate the Duke of Orleans, pretender to the throne of France. Unable to find the Duke, who had already left, the assassin used Empress Elizabeth as a target of opportunity, saying "It did not matter to me who the sovereign was whom I should kill." I'm not a skilled historian by any means, but I can see no "indications" that the Illuminati were involved. Like all good anarchists, Lucheni just hated the aristocracy.

        Other "indications" that Kerry Cassidy is one sandwich short of a picnic are also in her blog. She notes that she refused to wear a face mask on the BA flight, and calls those who did "lemmings." This is her take on the worldwide attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic:
« There is no doubt these lockdowns are arbitrary and all about population control and aimed at destroying economies.  How long heads of countries are going to continue to kiss the ass of the Illuminati-pedo-reptilian-draco rulers is anyone’s guess »
Update July 20th
Kerry is now in Turkey, denied entry to Spain and Greece, denied transit through France. She says she wants to go to Ibiza — I wonder what's there? Oh, I know, nude beaches!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The wheels of justice grind slow but fine for SDM

        This blog last noted the antics of Sean David Morton on 19th October last year, shortly after the braggart filed an INFORMAL APPEAL RESPONSE TO GOVERNMENT BRIEF from his Texas jail cell. I noted at that time that, of the half-dozen or so points he cited on appeal, denial of counsel without a Faretta hearing was probably his best point.

        Twelve days ago, 2nd June, the Ninth Circuit finally handed down its judgement—thumbs decidedly DOWN on every single point in the appeal. On Faretta, the justices wrote:
« A district court is not required to follow a particular script in the course of a Faretta colloquy, but it “must insure that [the defendant] understands 1) the nature of the charges against him, 2) the possible penalties, and 3) the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation.”  Here, the record indicates that Morton was fully informed about the charges and possible penalties he faced. Morton’s suggestion that the court was required to say more about the elements of each charge, and the government’s burden of proof, is unavailing. See Lopez v. Thompson, 202 F.3d 1110, 1119 (9th Cir. 2000) (“In assessing waiver of counsel, the trial judge is required to focus on the defendant’s understanding of the importance of counsel, not the defendant’s understanding of the substantive law or the procedural details.”); United States v. Robinson, 913 F.2d 712, 715 (9th Cir. 1990) (“[P]erfect comprehension of each element of a criminal charge does not appear to be necessary to a finding of a knowing and intelligent waiver.”). Moreover, the district court warned Morton that it would be “foolish” to proceed without counsel given the complexity of his case, the difficulty he was likely to have observing the Federal Rules of Evidence and presenting his defense, and the experience and skill required to perform effectively at trial.
Morton confirmed that he understood the court’s warning, but nevertheless wished to represent himself at trial. On this record, we conclude that the district court’s Faretta inquiry was constitutionally sufficient and that Morton knowingly, intelligently, and unequivocally waived his right to counsel. See Erskine, 355 F.3d at 1169 (waiver is valid when the record indicates that defendant “knew what he was doing, and his decision was made with eyes open.”) Similarly, the district court did not err by denying as untimely Morton’s motion for appointment of counsel at sentencing. Although “a defendant who has waived his right to counsel may nonetheless re-assert that right for the purposes of a sentencing proceeding,” Robinson v. Ignacio, 360 F.3d 1044, 1059 (9th Cir. 2004), there are “times when the criminal justice system would be poorly served by allowing the defendant to reverse his course at the last minute and insist upon representation by counsel,”  This request was one of those times. Morton did not make his request for counsel until the end of the sentencing hearing, and after the court had heard extensive argument from both parties. His request came just as the court was prepared to announce its sentence. Under these circumstances, we conclude that the district court correctly rejected as untimely Morton’s request for appointment of counsel.»
        The court shot down all Morton's other points of appeal with equal thoroughness, coming down particularly hard on the allegation that the justice system was "out to get" Morton because of his writings and reputation.

        So this arrogant and self-promoting villain, who has said all along that his skill at legal matters would surely defeat the charges against him, is now humiliated and forced to serve out his sentence. He should be in the can until September 2023, unless he's been on good behavior (which is hard to imagine considering his belligerence.)

        Suck it up, Morton. You're a criminal, a con-man and a liar.


Thanks to AE, this blog's legal eagle

Monday, June 1, 2020

James McCanney tells it like it isn't

        James McCanney is the electric comet guy, the Planet X guy and one of the foremost of the Apollo deniers. Phil Plait has done a good job explaining how wrong McCanney is on most topics in astronomy. So has Stuart Robbins, here.  One that "Bad Astronomy" didn't catch (Stuart Robbins did, here)  is his statement that Venus is tidally locked to Earth. It isn't true (The synodic period of Venus is 583.92 days, and its rotational period is 224.701 Earth days retrograde) but the Earth-Venus system does have the unusual property that Venus shows almost exactly the same face to us at successive closest approaches.note 1. So probably McCanney once heard the above true statement and misinterpreted it to mean the UNtrue statement that Venus always shows us the same face.

        McCanney is a recurrent guest on Coast to Coast AM, although his appearance a week ago (26th May) ended a 7-year drought. C2C likes to promote him as a Professor of Mathematics and Physics from Cornell, although he hasn't taught at Cornell since the 80s.

        For many years McCanney was warning "Planet X is coming!!" He cited the observations of Tom Van Flandern and Robert Harrington, who declared in 1989 that they had spotted an incoming planet four times the mass of Earth, visible only from the Southern hemisphere. Now, explaining why Planet X still hasn't arrived, McCanney says it turned into the Hale-Bopp comet, discovered in 1995. Moreover, he said, there was good evidence of intelligent signalling from Planet X. Well, that's awfully wrong. Planets do not turn into comets,note 2 and if there had been good evidence of signalling, it would have been front-page news.note 3

        Conscious, perhaps, that McCanney's statements were at gross variance with conventional astronomy, George Noory asked "Why is NASA afraid to admit these things?" This was McCanney's answer:
"I can't answer your question but I can tell you it's a top-down thing, and the people at NASA are under strict gag orders. People from NASA can't just walk up to the microphone and say something. It goes through an official release, OKed by people like [?] Tony Phillipsnote 4, people like that."
        I've interacted quite a bit with NASA scientists in my career, and I've never come across one who was gagged or even felt as though they were.note 5

Power and water from the air
        McCanney has a pending patent on a wind generator that not only generates local electric power but also extracts water from the atmosphere.


        The generator is now being installed in units from 2 to 250 kW, and McCanney (rather optimistically, I think) asserts that one day it will entirely replace nuclear and fossil fuel energy sources.

        On Coast to Coast AM he proudly said that the WING generator had won the 2018 Water Abundance X Prize, $1,500,000 . That's not actually true—the winners were The Skysource/Skywater Alliance, but McCanney's generator was awarded a $150,000 second-place consolation prize.

====================/ \===================
[1]  The interval between successive close approaches of Venus to Earth is equal to 5.001444 Venusian solar days. So at each  closest approach we see just half a degree more on Venus's West edge, and half a degree less on the East, than at the last closest approach (at the equator that works out to about 53 km). An astronomer would have to live for 2,219 years to see a full rotation of Venus at closest approach.

ref:  Atmospheric tides and the resonant rotation of VenusIcarus, Nov. 1969, Thomas Gold and Steven Soter.

[2] ...or vice versa. Another of McCanney's errors is the fantasy that Venus was once a comet.

[3] Again, Phil Plait has nailed the Planet X fallacy expertly.

[4] It sounded like "Tony Phillips" but I don't know who he means. No such person is in the list of official NASA spokespersons.

[5] One who I spent a lot of time with during the Viking missions was Chief Scientist Gerry Soffen. What is Gerry most remembered for by writers? He was the first to show the image of  "The Face on Mars". Gagged? I don't think so.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Adrenochrome and fantasy

James Concannon writes... 

       Adrenochrome is a real compound, chemical formula C9H9NO3, the result of the oxidation of the hormone adrenaline (C9H13NO3).

        What is not true is that adrenochrome is a potent psychotomimetic/hallucinogenic drug having effects on the brain similar to those of LSD (C20H25N3O). It is not a controlled substance in either the USA or the UK, although it may be mildly psychoactive in some people at some dosages.

         What is even less true is that the only source of "the good stuff" is a living human body, preferably that of a child.

        What is less true even than that is that Hollywood celebrities, addicted to adrenochrome, have abducted large numbers of children and kept them in cages as a source of their recreational drug.

        Least true of all is that 2,100 caged children were rescued from five different underground bases in California by US Marines on 14th October 2019. That nauseating lie was promulgated by a guy from Wisconsin called Timothy Charles Holmseth, first on YouTube and then on a web page dated 1st April 2020. This was no April Fool's joke—Holmseth followed it up two days later with a "report" expanding the story from 2,100 to 35,000 and from California to three other States. Robert Morningstar swallowed the story hook, line and sinker, and re-posted it on his Foolbook page five days ago. Morningstar is an educated man—a Fordham University scholar, he tells us often—so why is he spreading this garbage around? I suspect the answer is political. The ridiculous fiction known as Pizzagate showed us that the propagandists of the extreme right wing in the USA (and that includes Morningstar) are interested in connecting any democrats with pedophilia and other forms of child abuse. According to an article in Spectator USA, propagandists of the extreme right (Q-Anon) circulated a rumor in 2018 that there was a video showing Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin mutilating a young girl in order to harvest adrenochrome from her terrified body. As if.

The Truth
        The truth is that the potency (and availability) of adrenochrome is all in fiction. Under the name drenchrom, it gets a mention in Anthony Burgess's dark dystopian novel Clockwork Orange. But the primary source of misinformation is Hunter Thompson's 1971 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter Thompson himself admitted that he made up the part about adrenochrome. The movie adaptation even shows Johnny Depp taking a hit:

Universal Pictures, 1998

        The whole idea of harvesting adrenochrome from adrenal galnds was a plot point in the FICTIONAL TV series Inspector Lewis (2008).

An obsession

Timothy Charles Holmseth describes himself as follows:
 “Timothy Charles Holmseth, 51, Minnesota, is a former radio broadcaster, government reporter, magazine writer, song writer, author, and publisher…recognized with first place awards for news reporting and column writing by the North Dakota Newspaper Association including Best News Series, as well as awards from Boone Publishing.”
The Frank Report investigated these claims and wrote:
He was never a “radio broadcaster” – just a guest on an internet podcast. Never a Government reporter (whatever that is) – and never wrote a magazine or song anyone knows of. Search of the ND Newspaper Assn site shows they never heard of him – and Boone Publishing doesn’t give awards.
        It is sort-of-true that Holmseth is an author and publisher. Amazon books lists five works self-published by him. The topics of all five are, guess what? Pedophilia and child abuse. Holmseth also claims to belong to some organization called the Pentagon Pedophile Task Force. The internet fact-checker Lead Stories debunked the whole pack of lies yesterday, confirming that there is no such thing as the Pentagon Pedophile Task Force. A blog in March 2018 detailed Holmseth's criminal record.

...and this is the man who Robert Morningstar wants us to believe.


Sources:
Wikipedia
Minnesota’s Timothy Holmseth finds trouble with his Q-Anon conspiracies
The truth about adrenochrome
Timothy Charles Holmseth is not what he appears to be (YouTube)