Monday, July 18, 2016

Happy birthday John Glenn, 95 today

In honor of the occasion, here's a look back at a blogpost from 21 February 2012:

        Richard C. Hoagland made a right ass of himself on Coast to Coast AM last night. Nothing unusual there, you may say. True, but this was a doozy.

        The proximate reason for booking this self-publicizing pseudo-scientist was the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's heroic Mercury mission, orbiting an American astronaut for the first time. Toward the end of hour 1, Hoagland made reference to Glenn's famous appearance on the Frasier comedy sitcom. Hoagland, hilariously, called Glenn's appearance a "scathing indictment of NASA," and proceeded to read Glenn's script as reprinted in Dark Mission p. 542 (2nd edn.)

"Back in those glory days, I was very uncomfortable when they asked us to say things we didn't want to say and deny other things. Some people asked ... "Were you alone out there?" We never gave the real answer, and yet we see things out there -- strange things -- but we know what we saw out there. And we couldn't really say anything. The bosses were really afraid of this, they were afraid  of the 'War of the Worlds'-type stuff, and about panic in the streets. So we had to keep quiet."
        Hoagland & Bara apparently believe this was an example of a NASA astronaut spilling the beans, revealing his true thoughts. Well, first off, it's quite true. Col. Glenn did say that. It was Frasier Season 8, Ep 184, first aired March 6, 2001. Frasier is A COMEDY SHOW. In case Hoagland or Bara is reading this, please let me explain the joke, because you obviously don't get it.

        The plot involved the character of Roz planning a radio show about space exploration. In a reversal of their usual roles, Roz is in charge, with Frasier merely booked to narrate the show. Neither of them adapts well to the work situation, and they clash repeatedly. Eventually Roz announces that Frasier is off the show, to be replaced by none other than John Glenn. Frasier, outraged, persists in interfering, and the argument escalates. Glenn sits down in the recording studio and begins the "improvised" monologue that Hoagland & Bara quoted. Glenn's monologue is actually intercut with scenes of Roz and Frasier still fighting and paying no attention to what their celebrity guest is saying.

        THE JOKE, Mr Hoagland and Mr Bara, IS THAT THE CHARACTERS ARE SO SELF-ABSORBED THAT THEY TOTALLY MISS SENSATIONAL MATERIAL. In fact they even hand over the recorded tape without having heard it. Just to be quite sure we understand this is a spoof, the producers added a laugh track throughout Glenn's monologue.

        Geddit? Geddit? Oh dear me, what clowns Hoagland & Bara are to be sure.....

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wrong Again, Mike Bara

Last night, as the unspeakably awful story from Dallas was unfolding, Mike Bara tweeted:
"Just gonna stay up until they tell us the Dallas snipers were Muslims"
Hope you've got plenty of coffee, Mike. In this case, prejudice is its own punishment.

From BBC News today:
"Micah Xavier Johnson, who was involved in the killing of five US police officers in Dallas before himself being killed by police, was a US army veteran who had served in Afghanistan.

The 25-year-old was a private who did a nine-month tour of duty from November 2013 after serving in the Army Reserve for six years, the US military said.

Johnson acted alone and had no known criminal history or ties to terror groups, authorities said."

Sunday, July 3, 2016

"Their ships were far superior to ours"

A certain professor, who wished to remain anonymous, was engaged in a discussion with Neil Armstrong during a NASA symposium.
Professor: What REALLY happened out there with Apollo 11?
Armstrong: It was incredible, of course we had always known there was a possibility, the fact is, we were warned off! (by the Aliens). There was never any question then of a space station or a moon city.
Professor: How do you mean "warned off"?
Armstrong: I can't go into details, except to say that their ships were far superior to ours both in size and technology. Boy, were they big! ... and menacing! No, there is no question of a space station.
Professor: But NASA had other missions after Apollo 11?
Armstrong: Naturally, NASA was committed at that time and couldn't risk panic on Earth. But it really was a quick scoop and back again.

        The above is a made-up fantasy. No conversation even remotely like it ever happened. Yesterday I was googling around, as you do, trying to pin down the origin of this piece of UFO flim-flam. I failed, because it's been taken up, believed, and re-posted by just about every crackpot and cock-and-bull UFOsite on the net.

Above Top Secret first re-posted it on 3 August 2015. OneBigMonkey, who also comments here, quite rightly called it a complete fabrication.
See also: >  Urban Legends > Questionable Quotes re-posted in Oct 2014.
UFOblogger 2009
circusbuoy  March 2015, UFO Casebook, The Alien Presence, Richard Dolan undated
Alien UFO Sightings attributed the quote to Buzz Aldrin, undated.

And that brings me to Linda Moulton Howe
        People who browse LMH's web presence, and/or who listen to her monthly reports on Coast-to-Coast AM, probably know that she is not a reliable source, notwithstanding her slew of awardsnote 1 for documentary television. Linda's problem is that she's gullible. Like Robert Morningstar, she'll believe anything that portrays NASA as a deceptive agency that tells lies. Like Robert Morningstar, she routinely ignores the heroism of the Apollo astronauts (managers and engineers, too, let's face it) in favor of daft rumors about "what really happened." These people are in love with the idea that they're in possession of arcane information that most people aren't aware of.

        So it wasn't much of a surprise, to me at least, when she resurrected this piece of dreck last Thursday night, attributing the quote to Buzz Aldrin in an interview for Atlantic Productions on 29 July 2015note 2. It's also on her web site, if you scroll far enough.

Update 8 July:
Linda has now removed it.

        She also re-tells the old, old story of the "UFO" that followed Apollo 11 on its trans-lunar trajectory (she refers to the S-IVB rocket stage incorrectly as the 1-SB.) She writes of Aldrin:
"Now, he’s come forward and said it was a light that got close enough. It had size and shape to it and followed them all the way to the moon! It was some kind of craft or something like that."
        Buzz Aldrin has done nothing of the sort.  He has always stated that the object was an SLA panelnote 3, and it was only visible for a short time, NOT all the way to the Moon.

        By sheer coincidence, I came across a wonderful picture yesterday.

Know what that is? Here's the official description:
"A unique view of the Apollo 13 CSLM: the center dot is the Apollo 13 Command/Service/Lunar Module (CSLM) as seen [from] Table Mountain through the 24-inch telescope. The four dots around the CSLM are the tumbling SLA panels. The diagonal jagged white lines crossing the picture from the lower left to the upper right are star trails during the 5 minute exposure. The actual exposure was taken by guiding on the distant S-IVB upper last stage spent rocket body of the Saturn V launch vehicle. This was very difficult, since the brightness of the S-IVB was extremely faint in the 1200X magnification guide eyepiece, thus the jagged star trailed images."
        So there you have it. SLA panels did indeed "follow" the CSLM for a while. Not surprisingly, since  they would have been given the exact same impetus by the Translunar Injection burn of the S-IVB. They would eventually diverge because of the very small additional thrust they would have had from the explosive bolts that detached them.

Does Linda Moulton Howe have any shame? I doubt it.

================/ \=============
[1] As a former TV documentary producer myself, I can let you in on a secret. We're ALL award-winners. It's really just a matter of filling out a form and entering your work for festival showings. You need to enclose a fat check, of course.

[2] Here she surely must be referring to Apollo 11: The Untold Story. This 60-min docco featured Aldrin, was produced by Atlantic, and aired on the Discovery Science Channel. However, that was 2006, not 2015.

[3] SLA = Spacecraft Lunar Module Adaptor. A semi-conical shroud that protected the LM during launch. Once en route to the Moon, it was discarded. The CSM then detached, turned around, and extracted the LM.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

More of Mike Bara's errors and fantasies

        I must admit to having a "soft spot" for Jimmy Church. I like his voice, he does ask sensible questions, and unlike Richard Hoagland he never interrupts his guests. It's unfortunate that he falls hook, line, and sinker for all the woo that this blog exists to mock, and doubly unfortunate that he and Mike Bara are such good pals that Mike gets on the show all too frequently.

        Last night, as a supreme example, Jimmy gave Mike two whole hours to promote himself as an expert on the "Secret Space Program" -- not by coincidence the subject of his forthcoming book. He said there are actually three American space programs, one public and two secret. Launches, he told us, take place from pads deep in the wild country of Utah where nobody notices. I'm willing, I suppose, to imagine somewhere so remote that a launch would go unnoticed, but how about the heavy traffic to and fro? Does Bara think the people of Utah are such rubes that they wouldn't wonder why oversize loads were regularly traversing their back-roads? Which direction do they launch in? East, over Colorado, or South over Arizona? Range safety must be an absolute nightmare. Also, how do they conceal this spaceport from all those enthusiasts who spend their nights scrutinizing Google Earth looking for oddities?

No gravity in Earth orbit
        It wasn't too long before Mike was laying on us some of his major misunderstandings about spaceflight. "In orbit there's very little gravity," he said. He just cannot seem to get it into his head that gravity is exactly what maintains an orbit. He has this totally incorrect mental picture of gravity pretty much switching off as soon as you leave the Earth's surface. Then we got his equally incorrect account of the early days of the US space effort. Here's the fortune cookie version: Von Braun was puzzled because Explorer 1 went 33% higher than planned (he claimed 60% in his book The Choice.) Then Von Braun realized that it was because the upper stages were rotating, and rotation sucks in hyperdimensional energy from the 6th dimension. So Von Braun adjusted for that by sneaking an extra term into the rocket equation without anybody noticing. Got that? Well, not a word of it is truenote 1. This blog has given a correct version of this slice of space history more than once, but since Jimmy Church doesn't read this blog he didn't know enough to call Bara on it.

        Well over an hour into the interview, Bara went off into fantasy-land. It went like this:

72:17 JC "Now what's the third version of the Secret Space Program"?

MB: "Well, to me, um, it's NASA. Because you've got this program that was started by the intelligence agencies, where they invited people like T. Townsend Brown to come and give them presentations on how to develop anti-gravity aircraft and spacecraft. And they said "Thanks very much" and all of a sudden anti-gravity disappears from the official scientific literature of the day. Then you've got the program that I think Kennedy started, and then I think really you have NASA, which is not really a secret space program but it's secret in the sense that it really is a public space program but it had nefarious aims and there was a lot of -- again, to use the word -- shenanigans going on at NASA, the Apollo Program ... I think that really the third program was the NASA stuff, which was actually basically a salvage program. It was designed to go and salvage Anunnaki technology from the Moon and bring it back here for reverse engineering.

76:05 JC "What was the technology that they were after? Are you saying... when you say Anunnaki, are you... do you have specific evidence or something that points towards an ancient.. you know, Moonbase that was there and we went and exploited it?

MB: "Well, yeah. We've talked about different things on this show before -- about the ziggurat on the back side of the Moon, things like that. But I think, even, you know, deeper that that, I think to me the biggest most obvious artifact in all this is what Hoagy called Data's Head on the Moon, which is this human-looking head which is clearly not a skull though, it's some sort of robot, a machine, that is in Shorty  crater on Apollo 17. There's a lot of other stuff in these images of Shorty crater that appears to be mechanical debris, and it's like the arm from Terminator, you know, if you bring back the arm from the Terminator and start working on it and reverse engineering it, then you're eventually going to get some ideas and figure some things out, and you're going to develop, you know, super-secret technologies from that.

        Again, this is familiar territory to regular readers of this blog.  For newbies, here's a link to the main picture of Shorty crater. Can you find the robot head? Do you think they could have descended into the crater and picked it up, even though no such descent was in the plan? Even though they were being reminded that they were behind schedule? Do you see a lot of other "mechanical debris"?

        I have a new question about this fantasy, too. Much earlier in the interview, Bara stated quite flatly that President Kennedy knew there was advanced alien technology on the Moon, and that was the true motive of Apollo. In which case, why did it take six separate missions to go and fetch it?

====================/  \===================
[1] Longish notes for anyone who really wants to get into this subject.

Von Braun was puzzled: Explorer 1 went into a 223 x 1592 mi orbit, cf. the planned 220 x 1000 mi. So it is literally true to say that its maximum altitude was ~160% of nominal, as measured from the surface of the Earth. However, that is not how the energy of an orbit is measured. The correct measure is the semi-major axis, which takes into account not only the apogee but the perigee and the diameter of planet Earth. By this measure, the excess is just 6.5%. The actual velocity at orbit insertion was off by 2.46%.

So Von Braun would not have been puzzled at all -- to the contrary, the orbit was never expected to be precise because of the imprecision of the solid rocket fuels of the 1950s, and the fact that the Juno rocket had no guidance after first-stage burnout. The second stage was, in fact, a ring of 13 Baby Sergeant solid rockets -- and the whole point of the rotation was to even out unpredictable variations of their thrust. Mike Bara seems aware of that but he can't seem to stretch his mind to the idea that the non-nominal performance can easily be accounted for by known factors.

Rotation sucks in hyperdimensional energy from the 6th dimension: This codswallop is so unscientific it makes me want to scream. First of all, there's absolutely no credible evidence that rotating something draws energy into it. Bara cites two experiments -- the "Allais Effect" and Bruce DePalma's spinning balls -- but neither has been confirmed, the claimed effect is minuscule, and DePalma's result has a better explanation. And then, even supposing that could be shown to be true, adding energy to a rotating rocket could have many possible results. It might heat the thing up, or make it luminesce. Yes, it might accelerate it but equally likely DEcelerate it, or cause it to veer off course. In the special case of a rotating planet, Bara and Hoagland have repeatedly claimed that the result is an upwelling (typically of volcanic heat) at the 19.5° latitude. They want it both ways -- upwelling when it suits their daft ideas, acceleration when that seems to fit the requirements. It's hopelessly, irretrievably, wrong.

Von Braun adjusted for that by sneaking an extra term into the rocket equation without anybody noticing: Again, I scream. It's been 58 years since Explorer 1's triumphant orbit. Mike Bara is seriously expecting us to believe that two whole generations of rocketry engineers have been educated and come of age without noticing what was in their equations??? Bara once addressed this point, saying that nobody knows these days what the actual equations are, they're just algorithms in a computer. Engineers simply feed in their data and crank the handle.

If you believe that, you'd believe anything.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The "Quayle gallop"

        Coast to Coast AM is concluding a vintage week, during which it offered us some of its most notable fantasists. You know, those guys who actually know nothing but can make it sound as if they know a great deal for as long as George Noory wants them to. Here's a line-up of the most delusional:

11 June: David Sereda: Zero-point energy, crop circles, anti-gravity. C2C has described him as a "Filmmaker and mystic ecologist."
14 June: Steve Quayle, Self-described expert on everything that means doom for the human race, who announced a year ago that he would never appear on C2C again. This blog has mocked him before, and Jason Colavito had a go last year, opining that "Quayle is either self-deluded, deeply stupid, or intentionally deceiving his audience."
15 June: Michael Salla. Salla promotes the idea that we are at war with extraterrestrials and have been for some time. He says that this is a cosmic secret, only known to very senior military officers, on a need-to-know basis. He doesn't explain how he knows it himself. His actual expertise is in conflict resolution.

        Steve Quayle came on in the second hour on Tuesday night and galloped through the following topics: Fukushima radiation -- Chemtrails -- Nephilim -- Robotics -- Hitler -- Fallen angels -- Drones -- Artificial intelligence -- Xenogenesis -- Human cloning -- Chimeras -- Genetic Armageddon -- Stargates -- Wormholes -- Andrew Basiago -- Edward Teller -- Abduction -- Supersoldiers -- Black Knight -- Bigfoot -- Frankenstein.

        ...and that was all before the first commercial break. Truth was in very short supply -- here he is on xenogenesis, promoting his book on Fallen Angels:

11:06 "By the way, the word xenogenesis.. X.E.N.O... I get people trying to pronounce my book to me, and I have to correct them -- you know, some of them write Z.E.N.O. -- but I devote the whole book to basically where future technology is taking us. I told you, I can't go any further than that book, because we're now at the point where the end of the book is literally in play. So how it plays out is this -- these very evil entities, with their human cohorts, are absolutely bent on destroying the human race."

        I listened through this a couple of times, and it's not at all clear who the evil entities are. The fallen angels, presumably. Since he cites xenogenesis, I'm guessing that these evil entities somehow replace human embryos in human uteri with extraterrestrial embryos. Or something. But anyway, alarmism sells on late-night radio, and Steve Quayle is perhaps its most creative salesman. A glance at his page on the C2C web site tells us that he's been predicting catastrophe since 2002 (according to Quayle, collapse of the dollar on 28 May this year was inevitable.) Plus he still has that annoying speech idiosyncrasy "The point being, is..." Ugh.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ken Johnston and truth

        Ken Johnston, the former Brown & Root employee who worked under contract in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, put out a press release six days ago. The occasion was so minor that I forgive myself for not having noticed it at the time. The release merely noted that Ken generously donated a copy of his self-published triple-book Ken's Moon (plus an additional multi-media package) to the Roswell UFO Research Center. Well, bully for Ken.

        This 650-word text was written, not by Johnston himself but by Karen Christine Patrick — Ken's editor and co-host of an internet radio show specializing in ufology and exopolitics. It's pretty clear that KCP is not God's gift to the technical writing profession — we see "The the three-book series includes...", "Ken's archives has been of interest...", "world reknowned" [sic in all cases, it goes without writing], plus other minor solecisms.

Painting over the stars
        But as in previous announcements and pronouncements by Johnston, truthiness is in short supply here. Consider this key passage:
"Most researchers today only have access to the current database of images that are in electronic format. Researchers have noted, there are significant differences between images in Ken’s archives and what is available to the public. Johnston is an eyewitness to NASA personnel scrubbing out details of photos and painting over the stars in the sky."
        I don't myself know of any significant differences between Ken's photo prints and the NASA electronic archive. Where the differences arise is between the "official" archive and the electronic scans of Ken's prints. But the comparison is between, on the one hand, a professionally scanned image from an original negative or internegative done in a clean room — and on the other hand, a photoprint stored in a ring binder for 23 years, then pulled out and scanned on a consumer-grade scanner. In the case of scans done by Richard Hoagland for his book Dark Mission,  the scanner glass is quite clearly contaminated. Compare, for example, the official version of AS10-32-4820 with Hoagland's scan:

        Quite apart from the scratches — emphasized by Hoagland's manipulation of the image brightness — there's something in there that surely can only be a human hair.

        As for "painting over the stars in the sky," that cannot possibly be the truth because the astronauts' chest-mounted cameras could not have been set to expose both dim stars and very bright lunar terrain in the same shot. It seems certain that what Johnston witnessed was strippers eliminating sparkle in the totally black lunar sky that might have been misinterpreted as stars.

        Appended to the release is a collection of a couple of dozen scans which are presumably there to convince us that Johnston really has something worth looking at. In fact, they convince me that the archivist, Bret Colin Sheppard (he actually calls himself an anomalist) lacks rigor to the point of despair. We see some of the usual fuzzy things declared to be "a lunar base", "a parabolic dish array"note 1, "an effigy or statue"note 2, "a sculpture", and so on. We are not told who carried out these scans or under what conditions of cleanliness. In not one single case did the industrious Mr. Sheppard find time to consult the library of ultra-high definition images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to see what these blobberies really are (if anything at all.) The resolution of the LRO images would be typically 300 times that of the Apollo collection, and considering that LRO has been giving us these free gifts for seven years now, there really is no excuse for this slop.

        Think I'm making too much fuss about a mere press release that nobody noticed? Wrong. Notwithstanding its grammatical shortcomings, The Roswell Daily Record picked it up, and to my horror (and that of James Oberg) it found its way into AP, datelined 7th June. For whatever reason, AP decided to add its own bit of untruthiness in the tail-end paragraph: "Johnston was later fired from NASA." Given that Johnston never worked for NASA, it's hard to see how he could have been fired. His status as hero within the NASA-hating contingent is based on this falsehood, but the true story is that he was dropped from the all-volunteer Solar System Ambassador program after his loyalty was questioned and his self-reported career résumé was found to contain important prevarications.

        Oberg added a comment to the online AP story, including these words: "If you're going to promote a claim that NASA has been lying to the world for half a century about what Apollo found on the moon, please research your sources more thoroughly." Amen to that, and see Oberg's comments below.

[1] The so-called "parabolic dish array" is seen in AS15-88-11967. The Johnston version differs only in tiny detail from the official version. It's a collection of small craters behind the rightmost fiducial in row 3. Sheppard presents an over-zoomed detail which is far more likely to be dust or a reflection than anything real. The bright dots appear to be beyond the limiting resolution of the scan.

[2] The"effigy" also appears in the "official" version of AS12-49-7224. It's just a large rock. The scan provided by anomalist Sheppard is notably dirty, including another hair or fiber.

Also note Johnston's own comment about this particular image, noted in this blogpost.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Recommended reading

Social Network Algorithms Are Distorting Reality By Boosting Conspiracy Theories. A very insightful piece by Renee DiResta, web-published by CO.EXIST.

The sub-head: Talk of Facebook's anticonservative stance is in the news, but the issue of what news social networks choose to show us is much broader than that. Just ask the anti-vaxxers.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Defense against Windows 10

        There's no doubt about it -- Micro$oft wants all its Windows users to upgrade to 10. Anyone running anterior versions of Windoze cannot fail to have noticed the nagging that's been going on for at least six months now.

        Now it's got to the point where they're beginning to implement forced upgrades. Today when I declined the nag dialog for the umpteenth time, I got this message:


        So, obviously, they plan to go behind my back and install the wretched OS while I'm sleeping. In a fury, I screamed about this to an IRC channel inhabited by jokers and techies, and one of them came to my rescue. A company called Gibson Research Corporation is offering a free registry editor called Never10, which bars 10 from installing itself. Note that I call it a registry editor rather than an app, because that's what it is. If you use it, nothing is installed on your system.

        As a bonus, Never10 scans your system and detects Win10 files that have been "pre-loaded" onto your system already. When I ran it, it found six point five gigabytes of these bloody things, which I promptly deleted.

        Here's the link -- it worked for me and you may wish to try it if you don't want your screen to resemble something more appropriate for nursery school, and your net activity easily monitored by faceless droids in Redmond WA. With grateful thanks to my knowledgeable IRC buddy.

Update 19 May 
It wasn't enough. I was hit by Win10 overnight. I'm furious.