Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sean and Melissa Morton have a court date

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
        The above text is Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted on July 9, 1868. Sean David Morton was born in Texas and accordingly his citizenship is established by that law. Yet, when interviewed by Kerry Cassidy a year ago Morton maintained that the charges against him were sure to be dropped because he is "not a 14th amendment citizen."

        Tell that to the judge, as they say. Morton will have his chance to do just that on 4th April, when he and Melissa come up in the Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles on 56 counts including conspiring to defraud the United States, filing false claims against the United States, passing/presenting and/or offering false or fictitious financial instruments.  I hope to blog more on this when the time comes. I also hope on behalf of the Mortons' financial victims that they lose in court and both go up the river.

Thanks to ufowatchdog for the information.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Mike Bara gets it wrong as usual

        Mike Bara, the world-renowned geneticist and physiologist, was invited once again to blather for three hours on Jimmy Church's podcast Fade to Black this week. 90% of it was discussion of a series of images of odd-looking artifacts on Mars. There was the pistol, the sarcophagus, the fossilized dinosaur, and my personal favorite the 20ft high cat playing air guitar.


        This was just the standard Bara performance. He consistently confuses "looks a bit like" with "actually is," all the while insisting that there's no such thing as pareidolia. The supreme example of his delusion came last May, when in a different podcast he said he knew these exhibits weren't just rocks because "rocks have very specific shapes." Er... I don't think that's really true, Mike.

        It was such standard stuff that I wouldn't be writing it up at all if Bara hadn't strayed off the over-beaten path of Martian artifacts into areas of genetics and physiology. "The human race originally came from Mars," he said, and produced two items of pseudo-evidence. The genetic part was "Our DNA is alien." How does he know that? Well, it's simple. It's often said that human and chimpanzee genomes differ by only 10% (actually it's more like 4%note 1) but 10% amounts to 650 billion base pairs, and you can pack a lot of alien information into that. He didn't get around to actually saying how he knew that the extra genetic information came from Mars rather than, say, from seven million yearsnote 2 of adaptation to life on the ground instead of in the trees, and/or exposure to very different food sources and disease threats.

Adapting to Mars
        The physiology part was this: Astronauts in space, he claimed, tend to adopt a Martian-style circadian rhythm 40 minutes longer than 24 hours. I don't know where he got that pseudo-data from, and it's highly suspicious because astronaut circadian cycles are highly controlled. By default, NASA astronauts stick to Houston time simply because that makes life easier for ground controllers. Unless there's some compelling reason to do something at what would be 3 a.m. in Houston, sleepy time is scheduled in synch with Central Time. The fact that astronauts very seldom sleep the full eight hours is a slightly different story.

        I can say with certainty, moreover, that there's absolutely no evidence that humans are more comfortable with the Martian day length rather than the boring old 24 hours of Mother Earth. The truth is the converse--and I know that because the science teams controlling Martian rovers from Pasadena have a very hard time adjusting, as they must, to the Martian day. Shifting through two time zones every three days turns out to be a very hard routine to keep up: It leads to irritability, lack of concentration and all-around decreased performance. I remember reading an excellent article in Scientific Americannote 3 about this. Seems it became a serious problem at JPL, especially when rover operations stretched longer than expected.  The Pathfinder mission, for example, was initially expected to last seven days but ultimately ran to 85. Nobody had planned for it. Joy Crisp, now a principal scientist at JPL, said  "I just remember getting to day 30 and thinking, 'I can't keep this up.'"  The article continues:
NASA leaders claim they have become more sensitive to the issue over the years. Andrew Mishkin, who helped plan the Curiosity mission, says that for the first time NASA officials decided to put a definitive three-month cap on Mars time. They also scheduled people to work no more than four days in a row, encouraged employees to monitor their own and their colleagues' fatigue levels, and had Human Resources prowl the lab for zombied workers to send home. "But everybody was pretty tired of it by November," when the 90th sol finally set, Mishkin says. And when NASA officials wanted to extend the Mars schedule past the 90th sol because the rover was running behind schedule, they put it up to a democratic vote: The answer was a resounding "No."
        So I reject Mike Bara's idea, on technical grounds. I'm not even going to mention how totally daft it is to hypothesize an intelligent race of Martians who escaped catastrophe by emigrating to Earth. Oh well, perhaps I'll mention it after all. IT'S BUNKUM, MIKE BARA.


============================
[1] ref: Comparing the human and chimpanzee genomes: Searching for needles in a haystack. Ajit Varki and Tasha Altheide in Genome Research:2005. 15: 1746-1758
[2] The common ancestor was between five and seven million years ago.
[3] Step into the Twilight Zone: Can Earthlings Adjust to a Longer Day on Mars? Katie Worth, Scientific American 29 January 2013

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Balloons on the Moon... and other errors by Bret Sheppard


        Bret Colin Sheppard is the artist-type from New Mexico who was so massively impressed by Ken Johnston that he became Johnston's publicist--probably without compensation, although we don't know that for sure. This blog took a critical look at what Sheppard and his squeeze Karen Patrick came up with last June, and a lively discussion including comments from BCS himself ensued. So there's no need to flog the dead horse of Sheppard's "lunar anomalies" here.

        Sheppard has now self-published a 104-page book, Flyover Tsiolkovsky Crater: A Secret Base on the Moonnote 1. I just had to giggle when I came to this bit:


        This is Apollo 12 Hasselblad image AS12-47-6890, and that little white blemish in the large crater lower right is what Sheppard thinks is a balloon. He even wonders if Apollo Lunar Modules benefited from a secret balloon-assist to ensure gentle touchdowns. Hilarious. I like to think that my readership is sufficiently au fait with fundamental principles of physics that I don't need to spell out why the idea of a balloon on the Moon makes me giggle. Hint: There's no atmosphere on the Moon.

"Tsiolkovsky... Okay, I've got it"
        But the central thesis of the book is that Apollo 14 shot 16mm footage of crater Tsiolkovsky which revealed a lunar base, exactly as Ken Johnston has claimed. Sheppard's thesis fails, however, because he can not overcome the following objections:

1. The entire 01:29:12 film is available online and Tsiolkovsky does not even have a walk-on role.
2. An index map identifying all Apollo 14 terrain filming targets is also online. Tsiolkovsky is the large dark blotchy crater very far to the lower right.
3. Modern digital images of Tsiolkovsky, from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, show no lunar base, even at the best resolution of 0.5 m/px (the images Sheppard  uses are about 100 times worse.)
4. The dialog Sheppard considers clinches the case does not clinch anything. Ed Mitchell says "..that's Tsiolkovsky. Okay. I've got it." But that was during only the third lunar orbit, and Mitchell was not shooting film but merely sighting in the navigation sextant.
5. Apollo 14 never flew directly over Tsiolkovsky. The crater is at latitude  20.4° S, and the orbital inclination of Apollo 14 was 14°. The Apollo 14 crew captured Tsiolkovsky in four still frames, all of them very wide angle. Here it is in frame 10301 (with brightness boosted,) its very steep central peak catching the sunlight in a way that a layman might think was a sign of life. This shot was taken after the lunar surface mission was over and they were headed home.


6. Sheppard keeps insisting that the navigation sextant was an integral part of the 16mm Data Acquisition Camera, but that's not true. The normal use of the sextant was through an eyepiece--an adapter was provided to attach the DAC if needed. This is plainly stated in a handbook and several examples of this are seen in the film.

Editing
        Karen Patrick is credited as editor of this garbage. In which case, I hold her responsible for the following text, which I swear I have transcribed exactly as printed. I'd cite a page number but I can't because Karen forgot to provide pagination:
"The image was analized for any known possibilities of mechanical artifacts and found to be part of the image and not an affectation of poor scanning by a proffessional photographer. It is truly a subject in the image as oposed to a reflection. It is exactly what it looks like, an un-natural structure or engineered structure as oposed to natural geological lunar formations on the surface due to the array which woulld be considered beyond coincidence in nature. In the same way a crop of corn would be considered engineered on Earth."
        I make that five keyboard errors plus one incomprehensible sentence. Since we live in an age of self-publishing, I guess we have to brace ourselves for more and more of this kind of crap.

Update: Was Karen Patrick dreaming of Paris when she composed this crap?
        A page from the book. Who knew they had boulevards at the Space Center?



==========================================
[1] ISBN 978-1541162624

Sunday, March 5, 2017

This just in--Ken Johnston kicked out of India. Yes, really!

        This might make more sense if read in conjunction with my previous bloggeranza, "Embroidery by Ken Johnston."

        It seems that James Oberg was annoyed enough by Ken's imposturing in India that he informed NASA, who in turn informed the State Department that someone was posing as an astronaut and "chief trainer at NASA." Quicker than you can say "Glass domes on the Moon," Ken became persona non grata and was quite firmly asked to go home last Saturday. It became a big story on Assam TV, and the report found its way onto Youchoob. Since Bengali and English are both official languages (along with Assamese and Bodo--wow, confusing!) the report was in Bengali but they had no problem interviewing Ken in English. It had its comic side--the interviewer simply phoned Ken and held his Smartphone up to the studio camera. Amazingly, the audio was pretty good, although I had a hard time hearing the questions. Here's what transpired.

KJ: I was taken by [?] by this woman... It's... looks like it's "Hanakeshi" [phon] ... took me to the airport and er..  sent me to, um, the capital of India, and said I should.. I should get me a ticket and go back to the United States, so I was or... I was ordered to leave.
Q: ...
KJ: That's correct.
Q: ...you were sent back to New Delhi then you went back to the United States?
KJ: I was sent back to... I was sent to New Delhi under orders to fly back to the United States.
Q: ...
KJ: The way they did that is ...um.. I thought I was being evicted early but, erm... what's the term when you're kicked out of a country? I was told to get a ticket and leave the country.
Q: ...did they give you any kind of reason Sir? Why they were sending you back?
KJ: No. The only reason was that...ahhh... they... they did not want to get involved in a big... a big mess or something ... I don't know how she said it, but, er... it was [instructions to someone]... OK. The only thing I could get out of them was that.. ahh... they did not want to be involved in any kind of a conflict, and even though I gave them copies of all of my documents and everything else, proving that I am who I am.. that I was a civilian astronaut consultant pilot. But they apparently were dealing with a letter or something from a guy by the name of James Oberg from... ah, from the United States. And I guess they were just taking his word over... over the documents that I provided.
Q: ...are you going to write a letter to the Prime Minister of India...
KJ: Yes, I do plan on getting a letter written, probably today.
Q:...
KJ: Well, the only thing is that my role [..] in India was to talk to young people, like I do here in the United States, and motivate them to get the education and be involved in ... in space travel, everything that we're doing. And it.. it was going just fine until this idiot James Oberg comes in and accuses me of all kinds of stuff. I've dealt with him before, and each time I... we provide documents and everything, and shoot him down, and, you know, show that he's the one that's causing all this trouble. So...um...the whole thing is that I really did enjoy going and dealing with the young people, and, um, promoting India's space program. And to be evicted or barred from India was horrible and you know I don't know if I ever even will be invited back to India, not the way in which I was rushed out, shipped off, and gotten rid of like.. I don't know what the deal was. It was just... it was extremely embarrassing, frustrating, and I hope that we can do something that we can restore my... umm.. my reputation. Because reputations are all that we have.

James Oberg comments:
 I could care less if anybody claims to have invented Saran Wrap or swam the Atlantic or was trained by space aliens in childhood, but when somebody smears the reputations of men I've worked with at NASA as liars and frauds, and invents imaginary 'credentials' to lend credibility to those baseless smears, I draw the line. I figure my debt to those now-dead colleagues, and to history, compels me to defend reality and protect future generations from cultural toxins like those smears. But not by responding with symmetric personal attacks, instead by finding and presenting documents contrary to the claimed expertise of the original accuser.  Johnston served honorably in the US Marines and during the Apollo and early shuttle program, and subsequently as an inspiration to young people for aerospace careers, for which we all can be grateful.  His complaint over having to pay for his own ticket home confirms that he had bamboozled two free round-trip excursions from his hosts, and the second one found out his identity wasn't what he claimed -- he may be liable for charges of fraudulently obtaining government funds in India.
        Ken was certainly being disingenuous when he protested that he really, really was a civilian astronaut consultant pilot. As he well knows, he was content to be described falsely as a NASA astronaut everywhere in India, and have an image of himself displayed in an Apollo spacesuit (actually he was shopped into a pic of Mike Collins, CMP of Apollo 11.)


 Johnston lecturing at Hindustan University, 7thFebruary

        Not to mention that his use of the title "Doctor" is also false labeling. Tut tut, Ken Johnston.

Update 8 March
Seems  Ken got his letter of protest off to the Indian PM. Here's part of it:
 "I was sent to New Delhi without even being given a chance to defend myself. I had to purchase my own ticket back to the US for over $1,200, even though I had been brought to India (Assam) and had been promised airfare home ... This would be an international crime that you deported a foreign passenger, just as such, based it on a single email ... please register this as a complaint and take severe action. I was told that a GUEST IS A GOD in your country but thugs like these are ruining your country's reputation. I hope that concerned actions will be taken soon and justice will be done to me and financial accommodations promised will be fulfilled."
        The India Telegraph published an updated account of the scandal two days ago, but its sequence of events is wrong. The article says "[ASTEC] decided to send him away when it received an email from another former NASA associate named James Oberg claiming that Johnston was a "'cheat.'" Oberg did indeed e-mail ASTEC, but not until 2 March, by which time Johnston was already gone. Oberg never used the word cheat, either. His message said, in part:
"I am seeking further information about the visit to your society off Ken Johnston, who often describes himself as a NASA Apollo consultant astronaut and training leader for the Apollo program. This is all untrue. He is well known in the United States as an imposter with a fake "PhD" and wild stories about secret astronaut photographs of aliens on the moon."
        The bottom line, for me, is a brief statement from Arup Kumar Misra, ASTEC director, "We were informed that NASA denounced him so we had to send him back." Oberg did stick his nose in but it was NASA who pulled the plug on Ken Johnston.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Jimmy Church says he knows they're here

        Jimmy Church, guest-hosting last night on Coast to Coast AM (and interviewing that prize con-man Corey Goode, but that's another story) made an interesting comment. He said that he wasn't interested in "Disclosure." Disclosure has nothing to offer him, because "I already know they're here."

        Without being specific as to time and place, he related the UFO sighting that was good enough proof for him. Accompanied by hundreds of other witnesses and a Canadian documentary film crew, he saw a very large shiny metallic sphere at a distance of about a mile rising slowly from the surface of the Earth, then accelerating and vanishing "into the solar system." This might be a garbled version of the mass sighting at the 2016 Contact in the Desert conference.Jimmy's original report of this event, when it was fresh in his mind, is here (at 01:17:48.)

        Well, as I've written before, I do have some respect for Jimmy Church. He's good at what he does, unlike Richard Hoagland and George Noory. But his reaction to that event really isn't rational. The proper reaction, to my way of thinking, would be not "OOooo look, extraterrestrials!" but "WTF is that??" Being a methodical type, I'd then investigate what was over there where the object was first seen. Any type of military establishment? Anything scientific that might have released a weather balloon, say? If it was the Joshua Tree event, I think I'd show great interest in the enormous military installations at Twentynine Palms, about 10 miles due East.

        Beyond that, it seems odd to me that personal conviction that "they're here" would suffice to kill any interest in disclosure. Disclosure might mean many things, but surely to be really useful it would include details of ET communications, what they look like, how they communicate, where they come from... all the stuff that charlatans like Corey Goode and Linda Moulton Howe give themselves permission to guess at.

        So I don't really believe Jimmy on this. If it happened you can bet he'd be part of the mob of podcasters begging those in the know to come on his show. And by the way, I'd tune in with the greatest possible interest. I'd lap it up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Embroidery by Ken Johnston

        NASA astronaut visits BM Birla Science Centre, announced the headline in the 12th February edition of the Hindu Times: dateline Hyderabad, by Our Special Correspondent.

        Well, the "NASA astronaut" turned out to be none other than Ken Johnston, described in the report as "A test astronaut, who is also chief trainer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America." Ken, as regular readers will know, is the ex-marine beloved by the NASA-hating folks because he accuses NASA of tampering with the photographic record of the Apollo program, obscuring important evidence.The problem is that Ken was never an astronaut, and never chief trainer of anything. His accusations are based on photo-prints stored in a ring binder for 25 years, then scanned on a consumer-grade scanner in non-clean conditions. The Rational wikipedia article on Ken tells what I believe to be the true story, and it's quite clear from that piece that Ken has misrepresented himself on at least two important occasions, in one instance leading him to be dropped from JPL's all-volunteer Solar System Ambassador program.note 1

        Ken was in India to be an honored guest at an INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR on SPACE ODYSSEY organized by the Chennai chapter of the Aeronautical Society of India. The Chennai City News of 7th February gives the deets, introducing Ken as "Dr. R. Ken Johnston" and providing pix and vids. Again as we know from the Ratwiki article, Ken's Ph.D. is a fabrication.


        This week, James Oberg commented "I think there are two levels of disgrace, first claiming status you never earned, and second, accusing those who DID earn such status of being falsifiers and planetary traitors."note 2

And then it got worse
        The inaccurate description of Ken as a "NASA Astronaut USA" then appeared, not just in an ephemeral  newspaper story, but on a permanent plaque beside the College of Technology's Link Flight Simulator.
 

        The above photo appeared on Ken's Faceboo page, with the caption "I have  a flight simulator named after me. I am very honored!"note 3 There were several comments, mostly congratulatory, but the following comment from Tom Harnish struck a discordant note:
"Ken, you've done so much good, don't ruin it! I warned you once before on the Mars One debacle. Happily you escaped disappointed but untarnished. But this really is stolen honor. Please be honest with yourself and with others."
Harnish is an author and science consultant in San Diego.

        My message to the NASA haters who consider Ken Johnston a hero is this: Look at that plaque and ask yourself whether a man who is content to be so falsely described is worthy of your respect.

Update 20 February 
        Today's edition of the New Indian Express has another story about Ken's tour. Describing him as "NASA's nemesis," it reports that he "released doctored images to prove that NASA had manipulated photographs to hide unexplained structures and anomalies on the lunar surface." We must assume that they think it was NASA that "doctored" the images, not Ken himself -- in all that James Oberg  and I have written about Ken, we have never alleged that he intentionally changed his photo-prints--there's no evidence of that.

        There are basically two explanations for the anomalies in Ken's pix. One is that he noticed strange things that he thought he had the only image of, but that are in fact present in NASA's official versions. A good example would be the notorious blue flares on several frames of Apollo 14 magazine #66. I blogged about this after Ken's Christmas 2011 appearance on Coast to Coast AM. The other explanation, also lavishly documented in this blog passim, is that the anomalies are not actually on Ken's prints at all, but on the scans done by Richard Hoagland on his office scanner. See, for example, the extensive discussion of Bret Sheppard's collection from June last year.

        During that discussion, it came out that one of Sheppard's favorite examples, AS15-88-11967, is not even a scan from a photo-print but actually from a reversal (a slide, if you like.)


        Slide scans are notorious for producing multiple reflections, which can appear as dot patterns. I've seen it many times in my own scans. So I would say that this example of a "discovery" is absolutely worthless.

And by the way...
        Ken's online photo archive is not focused on anomalies at all.  It's split into nine albums which group images having something in common, but the total lack of labeling makes browsing it somewhat unrewarding. There may be some gems in there but I'm not the man to find them.


Thanks to James Oberg for alerting me to this story

=================================
[1] Folklore in the pseudo-science community has it that Ken was "fired from NASA." However, since he was never an employee he obviously could not have been fired.
[2] Private communication, quoted by permission
[3] He managed to get that wrong, too. "Inaugurated by" is not the same as "Named after"

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Srsly, is there ANYBODY who believes Kerry Cassidy?

        In her barely-literate style, Kerry Cassidy recently commented on a couple of space hardware failures. One was the failure of nine clocks on board ESA's Galileo navsats. Each sat has four clocks, and only one of the four needs to be functioning for the system to be effective and accurate. Eighteen (of an eventual 32) units have been launched so far, and clocks have failed in eight of them.

Kerry, being utterly ignorant in matters of spacecraft engineering, wrote this:
"This recent sabotage of the 9 clocks on the satellites would seem to be a warning issued by way of an Artificial intelligence it seems to me.  Although possible targeting by craft based or particle beam weapons aimed either by a competing space program, likely run by the American side is also a possible culprit for this maneuver."

        The "competing space program" would have to be either the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS or the Chinese BeiDou system (a.k.a. COMPASS.) But what possible motive would any of them have for attempting to disable a different  nav system? They serve different populations in different ways. I was going to write "There's plenty of room up there in orbit for everyone," but that may be controversial. Navsats predominantly occupy MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) centered on 20,000 kM, and there will come a point at which interference will be a problem. However, we are very far from that point right now.


credit:wikipedia commons/Cmglee own work

       Another ESA failure also caught Kerry's attention--the crash of the Schiaparelli  EDM Mars lander last October. ExoMars is actually a joint program of ESA and Roscosmos, but to Kerry, everyone is vulnerable in the space wars:
"This is likely no accident but the result of a space war that took down the craft since we know that Mars is a planet with constant territorial disputes between at least one “ET” race and the American Secret Space Program."

"You can also see how the efforts of various countries along with the so-called commercial space endeavors by independent companies such as Elon Musk and others would pose a threat to the primary Secret Space Program operated by the Americans and their allies.  Those ‘allies’ being space races such as Reptilians, Nordics, Raptors and many others according to my whistleblowers.  The recent sabotage of the Elon Musk SpaceX launch being a case in point."
        Of course, failure of Mars landers and orbiters is a not uncommon feature of solar system exploration, so nobody with any actual knowledge would have any reason to be suspicious of Schiaparelli's crash. But to a paranoid mind like Kerry's, "it seems to me" and "according to my whistleblowers" is all the evidence needed to declare anodyne reports of ESA's problems barefaced lies. What I wonder is, is anybody at all swallowing this garbage?

Friday, January 27, 2017

In Memoriam

Lt-Col. Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom
Lt-Col. Edward Higgins White II
Lt-Cmdr. Roger Bruce Chaffee

50 years ago today