Friday, December 22, 2017

Open letter to Linda Moulton Howe

         Coast to Coast AM is not known as a source of scientific fact—quite the converse, actually. Nevertheless, when a reputable scientist is quoted on that show I think the audience is entitled to expect to find a few pearls of fact among the dross of sensationalist speculation that is the program’s nightly bread and butter.

        There were precious few to be found in your report of your interview with John Brandenburg this week. First, his statement that NASA is “part of the Department of Defense for the intelligence community” is totally incorrect. You yourself ought to know that and should not have allowed that statement to go unchallenged. NASA’s charter and purpose is civilian space exploration and aeronautical research. JPL is a science laboratory managed by CalTech. The fact that both institutions carry out classified projects under contract to the DoD in no way alters that fact.

        Brandenburg revealed further ignorance in stating that “Almost all of the astronauts are either active military or ex-military.” This is not true. Currently 18 of 44 active NASA astronauts—a minority—are ex-military, and none at all are active military. The overwhelming majority are Ph.D scientists.

        It’s frankly astounding to hear Brandenburg accuse NASA of fudging data on xenon isotopes in the Martian atmosphere. Where did Brandenburg get the data on which he bases his nuclear theory, if not from NASA? I believe his initial analysis was based on Viking data, and since April 2015 extremely precise data on xenon and argon isotopes has been available from the SAM instrument on Curiosity. I’m quite sure Brandenburg has studied that data, and accordingly ought to be acknowledging JPL’s expertise instead of making false and defamatory statements about the laboratory.

        It was also astounding to hear you and Brandenburg discuss xenon isotope ratios on Mars without either of you making any reference to the alternative theory that the “excess” 129xenon arose from decay of 129iodine. Iodine is a solid in Martian ambient conditions and therefore would not have been lost at the time when Mars lost most of its atmosphere some time in the first 100 million years of the planet’s existence. There has been time since then for 275 half-lives of the 129I > 129Xe decay process, and that fact provides a firm enough basis for the theory that it deserves mention in any discussion such as you had with Brandenburg.

Ref: Yes, folks, it's the xenon isotope show! 


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

George Noory, YOU'RE FIRED!!!

        Look, Georgie, suppose some loony comes on your show and says something utterly daft like "The real purpose of Apollo was to retrieve Anunnaki technology from the Moon and bring it back." WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY is "Oh really? So what did they get and where tf is it now?"

        Suppose the same loony says "The story about us being warned off the Moon was buzzing all over Houston within hours of the first landing. My friend Ken Johnston worked for NASA and he confirmed it." WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY is "How the fuck would Ken know? He wasn't even in Houston—his contract with Grumman was over. He watched the landing on TV, with his wife and her parents."

YOU FAILED last night with that liar Mike Bara. YOU'RE FIRED!!!!!

NOTE HOWEVER: The book Bara was invited to plug for two hours went from Amazon ranking 365,637 / 16,698 SciFi to 31,636 / 2,419 SciFi overnight.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

THAT secret UFO project

        In a prominent article titled Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program (December 16th, bylines Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean,) The New York Times  revealed for the first time a $22 million Pentagon project called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The NYT reporters wrote that it was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring. It ran from 2007 to 2012, and its objectives included investigations of UFOs.

        The UFO connection, of course, was what ensured that this piece was picked up by the mass media, re-tweeted, instagrammed, and googled to death by people passionately interested in such phenomena. But those who were perhaps hoping that this was the magic DISCLOSURE they've been anticipating as eagerly as the Pope anticipates the Second Coming, were disappointed yet again. Judging by the two videos that were embedded in the online version of the NYT article, the cases investigated were reports by military pilots of encounters with unknown aircraft, with nary a suggestion that such things were actually alien visitations. The first was an undated encounter between a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and an unknown object.

         The second was  a 2004 encounter near San Diego between two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets and another unknown object.

The NYT piece included these two sentences:
"The shadowy program ... was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space."
James Oberg, co-founder of, and occasional contributor to, this blog comments:
"I understand the media frenzy, but as usual it seems irrational. Reid set up a 'hobby shop' to please a political donor's personal interests, which involved validating the donor's personal devotion to UFO theories. The DoD never seems to have shown the slightest interest or concern in the issue. 
Per the original story: "The former staffer said that eventually, however, even Reid agreed it was not worth continuing. 'After a while the consensus was we really couldn’t find anything of substance,' he recalled. 'They produced reams of paperwork. After all of that there was really nothing there that we could find. It all pretty much dissolved from that reason alone—and the interest level was losing steam. We only did it a couple years.' ... 'There was really nothing there that we could justify using taxpayer money,' he added. 'We let it die a slow death. It was well-spent money in the beginning.' " 
Also --'ufology' has sadly disappointed, never becoming a 'science' -- forty years ago I won a worldwide essay contest with that assessment,  expressing hope it would change -- and so far, no signs of that."
        Oberg also points out that Leslie Kean, co-author of the NYT piece, is a committed UFO promoter and author of  "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record." In a 2010 critique, Oberg questioned Kean's assertion that pilots are the best observers of aerial phenomena. Today he wrote to me that Kean's inclusion is "a  journalistic travesty of the first order, worth making a fuss over, considering her track record [especially the fiasco over her championing a 'true UFO' video from Chile not long ago that turned out to have been a scheduled commercial airliner]."

        Oberg was interviewed by the Canadian CTV News Channel on Sunday night, and here's a partial transcript:
JO: "The report is on airborne threats, and threats come in all flavors. Whether it's equipment problems, or procedural errors, criminals, hackers or real enemies or even space aliens. So anything you see out there, whether it's in the air or in my experience in Mission Control, in space, you want to track it down."
CTV: "James, have you ever heard of this program in the past?"
JO: "I haven't , but I know there are people interested and there should be. In fact, there's another tremendously important reason to pay attention to the reports. You can't study UFOs because we don't have any. But you can sudy UFO reports, [and it] turns out that among the UFO reports ... one of the causes are misperception by startled viewers, especially in Russia and around the Russian border, of secret missile and space activities."

A CAD-CAM technician speaks out
        As for Mike Bara, he seems to have achieved what for him is a minor miracle—being right twice in one year. First he was almost certainly right about the so-called Nazca mummy, and now he's probably correct in dismissing this story as over-hyped.

           In a vlog on Sunday, he alleged that the true purpose of the Pentagon project was money-laundering by Harry Reid and enrichment of his pal Bigelow. He questions whether the voices heard on the video releases were really the voices of the pilots recorded live, and points out that when the first "UFO" zips out of frame, it's most likely because the gimbal camera moved.

        As for the second "UFO," he identifies it as an X-47B attack drone.

        He boasts that he actually worked on the X-47B as "an aerospace engineer for more than 25 years," which to my knowledge is an exaggeration. A CAD-CAM technician is not an engineer but just a draughtsman using a computer screen instead of a sharp pencil.

       But I have to agree with him that these videos are nothing to get too excited about. Well done Mike—dare we hope that one day you'll correct the horrible technical errors in your non-fiction books? No, I thought not...

        Richard Hoagland has a scheduled podcast on this topic next weekend, with guest Steve Bassett. THAT'S IF he can get his show on the air. Since he switched to blogtalkradio in October, SEVEN shows have been canceled for "technical reasons."

        The Bassett show got on the air but Bassett was inaudible (see Comment #24 from anonymous.) On C2C december 29/30 Jimmy Church poured scorn on those who maintain that the object was a drone. "If it was, it was a drone that can fly sideways," he said—and then proceeded to tell the story of his UFO experience at Joshua Tree for the nth time.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Billy Carson displays his ignorance for us all

        I'd never heard of Billy Carson before he swanned onto Coast to Coast AM last Saturday night to be interviewed by Richard Syrett. Having listened through the two hours, I'll be quite pleased if I never hear of him again, and my teeth are sore from gnashing.

        Carson runs a web site called 4bidden knowledge, which markets trivia like urban survival kits. He seems to have recently completed a video documentary series for Gaia TV about the so-called "Secret Space Program." He claims detailed technical knowledge of space technology, but since his show features some of the usual suspects of pseudo-knowledge like Mike Bara, Linda Moulton Howe and Erich Von Danikin, I don't think it was facts he had in mind when he threw the show together. Sensationalism, more like.

Anti-gravity, and other myths
        Like all the other theorists of "Secret space programs," Carson maintains that the publicly-announced space missions of NASA and all the commercial companies such as Space-X are mere "window dressing" stunts diverting our attention from what's really going on. He says that hot technologies such as anti-gravitics and zero-point energy were mastered long ago by US aerospace, and have been used for deep space missions including manned journeys to Mars. He even alluded to a Reagan-era program which took 300 people en masse into space on one of those thingies. Richard Syrett—bless him—enquired why nobody noticed such a huge expedition at the time, and Carson suggested that "cloaking" was the answer. Damn clever, these pseudo-space-technologists—they think of everything in their quest to create the perfect unfalsifiable propostion, don't they? To them, it's quite good enough for the likes of Linda Moulton Howe to merely assert that such things have happened, and it automatically becomes true. "Evidence? Of course there's no evidence. Are you daft? The whole point is it's SECRET."note 1

        So what would an anti-gravity space mission be like? There would be no earth-shaking roar as mighty rocket engines come to life, no majestic rising of a rocket on a plume of smoke. Instead, somebody would throw a switch and the spacecraft would simply lose weight. They never say what energy source would achieve this little miracle, it just IS. So then the spacecraft would be free to rise vertically using virtually no propulsion at all—a squirt of monomethylhydrazine should do the job— until it was out of the atmosphere. It would not actually be in orbit—there would be no need for that. Initially, it would hover directly over its launch site, because relative to the planet beneath it, it would still have whatever tangential velocity the Earth's surface has at the launch site latitude.note 2 But over time it would slowly drift westward, as micro-drag reduced its horizontal speed. As a matter of fact, there's no particular reason to take a weightless spacecraft out of the atmosphere at all—all the benefits of zero-g could be had in the stratosphere, or even just staying on the ground.

        You could keep going upwards, of course, but in that case your lovely anti-gravity technology is a rapidly declining asset. The force of gravity is inversely proportional to the  square of your distance from the center of the planet. By the time you reach the orbit of the ISS it's already declined by 10%, and at geosynchronous altitude, where the comsats are, it's 0.023g, so you're not getting much benefit from switching it off, are you?

        But anyway, the time comes to set off for the Moon or Mars. Here's where you're really going to need some oomph, because even though your spacecraft has no weight, it still has mass, and you'll need to accelerate that mass in some major way if your journey time is going to be anywhere near reasonable. Zero-point energy, perhaps? Nope, that won't work. Zero-point energy does exist, as a concept in physics, but it cannot be used to do useful work. The proof involves mathematics that Mike Bara and Linda Moulton Howe are unlikely to understand.

       So it looks like you're stuck with the "outdated" and merely "window-dressing" technologies of rocketry. Awwww, what a shame.

        By the way, at some point you're going to want to turn your anti-grav gismo OFF, since the gravity of the planet or moon you're approaching is helpful. Then ON again as you come in for a landing. It gets quite complicated.

Ken Johnston gets another five minutes of fame
        To illustrate the tired old theme of NASA's deceptions, Carson told the story of Ken Johnston's photo collection. He explained that Ken was an astronaut candidate and a US Air Force officer who ended up working for a NASA contractor in Houston. He had in his posession a unique collection of Apollo photo-prints, and when he was ordered to shred them, he made copies first. Behold, Johnston's versions show things that the NASA official release prints do not—alien cities and geometrical craters, for example.

        The problem with that narrative is that it's NOT TRUE. Ken was never an astronaut candidate—he applied for the 1977 astronaut selection but was summarily rejected on grounds that his academic qualifications were inadequate.note 3 He was never in the US Air Force—he enlisted in the US Marines in August 1962 and reported to Pensacola for flight training in September 1964. He left the Marines two years later without ever qualifying as a pilot. James Oberg has documented this in meticulous detail. During Apollo, Johnston worked for Brown & Root, which had the contract to manage the Lunar Receiving Laboratory and curate the collection of moon rocks. There was nothing unique about the Apollo photo-sets he had, and he didn't make copies but simply took one set home. Johnston himself never claimed that his photos showed evidence of alien cities on the Moon or geometric craters.note 4 It was only when, in 1995, he showed them to Richard Hoagland, that the rumor got started. By that time they had been in Johnston's ring binders for 23 years. I can guarantee that if you held one of Johnston's prints in your left hand and a NASA release of the same picture in your right hand you would see no difference. It was only when Hoagland scanned them and slammed the brightness way up that artifacts appeared. How do I know this? Hoagland himself said it; or rather wrote it.
"In scanning Ken's priceless Apollo 14 C-prints, [I'd] discovered that the computer could "see" what the human eye could not—incredible geometric detail in the pitch black areas, like the lunar sky. The sensitivity of modern CCD imaging technology, in even commercially-available image scanners, coupled with the amazing enhancement capabilities of state-of-the-art commercial software — like Adobe's Photoshop—allowed the invisible detail buried in these supposedly black layers, of these thirty-year-old emulsions, to ultimately be revealed—a "democratization" of technology that no censor at NASA could have possibly foreseen over more than thirty years." --Dark Mission, 2nd edn p. 226 (emph. added)note 5

        There you have it—Hoagland is admitting that something was added in the scanning process. In my opinion, what was added was contamination on his scanner glass. Here's the NASA release of image AS10-32-4820, showing crater Triesnecker in Sinus Medii:

credit: NASA/LPI

Now here's Hoagland's version:

        Look closely and you can see what looks like a stray beard hair in there. An honest researcher would never increase the brightness to that extent, since it guarantees that any imperfection on the scanner glass or the photo-print itself will show up in the perfect black of the lunar sky.

Billy Carson lies about the Apollo 1 tragedy
        On the subject of Ken Johnston, Billy Carson was merely wrong. When the subject got around to the Apollo 1 fire that killed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, my teeth got their major gnashing and my bedside radio was in danger of being hurled violently against the wall. Carson went beyond wrong into utterly dishonest calumny, alleging that mission controllers knew there was a fire in the spacecraft but did nothing to save the crew, instead callously allowing them to burn alive. What can be said about a man who makes such a vile accusation with no evidence at all? At a minimum, I would say that he does not deserve any public recognition at all, and certainly not two hours on a radio show with millions of regular listeners.

        Carson added that "Betty Grissom could never get any answers out of NASA," and that's not true either. Betty Grissom sued NASA for negligence, and she got her answers although she never considered the $350,000 settlement adequate. For obvious reasons, NASA tore the remains of that spacecraft apart and undertook a meticulous post-mortem analysis. The verdict was an oxygen fire caused by sparking from worn electrical cables.

        Carson added that "the spacecraft is hidden away under tight security." Well, what does he expect? Guided tours for elementary school kiddies?note 6

Not for me, no thanks
        I'm not going to watch Carson's documentary series Deep Space. Created as it was by a man with such a slender contact with the truth, and such a nauseating habit of making vile accusations against the true heroes of our space history, what could it possibly teach me?

========================/ \==========================
[1] That's not a verbatim quote from Carson or anyone else. Just my mockery.  :-)

[2] 1471.5 km/hr eastward at Cape Canaveral.

[3] It was then that Ken obtained a mail-order Ph.D. in metaphysics from the Reform Baptist Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, and began using the title "Dr. Johnston".

[4] Interviewed by Kerry Cassidy in February 2016, Ken said "A lot of these anomalies that people will see -- I don't necessarily see them, 'cause I'm pretty much a straightforward engineer .. We know that if we stare at the wall long enough we can make all kinds of pictures."

[5] In August 2015, on his radio show The Other Side of Midnight, Hoagland totally contradicted himself. Answering a challenge from astronomer Stuart Robbins Ph.D., on this very topic, he said "You don't have to scan. I can't show you an analog print because you're not in the same room. So I have to scan it and put it on the web. But the originals show what we're showing."

[6] As a matter of fact, in January this year, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, the hatch of Apollo 1 was put on public display alongside artifacts from the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Name-calling as a substitute for commentary

        Reacting to the summary dismissal of NBC host Matt Lauer, Mike Bara tweeted on Wednesday:
"Wow what a great morning it is to wake up to the fall of another pious Libtard media icon."
        A day later, his twitter account was suspended, although we cannot know if that particular message was what found disfavor. Pious? Libtard? I'm not a regular audience for the Today show but Matt Lauer strikes me as a talented television host with nothing in his résumé to indicate either piety or inappropriate political opinion. It's perhaps noteworthy that some sources accused him of powder-puffing presidential candidate Trump during a September 2016 interview. So I conclude that Bara's choice of words is just juvenile name-calling. Bara himself, remember, is not innocent of physical contact with random women.

Bara expresses his appreciation of actress Shana Eva at the Conscious Life Expo 2013

At the launch party for Bara's book "The Choice"

With Maureen Elsberry. A new meaning for "Contact in the Desert"?

       It certainly has been an astonishing series of revelations, the current spate of sexual misconduct accusations, from Harvey Weinstein to Geraldo Rivera. In the new atmosphere, powerful men in entertainment, sports and government are going to have to keep their hands off the women. I make no excuses at all for boorish behavior, but my other comment is that it's also going to be a hard time for women in those fields who actually want recreational sex with alpha males.

        Yesterday morning Bara posted a picture of Al Franken along with the line "Bye bye you piece if shit." When he doesn't have an editor to correct his copy, his spelling and grammar are both tragic.