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.


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[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?



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[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.