Saturday, April 27, 2019

UFO Congress backpedals on Ken Johnston

        This is a laugh. The UFO Congress, promoting its 2019 meet-up, has tacked a VERY STRONG disclaimer onto its page about Ken Johnston. Having referred to him as "Dr. Johnston" in the blurb, the following has now been added:

NOTE: Ken Johnston is not a doctor and does not have an accredited Ph.D.

        In four paragraphs, the text explains that Johnston was deceptive in claiming the Ph.D. in the first place, stating that his doctorate was conferred by the Reformed Baptist Seminary. In fact it was “The Reform Baptists Theological Seminary,”  one of several diploma mills run by tax-protester William Conklin. In other words, a worthless piece of paper.

        I also take issue with one other factoid in the blurb. It describes Johnston's Apollo photo collection as "...of a higher resolution than what is found on-line." It's a tricky point because they are attempting to compare the resolution of a 10x8 photoprint with that of a digital image, but consider these points:

Point 1. The online NASA Apollo image library generally offers its products in two different resolutions—low and high. Take a look at a typical listing, Magazine C from Apollo 17. The hi-res images, suffixed HR, are jpgs of at least 500kb, on up to 1600kb. They are typically 2400 pixels square and the numerical resolution in metres per pixel depends, of course, on how far away the subject is. But this resolution is more than adequate for inspecting the surface, and far more convenient than peering at a photoprint through a loupe.

Point 2. Any serious researcher for whom that resolution is inadequate can, by paying a modest fee, order up extremely hi-res digital images in .tiff format that are scanned direct from the camera negatives. This is what I did when investigating Hoagland's "Data's Head" claim, and I received a version of AS17-137-21000 that was 46.1 MB, 5190 x 6175 px.


Point 3. The first exposure of Ken's photo collection occurred in early 1995, when he showed a selection to Hoagland after a lecture in Seattle. That means that these prints had been in Johnston's ring binders for at least 20 years and, even in glassine envelopes, some fading and discoloration would be inevitable (More on that here).

Point 4. Hoagland has always claimed that Johnston's print-set shows things that NASA's equivalents do not. But the fact is, he's not actually comparing a print to a digital image—he's comparing his own scan of a print to NASA's scan. Hoagland's scanner glass is quite clearly contaminated.

Part of Hoagland's scan of AS10-32-4820

        Bottom line, I do not think the claim made for this collection is sustainable.

Thanks to James Oberg for monitoring this

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Clyde Lewis: Ignorant speculator

« [T]he compelling question has to be asked – has there been a head start program in space and have we been conducting space war operations since Apollo? Has this program been ongoing or was it abandoned after 1979 and then rebooted during the S.D.I proposals of Ronald Regan – the program that was eventually called the Star wars Program. »
        The answers are no, no, no and no. The questions were posed by Clyde Lewis of the "Ground Zero" website/internet radio show, in a long article titled STRATOSFEAR, THE SECRET SPACE WAR published yesterday. The article summarizes a discussion in a TV studio between Lewis, Space Shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin, and Mike Bara. That's Mike Bara the self-worshipper who, according to the Rational Wikipedia, is homophobic as well as mysogynistic. He constantly claims to be a NYT best-selling author even though IT'S NOT TRUE.

        Well, the "secret space war" turns out to be the not-very-secret Project Horizon, a proposal drafted in 1959 to establish a military Moon base staffed by 12 U.S.Army officers, costing $7 billion. Lewis writes:
« As cameras were rolling, we discussed the lunar objectives that were pre NASA including the military’s plan to build a space station on the moon before 1969. Back in 2016, I presented a program where I uncovered documents about Project Horizon a secret space station that was supposed to be built on the moon. »
         "Uncovered", eh Clyde? The existence of Horizon was reported by Astronautix in 2005 and was probably public knowledge well before that. Wikipedia's first page on Horizon was dated 2 July 2005, and today it's a quite detailed exposition, last edited nearly a year ago.

        One key point to understand about Horizon is that it never happened. As the wiki reports (citing John Logsden in 2010),note 1 Eisenhower nixed it as NASA was created as a civilian agency in 1959. In two of his published books,note 2 Mike Bara has suggested that Horizon may not have been cancelled but may have been secretly built, manned, and declared operational. Clyde Lewis seems to agree:
« We were told that the military was not part of the moon shot in 1969. We are told that it was NASA that sent the astronauts there. So the question is, was the military already on the moon, sent on a secret away mission and was the astronaut’ giant leap merely a show for the public to cheer on.»
        Don'cha love those rhetorical questions? They allow speculators to hint that they know more than they're allowed to say, without requiring anything resembling evidence. Again, the answers are no and no.

        Well, I headed this article "Ignorant speculator" so perhaps I'd better justify the adjective. The report that Lewis cites estimates that construction of the base would require 61 Saturn I and 88 Saturn II launches through November 1966, with another 64 launches during the first year of operation. Anyone who thinks that program could have been conducted in secret cannot have been anywhere near a Saturn rocket launch. Those things were NOISY.

        Another key point is the actual structure envisaged for Horizon. Here are two illustrations from the report that Clyde Lewis himself cited (which, by the way, is included in the 2005 Astronautix report):

        This thing is not buried out of sight— it's right there on the surface. Before it was even half built, every amateur astronomer in the world would be saying "Er... excuse me... WTF IS THAT?"

        Lewis provides documentation of three other historical moonbase projects—one of which involved Carl Sagan—but these, like Horizon, never got beyond the planning stages.

        As part of his just-published article, Clyde Lewis seeks to link his speculations to Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who has been in the news lately. He cites REPORT THAT UR DESTROYED SECRET US BASE ON MOON.  This Wikileaks link references a report that seems to have been written in January 1979 and declassified in December 2012, but since there's no content here it's impossible to assess whether the original is credible. "UR" is supposedly code for The Soviet Union. As I've written many times before, we now have such excellent high-defintion photographic coverage of the Moon that any speculations about alien activities, military operations, or vast glass domes look a bit pathetic.

        I hope I've written enough to convince any doubters that Clyde Lewis's piece is worthless speculation from two arrivistes who know a great deal less than they think they do.

===================/ \====================
[1] Logsdon, John (2010). John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-11010-6

[2] "Hidden Agenda" (2016) and "Ancient Aliens and JFK" (2018). In "Hidden Agenda", Bara wrote (p.115) "I see no reason why these plans couldn't have been carried out behind the scenes, in parallel with the public NASA space program."  In "JFK" he wrote (p. 78-83) "It would have been a fairly simple thing to implement this plan over the next few decades.... My suspicion and speculation is that that is exactly what they did." [emph. added]

Sunday, April 14, 2019

UFOs and madness

        When people ask me if I "believe in UFOs", my immediate answer is "Yes, of course". I'd have to be totally crazy to deny that unidentified phenomena are fairly often seen in the sky. But of course, that's not what they mean to ask. They really mean to ask if I think some of those flashie-washies are intelligent messengers from interstellar space. This is very literally to ask if I think some UFOs are IFOs, and the answer is no. Carl Sagan would agree with me...
"[T]here are things seen in the sky which are unidentified--that's what an unidentified flying object is, it means we don't know what it is. It doesn't mean it's a space vehicle from somewhere else. And there ought to be things in the sky that we don't understand--the sky is very rich in phenomena--astronomical, meteorological, optical and man-made phenomena. And therefore only a very reliable sighting of an extremely exotic object ought to be considered in any way relevant to our problem of life elsewhere.  And to the best of my knowledge, there are lots of exotic reports, but none of those exotic reports are reliable."note 1
        Sagan was speaking 40 years before the release of military images by the five-year-long Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, that excited many people who have a fervent need to believe in extraterrestrial intelligence. But I'm absolutely sure that those images would not have changed Sagan's opinion one iota. He believed that mysterious things are seen in the skies but that there's no valid reason to jump to the conclusion that they are intelligently-guided spaceships. And I agree (of course.)

        So what should we say about those people—millions of them—who really do maintain that at least some of the woo-woo in the sky is ET observing us? Are they all crazy, or what?

The light years
        I was led to this question because on my reading list last week was Chris Rush's memoir The Light Yearsnote 2. Rush, now an aging and respected mainstream artist, abandoned his well-heeled New Jersey family while still a teenager and dropped into the drug culture of the '60s. BIG TIME. Publisher's Weekly wrote:
"Rush’s storytelling shines as he travels across the country and back again, searching for truth, love, UFOs in New Mexico, peace, something that feels like God, and a place to call home."
        I have no qualifications in psychiatry but I'm as sure as I can be that Rush really was crazy at that time. He took every recreational drug that was around, feminized himself to the point of absurdity, and wandered the Arizona mountains and deserts with no plan other than to "find God." And he really was a UFO believer in the full sense. He writes:
"I saw a flying saucer this summer. They're all over the place now. I think maybe this is also part of  the story, you know—the Space People and how they want us to change. I'm confident they'll be here soon. I hear that if we all visualize the ships, that'll encourage them to come even sooner."
        Rush was so convinced of the importance of the UFO phenomenon that he contacted, and eventually visited, the one-time write-in Presidential candidate Gabriel Green, founder of the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America Inc. I have no hesitation in declaring that Green (1924-2001) was a nutcase. He declared that he had met the crew of a flying saucer, and that they came from the planet Korendor, a satellite of Alpha Centauri. A modern equivalent would be Corey Goode, who claims many such face-to-face meetings. Neither of them has any credibility whatever.

        The Heaven's Gate "away team" were all crazy, but what about Courtney Brown? It was he who through so-called "remote viewing" told the world that there was an alien spaceship accompanying comet Hale-Bopp, and it was precisely that IFO that the Heaven's Gate loonies believed they could get aboard by means of suicide. I doubt if Brown is really crazy, more likely just misinformed and arrogant.

        "Misinformed and arrogant" would apply also to Robert Morningstar, editor of UFO Digest, who gets castigated a lot in this blog because of his wildly erroneous declarations—a perfect example from last September would be this. He's an educated and reasonably intelligent man, but when it comes to the UFO phenomenon he loses all analytical skills, and peddles trash like this. The one thing that Morningstar will never, ever, do is admit that he was mistaken.

A business decision
        There's money to be made in the UFO business—serious money. Many people are so thirsty for updates that the market for books, magazines, videos and conferences on the topic has never been brisker. The quintessential exploiter of this market is Tom Delonge's To The Stars Academy, launched in 2014. TTSA was chosen as the conduit for the US Government's release of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification data, and Delonge recruited Luis Elizondo from that project once he retired from the Pentagon, plus several other former federal officials. I don't think any of those people are mad in the slightest—they just see a business opportunity and want to be part of it. They may be right, although a fairly recent article in Motherboard casts some doubt on TTSA's financial prospects. It's perfectly possible that Delonge and his collaborator Hal Puthoff don't themselves believe UFOs are IFOs—perhaps they're just very keen to promote themselves and their "research" to those who do.

        So in contemplating all this, I find no answer to my own question. Clearly, you don't have to be bonkers to be a believer, but it certainly helps.

========================/ \======================
[1] Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 1977

[2] Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 2, 2019) ISBN: 0374294410

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Court of Appeals to Sean David Morton: "F off"

        You might remember from a blogpost of last November, "Sean David Morton takes his best shot," that the self-described legal scholar used a very dodgy version of the doctrine of judicial estoppel to argue that his conviction on 30 counts should be set aside and that he should be released from his cell in the Tucson penitentiary. Well, the wheels of justice grind slowly but they get there in the end. Yesterday the Ninth Circuit gave him the answer, and it's a major slap-down—basically not just "fuck off" but also "If you keep this bullshit up we'll gag you". The full text:
Before: O’SCANNLAIN, W. FLETCHER, and WATFORD, Circuit Judges.
Appellant Sean David Morton’s requests for summary disposition (Docket Entry Nos. 27, 28, 29, 30) and to expedite his appeal (Docket Entry No. 32) are denied. The motion to stay briefing (Docket Entry No. 31) is denied as moot. Further filing of meritless motions may result in the court withdrawing appellant Morton’s leave to represent himself on appeal. See 9th Cir. R. 4(d).
Appellant’s opening brief is due May 20, 2019; appellee’s answering brief is due June 20, 2019; and the optional reply brief is due within 21 days after service of the answering brief. Any further motion for an extension of time to file the opening brief must demonstrate extraordinary and compelling circumstances.
        I'm obliged to The Emoluments' unofficial legal correspondent, A.E., for tracking the case.

Sovereign Citizens? No way
        I'm obliged to ufowatchdog for drawing my attention to a nicely-written piece by Ashley Powers in the 29th March New York Times. The article is headed How Sovereign Citizens Helped Swindle $1 Billion From the Government They Disavow, and it slices SDM into tiny shreds and serves him up for dinner.
« When Mr. Morton reached adulthood, he sold unorthodox beliefs from behind a suburban-dad veneer: a flop of dark hair, a round, clean-shaven face, and a button-down-and-khakis wardrobe. He was charismatic but also childlike, friends said, his ego easily bruised. He branded himself an investigative reporter within the U.F.O. world, and in the 1990s, when Mr. Morton appeared on “The Montel Williams Show,” he made outrageous claims — more than 100 alien species had visited Earth! — with the certainty of a Nobel laureate. “I got close enough to one of these things that was floating around in the desert to actually get my face burned by it,” he said.
Even other U.F.O. enthusiasts considered him a kook, but Mr. Morton’s fans didn’t care. The truth was out there — and Sean David Morton had it. Branding himself a prophet, he plumbed the new-age convention circuit alongside specialists in animal telepathy, chakras, hauntings, angelic gemstone messages and the afterlife. »
        Morton has served 19 months of a six-year sentence. He may get out in another two years, perhaps (his wife Melissa is already in a half-way house). But I hope he's learned from this that his ridiculous posturing as a legal scholar is far from helpful. I'm quite sure he's been telling his fellow-crims "Just watch me, lads, I'll be outta here in next to no time". If he's told them the truth, they must be having a good laugh now.

Mini-update, 15th April
Royce Myers' ufowatchdog blog has posted more on this today: "The Kookiness continues."

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Kerry Cassidy in Vacaville again

        Not as a prisoner, but as a prison visitor, for the TENTH time. Vacaville is the site of the Solano California State prison, and it's been home to a violent murderer and spectacular liar called Mark Richards since 1983. Kerry Cassidy likes hearing Richards' extravagant yarns so much that she's schlepped to Vacaville now ten times—a journey of over 300 miles each way—to hear them and tell the world about them.

        This latest interview took place in mid-March. Cassidy's report of it is in video here, and transcribed here. I'm extremely glad for the transcript because I always struggle with the audio of her reports. It's got nothing to do with her voice—when Kevin Moore interviewed her I heard every word.

source: Project Camelot

Do your research!
On the 22nd (of 27) page of the transcript, KC writes:
"I encourage all those reading this and watching my Mark Richards interviews to ... see what resonates. Discernment is all about being able to tell truth from falsity. As with all information, do your own research."
I did quite a bit of research for my critique of Interview #9, and had no problem doing more for this article. I have to report that very little "resonates". Some comments:

Page 1: "He is an honorable officer of the Navy, who because of his rebellion against the Draco and Reptoids (Luciferian alliance) is considered a threat to their operations".

Richards is nothing of the sort. He never enlisted in the US Navy, much less attained the rank of Captain. The Luciferian alliance is a science fiction concept with no basis in reality.

Page 2: "He was framed for a murder he is accused of having masterminded while he was on a mission off-planet in service to humanity. He was Captain of a starship enterprise type vessel, fighting the war against aliens bent on the takeover of Planet Earth.

Richards was not "off-planet," or fighting wars against aliens. He was present at the murder scene although he did not strike the fatal blows. His fingerprints were on the murder weapon, and the victim's credit cards were found in his possession.

Page 5: "I believe that Richard Baldwin was selected as the victim by the team within the military and highest levels of power in Britian and the U.S. reponsible for framing Mark Richards."

Poppycock. The simple truth is that Richards' home remodelling business was failing and he needed money. There is not the slightest evidence of involvement by US military ops. As for British top-level involvement, that goes beyond fantasy into sickness.

Page 10: "Mark states that he had just returned from fighting the war in the Falklands. Which he says was a battle for control of planet Earth. .... It was a battle with alien races; Draco, Reptilians and Greys. The Raptors fought on the side of the humans."

The murder took place on 6th July 1982. Argentine forces surrendered on 14th June, so the dates are plausible. However, the belligerents were exclusively The United Kingdom and Argentina, and the motives were control of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich, not "planet Earth". Again, Reptilians etc. are figments of science fiction. It's frankly astounding that Kerry Cassidy would report this fantasy as fact, when so much about the Falklands War is a matter of easily-researched public record.

Page 13: "With regard to the trial, ... the DA relied exclusively on the information provided by Andrew Campbell. ... Campbell was highly likely to have been the undercover agent on the scene orchestrating events, while Hoover (the other perp) was the patsy."

This "does not resonate," as Kerry would say. Another way of putting it is that it's a fucking lie. Hoover was at least as important a source of information for the prosecution as Campbell. Both Campbell and Hoover were 18-year-old unskilled kids. See "From Pendragon to a Secret Space Program".

Page 16: "There are 5 key points on the planet, called LaGrange points or L5. ... Mark says those points allow one to jump off planet easily and used to be used for shuttle craft going back and forh to the larger Orion craft parked above the planet."

The five LaGrange points are not on the planet but in space, in the orbital plane of any two large gravitational bodies. L5 is just one of them. They have nothing to do with shuttle flights and there is no such thing as a parked Orion spaceship.

Page 24: "NEW NATIONAL PARK OFF VANDERBURG [sic] AF BASE. This new National Park called "Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve" has been established to hide a huge ET underwater and undergound base that stretches down to Malibu"

It's fair (or "it resonates") to call the Dangermond Preserve new, since the $165 million donation to the Nature Conservancy was made just in 2017. However, it is not a National Park and it does not conceal an alien base. Its extent is 24,000 acres.

The lunch receipt
        On pp. 13-24 of the transcript, we read that a trial witness known as "the chimney sweep" stated that he had a receipt proving that Mark Richards had bought lunch for his crew (Campbell & Hoover) prior to the murder. The account continues "But Mark claims he simply paid for the lunch and then did not eat with the crew but continued on to have lunch with his parents at their home."

        The question then is, How can a man who is supposedly off planet fighting alien wars also be having lunch with his parents??? That question obviously troubled Chad Mensan, a YouTube commenter. He wrote:
"Throughout the previous nine interviews, and the several years during which they were conducted, the story was ALWAYS "off-planet"; it was never vague and never varied. Now we're told that there is physical evidence to the contrary, and it's presented without even an acknowledgement of its contradiction.
I think that there's something seriously rotten behind the scenes on this issue. Most importantly I hope that Kerry's okay."
Chad has a very good point. In my opinion, Kerry is not "okay". She's deranged.

Update: This is brilliant!
Another YouChoob commenter, "Ritalie," has now responded to Chan Mensan thuswise:
"What you are describing is not a change of a story, as much as it sounds like a timeline change. Have you ruled out the possibility that we have experienced a major time shift? I've seen it happen when Trump was elected. This is not the same Earth that we were on, prior to the 2016 election. Remember Hilary? Or Dolores Canon? Neither exist anymore."
        Of course!!!! A time shift!!!! How silly of us not to have thought of that. Mark Richards' story hasn't changed at all, it's just that the facts changed without his knowledge. Oh yes.

Update 9th April:
        Kerry has now released a statement apparently addressed to all those people who think, like me, that she's been bamboozled by a world-class liar. An extract:
"It’s not my job to convince you or anyone else.  We present the evidence and provide the interviews so you can see the witnesses speak for hours at a time under my high scrutiny and questions.  You decide.

If it resonates so be it.  If not, then no amount of truth telling will open your eyes.  If you wish to believe that Jo Ann and I are deluded.  That Mark who has written books and treatises available for a very low cost is not to be believed.  If you wish to remain in your cocoon of unknowingness do so."
        Oh dear. "Presenting the evidence" is exactly what Kerry fails to do. Letting us see Mark Richards speak for hours at a time is also what she fails to do, although I'm sure she'd love to take her camcorder into Vacaville if it was allowed. As for "high scrutiny," that's not what I've seen from her interviewing technique. Far from it.

"You decide," she says. Thanks, Kerry, I already did.