Monday, June 24, 2019

Hoagland resurfaces, Part 2

        The "Other Side of Midnight" web page features the following hyperbolic mini-bio of the Man himself:
His vision has inspired a whole new generation of pioneers of thought and form and opened the way for Citizen Scientists around the Globe. His work is emulated by cutting edge thinkers around the world. He is a thought leader and pioneer, breaking the bonds of stagnant archaic scientific models. His willingness to challenge the accepted norm has blazed a path for thousands of citizen explorers. He has a way of drilling down to the fundamental question that provokes the unexpected revelation.
        "Stagnant archaic scientific models" — such as that the Moon is lifeless and always has been? Such as that numerology is worthless poppycock?

        Hour 2 of Hoagland's "welcome back" interview on OSOM, hosted by the fragrant but prolix Laura London, was quite a mixture. The first topic was methane on Mars, and here Hoagland gave a decent and straightforward account of what it would mean if methane were found to be abundant, and what's been discovered so far. Then it was on to an assortment of speculations about solar system civilizations and similar non-facts. Hoagland kept promising us some dramatic revelations in an Apollo 11 anniversary show he's planning. As experience shows, Hoagland's promises and Hoagland's deliveries are horses of two different colors.

Jules Bergman was hung over
         Almost all of the the second half of the hour was anecdotal, about his experiences with CBS News as a consultant/researcher with the Apollo production team. He re-told a story I've heard before, and it's seminal to an understanding of the origins of his hatred of NASA. Since he gave an over-discursive version (surprise, surprise) I'm going to paraphrase it rather than transcribe his exact words.

        He says, correctly, that the general rule during Apollo was that the only person at Mission Control who could actually speak to the astronauts was the Capcom, who was himself an active-duty astronaut. However, as a PR stunt, an exception was planned for Apollo 15 at a time when the astronauts were not particularly busy, on the way back from Moon to Earth. It was arranged that they would conduct an actual press conference from space, and senior correspondents from the major TV networks, news agencies and newspapers would be allowed to ask questions directly, just as in a normal press conference. Hoagland was with the CBS-TV group as they waited for this event to begin. There was delay after delay, and finally their producer got on to NASA public affairs asking what the problem was. The answer they got was that the spacecraft was not yet visible from Goldstone.

        Hoagland says he made a swift calculation with pencil and paper, and concluded that this could not be true because the mountains obstructing the view would have to have been 5,000 miles high. Much later he discovered that the true reason the press conference was held was that Jules Bergman, correspondent for ABC TV, was struggling with a killer hangover and was not in place. Hoagland says this was "a wake-up call" for him personally, being the first time that he realized NASA was not always honest.

         I find that story a bit suspect, for a couple of reasons. First, the calculation he claims to have done on the back of an envelope is not at all an easy one to do. You'd need a great deal of information about the spacecraft's trajectory and a very good knowledge of geography (add to that the fact that Hoagland's incompetence at math is fairly well-known). Second, perhaps more telling, every Apollo mission timeline was planned and controlled to the second. If such a press conference was planned—and I have no reason to doubt that—it would have been approved by a whole bunch of people, written into the Flight Plan, and implemented like any other planned event. It's extremely hard to imagine that the Apollo 15 astronauts' time budget had enough slop to allow a significant delay.

        So, to go back to the puffery I quoted at the top, perhaps Hoagland's "way of drilling down to the fundamental question" is better expressed as "a way of drilling down through the truth to a story that makes him look good."

Update: Hoagland's story falls apart
        Thanks to very useful research by James Oberg (thanks Jim) we can see how well Hoagland's story syncs up with the documented facts. The answer is, not at all.

        The Press conference, of course, appears in the flight plan. It shows that TV is acquired at M.E.T. 270:20 (very likely through Goldstone)note 1, and the conference is scheduled in the window 270:20-270:50. The annotated transcript shows that TV was acquired at 270:22:31, the conference actually began at 270:23:15 and ended 270:50:12. There is no extraordinary delay at all.

        Moreover, it is not true that media correspondents spoke directly to the Apollo 15 astronauts. The questions were written and Capcom Karl Henize read them in order. Henize explained:
"The questions you will be asked in this news conference have been submitted by newsmen here at the Manned Spacecraft Center who've been covering the flight. Some of the questions they raised have been answered in your communications with - with Mission Control, but the public-at-large has not necessarily heard them. The questions are being read to you exactly as submitted by the newsmen, and in an order of priority specified by them."
        The only open question is whether Jules Bergman had a hangover that day. Bergman's been dead for 32 years so we can't ask him. It's more than possible—the bar at the Nassau Bay Hotel was responsible for endless naughtiness in the Apollo years. I know whereof I speak, or write, believe me.

        I'm e-mailing this information to Hoagland, requesting his comments. Don't hold your breath.

Update 2: Wrong mission?
        Just in case Hoagland's error was simply mis-remembering which mission this story relates to, I checked the records for Apollo 16 & 17 (there was no transearth presser on earlier missions)

Apollo 16: Planned M.E.T. 243:30-50 / Actual 243:25:30 Capcom Hank Hartsfield
Apollo 17: Planned M.E.T. 284:07-37 / Actual 281:27:19 Capcom Gordo Fullerton

=====================/ \======================
[1] CORRECTION: Not Goldstone but Madrid. If TV had been coming from Goldstone the vertical dashed line indicating TV coverage would have been to the left of the MSFN solid line. So Hoagland's story is wrong in another detail.

Richard Hoagland resurfaces, Part 1

        Richard Hoagland has been in private mourning ever since his companion's death from cancer on 3rd March, and nobody could possibly fault him for that. As a 74-year-old, he surely must have expected Robin Falkov to outlive him. Sad.

        Well, he obviously thinks it's now time to emerge from his grief, because he appeared as a guest on his own blogtalk show last Saturday night. Hosting was the ineffably glam Laura London. Laura talked too much but at least they didn't interrupt each other, which was a blessing.

Laura London, from Facebook

        There was much chat about the commercialization of space, and the prospects for Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin enterprise, that may be Moon-bound before you know it. Hoagland opined that Blue Origin must have been forced to sign an agreement to censor any close-up photos of the Moon, as NASA has always done, so as not to "give the game away" about the... you know, the alien ruins. He forgets that the thousands of excellent images at a resolution of half a metre per pixel from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have already blown it. The "game" is that there is no game.

        The only notable thing about the number 19.5 (19.47277 if you want to be picky) is that it's the angle whose sine is 1/3, or 0.3333333 etc. It is not some mystical, transcendental property of the Universe, as 3.141596 and 2.7182818 are. It was mere human beings who decided to divide a circle into 360 things called degrees, after all. A corollary of that trigonometric fact is that if a tetrahedron is inscribed in a sphere with one vertex at the north pole, the other three vertices will be at latitude 19.5°S (I proved this geometrically back in 2015, doing Hoagland's math for him since he has no talent for it.)

        So, let's be clear. There is no justification whatsoever for attaching significance to this number when it's a longitude, the rotation period of an asteroid, the magnitude of a comet, or the time (either 19h50 or 19h30) of some event. Hoagland has made all those associations in the past, and even once famously drew attention to the fact that shirts at Old Navy were on sale for $19.50.

        On the show last Saturday night, he excelled himself in irrational flim-flam, discussing "disclosure."
50:35 RCH "Let me tell you something else that I think is interesting [for] symbolic pathways ... This is 2019, right?"
LL: "Mmm-hmmm"
RCH "OK. So... 2019... If you ...If you multiply 19.5 by two you get 39, right? So... so the July month of this year ... actually it's June, is the half-way point in 2019. Scrambled all together, June is the beginning, in this model, of more and more and more overt disclosure."
        I had to run that three times before I even got a feel for what he was trying to allege. Here's what I think. First of all, forget the 19.5 x 2 = 39. That was just random neurons firing in Hoagland's tiny brain. Now, he's saying that since June is half-way through the year, we're now at the year 2019-and-a-half. Then just discard the 2000 and call that insanity a "model."

        Phew... If there's one thing more invalid than numerology, it's botched numerology.

Brookings, again
        Another perennial source of error in Hoaglandia is that damned Brookings report. Hoagland insists that the report pretty much required NASA to keep quiet if it ever found solid evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. On saturday night he was even wronger than that.
52:42 RCH "If you read Brookings, there are sections particularly in the footnotes, where it is specifically recommended to Congress that the people were not ready. [...] This is how they could be made ready. So in 1959, this document [...] they basically laid out a prescription for how to get people ready. And they recommended in this footnote, which again you can read on the Enterprise Mission website, a series of things that had to be done. Production of radio, television, commercials, movies, all acculturating people to accept the idea that we are not alone. And then you have, if you look at mainstream pop culture, you've got Startrek, you've got The Outer Limits, you've got Twilight Zone, you've got Star Wars, you've got an infinite number of movies now, Marvel Comics Universe. People are so ready."
        It's true that he's put up pictures of selected pages from the report on Enterprise Mission—check 'em out. But you aren't going to find what he says you are. The footnotes from pp.225-6 make no mention of  mass media. I can do better than that, too. Here's a searchable pdf of the entire thing. The footnotes occupy pp.218-227. Within those pages the occurrences of the strings "movies" and "television" are both ZERO. There is ONE occurrence of "radio"—in the expression "National Radio Astronomy Observatory" (p.225). Hoagland was in fantasy-land.

        Well, there are two little gems from hour 1. I hope to get back to this tomorrow, with clips from hour 2.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The flying bedstead

         Ask anyone what the acronym LLTV means, and they'll either say "Whaaaaaa??" or refer to this epic crash on 6th May 1968, when Neil Armstrong used the ejection seat from ~200ft to escape his Lunar Landing Training Vehicle which was out of fuel tank helium pressure and out of control in high winds at Ellington AFB.

        Sticklers for accuracy will quickly note that this was not actually a LLTV, but its forerunner the LLRV (Lunar Landing Research Vehicle)—Armstrong's was the last of the LLRV flights. Three LLTVs were built by Bell Aerosystems, the helicopter people. Only one survives (and is on display at Armstrong Flight Research Center adjacent to Edwards AFB) because Armstrong's was not the only crash. The chief test pilot Joe Algranti ejected from LLTV#1 in January 1968, and Stuart Present likewise survived the prang of LLTV#3 in January 1971.

        The training program sounds like a failure, when narrated like that emphasizing the prangs. But in fact, it was considered a resounding success at the time. Not only Armstrong but all the other Apollo commanders completed several very successful training flights in the bedstead. It was a requirement.  Armstrong later said his practice flights in the LLTVs gave him the confidence to override the automatic flight control system and control Eagle manually during the epic Apollo 11 descent to the Sea of Tranquility.

Apollo 12 CDR Pete Conrad hovering the LLTV

More pretense on TBTLL
        Mike Bara, the world-renowned jet aircraft designer and mendacious self-promoter, clearly does not understand the LLTV program and what it achieved. Last night's episode of Truth Behind the Lunar Landing (Science Channel) focussed on that one spectacular crash by Armstrong, and Mike Bara commented "I call bullshit on the lunar landing based on the fact that Armstrong could not control the training aircraft." 

        Not only is that portrayal of the program a complete travesty and Bara's statement untrue, but, just as in Episode 1 of this show, Bara is only pretending to be a disbeliever. In the second part of his essay Who Mourns for Apollo?, co-written with Richard Hoagland and Steve Troy in 2004, he devotes three paragraphs to explaining the sophisticated inertial control system that made soft landing of the LM possible. Bara can never resist the opportunity to insult somebody, and in this case he calls conspiracy theorist Ralph RenĂ© "a complete idiot" for questioning the stability of the LM in lunar gravity. 

        Fans of this show should be aware that Bara is here functioning as a mere actor rather than any kind of expert (and astronaut Leland Melvin is, at times, so obviously delivering a memorized script that it's a joke).

source: Dryden Flight Research Center fact sheet

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sloppy compilations for the Apollo anniversary

James Oberg writes...

The recent blizzard of Apollo-11 anniversary programs was a fine tribute to that historical achievement of the American space program. The events of half a century ago came back to life in the dramatic portrayal seen on millions of television screens. But at the same time, many of the programs also displayed the sloppy errors, distortions and revisionist dramatizations which have come to characterize much of television journalism.

The wrong ship
To put the shortcomings of many of these programs into perspective, imagine the following practices for other historical documentaries or news, and ask whether they would ever be considered acceptable.

A Civil War film discusses Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but since there is no photograph of Lincoln actually giving the speech, a photograph of him at his 1865 inauguration is shown instead.

A program on the loss of the Lusitania in 1915 needs dramatic video of an ocean liner sinking, so with a voice-over describing the Lusitania, news film is shown instead of the Andrea Doria going down.

A sportscast of the World Cup is in progress, but since video difficulties prevented receipt of the views of the Colombia-Rumania game which was the subject of the report, an already-used clip of a goal from the recent Germany- Thailand game is shown instead.

Clearly, none of these hypothetical cases can be considered acceptable. Anyone trying to do so would be considered irresponsible, even unethical. And since there are legions of history buffs, ship buffs, and sports buffs out there, any such attempts would be immediately recognized and widely criticized.

"Apollo Two"
But since spaceflight has always been an esoteric subject with a relatively short "history" and usually only superficial news coverage, similar misrepresentations are easier, even if by accident. Catching them and complaining about them is harder. But an effort must be made both to discourage future historical errors and to encourage those other programs which took the extra effort and got it right.

There's no need to exaggerate the inevitable innocent "bloopers" that any human effort is prone to. A TV network had a national newscast where the announcer kept seeing "Apollo-11" on the teleprompter, misinterpreted it as "Apollo-II", and pronounced it "Apollo Two". The N.Y. Times deserves minor embarrassment for twice referring to the "Apollo-1 moon landing" in a book review a few weeks ago. That's life.

In illustrating a Mercury splashdown, the TBS special 4-hour program "Moon Shot" used views of a Gemini splashdown instead. The difference is that Mercury capsules landed vertically beneath a parachute while Gemini capsules were slung horizontally from two separate lines. On July 20, CNN showed Apollo-11 graphics of a moon-walking astronaut whose spacesuit had red leg stripes not introduced until Apollo-13. "Space buffs" gleefully spotted the errors, but viewers were unlikely to be misled by these minor slipups.

Such naive bloopers even struck the White House during the July 20 ceremony honoring the Apollo-11 astronauts. In an otherwise fine speech, President Clinton related in his folksy style how "on the third day" Armstrong and Aldrin's Eagle lunar module descended toward a dangerous boulder field and Armstrong had to take manual control. But since July 16 was the first day of the flight, the landing on July 20 actually occurred on the fifth day. But again, it was no big deal.

Some historical visual scenes are certainly "interchangeable" by even the tightest standards, since no viewer is misled by showing one Gemini launch for another, or one group of engineers in Mission Control for another (unless, say, their actions are allegedly keyed to some event being described), or one "out the window" Earth or moon view for another. The criteria is clearly whether viewers will gain an authentic impression of the event, or not.

The serious distortions of space history which characterized many -- but by no means all -- of the anniversary documentaries went beyond this allowable flexibility, and include outright historical falsifications such as the following:

To compress events, Neil Armstrong's comments about making "One small step" have often been matched with video of him dropping down from the Lunar Module ladder. Actually, he landed on one of the vehicle's footpads, made several comments, jumped back up on the ladder to make sure he could, jumped down a second time, discussed his impressions of his surroundings, and only after that did he make the "small step" onto the moondust. So the rearranged video completely misrepresents what he meant by "one small step". For similar time compression, the dozens of immediately post-landing words from the crew about their spacecraft status are usually edited out, so that viewers get the false impression that "Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed" were the FIRST words from the Moon.

To make use of a recently released Russian filmclip showing burning men running from a rocket pad fire, Ted Turner's "Moon Shot" used the shocking scenes to illustrate a 1969 Soviet moon rocket explosion, with a narrator comment about reminders of the dangers of space flight. The horrible film was actually from a military missile mishap in 1960 that killed 165 men, but really had nothing to do with the Russian space exploration program. The "Moon Shot" producers must have known this, yet evidently decided to misrepresent it for dramatic effects, even though nobody was killed in the actual 1969 Russian moon rocket explosion which was the subject of the sequence.

Flag-waving at the wrong time
To stress the "ordinary humanity" of excited space workers, they were often falsely shown behaving unprofessionally. In the prize-winning film "For All Mankind", right after the Apollo-11 landing, the Mission Control Center is shown erupting in cheering, flag-waving, and cigar-smoking. The historical truth is that the duty controllers stuck to their jobs, and the filmclips which were used really show them celebrating four days later after the successful splashdown of the crew and the end of their official responsibility.

Also, for the sake of visual impact and dramatic effects, film has often been misrepresented for what it was not. Viewers were told they were seeing authentic footage of space events which were not actually there.

Beginning with "For All Mankind", and copied by "Moon Shot", a striking view of the reentry plasma trail behind a descending Gemini capsule was presented as the rocket plume trail of an Apollo capsule heading for the Moon. The film invokes a marvelous image of speed across Earth's surface, but the Apollo's Saturn booster actually left no trail, and was never filmed since there was no view in that direction.

To stress the dangers of early manned space shots, sequences of rocket explosions are shown. Most of the explosions were identifiable as Jupiter and Titan rockets which had no connection at all with the Mercury program. But for colorful excitement and tension enhancers, they have been widely presented as unsuccessful Mercury tests.

The most egregious misrepresentation in "Moon Shot" was during the treatment of the Apollo-1 fire in 1967. As the narrator discusses the death of the three astronauts inside their burning capsule, a video is running of flames dancing behind a spacecraft window. TV critics who previewed the show called the scene "wrenching". But the video was actually a view from inside a Gemini capsule looking outward during the flames of reentry, and it had nothing to do with the Apollo fire. Instead, for emotional impact. the view was falsely described.

Some of these Apollo-11 historical video howlers have wider national implications, beyond mere questions of TV documentary ethics and practices. At the "Space Center Houston" museum developed for NASA by Disney consultants and their contractors, the feature movie "On Human Destiny" uses the false Gemini reentry plume for the Apollo lunar burn, then falsely portrays the flight control team in an orgy of irresponsible celebration immediately after the lunar touchdown, and then inaccurately overlays the view of Armstrong's descent down the ladder with his later words about "one small step". The film was reviewed and approved by NASA public affairs officials, who evidently did not recognize the errors. But if this is the level of Disney's historical reliability, it bodes ill for any similar Disney history projects elsewhere.

Accuracy sacrificed
Documentaries such as these shows have presented exciting views of the dramatic historical events, but providing entertainment was clearly their primary goal. Historical accuracy was repeatedly sacrificed to do so. These measures certainly are acceptable when the goals are well understood, such as in the delightfully entertaining Hollywood version of "The Right Stuff", where all pretence of respecting the book's historical accuracy is subordinated to clear-cut visual stereotypes and amusing oversimplifications. And deadline- driven TV news programs often use stock footage, not always carefully labeled as such, to "fill in" for unavailable authentic scenes. But when TV programs pose as "true history" and are presented as documentaries, a higher standard of authenticity should be required.

The Apollo-11 anniversary programs showed again that such standards are not universally met. Some programs, such as Discovery's "One Giant Leap", were strikingly accurate, showing signs that some producers took the extra trouble to "get it right", and knew how to do so. But the widespread misrepresentations in other shows are more reminders that people should seek truth where it can be found, and the TV screen, with its need for visual excitement and compressed action, is not an environment always conducive to historical accuracy.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Follow-up on Mike Bara's dishonesty

James Concannon writes:

        We don't need to go back 15 years to what Mike Bara wrote in Who Mourns For Apollo to understand how dishonest he was on last week's ep of Truth Behind the Moon Landing. In a book he wrote just last year, he copy/pasted the same text as this blog cited on 3rd June, and added this:
"NASA spent millions to develop the necessary technology to insure [sic] that the astronuats that went to the Moon were protected from the the physical threats of deep space and they were monitored at all times with dosimeters while travelling to and from the Moon. So the notion that the Van Allen belts would have turned the astronauts to crispy critters is simply false."
--Ancient Aliens and JFK (2018), p.183

        So his pretense to be a Van Allen skeptic for the purposes of television production exposes him as a charlatan (technically, the reverse of a charlatan—an anti-charlatan, perhaps), willing to say anything a tv producer asks just for the thrill of being seen. Pathetic.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Review of "Truth Behind the Moon Landing" S1E1

        The first of six eps of Truth Behind the Moon Landing (Science Chan) went on the air last night. It featured Mike Bara as one of three supposedly clued-up gents investigating whether the Apollo 11 landing really happened. Bara was billed as a "former aerospace consultant", which is a bit of a stretch considering that his experience in aerospace was as a contract CAD-CAM technician, with Arrowhead Products.

        The other two gents were NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (STS-122, STS-129) and former FBI agent Chad Jenkins. The three charged around the country (Portland, Seattle, Florida, Washington DC) in search of witnesses who could clear up some of the doubts that have been expressed about Apollo. This engendered far too many shots of our intrepid lads driving cars as they talked about space history.

Long-cancelled military projects
        First up was Clyde Lewis, whose dodgy opinions I wrote about last April in "Clyde Lewis: Ignorant speculator".  Lewis is a radio host in Portland OR, and Bara/Melvin interviewed him in his studio. As I wrote in the April piece, he went way out on a limb about secret military space ops. Here he re-iterated the fairly well-known facts about Project Horizon, and we saw (too briefly) all the declassified drawings and other artwork. But what in the name of all that's holy does this have to do with Apollo? Given that Horizon was cancelled in 1959 just as NASA was born, and long before any plans for a manned lunar landing were made, I'd say the answer is "nothing at all".

Paperclip Nazis
        What next? Oh, a long, long segment about Operation Paperclip—the US government scheme to swipe all the best German rocket scientists at the end of WW2 before the Russians could get them. It was a stunning success, netting around 1,600 rocket boffins, among whom Wernher Von Braun and Kurt Debus are the best known. The Science Channel investigators went off to Florida to interview Linda Hunt, who as a journalist (not to be confused with the distinguished actress) wrote extensively about Paperclip. Hunt declared "They covered up the Nazi past of these scientists", which as far as I know is not true. I think the very term "paperclip" came from the fact that a note about their service to the Third Reich was attached by paperclip to their immigration papers. The point was to waive restrictions on immigration by possible war criminals (NOTE: No paperclip scientist was ever convicted of war crimes).

        All this apparently came as fresh news to astronaut Leland Melvin, for he said "It's really hard to come to terms with that". Again, though, I have to ask what this has to do with Apollo? Chad Jenkins had a brave attempt to connect Paperclip to Apollo by stating "It shows what our government was willing to overlook in order to get to the Moon". I LOLd at that, because at that point the USA hadn't even put a satellite in Earth orbit—manned lunar landings weren't yet on anyone's To-Do list.

Van Allen radiation
        Finally, almost half way through the show, we got some material that was actually relevant to the questions about Apollo. The investigators confronted head on the question "Could Apollo astronauts have got through the Van Allen radiation belts unscathed?" They went to the Seattle Museum of Flight, where the actual Apollo 11 Command Module is on display, and measured the thickness of the shielding with a Lidar device. Then it was off to the Carnegie Institiute for Science for some experiments.

        Dr. Michael Walter took them through the science of the question, showing that even plexiglass attenuates alpha particles by about 50%, and about 3mm of aluminum is pretty good shielding against both alpha- and beta-particles. Walter also made the point that Apollo was free to select the least dangerous path though the belts, and make sure the astronauts were exposed to potentially harmful radiation for the minimum time.

        This sequence was quite good, and at the end of it, Mike Bara said "It changed my mind. It seems it was possible to go through the Van Allen belts." At that I didn't just LOL but LMFAO. Bara was completely faking skepticism about Apollo. Fifteen years ago, in an essay titled Who Mourns for Apollo, Bara wrote this:
"[T]he scientists working on the problem of Van Allen radiation considered it to be minor compared to other design hurdles to be conquered. Their solution was simple -- avoid exposure by keeping the spacecraft at low Earth orbit altitudes while in parking orbits and then send it through the belts at high speed. The eventual escape speed, some 25,000 miles per hour, would have passed them through the belts in less than an hour, keeping their dose well below 1 rad. There was a modicum of shielding from the equipment, but in the end this was not necessary as the extraordinary transition speed kept the dose below harmful limits -- both going to and returing from the Moon."
         So for Bara to now go on television and proclaim that he had doubts about the Van Allen passage should have brought on a severe case of Pants on Fire. It remains to be seen whether he'll keep up this totally fake attitude for the rest of the series.

Update 1:
        In S1E4, Mike Bara came across as a right moron as he continued his daft pretense. He faked not understanding why there are no stars visible in Apollo still photographs. In Who Mourns For Apollo?, the same Mike Bara wrote this:
"Anyone with the slightest knowledge of photography can easily put this one to rest. Any brightly lit foreground object must be photographed with a very short exposure time. Otherwise, the image will be badly overexposed. Any background pinpoint light sources -- like, say, stars that are literally trillions of miles further away -- will not show up at all."
Update 2:
        The overriding theme of S1E5 was the race between USA and USSR to see who could build the biggst moon rocket. Melvin, Jenkins & Bara visited an abandoned facility in the Florida Everglades which was once the development site of a biggie solid rocket when "Direct Ascent" was the plan. The script makes it sound as though Von Braun's competing design of the multi-stage, liquid-fuelled Saturn V was a brilliant new idea. It was brilliant all right, but new? I remind the scriptwriters that Von Braun was also the designer of the Juno rocket that launched USA's first satellite back in January 1958, long before any detailed plan for a manned Moon landing was in place. Juno was 4-stage, mixed liquid and solid motors.

        In March 1959, Juno took Pioneer 4 all the way to the Moon

"Truth Behind the Moon Landing" was produced for Big Fish Entertainment by Mick Kaczorowski, David Bruinooge and Steve Bronstein.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Sean David Morton "Completely incompetent"

        That's his own self-description, taken from the apellant brief filed with the Ninth Circuit US appeals court on May 23rd.

        The 18-page affidavit that I wrote about last November was not an appeal as such, but what he called an expedited motion for summary disposition. It was denied on 12th April this year, so now he has no recourse other than a formal appeal. This document runs to 15 pages, and even a summary of the whole thing would be a trial to read. Here's the opening sentence, word-for-word:
Sean David Morton presented his own defense whilst completely incompetent and unable to properly prepare a defense due to not being informed the nature or having discovery.
        That's his badly-worded argument for appeal, in a nutshell. He writes that he was denied counsel although it was at his own request that he appeared as his own attorney. Basically he's saying the judge erred by allowing him to appear pro se because the judge ought to have recognized that he was incompetent

        This is quite an impressive climb-down for a man who boasted "I'm a legal scholar" during the 2016 Conspira-Sea cruise (YouTube link, quote  at 06:16).

Thanks again to AE for tracking this case