High Strangeness: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Delusional Witnesses

Fresh off telling me how to handle UFO hoaxsters, the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual is now telling me what to do if I am interviewing a UFO witness who turns out to be delusional. This should be good.

The Manual says that my chances of encountering a delusional witness are quite small, and I hope that's true. Luckily, the Manual gives me some handy ways to tell if the person I am interviewing is delusional. There are four behaviors to watch out for:
  1. Heightened suspiciousness
  2. Certainty as to the sighting's meaning
  3. Belief that he or she was singled out in same way
  4. Easy integration of the sighting into his system of beliefs
This is getting personal. Since I began writing this blog I have seen three UFOs, and while I don't claim to have any heightened suspiciousness or certainty of the sightings' meanings, #3 and #4 do hit pretty close to home. The experiences were very meaningful to me and in a way I feel that they were meant to happen. That's not quite the same as believing that I was singled out, but it's close enough... I also have had no problem whatsoever integrating the sightings into my system of beliefs. So I guess I am delusional. I can't wait to tell my wife.

The Manual goes on to say that while a non-delusional witness may well believe that the UFO he or she saw came from outer space, the sighting "will remain strange and problematical to the witness." But, wait a minute: I feel that my sightings were strange and problematical, too! Well, I really feel that they were problematic, but I'm not grading an English paper here.

Anyway, the point is, if I have some of the characteristics of a delusional person and some of the characteristics of a non-delusional person, what kind of a delusional/non-delusional hybrid am I? Does being at least partially delusional disqualify me from being a Certified UFO Field Investigator? God, I hope not, because I really want to be able to pass judgement on other UFO witnesses in an official capacity.

In the end, it's hard to say what I am to do with a suspected delusional UFO witness once I have determined that he or she is delusional, because the Manual never actually tells me. It doesn't tell me that the delusional witness should be challenged, or egged on, or given an expression of concerned puzzlement. It doesn't even tell me that the delusional witness didn't actually see a UFO, because clearly he or she did, or else he or she wouldn't have anything to be delusional about.

So, since it is left to me to decide what to do with my delusional witness, I think it's only fair to treat him or her just the same as I would any non-delusional or semi-delusional witness. Which is to say, exactly the opposite of how MUFON tells me to treat them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Concerned Puzzlement

Sometimes it seems I will never make it through the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual and become a Certified UFO Field Investigator. I'm sure you feel that way, too. Part of it is my own fault, because I can barely get through a page of the Manual without finding something that I have to blog about, but part of it is because sometimes the things I'm supposed to be learning make my head hurt.

Come to think of it, the things that make my head hurt are always the things I feel I have to blog about. Take tonight's selection, a continuation of the chapter on "Reliability Assessment of Eyewitness Testimony." You may recall from an earlier post that I have already learned the following tips on assessing a witness' reliability:
  • If a witness surmises immediately that he or she is seeing a UFO, then he or she must be lying
  • If it takes a witness a few moments to surmise that he or she is seeing a UFO, after making a few wrong initial surmises...es, then he or she must be telling the truth
That made my head hurt so much that I had to put the Manual down and not look at it for three or four days. But tonight, spurred on by a profound feeling of responsibility to the human race, I opened it up again where I left off, and the first thing I came across was a section on how to deal with hoaxsters. Sensing the possibility for some serious head hurting, I proceeded cautiously... with good reason, it turned out.

"...since the hoaxer has everything to gain from further deception, a prime opportunity exists for giving the hoaxer enough rope to hang himself," the Manual tells me. "The procedure in this case it to act very serious, and believe everything with an expression of concerned puzzlement."

Now, I can honestly say -- and I am not bragging here, just stating a fact -- that there are few people in the world who can do an expression of concerned puzzlement the way I can do an expression of concerned puzzlement. It's my bread and butter expression. But, I have never used my expression of concerned puzzlement to give a hoaxster "enough rope to hang himself," and I'm not sure that I'd want to. It seems somehow beneath me, and, frankly, beneath my expression.

About that rope: "Few hoaxers can resist the ability to put someone on a little bit more," the Manual continues. "Extra details should be suggested: the witness will probably pick them up."

This gives me the most amazing expression of concerned puzzlement imaginable. Really, I just saw myself in the mirror and my expression is priceless. MUFON is seriously instructing me to suggest false facts to a witness if I "suspect" that the he or she is trying to perpetrate a hoax! Because of course the hoaxster will incorporate my suggestion that he played mah jong with an 8-foot tall Reptoid into his story without skipping a beat, thus exposing his treachery. Head. Hurts. Head. Hurts.

How about instead of feeding the hoaxster more rope, we instead pat him on the back and congratulate him for putting on such a good show and then thank him for an evening of lively entertainment. Do you know how hard it is to pull off a good hoax?

"Eventually," the Manual says, "the investigator may gently suggest to the witness that perhaps the sighting did not take place?" Oh, yes, the investigator may do that, because it sounds like just a fantastic way to close out an interview.

"Few hoaxsters can really manage a display of indignant anger at this point, while a true witness often will," the Manual concludes. You know who else can manage a display of indignant anger?

Me. It's my second expression.






Monday, February 27, 2012

White as a Sheet

Today I checked the latest UFO sighting reports on ufostalker.com, and doggone it did I come up with a winner. I am still watching for reports that have just come in regarding old sightings from the '70s and '60s,and this report from the late 1960s caught my eye.

The sighting took place in Hamburg, PA, in August, 1968. The report is remarkable for recounting a near face-to-face encounter with UFO occupants, but more amazing than that is the fact that the account seems to contain a code. See if you can spot it:

"It was a summer evening. I was standing alone by the backdoor of our home," the report begins. "I did not see or hear anything but suddenly to my right side field of vision was a large silver football shaped craft. It appeared to be revolving/spinning but it remained stationary. The surface was sparkling. There was a green light under the craft at the front. The other end had a red light.

"There was a rectangular window where I saw 3 bright blue entities from the waist up. They had the features of a 'grey.' We observed each other in silence for about 3 minutes. No one moved. I was afraid to move. 

"The craft then silently rose vertically, then horizontally toward the Blue Mountains and disappeared in a matter of seconds. I ran inside to tell my mother. She said I 'was as white as a sheet.'"

Did you catch the code? Here it is: sparkling silver, green, red, bright blue, grey, blue, white. Surely, that can't be a coincidence. But what could it mean? If you take the first letter from each color name, you get "SSGRBBGBW." The name of a planet? If so, why no vowels?

What is the message? I feel so close to solving this! It could explain everything!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Watch: Human-Alien Hybrids on the Red Carpet

What do we know about human-alien hybrids? They're uncannily good-looking, in an unearthly sort of way. They have impeccable fashion sense. And tonight they are all gathered in Hollywood to remind us who's really in charge...










I've suspected for some time who their leader is...



Can anyone prove me wrong?








Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Birth of Spaceflight

I'm not the one-dimensional UFO buff I appear to be. My interest in otherworldly experiences encompasses astronomy, science fiction and the history of spaceflight, among other things. Which is relevant because in a few weeks I have the opportunity to visit the birthplace of the rocketship!

My wife Mxxxxx, younger daughter Cxxxx and I are traveling to Germany next month to spend a week with older daughter Dxxxxx, who is working as an pair to a delightful German family in the city of Karlsruhe. Before meeting them I already know I love my daughter's employers, Txxx and Sxxx, because they are both die-hard Trekkies, and at Dxxxxx's request we gave them one of my Star Trek: Deep Space Nine scripts for Christmas. How's that for positive foreign relations?

For the first few days, we'll be staying in Berlin, seeing all the city sights. Then, mid-week, we'll be traveling by train or autobahn across the country to Karlsruhe, which is just at the northern tip of the Black Forest and only a few kilometers from France. En route, I hope to make a stop at Nordhausen, site of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Normally, a historical memorial at a WWII concentration camp would not be high on my list of vacation stops, but Mittelbau-Dora is where the Germans instituted mass-production of the V2, or "Vengeance Weapon 2," the first true operational rocketship that was used to rain down destruction on London and Antwerp in the waning days of the war.

The V2, earth's first true rocketship
Actual design and development of the V2 was done further north at Peenemunde, on the Baltic Sea coast, but after an Allied bombing raid nearly destroyed that installation, the work was literally moved underground, to a secret system of mountain caves outside Nordhausen in central Germany.

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the rest of the story. The V2 did not turn the tide of the conflict as the Germans had hoped, and many of the brilliant engineers who developed the V2, among them Dr. Werner von Braun, ended being spirited off to Hunstville Alabama after the war, where they created the United States' own guided missile and rocketry program. That's a story worthy of its own write-up.

What does it say about the human race that our first real concentrated attempt to break the bonds of earth's gravity and launch a guided man-made craft into the outer atmosphere came in the form of a weapons-development program that relied to a significant degree on slave labor and resulted in massive death and destruction, not only to the civilians in the cities that were targeted but also to the thousands of enslaved prisoners-of-war who died at Mittelbau-Dora? Perhaps it was inevitable that earth's first real rocketship was born as a weapon of vengeance.

In the end, I'd like to think that it says even more about the human race that we have been able to use that same war-time technology to put men on the moon and to send probes out into space to take photos like this:
Saturn, one of our celestial neighbors, taken from NASA's Voyager 2
I also think it's interesting that only a few short years after the V2's heyday, in the summer 1947 in fact, the modern era of UFOs began with the back-to-back Kenneth Arnold "flying saucer" sighting in Washington State and the Roswell UFO crash in New Mexico. Makes you wonder...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reliable Witnesses

It's hard for me to discount something written by a Ph.D. My wife is a Ph.D. and I pretty much believe anything she tells me, because she always says it with such authority. So it's difficult for me to come to grips with the latest section on the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual, entitled "Reliability Assessment of Eyewitness Testimony," which is fact written by a Ph.D. and yet is innately goofy.

This section of the Manual has two purposes. The first is to teach us aspiring UFO Field Investigators how to distinguish accurate testimony from inaccurate testimony. The second is to teach us how to identify the ways witness' testimony can be distorted, so that we can estimate what has actually taken place. I like that, because it sounds like we get to make stuff up.

In some sense, though, this section is an utter waste of my time. I am a father of four, and hence am a pretty good judge of when testimony is accurate or inaccurate. For the same reason I am also a fair hand at spotting how and why testimony can be distorted, so that I can accurately estimate what has actually happened. If you don't believe me, read yesterday's post.

Still, this section was written by a Ph.D., so I figured maybe I could learn some new tricks. Right out of the gate, I learned that routine occurrences are very easy for most people to perceive, while rare occurrences are difficult for most people to perceive. Because of this, if someone sees a UFO and says straight out, "Hey, there's a UFO!" they are probably lying, because it should not be so easy for them to perceive that what they are seeing is a UFO. If the witness was honest and trustworthy, he or she would say something like, "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No... it's; it's a UFO!" 

The Ph.D. underscores his point by saying, "If one encounters a witness who immediately recognized the object as a UFO, one should be very suspicious." In other words, if a witness identifies an object as an object, he or she can't be trusted. Mr. Ph.D. goes on to say, "How could a person 'recognize' a UFO, unless he had seen one before (important point!), or had seen pictures or read descriptions of one?" 

Got that? If a UFO witness has seen actual UFOs before, or has seen pictures of UFOs or read descriptions of UFOs, he or she can't possibly have seen a UFO and must be lying.

I think the Ph.D. is forgetting what the letters "UFO" stand for: "Unidentified Flying Object." A UFO in and of itself has no defining characteristics (aside from the fact that it's flying), and so a UFO witness is actually on pretty solid footing when he or she immediately assumes that he or she is looking at something with no defining characteristics without first guessing that it's a pterodactyl or a zeppelin.

Indeed, the Ph.D. is the one who seems to be full of beans. He seems to be making the completely unwarranted assumption that UFOs are spaceships, while dismissing UFO witnesses who, in his warped way of thinking, make the very same assumption.

So, yeah, the Ph.D. has already lost me. But I have to give him another chance, because I am really looking forward to the part where we get to make stuff up.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Brain Scan

Five days ago, my wife and I were in a car accident caused by an idiot in an SUV rear-ending a car and pushing it into our car. My wife and I both got whiplash and I got a concussion, and even though my CT brain scan came out clean, the ER doctor had me go to a "Concussion and Brain Trauma Clinic" today for a follow-up exam with a neuropsychologist and a physiologist.

What does this have to do with UFOs? Maybe nothing. But maybe everything... Stay with me.

I just came from the Concussion and Brain Trauma Clinic, where I got a clean bill of health. The accident bumped my brain, strained my back and neck muscles and scrambled my inner ears, but 5 days after the accident everything seems to be getting back to normal.
My brain got a clean bill of health, and then some.
But that's not the good news. As part of the examination, the neuropsychologist subjected me to a battery of cognitive skills tests. The tests involved deciphering simple codes, connecting complex dot-to-dots, remembering sequences of numbers both frontwards and backwards and in ascending order, remembering lists of words and other things. I thought I did all right, but I knew I had made some mistakes, and thought that I had hesitated too long on some of my replies.

So it came as a pleasant surprise when the doctor told me that I had scored "strikingly well" on the tests. Then he repeated it. Then he repeated it again. I wasn't sure who was more surprised, but I sure did enjoy the moment. It's nice to know that one's cognitive skills can inspire awe in a doctor who has probably administered a few thousand of these tests. All I know is, I get it from my kids.

But anyway, what does this have to do with UFOs?

I'll tell you what it has to do with UFOs. It means that the UFOs have met their match.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hynekosity

I am happy. In today's mail I got two new/old books written by UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek: "The UFO Experience" (1972), and "The Edge of Reality" (1975), co-written by the equally-awesome and apparently French Dr. Jacques Vallee.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek (left) and Dr. Jacques Vallee, putting the "fly" in Unidentified Flying Objects.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been talking with the late Dr. Hynek's son and a representative of his research organization, CUFOS, about writing the definitive book about Hynek's career as a UFO researcher. As the foundation of my research, I'm reading or re-reading every book that Dr. Hynek ever wrote.

I recently finished "Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings," and I'm very happy to say that by the time I was finished with the book I had the chills.Which is funny, because even when the authors describe some truly eerie alien encounters and "missing time" episodes they always do so with a sober, almost dismissive detachment. It's almost as if Hynek and his co-authors just did not want the more sensational encounters to overshadow the bigger story of the Hudson Valley UFO flap. Despite my love for crazy-ass alien encounter stories, I respected the authors' reserve, and for some strange reason their detachment made the alien encounter stories that much more chilling...

But on to the books that arrived today. I haven't had much of a chance to look at them yet, but a quick glance at the introduction of "The Edge of Reality" confirms why, in my opinion, J. Allen Hynek (and J. Vallee) really got it when it came to UFOs.  

"The UFO represents an unknown but real phenomenon," the authors state. "Its implications are far-reaching and take us to the very edge of what we consider the known and the real in our physical environment. Perhaps it signals the existence of a domain of nature as yet totally unexplored."

Perhaps UFOs signal "the existence of a domain of nature as yet totally unexplored..." How cool is that? How smart is that? I think that if UFOs could choose one human to study them, J. Allen would be their unanimous choice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UFO Letters

I get letters. A few weeks back, I received a very charming email from a UFO buff named Cristi in Romania. After apologizing (unnecessarily) for her English, she invited me to subscribe to her YouTube channel, which I did, and then she started asking me about the MUFON Field Investigator Exam.

Cristi was particularly worried about Question #5. She found the answer choices confusing...

#5 - UFO sightings can be reported by:
a) calling local your local newspaper
b) the MUFON hotline 888-817-UFOS

c) www.mufon.com/reporttufo.htm
d) all of the above
 
Answer A was confusing because of the phrasing: "local your local paper"
Answer B was confusing because 888-817-UFOS is in fact not the MUFON hotline number (although it is cool that it spells "UFOS")
Answer C was confusing because the URL was spelled wrong (extra "t" in "reportt")
Answer D was confusing because all of the above were confusing
 
Poor Cristi. She asked me if I thought MUFON deliberately messed up the answers to test her English or her sense of observation. I told her no, I think they just messed up the answers because that's what they do. Really, if you write an open book exam, can't you take a moment to check the book yourself, to make sure your answer choices actually jibe with the information in the book?

Well, Cristi wrote again yesterday to say that she agrees with me, and to ask for help with Questions #74 and 75. This will be tricky, because she is much farther through the Manual than I am, so anything I would answer would be pure guesswork. Which, come to think of it, is probably good enough to get an A+ on this exam.

I'm excited about chatting with Cristi more, because she's got some cool videos on her YouTube channel, but especially because she turns out to have a special interest in "organic UFOs," which I find intriguing. This could be the dawn of a bold new age of joint American-Romanian UFO research, or ARUFOR.

Cristi, if you're reading this, it could be a while before I reach the sections pertaining to questions #74 and 75, but I'll do my best to catch up with you. I was going through the Manual pretty slowly to begin with, but my wife and I were in a car accident a few days ago, and although we're both mostly ok, it has slowed life down considerably.

More to come...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Alien Life Forms

The good news is that the alien-hunting Russian scientists at Vostok Station in Antarctica have not been lost ("Aliens Among Us" 2/3/2012). The other good news is that, after 20 years of drilling, they have succeeded in penetrating the primeval waters of Lake Vostok, 2.3 miles beneath the icecap.

The bad news is that they did it using kerosene to keep the drill mechanism from freezing, and we may never know if they have contaminated the lake because of it. The other bad news is that even the "clean" type of drilling being used by the American and British researchers might not be any safer. This method uses water kept just above freezing temperature to keep the drill humming, but the Russians say that warm water could be just as harmful to a sub-glacial lake than kerosene.

Why does it matter? As I explained in the above-referenced post, Lake Vostok has been trapped under the Antarctic icecap and isolated from the earth's environment for as much as 15 million years. Who knows what kind of little beasties may be living in its chilly waters? Now that the Russians have made it through the ice to Lake Vostok, the American and British researchers are "suggesting" that the Russians' accomplishment may be tainted by the possibility of kerosene poisoning. Meanwhile, the Russians are poo-pooing those concerns and accusing the Americans' and Brits' warm water technique of being even worse than kerosene. Hey, Ivan: would you rather take a bath in tepid water or kerosene? I thought so.

It's a regular scientist cage match! Awesome! And the best part is that the fighting will go on for at least another year, because the Russians won't be able to retrieve any water samples from the lake until the next Antarctic summer, which, if you've been paying attention, you know doesn't happen until next winter. Who spends twenty years drilling through two miles of ice, finally gets through, and then immediately packs up and goes home? They miss Russia that badly??

Anyway, because the Russian scientists all had to get home to Moscow, a few things could happen over the next few months. Every interesting little fishy living in Lake Vostok could croak from kerosene poisoning, or they could be resistant to the kerosene and could come flooding out of the hole the Russians made in the ice and take over the earth.

The whole time, the alien fishies on Europa will be laughing their fins off at us. Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, is covered with a hard shell of ice, and underneath the ice, a whole lot of space water, and in that space water, who knows?

Europa, the fourth moon of Jupiter, and a very chilly place.
Our probes have gotten pretty close to Europa, as you can tell by this candid close-up image of Europa just getting up in the morning, but we haven't landed on the moon as of yet and won't until sometime after 2020. That is, assuming any of us survive the war against the Lake Vostok ice worms (hey, thanks, Russia!).

If and when we ever do land on Europa, will we drill through with kerosene? I don't know, sending a can of kerosene halfway across the solar system seems a little reckless to me. That stuff is flammable!

Anyway, the point is, is there life on Europa, and if so, will we be able to make contact without killing it, and if so, is it anything like the life we think we may have just exterminated in Lake Vostok?

Damn, discovering alien life is tricky.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

Area 51 1/2 -- Part 2

Yesterday I began the strange tale of my visit to the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in southeastern Wisconsin ("Area 51 1/2," 2/15/2012), otherwise known as Wisconsin's very own secret UFO base (and the possible point of origin of the Burlington Vortex UFOs...).

When we left off, I had just entered the mysterious "Special Use Zone" inside Bong, and had made this startling discovery:

I had just discovered this startling sign...
Another sign not visible in this picture said some nonsense about how access was limited and I needed a permit to proceed any further, so of course I ignored it and plowed ahead. Reflecting on my Area 51 experience of a few years back ("Area 51 Decoded -- Part 2," 9/21/2011), I reasoned that, if the Bong people didn't have armed guards posted at the entrance and big scary signs warning me that deadly force would be used against me if I tried to enter, I pretty much had a gold-plated invitation to waltz right in. So I did.

I soon came across an eerie, otherworldly sight... Scattered around the bleak, featureless prairie were seven or eight humanoid beings dressed in brilliant white uniforms with odd insignias and strange electronic devices around their necks, sitting in lawn chairs. Not sure what sort of alien activity I had stumbled onto, I pulled up to the first humanoid along the road and asked "her" what was going on. "Field training," she replied in a flat, robotic voice. It was then that I saw a sleek black pointer racing through the grass with a pheasant in its mouth.

Could the aliens be trying to manipulate the human race by way of our hunting dogs? Is this the special use that the "Special Use Zone" is used for? I wanted to probe further, but I was keenly aware that I was vastly outnumbered by these humanoids, so I trod carefully.

"Will I be interfering with your 'field training' if I keep driving through?" I asked politely.

"If you go much further, yes," the being replied.

I knew then that I was on dangerous ground. Should I gun it and see how far I get before they send their "dog" after me? Should I try to make it back to the ranger station to warn them and all humanity of the threat we were facing? I decided to play it cool, which is pretty much how I roll.

"How much further to the rocket launch pad?" I asked. "That's what I came here to see."

The being in the lawn chair remained eerily calm, matching my coolness with her own alien coolness, which, considering it came from the icy cold depths of outer space, was far cooler than my cool.

"It's just on the other side of the trucks," she said, pointing to the group of 4x4 pickups and minivans parked a hundred feet ahead. My God," I thought, the cunning bastards have even learned to drive our vehicles!

I drove around the vehicles and there, before me, was the mysterious Rocket Launch Pad...

Rocket Launch Pad? Seriously?
It wasn't much to look at, frankly. Just a three-foot square concrete pad covered with scorch marks and surrounded by pea gravel. But it jogged something loose in my brain... Wasn't I looking due northeast, precisely in the direction of the Burlington Vortex? Indeed I was.

Was it possible, I wondered, that some amateur rocketry group could have launched two rockets last October 29th at around 10:30 p.m., and sent them rocketing six miles east to the Vortex, where they might have been seen by 30 or so excited and impressionable UFO buffs out on a crazy Haunted Woods Tour and taken to be UFOs??? Maybe, I thought, Bong isn't a secret Air Force-sponsored UFO base. Maybe it's just a place where rocketry clubs made up of mere humans launch their toy rockets for kicks... Damn, what a let down.

Still, as a UFO Field Investigator in training, I felt I had to follow-up on this lead. Sure enough, there is a club called Tripoli Wisconsin that launches regularly from Bong, and some of these toy rockets are as big as a flipping house. Could they really travel 6 miles?

Mystery solved! Or is it...?
Now quite certain that I had solved the mystery of the Vortex UFOs, I checked Tripoli Wisconsin's launch calendar for last October and found... no launches at all scheduled for last October 29th...

I was right back where I started. What is Bong really? Can any of it be trusted? I drove slowly and quietly away from the "dog trainers" and considered everything I had seen and experienced. There was definitely something odd and artificial about this "recreation area." I saw a hawk swoop past and all I could think was "Damn, their animatronics are lifelike!" Even the "beach" was suspect. The lake was iced over, and there wasn't a single swimmer in sight.

I drove home in deep reflection. There is something odd going on at Bong, and I will suss it out, even if it takes me the rest of the month.




Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Area 51 1/2

Today I did something I've been dying to do for a few months... When Vxxxx, the Wisconsin State MUFON Director, interviewed me a while back about my Burlington Vortex UFO sighting ("Straight To The Top," 12/14/2011), she had asked if the burning orange lights in the sky had come from the direction of the Bong Recreation Area, and indeed they had.

Ever since that interview, I've been wanting to visit the Bong Recreation Area to see if I could find any evidence that this former almost-but-not-quite Air Force Base was in fact the site of a secret UFO base, a sort of Area 51 1/2 right here in southern Wisconsin ("Bong, Bong, Bong," 12/15/2011). I guess the fact that it took me two months to actually do it doesn't say much for my dedication to the craft, especially since I drive within about 10 miles of Bong once or twice a week, but in my defense I have been studying pretty hard to be a MUFON Field Investigator while juggling a fairly successful career, being an exemplary husband and father, writing magazine articles and doing radio interviews, and, well, it just got away from me.

But that all changed today. Sit back and I will tell you about my somewhat odd and chilling visit to the Richard Bong State "Recreation Area"... It's such an odd, strange tale I may and up splitting it up into two parts. We'll see.

I checked in at the entrance station to buy my state parks sticker, and I casually asked the cashier if she was aware that UFO buffs suspect that Bong may be a secret UFO base (TIP: when asking this type of question, NEVER identify yourself as one of the UFO buffs; always distance yourself from "those people"). The cashier, correctly surmising I wasn't one of those people, rolled her eyes and said, "Yea, I know." I laughed (further distancing myself from those people) and said, "Do you hear that a lot?" Again she rolled her eyes and said, "Oh yes I do." I took my sticker and entered the park.

Now, to the untrained eye, the Bong Recreation Area looks like any other Wisconsin prairie: flat, grassy and bleak. How they can get away with calling this place a Recreation Area is beyond me. Here's the view to the west:

Bleak
Here's the view to the east:

Bleaker
But wait! Is it really as bleak as it seems? Maybe not. You see, the view from above is altogether different. When you look at Bong from Google Earth, you can clearly see the remnants of the stillborn Air Force Base...

OMG
Yep, those are runways, all right. Legend has it that plans for the Air Force Base were scrapped a mere two days before the concrete for the runways was to be poured. Today, that long swath of prairie, a full two miles in length and a half mile wide, is mysteriously identified on park maps as the "Special Use Zone."

What on earth is a Special Use Zone? And why is it covered with mysterious and forbidding diagonal lines on the park map?


I had to find out. Throwing caution to the wind, I drove along the straightest road in the world, scanning the flat, bleak landscape for any sign of alien presence. I soon came across an odd, unearthly sight... There, in the middle of nowhere, was an observation tower... where there is nothing to observe! 

Trust me, there is nothing to observe here.
I knew I was on to something, so I kept moving ever onward. I ventured off the very straight paved road onto a very straight muddy, rutted dirt road, and came across a sight that made my blood run cold...

This made my blood run cold.
TO BE CONTINUED...
















Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cognitive Interviewing, MUFON Style

I've gotten to a really entertaining chapter of the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual dealing with "Cognitive Interviewing." This is a method of interviewing a UFO witness that elicits almost as much accurate information from an interview as you could get if you hypnotized the witness.

What makes it to entertaining is the fact that, no matter how hard the MUFONers try to portray their methodology as being rigidly scientific and objective, they always, always give themselves away... These guys aren't really interested in trajectories and elevations and weather conditions; they want to see aliens! That's what it's all about. That and nothing else.

To wit: One of the four elements of Cognitive Interviewing involves asking the witness to recount the events in a different order than from beginning to end. You could ask them to recount the events from end to beginning, for instance, or from middle to end and back to beginning, or from beginning to end leaving out the middle and going back to it at the end. I see a potential here for lots of confusion, but never mind. The key point is that the author provides a few examples of questions designed to break up the witness' train of thought, like "Describe everything about the scene" and "Is there anything else that you remember?" All very rational and scientific-like, right? But then there's this: "What is going on before the door of the UFO opens?"

Excuse me? The UFO has a door now? And it's opening? How did we get there? Because we're all about being taken seriously, right?

Don't get me wrong. I love asking about things like UFO doors opening. I would love to see a UFO with an actual door that actually opened! Who wouldn't? And even if I couldn't see it myself, I'd sure as hell love to interview someone who had seen it! No, I dig this line of questioning; it's the context that's so ridiculous...

It gets better in the next section, in which the author describes the technique of "Changing Perspective." With this technique, the MUFON Field Investigator asks the witness to envision the incident from a completely different point of view, like from up in the sky or from the other side of the UFO or from the point of view of someone else who also witnessed the event. Makes a lot of sense to me. I can see how this would be very effective in eliciting information from the witness.

Unless you follow the author's suggestion that you ask the witness to describe the incident from the point-of-view of his or her dog. Seems kind of counterproductive to me to ask the witness to imagine being collared and leashed and two feet off the ground,and I'm not sure what I would write down if the witness's answer was something like "Bark, bark! Woof!" But, oh, that's not a problem, because after you ask the witness what they would have seen differently if they had been their dog, the author offers a suggested reply from the dog/person: "I wouldn't have seen the emblem on the alien's uniform."

Game up, MUFON. You're not kidding anyone.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Necessary Equipment

I keep coming back to pages 29 & 30 in the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual, which list the equipment I will need in my Field Investigator's Kit. I keep coming back because each time I look over the list it makes more and more sense.

I have to take my tinfoil hat off to the guy who compiled the list, because he very thoughtfully considered the financial wherewithal of the average MUFON Field Investigator. He actually put together three very different lists for three very different budgets. The first list, "Necessary Equipment," is for the Field Investigator who's behind on his bills. It consists of simple household products like "tweezers" and "string" and "ziplock bags" that the Field Investigator probably already has lying around the house, but which could come in handy when investigating a UFO sighting. It's basically the Dollar Store Field Investigator's Kit.

But here is its brilliance: let's say I'm interviewing a UFO contactee, and in the course of the interview it comes out that the contactee was examined by aliens and had some sort of probe inserted into his or her body, and now he or she wants it out... Suddenly the tweezers, which at first seemed kind of lame, make perfect sense!

Next up is the "Desirable Equipment" list, for someone like me who has a few bucks to spend on his hobby but is acutely aware that MUFON does not have a reimbursement policy. This list includes everything from the Dollar Store list, but adds such pricey-sounding oddities as "Several 100-foot chalk lines" and "FRS/GMRS Radios." Here's where I could use some explanation. A builder uses chalk lines to lay out reference lines for walls or floors along a hard concrete surface. So if I happen to investigate a UFO encounter at a building site, I'm expected to lend a hand laying out the building as I interview the witness? Help me here, MUFON.

At the top of the pyramid is the "Optional Equipment" list, the Cadillac of equipment lists for the MUFON One-Percenters. Here we find all sorts of "-ometers" for measuring magnetic fields, light levels, radiation levels, distances, weather conditions, ground density, and all sorts of other things that can make or break a UFO investigation. Trouble is, many of these devices cost a boatload and "require a trained specialist to operate correctly."


Apparently I will need a Geiger Counter like this when I am called upon to interview a radioactive UFO witness. It costs over a thousand dollars and requires special training.
My first thought was: why do the rich Field Investigators get all the fun stuff? Then I read the list again and realized that I'd rather not have to purchase and operate a Geiger counter, thank you very much. What good can come of that? First of all, I think it's a bit silly to think that UFOs or aliens are nuclear-powered. That would be a bit like a bloke from the 1850's encountering a Saturn V rocket and assuming that it runs on whale oil. Second of all, why would MUFON expect me to expose myself to radiation? I say, if it glows it blows. You won't get me and my tweezers anywhere near that investigation site. The only thing I need in my equipment ziplock is a dime to call in the STAR Team. 

NOTE: Phone calls used to cost a dime.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bedbugs in Space!

The other day I wrote about the secret deal MUFON's former leadership had signed with a supposedly "shadowy" Las Vegas businessman that would have allowed said businessman to have exclusive access to any and all physical evidence that MUFON's "STAR Team" might nab from the site of a UFO crash or alien encounter ("How Much Is UFO Evidence Worth?", 2/7/2012). It turned out, in fact, that the STAR Team rapid response concept was created by MUFON at the behest of this businessman. All this for just $672,000!

Easy to see why rank-and-file MUFONers were upset with the management for inking that deal. Why would we all risk our necks to secure UFO evidence only to have the MUFON high command hand it over to a shadowy Las Vegas businessman, who would place it in on a solid gold display stand at the center of his vast collection of beautiful and rare artifacts that only he can afford to own?

Well, I did a little more research and the picture started come into clearer focus...  This businessman actually owns a hotel chain and an aerospace company, and so naturally he wants to combine his two great loves and build the first space hotel (see image below).

They call it a "space hotel," but it looks like giant marshmallows. Good luck with that.
Good thing he doesn't own an aerospace company and a dog walking service.

Now, you may be thinking that I'm talking about Sir Richard Branson, the brash, charismatic owner of Virgin this, that and the other thing, but I'm not. It's true that Sir Richard also owns both a hotel chain and an aerospace company, and wants to open the first space hotel, but I am talking about the other rich guy who owns a hotel chain and an aerospace company and wants to open a space hotel. I know, it's ridiculous that there are two of them, but apparently it's harder than you think to be a truly original and unique rich guy.

Anyway, let's take a closer look at our rich guy, and why he wants exclusive access to MUFON's crashed saucers and alien corpses. He owns a hotel chain called "Budget Suites of America," and Budget Suites of America invites you to "relax and unwind in your own personal apartment whether you are a family relocating to a new city, a business traveler, vacationer, or just making a new start." If I was vacationing with my family in Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix or San Antonio, I would consider staying at a Budget Suite of America. Ditto if I was "making a new start." But we're not talking about Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix or San Antonio, are we? We're talking about a cold, dark, barren, lifeless void. Okay, not much difference there, I admit, but you get my point.

Imagine this orbiting the earth.

This worries me, for obvious reasons. If I'm spending my life savings to take a vacation in low orbit around the earth. do I want to stay in a place called Budget Suite? I think you know the answer to that one.

But this could be the key...

What if Mr. Budget Suites knows that space aliens are vastly superior to us in the intergalactic hospitality business? Wouldn't it make sense that he would want their knowledge and technology to himself, so that he could make his space hotel the earth orbit destination?

Shame on you, MUFON management, for playing right into his hands. How many free weeks in space did he offer you??

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

BUFORD

I have periodically written about going solo with this UFO investigation thing, due to MUFON's inexplicable quirks and overall zaniness, and the drama surrounding MUFON's latest management shake-up has done nothing to calm my jitters...

I recently went so far as to consider forming my own UFO research organization and came up with the acronym of last resort, "BUFORD" ("Say It Ain't So, MUFON," 1/19/2012). But there was a problem with the name BUFORD, and I'm not talking about the fact that it sounds like a Southern Sheriff toting a Louisville Slugger. The problem was the incomplete acronym, to wit: "Bureau for UFO Research and..." I wasn't coming up with anything for "D," and asked you, my readers, for input.

Thank God somebody responded! Sxxxxxxx, my son's girlfriend, suggested "Development," and so it shall be that henceforth, BUFORD will stand for the Bureau for UFO Research and Development. It suddenly sounds as though I'm designing and building UFOs, and I kind of like that. Why limit myself to researching sightings when there's a whole wide universe out there to explore?

Thanks, Sxxxxxxx! And thanks to all my readers: you're all winners!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Much is UFO Evidence Worth?

How's this for a catchy headline: "Dissident members of MUFON call for major leadership changes." Here's another: "MUFON Psyops?" How about this: "It's Amazing MUFON is Still Around." Do I really want to be a part of this outfit? Well, yes.

Turns out there's a lot of drama behind the recent changing of the guard at MUFON, and many disgruntled MUFONers have not been shy about voicing their opinions online. Take "It's Amazing MUFON is Still Around," posted on a site called The UFO Chronicles. In this article we've got this killer quote from a former MUFON International Director: “It’s maddening. I was so glad when I retired from that job,” says former International Director John Schuessler, a MUFON founder in 1969. “You’re working with volunteers with varying levels of education and sophistication, they pay the International Director a pittance, just a token salary, really, and he’s expected to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with the kind of responsibilities that would be worth $150,000 a year in any other field.”

Did he just take a swipe at MUFON volunteers? Yes he did. "Varying levels of education and sophistication"? Damn.


But that's not the worst of it. Sensing that there must be more to these dissident members calling for a major leadership change, I dug further. My research indicated that sometime in 2009, MUFON management signed a contract with a "shadowy Las Vegas businessman" that would give the shadowy businessman exclusive access to any and all sensitive materials related to a close encounter that might be recovered by the MUFON STAR Team. In exchange, the shadowy businessman would pay MUFON $672,000, which is more than enough to quiet down that Schuessler guy. This is so bad movie I can hardly believe it.

As you may recall from an earlier post ("GO Team," 1/29/2012), the STAR Team is called in when an investigation of a significant UFO event overwhelms the local Field Investigators with its complexity and danger. Remember, us grunts on the front line have varying levels of education and sophistication. STAR Teamers, on the other hand, have a uniform level of education and sophistication, and can be counted on to scoop up any and all physical evidence of the UFO encounter from right under the noses of the authorities and spirit it away to Las Vegas. I'm not sure what the shadowy businessman does with this physical evidence once he gets his shadowy hands on it, but I have a feeling it doesn't exactly jibe with MUFON's motto: "The scientific study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity."


So, why was access to the STAR Team worth $672,000 to the shadowy guy? Why does he need to be the first to lay eyes on physical evidence of a UFO encounter? How did they settle on that figure? 


More than ever, I need to become a member of the STAR Team. If there's a rotten core at the heart of this organization, I aim to find it, and expose it to the cold, hard light of day. You can count on that.

Well, That Explains Christmas

As you may know if you read this blog with any regularity, I receive tweets every day documenting UFO sighting reports, and I'm always on the lookout for reports that have a unique, intangible quality that separates them from the pack. Sometimes they're mid-boggling. Sometimes they're comical. Sometimes they cut straight to the core of human longing...

Take this report that just came though a day or two ago: It took place on June 1, 1975, at 4 a.m. in Bay Shore, NY, on Long Island. The tweet I received said simply, "i remember waving goodbye...i remember being with my sister and parents." I had to read more.

The case report lists this sighting as taking place on a "rooftop," so I imagine this small child in 1975 standing on a rooftop with his or her family, waving goodbye to a UFO. Why was an entire family out on their rooftop at 4 a.m.? The object they were looking at must have been in their yard for a spell, because you don't "wave goodbye" to something that just appeared. No, something happened that night that involved the whole family. Trouble is, the parents and sister don't remember any of it.

"ok here i go ....." the report begins. "i remember waving goodbye to a saucer disk like flying thing it had rotating lights around the middle i remember blue red yellow..and i remember being with my sister and my parents...there is hardly a day that goes by when i still dont think about this....but they dont seem to remember this..."

Whoever or whatever the witness was waving goodbye to, they came back.

"around the same year or so i remember running out to see if santa came ..." the witness reports, "and i remember seeing 3 aliens...and i seem to remember them being a brownish in color...like a light brown color....and about the same height i was when i was a kid...three to four feet...but i remember no more after i first see them..."

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Of course the witness doesn't remember anything after that! You don't catch Santa's elves in the act and then go around remembering it all.

I don't know what I love more about this report: the sense of childlike wonder that the witness still retains after all these years, or the fact that the report conflates two of our most persistent cultural icons...

MUFON lists this case as "unresolved." I would like to see it resolved, and I have a plan. Next Christmas, we all stay up all night, watching... with our night-vision cameras, our Geiger counters and our tape measures at the ready. Who's with me?

Even if we can't catch the aliens in the act, I think someone has to warn Santa that his "elves" may not be elves...




Monday, February 6, 2012

UFOs and The Superbowl

Color me disappointed. Today all the Superbowl TV commercial talk is about Clint Eastwood's "Halftime in America" ad for Chrysler... Sure, it was good and powerful and everything, but it did it have aliens? No.

Two Superbowl ads did, however, go there, and I have to give credit to my wife Mxxxxx for pointing it out.

The Chevy pickup "Survive Apocalypse" ad prominently featured a massive crashed flying saucer amid the ruins of a post-apocalyptic world, while the Acura "Transactions" ad had two little green bug-eyed aliens, one dead and one alive. Maybe they were the same alien, but I don't see how, because in the first appearance the alien is in a body bag and Jerry Seinfeld and the other guy recoil from its awful smell, and in the second appearance it's sitting at a cafe next to Seinfeld, very much alive and apparently not smelly. What's up with that?

(I have to say, though, I think Kia outdid them all with last year's Superbowl ad, "One Epic Ride." Aliens, a space ship, a wormhole, and Incas! Or Mayans. Or Aztecs. I can never tell which is which. Anyway, beat that!)


What does it mean when one car manufacturer after another uses UFO and alien life form iconography in their tv spots? I'll just say it: it could be a plot. But who, or what, is behind it? Personally, I think the execs at the auto manufacturing companies are clueless; if the ad is funny and creates some buzz and sells a few cars, who cares what any of the images mean? It's the ad agencies we have to keep our eyes on...

Think about it: all they do is create cultural perceptions. Who better than the ad agencies to condition the human race for its eventual demise? My God, if they keep bombarding us with images of aliens and spaceships on our TV sets every night, we're not even going to lift an eyebrow when those alien war machines start to decimate our planet. Not until it's too late... It would be the easiest, most bloodless alien invasion since "They Live" (see image below)

You won't even know they've taken over.
Thanks for selling out the human race, Seinfeld.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pure Speculation

I am thoroughly enjoying reading the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual, and not only because it gives me endless material about which to blog. A lot of the information is pretty well thought-out and presented nicely, and I am learning a lot about the MUFON Way.

Today I've been reading the section on The MUFON Investigative Process, and there's a lot to learn, especially when it comes to interviewing UFO witnesses. I thought it would be a pretty simple process: you sit down with the witness and start pounding him or her with questions. But, no. There's a real subtlety involved. It turns out it's more about the witness than it is about me.

It's about listening, and observing. It's about reading body language and asking open-ended questions and avoiding saying or doing anything that may color the witness' testimony in any way. For instance, instead of asking the witness, "Was the craft cigar-shaped or more like a blimp?" I am to ask, "What did the shape of the object resemble?" Instead of asking "What planet did it come from?" I should ask, "How many billions of miles do you think it traveled to reach the earth?" In that way, I ensure that the information I gather from the witness is untainted and devoid of speculation and sensationalism.

All well and good, but isn't sensationalism part and parcel of the whole phenomenon? Aren't we trying to blow the socks off the scientific and media establishments and make them admit that there is something pretty screwy going on here?

No, apparently, those decisions must only be made at the very highest levels of MUFON's administration. I, as a lowly field investigator, must, in my interview with the witness, assiduously avoid any controversial subject that could get us both on the front page of the paper.

Consider this, from page 56 of the Manual: "A witness report of having been handled or probed by an instrument must be approached with extreme care, and it is generally advisable to break off an initial interview at this point pending the availability of someone with a firm grounding in abduction research."

I don't like that one bit. First of all, why don't I get to be be the first one to hear the story? And leak it. Second of all, how is it going to make the witness feel when he or she leans forward and tells me in hushed tones that he or she was probed by an instrument and I slam my notebook shut and say, "Don't say another word! I have to call in someone with a firm grounding in abduction research!"? This person is just about to divulge what could be the most important information in the history of mankind, something so shocking and intimate that there may only be one chance to get it out of the witness, ever, and I'm supposed to interrupt and say, "Could you just hold that thought...?"

It gets even worse on page 60, in a section entitled "Reactions to the UFO Experience." Here I am told that some witnesses will feel that they were preselected to have an encounter with a UFO, and because of this they will ask things like, "Why me?" or "What does it mean?" or "Will it come back?"

If a witness asked me any of those questions, I would be ready with some killer answers. But, and you will not be surprised by this, I am not allowed to answer those questions. "One must politely decline to answer questions such as those... that concern the matter of underlying purpose," the Manual says. "Any response offered would be speculative, regardless of the factual information and insights gathered."

So, to review... we're trying to discover, and even prove, the underlying purpose of UFOs, but we're not allowed to answer any questions about the underlying purpose of UFOs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

UFOs, Cookies & Republicans

Red Alert! Another UFO has been sighted in Wisconsin, this time by someone who is not me.

According to the report posted today at UFO Stalker, the sighting took place yesterday, February 2nd, 2012, in the south central Wisconsin town of Ripon. Up until now, Ripon, WI, has been famous for two things. It is the home of Rippin' Good Cookies...


... and it is the birthplace of the Republican Party.


One of these things makes people smile, and one doesn't. I'll leave it to you to sort out which is which.

Back to Ripon's third claim to fame, the UFO sighting. The witness was up at 5:30 a.m., leaving for work. Perhaps he or she works the early shift at the cookie factory. I'm not sure, but I'm assuming that everyone in town works at the cookie factory. Anyway, as the cookie maker was walking to his or her car, he or she was looking at the stars in the sky, and noticed a star that wasn't a star; it was a UFO.

It was, in fact, five times larger than a star, and much brighter. It moved slowly and noiselessly across the sky until it went out of sight, perhaps somewhere behind the cookie factory. The witness reports that because of his or her military training, he or she knew it could not be an airplane or helicopter.

The report is sketchy. The witness freely admits that he or she did not attempt to take a picture or record any video, knowing that the picture quality would have been "beyond poor." Perhaps sensing that this lax attitude might be unacceptable to serious UFO investigators, the witness does close with this: "I did, however, note the time." Well, have a cookie.

What to make of the report? Cookie makers are not known for their keen powers of observation, and obviously they cannot be counted on to snap a quick photo. However, after one examines all the facts and reads between the lines and applies a bit of creative analysis, a picture starts to emerge. Could the witness have seen this...???



Aliens Among Us

This is big: In the next few days, the human race may come into contact with one or more alien life forms...

What's really amazing about it is, the alien life forms are right here on earth.

Two miles under the ice sheet that covers Antarctica is a huge body of liquid water called Lake Vostok. How can there be a lake in Antarctica? The ice sheet moves; the land mass does not. This creates just enough friction to keep a layer of water melted between the rocks and the ice, creating a 6,000 square-foot "lake" -- one of the 15 largest lakes in earth -- that has been sealed off from the earth's atmosphere for as much as 15 million years.

What kind of exotic life might exist in this frigid water that has been cut off from the rest of the world since before Turok of the Cave People was born?

Lake Vostok is even older than this guy.
A lot of scientists have been trying to find out for very many years. In fact, they've been trying to drill through the ice to reach Lake Vostok since 1998. I know what you're thinking: those are some slow scientists. How hard can it be to drill through two miles of constantly shifting ice? Well, in addition to getting through all that ice, the scientists also had to grapple with the question of whether penetrating into the water would contaminate this pristine lake and endanger whatever life forms may live there. We don't want to discover a whole new world of amazing little alien beasties only to kill them all off on the very first day. Or, on the flip side, we don't want to unleash some prehistoric pestilence that could wipe out the human race in a matter of days. Either way, it could ruin your day and probably endanger your funding. So they stopped drilling for a while to grapple with this ethical dilemma. Then, in the tradition of generations of scientists before them, they decided, "Oh, the hell with it," and commenced to drilling again.

Could Lake Vostok be swarming with evil creatures like this "ice worm?"

Here's where it gets weird.

The Russian scientists at Vostok Station have been racing to complete their final drilling before the Antarctic winter sets in. For some reason they get their winter in the summer, I don't know why, and it seems to take the scientists by surprise every year. So here they are working like crazy to make this phenomenal scientific breakthrough, the possible discovery of completely alien life forms here on earth, while countless other scientists and researchers the world over breathlessly await the news... and... they go silent.

No shit. According to foxnews.com, no one has heard from the Russian scientists at Vostok Station for over five days. Meanwhile, the temperature is plummeting. The Lake Vostok site holds the distinction of having registered  the lowest recorded temperature on earth, ever: -129 degrees Fahrenheit.

I'll be watching this news closely and reporting in. Best wishes to those scientists.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Meet The New Boss

One of the perks of MUFON membership is that I get these email bulletins called "Filer's Files," in which a guy named Filer periodically shares his files. Since Filer is the New Jersey State Director and the MUFON Eastern Region Director, one assumes that his files are pretty good.

One look at today's files confirms this:
  • "Is There a Space War?" 
  • "Howard Menger's Electro-gravitic Craft"
  • "Yahweh (God) and His Flying Machines"
But one file stands out among them all:
  • "Dave McDonald is the New Director of MUFON"
At last! MUFON is finally admitting that there is a new International Director, and his name is Captain Dave McDonald. I was thrilled to see the headline, and dug into Filer's file to learn everything I could about our new leader and to read about his vision for MUFON. Alas, Filer does not seem to have spent much time with the Cap'n, for all he can come up with is this:

"He has a great personality and smile."

This qualifies a man to lead the world's preeminent UFO research organization? Surely there's more to our new leader than that? Hungry for more, I went straight to mufon.com for all the latest on the mysterious Captain McDonald and fell straight into the MUFON time warp. Sadly, but predictably, the latest MUFON Press Release on the site is dated August 10, 2010, and the most recent item under "MUFON News" is a write-up of a TV show that aired in 2005.

Then it got worse. I decided to Google the good Captain, and was in for quite a shock. Captain Dave McDonald appears to be one of those extraordinary people who is Google-proof....

Oh, there are Captain Dave McDonalds aplenty. One asks, "WHY SHOULD YOU RETAIN ME TO OPERATE YOUR YACHT OR WORK WITH YOUR PEOPLE?" on his website. Another is a police officer in Puyallup, WA, who, just five days ago, investigated an incident in which a woman was slightly injured at a train crossing. He reports that the incident occurred about 2:35 p.m. at the crossing on 12th Street Northwest near Stewart Avenue. But THE Captain Dave McDonald of MUFON? Not so much...

By the way, did anyone not know that Yahweh was God? Just asking.

Don't Be Afraid

A while back I blogged about UFO hero J. Allen Hynek ("J. Allen Hynek," 11/29/2011), and alluded to the possibility of a book project. It turns out no writer has ever done a decent job documenting the late Dr. Hynek's career as a UFO researcher, and it seemed there might be an opportunity for me to pursue this project.

Since that posting, I have had the pleasure of talking with one of Dr. Hynek's sons, and he has given me his blessing to put together a book proposal. Pretty damned decent of him, if you ask me. I'm now working with a literary agent to develop the project, and so I'm studying up on Dr. Hynek's work. My starting point is the good doctor's seminal book "Night Seige: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings," co-written with Philip J. Imbrogno and Bob Pratt.

I'm about 1/3 of the way into the book, and the events it describes are quite amazing... For a period of over three years in the mid-1980's, hundreds of residents living in the Hudson River valley north of New York City saw a huge V-shaped or triangular flying craft hovering over highways and reservoirs, moving slowly through the sky as if it wanted to be seen...

The dozens of eye-witness accounts documented in the book are so consistent the repetitiveness of it all starts to become boring. But that's precisely what makes the events so amazing. Everyone describes the same object behaving the same way... Policemen, pilots, engineers, teachers and housewives all saw the same damn thing, and all swear it was not an airplane or a group of ultralight aircraft flying in formation (that was "the authorities'" favorite explanation). It was quite possibly the greatest mass UFO sighting in history, but it got almost no play in the media, and remains largely unknown. Something's seriously wrong there.

As I said, I'm not far into the book, so I'm sure I'll have a lot to report by the time I'm done. For now, though, there is one supremely creepy aspect of the book that has really grabbed me...

In sighting after sighting, the witness reports that he or she wished the object would come closer... and then regretted it.

"I thought to myself, 'I wish it would come closer so I could get a better look at it,'" one witness reported, "and as soon as that thought went through my mind, the object began to descend and head straight for my car."

The witness reported to the authors that as the object approached his car he became "thoroughly frightened" and started to honk his car's horn to scare it away. When that didn't work he screamed at it to leave, and that's when he felt a communication from the object telling him not to be afraid.

I'm sure that worked.