High Strangeness: February 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

UFO Cesspool

Once again, I am pretty discouraged with the state of UFOlogy. Just when you think the whole sorry mess, with all its feuding and lying and name-calling and narcissism, can't possibly get any worse, it does. And even though the unrelenting unpleasantness of this field of endeavour will someday make fantastic material for a book, it is something to be ashamed of.

I think it's pretty clear to anyone paying attention that this hopeless "Roswell slides" fiasco is now dragging the entire field of UFO research down the drain with it. Need proof? Now we've actually got people calling the police on each other over the slides...

Do you laugh or do you cry?

The film that started it all.
My mind was made up about the slides a few weeks ago, when the Curator of Technology at the Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film said that it is impossible to tell when Kodachrome film was manufactured, exposed or developed. I also happen to have personal connections to the photography expert who has looked at the slides and who appears briefly in the silly "Kodachrome" trailer, and if I ever have occasion to have a conversation with him about what he saw when he looked at the slides, I'll be sure to share it.

Or not, because one blog has recently revealed what he saw, and it wasn't much...

You can bet that this crap will continue to suck all the air out of the room for the next few months, and if history is any guide, even when the whole thing implodes on them on May 5, the promoters of the slides will continue to be given a seat at the table, because... I'm not sure, exactly. Can anyone help me with this?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Scientificiness

I got this interesting tweet the other day, sent to my @markoconnell_1 Twitter account:
If you do not live in Mexico you can also join #beWITNESS. Scientific evidence of alien life bewitness.mx
When I saw that Mexico was involved, my first thought was that this tweet had something to do with the big "Roswell Slides" reveal coming  up this May 5th in Mexico City. Then I read the bit about "Scientific evidence of alien life" and I knew I was wrong, because of course the "Roswell Slides" reveal has absolutely nothing to do with "Science" or "evidence" or "alien life." 

Needless to say, this piqued my interest. Could there be another spectacular UFO event coming up in Mexico? That would be pretty wild!

Then I clicked on the link and discovered that this was, in fact, nothing more than a pitch for the "Roswell Slides" reveal. What a disappointment... Still, there I was, at the website, staring at a headline announcing "May 5, The Change of The History," so what could I do put plunge forward and try to understand the true scientificiness of this landmark event? 

I am so glad I did, because I watched the slick video on the website, and here's what I learned:
  • "Confirmation of the existence of beings from other planets" is going to be hard to walk back on May 6th
  • The supposed aliens come from not just one planet, but "planets"
  • The slides will be presented with "holographic technology," just like the scientists use
  • "For me, this is a climax," says undoubtedly poorly-translated promoter Jaime Maussan
  • There will be "10,000 witnesses" on May 5
  • The graphic of the crashed saucer looks suspiciously like the crashed saucer image from the 1963 Twilight Zone episode "Death Ship," which in turn used the C57-D spaceship prop from the 1956 movie "Forbidden Planet" -- 'cause it's all about provenance, you know
  • Edgar Mitchell took a wrong turn on his way back from the moon
  • Tickets to the event are available through Ticketmaster
About that last point... I was in so deep already, I didn't see any harm in clicking the Ticketmaster button to see how many greenbacks it would cost me to get a front-row seat at this once-in-a-lifetime event.

A lot. The nosebleed seats are too expensive for me. They're going for a cool $360. The front row seats will set you back a cosmic $1,570. That's a $1,210 premium to sit about 80 feet closer to the scientific evidence.

I ran these numbers past my wife and, after I performed the Heimlich maneuver on her due to the fact that she started choking on her lunch, she said, "No wonder these guys hate it when you make fun of Roswell. It's the goose that laid the golden egg!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

UFOsplaining

There's been a lot UFOsplaining going on these days; seems like every day there's a huge new UFO news item being touted by one expert or another telling us whatever it is we need to know about UFOs: first it was the CIA taking credit for over 50% of the UFO sightings reported in the '50s and '60s, then it was the "news" about the "declassification" of the Project Blue Book files, then it was the "smoking gun" Roswell Slides, and today we even have TV evangelist Pat Robertson telling us that God has absolutely not created life on other worlds because He's got His hands full here on earth...

And yet, for all the blather, none of those things have yet to explain anything about the UFO phenomenon at all...

I have had it up to here with all this UFOsplaining. And so it came as a welcome relief when I sat down today to listen to an interview with one of the few UFO grown-ups in the world, a man who can talk clearly and intelligently about UFOs like no-one else. That man is Dr. Jacques Vallee, who was interviewed a few nights ago on Coast to Coast AM by host George Knapp, and who said more interesting things about UFOs in his two hours on the air than most of us will say in a lifetime.

The interview was of special interest to me because of Vallee's close relationship with Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and because he rarely talks publicly about UFOs these days. He's speaking now because three of his classic UFO books, "Passport to Magonia," "The Invisible College," and "Messengers of Deception," have just been reissued, and that's good news for all of us.

The conversation was ostensibly about "Passport to Magonia," and so there was a lot of fascinating talk about that book's preoccupation with the connections between UFOs and folklore... Here are some of the highlights:
  • "Flying saucer" is not a new term at all: about 700 years ago, Japan was plagued with "flying earthenware"!
  • In the creep me out department, West Virginia's famous Mothman bears some striking similarities to the historical figures of terror Springheel Jack and the Skinwalkers.
  • The Invisible College has returned! A group of scientists around the world has spent the last 12 years very quietly studying the historical aspects of the UFO phenomenon.
Dr. Vallee had some interesting thoughts about the recent UFOsplaining as well:
  • He marveled at how anyone could claim that the Project Blue Book files had only just been declassified
  • He was dismissive of the Disclosure movement, asking "Tell me again what it is we're going to be disclosing?"
  • On the state of UFO research in general, he said, "I think there's a big misconception that when you have a lot of data, you have knowledge."
All that was extremely entertaining, but the best quotes have to do with the deeper meanings of the UFO phenomenon...
  • "It is as if the phenomenon can manipulate space, time, and the thoughts of people."
  • "Every culture has a tradition of people who can do magical things."
  • "We have to face the fact that whatever the phenomenon is, it has access to a greater knowledge of reality, a greater knowledge of the universe, than we do."
Best quote of all? It had to be Vallee's statement on the value of laboring at a task when there is little reward and little hope that it might achieve its goals:
"If we can contribute to helping science build a model of reality, of physical reality, we will have done a good job, even if we don't solve the UFO problem within our lifetimes."
Second best quote? It was related to the best quote. While talking about the origins of unidentified aerial phenomenon, Dr. Vallee simply said,
"It doesn't have a beginning..."

*Whew*

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Roswell Slides Fever!

I'm working an big, big case for MUFON this week; it's ruffled feathers all the way up to the big man himself, MUFON Director Jan Harzan!

You'd never know from reading the initial report from the witness that this case would be such a big deal:

"I set up a Moultrie M-880i Digital Game Camera for the 1st time in a spot to see what I would get pictures of. The location is at my Moms place. I set the camera for 8MP and to take 3 shots 1 second apart when motion is detected. I got 1 Amazing Picture! At 1st I thought it was a large bird like a Turkey Vulture. After looking at the picture zooming in and out by far the most I have ever examined a picture in my life there is nothing that tells me that it is a bird of anything other than a UFO. Several others believe pretty much the same. At the time I was home sleeping and my Mom was at home in the house. But where anyone was at the time doesn't matter. All that matters is that the camera got 1 Amazing Shot. I am completely amazed by this picture. I sure wish I would have gotten a 12MP camera. As far as a witness goes is it safe to say that the Camera is the 1? At this time I am not going to submit the picture. I want to 1st find out if it is worth $$$. I 1st want to get a response from MUFON. And I swear on a stack of Bibles that this is not a Hoax. I hope to here from you soon"
I talked to the witness -- okay, he's not really a witness, is he? -- I talked to the owner of the camera, and he said the image showed a 6' blimp with short fat wings, about 5' off the ground, in front of some trees that are about 400' feet away from where the camera was placed.

Unfortunately, that's all I can give you, 'cause that's all I've got. Because this gentleman is so sure his picture is worth "$$$," as he so quaintly puts it, he will not give out any more details or show the photo to anyone.
SHRIMPY BLIMP: MUFON will not purchase this or any photo for $$$, so don't even ask.

I call this phenomenon "Roswell Slides Fever," and I'm afraid it could reach epidemic proportions between now and May.

Still, I have my duties, and after talking with the gentleman I wrote to my state director Mxxx to ask if MUFON had any protocols for dealing with such an odd situation. Unfortunately, I made it sound as though the witness was hoping MUFON would buy what I am now calling "The Hartford Photo," and that sent alarm bells all the way to MUFON HQ. The word quickly came down from the new STAR TEAM director himself: MUFON does NOT purchase photographs!

"We certainly don't buy photos and least of all trail cameras which are fraught with problems. The optics are less than we would like, the frame rate is slow and generally yield strange effects from moving objects like a car that can make the car invisible yet reveal things like headlights. 

"This witness is not the first with a trail cam image. I have one gentleman who sent me over 50 images that yield nothing but plays of lights and shadows. 

"If this gentleman has a photo of a landed disc with an alien emerging from the object and waving , it might be a bit stronger. Even as we see with the best photos, no one considers these as proof. 

"Photos and videos do nothing but support a witnesses story. In this case the witness did not see it. The camera caught a photo anomaly and the guy is trying to capitalize on it."
Well, by this time I was feeling pretty bad, because I had never meant to indicate that the owner of "The Hartford Photo" (R) wanted to sell it to MUFON. If that had been the case, I think he only would have said "$" or maybe "$$" in his report. The fact that he said "$$$" indicated to me that he was aiming higher. Much higher...

Not willing to chuck the whole thing as my STAR TEAM Director seemed to be, I made the owner of "THP" (R) my best offer: I could ask the MUFON photo analysis expert to take a look at the image and give his opinion. The owner, perhaps sensing that his bluff had been called, in a manner of speaking, indicated that he might be open to that.

So today I got in touch with MUFON's crack photo analyst and asked if he would take a look at the "The Hartford Photo" (R) if the owner would agree. He said yes, but only if our Fearless Leader, Jan Harzan, didn't object. Seemed prudent to me, so there it stands.

Will "The Hartford Photo" (R) reveal a landed disc with an alien emerging from the object and waving, as the STAR TEAM leader hoped? Will it trigger Disclosure at last, followed quickly by A.D. After Disclosure? Or will it just show a sad little blimp with short, fat wings? Or will Jan just say no? I, for one, hope to find out.

And I hope to find out well in advance of May 5th...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lost in the Stars

"Saturn as seen from Titan" (1952) by the incomparable Chesley Bonestell

A friend sent me a great link this morning to the works of Harvard Astrophysicist Avi Loeb and his musings on life in the universe. This recent article is so full of fascinating ideas about the possibility of life on other planets that it's going to take a few days of pondering and puzzling for me to sort it all out... Fantastic reading for anyone who considers him- or herself part of the WANA crowd (that stands for "We Are Not Alone," and unless I'm very much mistaken, I just now created that acronym).

 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/science/avi-loeb-ponders-the-early-universe-nature-and-life.html?_r=0

I find it very comforting to know that even as the raging storm of stupidity over the so-called "Roswell Slides" continues to grow, there are serious people like Avi Loeb thinking about alien life in ways that are inspiring, not embarrassing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It Happened On Route 3

You know what's a damn shame?

It's a damn shame that the 1975 TV movie "The UFO Incident" doesn't seem to be available on DVD or streaming video. I just got done watching the movie, about the Betty and Barney Hill abduction case, on YouTube, and YouTube sucks. The picture was crap, the audio was crap, there were gaps and skips galore, and yet...

And yet, the movie still kicks ass. I haven't watched it for years, and it still gives me the chills. The script, based on the John Fuller book, "The Interrupted Journey," is tight and literate and cleverly constructed. The directing is understated and confident, with long, long tracking takes that allow the tension to build and build and build. The portrayals of the aliens and their shadowy UFO are chilling in their simplicity. And the performances of the leads are fucking amazing. James Earl Jones as Barney Hill. Estelle Parsons as Betty Hill. Bernard Hughes as Dr. Benjamin Simon. These three are virtually the entire cast of the film, so they're on screen constantly, and they all rock.

Somewhere along Route 3, New Hampshire...
It's still terrifying to see Jones as Barney Hill pleading under hypnosis, "I want to wake up... Please, let me wake up!" rather than have to remember what happened along Route 3 that night. And those shots of the "men" approaching the Hill's stalled car on the deserted highway, and that plasticky hand slowly reaching in through Betty's window to take her out of the car... damn, still terrifying after all these years. Even the voice-over narration makes an impact, as it's delivered by the sonorous voice of Vic Perrin, who provided the creepy "Control Voice" at the beginning and end of every episode of "The Outer Limits" in the early 1960s. Classy and effective. And the sweet love story between Betty and Barney hits just the right note... a safe refuge for two people terrified that they are losing their grip...

So why why why is this brilliant little movie not available in a watchable format? "Fire in the Sky," the only other movie I know of based on an actual alien abduction case, is available in HD everywhere, and, with all due respect to Travis Walton, it sucks. It makes being abducted by aliens seem like being trapped for two hours inside somebody's nose. Somebody with a sinus infection.

I've checked Universal's website, and I can't find any indication that "The UFO Incident" is or ever will be available in any format. Amazon lists the movie, but says the DVD is "unavailable." I mean, I'm grateful that a few people have posted even crap versions on YouTube, because a crap version is better than no version at all. But still...

This sucks.

About the "UFO Quote of the Day"

A few weeks ago, inspired by the wonderful Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA, I decided to start posting a new feature on twitter that I cleverly call the "UFO Quote of the Day," aka:
#UFOQuoteoftheDay 
aka:
@UFOqod
I could have done a "UFO Picture of the Day" feature, but I feared it would be nothing more than picture after picture of fuzzy, blobby bright lights in the sky, and who needs more of that crap? Quotes, on the other hand, if curated properly, never get dull or repetitive.

That decision made, I set about establishing my methodology, which took about one and a half seconds. Here are my guiding principles for the selection of quotes:

  1. The UFO Quote of the Day must be something interesting that someone said about or relating to UFOs.

That's it. I don't care whether the quote comes from a believer or a skeptic, from a scientist or a pig farmer, from a human or an alien or a hybrid. I don't care whether it's phenomenally brilliant or astoundingly stupid. I don't even care if it's a bald-faced lie. If someone said it (or wrote it, or telepathically projected it) and it tickles my fancy, I'm going to use it.
Perennial UFO troublemakers Betty and Barney Hill, as featured in @UFOqod

But there are a few important points I want to make about the quotes I do choose. These all come about from recent comments and suggestions by reader Terry the Censor. Terry never fails to bring up important issues, and I love that he is such a close and careful reader, and I figure if Terry is bringing something up, then it's likely something that a lot of other thoughtful readers are wondering about, too. So, here goes...

  1. While I am drawing from material that is familiar to a lot of UFO buffs, such as the Project Blue Book archives or UFO books that we all have on our bookshelves, I am also drawing from a mountain of material that I've dug up in the process of researching my biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. That means that many of my quotes will come from interviews I've done with people you may not have ever heard of, some will come from dusty university archives, or collections from small-town historical societies, or from ancient news clippings, or from the CUFOS files scattered about in basements in the Chicago area. So, while you may not recognize the quote, I can assure you that it's still a real quote. I'm never going to make shit up. There's such an immense wealth of material from which to choose, why would I ever need to?
  2. Just because I use a quote, that doesn't mean I agree with the quote, or that I'm trying to push an agenda supported by the quote. For example, when I recently quoted the polygraph operator who performed a lie-detector test on alleged UFO abductee Charlie Hickson, it was because what he had to say was really interesting, NOT because I endorse the science of polygraphy (The polygraph operator said of Hickson, "I'm not saying he saw a spaceship, but when he said he saw a spaceship, he wasn't lying" -- that's a damn good quote, no matter what you think of polygraph tests, and I got it from an interview I conducted with Joe Colingo, the attorney who got involved in the Hickson & Parker abduction event and was present when the polygraph test was conducted). The fact that there are differing opinions on the efficacy of polygraphy does not make the quote any less interesting, or illuminating, at least not to me. You are free to disagree.
  3. While I appreciate quote suggestions, I will probably not use them, at least not anytime soon. The selection of the quotes is what makes this fun for me, so why would I give that up? Now, it's always possible that at some time in the future I'll feature some of my favorite suggestions to @UFOqod, but, as I've only just gotten started with this, that probably won't be happening anytime soon. I'm having too much fun digging up quotes on my own, doggone it!

Finally, some thoughts on the accuracy of my quotes. The other day I quoted the "alien leader" from the Betty and Barney Hill UFO abduction case as asking Betty "Where are you on the map?" after showing her the "star map" that he/she/it used for navigation. Terry quickly pointed out that, according to the Betty Hill hypnosis transcripts in the John Fuller book, "The Interrupted Journey," the exact quote is "Where were you on the map?" I've checked, and dammit, he's right, as usual. And because Fuller's book has long been considered the definitive account of the Hill case, it's hard to defend my error.

Nonetheless, I will. There are, in fact, numerous sources that quote the alien leader as asking "Where are you on the map?" including the 2007 book "Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience," written by UFO stalwarts Stanton Friedman and Kathy Marden, who happens to be Betty and Barney's niece. Because of this, I don't feel that I've erred very badly, if at all. Also, when you read the hypnosis transcripts in full, it's very easy to see how Betty's recollections of the experience under hypnosis frequently changed tense, and how Dr. Simon, the hypnotist, rather arbitrarily added quotation marks to comments that could well have been Betty simply paraphrasing the leader's statements. Also, it would make very little sense for the alien leader to have asked the question in past tense in the first place, unless that's an idiosyncracy of alien syntax, but how would we know?

So... I think I have some legit wiggle room here.

But, in the end, does one word really matter? Yes and no, but mostly yes. In the world of UFOlogy, more accuracy is always better, and Terry the Censor is to be commended for always keeping that in sight. The challenge we all face is figuring out what is more accurate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go make up a quote for today -- j/k!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Invisible College

Once again the International UFO Congress -- the Guinness World Record holding largest UFO convention -- is upon us, and once again I am not able to attend. But it's ok, because I'm pretty sure the lineup will be the same next year...

As I was looking over the schedule today one session coming up this Saturday caught my eye:
1:00 – 2:15 PM: Jeremy Corbell – The Invisible College
I thought that was pretty cool because The Invisible College is a fascinating topic to me. It came about in the early 1960s, when Northwestern University Astronomy Professor and Project Blue Book scientific consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek was able to slowly and stealthily gather together a group of scientists who were interested in studying the UFO phenomenon, even it meant doing it in secret... In 1975 one of the ICers, Dr. Jacques Vallee, wrote "The Invisible College," about his adventures with this group of thinkers, and it remains one of the best, most readable UFO books out there.

How cool, I thought, that the UFO Congress is going to devote some time to this fascinating chapter in UFO history! It's about time someone paid homage to this group of courageous pioneers.

The Invisible Man got his degree from The Invisible College
Then I read the bio of the presenter, Jeremy Corbell, and the overview of his Saturday session, and I got confused. Aside from a single, virtually context-free mention of Dr. Vallee's name, there is really nothing there that sounds at all like The Invisible College.
In this multi-media presentation, Corbell will seek to weaponize your curiosity and provide a blueprint for dismantling the Immaculate Deception imposed by the irrational mind and blind faith of the resolved believer, and the skeptic alike. You will experience never before screened footage from a number of Corbell’s upcoming films, and explore the shadowy and mysterious hallways that compose what Jacques Vallee called, The Invisible College.
I'm not sure what shadowy and mysterious hallways he's talking about here. You see, The Invisible College wasn't a college college, with buildings and lecture halls and classrooms and desks and dorms... It was a bunch of scientists -- about a hundred of them in five or six countries, according to Vallee -- who corresponded and had conference calls and gathered in Hynek's house whenever a few of them could manage to get to Evanston. At least the presenter didn't make the all-too-common mistake of thinking that Hynek, Vallee and their colleagues had perfected an invisibility device. I believe that was part of the original plan, but they never even came close to making it work, and they didn't want to call themselves The Translucent College.

So, in the end I'm not feeling too bad about missing this. Still, I kind of like the idea of this guy weaponizing my curiosity, even if it makes him sound just a little scary...


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

BREAKING: White House Statement on UFOs

I've been reading about how former Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton and current Obama advisor John Podesta recently tweeted his #1 regret of 2014, to wit:
"Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the of the UFO files.
That's great and everything, but, really, what good does it do? What good does it do to say, "For years I've been in a position to make this information public, again, but I never did, again, so sorry"...? It's just lame, and I can't understand why it's considered news.

Mr. Podesta, who apparently is known as a fan of "The X-Files," along with many other millions of people who don't necessarily give a shit about UFOs, was once quoted by Yahoo News as saying the following about revealing the contents of the White House's UFO files:
“It’s time to find out what the truth really is that’s out there. We ought to do it, really, because it’s right. We ought to do it, quite frankly, because the American people can handle the truth. And we ought to do it because it’s the law.”
Strong words, right? Actually, they're pretty weak when you look at them. Someone whose favorite phrase is "ought to" doesn't really convey any genuine conviction. He just likes to sound as though he does. And then there's the fact that Podesta made this statement in 2002, when he was conveniently not associated in any way with the White House, so, again... what good does it do?


Is the US government secretly tracking UFOs and secretly not telling us? Don't ask John Podesta.
I can only speculate that Mr. Podesta is in cahoots with those people who desire to make the UFO phenomenon appear as stupid as it can possibly appear to be, in order to to cast doubt on anyone and everything associated with it. What better way to do that than by pretending to be someone who supports full disclosure while not actually not doing a thing to accomplish his stated objective when he has the chance? He convinces the Richard Dolans of the world that the White House really is in possession of proof that UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin, and is withholding that information from the American public, and he keeps the idiotic #disclosure meme alive.

So, actually, I can understand why it's news...

Monday, February 16, 2015

NASA vs. UFOs

I was at a bookstore the other day and, as usual, was checking out the "New Age/Paranormal" section, looking for new and interesting UFO books. Whenever I do this I am pretty much primed for disappointment, because I rarely find anything new, and even when I do it's rarely interesting... But this time I was pleasantly surprised - twice!

The first surprise I came across was a book predicting that the End Times that were supposed to come in 2012 are in fact coming in 2019. How is this possible, you ask? Surely the End Times already came, as predicted, in 2012. How could they be coming again four years from now? I wish I could tell you, but I bought a few of those 2012 books back in the day and I wasn't going to make that mistake again. I'm just going to wait this one out.

The second surprise was even bigger. It turns out that we've been wrong all along calling UFOs "Unidentified Flying Objects." According to the book I bought, they should be called "Unconventional Flying Objects."

That's right. In a book entitled "Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis," author and former NASA scientist Paul R. Hill sets the record straight on a whole lot of UFO information that has worked its way into popular belief systems but, according to Hill, ain't necessarily so...

Different names and logos, same hatred of UFOs
Hill was an aeronautical engineer for NASA (and its predecessor NACA) who for decades compiled mountains of data about UFOs and used that data to apply engineering principles to an analysis of their structure and behavior. His work was frowned upon by his bosses at NASA, and while employed by the government he was unable to publish his findings. After Hill passed away in 1991, however, his amazing document was finally published, and although I'm sure it's not news to many of my readers it's a shocker to me.

I'm shocked because here is a book about UFOs written by an eminent and accomplished scientist that simply takes it for granted that UFOs are physical objects, and that at least some of them are extraterrestrial in origin!

And the shocks keep coming.

Take the new name for UFOs. Citing the erroneous story that the term "Unidentified Flying Objects" was coined by Project Blue Book project chief Captain Edward Ruppelt, Hill explains that UFOs are neither "unidentified" nor "flying." His argument seems to be that as soon as we call an object "unidentified," we have just identified it. Further, he argues that because UFOs do not actually use the atmosphere for support or propulsion, they do not actually fly. Instead, he says, UFOs "are vectored along trajectories."

That's heavy...

What's even heavier is this: Hill's basic premise is that "UFOs obey, not defy, the laws of physics."

Think about that.

Friday, February 13, 2015

UFO on the Button!

My mother-in-law got me this lapel button. She says she found it in an old box of buttons in someone's attic, but I have my doubts...
I've tried for about the last 5 minutes and find I am unable to establish its provenance or its age. Does anyone know of a certified button expert who can take a look at this?

I'm convinced its genuine, and I kind of rock it, if I do say so myself...
Meanwhile, in other news, I got a bizarre email today from a witness in a UFO case I investigated about a year and a half ago. Here's what the witness had to say:
In regards to case #XXXXX, I was able to trace back the date and time information I found out that what I saw was the ISS.

The REALLY strange thing is that a friend was over a few days ago, and while we were both outside around 7:40pm we saw the same type of brite white light moving northward that faded out after about 30 seconds... yet at the time, the ISS was south of Australia.

Do you know if there are any satellites that are in a south to north orbit??? 
When I investigated the case in 2013, it got a very low 3.77 certainty rating on the Ballester-Guasp credibility index thingy, and I ended up classifying it in the catch-all "Insufficient Data" category. I guess it's possible that this guy has a knack for looking up just as satellites are passing overhead, and that I should change the verdict from "Insufficient Data" to "IFO."

But it's odd that he now acts as though the ISS is the only thing in the sky, and that if an object isn't the ISS, it must be... REALLY strange.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome -- Part 2

This is interesting...

Key point from:

THE PUBLIC REVEAL OF THE ROSWELL ALIEN SLIDES
BY ANTHONY BRAGALIA

"I was asked by Tom Carey to find the best available talent to test and analyze these Kodak slides. An extensive search was conducted and I found that talent. A Photo Scientist employed by Kodak for decades who will be named at the event, this expert has led engineering, production and product management groups at the company’s Rochester, NY headquarters. Now a consultant, he also published the definitive book on Kodak film processes. Highly acknowledged in his field, he conducted extensive testing on the slides and conclusively authenticated the slides of the creature as having been exposed in the year 1947. It was also concluded that the slides had not been tampered with nor manipulated in any way. What is depicted is really there, accurately reflected in the emulsion as an actual moment in time in 1947. Science has weighed in and has determined that these are real slides that are really from 1947."

Key points from February 9, 2015 statement by the Curator of Technology at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, also in Rochester, NY:

  • 35 mm Kodachrome film was first manufactured in 1936
  • The edge printing on Kodachrome slides does not indicate when the film was manufactured
  • It is impossible to tell when Kodachrome slides were exposed or developed

The can't both be right.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome

This evening I was chatting with the old pal who first persuaded me to start blogging a few years ago, Andy Adams, proprietor of the unbelievably popular photo blog FlakPhoto, and I had a crazy, completely unaccountable thought...

"Andy," I texted, "Do any of your thousands of subscribers know anything about authenticating vintage Kodachrome slide film?" I don't know why I had that thought. Who cares about old slide film in this day and age? Well, for whatever reason, I had the thought and I asked the question. He quickly sent out a tweet to his 41,700 followers with that very question, and within moments the tweet was being retweeted from here to Timbuktu. No positive responses yet, but it's only a matter of time...

Could this be the film that proved we are not alone?
As this was happening, I had another unaccountable thought: a few years back Andy almost took a job at the George Eastman House museum of film and photography. The Eastman House just happens to be in Rochester, New York, where a certain photographic film manufacturer that always sells its film in little yellow boxes is located. So I asked another question:

"Andy," I texted, "Do you still have any contacts at Eastman House? Do you think the preservation experts there would like to take a look at some old Kodachrome slides that are claimed to have been taken in the summer of 1947? Do you think they could validate that claim? And, if the slides turned out to be legit, then wouldn't the people at that film company that's connected with the Eastman House want to know that it was their product that finally proved that we've been visited by creatures from another world?"

Andy agreed that they would probably want to know if their product could lay claim to that historical distinction, so he has reached out to them to see if they feel the way we think they should feel. I think they will. What do you think?

The Fearsome (Swishing) Fireball

Everyone's talking about Roswell Slides these day, but I have my own photographic issues to deal with here in the trenches of UFO investigation. Where the real work is being done. *ahem*

I was recently assigned a "fireball" case that included the photographic evidence shown below.


Shh! I think I can hear it swishing...

 Here's the witness' account of the sighting:
"I was on the road near Medison (Wisconsin), when I noticed a burning fireball like object in the sky. It flew slowly from east to west and ascended. I stopped my car and took a photo before it disappeared into the clouds. I heard the swishing sound of the object at this time. It was about 60-80(?) feet in diameter and fearsome."

My MUFON State Director was dubious when he sent me the assignment, saying:

"If this is real, it's a nice capture. My hunch tells me this is photoshopped due to the lack of information provided by the witness. If this were a real capture, you would think that the excitement of seeing something so close would prompt the witness to provide more info. Let me know what you come up with. I can always send it to Marc D'Antonio, the MUFON photo analysis expert. I had him on our show a few weeks in a row. He is a very interesting fellow."
 
I had to agree. To me, the fireball looks too perfect, too clean, too round, too perfectly placed in the center of the frame... Also, it could just be a trick of perspective, but the witness said it was ascending and it appears to be descending. Also, why only one photo?
 
But still.

I have tried contacting Mr. D'Antonio, MUFON's resident photo expert, but haven't gotten a reply. He is, doubtless, one very busy dude, but I trust he'll come through.

Meanwhile, what the hell do you make of it?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

UFO Magnet

Is it possible that some people are more prone to UFO experiences than others? Can some people be "UFO magnets" in the same way that some of us are chick magnets?

A recent study of UFO and paranormal "experiencers" suggests just that. At least, that's my way of interpreting the data.

Project CORE is a very clever and exciting research study conceived of and undertaken by a group of scientists and experiencers that takes a look at the characteristics of people who claim to have had paranormal experiences or UFO/alien encounters and looks for trends and commonalities among them. As the researchers explain, "The goal was to examine the data without prejudice to approach what lies at the core of all these allegedly separate phenomena, insofar as possible." A little over 200 volunteers filled out questionnaires about their life experiences, their physical characteristics and their demographic information, and the resulting data was just released at the end of last year. It's pretty fascinating stuff, even if doesn't explain a whole lot about who has this type of experience or why.
Are some of us predisposed to have this kind of encounter? Is there a way to find out without actually seeing these guys?

But then it wasn't supposed to, really. "Project Core is best viewed as an aid to the development of hypotheses for future detailed investigations," the researchers state. "Some results appear intriguing, but attempting to extract any generalizable conclusions from them at this stage in premature."

I can respect that. Just the same, I can't help but attempt to extract some generalizable conclusions, in the hopes of developing hypotheses for future detailed investigations. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, generalizable concluders gotta generalizably conclude.

The data that I found most interesting looks at frequency of occurrence, and finds that many of the participants report multiple unexplainable experiences occurring in their lifetimes. About a quarter of the participants reported having had 20 or more strange encounters, while seven percent reported having over 100!

How does someone get that lucky? Wouldn't it be interesting to find out more about these frequent fliers? The researchers certainly seem to want to:

"This offers investigators an opportunity to identify individuals having high likelihood to experience future events. Such individuals might be a particularly important resource for future prospective investigations addressing a wide array pf questions about the phenomena themselves and to help elucidate the precise environmental/psychological preconditions conducive to the appearance of paranormal events."

In other words, it may be possible to determine who among is a UFO magnet, and if we can do that, we can essentially use that magnetism to summon UFOs to earth at will. This will, of course, necessitate gathering up these individuals and keeping them all together in a sort of, oh, containment center. I don't see anything going wrong there.

And then, once we have them all together in a concentrated space, we just sit back, fire up the GoPros, and wait for the UFOs to appear...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Here Comes the Next UFO Implosion

The other day I was asked to take part in the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, coming up this June, which sounds like a ton of fun. The host of the Conference wanted a segment on UFO activity in the State of Wisconsin, and he asked me to put together a panel of MUFON Certified Field Investigators in the state. I accepted the invitation, but quickly realized that our far-flung state investigators would not be able to make it to Milwaukee for the gig... We are all volunteers, after all, and it can be a stretch to make time for this sort of thing.

So I'm likely on my own on this, but I think I can handle it. There are enough fun Wisconsin UFO stories to fill an hour... The Joe Simonton pancake incident... Wisconsin's own Area 51... The (kinda UFO-related) Burlington Vortex... Not to mention my own award-winning Top Ten UFO Case of 2012. That's some good stuff there.

Then I realized... Another Wisconsin UFO researcher and member of the Roswell "Dream Team" is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at this event, and his presentation on "The Roswell Slides" -- the "smoking gun" slides allegedly taken in 1947 of little dead UFO occupants recovered from a crashed flying saucer -- will undoubtedly suck all the oxygen from the room, leaving my little presentation on life-support.

What to do? Bowing out gracefully and living to present another day seemed the only option.
Milwaukee: beer, brats, Harleys and UFOs. In that order.

Then I also realized that the Milwaukee event is only a few short weeks after the first public showing of those slides in Mexico, and I thought... Hmmm... This could be interesting.

If you're wondering why, just take a look at the comments section following the announcement of the public showing... As you can see, opinions differ. My favorite bit is this: Okay, the haters say, so the film was manufactured in 1947, but so what? While you can date when film was manufactured, you can't date when it was exposed, so why should we believe that the photos were taken in 1947 just because the film was manufactured in 1947? WELL... the few experts still roaming the empty halls at Kodak say that most people expose and develop their film within one year of purchasing it! Ergo, film that was made in 1947 was almost for sure exposed in 1947... I find that "proof" quite charming, don't you?

Employing similar logic, I assume this whole slides thing will implode in the manner of every other UFO-related "smoking gun" that has ever come along, and I am confident that the experts at Kodak will back me up on that. Perhaps there's hope for my little presentation after all??

But, I could be wrong, and it could be my presentation that implodes. That's where you come in. Imagine you're attending the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference this June, you've just had your mind blown (either in a good way or a bad way) by the Roswell Slides presentation, and then I take the stage... What would you want to hear me talk about?


Send me your suggestions, please! I don't want to bomb!