Sunday, December 27, 2009

Paul Kimball, Ghost Darer

Am I watching a reality TV program called Ghost Cases or Head Cases?

"Come on, drop it."

Co-host Paul Kimball is lying on the floor underneath a large painting that has been said to occasionally fall off its nail because of ghostly activity. His partner Holly Stevens waits in another room at the reportedly haunted Waverly Inn in Halifax, Nova Scotia, using a conversational method to make contact with any spirits that may be about.

Paul prefers the confrontational method, the paranormal investigator with a chip on his shoulder. He taunts any nearby ghosts to drop the painting on his head. But no ghosts knock off his chip -- or the painting.

That previous sentence might be considered a spoiler, i.e., I just revealed too much about the Waverly Inn episode of Ghost Cases. But while he may be arrogant at times, Paul isn't stupid. He knew that painting wasn't going to drop (well, at least in this universe).

The episode opens with a perspective-puzzling image worthy of M.C. Escher. Paul lies on the floor, a mirror placed next to his head showing the presumably cursed painting up on the wall, the scene tilted at an odd angle. He tells the ghosts if they're sick of all the ghost investigation TV programs, then take their best shot. A quirky intro. It's too bad that the rest of the episode didn't live up to this.

The episode is technically well-made, a professional production, but it follows the same formula used in other programs such as History Detectives on PBS. Parts of the episode are staged, set up beforehand. It's obvious that the investigators aren't meeting one of the subjects for the first time; there's been some discussion how to "play out" a scene.

For example, Paul and Holly walk into the Waverly Inn and are greeted by an employee. You can tell they've already did a general run-through with the employee. But even History Detectives with its (probably) bigger budget is guilty of faux natural scenes.

Assuming that the Waverly Inn investigation is representative of the series, Ghosts Cases needs to be edgier. More film-it-as-it-first-happens -- even with rough edges -- could be a better approach. At least it would be a different one. Record the initial interviews with subjects; no pre-production warm ups. Reveal some of the behind-the-scenes planning, discussions, and, if any, disagreements.

Skip the shots back in the studio with either Paul or Holly sitting down, explaining what is going on during the episode. Shoot everything on location and add voice overs if needed.

And why does the camera have to be in the room before the door opens and the investigators step in? Why not stay with the hosts, shooting over their shoulders, and reveal the room to both them and the viewer at the same time? Give the impression that the viewer is right there with them.

Instead of ghost daring, let's see some daring departures from the standard format.

In a parallel universe Paul Kimball did that. After a painting fell off the wall at the Waverly Inn and hit him on the head, a paranormal variation on Newton and the apple.

[ Ghost Cases is produced in Canada and can be seen via EastLink TV in the Great White North. For more info: ]

Monday, December 21, 2009

Closet Catholic Conspiracy

Closet Catholic?

The right-wing ham radio operator was reading from a book or article about the evil machinations of the Vatican. Shortwave conditions were poor that night and I kept missing some of his points. But I did hear the term "closet Catholic" a few times.

Unlike SW radio "reception conditions" are normally great on the Web so I did some Googling. Closet Catholic can be defined as a protestant who has sympathies for the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. To the extreme it means a non-Catholic who is secretly Catholic, working as a secret agent or puppet for the Pope. Even a Protestant US president could be one of these conspirators.

A quick search linked me to a personal home page: "The Outrageous, Anti-Christian Roman Catholic Church by Elsie Hamer, Wife Of My Husband, Caleb." Elsie is a self-proclaimed born again fundamentalist Christian who thinks the Roman Catholic Church is the work of Satan.

Eslie Hamer at her flea market table; image from her website.

It's evident Elsie hasn't updated her site in some time because the target for her hatred is Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. She wrote: "Before we get started, does it make you wonder how come the Pope's first name is Karol? Karol is a girl's name. And the Pope wears robes and dresses all the time. I have never seen a picture of him with pants and a shirt. No wonder he changed his name to Paul when he got picked for the Pope."

Then the loving Xtian Elsie includes a news photo with the caption: "Here is a picture of [President] George Bush assuring the Pope that he is a closet Catholic."

Elsie then quotes from the New York Catechism and also a papal encyclical from 1885 to make the case that the pope thinks he is God on earth.

That leads Elsie to make the observation: "Wow. Imagine that! Well hey Karol, lets see you walk on water. And can you change water into wine? Do you get your dresses dry cleaned or do you just say 'get clean' and they are all clean again. Do you ever have to go to the bathroom, Karol? If you do you don't hold the place of God cause nowhere in the Bible does it say God ever has to go to the bathroom!"

It's astute observations like this that help Elsie "prove" that the Roman Catholic Church is really a Satanic conspiracy controlling powerful closet Catholic leaders.

Other links on her site include these topics: "Women And Their Place!," "Evolution Is Wrong," "God Hates Fags," and "Stop Masturbating With Jesus."

Ironically when I visited Elsie's site there was a Google ad at the top of the page for a gay friendly church that supported same sex marriage.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Norway Spiral: What Really Happened

Image: Anita Olsen/AP

Scene: Monitoring center deep underground, manned by agents codenamed "Wally" and "Beav."

MIB #1: "Damn, it's all over the Web. Videos, photos."

MIB #2: "Huh?"

MIB #1: "They're calling it the Norway Spiral. Leave it to those idiot ETs to open up a hyperspace aperture over there at night. Cripes, look at the detail. Seen for miles."

MIB #2: "So what do we do, Wally? We have to cover this up."

MIB #1: "Let's check the Phil Klass CUE files on the computer."

MIB #2: "CUE?"

MIB #1: "Cover Up Explanatory files, ya dope. OK, here we go. Test missile goes off course, spews rocket propellant off at an angle, creating a spiral pattern. Bluish color - tiny sapphires - sunlight bouncing off aluminum oxide -"

MIB #2: "Sunlight? But this happened at night."

MIB #1: "Yeah, but there's enough science junk in here to throw the public off. Well, the Ruskies owe us a favor so get them on the horn."

MIB #2: "Gee, we're going to say it was a Russian rocket?"

MIB #1: "That's what we're here for, ya goof."

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Alien Is Still Among Us

At one time his image – elongated humanoid form, green skin, big ebony eyes – was omnipresent. Go to a fair and inflatable versions would fill a wall, prizes to be won with a game of chance. Walk through a mall and an army of them printed on t-shirts would stare at you from a display rack. Key chains, toy magnets, magazine covers, greeting cards – he conquered all forms and media.

Actually his image was a combination of the “little green man” from back in the days of “flying saucers” and the gray alien of more recent times. The green-gray alien had the cartoony goofiness of the little green man merged with the overall features of the evil gray who abducted humans for terrifying experiments on board his UFO. Retro amiability overlay the nightmarish modern incarnation.

The fad was soon over and other images affixed to diverse merchandise took over. Hannah Montana, anyone?

But the green-gray still lurks. I spotted his image the other day while walking through a shopping mall. Those weirdly slanted ebony eyes drew my attention to a coin operated game booth tucked in one corner. The image was printed on the package of one of the prizes. But he wasn't the prize; instead, it was his vehicle, an “infrared remote controlled flying saucer.”

The green-gray had been reduced to a secondary role, an attention getter, hawking product like a used car salesman.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Chemtrailing An Alien Invention?

Over at writer nolocontendere sees many events in a conspiratorial light, evidence of the machinations of what he calls "our self ordained Masters of the World." Nolocontendre thinks these Masters want to cull the herd -- the common people -- through bio-warfare.

In a post entitled "Epidemics" (11/28/09) he presents excerpts from "The Gods of Eden" by William Bramley, a book that claims that an alien presence lurking in the shadows has been calling the shots since the beginning of time. Bramley questions the common knowledge of how the Black Death spread through Europe starting in 1347, killing -- according to one estimate -- about one third of the population in four years.

It wasn't fleas hitching rides on rodents, says Bramley. During the Plague Years there were reports of strange foul-smelling mists after bright lights -- UFOs -- were spotted in the sky. It was a period of great UFO activity. Many physicians of that time, Bramley adds, connected the mists with the Black Death.

I haven't read "The Gods of Eden" but I have been reading Piglipstick posts from time to time to get the gist of nolocontendre's worldview. After the book excerpts he mentions that the population at large has been sprayed with chemtrails for years.

(If you're not familiar with the term "chemtrails," it refers to a conspiracy theory involving chemicals or pathogens being sprayed by a plane through its contrails.)

Wrapping up his "Epidemics" post he makes this statement: "I'm not shy about saying that the death cult running the planet at the present time is intimately involved with entities that don't have human origins, and decent people wouldn't begin to consider them to be nice guys."

Nolocontendre explains that he doesn't know what is the origin of this alien presence. It could be David Icke's reptilians, gods of the bible, interdimensional beings, whatever. But he does believe that the Masters work with this presence, one benefit being access to advanced technology -- like chemtrailing. He sums up:

"It would be a safe bet to assume our human overlords are copying them/following orders with this current business of culling the herd, because if Bramley's research has any validity this isn't the first time it's been done."

"...if Bramley's research has any validity..."

That's one big If.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beware - The Glowing Red Eyes

It seems that no one was killed on Black Friday this year. Then again, it's the time of the year to dwell on positive thoughts. Why even pause for a moment to think about Jdimytai Damour, a seasonal Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death last year by the greedy horde that bolted as soon as the doors were open?

Yup, I hate the Holiday Season. It's one of the biggest scams going.

Usually I try to minimize my eXposure to all the eXmas advertising that tries to get one worked up into a buying frenzy. But this image caught my eye:

Check out the eyes on the reindeer. A satanic beastie or what? Looks hungry.

The perfect symbol of an impatient herd ready to storm a store on Black Friday.

Papernet: Brooklyn!

If newspapers and Web sites can go hyperlocal, why not a zine?

Fred Argroff's zine sums up the geographic area it covers with its name: Brooklyn! Nothing fancy about its format: 8 1/2" by 11" sheets folded lengthwise and stapled together into a digest-size edition. It's the content, not the format, that counts.

Brooklyn! #66 features a photo-essay of the annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. No actual mermaids showed up -- even though one costumed participant went all out and had her legs fused into a tail. She must have wiggled, not marched, down the appropriately named Surf Avenue.

The latest issue has photographic evidence that you can find Heaven and God in Brooklyn, at least when it comes to delis and restaurants. Besides providing short articles about local history, Brooklyn! also features a lexicon and pronunciation guide so that you, too, can speak Brooklynese.

If you wanna know wat Fred Argroff thinks, three bucks well-concealed inna envelope will get you a copy. Snail mail to Penthouse L, 1170 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230-4060.

[ Note: Usually I don't review hardcopy zines. But while the Internet has ended up being the primary medium for many zinesters and other non-mainstream writers, there is still a thriving zine culture out there. On occasion I will review examples of the "papernet." ]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

XR #67: Pain In Ass

It was difficult but I finally got the latest edition of my zine published. Once again, the CTS (computer time suck) factor.

With my budget I can't afford to buy Microsoft Word. Also, I have tried the latest version of MS Word, 2007, and it's an overcomplicated piece of shit. Too many options, too many chances to screw up or find yourself in a dead-end.

I tried three freebie wordprocessing programs: Abiword, Jarte, and OpenOffice Writer. What I want in a wordprocessing program is capability with MS Word, the ability to save in the .doc format. I would format a file with a text box in Abiword, save it as a .doc but when I opened it later, the text box was was all fucked up. I won't bore you with the problems I had with Jarte.

By default I ended up with OpenOffice Writer but that also has its quirks with .doc compatibility when it comes to frames/text boxes. Take a MS Word document with text boxes and when you open it up with Writer, enjoy the jumble.

And then there's the learning curve, trying to find a command within a particular program. One program hides it here, the other over there, or you don't find it anywhere. Time is sucked away by compatibility problems and the lack of standardization. Imagine cars made by different manufactuers and each company places the gas pedal in a different location, anywhere it wants – including the steering wheel. You want to speed up, your foot keeps pressing the floor, but you're supposed to be using that lever on the steering column. And as for the brake...

Anyway, I think I've found a decent trade-off with OpenOffice Writer. On the plus side it does an OK job of converting a file into a PDF format from the ODT (open desk text) format. (I have a scanner that is supposed to convert hardcopy into PDF but the files come out too dark.) On the negative side, converting ODT to .doc sucks: headers with issue and page numbers disappear.

Over at (AKA I just uploaded the PDF file for XR #67 if you want to read my stuff in a zine format. Unless I hear any complaints, I won't be uploading any more issues in MS Word format. I've decided to try to simplify my efforts, concentrating on a few projects, using only a narrow choice of programs.

That should mean more time for writing. And more time to write about something besides my CTS problems.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Your Attention Captured But...

This curious ad pops up on my Yahoo email account:

(Click on image for eXpanded view.)

The text reads: “You're probably wondering how a guy like me ended up paying way less for car insurance.”

That isn't the curious part. Check out the portrait of the man who is supposedly making the endorsement. While he is not a movie star or male model, it seems the image has been made to accent his features to the point of distortion. It looks like a wide angle shot taken up close so that his nose and glasses appear to be too big. Of course, being “dentally challenged” (a nod to you PC types) doesn't help either.

At first glance I thought it was an ad for Geico, a car insurance company that features TV spots with actors made up as Neanderthals. (“So simple a caveman can do it.”) But this image shows a member of Homo sapiens.

Photoshopped? If not, then the photographer isn't presenting his subject in the best light.

Does it make you want to run out and buy car insurance? Especially with that headline about President Obama backing insurance regulation. Did he approve this ad? Is the company being promoted now under new government regulations set forth by Obama? What is this company's connection to the president and insurance regulation? Details, please.

I think I'm going to add this tagline to my blog:

Obama Backs Free Speech, Responsible Bloggers

And speaking of details, there's the disclaimer in tiny print at the bottom of the ad:

“*This testimonial is not an actual representation of an experience by any one consumer.”

Ya think?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Other Ufologist

[FLOTSAMETRICS and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science. By Curtis Ebbesmeyer & Eric Scigiliano. Nonfiction. © 2009.]

Curtis Ebbesmeyer is an oceanographer who could also be called an ufologist. He investigates incidents of UFOs – unidentified floating objects, that is.

His book Flotsametrics reveals that the oceans of the world form a giant conveyor belt of eleven planetary gyres. These gyres carry miscellaneous man-made objects in circles until they wash up on shore. A container ship at sea encounters a problem and tub toys are spilled overboard. By tracking from where the toys were dumped to where they wash up shows the path of an oceanic gyre.

One would first expect that such research is interesting but has no practical value. After all, a cargo ship from Japan loses some merchandise that washes up months or years later on the west coast of the United States. So what?

But as Ebbesmeyer explains, the gyres show how they are part of a worldwide system that can affect mankind. Pollution – such as garbage patches – is spread by the conveyor belt.

One series of UFO incidents haunts Ebbesmeyer, large ceramic urns that have washed up on the Northwest coast of the US since 1961. He has tried to years to determine the origin of the urns. Unlike an ufologist who doesn't have physical evidence, Ebbesmeyer has the goods - but he doesn't know what they are.

Ebbesmeyer is also interested when a MIB comes ashore – not a man in black but a message in a bottle. MIBs have made it easier to track gyre currents because each one usually contain a note explaining its point of origin.

One wonders how Ebbesmeyer would react if a man in black did wash up, flotsam from an UFO – the alien ship kind – that crashed and sank at sea.

Ufology meets ufology.

[More info at ]

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Peekaboo Alien

Is an alien peering around the corner at me...

Or am I'm just looking at an image of alien worlds at the wrong angle?

Paranormal Expo: How About A Quartz Mothership?

(Wrapping up my coverage of the Paranormal Expo held in Plattsburgh, NY on October 24th.)

UFOs and haunted houses and everything in between.

The guest speakers at the Paranormal Expo covered it all.

Dan Lowenski, UFO specialist, didn't come across as either a complete skeptic or true believer. During his slideshow presentation he referred to various cases, some puzzling, but he didn't flat out say that he believed that every case was true, that hoaxes and misidentification never happened. With his background in law enforcement, he presented a balanced view of ufology.

Part of the slideshow showed a training exercise once conducted in the Adirondack forest with a mock up of a crashed UFO. Codenamed Project Diogenes, the participants located the mock UFO and conducted an investigation, a simulation of what should be done if an alien craft did actually crash. Lowenski said the exercise was done years ago with a limited budget; that's why the “special effects” of the crash weren't top quality.

During the Q&A after Lowenski's presentation, a woman in the audience mentioned a case involving a Japanese airline pilot who had encountered an UFO. (I think she was referring to the incident back in 1986 when a pilot for Japan Air Lines observed a gigantic UFO over Alaska.) She stated that the night it happened, she saw the alien mothership over Plattsburgh.

The last presentation of the day dealt with an investigation into a haunted house in the region. The home owner said he was a skeptic until unnerving occurrences happened in the old house he had bought and was renovating. Some local paranormal investigators – affiliated with an organization founded by his brother-in-law – encountered all sorts of weird stuff. This all seemed to be caused by the spirit of a mentally disabled woman who lived in the house a long time ago.

Someone in the audience asked if an attempt was going to be made to release the spirit. The lead investigator and the home owner explained that there was a lot of quartz in the stone walls of the house and in the ground where the house sat. Quartz, it was mentioned, is a material that strongly binds spirits.

UFOs, ghosts, new agers and crystals – sometimes it all ties in for some people like those who attended the PExpo.

Paranormal Expo: Sorry, I Don't See It

(Another post about the Paranormal Expo held in Plattsburgh, NY on October 24th.)

“Do you see my white aura?” she asked.

The psychic had moved back from the podium during her presentation, standing against a white wall.

Someone in the audience said they could see it.

All I saw was a faint shadow to one side of her cast by the fluorescent ceiling lighting. Was that what she meant?, I thought.

Then she stepped away from her original position and then pointed at that spot.

“See how my aura was left behind?”

Sorry, no. But a woman in the audience said she saw the psychic's aura lingering in place. The psychic replied that she could see the audience member's aura: it was orange.

“I've been told that before,” replied the expo attendee.

Then the speaker gave that woman a reading from the podium, relaxing, closing her eyes. She said the woman was a creative and independent person. So am I.

Then the psychic cut her reading short, saying that there was more information but it was dark and she would share it with the audience member afterward.

I had arrived late for the presentation, only catching this last part. I wondered what I had missed.

Obviously my sixth sense had failed me. I would've got there on time if precognition had compelled me.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Liberal Paranormalist Conservative?

Three key aspects of a successful business: location, location, location.

Shouldn't the same apply to online political ads?

There's a congressional race going on in my neck of the woods, northern New York State. It had been a three-way race but the Republican candidate dropped out; she was considered a RINO (Republican In Name Only) partly because she didn't toe the conservative pro-life line regarding abortion.

Some anti-liberal narrow-minded Republicans got together and are running their own man, Doug Hoffman, as a conservative party candidate. I don't follow politics – most of it is bullshit - but this race has intruded upon my online activities.

One blog I check out is Why?... Thoughts Of An Angry Old Woman. The angry woman is Regan Lee's mother. While Regan is into UFOs with her blog, The Orange Orb, her mother “Skazski” is into politics but with a strong a liberal viewpoint. The other day Skazski was ranting about that buffoon, Rush Limbaugh. Right above her post was an ad for Doug Hoffman:

I found that ad placement to be incongruous. Then I went over to, a site that not only covers UFOS but also related paranormal topics. Guess what I found there, right next to an ad for a creepy sci-fi movie, The Fourth Kind, a film dealing with alien abductions? Yup, another Doug Hoffman ad:

I don't know if the ads are only popping up locally, i.e., computers around here are being identified by location and that's why I'm so blessed with Doug Hoffman ads. But why would a conservative try to sway voters by popping up on a liberal's blog? Better yet, why would a down-to-earth conservative push his POV on an “un-earthly” site like UFO Digest? After all, according to the disclosure movement, politicians – especially those favoring strong government – are keeping the truth about UFOs from the public.

Must be some sort of Illuminati trick...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mac Tonnies

I just found out that Mac Tonnies died on October 22nd at age 34, apparently from natural causes. From what I've read online, his book about his cryptoterrestrial theory was finished and should be published.

I'm still in shock from the news. I first encountered Mac's work through his blog, Posthuman Blues. Unlike others in ufology locked into the ETH mindset, he was looking for answers beyond the “same old same old.” His voice will be missed.

Other posts about his passing can be found here and also here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Paranormal Expo Held In Plattsburgh

For one day exercise gave way to X the unknown.

Saturday, October 24th, 2009. The City of Plattsburgh Recreation Center welcomed psychics, ghost hunters, healers and others involved in the paranormal.

The Northern New York Paranormal Expo was co-sponsored by the City of Plattsburgh and the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society. The setting for the vendors was a bit unusual: a gymnasium. The building was once the recreation center for the decommissioned Air Force base.

Tables were lined up in neat rows on the gym floor. The basketball hoops were raised up, out of use for the day. Up above ran a second story track along the walls, a jogger doing laps while people waited in line down below to consult with a psychic. Muscles and minds.

Other tables featured girl scouts selling Halloween cupcakes, an author with copies of his book for sale (“Saviors Among Us: The Story of a Northern NY Superhero”), recycled Halloween costumes (“Think Green”), and the usual unusual, from herbal remedies to crystals.

One table was manned by members of the NNY Paranormal Research Society who explained the tools used in their investigations (mostly hauntings). A laptop computer featured a screen with frozen green waves: most likely an example of EVP (electronic voice phenomena). One researcher demonstrated how a EMF (electro-magnetic field) meter worked, one of the tools in the ghost hunting trade. Two compact dgital cameras stood side by side on a small tripod; one had been converted to record images in the infra-red range.

I arrived late in the day but from what I saw the event was well-attended. One factor that helped: it was set up for the whole family. Fun for children 12 years old and younger, according to the brochure, included a Witches Hat Ring Toss, Bite the Witch's Apple, and a Cauldron Toss. There was a “haunted city morgue” installation that came with the warning: “The Haunted House could be too scary for some children. Please inspect it prior to allowing children to enter.” I didn't see any crying kids.

And with all of that activity upstairs, downstairs was set aside for guest speakers. I'll comment on that part of the PExpo (as I call it) neXt time.

Speaking Of Flying Saucer Zines...

In my previous post I mentioned Jim Moseley's Saucer Smear. There's another old-fashioned UFO zine out there, Flying Saucer Digest, published by Rick and Carol Hilberg. FSD offers a round-up of UFO stories collected from various sources. Two dollars to R. Hilberg Publications, 377 Race St., Berea, OH 44017 should get you a sample copy. They also publish another zine featuring Fortean items, Weirdology.

Rick is still recuperating from a bad fall. He mentioned in a recent postcard that he's walking around with a cane and going for physical therapy, but he hopes to be able to walk by the end of the year. I've never met Rick and Carol in person, only have corresponded with them via e- and snail mail, but they have always been helpful.

Despite his setback, Rick is still publishing his zines.

The Future Of Saucer Smear

Besides the latest issue of Saucer Smear, I found an extra item in the envelope from Supreme Commander Jim Moseley: a white card with a big question mark scribbled on it.

No, it wasn't a secret Illuminati message. Jim hadn't heard from me in a while either by snail mail or by phone.

Of course, yours truly hasn't eXpired – at least not yet.

I'm reusing Jim's question mark to illustrate this post. Why?

The lead essay in the last edition of Saucer Smear (Whole Number 425/Oct. 15Th, 2009). In his RAMBLING EDITORIAL Jim talks about having “grim thoughts” at age 78. He mentions that “Sooner or later, your editor will have to cease publican of 'Smear.'” It had been announced that someone was in line to take over SS – but that circumstance has changed. There is no new editor set to continue his zine.

Dr. Chris Roth had volunteered to take controls of the starship but has reconsidered his offer. As Jim explains in his essay, Roth considered his financial needs and decided not to assume the mantle of Supreme Commander. Jim says he feels no ill will about this change.

Fans have pointed out that Jim IS Saucer Smear and that no one can take his place.

What I like about SS is that Jim stills puts it together with a typewriter, scissors and some tape. It harkens back to the early days of fanzines where the writer would fix the text post paste-up with a black pen. Corrections printed in the margins, the mistakes crossed out. A couple of underlines for a spot to ink in a page number since the editor didn't know where an article would end up (e.g., See details on Page __ .).

I must say I can't keep up with Jim's output. SS keeps showing up in my mailbox many more times than my zine is mailed out. At 78 Jim has more energy than yours truly. So while the future of Saucer Smear is uncertain, at present it's still going strong.

For ufology with a personal touch, send a couple of dollars to Jim Moseley, PO Box 1709, Key West, FL 33041.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is There Only Death After Life?

[ Spook: Science Tackles The Afterlife. By Mary Roach. © 2005. Nonfiction. ]

One reason why I enjoyed this book: that snarky (ex-)Catholic girl tone. Sarcasm that an ex-Catholic like yours truly can really appreciate.

As Mary Roach explains in Spook, her early years were steeped in Catholicism, her mother reading the Bible to her at bedtime. But as she grew into adulthood, science provided better answers than religion. For example, maybe the Lazarus story was just a case of premature burial; nothing miraculous happened.

But Mary doesn't embrace science with blind faith. As she observes: "Of course science doesn't dependably deliver truths. It is as fallible as the men and women who undertake it... Flawed as it is, science remains the most solid god I've got."

In her book she pursues the question: Is there a soul separate from the physical body that lives on after death? Or, to put it in a nutshell, are ghosts real?

She begins at the beginning, discussing how scientists like Anton van Leeuwenhoek tried to find the soul with scalpels and microscopes. In 1675 the dutch naturalist discovered bacteria and other microorganisms in stagnant water with his microscope. He called them animalcules. From there he searched for preformed humans in sperm, evidence of human souls. Despite his work physical evidence of the soul remained elusive. (Gee, I wonder why...)

So soul searchers tried at find proof at the other end of the scale: death. And this work literally involved a scale.

Back in 1901 surgeon and physician Duncan MacDougall tried to weigh the soul. Employed at the
the Consumptives Home in Dorchester, Massachusetts, he rigged up a special cot to place a patient dying from tuberculous. In turn the cot was hooked up to a scale. MacDougall noted there was a loss of three-fourths of an ounce after the patient passed on. Ergo, the difference in weight had to be the soul leaving the body.

Critics of MacDougall's research had other explanations, e.g., the difference was due to the last breath of the patient being expelled.

At this point in the story Mary Roach's makes a snarky Catholic girl comment regarding MacDougall and the other physicians watching the man on the cot-scale dying for three hours.

She writes: "In place of the more usual bedside attitudes of grief and pity, the men assumed an air of breathless intent expectancy. I imagine you see this on the faces of NASA engineers during countdown and, possibly, vultures."

Bring her story up to modern times, Mary takes a trip to the Consciousness Research Lab at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. The director of the lab, researcher and neuroscience professor Michael Persinger, has a theory about ghost encounters. His believes that electromagnetic fields, such as those created by geomagnetic activity, induce a haunting in a person's brain, specifically the sensation of being watched by an invisible presence.

Persinger wires up a Mary with a special helmet that exposes the subject to an electromagnetic field. She waits for a ghost to appear. What happens, like the other incidents during her research, is inconclusive.

But despite questions leading to nothing positive, Mary finds the answer to the question of life after death -- her own answer.

But not mine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

RX XR: Paper And Photons

It's amazing how a small project can eat up so much time.

After all these years publishing a hardcopy zine, you would think it would get easier. Nope. First, write enough material for an issue. Paste in all that text to fit. Then proofread, print a master copy and then go the the printshop to make photocopies.

But that's about half of the job. Check the mailing list, address the envelopes, fold each zine to fit the business size envelope, seal each envelope, and then drop the whole mess off at the Post Office. I don't have a car so walking around town is involved. Good eXercise but...

Compare that to publishing a blog: write, proofread, push a button, you're done.

I started this journey with my zine, the Ray X X-Rayer. In the beginning it was fun, learning how to paste up a zine using a computer. Playing around with different lay outs and fonts. Now the whole hardcopy gig is a pain.

So why do I do it?

1. I like getting zines via snail mail. Easy to read, no batteries needed.

2. If all of my digital stuff vaporizes, I still have hardcopies.

3. Some Luddites still eschew the Web.

But despite those reasons, my zine might be going the way of the dodo bird. It might live on in other forms online, a PFD file or Word document, available at my Website, .

And that leads to another item. Since I now have DSL, I'll be dropping my poky dial-up service. That means that needs to find a new home because the dial-up company has been hosting my site.

But I've been working on that angle. I just put up a new site,, that will take over. I will eventually have redirect to that location so that I have a place to archive my zines. The new site is small; it only has the XR issues for this year for download. The latest issue, XR #66, is there in both PDF and Word document formats.

Be advised that my zines are now posts collected from this blog. So the material isn't new. Another reason why I might drop my zine. Why recycle stuff for only a few meatspace readers? But if you're online, still into zines, and don't want to scroll through this blog, then you can print out your own at my Website. If I I get enough feedback, I might continue with zining, at least online.

I'm sick of the taste of envelope glue.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Where's my DSL installation kit?

I'm walking around my neighborhood at night, looking for the box that didn't arrive at my door. I had signed up for the faster internet connection because I want to save time. For years I had tolerated a poky dial-up connection, a blazing 48 Kbps.

But thanks to that poky dial-up connection, I found out that the box had been delivered earlier in the day, according to the UPS tracking site. I assume it was dropped off at the wrong address. No sign of it in the neighborhood, at least in the dim lighting.

A phone call to UPS after my useless neighborhood search. I find out the package was delivered to my building but to the wrong apartment number. This pisses me off because I had the DSL service company repeat back to me on the phone my address when I placed the order.

The wrong apartment has a separate entrance way that I had assumed was always locked. The package isn't outside that entrance way. Someone might have grabbed it.

By chance I bump into the building manager in the hallway – this is around 12:30 AM, he's also a night owl – and I explain the situation to him. He tells me that the entrance way to that section isn't locked. Guess where the package has been hiding.

I get the package, carefully read the directions, and hook everything up. But unlike a simple dial-up connection, the DSL kit is a somewhat involved set-up with filters that have to be placed in the right spot. I make sure to follow the diagram, double-checking each line and filter.

This takes some time because I have two telephone outlets behind furniture. Everything seems ready to go; I try to connect via DSL. Nothing.

Eventually I locate the problem – a loose connection. Then I screw around with some other niggling tech problems.

Time saved with locating my kit and getting it up and running – five hours.

So how much time am I saving now with DSL?

Last night I tried to leave a comment at someone's Blogspot site. Suddenly the link to that site disappears. I soon discover that any site associated with won't open up, even though other sites will. Again and again I try to figure out the problem. I'm getting pissed; besides leaving the comment I also want to post on my Blogspot site.

After going in circles, driving myself crazy, I finally find a way to link back up with Blogspot sites. I close the DSL and hook up with poky dial-up. While slow, the dial-up works.

Computers always save me time. Like with the DVD burner I use to back up my files. It gets hung up in the middle of a burn and sits there, chugging, chugging, the message on the screen saying that the 2 GB of data will be finished in “57 hours, ten minutes...”

So in case you've been wondering why I don't post that much, it's because of all of the free time bestowed upon me by computers. I have so much free time I don't know what to do with it.

CST: the big lie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

UFO Talk With Buck And Biff!

Getting out of bed is a problem for me. So how do I motivate myself? Simple. My portable radio has an alarm mode but instead of the buzzer, I set it to a particular AM radio station and then fall asleep.

Bam. Radio snaps on to a sports commentary program, boobs squawking about pro athlete nonsense. That gets me out of bed; I quickly kill the annoying chatter.

The other day I was snapping off the radio when an epiphany struck me: if such a program – basically egocentric opinions and boring scores and stats related to overpaid steroid-saturated muscle – can get people to tune in, why not use the same format to develop a broader audience for an relatively unpopular topic like UFOs? All you need is a couple of brawny guys who sound like they mainline caffeine, just zealous about the subject. Recycle the basic lines used by sports commentators and adapt them as needed.

= = =

BUCK: Welcome to UFO Talk! I’m your co-host, Buck!

BIFF: And I’m Biff! We’re here with the latest straight talk about Ufology!

BUCK: Well, it looks like the Ultraterrestrials took a hit with the sudden retirement of John Keel to that big mothership in the sky!

BIFF: And with Jacque Vallee still on the sidelines, just observing the game, it seems the ETH crowd rules the field!

BUCK: Yeah, especially with Stanton Friedman on the road! He just completed a double-header at the opening of a shopping mall somewhere between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan! Then he stopped by a nocturnal lights tailgate party to the surprise of local NL fans.

BIFF: Meanwhile Team Exopolitics is stuck out in deep left field, ready to fumble the ball again, bases loaded!

BUCK: Hey, back off the Exos! They scored a few hits.

BIFF: Sure, of LSD!

BUCK: Why, you--!!

= = =

On second thought, maybe this isn’t such a good idea. There is already enough intercenine tribalism in ufology – why lower the field to the level of pro sports fans?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Problem Pointer

Mystery at Manzanar is a well-written, well-illustrated young adult novel – but there’s a problem.

I picked up the book because it appeared to be a graphic novel. But actually it’s somewhere between a book and graphic novel, switching between prose and illustrated sections with word balloons. I had no problem with the format.

The book is labeled Historical Fiction; the subtitle explains: A WWII Internment Camp Story. Another reason why I picked it up. I wanted to see how the writer, Eric Fein, presented this dark history in America’s past. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, innocent Japanese immigrants and citizens were rounded up, relocated to camps like Manzabar in the California desert, penned in with barbed wire fences and watchtowers. The kind of paranoia that followed 9/11.

The hero, 15-year-old Tommy Yamamoto, is a fan of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. A crime in committed during his confinement at the Manzanar Relocation camp. Tommy uses his detective skills to reveal who is real perpetrator.

No problem with this. The story works, especially for younger readers unfamiliar with how hysteria can grip the so-called Land of the Free.

Is there a snag with Kurt Hartman’s kinda cartoony illustrations? Nope. Like I said the switching between text and illustrations works OK.

The trouble I would say is a slip-up in editing, one illustrated section that should have been modified before publication.

Word balloons have tails or pointers that indicate which character is uttering a particular bit of dialogue. Usually the word balloon points at the character’s head; after all, that’s where the mouth is located. But I have a problem when the pointer is aimed at a character’s armpit.

Or when the word balloon points at (ahem) another area of a speaker’s anatomy.

Do editors still edit?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vote Fraud The Digital Way

Think your vote counts?

Take a look at Loser Take All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, an anthology of articles edited by Mark Crispin Miller. If you think that computerization has eliminated ballot hi-jinks, you’re wrong.

Part of the problem could be the classic fox watching the henhouse. Have elections tallied up only by a private company with little or no oversight by local government, a company beholden to a particular political party. Such loose security leaves open opportunities to manipulate the vote.

One way it could be done is a last minute “patch” or piece of “corrective” software being installed in the voting machines that will help keep one candidate ahead in the race by a few points, even if he’s losing. Or install a memory card in one machine that can spread a virus to other machines in the system, manipulating the vote in your favor.

Then there’s the memory card switcheroo. When the cards are taken out of each voting machine to be tabulated by a central server, just drop in a magic one that will affect the tabulations. Another way is wireless: install a wi-fi card in the tabulating computer with special software and jigger the results with a laptop computer in a nearby room.

And without a paper trail, who’s going to notice?

Does Homeland Security Know About This?

I just signed on tonight and found this image (Google is my default page):

No, it’s not a Google time bomb. Apparently it’s some sort of electromagnetic device; the logo is to honor the birth of the Danish inventor, Hans Christian ├śrsted (1777-1851), according to

But with all the post 9/11 paranoia that remains, I bet there are those who don’t think it looks that innocent. For example, I’m eXpecting someone will claim that it’s one of those Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Illuminati symbols/messages…

Friday, July 31, 2009


A big fat 0. That’s how many people visited this site according to Google Analytics during the period of July 13 to July 19, 2009.

I don’t think so.

I’ve never pulled in any tremendous amount of hits but to believe that NO ONE stopped by during that period is nonsense.

I set the tracking NOT to ignore when I stop by. I know I checked out the site during that period.

I think switching to a new template caused the problem. Goose egg reports started coming in after that. I deleted the old tracking code and re-installed it. The 0 visitors problem persists. Interesting when one considers that Google runs both Blogger and Anal-ytics. What’s the problem: one company has compatibility issues between its own services?

Fed up with Google’s bullshit, I’ve added another tracker. This indicates the normal amount of numbers so far – or it’s just lying to me to make me happy. Sure, part of it is ego. But also I’d like to know if anyone is out there or I’m just typing in unreadable nonsense.

Instead of blogging, I’ve been dealing with this tracking issue, screwing around with HTML code for each tracker.

Computers save time.

Sound Reasoning And The Lake Champlain Monster

Ever read an article that leaves a bit of confusion lingering in your mind?

I’m trying to get a handle on how bioacoustics researcher, Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, regards the existence of a lurking monster in Lake Champlain.

For those who aren’t familiar with this region, up here in the North Country Lake Champlain divides New York State from Vermont. I’ve live on the NY side in Plattsburgh; it’s just a ten-minute to the lake from my door. On the east side is Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is home to an alternative weekly, Seven Days, that recently profiled von Muggenthaler in an article entitled “Making Sound Waves” in its July 15-22, 2009 edition. (Online version here.)

Six years ago von Muggenthaler was hired by the Discovery Channel to do some bioacoustical research in Lake Champlain. She made recordings of an unknown critter or critters echolocating. She has ruled out sources such as beaver, otter, and other animals including man. The recordings are a puzzler.

But when it comes to the existence of a cryptid in the water that has appeared on occasion, creating sensational reports, Muggenthaler comes across as a skeptic in the article. Here’s one excerpt:

Let’s get something straight: Von Muggenthaler isn’t interested in “Champ,” the beast of Lake Champlain lore. She has no tolerance for the legends that have swirled over the years of a water-dwelling reptile/whale/dinosaur. She’s a serious scientist — a bioacoustician who studies animal communication and cognition — and serious scientists don’t trade in monsters or other figments of fanciful imaginations.

Later it’s stated she isn’t interested in a “monster quest.” But in the article she talks about the areas where her recordings were made, places thriving with salmon, the same spots where Champ had been spotted. (After all, a big lake monster has to eat.) Von Muggenthaler thinks that whatever was echolocating was hunting food.

Then there’s this statement:

While locals indulge the legend of the monster, [von Muggenthaler] points out few scientists and skeptics consider that there could be a less camera-ready undiscovered animal or completely new species living in the lake.

That sounds like something that hardly ever surfaces, an animal that stays hidden deep in the lake, implying that reports of Champ are cases of misidentification or even lies.

But go to a Website operated by von Muggenthaler and her partners, Fauna Communications Research Institute, and on the page devoted to the Lake Champlain research, you’ll find this item:

About the recent article in the Burlington Free Press

2 years ago we found echolocation in a fresh water lake. A very novel discovery. The research trip and all about the bi-sonar or echolocation we found is described below. Pete Bodette's video demonstrated much of what we found by listening, namely the size of it and the activity of the fish in the area. Because of Pete Bodette's video we felt it was vital for people to stop considering this a "monster", a "myth" or an intoxicated illusion of those that visit the lake. This creature is unique, possible severely endangered, and needs to be studied scientifically. Those that witness something strange on the lake, please don't be worried anymore about people thinking you are crazy, e-mail us.

The statement was unsigned, so I don’t know if it was by von Muggenthaler or one of her partners. But unlike what I’ve cited in the Seven Days article, this seems to be a very pro-Champ view, especially when considering an unknown creature that pops up to the surface and is spotted by the locals.

So how skeptical is von Muggnethaler about Champ? Is what she detected something akin to Champ?

Like I said, a bit of confusion.

I did email von Muggenthaler and maybe she will have the time to respond and clear up this matter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Computer: Less Time

Computers save time.

Take wordprocessing. Instead of messing around with a typewriter and paper, you can correct and revise on the fly before printing out, producing an article in less time.

Computers eat up time.

Get a new computer and wordprocessing program and you’ll soon discover you have less time for writing. The learning curve cuts into your productivity.

I’ve been sidetracked lately with a new notebook computer. It was the least expensive way to upgrade from what I had with my aging desktop unit. The notebook’s system interface is different from my old desktop. For example, it has two different files called DOCS and Documents, just to make things confusing.

And then there’s learning to use a new software program. That cheap bastard Bill Gates installed on my notebook Windows Office 2007 for only 60 days. I just need a wordprocessing program, not all that other crap that comes with Office. Yes, I know about Open Office, but all I want to do is process words, not figure out my taxes.

So I downloaded a couple of different freeware programs, Jarte and Abiword. Unlike the latest incarnation of Word, they offer simpler layouts, they’re more user friendly. I hate Word 2007 with its cluttered, confusing array of buttons and bars. All wordprocessing programs can provide the same functions but you have to how and where to activate them. Anyway, Jarte and Abiword are OK but learning is still involved.

So my time saving computer consumes chunks of my spare time, meaning that I don’t post here as often as I would like.

But one thing is sure: 2 GB of RAM sure beats 200 MB.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You, Too, Can Be A Self-Help Guru

PBS is getting desperate.

In the past the public TV network prided itself on science programs like Nova. But over the years it’s grown so needy to raise money that it showcases all sorts of characters during its fundraising stretches like Wayne Dyer. I always thought Dwyer was a bit much. My suspicions were confirmed with I caught him on Whitley Steiber’s radio program, Dreamland, going on about all sorts of New Age malarkey.

When Dyer first appeared on the scene back in the 1970s, the original edition of his paperback bestseller, Your Erroneous Zones, featured a tightly cropped portrait of the author, mainly his face. This was obviously done to hide the fact he was bald as a cue ball, albeit a cue ball with some wispy long hair still attached to its sides.

Dyer started the modern era of self-help books. If his first book had all the answers, why did he or anyone else have to write more? Sorry, I don’t have much respect for these pop psychology types who appear with the Universal Truth for anyone. I can see thorough the whole scam.

Cash needy PBS needs emotionally needy people with too much money to feel lifted, enlightened, so happy that they’ll make that contribution. The strength – and weakness – of public television is that viewers have to chip in to keep it going. While for-profit mainstream networks pander to anyone, PBS at least has to keep up some sort of appearance of class.

Enter Wayne Dyer. He brings in the bucks for PBS (and, of course, he gets his cut.)

But there’s nothing magical about Dyer and his ilk. They just tell you want you want to hear but wrap it up in an entertaining presentation that seems to provide new insight into the human condition.

Like the title of this post says, even you can become one of these feel-good idols.

You need an angle, something simple that can be complex at the same time. Let’s take childhood. You can state the problem with adults is that they don’t embrace their inner child, that they become too sophisticated for a childlike view of the world that is better than the narrow POV of a close-minded adult.

Now you got the angle, back it up with an anecdote. It doesn’t matter if the story is truth or fiction, an amusing incident reported in the news or just an outright urban legend.

Try this one: A truck that was just one inch too high to pass under a bridge got stuck. People gathered, proposed all sorts of answers. Get a chain to pull it out. Maybe use heavy equipment to raise the bridge or just tear out the overpass to free the trapped truck.

A little boy on the scene said: “Why don’t you let some air out of the truck’s tires and back it out?”

At this point the suckers – I mean people – in the audience will be all smiles. To reinforce your pleasant persona, make sure the cameramen get lots of close-ups of audience members smiling and nodding in agreement.

If you become successful by using my tips, don’t forget my cut.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Could It Be…?

Check out Newsweek, June 8th, 2009 edition. Talk show hostess Oprah is on the cover; article about her on page 54. The slant? Crazy talk with Opie, taking her to task for promoting wacky cures. (Online version here.)

For example, 62-year-old actress Suzanne Somers was on the Oprah show one time, talking up estrogen products: cream on her arms, a shot into her vagina. She also swallows a lot of other stuff, like 60 vitamins and other preparations daily.

Why? To stay healthy and live long. The goal: to see her 110th birthday.

So let’s say that Suzanne does live to see one century plus a decade. That would really p.o. the skeptics. But if she makes that goal, what could be the explanation? Among the possibilities:

1.] She was born with good genes, had access to good traditional health care, and all the extra “wacky” stuff didn’t make that much difference.

2.] Her genes were average but the “wacky” additions were very beneficial.

3. ] Good genes, health care and the wackiness worked together to allow her to live to be 110.

But could there be another explanation?

How about a transdimensional prankster who bestows a bit of magic that trumps science? The Chaos Purple Elephant who likes to thumb the collective nose of skeptics. Invisible, intangible, he’s beyond the reach of science. Beyond disproof.

Hey, just as sensible as a syringe of estrogen injected into a vagina.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Psychics Fulfill Needs

She (they’re usually female) sits at a table in one corner at a coffeehouse. Or maybe she has a booth or kiosk set up at in outdoor pedestrian mall. She speaks confidentially with the attentive person sitting across from her, providing to that individual what can’t be found with a clergyman, counselor, psychiatrist or even friends.


That’s why psychics have cornered a good share of the human needs market.

I’m skeptical about psychics when it comes to their claims of “auras” and “spirits” and “karma” or whatever new age stuff they believe in. But I’m also skeptical of some parts of traditional medicine and psychotherapy. Mainstream health services have their own share of BS.

When the professional experts fail, those seeking help might end up trying a psychic reading, another form of counseling or psychotherapy from what I’ve seen.

Science and medicine can be like priesthoods with secrets and mystery. Take a look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Instead of terms like “auras” and “chakra” the DSM has occult words like “bi-polar” and “schizotypal personality disorder.” But therapists and medical practitioners are usually aloof priests hiding behind a wall of professionalism. The human element is ignored.

That’s why psychics attract so many people. They provide their own explanations but in a personal setting. They don’t treat their clients like children who don’t know better, the major difference between a psychic reading and a doctor’s appointment.

A doctor or therapist can rattle off some technical mumbo-jumbo – which can be proven – but he has to compete with a psychic offering easier to understand (but unproven) mumbo-jumbo. Also, mainstream practitioners can’t provide a reason why something happens beyond a simple bio-chemical explanation. The cancer has metastasized but why did it spread after treatment? The doctor shrugs his shoulders, basically saying that’s how it goes sometimes.

But the psychic can provide explanations like karma or auras out of tune with nature. Both she and mainstream healers try to make sense out of the daunting universe but the traditional experts fail to make the unknown less unknown, less controllable. Sympathetic to a client’s problem, a psychic can offer a bit of hope like working on interpersonal relations to improve karma or getting the aura back to its proper color.

And if that fails?

Well, there’s the promise that the spirit lives on, that you can be reincarnated.

How can any doctor or therapist compete with that claim?

Faith beats facts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Anomalous Phenomena: The Para-Pachydermic Explanation

“Get your umbrella ready,” said the TV weatherman. “Lots of rain tomorrow.”

The next day considerable precipitation fell but not rain. Six inches of snow in the city, twelve inches up in the mountains.

Obviously weather forecasting isn’t an exact science. Despite all the data gathered, there could be a tiny bug in the system that throws off the prediction.

The chaos butterfly. An analogy that shows how an unknown element or X factor can make the weatherman look like an idiot.

Two months before the weatherman predicted rain, a butterfly in China flapped its wings a couple of extra times. This pushed additional air molecules along, a small action that kept building as the days passed, until it turned into a cold air mass that unexpectedly shifted, turning rain into snow.

Science itself isn’t an exact science. But there are those who act like it is, resulting in dogma that doesn’t allow any thinking beyond what it considered “normal.”

But UFO sightings and other strange events still happen. Yes, some can be explained as delusion, misidentification, fraud, whatever. But a few puzzling cases remain that can’t be conveniently swept under the scientific carpet.

If there’s the chaos butterfly, why not something analogous on a metaphysical level? Why not the chaos purple elephant? It exists outside of quotidian experience but sometimes it stumbles, protruding into our sphere of reality. Normalcy twists; weird stuff happens. But soon the chaos purple elephant is forced back into its own dimension.

Maybe the para-dimensional pachyderm sticks its trunk under the tent of perception. An UFO is seen. Or its foot stomps in to make an impression. A cyptoid is glimpsed. Or its tail brushes against the membrane of our existence. Ghosts pop into view.

After these seemingly unrelated events, three blind experts come along. The first makes his conclusion based upon the trunk incident. The second, the foot. The third, the tail. All three are wrong because each explanation is only based on part of the paranormal whole.

Of course, the blindest of the blind are the dogmatic skeptics. Trunk, foot, and tail – all nonsense to them, nothing extraordinary to be seen here, move along.

Maybe someday they’ll have to shovel up after the chaos purple elephant.

Until then, the circus goes on.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

CSI: Crime Sand Investigation

A nonfiction book about sand?

Surprisingly, it’s very interesting.

Sand: The Never Ending Story proves that there is indeed a world of knowledge in a grain of the stuff.

The author, Michael Welland, covers the topic not only on this world but beyond, to Mars and one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. But what intrigued me the most was geological forensics, how the properties of a particular sand can be used to determine its origin point, valuable evidence in a criminal investigation.

One case involved $3 million worth of gold that turned up missing while being shipped. It was discovered after opening the crates that ordinary sand and iron bars had been switched with the gold. It was suspected that the substitution had been made in Canada but a forensic geologist and policeman determined that the sand originated in another country.

Another example of sand forensics involved a pickup truck driven by the murderer. Mud splashed on the truck contained tiny debris from a quarry. This debris washed downstream in a river, diluting as it traveled along, blending in with other sand and mud. When the river was low the quarry sand would end up in sandbanks along the rivers’ edge. Sandbanks further downstream had fewer of the distinctive grains; each location had its own mixture. Sand from the crime scene matched what was found on the pickup.

Welland also mentions that during World War II that balloons carrying incendiary bombs were falling on the United States (the fugo balloons which I posted about before). From where were they being launched?

The balloons used ballast bags filled with sand to maintain height as part of an automatic altitude regulation system. Hydrogen or sand would be released as the balloon drifted towards the US.

The US Geological Survey’s Military Geology Unit was called in to ID the origin point of the sand. Using prewar geological reports the granular investigators were able to determine two locations on the east coast of Japan. Air photographs helped to target hydrogen factories at those sites for destruction.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chris Carter Goes Green

The creator of The X-Files, Chris Carter, is green.

No, he wasn’t hit by gamma rays and turned into The Hulk – even though that would more entertaining than his last X-Files film, I Want To Believe.

I borrowed a DVD of XF: IWTB. After being disappointed by the main feature I checked out the so-called “special” features that included a short about how Chris went green during the production of his movie.

[Note to historians decades hence: “Green” refers to a fad popular at this time to save the earth from mankind’s impact by using less energy, eating local “organic” foods, and acting like a fanatic over ecology and the environment due to concerns about global warming. While commendable, this fad is out of hand in that some people are joining in because it’s the “cool thing” to do. A present-day individual doesn’t fit in unless he’s absolutely committed to being “green.” Green statements uttered without question act as a shibboleth to hip conformity. Like any fad –-wearing a zoot suit or twirling a Hula-Hoop – it will fade into the background, replaced by another “cool thing.”]

During the featurette Chris repeatedly mentions how a certain car company (that I’m not going to plug) provided hybrid cars for the stars and crew. This saved on gas and resulted in less pollution. Also catering was done using locally grown food.

Right after Chris Carter: Statements on Green Production, there was another featurette entitled Body Parts: Special Makeup Effects. The movie plot involved head transplants (think Grade Z sci fi thriller like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) and so with the human chop-shop motif various bodies and their parts had to be fabricated out of plastic.

But if I may make a modest proposal like Jonathan Swift, why didn’t the movie production go organic and use real human bodies and parts? After all, unlike silicone, human flesh is biodegradable.

And with a creative chef, they could’ve done the ultimate in recycling with the catering service. Just use the soylent recipe.

(Sorry. Am I making you “green?”)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Groovy Positive Vibes

Skeptic Rebecca Watson has been having bad luck lately. As she mentions at within two weeks she was hit by a car and then her apartment was burgled, her laptop computer stolen.

But maybe it wasn’t a run of “bad luck.”

Rebecca should watch “The Secret,” a documentary about how to attract good things in their life. People radiate vibrations out into the universe. The movie shows someone wishing for something and all those thoughtwaves just spread out into forever.

In fact “The Secret” states that the universe can be your catalog. Just list what you want, think good thoughts, and it will come your way. The Supreme Being/Grandest Poohbah/whatever will listen to you. It’s New Age wishful thinking without equal.

If all the skeptics like Rebecca keep thinking bad thoughts, radiating negativity into the cosmos, they could end up bringing down an alien invasion force or blowing up the sun.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Unimal

The ancient Greeks could really come up with some wild beasties when they unleashed their imaginations. For example, the manticore: a mythical monster sometimes depicted with a man’s face, a lion’s body, a dragon’s legs, and a scorpion’s tail.

But that combo critter can’t match the unimal.

I just watched a documentary called Farmboy about the life of H.E. Babcock, a professor of farm marketing who later became Chairman of the Board at Cornell University in the 1940s. During his lifetime he promoted nutrition standards. To symbolize animal agriculture the unimal was created, five basic farm animals in one: chicken, cow, steer, pig and sheep. This cobbled-together imaginary beast had the key aspects of each animal, from the rooster’s red comb on its head to the curly pigtail on its butt. The front legs were those of a cow; the rear ones of a chicken. Toss in a pair of wings and udders and you had a unimal.

Babcock had a plastic unimal toy on the market to promote a healthy, well-balanced diet to children. Designed by Karl Butler, you would press down on it and a tiny hotdog would drop out. Keep pressing and other farm products would appear: a quart of milk, a ham, a pound of butter, and an egg.

With the concern nowadays about cholesterol, red meat and fat, I don’t think the items produced by the unimal would be considered proper nutrition.

Maybe it’s time for an update: I propose the univegimal. With genetic engineering this critter would be part lettuce and tomato combined with the five farm animals. Just press down on the new toy version and a tossed salad pops out with all the other agricultural products.

Images from the documentary Farmboy.

(Note: Unimal buttons and T-shirts are available at

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Halloween: Evil Or Depraved?

A cheaply photocopied pamphlet has been lurking on my desk since last fall, buried among all the other stuff to be processed. It keeps popping up to the surface, daring me to peruse it. It’s time to eXamine this bit of hysteria.

THE TRUTH ABOUT HALLOWEEN was found shoved in a friend’s doorway when he came home one day. He doesn’t know who left it but I can speculate what kind of person wanted to share its startling “facts.”

“Don’t be fooled by what appears to be just a bit of harmless fun!” is emblazoned on page one. Open it up and one learns the “true” history behind Halloween, its satanic origins. Back in 1500 B.C, the Druids held their evil sway over Western Europe. They practiced a cruel kind of magic, using people as human sacrifices, flogging and sexually molesting them before their hearts were torn out.

Whoever passed along this pamphlet was apparently a prude because one line has been crossed out with a black pen. But the most of the line can still be read despite the crude redaction. Referring to the sacrificial victims, it’s stated: “Their sexual organs were cut off and [illegible] to be used in black masses.”


When someone was killed during such dark rituals, it was said the victim Druid his last breath.


Then the pamphlet states: “The Druids taught that on Halloween ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches and elves came out to harm people. From this terrible satanic religion comes the use of witches, ghosts, and cats in today’s celebration of Halloween.” No mention how a kid dressing up as Spider-Man or Strawberry Shortcake is promoting the cutting of sexual organs from innocent victims.

So what kind of stranger left this pamphlet behind? I would guess some old brainwashed biddy whose life has been ruled by indoctrination in supernatural ultra-conservative Xtianity. A wild guess, huh?

I doubt it was a lapsed Druid.

The ART of Conspiracy

Advanced alien civilizations are in contact with Earth but the public at large is being kept in the dark about this fact.

That statement is the basis of exopolitics, the study of the relationship between humanity and offworld entities. At Ed Komarek talks about the conspiracy keeping ET contact limited to a privileged elite. He discusses Corporation X or the Alien Resource Development Corporation (ARDC), a shadowy inner circle that controls the alien research trade (ART?). [Link]

The human elite control alien tech for their own self-interests. For example, new sources of clean, cheaper energy are being held back so the oil companies can maintain their profits.

In one post Komarek speculates about a modern day slave trade: human abductees are being used for the harvesting of biological materials by certain aliens. (He points out that not all alien species in contact with our world are doing this.) He says the same powerful families who made their fortunes in the earthbound human slave trade during the 1600s-1800s could be involved in such activity.

He explains: “In the past the black African leadership sold their own people to the enslaving more technologically advanced European and American slavers as trade goods for metal weapons, cookware, ornaments and rum. Could the reasoning and justification be the same today as in the past, ‘if you can’t beat them join them’? Is history repeating itself, but this time the technologically superior unethical race is extraterrestrial.” [Link]

ARDC sounds like the fictional mega-conspiracy depicted in the TV series, The X Files, created by Chris Carter.

When asked about the concept of such a grand conspiracy, Carter said: “I believe that conspiracies do exist, but I also believe there are no secrets…people have a great inability to keep a confidence, and there are too many self-interested people. That’s why I believe with, say, the JFK conspiracy theory, that there aren’t enough people with enough dedication to the keeping of the secret to really have kept it this long. Death and deathbeds have a wonderful way of coughing up truths…” (The X Files Book Of The Unexplained, Volumes I and II (1996), Page 539.)

X Files story editor Frank Spotnitz agreed. He conceded that some government actions and experiments remain hidden from the public, but when it came to a grand political conspiracy involving covert contact with ETs, he thought people weren’t competent enough to maintain the secrecy. (Ibid. Page 540.)

I would have to agree. Even with some sort of mindwipe device as depicted in the movie, Men In Black, I find it hard to accept that someone wouldn’t get the story out, providing hard evidence that would blow the lid off.

A Corporation X as described by Komarek couldn’t stay hidden for so long. I’ll admit that it’s not impossible. Just really improbable.

And without any solid proof, probability is the only way to deal with the subject.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Camping Trip: The End Is Near (Again)

As a hippie would say, Harold Camping is on a wild trip, man.

I was surfing the shortwave radio band when I came upon his show, Open Forum. Camping stated that the world would end in a couple of years: 2011. (Bummer.)

Camping is the president of Family Stations Inc. (AKA Family Radio). I did an online search and found out more about his works.

Born in 1942, Camping created over his lifetime a media network to spread his word: radio (AM, FM and SW), the Internet and cable TV. When he hosts his Open Forum program, he invites callers to ask questions about a particular Biblical passage. He’s ready with what he purports to be his true interpretation of the Good Book, offering an independent Christian POV.

Camping claims that the church age is over, i.e., all organized churches are not teaching the truth and one must find the truth on his own –- such as by listening to Open Forum.

During his show I noticed that some listeners didn’t buy his vision. A couple of callers essentially called him a false prophet. There was disagreement about what the Bible says about the end-times, that no man knows the final hour and that the end will come like a thief in the night.

But Camping was able to take those passages and with some spin prove that it was possible for him to know when it all will go down. It’s amazing how the Absolute Truth of The Bible can be construed so many different ways.

Camping believes our planet isn’t that old, but he doesn’t buy Bishop Ussher’s timeline with earth creation in 4004 BC. From his research Camping claims that God made the world in 11,013 BC and the Great Flood happened in 2348 BC.

It’s from this research that he’s determined that the Rapture will go down –- I mean, go up –- on May 21, 2011 and then the cosmic stuff hits the infinite fan on October 21, 2011.

So mark your calendar. But when you do, keep in mind that Camping thought the big finale might occur on September 6, 1994, Christ descending from the clouds.

I’m still here. No sign of Jesus.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fugo And Cymbals Of Fear

(A continuation of my fugo series. Links to previous posts: Part 1. Part 2.)

Fugo balloons. JFK assassination. UFOs.

What’s the connection?

Over at there’s an article by Joel Carpenter that shows the threads between these apparently diverse topics.

In the article, Paper Threat - The first intercontinental weapon system: Japanese Fu-Go balloons, Carpenter provides an interesting take on the World War II Japanese bomb-balloons. (He prefers the spelling fu-go. For consistency in my posts I’ll use “fugo” instead.)

The US government was worried that the Japanese might start sending balloons laden with germs, causing crippling outbreaks. A newspaper article dated February 9, 1946 that appeared in the Seattle Times revealed that during WW II the government feared the balloons might be used to wage bacteriological warfare, delivering anthrax and other such diseases.

In some cases when a fugo was found, government agents showed up wearing full protective suits –- what I would guess were the early versions of hazmat suits.

Civilian spotters – members of the Ground Observation Corp -- were trained to look for any unusual objects in the heavens. But the usual problem would crop up: some skywatchers would overreact, mistaking the planet Venus or a weather balloon for an enemy airborne device. As ufologoical researchers know, Venus and weather balloons are two favorite explanations used by skeptics to debunk some UFO sightings.

And meanwhile on the ground, fugo discoveries were quickly covered up. An FBI agent named W.G. Banister investigated the scene of a downed fugo in Montana in December 1944.

Years later Banister would investigate a different type of downed object: a “flying disc” found on someone’s lawn. On December 11, 1947 he checked out a strange object in Twin Falls, Idaho that measured about 31 inches in diameter. In his report Banister that the “saucer” was later determined to be “two cymbals used by a drummer in a band, placed face to face.” Domes were added on each side of the construct to give it that iconic saucer appearance, plus some burned wires and radio tubes were added for extra effect.

Four local teenagers had planted the hoax disc at night, creating two strips of torn up lawn as if the small saucer head crashed there.

But until it was determined to be a hoax, I can imagine Banister and other officials were wary of any odd objects after the WWII fugo scare. A newspaper article in the Lewiston, Idaho Daily Tribune (12/12/47) treats the incident with humor, but maybe that tone was taken to downplay the response by the Banister and military. Banister, thinking the object was real, contacted his district office in Butte, Montana and “three army officers came post haste from Fort Douglas, Utah” via a military plane.

The name W.G. or Guy Banister might sound familiar to you. He’s one of those shadowy characters on the fringes of the JFK assassination whose name pops up in various conspiracy theories.

An anti-Communist activist, Banister claimed that the Soviets were behind some outbreaks of cattle and crop diseases in the US. The fugo germ scare scenario could be attached to another enemy. During the paranoid Cold War era random events could easily represent sneaky Commie attacks, if you had the right (wing) frame of mind.