Friday, November 16, 2018

Two Easily-Identified UFOs Grab Media Attention


What with all of the publicity concerning To The Stars and government UFO programs, UFOs have once again become a hot topic to the public, and to the major media. So sometimes UFO reports grab major publicity, even cases in which just a little investigation leads to a clear solution.


On November 12, the major Italian newspaper Il Messagiero ran a story about "mysterious lights in the California sky" on October 27, and linked to the above video. They said that it shows
a particularly bright plane that falls into a dive. Then that same light suddenly stopped. And a few seconds later, a short distance later, another one came up. From that moment on, the two lights moved much more slowly. A movement that led conspiracy experts to think of two unidentified flying objects. 
Our friend Scott Brando of "UFO of Interest" was quick to point out the similarity to other videos of parachutists carrying smoke or lights. Scott has been doing an excellent job exposing hoaxes and misidentifications posted on social media. There are a lot of them, so it's been keeping him pretty busy.

I first saw the video (taken just a few miles from where I live) when a local UFOlogist sent the link to his email list.  A simple search for parachutists in San Diego on October 27 led to the following:

Before every demonstration we first do a "streamer pass" to help us gauge wind speed and direction. Sometimes we'll activate a smoke canister attached to one of our foot brackets and perform what's known as an "early burn." When you see the “early burn” smoke it means we're ready to go. The smoke canisters attached to our feet make it easier for you to see us. Sometimes we're more than two miles up!

The United States Navy Parachute Team “The Leap Frogs” is the official parachute demonstration team of the United States Navy. Part of the United States Naval Special Warfare Command. The Leap Frogs Navy Parachute Team is made up of active-duty Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) and support personnel. The team is sanctioned by the Department of Defense and recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration.
So that one is nailed down pretty tightly: the "UFOs" were Navy parachutists.



Pilots see a UFO over Ireland (https://youtu.be/kulU88RyhCI)
The second case garnered considerably more publicity, and was covered as a major news story by media throughout the world. The Irish Examiner reported on November 12 , "Close encounter with UFO off Irish coast leaves pilots ‘wondering’ ":
The Irish Aviation Authority has begun an investigation into the sighting of an unidentified flying object (UFO) by a number of aircraft off the south-west coast of Ireland last Friday. At approximately 6.47am on November 9, the pilot of a British Airways flight, call sign Speedbird94, contacted Shannon Air Traffic Control (ATC) to ask if there were military exercises taking place in the airspace through which her Boeing 787 was passing. There were no military exercises underway.

Shannon ATC replied: “There is nothing showing on either primary or secondary [radar].” The pilot responded: “OK. It was moving so fast.” The controller then asked: “Alongside you?”

The BA pilot, flying from Montreal to Heathrow, describes how the UFO came up along the left-hand side of the aircraft, “then rapidly veered to the north”. She said it was “a very bright light” that “disappeared at very high speed”.

She said they were “wondering” what it could be, that it did not seem to be on a collision course. ... The Irish Examiner contacted the Irish Aviation Authority to ask if it was investigating the UFO.

In a statement, the authority said: “Following reports from a small number of aircraft on Friday, November 9, of unusual air activity, the IAA has filed a report. “This report will be investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process.”

The incident was reported in many different media. "ALERT Irish Aviation Authority is investigating after #BA94 and #VS76 pilots reported UFO off Irish coast." The reports were widely shared on social media. 

A video from a dashboard camera was published, revealing a very brief, very bright object. The International Meteor Organization received five reports of  "a fireball seen over Northern Ireland and Scotland on Friday, November 9th 2018 around 06:44 UT." Observers reported that it was extremely bright - brighter than the full moon, although not as bright as the sun. The local time here is the same as UT, so this occurred about 6:45 AM - otherwise it probably would have been even more widely reported.

Graphic showing the location of the bolide, and of the observers.


Incidents such as these, widely reported, serve to keep UFOs in the public eye. And as always, more people see the article proclaiming the incident to be "unexplained" than see the eventual solution.




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"To The Stars" Shares Its Misinformation with Italian Colleagues


On October 22, Tom DeLonge, founder of To The Stars Academy (TTSA, which has been the absolute center of UFO attention for the past year), posted the following enigmatic message to his Facebook page:
Tom DeLonge  October 22 at 7:17 AM ·

@tothestarsacademy has been invited into private meetings with a particular European Government on UFOs. I am on my way this morning to discuss some very interesting cooperation opportunities with a few International partners. :) #TECHNOLOGY #DATA #DISCLOSURE
Accompanying it was a photo of an airliner taken through the window of an airport terminal. Obviously, DeLonge was flying to Europe, and he wanted it to seem all mysterious. But the "mystery" was solved on the following day when he posted, "#ROME Any Italian fans here today? I’ll be walking around enjoying the amazing history."
Tom DeLonge does Rome.

It turns out that DeLonge's comment "@tothestarsacademy has been invited into private meetings with a particular European Government on UFOs" was quite disingenuous. In fact, TTSA's presentation was sponsored by the Italian UFO group CUN, which has been in existence since 1967. It is a private UFO group much like MUFON, and has no official government connections.

Before TTSA's presentation on October 27, a panel of Italian UFOlogists spoke, talking mostly about UFO history in fairly conventional terms. We hear about Project Blue Book, the UN UFO session, Carl Jung, J. Allen Hynek, Edward Ruppelt, etc. The whole session, almost four hours long, was recorded and posted to YouTube, unedited. (Approximately the first 30 minutes of the video are empty, waiting for the program to start.)
One of the slides of the Italian UFOlogists, offered with the hope of  'not offending anyone'(!). It's about SETI.
The guy standing says "Our latest technological discoveries notwithstanding, we have not yet received any
message. It's useless, there doesn't exist any civilization except us on earth."
Elizondo spoke first, to explain "why we are here." Unfortunately, "technical difficulties" prevented him from showing his slides, so he handed the microphone to DeLonge, to tell the story behind TTSA. DeLonge said,
"To The Stars has created a private company with a perpetual funding mechanism. We work with government partners to achieve the revolutionary change in mankind's destiny...[TTSA has] the first set of major motion pictures and television series in development... [also] a multi-year program plan to launch satellites into space with lasers.. and a robust program plan to achieve the engineering of the space-time metric, and most people people would call that 'anti-gravity'."
DeLonge did not explain exactly how, or when, these engineering miracles would be accomplished.

Elizondo finally got his slides to work, and continued with his version of UFO history. A full transcript of TTSA's comments has been prepared by UFO Joe (thanks, Joe!).

On October 27, UFO researcher Curt Collins posted to the Facebook page for his Blog Blue Blurry Lines that
       Elizondo claimed that this photo was "real."
(from Ray Palmer's magazine).
The Italian UFO group CUN hosted a presentation in Rome by Tom DeLonge on the TTSA, and Luis Elizondo on AATIP. Elizondo discussed the famous 1952 Washington, DC saucer event saying:
.
"In the early 1950s, the United States had another very significant event over our nation’s Capitol. Once again, these objects were identified both with the naked eye and again on radar, and unlike Roswell, many people had cameras and were able to take photographs. And what you see here are real photographs, along with the story - the headline story that came out."


Elizondo's picture is from the YouTube preview image for "UFO Sightings over Washington D.C. and The White House in 1952" by FindingUFO. It's a frame from a CGI-animated version of a picture of lens flares, and an image from an EC comic book found in the files Project Blue Book.

"Photo Fakery: Washington, DC Flying Saucers 1952," goes into detail on the history of this bogus UFO photo.
Other problems with Elizondo's presentation were quickly noted:
  • Elizondo presented a slide promoting the supposed UFO from STS-48, even suggesting that the Space Shuttle crew witnessed it. James Oberg has thoroughly debunked this claim, back in 1992
  • He also cited the supposed UFO from STS-80, which Oberg has also shown to be baseless
  • Elizondo showed a photo of a supposed "foo fighter" allegedly taken during World War II, which he said "was actually taken by a pilot in World War II.". It  is almost certainly a hoax, its provenance is unknown. No authentic photo of a supposed "foo fighter" is known to exist.
  • In Elizondo's overview of UFO history, he said, "later, in the 1940s, we had the Roswell incident. I’m not going to speculate in this room what crashed at Roswell. But those of you who are familiar with the world of intelligence, know that a military response is usually symmetrical to the incident. A crashed weather balloon does not usually merit the response of a colonel, several flat bed, military vehicles and an armed force." These claims are completely unsupported. There is no proof for the claim that "a colonel" was involved, or any military vehicles or guards.
  • In response to a question about alleged "force fields" surrounding supposed UFOs, Elizondo replied: "We can. In some cases if we know what to look for, we can actually see a distortion around these craft, surrounded it. We believe it’s a result of the propulsion that’s being used. In essence, an event horizon is created. Imagine a bubble being created around the vehicle and if you are bending space time in a localized area, one can expect electromagnetic energy to behave differently inside that event horizon than outside." This is preposterous. The so-called "glowing aura" (so named in the headline of the original New York Times story about TTSA) seen in the TicTac and Gimble UFO videos is simply a processing effect of the infrared imaging circuit. This was pointed out long ago, and it is amateurish to claim otherwise.
Elizondo's photo of supposed "foo fighters," almost certainly a hoax.
All along one frustration has been that TTSA has released little, if any, information about the cases they are promoting. But with this unedited two-hour-plus presentation by DeLonge and Luis Elizondo, we start to understand what is happening. Both DeLonge and Elizondo are Babes in the Woods when it comes to UFO claims. (We knew about DeLonge's UFO foolishness for quite some time, but until now we knew relatively little about Elizondo.) Neither of them has any real understanding of the difference between credible and non-credible sources of information concerning UFOs. Neither of them seems to have any "filter" for baseless UFO claims, and neither seems to understand the prevalence of misinformation in UFOology. (Indeed, Elizondo has previously boasted that he had purposely stayed away from reading UFO books, so as not to prejudice himself about it, meaning he knows practically nothing on the subject.)  They seem to believe every UFO claim they hear. The longtime Canadian UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski posted to the Facebook group UFO Updates, "I am more concerned every day that anyone affiliated with the TTSA has limited knowledge about the subject, beyond pop culture and sensational tabloid material." Indeed.

On October 28, DeLonge posted to Facebook,
Thank you to the Italian Government for the security you provided to me and my team all week, and thank you for having your AIR FORCE Generals, UNITED NATIONS Officials, INTELLIGENCE Operatives and VATICAN representatives attend the @tothestarsacademy briefing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and the ADVANCED AERIAL THREAT IDENTIFICATION THREAT PROGRAM here in Rome, Italy. It was my pleasure to represent the United States and start the international conversation here, in such a wonderful country. 
Here DeLonge sounds like a cross between Stephen Greer (claiming to need protection while presenting dramatic UFO revelations) and George Adamski (claiming to meet with VATICAN representatives). Let's hope that, assuming these distinguished persons actually were present, they realize that they've been fed a line of pure, old-fashioned amateurish UFO misinformation. They might as well be listening to Stanton Friedman. In fact, as much as it pains me to say this, I think that Friedman is more credible than DeLonge, however slightly. Friedman wouldn't fall for the Capitol Dome UFO photo, or the unsourced Foo Fighters one.




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Financial Firestorm over "To The Stars"

As noted in the previous posting, the deal for "investors" to purchase shares in To The Stars Academy expired on September 28. It was available for exactly twelve months, and that time is now up. We do not know how much money was actually raised in that way, but we know that it was far less than the maximum subscription of $50 million. For a while, TTSA published the total of "investments" on its website. But when "investments" noticeably slowed at about $2 million, they removed this information. Steve Basset of the Paradigm Research Group recently posted on Facebook that TTSA raised about $2.5 million through selling shares, which is probably correct.

Rocker Tom DeLonge, founder of To The Stars.
But what set off the current wave of feces-throwing was when the Internet discovered To The Stars' required financial filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dated June 30, 2018. What got everyone's attention was the passage at the bottom of page 13:
NOTE 2 – GOING CONCERN

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis, which contemplates the realization of assets and the satisfaction of liabilities in the normal course of business. The Company has incurred losses from operations and has an accumulated deficit at June 30, 2018 of $37,432,000. These factors raise doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.
What this appears to say is: To The Stars has assets of less than $3 million, vs. a debt of over $37 million. Therefore, it is toast. However, others maintained that this interpretation is not correct. A "deficit" is not the same as a "debt," and start-up companies reportedly often show similar "deficits" that represent only highly over-valued insider shares, or some other such financial legerdemain. This begs the question: if the "accumulated deficit" of $37 million does not really mean anything, then why does the SEC filing say that it "raise[s] doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern"?

This was discussed widely on UFO-related groups on Facebook and elsewhere, starting about September 30. As typically happens, "real journalists" picked up the story much later. On October 15, Eric Berger wrote an article for Ars Technica titled "All the dumb things? UFO project has $37 million deficit":
Put another way, after a year of fundraising, Tom DeLonge's alien business has raised just over $1 million in outside funding. The company has racked up a $37.4 million deficit, however, largely from a stock incentive plan for its employees. The financial filing states that To the Stars intends to remain in business over the next 12 months by selling additional stock. Their website says they accept credit cards, if you're so inclined to help keep the effort afloat. But bear in mind that any financial returns may be beyond the reach of even The Phenomenon.
Actually, To The Stars cannot sell any more stock, and there is no longer any solicitation of funds on their website. Apparently, this article was finally was noticed by Tom De Longe. That same day, DeLonge posted the following to his Facebook page:
Wow!
BLATENT LIE — APPARENTLY, THIS WRITER CAN’T READ? BTW- TTSA never even raised $37m, so how in the hell did we spend it? Lord. I ask all of you that believe in the @tothestarsacademy mission to right now go write a complaint on their website for trying to hurt our admirable effort through negative attacks using—-> lies. Dear Ars Technica— I am writing you regarding the article posted to Ars Technica this morning titled ‘All the dumb things? Blink 182 front man’s UFO project $37 million in debt’ by Eric Berger. Link: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/10/all-the-dumb-things-blink-182-front-mans-ufo-project-37-million-in-debt/

We were surprised Ars Technica would allow Mr. Berger to post such an article without asking either Mr. DeLonge or To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science for comment. This article is highly misleading and grossly mischaracterizes statements in an SEC filing. Had Mr. Berger bothered to reach out to us for comment this could have been prevented.

Mr. Berger apparently did not read the filing in its entirety, and clearly did not understand the excerpt of the SEC filing he quotes. The approximate $37 million stockholders’ deficit is not debt as he characterized it but is attributable to stock-based compensation expense. It is not related to the operational results of the company. The Consolidated Balance Sheets of To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science in the SEC filing quoted by your author clearly shows the approximately $37 million deficit is attributed to Stockholders’ Equity (Deficit). The filing goes on to explain the mechanism for calculating stock-based compensation and details the various grants of stock options by the company. Mr. Berger’s characterizations of this as debt implies that it stems from traditional borrowings.

Had Mr. Berger bothered to email or call us we could have directed him to these portions of the SEC filing and walked him through it. For Mr. Berger to make the conclusions he did on incomplete research and his own interpretations without contacting Mr. DeLonge or the company is inexcusable.

We request that you print this letter in full within the article as our
The original was truncated in this way. Also, apparently DeLonge does not use a spell checker. This posting has since been deleted from DeLonge's Facebook page. As I noted earlier, DeLonge is a serial Deleter - he has a history of making stupid posts on social media, then deleting them.

What is especially galling about DeLonge's reply is his self-righteous statement that "Had Mr. Berger bothered to email or call us we could have directed him to these portions of the SEC filing and walked him through it." This is beyond ludicrous, since TTSA has famously ignored journalists' questions and requests for information. Well-known UFO researchers like Billy Cox, John Greenewald, Alejandro Rojas, and many others have commented on TTSA's unwillingness to answer questions. Researcher M.J. Banias wrote, "I have inquired about six times for comment on various articles to TTSA. Never heard back, ever."
Speculation soon began about why DeLonge deleted this posting. Chris Cogswell of The Mad Scientist Podcast posted to Facebook that
From what I have understood his comments on the SEC filing could be construed as an attempt to commit fraud or harm investors. Similar to Elon Musk's tweets... As far as I understand it by suggesting that the SEC filing is in some way incorrect or misleading (e.g. they are doing better than they claim on the required form) they open themselves up considerably. Add to that the now rampant speculation that TTSA is actually doing significantly better than the SEC filing suggests and you have all the makings of a fraud case by unnaturally inflating the public confidence in an investment.

There is now an article on TTSA's website titled "An explanation for the recent mischaracterization of TTS Academy's Stockholders’ equity/deficit." It says many of the same things that DeLonge said above, but it has obviously passed through a lawyer's review:

We've noticed some reports that we are “in debt” in some astronomical amount. The reports are highly misleading and grossly mischaracterized statements in an SEC filing.  It looks like people are misunderstanding the difference between debt and stockholders’ equity. “Debt” is what we owe.  The number that is getting the attention is actually the “Stockholders’ equity/deficit” number. That looks like a big number but we don’t “owe” it to anyone and it's not related to the operational results of the company. It just reflects the fact that we’ve been paying our people, like many start-ups, in stock as opposed to paying them in dollars.
An article just published in The Daily Grail by Red Pill Junkie is titled "Man Overboard: One Year After Its Launch, To the Stars Academy’s Financial Situation Remains Stuck on the Ground." It takes note of the difference between "deficit" and "debt," but is nonetheless pessimistic about the company's prospects:
That does not mean the company is not in financial hot water, mind you. They still have amassed quite a few i.o.u’s from DeLonge’s other companies –mainly Our Two Dogs, although they also need to pay Angels and Airwaves royalties for the use of Tom’s image (!)– and, like they themselves admit in the filing, the only way they can stay afloat is by “raising additional capital through debt and/or equity transactions.”
And they cannot do any more equity transactions. We shall see how this plays out.



Friday, September 28, 2018

It's Your Last Chance!!


As a Public Service, we bring you the following message: Today is the LAST DAY to invest in To The Stars, and be in on the ground floor of all that far-out physics and UFO artifacts. You can invest on-line until midnight tonight (Pacific Time).





Blogger Jason Colavito has explained why this is probably not a good investment. But hey, it's your money, so do with it what you will.




Meanwhile, To The Star's A.D.A.M. project, whose task it is to investigate alleged physical samples from UFOs, claims to be looking into as many as seven possible extraterrestrial samples. It's an exciting claim, but the UFO field has heard many such claims before.

But the most important question is: what will To The Stars do for money now that they can no longer cajole supposed "investors"?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Elizondo and the "Five Observables"


Luis Elizondo, the former head of the Pentagon AATIP program and now Director of Special Projects with Tom DeLonge's To The Stars Academy, was the keynote speaker at this year's MUFON Symposium in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. His subject was, "The History of AATIP," the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. While much of Elizondo's talk repeated what he and others have said before, we did learn some new details on the matter.





Elizondo said that the AATIP produced "five observables," that supposedly demonstrate the reality of unknown, extraordinary flying craft. 

First, "You're talking about instantaneous acceleration." No, that is an assumption, not something actually "observed." For one thing, that would violate fundamental laws of physics, somehow instantaneously accelerating a craft, while at the same time not smashing up whatever is inside it. We now know that the instance of supposed "instantaneous acceleration" in the Tic-Tac infrared video to which he refers is based upon an error. Skeptic Mick West wrote, "a lot of people have missed that fact that the sudden change in apparent velocity is actually due to a change in the zoom setting of the camera. When we correct for this by shrinking the 2x video back down to 1x then the "jerk" in velocity vanishes, and the movement is much smoother and slower, with no huge g-forces required." So the first "observable" is nothing more than a mistake.

"The Five Observables," according to AATIP. But are these actually "observed," or just assumed?
The second is "Hypersonic Velocity." This typically refers to a speed of Mach 5 or greater. What Elizondo does not explain is exactly how and where this has reportedly been observed, and how these alleged extreme velocities have measured and confirmed. Unless you know the distance to an object, you cannot calculate its speed. "Hypersonic Velocity." is an assumption, not an observation, and the claim has absolutely no credibility unless they can show exactly how it was calculated. At present, this is just an unsupported claim, not evidence.

The third is "Low Observability," otherwise presumably known as "stealth," an assumption confirmed by his use of the image of the F-117 Stealth Bomber. "Reduced cross section" has indeed been part of the Defense Department's stealth strategy for decades, involving aircraft, cruise missiles, and even ships. Elizondo does not even attempt to demonstrate that stealthiness is an attribute designed into any supposed craft they have reportedly encountered.


MUFON's General Director, Jan Harzan, is captivated by one of Elizondo's stories.

The fourth is "Multimedium Travel," when an object can supposedly operate in air, water, and even outer space. Unfortunately, he gives us no examples of this, so it is impossible to determine whether this is correct. One suspects that because an unidentified object turned up on radar or the FLIR, and later a pilot claimed to have seen a disturbance in the water (Tic-Tac video), Elizondo leaps to the conclusion that both were caused by the same object, one capable of "Multimedium Travel." More plausible is the assumption that these were unrelated incidents, linked together in the excitement of the moment.

Harzan remains enthralled by Elizondo. Meanwhile, behind them Travis Walton
is trying to hypnotize the people at his table.

The fifth "observable" is "Positive Lift," meaning "I do not have to be moving like an aircraft to generate lift under my wings." In other words, anti-gravity. This, like the first "observable", would be quite remarkable, if true. This supposedly gives you "loiter capability," meaning that you can just hover in one place, apparently without expending any energy. While "gravity control" or "anti-gravity" is a staple of Dr. Hal Puthoff's far-out physics, ordinary physicists have not yet caught up to Elizondo and Puthoff, and think this is all nonsense. Later, in a response to a question seen on the longer version of the video, Elizondo makes it clear that by "physics," he means "warping space-time" so that objects can apparently travel faster than light. He did not explain how this is to be accomplished. Perhaps he carries a black hole in his pocket?

I think it would be fair to say that AATIP's "5 Observables" are more accurately termed the "5 Assumables," given that there is a huge gap in going from what they believe is being observed to proving that their remarkable interpretations are valid. These are extraordinary claims, and as such require extraordinary proof, not just simple assumptions.
Clarifying some confusion concerning the project name: It recently came to light that the 'real name' of the recent Pentagon UFO program was supposedly AAWSAP, Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Application Program, and not AATIP. According to Elizondo, the AAWSAP program was founded in 2007, but in 2008 "AAWSAP is formally changed to AATIP by former program manager to focus more narrowly on the 5 observables and research of advanced physics applications." He did not name the former program manager; other documents suggest that James T Lacatski was project head until 2010 when Elizondo took over.

Some people have suggested that this confusion over the name was why all the FOIA requests concerning the project had not turned anything up, but nothing much is turning up, FOIA-wise, using either name. Referring to questions about why he did not clarify this sooner, Elizondo insisted that he was "not qualified to talk about it," since he was not part of the original program. Remarkably, he appears to be "qualified" to talk about it now. Supposedly AATIP collected "volumes and volumes of information" that he could not go into detail about because it remains classified. He claims that "Much of AATIP information remains FOIA-exempt," but did not state exactly what makes it so, just that it needs to be kept out of the hands of "the enemy." He repeated his claim that the government "authorized" the release of those videos, but offered no proof of it, in spite of a Pentagon spokesman's clear denials.
 
In the question-and-answer session, Elizondo dodged specific questions, and spoke only in the most general terms, repeating what has already been said. At the end of the Q&A, Travis Walton spoke to complain about the poor quality of the questions asked of Elizondo. Walton was disappointed that people didn't ask Elizondo questions he could answer, "rather than constantly pressing for things that you can't, or shouldn't" answer. The problem was, however, that there didn't seem to be any kind of interesting question that Elizondo would answer.

The audience is thrilled by the dramatic revelations at the 2018 MUFON Symposium.
Elizondo began his talk with the prediction, "I think the same time next year we're going to have a fundamentally different conversation," apparently implying that everybody will then be convinced  that aliens are here. Let's re-visit that prediction on July 29, 2019 to see how well it holds up. My predicton is, at that time the conversation will still be same old, same old.

And the days grow short, when you reach September.

Folks, act fast - don't miss this opportunity to give your money to Tom DeLonge!

Friday, August 10, 2018

About Those Missing Comments


Regular readers of this Blog may have noticed that recent postings here had no comments, and were probably wondering why (as was I). There was an interval where I made no posts between March 13 and June 6. There was no particular reason for this hiatus (which led one worried reader to contact me to see if I was OK, or had perhaps been abducted by aliens). While I was somewhat busy doing other things, the main reason was simply that I didn't have anything significant to write about. (Maybe Tom DeLonge was on vacation, so there was no new UFO craziness?) 

Resuming posting on June 6, I noticed that none of my posts after that date had any comments whatever, which seemed quite strange. Some time ago I recognized the need to moderate comments, given that many people had been posting SPAM, or abusive comments. Blogger (run by Google) always sent me submitted comments by email, and I would generally approve anything that was not SPAM, not abusive (OK, not excessively abusive 😉), and more or less relevant to the discussion. I didn't have to agree with the comment, just so long as it was relevant, and civil. But  no comments came to my email. I submitted a test comment of my own, and it was posted without problems.

Then a few days ago a reader contacted me, who had submitted some comments that never appeared. Digging through the Blogger control panel, it seems that the messages were getting caught up in a folder awaiting moderation, but I was never informed of this in any way. Somehow during the posting hiatus, something had gotten messed up with notifications. I even found some old comments that I had never been notified of, so if you made comments a year or two ago that were not posted, they might be there now. 

My own post went right through, because posts from the Blog owner are not submitted for moderation. Hopefully everything is OK now, so feel free to comment away. (So long as it's relevant, and not abusive). And I'll check that "awaiting moderation" folder from time to time, just in case.
 
RTGUI running on a Windows tablet, with Skychart (Cartes du Ciel).

While we are doing housekeeping, let me note that amateur astronomers might want to check out the new release of my free Real-Time astronomy program for Windows, RTGUI. It helps you quickly determine what is visible and when, with positions continuously updated in real time. In conjunction with the open-source program Skychart (Cartes du Ciel), RTGUI will give you an instant sky chart, centered on the object you have selected.

The updates enable you to download comet and asteroid positions from the Minor Planet Center, which allows RTGUI to send your go-to telescope directly to them.

www.rtgui.com

Also see RTGUI on Facebook.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tom DeLonge's Alien Coin



IMPORTANT: A while ago someone sent me this coin. Whoever you are, I need to know who you are and how you got it. Respond in the comments, and I will know who you are by your answer, and I will reach u.

DeLonge's Facebook post of July 12, 2018.

Why did DeLonge consider this coin to be so "IMPORTANT," and why was he so eager to learn its origin? His posting did not reveal the obverse of the coin, which looks like this:

And obviously good old Tom took this very seriously. He thought he had stumbled on a top-secret government program, known only to a very few. With a green Alien - in chains! (Wouldn't that be a great title for one of DeLonge's rock songs? But maybe they've already used that.)

 In fact, this coin was a novelty item sold by the now-defunct "Northwest Territorial Mint." The six stars on the back are supposedly arranged to represent 5 & 1, or Area 51. This was pointed out in the chain of almost 200 comments (thus far), but apparently ignored. DeLonge has a history of deleting stupid posts, so I made sure to save a copy of it before he had a chance to do so. As of this writing, the post is still there.

 That same "mint" also sold a coin from the "Integrated Zombie Eradication and Containment Command." It's a good thing that DeLonge didn't find one of those.