Friday, November 28, 2014

Alien, Marjorie Fish and Zeta II Reticuli


Here’s an interesting thing. I was watching Alien and in the beginning, after they have been awakened by the computer, they assume they have arrived back home, more or less. Veronica Cartwright, as Lambert, is sitting in front of a computer screen that was probably high tech in the late 1970s but is no longer, and says, “That’s not our system.”

They attempt to contact Antarctica control (which, given this situation, is probably hours away by radio, given the speed of light) and receives no answer. Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, then says, “That’s not our system.”

Lambert says, “I know that.”

But, and this is the part relevant to us here, she says, “It’s Zeta II Reticuli.”

Of all the systems out there, why pick this one. And, which came first, Marjorie Fish’s discovery about the Betty Hill Star Map, or Alien.

That question is simple to answer. Marjorie Fish. The information was published in 1976 or about three years before Alien was released. Rather than the movie contaminating the search for the stars in Betty Hill’s map, it seems that Fish’s work came first.

And I would venture to say that someone with the production company at some level knew this. They needed the name of a star system and this one was available and easy to pronounce. It was just another one of those little inside jokes that are spread through most movies.

It also shows how deep some of the information about UFOs can penetrate into pop culture. I suspect that most people would pick up on the reference, but some of us did. The fact that it was used at all is the interesting part of this, but proves nothing about the really of Fish’s interpretation of the Star Map…

Oh, and I think it warns us not to go near that star system. Zeta I Reticuli might be safe but certainly not Zeta II.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hacking, Tony and the Roswell Slides, Part II


(Blogger’s Note: A couple of weeks ago, Tony sent me the tale of the hacking with an article to be posted then. After a couple of days, I emailed him and asked if he still wished for it to be posted. At that point he withdrew it and thought it best to wait. Last week I learned that Rich Reynolds had posted a hacking story that differed in some aspects from what Tony had said to me. I asked Tony, at that point, if he wished to post his version. He sent a new article to me. I found a point or two I thought were needlessly aggressive and asked to tone those down. He provided his suggestions. Thinking that this was a story that needed to be told, I posted it… not knowing that with 24 hours Tony and Rich Reynolds would come to an understanding that seems to be acceptable to both.

This annoys me, not because I posted the story or because the two of them seemed to be at odds, but because this seems to be one of manipulation. There was no real need to publish any of this, given the outcome. It has ruffled feathers, it has caused trouble among researchers, and it keeps the Roswell slides story in the forefront of UFO research where it does not belong today.

The revelations made in Tony’s article about what is on the slides and some of the documentation that is claimed is, in a way, irrelevant to the story. This was a tale of hacking into personal email accounts and sharing the stolen emails with others. It is a story of an invasion of privacy and in today’s world we have way too little of that left with all the spying done by government agencies, all operating for our safety, so they say. Anyone who understands the basics of the Internet can find out all sorts of information on anyone else… there is just too much information available, but there is no way to return to the days when our private lives were private… but I digress.

As I say, there are two stories here. One is the hacking and the other is the slides. No corroboration for any of the information about the slides has been presented… and no, I don’t expect there to be. I believe that Tom Carey and Don Schmitt were right in attempting to protect the story, the sources, the investigation, until they had done what they could to verify the information. Premature disclosure could harm that investigation. The time to criticize it was after they came out with their claims and presented the evidence they had gathered. At that point, it all becomes fair game. But to snipe from the woods before that information is presented could damage the work before they complete it.

Yes, I would like to know the whole story, to verify the claims, to interview the witness or witnesses, but I also know that sometimes you must hang onto the information or the sources dry up and the opportunity is lost. So, for those who want to know right now what they have, I say a little patience can’t hurt. Tom has said the information will be available after the first of the year, and once it is in the public domain, that is the time to verify what is said. Until we have the facts, there isn’t much we can do other than speculate.

So, following is the latest from Tony. It is, I believe, a modification of what he sent to Rich Reynolds. For those of you who hoped for more, sorry. For those who wish to have a final answer on the Roswell slides, sorry. For those of you who are tired of these little range wars, sorry. There really isn’t much else to be said at this time.)


ROSWELL HACKING STORY RESOLVED
BY ANTHONY BRAGALIA

Rich Reynolds and I have agreed to put to rest the ‘Roswell Slides’ hacking story and to peacefully end the matter. This was done in large part because in so doing we are avoiding falling right into the trap intended by the hacker, which is to fracture everyone apart from one another in the UFO community even further.

In an email that I had received from the hacker he indicated that was his precise intent. Rich and I have elected to not play into the hacker’s hands. I frankly do not know if this hacker is affiliated with intelligence, or, instead, a disaffected lone person that gets his jollies out of such things. But we were all at some level tangled in his web and have now elected to get out of it.  To give further attention to the hacker through endlessly writing about it in an ever-escalating way is exactly what the hacker wanted and delights in. So we’re just not going to give him the satisfaction.  We are in concurrence that we all really do want to take the drama away and to stop feeding the hacker’s perverse pleasure. We are going to take a higher road than he is on and move on…

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Anthony Bragalia, the Roswell Slides and the UFO Community


(Blogger's Note: Over the last few weeks, I have learned about this on going dispute among the various parties mentioned. Since some of this information has now been circulated on the Interent in various venues, I thought it was time to provide Tony with the opportunity to tell his side of the story. This is what Tony had to say about it.)

UFO AUTHOR HACKED IN EFFORT TO OBTAIN ROSWELL EVIDENCE
BY ANTHONY BRAGALIA

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of those who publish it.

This writer (Anthony Bragalia) has been cyber-attacked several times in an effort to learn more about Kodachrome slides confirmed to have been taken in 1947. The slides depict a humanoid creature resembling alien beings reported to have crashed near Roswell that year. An associate of Richard Reynolds (of the “RRR Group” and long-running blog UFO Iconoclasts, now UFO Conjectures) named Ross Evans worked with a skilled hacker in an attempt to steal the slides that were erroneously believed to be stored in my computer system. Collaborating with the hacker, Evans began to exploit information derived from my stolen emails, including contacting scientists and witnesses associated with the slides investigation, as well as other researchers who may know something about them. Reynolds –working with Evans- even published the names of these witnesses and scientists online until a demand letter was issued to delete them.

RICHARD REYNOLDS IMPLICATED IN CYBER-CRIME

Earlier this month a formal criminal grievance was filed by me against Reynolds and Evans with the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center. It is hoped that an investigation will be launched by the agency with charges brought against them to include the impersonation of an FBI agent. If arrested and convicted, penalties for such crimes could include fines and imprisonment. Copies of the complaint have been placed with several UFO researchers to verify this filing, including with author Kevin Randle.

Informed of my concerns about the hacking and theft, Reynolds has vindictively deleted all 50+ articles written over five years by me that have appeared on his blogs.

HOW IT WENT DOWN

Some readers may know that some time ago a chest once owned by a deceased couple was found to contain a stash of old slides, including two Kodachromes of special interest. Depicting a small humanoid corpse, these extraordinary slides were authenticated by a renowned Kodak expert as having been exposed in 1947. This author discovered that the husband was an oil exploration geologist who worked the New Mexico region in the 1940s for his company (a Texaco predecessor) including in the Permian Basin, a region encompassing Roswell. He was also the President of the local geological association in 1947. Google “Roswell Slides” to learn more. Over two years have been spent in securing experts, researching the back story, conducting interviews and scientific tests and in arranging the forthcoming televised broadcast of the slides. During the course of all of this, leaks had occurred to the UFO community about the existence of the slides.

Frustrated believers and skeptics alike began to display behaviors that are worthy of a mass psychology dissertation.  Rank speculation, accusations of fraud and money-motivation, name-calling and feelings of exclusion were all on display. Some seemed to throw conniption fits, demanding the public disclosure of the slides immediately. UFO blogger Paul Kimball (nephew of UFOlogist Stan Friedman) sunk to even more ugly levels. He made public the private emails that he had received from author Kevin Randle concerning Kevin’s thoughts on the slides, in an attempt to stir dissension among Roswell researchers.

Even learned people such as French skeptic Gilles Fernandes, PhD and Christopher Allen (CDA) of the UK chimed in by insisting that the slides cannot be real. They were reduced to mudslinging and character assassination because –like Reynolds- they had no real insight to offer. US skeptic Tim Printy stated in his SUNlite UFO e-zine that it was his belief that the slides probably depicted a dead and mutilated Army Air Corp serviceman who had crashed. Bear in mind the remarkable thing that none of these individuals have ever even been part of the investigation! Yet their opinions, reactions and attitudes make it seem as if they knew everything! Minds were made up, lines were drawn and arrows flung even before any actual public disclosure of the slides.

The individual that seemed the most crazed in his rabble-rousing about the slides was blogger Richard Reynolds. I had no formal association with Reynolds (I have never even spoken with him) though I was a frequent article contributor to his blog for some years. As Reynolds became more intrigued by the slides, he began to try to insert himself in the story. Not content with serving host to articles about the slides, he wanted to be an active participant in the ‘drama’ surrounding them. So extreme was Reynolds’s obsession that on his blog he began to spin from whole cloth tales about what the slides really meant.

At first he maintained that they related to the alleged 1948 Aztec, NM saucer crash and that the geologist who possessed the slides had worked with Silas Newton, an oilman associated with Aztec. There is not one shred of evidence that this is so.  UFO researcher Frank Warren, an expert on Aztec, agrees. Then Reynolds changed course to a more terrestrial explanation: it was a mummy in a museum. It is not. When a prominent NASA scientist who saw the slides wrote to Rich that it was not a mummy, Reynolds took a different spin on that- he said that he had information that it was a man from White Sands who had mummified in a secret experiment. Finally, Reynolds, in another tale, suggested that the Texas Attorney General was pursuing charges against those who found the slides for theft. Of course this was ridiculous and it never happened.

Reynolds obsession about the slides then took a decidedly more deplorable turn…

HACKED!

This past summer, Reynolds had forwarded to me an email that he said that he had received from someone who wished to contact me. The individual, using a pseudonym and an encrypted email service address, stated he had important information to relate about the slides. When I received the email and replied to this individual that I would be open to learning more, I had unknowingly opened a ‘portal’ to attack by a hacker. The individual was not someone who wished to share information with me, it was someone who wished to steal it from me! Once I became “infected” by the hacker’s malware, he then changed my password and began to read all of my emails relating to Roswell.  The hacker would taunt me by emailing me back the information that he was learning about the investigation.

Reynolds associate Ross Evans then somehow began a direct communication with the hacker. Evans (who actually emailed me his intent) stated that he aimed to expose everything about the slides that he obtained.

Evans then began to contact the people mentioned in my emails, emails that Evans knew were mine and that had been stolen by a hacker! This included a photo scientist involved in authentication of the slides and a Roswell serviceman (now 90) who had seen the bodies at the crash and who had confirmed that the being in the slides looked like the ones he had seen at the Roswell crash. Evans even sent to me the phone number of the elderly witness as if he were threatening to contact him.

Evans emailed Reynolds all that he had learned from the hacker. Then Reynolds published the names of the scientist and elderly witness on his blog. He knowingly placed online information that was obtained from my stolen emails. And he knew that his friend Ross Evans was working with the hacker who attacked me. It was only when I emailed Reynolds that what he was doing was illegal and could create serious harm, that he immediately deleted these names from his blog.

By this point, Reynolds had fashioned himself as some sort of “Wiki-Leaker” or Eric Snowden wannabe. He would publish and exploit anything on the slides, even it was made up or obtained illegally. In addition to publishing information derived from my stolen emails, Reynolds began emailing many researchers to ask if they had any information about people whose names Reynolds had obtained from my stolen emails.

RICHARDS’ FABRICATED FBI ALLY

In earlier emails to me, Reynolds stated that he had found out who the hacker was. He said that he had an FBI associate (referred to as “our FBI guy”) who had identified the hacker. Reynolds maintained that “his” agent had “created a dossier” on the hacker and that this agent had shared it with Reynolds. Reynolds said that the dossier could only be opened by “a digital key.” For some reason he would not email it to me directly, but would instead have Ross Evans email it to me, and later would send the “digital key” to open the “dossier.’’ Reynolds then claimed that the dossier was “bouncing back” to them as having been rejected by my server and therefore undeliverable. Then Reynolds maintained he could not send it to me by email at all as it would not be wise to do so.  

The real reason of course is that there was no “FBI dossier” furnished to Reynolds by an FBI ally. The FBI does not share with complainants investigative documents that detail information on a suspect. That would compromise their investigation. They do not email to them digitally encrypted copies of their findings in an ongoing case. There never was any FBI agent at all who said these things, or had provided these things to Reynolds.  When Reynolds and I exchanged emails about this, Reynolds stated that his agent had determined that I was “psychotic.”

ENDING THE HACKING

The hacking was finally stopped only when I “killed” the intruder by pulling the plug on him. Not wanting to wait for law enforcement,  I called the CEO of Safe-Mail.net, Mr. Amiram Ofir, in Israel. The hacker had been sending emails to me from Mr. Ofir’s encrypted email service. Mr. Ofir’s security team was able to successfully disengage the hacker’s account and connection to the Safe-Mail.net system. Ofir explained that my computer had been compromised through my reply to the hacker’s original email to me. The hacker then went into my Web Mail and enabled the email forwarding option so that copies of my incoming and outgoing emails were also sent to the hacker’s Safe-Mail.net account.  Hackers have become so adept that it is no longer necessary to have to click through a link or open an attachment- the mere act of replying to a hacker’s email can infect your system, with passwords changed and emails read.

WEBSITE AND ARTICLES TAKEN DOWN IN RETALIATION

Reynolds last email to me indicated that I had better act fast as time was ticking: He was going to delete all 50+ articles that I had contributed to his UFO Iconoclasts blog over the past five years as well as delete the associated Bragalia Files blog. And in retaliation, he did just that. To make it easier to do so, Reynolds then changed the name of his blog (retaining the same address) to UFO Conjectures. Reynolds had reached a point where he would vindictively remove a 5+ year body of UFO research as well as the associated commentary by his readers. Very fortunately, when these articles are Googled, there are “cached” versions that can be clicked to read. And very fortunately too, many websites reproduced my articles that appeared on UFO Iconoclasts and The Bragalia Files. These articles have been assembled for inclusion in a new website under development which will also provide a venue for continued reporting. In the interim, several bloggers have kindly offered me to contribute future pieces on their sites.

LESSONS LEARNED

It bothers me to have written this piece. Such “drama” distracts from investigation. Every minute immersed in the ‘politics and personalities’ of UFOs is a minute taken away from conducting needed UFO research. Another thing learned: We have met the foe. And it is not the rabid skeptic nor even “the government” – it is us. We destabilize our efforts based on our own actions. Name-calling, in-fighting and jealousy only cheapens and discredits the UFO field. And resorting to illegal activities like hacking other researchers’ computers has the potential to destroy it entirely.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

America Unearthed and Davy Crockett Survives the Alamo


I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and that was the reason that some months ago I posted a column about America Unearthed that was mostly positive. Scott Wolter, the forensic geologist who is the host, had touched on some subjects with which I had a passing interest but no real in depth knowledge. He seemed to be interested in finding the truth and the story of the great wall in Texas, this massive thing that some believed had been built in ancient times by a race of giants, ended with his conclusion it was a bizarre natural formation. That seemed to suggest an unbiased look at these strange things he investigated.

But then he learned from a tipster that Davy Crockett hadn’t been killed at the Alamo, but survived for decades after that fight and had been granted land in Alabama by President James Buchanan. Well, the topic caught my interest and here was something with which I had a good working knowledge. I had researched the battle for a number of books and articles, have visited the Alamo twice, and knew about many of the controversies that surround it. Here was my chance to see exactly how careful his research was and how unbiased he really was.

A family in Alabama had a land grant, signed by a David Crockett and dated long after the Alamo fell. They believe that Crockett survived the battle and then a couple of decades later he was living in Alabama. In fact, they showed a newspaper article that suggested Crockett had survived the battle. And to increase the proof, they had some artifacts found on the land including a hunk of pottery and an arrowhead. They also had the story of some human bones found that were identified as human, but the bones were reinterred so that no DNA could be extracted and they had no idea if they were bones of a male or female.

My first reaction on seeing the land grant with Crockett’s signature on it was to wonder if they could compare it to real, known, authenticated signatures of Crockett. It would certainly be an easy and inexpensive way to end the story, which, of course, is not what they wanted to do because they had an hour to fill.

My second thought was to take a look at other newspaper articles published at the time of the battle… something that I had actually done as an assignment in graduate school. There are dozens of them suggesting that William Travis, one of the commanders had survived, that Jim Bowie survived and all sorts of various and inaccurate stories. A single newspaper clipping doesn’t change the historical perspective of the battle. But this isn’t questioned by Wolter; it seems to impress him greatly. I thought that maybe he should have taken a trip to a university library to look at some microfilm. He might not have been quite so impressed with a clipping that isn’t supported by stories in other newspapers.

Instead, he calls a local archaeologist with a backhoe (though I thought it was an excavator, but that would be splitting a hair) and ground penetrating radar to search a section of the farmland. I’m not sure how they determined what to check, but they found nothing more astonishing than a rock.

He also made a trip to San Antonio to show us what remains of the Alamo, or rather, the chapel. He didn’t show us any of the other structures that have survived, and he meets with a historian out in front of the chapel. He eventually tells him what he is investigating and then, to my horror, the historian said that he was a fan of the de la Pena diary (which they don’t bother to explain).

This was a diary written by Jose Enrique de la Pena, an officer with Santa Anna at the Alamo. In the diary, it is alleged that a number of the Texans surrendered at the end of the battle, only to be executed on orders of Santa Anna. Included in this number, according to the diary was Crockett. This diary, however, appeared in the 1950s with little or no provenance (which is the case we find with the MJ-12 documents, which is irrelevant here but I mention to drag some kind of paranormal or UFO aspect into this). I won’t go into the arguments about that here, but there is quite a trade in faked documents from the Texas War for Independence.

The one thing that never seems to be mentioned, even if the de la Pena diary is real is that someone inside the Alamo, thinking that Crockett’s name might save his life, lied about who he was. There is eyewitness testimony that Crockett was killed in the fighting, that his body was seen in the courtyard in front of the chapel, but I digress.

So, he talked to an expert historian who told him that Crockett had been killed in the battle, but finally got him to say that Crockett, as a Free Mason, might have given the signal of distress and therefore been allowed to escape. This is a farfetched theory but one Wolter is happy with so he travels to Minnesota to talk with a Mason to discuss some of this. He even takes the theory further suggesting that Santa Anna, identified throughout the program as a Mexican general but no mention that he was also the president of Mexico at the time, had made the same distress sign so that Sam Houston, leader of the Texas army, spared his life… no mention that Santa Anna was saved because he signed a document giving away Texas but let’s not let a little history get in the way of a good story.

Finally, we’re off to a place in Tennessee to interview a real, live, direct descendant of David Crockett. She told Wolter that Crockett preferred to be called David and signed everything as David rather than Davy… wow, some confirmation that maybe the land grant is real and Wolter overreacts to this relatively well known fact… but wait, she has copies of documents that Crockett had signed. As the program is about to end, we hear the results of the comparison of signatures. They had been given to a handwriting expert who declared they were signed by two different men… two different men named David Crockett. I hope that Wolter had concealed the date of the land grant to keep from contaminating the analysis, but we’re only told about the results, not shown anything about that analysis.

But no, the amateurs stand around and say that while the capital letters are different, the rest of the signature seems to match. They point out that a person’s handwriting and signature chance over time so that the two signatures might belong to one man. They mention that there is a story that Crockett had been shot in the arm, and if it was his right arm, then his handwriting might have been altered. Of course, this is assuming he was shot in the right arm and that he survived the battle, both of which are highly unlikely.

But then we learn that a man named David Crockett had lived in the area and had served first in the rebel army during the Civil War but changed sides. This, of course, couldn’t be the David Crockett of the Alamo because by the time the Civil War came about, Crockett would have been an extremely old man. It turns out that this man’s name was David Crockett with a surname that I’ve forgotten. David Crockett Crawley or something like that and they wonder why he didn’t use his last name. Who knows and there is no one to ask at the point which is actually not all that important.

In the end, we’re left with the real possibility that the man who signed the land grant was the David Crockett who “allegedly” died at the Alamo. They have no evidence of this, the signatures, according to the expert do not match, and the story is at odds with everything that we know… but they still think there is a possibility that Crockett had survived to live in Alabama.

This then, tells me all I really need to know about this program. I could have conducted the research from home using a computer  and a scanner… scan the land grant signature and have it emailed, then compare it to known Crockett signatures. Drive over to the university library and look at the microfilm collection of newspapers from 1836 to see all the various rumors that were printed. Call the history library at the Alamo and talk to them about the idea that Crockett survived the battle. All done from home for a buck and a half  (which is the cost of the gas if the university is close enough) but then that doesn’t make for dynamic television even if the story is a crock (yeah, I used that term on purpose).

Anyway, TV shows are all about ratings and if the show hadn’t been about Crockett, I wouldn’t have watched it. This one sucked me in, but then, I could see all the padding to make it an hour long, I could see where it slipped badly off the rails, and I knew what the historical errors were. There wasn’t new history here, or alternative history, just poor research and a desire to “set the record straight.” Too bad all they did was clutter it up with irrelevancies, half-truths and faulty research.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One Million Page Views


For those interested in such things, this blog had its 1,000,000th page view this morning. No, I don’t know exactly when or who it was, only that last night, I was some five hundred views short and this morning, I’m over the top.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that there has been one million different visitors because, as with most blogs, there are some regulars who read the postings, and add their own comments. It just means that there have been one million page views.

For those who wonder about this after looking at the “Flag Counter,” that was added a couple of years ago and therefore didn’t register all those who had been here before I installed it. The blogger stats are different than the Flag Counter stats for that reason.

Now, if we can reach two million a little faster… not that it matters. Just another mile stone… and thanks to all of you who have visited here. I hope that you have enjoyed the discussions. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chasing Footnotes and the Fort Monmouth Radar/Visual Sightings


I have been chasing footnotes again as I work on my new book. This time the trouble wasn’t as outrageous as it has been in the past.

I was researching the series of sightings at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. These were radar and visual sightings that took place on September 10 and 11, 1951. It all began when a student radar operator tracked an object at a speed faster than fighters at the time. Not much later, the pilot of a jet trainer saw an object that he believed to be a flying saucer. Other radars were involved, though one of those sightings on the tenth was clearly a balloon. The next day there were some additional sightings. For our purposes here, the details of the sightings aren’t all that important. It is the footnote.

As I always do, I check the skeptical side of the argument to see if there is a plausible answer. The skeptics are not always wrong. In Curtis Peebles Watch the Skies, I found an explanation for the sightings and he referenced Ed Ruppelt, one time chief of Project Blue Book and the author of The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects published in1956, as the source. Peebles, I have noticed, wrote as if there are no UFOs, meaning alien craft, and tended to ignore the situation if the explanation was shaky… sort of the opposite of the true believers who write as if nothing anomalous has an explanation.

Given how Peebles had footnoted his entry, I checked my copy of Ruppelt’s book. Peebles had been discussing how the transition from Project Grudge to Project Blue Book had been handled, the involvement Major General Cabell and his outrage when he learned that nothing was actually being done to investigation the sightings at Fort Monmouth and the appointment of Ruppelt to take over the project.

The pages Peebles cited, while talking about all that, and mentioning Fort Monmouth, didn’t offer the explanation for the sighting he cited. That was nowhere to be found there. But I remembered that Ruppelt had seemed to dwell on the Fort Monmouth sightings more than what was in the sections noted by Peebles, so I flipped through the rest of the book until I found Ruppelt’s explanation for the sightings, which matched what Peebles had written. So, he wasn’t wrong in suggesting the sightings were solved and citing Ruppelt as the source. He simple didn’t get the page numbers right (providing, of course, that the edition I used was the one he used. It’s difficult to say for certain because all of them have the same copyright date to add to the confusion).

The other thing that I did and I’m not sure that Peebles did, was search the Blue Book file on the Monmouth case. It is clear from some of the documentation that part of the purpose of their investigation was to mock those who had reported the UFO. It came in a climate in which the Air Force wasn’t taking UFO sightings seriously, which explains why no one had bothered to investigate until Cabell, or one of his aides, had a meltdown about the lack of investigation. If nothing else, they should have been concerned about something unidentified flying along the coastal defense zones of the United States. Such an attitude might have overlooked something more dangerous than a radar image traveling at high speed.

There is one other aspect to this. Ed Ruppelt’s papers were purchased long after his death. In those papers is a report of a wire recording made by Jerry Cummings, who, at one point in early 1950, was the ranking officer for the UFO investigation. Apparently the Fort Monmouth case isn’t quite as cut and dried as Ruppelt, and later Peebles, made it seem. And to add to the confusion, in Grudge Special Report No. 1, dated December 28, 1951, the T-33 sighting made by Lieutenant Wilbert S. Rogers was listed as “probably a balloon.” Later, in line with the Project Blue Book policy, the “probably” was dropped and it became a balloon though Rogers denied that he had been fooled by a balloon.

The real point here is that in chasing the footnotes, I discovered a minor error in Peebles’ book that is easily correctable. All he needed was to add an additional page number. He did, however, point to Ruppelt’s book as his source and with that I was able to verify that he had quoted the material correctly. That it partially disagrees with the Blue Book information that is buried under a pile of rhetoric, changing investigative policy and a desire to eliminate all the unidentified cases is really a minor point. It’s just that sometimes you have to look beyond the answer you want to hear to the one that complicates everything ever more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Curse of Oak Island, Part II


I first became interested in the mystery of Oak Island when I lived in Texas and read a book about several different mysteries. One of them was Oak Island. Later I read another book, The Big Dig, by D’Arcy O’Connor which filled in details and since it was a decade newer, provided more information.

It all started at the end of the eighteenth century when three teenage boys found something strange on Oak Island and were inspired to dig to see what was buried there. They did find something that looked like flagstones which they pulled up, then found, every so often, a layer of logs. Using only shovels and picks, they only managed to dig down some thirty feet before they gave up.

Since that time others, always with newer and bigger equipment tried to dig deep enough to retrieve the treasure, whatever it might be. One of those groups tripped a booby trap that filled the pit with water. Others tried to sink parallel holes to defeat the trap creating such a mess that the original pit can’t be located with any degree of accuracy today.

Six people have been killed in these attempts to solve the mystery, and those digging today, on History’s Curse of Oak Island make light of that, even offered up the possible sacrificial lamb for the necessary seventh victim while sitting around a table in a Nova Scotia bar discussing this whole thing. Yeah, I found that a little less than funny but I’m probably in the minority there.

Last season they seemed to screw around, spend a pile of money and accomplish almost nothing. They found an old Spanish copper coin, which they used to open the new season. That means they took it to Miami (really? Miami? They couldn’t find someone in Nova Scotia to tell them what it was…?). He cleaned it, found a date that he interpreted as 1652 which pleased them. They showed this to Dan Blankenship, who has been hanging around Oak Island looking for the treasure for fifty years. Blankenship was quite excited and said that it was the most valuable thing that had been found. Tens of millions of dollars, maybe hundreds of millions, all for a copper coin that I could buy on EBay for less than fifty bucks. Not exactly an Earth-shaking discovery.

This season seems to be more of the same and is even more boring than last. The guys sit around a table in their “war room” and discuss things while waiting for the government to approve their permits to drain the swamp. They take off on a trip to some stone site 46 miles from Oak Island to look at a petroglyph that supposedly has a connection to Solomon’s Temple and that might explain what is hidden in the money pit. Of course it is all a diversion because there is nothing new to report.

Now they have found a second coin, found basically on the surface, that is so badly degraded that they aren’t sure exactly what it is, but that excites them because they believe it is another ancient Spanish coin. If it is, then that is an interesting discovery, but then, they didn’t pull it out of the money pit either.

In fact the only thing of value that has ever been pulled up by all those people who had dug all those holes is a small gold chain of only three links. There probably isn’t an ounce of gold in it, meaning it is, as of today, worth less than 1200 bucks… and that is not to mention that some dispute it actually came from the money pit.

I get it that they have to make a show, and since it is a series, they have to make several shows, but so far this season, it just hasn’t been all that great. I keep falling asleep and then have to look at it online to be sure I didn’t sleep through something interesting or important.

And next week, they apparently find another coin, which might be gold but I have to wonder how it is that all those other people over all those centuries have been wandering around on the island and they best they can come up with is a short, gold chain. Nobody had found anything that resembled minted coins from the days of pirates until these guys get there and then they don’t find them in the money pit.

The subject matter, meaning the mystery of Oak Island, can carry this thing for a while, but if they don’t do something more spectacular than scuba diving in five feet of muck, a computer display that suggests that might be gold or silver hidden underneath the swamp, and newspaper articles that show the Canadian government might hold out their hands for part of anything recovered, this is just going to fizzle out.

Oh, I’ll continue to watch but I fear that this is going to end like all those others… searching for Bigfoot but they never finding it, chasing UFOs where they find a planted button on what was once the Brazel ranch, and now Oak Island… a treasure that is just out of reach and they’ll somehow just miss getting it.