Sunday, December 1, 2013

Faded Discs collection available...for free!

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I spend way too much time listening to podcasts, far too little time on posts here and else where.

But I especially have enjoyed listening to the bits and pieces of old flying saucer related audio clips that crop up from time to time on podcasts.  Some of the best was on the Over The Edge podcasts on KPFA when they were doing the Another UFO series, but there always seemed to be so much more out there than was available.

Audio was one of the major ways in which the flying saucer/UFO meme has spread, especially in the earlier years.  The amount of radio coverage that it received was significant, with much of the earlier broadcasting coming out on the major radio networks of the time.  Recordings were there from the beginning but they became harder and harder to come across.

Fortunately Wendy Connors and Roderick Dykes worked to collect much of this material before it faded away completed, and collated it into the Faded Discs series, which she began offering over the internet.

Unfortunately, by the time I became aware of this goldmine of audio material, her website was no longer up and there seemed to be no way of coming into this material.

Fortunately, travelling the backroads and searching through the cluttered old closets of the internet, a copy of one of the Faded Discs series came into my hands.  It was a collection of recordings of various contactees, some speeches at some of the flying saucer clubs that erupted in the 50s, some on various radio programs, including Long John Nebel.

Then I came across another of the multidisc series!  This one was on, a site dedicated to "building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public."  There are a number of other interesting audio recordings there as well, including speeches by John Keel and radio logs of phone calls to National UFO Reporting Center from 1974 to 1989.  (These may be part of a Faded Discs collection.) This was inspiring and led me to upload the Faded Disc collection of contactee material I'd come across, as well as a number of old Flying Saucer Magazines by Ray Palmer in PDF format.

Then this morning I was  listening to the Mysterious Universe podcast.  I told you I listen to too many podcasts, but it was in the car and it beats commercial radio all to heck and back again.  They started talking about how they'd been looking for the Faded Discs and their frustrations at being unable to find them anywhere.  Until now, when they'd come across a Faded Disc collection on!

So I got all puffed up and proud of my work in putting there, anxiously awaiting to hear they'd found my posting.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the contactee series I'd put up.

Fortunately, it was another that I'd been unaware of until now!  In fact, there is a wide variety of Faded Discs material now up on

This is an absolutely invaluable addition to any serious student of the flying saucer/UFO meme, as well as to anyone with even a casual interest in the subject.  It is actually far more fascinating than most of the current web material out there, and listening to it gives a much closer to sense to what the phenomenon was like for those who were caught up in it in the heyday of the 50s and 60s. 

There seem to be 11 (or 12, including the Contactee disc I uploaded) of the Faded Discs now available on line.  The sheer amount of audio material collected by Connors and Dyke is astounding, and hopefully now it can find the audience it really deserves. 

A final word...

If you have any digital material of a historic nature, whether on this subject or others, considering sharing it on  And if you find the material from Faded Discs valuable, consider contributing to This is truly one of the most important and useful sites on the internet, fully deserving of all the support it can get!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sky sounds, the Singing River and the Pascagoula Abduction

It seems that "sky sounds" are all the rage recently, at least in areas of the internet. Of course strange sounds of an inexplicable nature are nothing new, as accounts of the Taos Hum in the 90s and Britain's Bristol Hum of the 70s will attest.  "The Hum" even has it's own Wikipedia page, which is actually one of the better reference sources on the phenomena available.

It's not surprising that in our increasingly sound polluted world that there has been an increase in odd, unidentified noises.  I suspect, however, that the recent spate of interest is not unlike the contrail controversy.  Once contrails were brought to the attention of the borderline paranoid attention of conspiracy theorist, they seemed to be everywhere, because, of course, they are.  (The only widespread exception to the universality of contrails produced by high flying aircraft were the no-fly days after September 11, 2001, which actually provided a sudden opportunity for meteorologists to study their affect by their absence. I'm afraid the opportunity for an aurally pristine day won't similarly be presenting itself anytime in the near future.)

But I digress from my original intent, which is to bring up a correlation between an old, odd sound phenomena and the location of one of ufoology's more famous cases, the Pascagoula Abduction.  I won't go into the details of this 1973 case, which received fairly wide spread publicity and the requisite debunking.  Just look it up on Wikipedia (yes, it even has a rather lengthy page with references there), but when you do, pay attention to the odd sound Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker encountered on the banks of the Pascagoula River immediately prior to their life changing encounter.

The Pascagoula River has long also known by the moniker of The Singing River.  For centuries it has been associated with a musical quality sometimes referred to as resembling a swarm of bees.  Tradition attributes it to a number of Indian legends, and according the City of Pascagoula's website, a number of "scientific explanations have been offered for the phenomenon, but none have been proven."

But it does make one wonder if there isn't some sort of link between the phenomena preceding Pascagoula's singing and the 'abduction.'  It's especially intriguing if one postulate that the auditory phenomena might be triggered by electromagnetic stimulation of the temporal lobe, a triggering that might in turn kindle a more widespread psuedoictal experience recalled as an alien encounter.

Mirage Men film trailer

Mark Pilkington has written one of the best books on the manipulation of the UFO meta-meme as a tool used by intelligence agencies recently.  Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare and UFOs is a book that can (and should) be appreciated by skeptics and true believers alike, while seeming to be benignly neglected by both.  To malappropriate Fox Mulder, the truth is out there but it may not be where you're looking for it.

But a trailer for the film has come out that has certainly caught my imagination, and if the rest of the film is as good as this it has a lot of promise.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Breaking eggs to omelet?

April 11, 2013

One of the day to day activities I engage to remain sane is a daily walk with my dogs.  We have a number of locations off the beaten path, where the dogs can run free and my mind can run free listening to a growing number of anomaly/paranormal related podcasts.

Several days after April Fools day we went along a route we hadn't been on in over a week.  The dogs brought my attention to a broken eggshell.  Not a small native bird egg which might have been washed out of its nest during the storms we'd had a few days before, but clearly a generic chicken egg shell.  Odd, out there  quite far from the road, but various bits of detritus from humanity show up there from time to time.

Walking a bit further along, we came across another broken eggshell.  Strange, but even stranger we came across another broken chicken eggshell, and then another, and then more and more.  There were at least two dozen of them scattered over several hundred yards of open ground, and probably even more.

What was going on here?  How had all these eggs showed up here, shortly after April Fools Day, truly anomalous from any previous experience walking back in these woods?  The human mind is a pattern seeking tool, always attempting to make sense of its world, placing phenomena within a familiar framework in order to deal with them.  Anomalies seem to cry out for an explanation.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that one possibility came to mind was some sort of Fortean fall, possibly even some eggs that had been sucked up during the recent storms, which had after all been of a fierce magnitude rarely seen around these drought stricken parts.  Listening to so many podcasts recently about similar strange happenings had indeed make this at least one possibility to consider. Another was the more obvious explanation that someone was eating eggs out there, but why so many?  Or had someone come across several dozen spoiled eggs and decided to throw them about, for reasons that were far from clear to a reasonable mind?

But other possibilities had to also be considered, and one finally came which has since stuck.  True, it had recently been April Fools day, but immediately prior to that was Easter.  A local tradition here in Central Texas involves cascarones, brightly dyed empty chicken eggs filled with confetti to be broken over the head of fellow celebrants during this holiday's celebrations.  They are sold by the dozens by the roadside in the days before Easter, along beside bizarrely misshapen pinatas meant to represent favorite childhood pop cultural icons. But cascarones are always characterized by their brilliant colors, while all these eggs were their natural white color, and there was no sign of confetti any around.

So what was going on here?  My mind has to have some sort of answer, especially when I can hardly ignore this odd assortment when I walk the dogs here.

Have you come across the answer yet?

No, not a localized deluge of shattered ovum, but rather the remnants of an cascarone fight!  The dye had washed off the shells and the confetti washed away with the recent rains.  Another anomaly debunked, although another attempt by an April Foolish mind.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Re-reviewing the Podcasts

After months of ignoring this blagh,  it seems appropriate to weigh in again.

The field of fortean falderal continues to go on, but at times the weight of it seems hardly worth noting.  The non-fortean world demands a significant amount of attention and draws away the focus. 

Looking back on previous entries, one of the more interesting ones was on the podcasts which helped draw me back into this field.  Some of them have, to my way of thinking, begun to fade into the background in my consciousness, often for different reasons.

Paratopia is one that has fallen off my radar for a pretty straightforward reason---it's become a pay site.  I can't fault someone for wanting to make a buck on what can be a time consuming, as well as nominally costly preoccupation.  But unless I'm getting something of a regular, clear value, it's hard to justify putting out yet more bucks (hey, I have to pay for my internet access too!) and, every bit as importantly, the time.  One thing my daddy used to tell me was that the most valuable thing I own is my time, and I shouldn't let someone else waste it.  I'm perfectly capable of doing that on my own.

RedIceRadio  has the same suffered on my listening list for similar reasons.  They do still offer some interesting subjects, though I'm sad to see that some of their most interesting back podcasts are now only available to paying subscribers.  And quite frankly, lots of the subjects are taking on some rather bizarre elements that a little too out there even for my eclectic ear, i.e. hollow earth, pre-Columbian colonization of North America, the war on vitamins and nutrition.

One podcast which was of recurring interest was Gene Steinberg's The Paracast.  I really did enjoy this one, especially once he took on his co-host Chris O'Brien.  I'd still be listening to it, and at times still do with interesting enough guests.  Their lengthy back catalog is actually worth wading through and all in all I still would probably suggest it to anyone wanting to delve more into the arcane field of ufoology with a host who has been working in it long enough to give it some real perspective.  But alas, they taken to being a sponsored site.  Some ads I can deal with, others are so insulting to one's intelligence (or at least mine) that I just can't stomach them anymore.  Gun enthusiasts are one thing, apocalyptic ads selling products to get you through the impending collapse of civilization are interesting enough, but I drew the line at the recurring ad that kept telling me about how silica was the precursor of calcium in metabolism smacked a little too much of alchemical transformation of the elements for me. 

I still have a very soft spot in me for Binall of America.  I even still listen to it occassionally, and wholeheartedly recommend it's back catalog to a newbie just getting into the field of ufoology or a hardened old sceptic who'd just like to hear some intriguing interviews with some of the luminaries of this all-too-often not-so-bright subject.  But of late, some of the guest he's chose just really don't do it for me, though I'll grant that he has gone through some of the more interesting guests already.  And I hope, Tim, (can I call you Tim?  I feel like I know you on a first hand basis after listening to you for so long), that you won't take it the wrong way if I say that you are starting to come across as more gullible than open-minded at times. 

PsiOpRadio is one podcast that has become a regular for me, and SMiles Lewis and Mack White are even more enjoyable now that they've dropped those horrendous commercials from their podcast.  I can now listen to them without having to listen to Alex Jones trying to sell me seeds that will be worth more than gold once the government has driven society into a bad Mad Max movie.  A big plus for me is that they are Austin based, as am I, and they do a review of news stories that I wouldn't catch otherwise, sometimes for a good reason.  They don't have guests on as often as they used to, but when they do, they are generally of a pretty high caliber. 

One podcast did fall off the radar all together after a monster hack attack, yet has come back even better than ever.  RadioMisterioso is still a podcast that has this listener's unreserved recommendation.  Greg Bishop has a degree of open minded scepticism that is not only a breath of fresh air but inspiring as well.  I've even managed to put aside a prejudice against the ghost hunter fad that has been running rampant through the paranormal podcast field with some his recent interviews. Listen in, and while you're at it, make sure to get a copy of his book, Project Beta, which is one of the best books on the UFO phenomena to come out of the past decade.  Seriously, even if you don't beleive in UFOs or are a hard core skeptic, this is one book that is still worth reading.  The true beleiver in little grey men and government wars with UFOs in hidden underground tunnels in Dulce should definitely read it, though they might not find it quite as satisfying.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mirage Men, the Movie?

Pilkington's Mirage Men was about as good a look into a UFO convention from a documentary viewpoint as one could hope for, complete with interviews with Richard Doty himself. It too is to be released as movie by John Lundberg and Mark Pilkington at some point in the future, and that is one to look forward to. 
Another really entertaining look at the more, shall we say eccentric, aspects of UFO conferences is in the form of a Rick Wood podcast from the 2010 X Conference. His interview with an attendee there manages to encompass, in the persona of this one true believer, just about every aspect of the UFO phenomena that makes you want to cringe and deny that you have any interest in such a field like this. Yet, while it is quite embarassing it's also immensely entertaining at the same time, not unlike convincing yourself you are slowing down by that car crash to make sure everyone's okay rather to see just how really bad it is.

The title, Jimmy Carter, Underground Alien Bases and Talking Velociraptors From Outer Space, is almost worth the price of admission in and of it self. ( Check it out here and here.) But beyond the entertainment value alone, there are some useful points to be pulled out of this interview. One is the incredible mashup of belief that has evolved, or rather is in a constant state of evolutionary flux, a sort of transconceptual miscegenation. The other is that in this ufological/ufoological evolutionary flux, there is not necessarily the survival of the strongest but of the weirdest. Not that any of the old concepts every completely die out, they just wait to be picked up by once again by newcomers unfamiliar with why they were laid aside in the first place.
Which makes one wonder if indeed there is any truly bad publicity other than no publicity when it comes to anomalous phenomena...Anyone remember Bridey Murphy? Thought not...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Etymology and Uses of ‘High Strangeness’

The term ‘high strangeness’ has found widespread acceptance and is currently widely used in ufology and related paranormal fields. But the etymological origins of this phrase are unclear, and not readily discernible through that font of modern wisdom, the internet (at least not with the sort of cursory search that passes for research with persons such as myself). It is often tossed about without much thought given to how it came about in the first place, or what it may mean in relationship to, say, low strangeness, a term which is rarely, if ever used.

The first use of the term that presents itself to this reader is from 38 years ago. Chapter Four in J. Allen Hynek’s The UFO Experience, is entitled On the Strangeness of UFO Reports, and it is here that he mentions the term ‘high strangeness’ some 7 times, primarily in relationship to a “Strangeness Rating” for the “’strangeness-spread’ of UFO sightings.”

“Still, there exist UFO reports that are coherent, sequential narrative accounts of these strange human experiences. Largely because there has been no mechanism for bringing these reports to general attention, they seem to be far too strange to be believed.

They don't fit the established conceptual framework of modern physical science. It is about as difficult to put oneself into a 'belief framework' and accept a host of UFO reports as having described actual events as, for example, it would have been for Newton to have accepted the basic concepts of quantum mechanics.

Yet the strangeness of UFO reports does fall into fairly definite patterns. The 'strangeness-spread' of UFO reports is quite limited. We do not, for instance, receive reports of dinosaurs seen flying upside down, Unidentified Sailing Objects, or strange objects that burrow into the ground…

The Strangeness Rating is, to express it loosely, a measure of how 'odd-ball' a report is within its particular broad classification. More precisely, it can be taken as a measure of the number of information bits the report contains, each of which is difficult to explain in common-sense terms. A light seen in the night sky the trajectory of which, cannot be ascribed to a balloon, aircraft, etc., would nonetheless have a low Strangeness Rating because there is only one strange thing about' the report to explain: its motion. A report of a weird craft that descended to within 100 feet of a car on a lonely road, caused the car's engine to die, its radio to  stop, and its lights to go out, left marks on the nearby ground, and appeared to be under intelligent control receives a high Strangeness Rating because it contains a number of separate very strange items, each of which outrages common sense.”
  This concept of a Strangeness Rating is further expounded on by Jacques Vallee in The Invisible College (1975, also published in England 1977 as UFOs: The Psychic Solution). He acknowledges Hynek’s discussion of the subject, which certainly has received less widespread acceptance as the Close Encounters of the First, Second and Third Kind heuristic model found in the same book.

Vallee also proposes a ranked series of Strangeness Categories that, though useful in grading the phenomena and even helping to understand why, where and to whom they are reported, has generally been overlooked. I quote it at length here because it helps expand on the possible meaning of high strangeness by contrasting it with incidents of lesser strangeness.  It also exhibits the low key humor which makes Vallee such an enjoyable writer.

“A basic characteristic of the confrontation with a UFO is the strangeness of the occurrence. Dr Allen Hynek, in his book The UFO Experience, proposed a study of the strangeness in connection with the reliability of a report Is it necessarily true, he asked, that the strangest reports (such as the landing cases with occupants) always come from the least reliable sources? He found that such was NOT the case, and that many reports existed in his files with both high reliability and high strangeness.

Let us take this idea one step further and discuss the probability that a given witness will report seeing a UFO. Assuming ten people have seen a strange object in the sky, how many of these reports will I be able to obtain? This depends, of course, on how willing each of the witnesses will be to tell anyone about his experience, and also it will depend on the person to whom he relates it. On this basis I have defined seven categories of strangeness and I have constructed for each category an appropriate scenario, as follows:

Strangeness Category 1: You see a flickering light as you come out of the garage. It reminds you of a firefly, but you have never observed fireflies under quite similar conditions. Result: You are unlikely to call the police or the Air Force to report this! If you do tell someone about the sighting, it will probably be a friend or associate: “I didn’t know there were fireflies at this time of the year.”

Strangeness Category 2: As you come out of the garage you see a flaming object that plunges behind the hill. Perhaps you have read somewhere that meteors and fireballs often appeared to be quite close when in fact they were hundreds of miles away. However, you call the police to report it because the summer has been very dry and you are afraid the phenomenon, whatever it is, may cause something to catch fire.

Strangeness Category 3: You put your car away and come out of the garage in time to see a luminous object giving off a blue glow that plunges behind the hill. It looks like a large, circular aircraft and seems to have some windows but no tail or wings. Could it be that the Russians are up to something? You call the nearest Air Force base to report it, out of a feeling of civic duty.

Strangeness Category 4: You park the old Chevy by the side of the barn and as you walk toward the house you suddenly see a large disk with lighted portholes that comes down with a gentle rocking motion and touches the ground near the pen where the pigs are kept. It makes a humming sound that turns into a high pitch whistle and it takes off again. You think of calling the police, but it occurs to you that the neighbors will be intrigued and the story will be all over the town the next day. You realize that the Air Force might be interest, but you think better of it when you wife tells you she read an article in a magazine explaining how the Air Force paid some big university to study those things and it came out negative. ON the other hand, Joe down the street has lots of books on the subject and gets a little journal from a private UFO group in Indiana. Perhaps he would pass along the information to them. This way you could at least tell someone about it without being ridiculed.

Strangeness Category 5: As you lock the garage to make sure no vandals will scratch the pain on the new Corvette you are suddenly confronted with a dwarf wearing a silvery diving suit. It has no visible arms but its oversized eyes glow with a strange orange light. It turns around and walks stiffly away into the bushes. A moment later a round object takes off from behind the hedge. At first you are too shocked to move, but you come to your senses and go into the house. You tell your wife you don’t feel like going on that camping trip next weekend. She wants to know why and you reluctantly tell her about what you’ve just seen, after she promises not to tell her mother.

Strangeness Category 6: You are lying in bed, wondering whether there is enough gas left in the car to drive to church and back tomorrow, when suddenly a light appears in the backyard. At the same time the baby starts crying in the next room. Your get up in your pajamas to check the screen door and a large blue object comes into view, hovering six feet away. A beam of light appears underneath. It sweeps along the ground with a small white spot and comes toward you. When it hits your face thousands of thoughts come into your mind. You become “locked” within the strange light. A torrent of ideas seems to be transferred into your consciousness at a high rate. It suddenly stops and the blue object vanishes on the spot. You lean against the door wondering whether it was of God or the devil. Your mind is filled with burning questions. Could life exist on other planets? What if what we call God was only one of millions of higher beings who exist throughout the cosmos? You develop a throbbing headache. You take a sleeping pill and go back to bed without awakening your wife. The baby seems to have gone to sleep.

Strangeness Category 7: You are driving a truck at fifty miles an hour around a bend in the road when you become aware of a large, dark object that blocks the whole highway. There seems to be no possibility to avoid a collision but an invisible force appears to take hold of the fifteen-ton rig and bring it to a stop within a few feet of the object. A ring of smoke extends from the base of the dome-shaped craft and you start choking as it reaches the truck. The next thing you remember is that you are driving around another bend in the road fifty miles to the south. You look at your watch and it is an hour later than you thought it was. “

Although as a tool it might not necessarily be picked up, dusted off and used again, but at least because by understanding the proposed use of Strangeness Categories we can gain some insight as to why it was developed in the first place and to what purpose such models can be put in helping to sort out unexplained phenomena.