Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Everyday Spirituality; Matters of the Heart.

Back in Kalamazoo again. Back in my nice little city, and my nice little neighborhood. Back where The Enclosure of the modern urban life seems farther away. Here is where there is at least some chance of opening up my soul to the Life of things natural and real. And so here, blessedly, is where [if one is lucky] a connection is waiting....

The Sun is out in all its glory today, as our odd "winter" continues its strange ways. The snow is melting and the roof is weeping its water from the overhang just in front of me. The snow crystals are compacted; just showing a blazing beacon here and there. No colored jewels... well, maybe a gentle sapphire over there, or a quick flash of the spectrum, then gone.

God's wind is singing in the pine trees to the southwest. Part of the Original Words of Physical Law placed in this old Universe long ago. It's good to just sit and listen. Even the birds are relatively silent and respectful this day. The sky is pure blue. Only the lines drawn upon it by our technology disturb its simplicity. I actually don't mind the jet-trails. They too are simple enough. And they symbolize that we poor humans are striving mightily to accomplish things --- even as wrong-headed as we often are.

The humans on the ground are striving too. The young man runs by, trying to recover the condition of his college days. The old man jogs by; grimly trying to maintain what he still has. The middle-aged man with the deformity forces himself down the road. Determined to overcome. Full of hope. Spiritual or not: may there be Blessings to them all.

For me, just sitting here watching their striving, I am just trying to reconnect. I love that they are giving such effort. For me it's more about NOT making effort at the moment. The connection comes with the quiet, not the noise.

The roof-drops fall in front of me. They crash into the dripline formed from many such years ... and spatter away like a faerie fountain. Every splash seems different. Every splash seems part of this uncountable diversity spoken into this Universe. .... Magnificent .... Watching the never-ending ramifications of the Word of God.

.... Connection.

We all need to get out of The Enclosure. We all need to occasionally "turn away". We need to listen to the Universe sing ... we need our own soul to sing with it.

The Song is always there.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Every Kid Likes Dinosaurs, Part three.

This will be the final part of this anomalistic trek, and probably the least newsworthy [I rather liked part two, which was the reason for this whole effusion]. Today, though, we should terminate this with a few framing remarks on the topic and the general controversy.

The first thing that ought to be mentioned is the "feasibility argument" for continued existence of dinosaurs. Regusters was trying to make a geographically-focussed case for such a thing with his carbon-dating of the Niger fossil bone. There is a bigger picture [literally] into which such an argument would fit. That's Continental Drift.

In the Continental Drift hypothesis, all the current landmasses were joined together in an unstable jigsaw named Gondawanaland. This happy state lasted for even a geologically-long time offering plenty of habitat stability to encourage beasts to maximize their genetic potentials in environments to which they became exceptionally well adapted. Some of that maxing-out produced the dinosaurs.

When the Gondawanaland supercontinent decided to rip apart, all that "easy life" of stable habitat began to be more and more severely disrupted. This, and its consequences, is what led to the Death-of-the-Dinosaurs, not some "Death Star collision", which at most provided a punctuation mark on terribly distressed species. It was evolving environmental change, not sudden catastrophe, which put these monsters down.

But, it could be imagined that one big area of the supercontinent did not get the brunt of those changes, at least as hard.... Africa. Africa, as seen illustrated in the simple map above, sits there in the middle of the fracturing supercontinent and rather waddles about in place, while its siblings go sailing off across oceans to crash into one another, meet subduction zones, produce mountains, volcanoes, earthquakes, and all manner of nastiness. "Somebody" sitting there at home in Africa, in their happy little tropical environment, might wonder [relatively speaking] what all the hullaballoo was about. Environments even here in Central Africa would still be slowly and dramatically changed, but not perhaps as drastically as elsewhere.

This is the larger scale into which a feasibility argument might nest.

A second point would be that it is not at all obvious that just because you were big and reptilian that around 65 million years ago you had to go. We have some pretty impressive big reptilians who say: "Not so fast, my friend!" [Well, maybe skip the "friend" part]. The continued survival of the crocodilians remains a mystery to the theorists today. Turtles, too, puzzle these guys. There is no ready answer to this which rises above the level of academic BS. I'll contribute to the pile with my view that a). every species was at different stages of being able to adapt to the slow-death-march caused by the supercontinent break-up, and b). these animals lay a lot of eggs and do so regularly [NOT your usual very slow populators], and this gave the succeeding generations greater chances for survival both by positive genetic variations and greater numbers to accidentally find successful food niches, etc.

Were some of the greater than 500 genera of dinosaurs [these are just the ones known] living more like the crocodilians as to frequency of egg-production and maternal egg-guarding, etc, so as to mimic what the crocs and gators did?? Well, why not? The point is that the idea is not a crazy one.

A couple of years ago, one team of fossil scientists reported that they had a find which when dated showed a date well after the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. To their eyes, the Great Stop Sign had not stopped these particular dinosaurs. This was at a US dig in New Mexico [San Juan Basin shown above] and seems to indicate that these hadrosaurs beat the widowmaker by at least 500,000 years. This does not at all surprise me, as our fossil record is so incomplete and our fossil studiers so resolute in wanting to fit things into the textbook cant, that exceptions to the boundary line must exist all over the planet. So, why not Africa? And why not for longer?
Of course you must have the solid evidence... but this is a feasibility study, and the purpose of a feasibility study is to tell the sniggering jackanapes to shut up and get out of the way of people who want to do something.

The skeptical argument that nothing so large could continued to go undetected is baloney, particularly if applied to this swamp area right up to modern times. The picture above is from a regular [non-mokele mbembe] herpetology expedition to those swamps in, I think, 1999. I've also read of similar conditions in another even more recently. Look at what the porters are putting up with! And these sorts of conditions persist across an area at least the acreage of Florida! Yeh, sure, we'll pop over there and solve this thing.

Some people like to use as part of their feasibility argument the legends of Dragons which occur in surprisingly different cultures going way back in time. The argument, obviously, is that they refer to dinosaurs. That's a tough one for me. Dragon legends interest me almost as much as the Little People tales, and in my opinion are more complicated and harder to get clear as to what we're even talking about.

The "dragons" COULD be experiences with remnant dinosaur populations, I suppose, but it doesn't feel at all correct. The dragon legends are too ubiquitous to be real meat-&-juices encounters all over the place, yet completely evade science in all those same areas. Dragon tales could grow from merely seeing the exposed bones of dinosaurs as some suggest, but fossils intact enough to show the true conformation of the beast are really rare without full-fledged digs, so I really doubt it. We know that many early such fossils were just attributed to Giants of some kind.

I think that the origin of dragon legends in true dinosaur encounters is a false lead and is a road to confusion. People like to hearken back to writers like Pliny {above} for support for such as this, but nope. I am a privileged person so as to own a personal copy of the early english translation of Pliny[1634] and am happy to take any excuse to haul it down from the shelves and read it. He does say that he is commenting upon "dragons" in the text. They exist in India and in Africa in places like Ethiopia. BUT, he is obviously, completely obviously, talking about really big serpents of the boa constrictor/python type. Now if anyone wants to make an argument that he's describing cryptozoologically-huge snakes, OK by me. Dragons, no. And Dinosaurs, no.

This is not to say that I'm opposed to someone showing me some legend somewhere which sounds like existent dinosaurs, but generically recruiting dragons for this doesn't work for me.

Something else which doesn't work for me is Creation "Science".

Long-term readers of this blog know that I am a Catholic and hold a great deal of stock in spiritual matters of almost all sorts. [The whole blog is, in its different ways, founded upon the belief that our weary old world needs a strong infusion of at least open-mindedness to mystery, if not precisely open-mindedness to the paranormal and the spiritual]. I have no fundamental prejudice against the claims of Creationists. It's just that almost all of them are bunk. In this shockingly abrupt conclusion, I am in the comfortable company of almost all of the theologians of my church, and absolutely all of the Catholic scientists, of which I class myself as one.

But I AM a scientific type of mentality and I believe in subjecting claims to some tough but open-minded scrutiny. The ultra-right wing of christian beliefs that goes for a 4004BC origin of the world, or any such minimalist date, fails every rational scrutiny. So do the several "deductions" which are forced upon any who would try to defend this. These deductions include things like: humans and dinosaurs totally co-existed ubiquitously; and Noah took the dinosaurs on the Ark. Because these folks attempt to believe this, they have welcomed the news that mokele mbembe still exists in the Congo.

I really wish that if they insist on some of these desired conclusions, that they'd come up with some better scenarios. Time after time people will throw the dinosaurs at Noah in a challenge to Ark capacity. The apologists toss this aside with the most mindless disregard, despite seeming somewhat intelligent in some of their other arguments.

C'mon, guys!! The Ark was big but not THAT big! [I'm giving them a biblical-sized Ark here just for conversation sake]. Do you really think that we could get all the animals on an oil tanker let alone the Ark?

There were some pretty big dinosaurs out there. And they couldn't come just one at a time; there had to be at least two of each if not seven pairs [I think].

Some of these monsters were well over a hundred feet long. And though many were smaller, there were at a minimum 500 genera of them.

And this is just dinosaurs that we're talking about --- think of all the other essentially land-living or semi-aquatic species that Noah would have to be cramming in there.

The only way out for the Creation "Scientists" on this one would be to ask God to do something about it. Saying that they were ALL destroyed in the Flood [which also didn't universally happen; I'm just barely open to a localized upper Mesopotamian area flood ], just won't do as literal interpretation of that phrase in Genesis says Noah took examples of ALL the creatures. God would have to do something far more creative: like condensing everybody down to miniature size once they crossed the entryway portal. That action however didn't make it into the story, so it's not popular.

The relevance for our mokele mbembe story is that now the Creationists have begun tramping towards the Likuoala River in search of dinosaurs.

I'm not sure how many of these "scientific expeditions" have been sent [more than one for sure] but they have come back claiming success. It's everyone's choice, as usual, to decide about their claims. It's my feeling that these guys are going to have to really get the true goods if they are to add anything to our understanding of this at all. They have a bigger barrier to overcome because their own prejudices are so much more blatant.

Here's a drawing of a mokele mbembe allegedly seen by one expedition member. He called it an Apatosaurus. Pretty shocking as Apatosaurus is one of the big ones. Seventy feet long... amazing that everyone else missed it. No tracks of the monster either?

And the above photo [?] is labelled charging dinosaur [!!!]. Actually, I've partly lied. The whole title included the words "Photographic proof at last!"

The level of stupidity in that goes past embarrassment and far into pathos. Lord God save us from your more hysterical supporters!!

With that I leave you to your own problems getting visas for the Republic of the Congo, and wish you Godspeed until next topic [whatever weird thing that turns out to be.]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Every Kid Likes Dinosaurs, Part two.

Today's rendition of this topic focusses solely on the apparently unwanted outsider in the story: Herman Regusters. There is some unknown [to me] bad "sociology" in this part of our tale, but as I know little of the substance, I'll try to stick mainly to what if anything Regusters found.

From what I can tell Herman Regusters was indeed a NASA engineer and was working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory associated with Cal Tech when he decided to take his fling at Mokele Mbembe. His father had been a west African missionary which doubtless gave him a special feeling of connection to sub-Saharan Africa. He met his wife, a psychologist with some medical background, in Ghana, and they were married there in a traditional local ceremony. She went with him on this Congo expedition. Regusters was a technology expert and good at hi-tech equipment and photography. He was also a pilot and had served with the USAF in Korea. Regusters heard of other probes into the Likuoala swamps and their difficulties in "navigation", and the whole project interested him. Having NASA contacts, he was able to float a brilliant idea: why not let me go into those swamps as a test of our LANDSAT and NAVSTAR capabilities for mapping difficult areas?? NASA wouldn't pop for the idea officially, but Regusters decided to go for it anyway unofficially.

What Regusters WAS able to do was to get good LANDSAT imagery of the relevant area. Through that he was able to reject the idea of flying directly to the lake [uncertainties as to depth and obstructions], but rather fly semi-directly [to the village of Epena] and trek the rest of the way.

On the map beside, you can see Impfondo circled in green, where most expeditions were stuck with as a staring point. Epena is at the end of the orange line at the edge of the red circle, allegedly prime mokele mbembe territory. Regusters was already well ahead of the time curve. Regusters, like Mackal et al, also traveled southwest along the Likuoala River searching for the semi-hidden Bai River, which would take them north to Lac Tele.

At the village of Boa, however, he discovered that all the maps were invalid as to the actuality of getting to Lac Tele. This, it turned, was impossible by water. The inability of the Powell-Mackal expeditions to get there was readily explained. Instead, locals informed him that there was a way, surprisingly on foot. Porters were hired and the trip was successful without ever seeing the River Bai. Even then it was not picnic with much hard sloshing and little food on the trail. Regusters said that "anything which crossed the gunsight" ended up on the fire. This included Crocodile, Snake, and Monkey. Asked what Monkey tasted like, he resisted the standard joke and said "dark meat".

Whatever the "advantage", Regusters did in fact make it all the way to Lac Tele and there, at a minimum, found a rather strange perfectly round body of water --- let the unfettered hypothesizing begin!!. One idea which "surfaced" immediately was that it was formed by a meteorite impact, but how had it fought off the encroachment of the swamp vegetation so effectively? I suppose we'll never know that answer.

Other than a mysterious round lake, what else did he find?? One possibility was tracks. He felt that maybe these tracks, like the one pictured above, might belong to Mokele Mbembe. This is probably wrong.

One thing that over-enthusiastic explorers might forget is that their are some plenty big but well-known critters out there. Also these characters often wander about more than you'd expect. We saw earlier on this site how Ivan Sanderson was corresponding with a guy in Africa who thought that he might be on the track of some kind of living mastodon like thing, and Ivan was right behind him on this. He ultimately got a mudtrack, which was not that much different than the one above, and he and Ivan still both thought they had something big. Ivan's zoologist friend at the Philadelphia Zoo had to talk him down off crypto-olympus by telling him that this was surely a pygmy rhino. [I think that's what he determined anyway --- too lazy to go back and look it up now].

Regusters thought that his print might show three toes and thereby a dinosaur-like foot. But our friends the rhinos have a foot conformation which produces such fooler mudprints, and so our intrepid NASA engineer is probably out of his depth on this one.

On another website, someone published a later story [entirely different thing having nothing to do with Regusters] wherein locals told of a battle with a mokele mbembe and when shown a picture like the one below said that yes, that is precisely what mokele mbembe looks like. What this tells us is that legends slide around the countryside and people with no contact with "mokele mbembe" at all transfer the name into other experiences with large dangerous and unfamiliar [to them] animals. It also tells us that you need more than stories.

So did Regusters come up with more than the stories of Mackal et al?

Most interestingly for we casual followers of these matters were several instances where the group felt that they saw an unknown large animal. Case 1: "perturbations in the glass-smooth surface of the lake which implied the presence of a sizable object".

Case 2: Object sighted. "A long necked member could be clearly distinguished in the clear morning air". Submerged and not sighted again.

Case 3: A loud roar from the jungle [this was recorded].

Case 4: "Appearance of a very large object moving through the water." One kilometer distance. Pronounced wake. No head nor neck seen. Smooth dark brown surface. Native observers with team said much too large for hippopotamus, which is also unknown in that area.

Case 5: Loud animal sound. Splash of something big entering water. Regusters' wife sees long serpent-like neck and head emerge from water c. 30 meters from boat. Head held two meters above surface. Dark gray color and smooth-skinned. Whole sighting was only about 5 seconds.

Case 6: Regusters and wife alone exploring north end of shore and forest [place where allegedly two mokele mbembe animals had been killed by locals in past.] Heard heavy footsteps approaching from three different directions. The exploring instinct gave way to more fundamental ones and they ran.

The line drawing above: this wasn't identified in the file materials, but appears to be a sketch by a local person of what he saw at Lac Tele. It could represent "Case 2". [correction: while packing up the SITU file, I came across Regusters' title for this. It is: Sketch of an animal (monster) made by Colonel Emmanuel Mossedzedi, deputy commandant of the Brazzaville Garrison. Later Regusters said that this sketch "came alive" with one of the sightings at the lake.]

The camera shot of above left: this was also not identified in the file, but its location therein clearly indicates that it was sent by Regusters as part of his documentation of the expedition. I have seen this [in color and always left/right reversed] on the internet, and commented upon as if it is a probable crocodile. This could be true as Regusters says that the lake is heavy with crocodile population. [Another correction for the same reason as above: Regusters says that this is the Head portion of Mokele Mbembe submerging into Lake Tele. Taken from estimated distance of 300-400 feet.]

So, what else? Regusters brought back his taped jungle roar and got some pretty good expert opinion to analyze it. That opinion said: interesting sounds but we can't identify them with any animal we know. All of us non-animal vocalization experts must take that for what it's worth.

The only other scientific thing that Regusters did which is germane does not involve Lac Tele directly. It involves rather a dinosaur skeleton fossilized in Niger, of which he was given some "bone" samples to analyze. Why??

Regusters' idea here was not crazy. What he felt that he knew from the geology of that Niger region was that it was not desert [as it is now] c.10,000 years ago, but rather quite wet, and likely verdant. And, it would not be a stretch at all to imagine that it was part of a large ecosystem which stretched from there down into the Cameroons and Congo area. If so, and if some evidence could be found for a surviving dinosaur species in the Niger region in the vicinity of a few thousand years ago, that evidence would state that African dinosaurs had indeed survived the Cretaceous boundary extinction, and as habitat shrunk, may have been left as a concentrated remnant in those Congolese swamps. So, he accepted the fossil samples happily and got a good lab to try to date them.

As you can read in the letter above and below, the testing was not exactly plain sailing. This is well-explained by the analyst and is nobody's fault that a clearer answer was not obtained. All we can say is that the analysis does NOT show a VERY late date for the sample. What is frustrating about the language though is that one does not know whether it says that the sample was in the ballpark of a few tens of thousands of years [which would make Regusters' point just fine], or merely that anything over 30,00 back to multiple millions of years is fair game.

So, there are the concrete elements of this, and the science, as best it happened. In all of that it seems to me that Regusters did a decently good job. However, this was not at all welcomed in either the skeptical nor cryptozoological communities. Why I do not know. Regusters was a cryptozoological outsider. Perhaps he wasn't "generous" enough to his forebears. Perhaps he was seen as an unwanted usurper, much as was Gerald Hawkins by the traditional archaeologists about his Stonehenge astronomical theories, or Luis Alvarez by the palaeontologists with his asteroid-killed-the-dinosaurs hypothesis [in these Hawkins was right, and Alvarez in great part was wrong, but paradoxically the wrong theory is nearly universally accepted by now and the right one still fights to get into the textbooks --- we surely can mess things up]. I have my own experiences with such tribalism [I'm OK if I'm writing about UFOs {since I'm a Tribal Elder}, but roundly criticized if I write about Cryptozoology, by some anyway]. This is horribly ingrained in us apparently, much to the detriment of our species' advancement of knowledge.

Whatever went on here in the Regusters case, it didn't help the cool pursuit of the truth about mokele mbembe. Regusters was angrily miffed by some of it. He wrote to Bob Warth:

"I came to learn, sadly, that I was better prepared for the adventures of exploration and new geographic and biological discoveries than I was for the criticism and negative comments and attacks on my integrity I did receive after my return; especially criticism from armchair investigators, pseudoscientists, and skeptical members of the media."

Regardless of what went on here in this sociological fiasco, any long-term member of the anomalies-researching community [who actually does any work and publication] has been there. I don't know what "blame" exists in this, and to whom, but on the surface of the documents that Bob Warth had in the SITU file, it seems to be to have been an honorable try by Regusters to discover something.

There are animals who eat their young..................

Every Kid Likes Dinosaurs, Part one.

The topic of whether dinosaurs still exist has been written about extensively on the Internet and books/articles and probably doesn't need an entry by me here. Actually, I thought I'd already written something about this, but the site search says no. But, against all reason, and because I blundered into Herman Regusters' interactions with Bob Warth in the SITU files, "ready or not" here's my turn at this issue.

I'm not going to do an exhaustive review. You can get a full historical background to the idea with a flip of Google. What I'm doing here is an introductory "part one", roughly presenting a little information about Sanderson, Mackal, Agnagna and the Central African idea, and then a "part two" on what Regusters seem to be about and what he accomplished. Maybe there'll be a "part three".

Who knows when the "Dinosaurs still exist in Africa" idea began? Some folks say that earliest mentions date to the 1700s. Since there was no concept of "dinosaur" back then, you can see the conundrum of pushing back the dates too early. The idea more clearly related to the possibility of actual dinosaurs in Africa grew gradually in the first half of the 20th century. The newspaper above speaks of an expedition of the Smithsonian Institution in 1920, which reported mysterious tracks and unidentified animal roars while exploring a central African river. Nothing like the Smithsonian to bring a mystery topic a little respectability.

Ivan Sanderson, naturally, became interested in all this in his youth as an African adventurer in 1932. There in a well-known story, he heard native tales, saw what he considered to be NON-Hippo tracks [nor elephant, nor rhino], and says that his canoe was nearly overturned by some huge beast suddenly surfacing and submerging in the river. Sanderson naturally was forever convinced that something big and unknown was about.

He became increasingly convinced due to writing by the legendary animal "supplier", Carl Hagenbeck, who had collected local tales of a dinosaur-like monster. Sanderson often said: "Hagenbeck was no fool". He was also impressed with local tales like that published by a German explorer [Freiherr von Stein zu Lausnitz --- a name long enough for three people], who gave a very concrete detailed description of such a beast. Freiherr...whatever... gave the local name as Mokele Mbembe, which has largely stuck.

Sanderson himself published his thoughts on the living dinosaurs of the Congo [actually for him it was a bit to the north in the Cameroons] in SITUs journal PURSUIT early in the game, and also that same essay in his paperbound book, MORE THINGS in 1969. All this originating from his Saturday Evening Post article of 1948. It is a shame, in many ways, that Ivan passed prior to the sudden upsurge of interest [and more importantly ACTION] which burst into this topic in the 1970s and 1980s. Several, admittedly "on a shoelace" expeditions set sail into the Congolese swamps during those years, and, if he'd been alive and younger, he might have been "on board".

Almost all of this "new" activity focussed on the Likuoala Swamps of the Republic of Congo, a "difficult" state politically, with communist leanings and rampant paranoia towards "visitors" in many years. The Republic of Congo is not, for anyone who doesn't know, our old "Belgium Congo" [now named Zaire], but is to its West-northwest.

For some reason a herpetologist named James Powell got interested in these stories in the early seventies and made an expedition, and another in Gabon, both looking not only for undescribed reptile species but specifically for Mokele Mbembe. To my knowledge, nothing came of these except the further collection of local native tales.

In 1980, Powell returned to the Congo, and tagging along with him was University of Chicago biochemistry professor Roy Mackal. Roy [I met him a handful of times and we were on "Roy" and "Mike" basis, so forgive my familiarity], was not exactly a biologist/zoologist but he was plenty smart and well-self-trained. He at the time was known as a Nessie expert. [as he is shown in the accompanying photo at the Loch]. I'm not sure of all the dimensions of this alliance between him and Powell, but Roy had ambitions of getting some serious funding support for a full-fledged expedition in the future, and, for him, this may have been the preliminary "feasibility data" that he would use for that future attempt.

The Powell-Mackal expedition took place under limited visa time constraints and never came close to getting to where they hoped to explore, but created a focussed target of Lac Tele as the likely mokele mbembe stomping grounds. The data harvest from this expedition was the usual native tales, augmented by a clever method by Roy of showing animal drawing cards to locals all up and down the Likuoala River, and noting what he felt to be a pattern of increasing and decreasing "accuracy" as to the possibility of an extant dinosaur-like creature at villages in a certain location. Roy believed that this could possibly point to a location [towards Lac Tele] to the north, essentially, from that area of the river. As said, visa time ran out and no real progress towards Lac Tele was made.

Along came 1981, and Roy, despite exerting a great effort to achieve serious funding and failing to do so, got some visa approval from the Congo government [on the condition that he would take a Congolese biologist, Marcellin Agnagna, along], and set off again for a try at Lac Tele. With him were Agnagna, Richard Greenwell [secretary, and de facto administrator of the International Society for Cryptozoology (actually a fine group at the time, and VERY serious about concrete meat-and-juices crypto-discoveries)], and I third gentleman I didn't know.

Once again it was tough-sledding [or tough rowing if you prefer]. Mackal faced several big problems. A). he had lousy geographical information. The swamps are huge and navigation by more-or-less dead reckoning is almost suicidal. In fact Roy told me that he had prepared for this trek by securing anti-venoms for every known poisonous snake in the region, AND HAD TO USE EVERY ONE OF THEM!! Not my sort of vacation.

B). This is theoretical [read: BS] by me, but I think that he didn't get very good information from the locals. If you look at the map above: you can take a small plane into Impfondo and go by some sort of way to the village of Epina/Epena. [that's a yellow rack in the northern part of the map]. Then you have to decide what you're going to do, purely "roughing it". There seem to be more direct ways to try for Lac Tele than the one Mackal/Greenwood/ Agnagna tried. Again I may be misreading this, but it seems that they went on open water for a while [apparently WSW] and then tried to find an entrance to a waterway going north to the Lac. This didn't work well, as that alleged entrance is essentially indistinguishable from the rest of the swamp. You can get a rough idea of the open swamp by the picture above. [Greenwell, by the way, is at the left, all decked out in his explorer's best. Roy Mackal was an amazingly fit individual, despite the gray hair and beard, but I can't imagine how Richard made it].

The bottomline of the expedition seems to be that although our heroes strove mightily, due to wayward "sailing" and ridiculous Congolese visa time restrictions, not a lot was added to our knowledge about the dinosaur/Lac Tele possibility. This was disappointing but worse than that disappointment was the fact that an American "outsider" was about to muscle in on the gig. This was Herman Regusters, and he's the "star" of part two of our saga. Regusters' expedition also relatively poorly-funded but with a few superior technical "tricks", took place later in 1981 and created "rivalry".

But to briefly finish this part: two years after he went to the vicinity of Lac Tele with Mackal, the local Congolese biologist Agnagna [with obviously no government time restrictions] went all the way to the lake and stayed some time. Agnagna claimed to have personally seen the mokele mbembe out of the water and claimed that it was a reptile, and though not a crocodile had some crocodilian features.

So, with the above picture of Marcellin Agnagna and a drawing of mokele mbembe on his board to inspire us [despite the fact that the drawing doesn't match the idea of crocodilian features], we'll go our merry way until the next part shows up with the very controversial Mr. Regusters.

Till then. "Watch the Skies ---er --- the Water."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Back to the Little Folks briefly. Readers really need to take the following "data" for no more than they're worth. As you know, I've gone through two hundred folkloric entity cases from my randomly [well-undisciplinedly] collected files and reported on the contents in recent past postings. The third hundred hit a mental bog and was hard sledding. What I've done here is to skim that 100 and just extract the entity height data out of the stories [there was a lot of "no comment" on height in these unfortunately]. Getting what I could within an already poorly-collected database, I combined those cases with heights with earlier ones to get to 200 cases stating that feature. Those accumulated numbers are part of the graph below.

But we wanted to compare Faerie Encounters with UFO case encounters here, so I needed a UFO data set --- of which there are several out there. I've used one which fell into my lap. Way back in the late 1960s, the French journal Phenomenes Spatiaux [the publication of the fine French group GEPA] published a study by the South American UFOlogist [sorry, I don't know if he was Argentinian or Brazilian] Jader U. Pereira. It was quite good. It was loaded with statistics and had approximately 200 hundred incidents. [The reason why I tried to get to 200 Little People cases on "my side"]. Of course, entity height was one such stat.

I particularly wanted to find a study like this, because it was pre-image pollution; that is the witnessing public hadn't yet been told that UFOnauts could only look one [or two] ways and were relatively "psychologically free" to report just what they saw. As you can see from the illustrations, they reported quite a variety of critters.

The above is the comparative graph that I've tinkered together [hmmm... "Tinkered".... quite the Jungian slip, methinks]. The red bars are for the UFO entities [200 cases]. The green are for the Faerie encounters [200 cases]. The yellow are those same Faerie encounters with the ones added from the two websites which seem to appeal to persons very Tinkerbell-oriented [239 cases total].

Again, please don't make too much out of this. I tender a few humble observations: a). The faerieworld cases are weighted to the smaller sized beings even without the Tinkerbells added in. Almost no UFO case has entities less than two foot tall, while Faerie cases of such critters are abundant.

b). Both groups, however, diabolically peak at about three-footers. It's almost a borderline: three foot and up= "aliens"; three foot and down = "The Good People". Around three foot: Ha Ha, you can't catch me!!!

This "finding" is so soft that I wouldn't let it drive you crazy if I were you --- there are exceptions to all these rules as we know --- but it still has the intuition for me that it is another indication that that two anomalistic phenomena are different. We saw another indication of this [in my mind anyway] on the earlier post about the dominant aerotech nature of UFO cases generally in the WW2-1950s era.

Pereira had several illustrations in his compilation, and you can see some of them in the seven picture panels above. For UFO old-timers they will bring us back to an age where it seemed that witnesses were describing a whole Zoo of UFOnauts with almost no holds barred as to what they looked like, except the humanoid form. The FACT of this nearly universal humanoid form has been one of the elements of UFOlogy which most convinced me of the veracity of these reports, and long ago I wrote a piece on the essential forced nature of such a form based on physical laws and convergent evolution. As I look back on the years, I still wholeheartedly believe that. That does not stop me, however, from looking at Pereira's "beasts" and wondering if among the UFOnauts we are not seeing the occasional folkloric entity in those drawings.

So, once again: WWHOOOO goes there?. Or is the Universe just having a great cosmic laugh at us??

I'm not sure when I'll get back to the Little People as far as the blog is concerned. The Wind of the Mysterious blows its own mysterious way in my life, so all that I can say is that I'm still on that forest path.... listening for what I can still hear of the Druids and thinking somehow that they-of-the-forests and they-of-the-lakes somehow "knew" one another. I'll probably never be able to uncover much of that, but I'm giving it an awkward try. With luck, someday I may have something to share that neither of us will have to be too embarrassed about.

Till then,

May the Forest Path Rise Up to Meet You, and the Moon Shine Bright Upon Your Face, and God and His Adjutant Manitou Always Hold You in the Palms of Their Hands.
The Old Irish Blessing, St. Kevin Style.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

UFO Portals??: A small add-on.

Briefly back again due to someone sending me a very interesting fairly recent case which seems to describe a portal effect. I'll throw out a few bits of trivia and then give the case at the end.

The pictures above are from a fairly recent dust-up where many persons in Norway saw an odd looking feature in the sky, which began to be talked about as if it were a UFO portal. Probably not. The Russians shortly admitted to firing a "new" missile, which seems to regularly be giving them trouble, and it went spiraling haywire. Was it the missile? Or was it something else? Even if it wasn't the missile [it probably was], there seems no good reason to bring UFOs into this.

Also, here is another of those interminable Mexican UFO videos. As above, this was rapidly trumpeted as showing a UFO portal. This one is a bit excruciating, as the camera worker is, to my eye, obviously overboosting the magnification during the filming and creating a ring image with a voided middle. I'm always willing to admit that I'm wrong on such matters, but this is no UFO portal for me.

Not a UFO portal this time, but a still photo [cropped as you see] from one of our best "romantic" locations: St. Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor. Glastonbury Tor is one of those places not only involved with King Arthur and Grail Lore, but has a long-standing Faerie tradition. The legend says that on a certain night of the year, in the hillside of the Tor, the hill will open and reveal an entrance to a Faerie King's world. Well, that would indeed be interesting. When I was there, some civil engineering excavation work had made a slash cut well up the hillside. To show you what a romantic I am, I picked up a piece of the unearthed rock and packed it back to Michigan. But even given that, I have to say that the photo above isn't in the proper place for the legendary Faerie portal, has no UFO relationship that I can tell, and I have no idea whatever as to what this lightspot is. Others of course disagree, and someone claims to see a figure on a staircase shaded in the light. Hmmmmmm...not I.

So on to the report which elicited this post: a good friend sent me a notice about this case, and then followed up to get the actual letter in which the witness describes the incident. I'm going to keep respect for the witness of course and not name names. This occurred on December 8, 1992.

The witness was returning to his shop just before midnight when he saw an unusual low-hanging "star". That "star" just vanished. Suddenly, directly above the van, was a 40' diameter disk with a dome and orange areas like exhaust ports. The color of the thing was "rusty red" as if the craft was made of metal which was cooling down from a very hot state. The disk rotated clockwise as it slowly moved across the sky. There was no sound throughout this 5-10 minute observation, which seemed to be quite closeby.

The "exhaust ports" were not "on" initially, but as soon as they manifested, an area of space in front of the disk began to shimmer and take on the appearance of a mirror. As the craft penetrated the shimmering mirror, it gradually disappeared in a piecemeal smooth fashion until it, and the "portal", were gone.

Well, what do you know? Cases like this are not unique in the files but they are VERY rare. There are various hints both in the air and on the ground that such a phenomenon may be going on, but it's an unusual case which describes it as graphically as this. Too bad that we have no other witness, or at least an actual investigator interview.

So that's my contribution to your enlightenment and edification for today. I could well be wearing my WHACKHAT on that one, but it seems that the thing at least has a chance of being a true portal case. Peace, and till we meet again.