Monday, October 13, 2008


What do you give a ufologist for his birthday?

What a great weekend. Thanksgiving turkey (I'm Canadian) for my birthday. My family and a few selected friends spent the day at a secluded cabin along Lake Winnipeg. It was raining heavily, but we still managed to trek along the lake looking for beach glass.

Dinner was marvelous; turkey and all the trimmings, plus a ham, meatballs, cabbage rolls, and both home made pumpkin and apple pie, and a Jeanne's birthday cake. (If you don't know the last one, it's because you don't rate.)

Then the presents. A "life-size" Marvin the Martian sculpture was easily the showpiece. (It's now in its place of honour in our bathroom... glaring at you.) Plus some additional Marvin items, plus some Mothman models (who ever would want to design and mold these is beyond me). Plus some fine wine, And some DVDs, among them the special set of all the Blade Runner movie versions, in a metal case, with many extras including a silver origami crane. (What a wife!)

Then a dash back to the city to help my son on his newspaper delivery route in the rain, then a trip downtown to a film festival to see my daughter's first-ever on-screen movie appearance in an experimental film.

I mention all this because although UFO research is my passion, I put it all into context of what really matters: family and friends. Yes, the UFO stuff is important, but only through the support and encouragement of my family, and my encouragement and support of them.

This is most relevant today because it's my 50th birthday. Yes, I'm officially one of the "elders" of ufology. When I pause to look back at how ufology has changed over the past several decades, I see both progress and stagnation, if not generational amnesia.

Look at what's hot today: A "mass landing" of the Federation of Light alien emissaries tomorrow, possibly over Alabama. That's soooo 50s contactee-like.

What about the rift between American and European ufology? Still there. American ufology is still focused largely on Roswell and other nuts-and-bolts incidents on its own soil. European ufology is all over the map; there is an amazing amount of investigative research that fails to even make the American radar screens (probably literally too).

I'm currently reading Firestorm, Ann Druffel's biography of James McDonald, who was a topnotch scientist trying to get his stuffed-shirt colleagues to take notice of the UFO phenomenon. The book is a litany of how the USAF and mainstream science completely ignored good UFO cases while getting manipulated by a few "noisy negativists" (as Stan Friedman likes to call them) into making fun of the subject. Letters found in McDonald's files show how debunkers like Philip Klass deliberately smeared McDonald's serious scientific research because they didn't want officials to take him seriously. McDonald committed suicide. because his scientific reputation had been compromise and his work was ridiculed. What had he warned scientists about that they pooh-poohed because of his other UFO-related comments? Depletion of the ozone layer, which in the 1970s seemed absurd.

The attitude of mainstream science towards UFOs has remained unchanged. Good research and interesting studies of significant cases are ignored, while the "giggle factor" is played up. It doesn't help when unscientific UFO proponents get onto the evening news spouting silliness that hurts the overall cause.

So, nothing has changed, has it? The progress that I see lies in the work of a few selected researchers quietly plugging away, largely unnoticed. But the serious, dedicated ufologists see you. And we know who you are.

I raise my glass... to myself, for hanging in there.
I raise my glass... to ufology, the behind-closed-doors research program.
I raise my glass... to life. Such as it is.
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