Aliens and Insects I: Evolution, Humanoids and Cosmic Convergence.

So far as we know, all life that has ever lived on earth can be traced back to a common ancestor that emerged on the scene shortly after our island earth came into existence some 4.54 billion years ago. Estimates of when “genesis” began currently come as early as 4.41 billion years ago, a mere blink of the Gaian eye, let alone the cosmic one. From that seed sprung a sapling that grew into the tree of life we’ve struggled to chart, our evolutionary history, binding all the diverse species on the planet, through evolution by means of natural selection — or more specifically, what is known as divergent evolution. This occurs first at the scale of microevolution, which creates diversity within a species — which is to say the differences between those members give them a degree of uniqueness, but they can still reproduce with other members of the species.

These differences pile up when populations of a species become geographically isolated, however, and their uniqueness consequently grows, as in the case of the finches studied by Darwin on the Galapagos islands. He found that the finches on this chain of islands were similar to one another as well as to the finches found in America, though all the populations differed slightly from one another. His hypothesis was that the finches on each of the islands all had a common ancestor that migrated from the mainland, hence their similarities; their differences were associated with the distinct adaptations that were developed in response to their new environments on their respective islands, particularly in order to exploit the different food sources provided.

Ultimately, over the course of many generations, such populations diverge to such an extreme degree that the macroevolution milestone is achieved and speciation occurs — which is to say they become not merely a unique population within the species, but a separate species altogether. Though Tab A might still fit into Slot B for some time, it will become increasingly difficult for the two species to produce healthy offspring that are capable of reproducing themselves. It is through this process, where small modifications in response to different or changing environments add up over inconceivably long periods of time, that the first form of life on the planet led to the diverse species that have come to inhabit the globe ever since.

Divergent evolution therefore explains the differences between closely-related species — as well as the similarities, of course, given the shared history. Such similarities are known as homologous similarities, as they were inherited through a common ancestor. This explains, for instance, the similarity in skeletal structures among mammals, even whales, who bear the skeletal structures of fingers in their flippers and two nostrils in their blowholes. It explains the coccyx, or remnants of a tail, among humans. As the tree of life diverges into different species, natural selection is rather economical in that it works off of its former successes with further adaptations rather than shaking the Etch-a-Sketch and starting over, tabula rasa style. So the process of divergent evolution is rather intuitive in that way.

The same is not at all true when it comes to convergent evolution, which is a bit more counterintuitive, even mysterious, at least on the surface. This occurs when the differences between two species make perfect sense given the degree of divergence from their last common ancestor, but their remarkable similarities in traits are astounding for the very same reason. In this case, such traits are said to have an analogous similarity, as they were developed independently. This of course makes one wonder how this could happen, and the answer seems to be that natural selection favors similar solutions to the same problems.

Species that live in similar environments will develop astoundingly similar body plans, for instance, particularly if they fulfill the same role in the same niche. Dolphins, sharks and ichthyosaurs all share the same, basic body plan characterized by a streamlined body, dorsal fins, flippers and a tail fluke despite the fact that they share no common ancestor from which they could have inherited such traits from. They developed them naturally and independently because they are all marine predators and these traits are perfect for maneuvering in a fluid environment. It is for this same reason that birds, bats and butterflies all independently evolved the similar trait of wings, which are clearly successful adaptations for maneuvering in the air, and why the legless, ground-welling and subterranean creatures known as worms and snakes themselves look so similar to one another. This also occurs at the level of body organs, such as the eye, which has developed several times independently. Ears and sonar have also independently evolved more than once. So though evolution by means of natural selection is by no means teleological, which is to say it does not deliberately aim towards a single, ideal form, even specific to environments, patterns do indeed emerge — common traits do develop between organisms separated by genetics, time and space.

In light of this fact, regardless as to whether panspermia is the process that spreads life out across the universe from a single genesis or life on earth and countless exoplanets had an independent genesises, we should expect there to be commonalities between life on earth and life out there. Or, at the very least, that makes sense to some of us. Others seem to find this notion distasteful, among them astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dr. Jonathan Losos, a Harvard biologist. In a discussion between Tyson and and Richard Dawkins, Tyson brings up his disappointment with the humanoid body-plan of Hollywood aliens, calling it unimaginative and improbable — the same argument all too often used by those debunking the alien abduction phenomenon. Rather than agreeing with him, however, Dawkins kindly raises objections:

“Other worlds are going to be very different, but we perhaps shouldn’t write off the possibility that the Hollywood aliens… they might not be that unimaginative. I mean, my colleague Simon Conway Morris has even suggested that it’s very likely that there will be, if not humans, at least bipedal, big-brained, language-toting, hand-toting, forward-looking eyes for stereoscopy, pretty much humans. He thinks it’s highly likely. He’s got a religious agenda, I’m sorry to say, for that, but like him, I appreciate the power of natural selection.”

For anyone that became acquainted with the work of Dawkins through his outspoken atheism, it should be clear that his value in the perspective of Cambridge University paleontologist Simon Conway Morris in this particular matter had to be well-earned one. Even so, Dawkins never properly articulated the reasons behind the perspective of Morris or why, for that matter, he agreed with him, though Losos was a bit more clear in his reasoning against the general idea.

Alien life, argues Losos, may take many turns, and to support his argument he highlights what he called evolutionary singletons, which are species with what appear to be unique adaptations found nowhere else on earth. He fails to consider the possibility that his sample population is only planetary and may simply not be large enough to see how even the traits of these apparent singletons might be echoed throughout the cosmic community of life. So certainly they, like every other form of adaptation we find throughout the history of the earthen animal kingdom, exist, but so do those of the intelligent, humanoid, opposable-thumb variety. And while we seem to have the potential to eventually directly observe and interact with the variety of extrasolar life that surely exists out there is the vastness, we have yet to venture very far in our spacefaring journey, which leaves us with the question: what kind of extraterrestrial life may venture so far as to directly observe or interact with us?

There is good reason to suspect that in order for an advanced, extraterrestrial species to create a technology with which it might communicate with us or visit us it may require a humanoid body plan — or at least that it may be one of a limited number of body plans necessary to properly exploit intelligence.

Consider, for instance, the existence of an extraterrestrial species that is far older and more intelligent than the smartest human being that has ever lived, but that this intelligent mind evolved in a body akin to an octopus that is itself trapped in the depths of an ocean encapsulated by the surface ice of Europa. Despite its vast intelligence such a creature would have never seen what dry land is like, let alone the sky, and would be unable to so much as start a fire. Or consider that a creature such as a crow or an elephant that possessed such intelligence. Our earthly octopuses, crows and elephants are certainly intelligent creatures and they — and creatures of far lesser intelligence — have been seen to utilize sticks and other such things as simple tools, but how would they be capable, regardless of their intelligence, of developing high technology? Human beings were able to develop such technology due to the convergence of several necessary factors, with our intelligence being only one of them. In addition, we evolved in a manner that led to us to being bipedal, which freed up our “front legs” so that they could be used as arms, thereby enabling us to use our intelligence, via our opposable thumbs, to manipulate our environment in accordance with its desires, fashioning spears, steam engines, hydrogen bombs and spacecraft.

And what other variables might have had to have come into play, perhaps out of sheer chance, so as to enable us to develop technology sophisticated enough that we could potentially communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) and ultimately evolve from our status as a planetary species to become a stellar, and eventually interstellar, civilization? Fermi’s Paradox may be explained by an unimaginably thick buffer betwixt the emergence of simple, planetary life and a spacefaring civilization — a buffer composed of more layers of “filters” between than we could ever hope to imagine.

Clearly, we can’t be sure. But that a species would need sufficient intelligence that naturally evolved in a humanoid body would certainly seem to be a reasonable starting point. If such a humanoid ETI became interstellar, they would surely explore various planets and study all available forms of life, though their interest would become most acutely focused on those extraterrestrial species that shared important traits with them: sisters and brothers in cosmic, convergent evolution, as it were.

If we dare to adopt as a working hypothesis that the mass of reported alien encounters and alien abduction reflect happenings in objective actuality, subjecting the appearance and behavior of the most commonly-reported aliens, known as the Grays, to analysis with convergent evolution in mind might provide us some insights. We might be able to mentally reverse-engineer the environment in which they developed and even determine what kind of species they are — or are at least akin to from the vantage point of the earthbound life with which we are familiar.

Despite sharing the humanoid body plan with human beings, after all, the Gray aliens show no signs of being mammalian. They have no nipples or breasts, nor lips for suckling. They express no emotion on their faces. They have never been seen to sweat. They have no hair. If we scrutinize them closely enough and run through the natural “escalation of hypotheses” regarding their biological nature, we may arrive at the same suspicion that many abductees tend to share — namely, that these entities are insects, or at the very least insect-like.

Insects arrived on the Gaian scene far earlier than man, his simian ancestors, or even mammals. They first appeared some 500 million years ago, having evolved from crustaceans into one of the very first land-dwelling animals. As a whole, insects tend to mature and reproduce rather rapidly, and within a single insect’s lifetime it can often produce hundreds of offspring, and though many if not most of them die before reproducing, those that do survive and reproduce carry on their successful mutations. This increased genetic diversity means a greater likelihood of favorable mutations developing — genetic “errors” that enable them to adapt to and exploit a wide range of environments. As a consequence, they have spread out across the earth, rooting themselves in nearly every conceivable terrestrial habitat, some considerably extreme from the human perspective. They also have an increased probability of successfully adapting to changing conditions within their given environments, which would not only explain how they have managed to so swiftly evolve resistances to the insecticides we develop but how they managed to survive many of the extinction events that have plagued the earth since her birth. It should therefore not be surprising at all that they presently make up three quarters of all animals on earth: there are a million known species collectively composed of some 10 quintillion individuals.

Given a different planetary and historical context and sufficient time, it is not at all that difficult to see how a species of insect might have developed the intelligence, body-plan and will necessary to emerge as the dominant species, to take the global throne.

It can’t be ignored, of course, that there are also clear differences between the Grays and what little we know regarding our own, earthbound insects — but assuming they are indeed insects, should this be all that surprising? We evolved from apes, after all, and this does not suggest that an extraterrestrial exobiologist could come to a wholesome understanding of us by means of studying the apes or apelike parallels on their own planet. We became human when we evolved the newest part of our brains and began walking upright, and this made us quite distinct from other apes. Given different conditions on a different planet in another star system and enough time, it is not at all that great a leap to assume that at least one insect species might have developed the morphology, intelligence, technology and motive necessary to bring them to our pale, blue dot, where they could interact with members of our own species.

Unlike our earthen insect species, they are not characterized by six legs and antennae, they have no body hair, and their mouth doesn’t seem to operate for the purposes of either consumption or breathing — but there may be good reasons for this. They may not have evolved the capacity to taste or smell given the nature of their particular ecosystem, or perhaps different organs developed to serve those purposes — nostril holes may have developed for olfactory purposes instead of antennae, for instance. Some have hypothesized that the insects with which we are familiar have six legs because they are so small and move so quickly, whereas larger animals move more slowly and their nervous systems are more adept at maintaining balance with four legs or less. In that light, perhaps the Grays have two legs rather than six simply because they are larger. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, it may be due to the fact that they evolved on a planet with less gravity than the earth, which would reduce the balance issue regardless of size. Though not all earthbound insects have wings, most do, though such a low-gravity planet may have also reduced their necessity.

That they have binocular vision, which is to say that their eyes are positioned in front of their head rather than to either side, would seem to suggest they evolved from a predatory insect species. That their eyes are large and black may indicate that they need to pick up more light than we do, so they may live in an environment much darker than our own — a planet with thick cloud-cover, shorter daytime hours, that their planet resides farther from their star(s) or that their home star(s) are of a different type, that they are subterranean creatures, or perhaps only that they are a nocturnal. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, their eyes may be so large simply because they are insects, which is to say because those eyes are compound eyes, enabling them to see a wider range of the light spectrum than we can.

These are so far only small matters in my mind, however. More broadly, my reasons for suspecting they are insects are threefold: first, they appear bear the three qualities of eusociality; second, it explains their physical form; third, it helps explain their psychology.

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Levin & the Gassy Bugs of Mars.

Mars has always held a certain fascination for me. Around five years of age the 1950s film, War of the Worlds, became my favorite. Eventually, I learned of the book that inspired it — and the radio broadcast by Orson Welles in 1938 that inspired panic in those who tuned in, assuming it to be a broadcast of actual events unfolding. In high school, when I began to pursue my interest in UFOs and all things paranormal, I learned that this incident, in tandem with a portion of the Brookings Report, may have helped to inspire the UFO cover-up.
It was the dawn of my senior year when my interest in Mars was once again reinforced, this time by the front page headlines in the early August newspaper and a speech given by then-president Bill Clinton. It dealt with the potential discovery of life — seeming microfossils of bacteria found in Martian meteorite ALH84001. Until the chorus of skepticism arose and talk of the meteorite burned up, I had cautious hopes that the government agencies that had been working so hard on the cover-up might finally be trying to slowly release information to the public. That naive hope ended almost as quickly as it began, however.

It would be some time before my interest in Mars met another resurgence. The plans Elon Musk has to colonize Mars through his company, SpaceX, and the discoveries made since the end of 90s eventually brought me to wonder far more broadly about the past, present and future of that distant, alien globe — and particularly whether life ever existed there and might even be thriving in some form today.

Mars, our neighboring red planet and the fourth cosmic island from our home star, is a terrestrial or “rocky” planet like our own earthen nest. Though less than half the size of earth, Mars presently provides the same amount of dry land as all our continents squished together yet offers only 38% of earth’s surface gravity. A Martian day is only about about 39 minutes longer than an Earth-day. A Martian year is equivalent to 687 earth-days, however, making the two planets closest in their orbits around the sun only once every 26 months or so, where they are about 35 million miles distant from one another.

Both Earth and Mars are thought to have formed around the same time, which is say 4.6 billion years ago. Early in its history, perhaps around 4.3 billion years ago, Mars had a molten core. Coupled with the spin of the planet, it generated a magnetosphere that protected Mars from solar winds and allowed a thick atmosphere to develop. The Martian soil would absorb gases from the atmosphere and active volcanoes delivered them back — a recycling process that kept the planet warm enough for liquid water to remain on the surface in the form of rivers, ponds, lakes, and a single, mile-deep ocean that covered half of the northern hemisphere.

Then, at a currently estimated 4.2 billion years ago, the molten Martian core began to gradually cool down, and as a consequence most of the magnetosphere was lost. Devoid of its protective field, it was left vulnerable to those solar winds, which slowly pissed away its atmosphere into the depths of the final frontier — a process that continues today. The atmosphere that remains is infested with fine-grain dust particles that give the sky an orange-red or brownish hue during the day and a blue color at dawn and dusk. It is composed of roughly 95% carbon dioxide and minute amounts of other gases such as nitrogen, argon, carbon monoxide, methane, oxygen and water vapor, together producing a slight greenhouse effect. Most of the surface water was vaporized and also piddled into space, but not all of it. Some of it froze and became trapped in the Martian soil, which is presently comprised of 60% water-ice, or manifests as frost during the Martian Winter. Sheets of ice also cover the bases of some craters and even more ice resides deeper underground, such as that which was detected beneath the grounds of Utopia Planitia.

There are also the ice caps which, when the time is right, aren’t quite as icy as we find them today. Mars has long-term wobble to its orbit so that every 5 million years or so its poles tilt 45 degrees toward the sun, causing the ice at the poles to melt. As some have pointed out, on Earth bacteria can be frozen for millions of years, essentially hibernating only to reemerge when the temperature rises again and conditions are favorable for life.

Then there is the liquid water, which persists on Mars even today. First identified by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in 2011 through photos captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, the seasonal dark streaks on Martian slopes (referred to as “recurring slope lineae” or RSL) were ultimately determined by NASA in 2015 to be salt deposits from occasional flows of briny water. Over three years later, in July of 2018, it was reported that the European Mars Express orbiter, through use of MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding), discovered a lake — also likely to be briny and chilled — some 12 miles across and at least three feet deep residing just shy of a mile beneath the southern polar ice cap.

Here on our pale blue dot we have extremophiles that reveal, as their name implies, how life can thrive in such extreme conditions; the same may be true for microbial life in the Martian underground or at the poles. This may even be the cause of the aforementioned methane gas in the Martian atmosphere, which must have a source that constantly replenishes it. It has been shown to spike seasonally, during the Martian summer, and appears associated with areas believed to be hiding ice below the surface.

Though debate still rages as to whether Mars was ever host to life, even in its ancient period of earth-like habitability, American engineer and Arizona State University professor Dr. Gilbert V. Levin insists we had evidence of extant microbial life there as early as 1976. As explained in multiple interviews and videos, Levin was a Sanitary Engineer for the Health Department in the 1950s and would test various water sources for contamination. He would take a sample, put it in a test tube with nutrients and incubate it at a high temperature for 1-3 days. If there were indeed microorganisms in the sample, they would feed on the nutrients and expel gas that would produce tiny bubbles that gave away their presence. The issue, as he saw it, was that it was a three-day affair to wait for those bubbles. He was sure there had to be a way to speed it up and eventually settled on coupling the nutrients with radioactive carbon-14 and replacing the time-consuming practice of bubble-gazing with the sensitivity of radiation detectors. After receiving the necessary funding, he found that his technique cut the test down to roughly an hour.

Ultimately he submitted a proposal to NASA, as he thought this would also prove to be an effective way to test Martian soil for extant microbial life. His test was ultimately funded, selected and improved upon. He also added a control. If the experiment produced a positive result, they would take a separate sample of the same soil and heat it to a degree that would kill any microorganisms but not destroy any chemicals that might produce a false positive. If the control produced a negative, that would imply that they had killed something and that the original experiment had not produced a false positive. In the end, it became known as the Labeled Release (LR) test — one of three used by the two Viking Landers in efforts to detect extraterrestrial microbial life.

In 1975, the twin orbiter/lander probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 were launched from earth. By the following year both took up orbit around Mars, photographed the surface and ultimately broke alien ground safely in the Chryse and Utopia regions, thousands of miles from one another. A long, robot arm extended from each probe, took a soil sample, and brought it into a sealed distribution box. From there it fed portions of the sample into three separate and sealed mini-labs, each specifically designed for the test in question. At both sites a drop of nutrients was squirted on a small amount of soil for the LR test — and radioactive gas was emitted for days. This was far longer, Levin stressed, than would be the case if the cause was a simple, lifeless chemical reaction. For the control, the probe then heated the soil for three hours at 160 degrees celsius, let it cool and then squirt it with radioactive nutrients again. There was no response at all.

As the test produced a positive result and the control a negative one at both sites, the agreed-upon criteria for life detection was technically satisfied. Despite this, NASA and many other scientists were reluctant to accept it. NASA thought that perhaps the ultraviolet light on Mars was much stronger than earth given the reduced atmospheric cocoon and that this accounted for the detected radioactivity of the soil sample. To test this hypothesis, Levin and his co-experimenter, Patricia Ann Strat, talked NASA into making the Viking arm move a rock at dawn and take a soil sample from beneath it. After all, that soil wouldn’t have seen the sun for perhaps millions of years, so this would put NASA’s explanation to the test. They did it. And NASA was wrong: the experiment still produced a positive result.

Ultimately, the original scientific control for the LR test was extended even further, and the results kept reinforcing the notion of Martian life. It was already established that the active ingredient stopped responding altogether when the soil was heated to 160 degrees, but they found that heating it to only 46 degrees produced a response — though one that was only 30% as high as the original experiment. At 51 degrees, it was only 10% as high. Levin hypothesized that these results could be explained by an increasing number of microorganisms being killed off as the heat climbed higher and higher. They also tried the LR on a soil sample that had been stored in the distribution box for two months at about 10 degrees. As would be expected if the positive response came from microorganisms, which would have been killed in such conditions, there was no response in this case.

Altogether, Levin states, they preformed nine experiments on Mars, all of them producing either positive test results or negative controls. In other words, all were consistent with the presence of life on Mars. Despite all this, NASA boldly announced that they had only found evidence of a dead, lifeless wasteland and rejected Levin’s proposals for improved experiments, including a new LR experiment testing for left-handedness and right-handedness of organisms.

Sir Charles Schultz III, author of A Fossil Hunter’s Guide to Mars, credits Levin with the discovery of Martian life but goes even further. He insists that more developed forms of life once lived there — and may still be getting by, even thriving. Through FOIA, he apparently obtained some 200 thousand images of Mars from NASA and, after studying them closely, concluded that they depict evidence suggesting the recent presence of water as well as sea shells and marine fossils such as trilobites. Though NASA allegedly showed some early indications of sincere interest in his work, they have since come to cold shoulder him.

Is NASA ignoring or even covering up the existence of Martian life? In either case, one can’t help but wonder why they would do such a thing.

“The failure to pursue NASA’s highest priority (the search for life in the solar system), and the goal NASA once described as ‘probably the greatest experiment in the history of science,’ cannot be logically explained,” Levin said. “It results from NASA’s fear of finding out that its original conclusion about Viking was wrong, supplemented by philosophical and religious elements who insist, for non-scientific reasons, there can be no life elsewhere but Earth.”

Levin was speaking of microbial life in this case, of course, and seems understandably perplexed and frustrated at NASA’s reluctance to accept the results of decades-old experiments. He stops short of crying conspiracy. Schultz believes there is a cover-up, though also maintains that NASA is releasing the information in bite-size portions over time, leaky embargo style.

Given they know something and have elected to keep it silent, I’m not at all confident that they will ever blow the lid off of it, gradually or otherwise, until they have no other choice but to do so. Nothing and no one seems to be forcing their hand at present, but that time may come once Musk puts his plans to build a Martian colony into action.

Solo to Building 8.

Meet Gary McKinnon, a red-haired, 52-year-old man from northern London who managed to really piss off the US government. He has been said to have committed “the biggest military computer hack of all time,” and has himself been called “the most profligate military hacker of all time.”

As for himself, he seems to consider these ridiculous notions. He was only after the truth. He just wanted to know the government’s secrets regarding UFOs.

His interest in both computers and UFOs went way back, though it was some time before he used one as a tool to explore the other. Though he was bad in school, he found that he was rather adept when it came to computers and eventually taught himself how to program. Then, when he was about 11 or 12, he witnessed a UFO from his second-story window. He described it as a red light that zoomed in an massive arc across the sky, moving in erratic wiggles as it made its way. This, along with his stepfather, who was interested in UFOs, is what initially inspired his interest in the subject. Since he couldn’t afford books on the subject, he joined the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), where at least he could be supplied with up-to-date material on the phenomenon.

After school, he initially took odd jobs. He was amazed when he discovered internet and got it at his home in 1995. Eventually he got a job at a company where he worked on computer security.

The spark of inspiration for his two-year hacking spree came in the Spring of 2001. This was when he learned of Stephen Greer’s Disclosure Project, a congregation of hundreds of individuals employed or previously employed by various branches of the US Government. All claim to have seen evidence of a cover-up regarding the subject of UFOs. Some claim the government has successfully reverse-engineered alien technology and even gained access to free energy, which they conceal from the public. They would be holding a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC that May. McKinnon got the associated book and took notes on areas of key interest that he could use to search for on the internet.

That’s when he began going home at night and engaging in hacking. With his personal computer, through his 56K dial-up modem, he hacked into the computer networks of the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Defense, as well as the Pentagon, NASA and the Johnson Space Center. This happened between February 2001 and March 2002. He claims he’s no genius; after all, he was unable to comprehend the higher-level mathematics that would have allowed him to finish his Higher National Diploma in computer programming. He only had curiosity, creativity, that oh-so-necessary patience — and, of course, his own trusty copy of The Hacker’s Handbook.

And, he adds, what he accomplished would have never been possible if not for our government’s lax computer ”security.”

He wrote a program that tied together pre-existent programs that search for computers with their passwords set to default. Typically, he found that about fifty administrator accounts on a given ”top security” US network were set to such passwords. Easy access. Once he gained access to these administrator accounts, which were used to maintain such systems, he would have the widest access. He could scan almost any file in a given network. He then installed software that allowed him to remote control another computer. All he had to do was be cautious about hours specific to time zones and only hack in during the middle of the night.

And under the hacker-name Solo he did just that, time and time again, eight hours a day, every day for a year. He became rather obsessed, often neglecting to shower or change cloths. He ran up $2,500 in dial-up charges. And he went unnoticed. Just once was he caught by a network engineer, and after talking to the guy online, he said, he managed to convince him that he was with Military Computer Security.

So it wasn’t all that difficult, he tells us. This seems supported by his claim that in the midst of his hacking he found he wasn’t exactly ”solo”. He was in company. Running a command called NetStat (Network Status) that reveals all the connections to the computer he was hacking, he found IP addresses from all over the world. And they weren’t from other military bases, either.

Though he found nothing of significance for months, he said, he eventually came across two things of interest.

On a Navy network, he found a document entitled “non-terrestrial officers” that listed officer names and ranks. Included were 8 to 10 ship names, none of which he remembered in interviews, blaming it on his increased pot-smoking at the time. He was certain they were designated USS, though, and later searched the ship names but found no public mention of them. He also found reference to ship-to-ship or fleet-to-fleet material transfers.

The second item of interest he came across was found due to the testimony of Donna Hare, member of the Disclosure Project. Between 1967 and 1981 she worked for Philco Ford Aerospace, a contractor for NASA, as a design illustrator draftsman. She had a secret clearance and in the early 70s worked on site at Building 8 at the Johnson Space Center. One day, she walked into the restricted NASA photo lab across the hallway, where, she said, high-resolution images were regularly taken to be assembled into a mosaic. She was talking to one of the techs she knew, who showed her a aerial photograph mosaic, presumably of earth, and drew her attention to a round white spot on one panel of the photograph. When she asked if it was a dot on the emulsion, he smiled, his arms crossed, and stated that if it was, it wouldn’t be leaving a shadow on the ground. She also saw the shadow, which was cast at the same angle of nearby pine trees. When she asked if it was a UFO, he said he couldn’t tell her. When she asked him what he planned on doing with this information, he only told her that it was their duty to airbrush them out prior to their release to the public.

That was enough for McKinnon to work with.

Armed now with an exact location, McKinnon searched for Building 8, accessed it and began to search for relevant files. He eventually found two folders that were marked either “processed” and “unprocessed” or “raw” and “filtered”. In any case, in them he found a long list of photo files and he clicked on one of the raw or unprocessed ones. Due to his snail-speed internet connection, however, the image loaded only one line at a time. What he eventually saw astounded him.

“It was a culmination of all my efforts,” he described in an interview with Spencer Kelly. “It was a picture of something that definitely wasn’t man-made. It was above the Earth’s hemisphere. It kind of looked like a satellite. It was cigar-shaped and had geodesic domes above, below, to the left, the right and both ends of it, and although it was a low-resolution picture it was very close up. This thing was hanging in space, the earth’s hemisphere visible below it, and no rivets, no seams, none of the stuff associated with normal man-made manufacturing.”

Elsewhere, he added that there was also no insignia on the craft and that the domes flowed into the craft in a smooth manner.

Since it was a Java application, he told interviewers, he wouldn’t have been able to save but a frame of it. And he tried. Just as he had downloaded about two-thirds of the image, however, he saw the cursor move, and not by his own hand. Unbeknownst to him, he had miscalculated the time difference and had accessed the computer during the hours when it was still in use. Someone was physically at the computer terminal he was remotely operating and could see what he was doing. The cursor moved to cut the connection.

Amazingly, this didn’t stop him from continuing on with his hacking.

Issues with his girlfriend and the fact that he was smoking copious amounts of marijuana probably didn’t help matters, he has confessed. He even tried to get back to that same Building 8 file later on, but security had been tightened and he couldn’t gain access. He began getting cocky, too.

“It got a bit silly,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “I ended up talking to people I hacked into … I’d instant-message them, using WordPad, with a bit of a political diatribe. You know, I’d leave a message on their desktop that read, ‘Secret government is blah blah blah.'”

So when the British National Hi-Tech Crime Unit arrested him in March of 2002, he really wasn’t at all that surprised.

His personal computer was seized and the hard drive was ultimately sent to the US. He was held in custody for perhaps seven hours and confessed. Originally they told him he would probably just get a sentence for six months of community service. No big deal.
Ultimately the British Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges against him, as his crimes did not involve their own computers.

Unfortunately, the US Military was pretty pissed off.

In November of 2002, the US Department of Defense began their efforts to extradite him to the US to stand trial, where he could face a 70-year sentence and fines up to $1.75 million. There had previously been a law in the UK that required the US to produce evidence before they could extradite someone. Then a new treaty was signed. For extradition, the US now needed only “reasonable suspicion” and was not required to provide evidence. The UK, however, was still required to have probable cause. A little unbalanced, methinks.

“I was charged seven times,” he told The Observer, “with 10 years’ imprisonment on each. The most serious accusation was ‘bringing down the entire military network of Washington’.”

Their claim was that he caused some $700,000 in damages to 97 military and government systems that took over a month for them to repair. He claims, however, that he wasn’t attempting to damage anything, he was merely looking for something. He didn’t call this hacking. He called it research.

“I think it’s the biggest kept secret in the world because of its comic value, but it’s a very important thing,” he said to Spencer Kelly in an interview. “Old-age pensioners can’t pay their fuel bills, countries are invaded to award oil contracts to the West, and meanwhile secretive parts of the secret government are sitting on suppressed technology for free energy.”

McKinnon feared the prospect of facing US prison time, or even, he speculated, Gontomino Bay. Over a decade of legal battles ensued as he waited with this storm cloud looming over his head, and in the interim he was diagnosed with Aspergers and depression. This ultimately influenced the 2012 decision by UK Home Secretary Theresa May that sending him to the US would be in violation of his human rights. His extradition was denied.

McKinnon has been accused of making up the notion that UFO interests drove his hacking as a smokescreen for his malicious intent. He dismisses this as ridiculous, insisting that he wouldn’t have used UFOs as a cover if he had such intent, as it would only open him up to ridicule. I, for one, believe him to be sincere with respect to his motives and honest with respect to what he has seen — though his interpretations of the information he stumbled across is certainly open to interpretation.

McKinnon was impressed with Greer and got caught up in the free energy idea, for instance, and I am very suspicious of both. I am, for that matter, suspicious of allegations that the military has successfully reverse-engineered and replicated alien technology, though I don’t doubt that they have such alien technology in their possession. And I don’t think we have a secret space program, either, at least not to the degree suggested by the common interpretation of “non-terrestrial officers.” I will say that Greer amassed a collection of high-ranking military officials with interesting stories to tell, however, many of which I find entirely believable.

In addition, as described by Donna Hare and apparently verified by what McKinnon found while hacking Building 8, there are indeed NASA photos to be found that suggest apparent airbrushing, blurring, smudging, blatant deleting or similar techniques. If you are in doubt, take a moment and Google it. While some of these are no doubt due to photographic errors, many of them seem to be too localized and deliberate to dismiss on that basis.

As I’m not holding my breath with respect to government disclosure, I believe those like McKinnon are as close as we’re going to get. Though the US government didn’t make the example out of him in the manner they seemed to be aiming for, they did make his life a living hell for well over a decade, and that nightmare alone may be enough to ward off many future, would-be UFO Hacktavists. Our hopes for future public acceptance of the truth regarding what aspects of the US government knows are therefore likely only in the hands of a talented and courageous few.

I can’t condone it, and I’m certainly not one of them, but I can’t help but say it: I really hope they exist.

***

The Nerd Who Saw Too Much (The Sydney Morning Herald, 7/13/05).
Terrorist or UFO Truth Seeker? (Reuters, 4/28/06)
Gary McKinnon interview by Stephen Emms (The Observer, 4/22/07)
Hacker fears ‘UFO cover-up’ (BBC News, 5/5/06)
Breaking into the US citadel was easier than child’s play, by Maija Palmer, IT Correspondent (Financial Times, 4/22/06)
Mystery Space Machines Above (Rense.com, 12/1207)
Wikipedia.
YouTube clips.
Rampant insomnia-fueled Googling I could never hope to sufficiently detail.

So FN Hypersensitive.

My insanity,
it just might be
that it is an effect

as opposed
to a cause

of this surreal
circumstance.

Keep that in mind.

I know those infinitely
more stable
than I, psychologically
and otherwise,

who have seen a vast
array

of things that should not
be, many experiences
which are far

more than merely vaguely
reminiscent
of the weird shit
I’ve seen, all the strange

that has inundated
and saturated
me. The only difference

might very well be

that they were merely fortunate
enough not

to be so
fucking
hypersensitive.

Plaything of a Higher Intelligence.

So sorry, boy,
but you must’ve mistaken
this universe

for a world in which things
make sense.

If you wanted it all to add
up to coherence,
if you held your breath
white-knuckled hope
for answers,

all my sources say
you came to the wrong
fucking place.

Logic is not
the dictating force
here, or so

experience would indicate,
and if it does,
it’s a far

more advanced flavor,
one that clearly
rests
within the headspace

of a far higher intelligence
that seems
to be using the ant farm
we call home
as its own plaything,

a tool to amuse
its twisted, malicious,
extradimensional mind.

You should know,
you’ve lived all the red flags.

You’re the product of all
its conceivable signs.

Stick Around (Behold Some Answers).

Life feeds on life, so
it is self-sustaining.

And contrary
to infectious
belief, it needn’t
always be dismal.

Minds wander,
with them their glowing

core, gathering
patterns, donning
the masks and costumes,
playing all their roles
in the games, doing
what they need to
so as to survive,
always including adapting
to the spark that hides

to beat
the heat, to battle
the cold

found inhabiting
the islands
caught

in the revolutionary
pull of the stars.

Self
is forged in the chaos,

soul
is revealed to itself
in the fallout.

This set of cycles
just align
another angle,

so don’t bail
on this adventure,
hypersensitive

lost boy,
old soul,
alien inside,
wanderer,
starseed,
indigo,

madman unknowingly
on the precipice
of enlightenment
or psychotic break,

and a cornucopia
of other diverse
hypotheses

of nature, origin
and (where applicable)
purpose.

No.

Hang out
if only in the spirit
of Might As Well.

This time
around, the track

has more than a few
surprises left up
its sleeve…

Trust me,
you don’t want
to miss that.

Behold some answers.

Suspicions of Catalyst Seasons.

Reacquaint yourself with the old ruts,
ancient and circular paths
well worn, uncertain

if you truly climbed out, broke out
and onto new ground, an open road,

or if the season
merely passed in the spirit
of transience, doomed
to return
indefinitely.

Flesh and bones
wombs and graves,
reborn:

is this just another
existential hiccup?
Surface circumstances betray
seeming echoes:

underlying patterns,
apparently impenetrable.

Despite the lack
of any recognizable resolution,
you consider

them behind you, but suspicions arise
that they continue to haunt,
undaunted,

that they were merely hibernating in caves
of latent potential,
triggered to rise like zombies
from their graves
when the season’s appropriate.

This hell
we’re going through, must
we keep going until, in our dizzy,
disoriented blindness,
we find the exit,
or can we transcend,

uproot, kill the seeds
destined to arise
again when subjected
to the catalyst?

Call to Grandmother Spiderwoman.

Dying again
for an explanation.
And I know
you know something.

Made the connections.
Know now who you are.

Weaver of the elaborate web
we’re wound in,
a blanket to comfort
or smother:

answer.

Aching here to understand intent.
Good will, bad? Dispense
with the justifications.
Feed me reason.

Tell me why.
Tell me why not.

Is there hope?
Is it all for naught?
Or does it mean
nothing at all —

dispossessed
by our projections,
anyway: the precious pareidolia

that imposes meaning
on chaos fed
to us through our narrow
perceptions?

Or are you crawling closer
with your right long legs,
ready to sink
your fangs in?

Its still so confusing.