Friday, May 23, 2014

Busting UFOs

Feasting on Hearts! Literally!
So it's been shown a few times before that I have a pretty damn near infinite capacity to entertain myself, and while entertaining myself is rarely productive in the sense of getting me closer to the consumerist nirvana of a house and a car and a hefty 401k that doesn't quite cancel out the debts caused by the first two, it's generally productive in the sense that something is produced.

Whether it's the entirely sub-par work of the Zaxton Space Program or the hilariously terrible work of various minecraft projects, continuing the work from last November's NaNoWriMo (an event misnamed if ever there was), I can usually at least be bothered to do [i]something[/i]. Hell, in the past I've entertained myself by making videos and posts about fish. FISH. On a blog that started as a philosophy blog, and like most blogs, is now more a personal screed than any sort of coherent content.

So when I was faced unexpectedly with nearly a month's unwarranted and unpaid vacation, did I do something logical like pick up where I left off on my book, pre-write a small library of posts for the four blogs under my control, or even follow the technically-true defintion of productivity by working on the business plan I won't be needing this decade?

Nope! I spent short work week's worth of hours investigating one single ridiculously shaky report of an Unidentified Flying Object in Malaysia. Not because I believe in aliens in the crossing-the-gulf-of-the-cosmos sense, or because it was particularly well-reported, or even because I placed any emotional weight behind the setting.

I did it because it was that or continue working on my evolving DnD campaign and this seemed like the least hopelessly wasteful use of the brain that my brain actually allowed me to do!

Okay, so earlier this month the indisputably niche blog The Object Report reported on a sighting in Malaysia of a very large and very dramatic flying object sighting near one of the busiest buildings in Kyala Lampur. The article came with two "High Resolution" photographs presented by two different sources.

Now, the very first thing I want to address is that the article takes this photographic evidence, whatever its merit (which I will get into), and then extrapolates it to support the conjecture of a bunch of other alien-human interaction such as a co-breeding problem, which is absurd on the face even if it wasn't a complete non sequitur fallacy.

Now, the only purportedly original photograph on the article (credited to witness Chong) that was available is part of a set that the blogger, one Agent D, claims to have independently verified as "definitely from a cellular phone camera" and "not processed or manipulated by photoshop". My own analysis, which is considerable (when you get engaged to a graphic designer, you tend to develop an interest in photographic analysis), only determined that the photo had been artificially stripped of metadata - either the sort of data that would allow you to positively identify it as a camera shot was never part of the photo, or had been removed. Beyond that, there was nothing I could identify as being overtly shoppy, but that really just means that anyone with an interest in photoshopping the images was better than I am at his forgery roll.

The main problem is the location. The article claims that the appearance happened at about 1230 local. Right in the middle of lunch, at the tallest building in the world, only two people were equipped with working cameras. Oh, and those two people both failed to realize that their cellphones could take video instead of photographs.

Now, I wanted to use the images in the article, and I'm fairly certain I could have under fair use, but I didn't, because the authors of the article (the probable owners of the images I did analysis on) weren't courteous enough to respond to my email for permission and comment.

However, if Agent D happens to be reading this, he should be expecting a call from A Cell rather soon.

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