Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Apocalyptic performance art

I try not to devote too much time to claims that are simply crazy.  After all, wacko claims are a dime a dozen, and some of the delusional folks who make them are more to be pitied than censured.

But every once in a while, along will come a claim that is so bizarre, so inspired, that it rises above the background noise to the point that it almost seems like a work of performance art.  And thus, I think, is the mélange of mishegoss that calls itself Unveiling Them.

At first glance, it seems to be nothing more than an End Times/Book of Revelation site, but it's much more than that.  They only start there, and afterwards, go off into reaches of weirdness the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time.

The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse [image courtesy of Sweet Media and the Wikimedia Commons]

Besides the usual Number Of The Beast stuff, we find out that:

  • Iron is a nutritional toxin; we need copper instead.
  • AB negative is the original human blood type; all of the others arose from mutations within the past five hundred years.
  • The Ebola virus only affects people who are suffering from iron poisoning.
  • Contrary to what the census bureau would have you believe, the population of the United States peaked in 1980 and is currently decreasing.
  • There are 14,270,410 Evil Satanic Operatives in the United States right now.  Why is this number relevant?  It's 6.66% of the whole population.  Get it?  666?  (Okay, I know it's only 6.66% if you think the population is way smaller than it actually is.  Just play along, all right?)
  • Baby Boomers are being exterminated in Secret Death Camps.
  • What Jesus actually meant to say was "Do unto others before they have a chance to do unto you."
  • Radiation, including wi-fi, "vibrates your blood proteins" and accelerates aging.
  • Barack Obama lied about his birth certificate, but not in the way the "Truthers" claim.  He wasn't born in Hawaii, but neither was he born in Kenya.  He was born in Alabama in 1916.  So he's 98 years old.
  • Because he's smart enough to consume copper instead of iron, and stays away from wi-fi.
See?  I told you this'd be fun.

Of course, there's the warning posted on the website, threatening supernatural vengeance against scoffers like myself, which I reproduce here in toto:
Any attack on the words of these pages (and links) herein, whether it be directly or indirectly, by those whom these words speak of or by their agents or any instrument of theirs, will receive a thousand times what they gave to others, and the plagues and miseries they unleashed upon others, will abound in them.
So I consider myself forewarned.  Of course, given that the author of this website has a serious grudge against... well, pretty much everyone, it remains to be seen who would be left un-plagued after all was said and done.  He says that the bad guys who are doomed to destruction include anyone involved in "universities, colleges, foundations, research, corporations, legal system, intelligence organizations/contractors, the churches, media, medicine, police departments, military, all government agencies, school districts, water departments, energy & communications, financial institutions, music/movie industries, sports/entertainment, television/radio, funeral homes/cemeteries, insurance and real estate."  If you exclude all of the aforementioned, who do you have left to Inherit The Kingdom Of God?

The author of the website.  And maybe a handful of scattered peasant-sheepherder types in random locations.  The Lord Of Hosts will more be The Lord Of A Few Guys Who Wonder Where Everyone Else Went.

And there's lots more, which I invite you to peruse.  We apparently will know who the Elect are by their DNA, which is the same as Christ's DNA, which was secretly isolated from the Shroud of Turin.   We are told that the main goal is to "Put an end to violence and bloodshed," but that we are to accomplish this by "Rounding up every man, woman, and child for the abyss prepared for them," which seems a little counterproductive to me if ending violence is your goal.  (I suppose, of course, that if by the end of all of this, there's only seventeen people left on Earth, then it's gonna be de facto a more peaceful planet than it has been for a very long time.)

Anyhow, I'm about done with this, so I'll just leave you to cogitate on all of it.  Me, I'm going off to prepare myself to be Smitten A Thousandfold By Plagues And Miseries.  You'd think one plague would do it, wouldn't you?  A thousand seems a little wasteful.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sticker shock

New from the "Wow, You People Really Get Upset About Everything, Don't You?" department, we have a conspiracy theorist who thinks that the Evil Government Agents are marking our mailboxes with color-coded dots for some ominous purpose.

The dots, which are about three inches across, are either bright red, blue, or yellow.  And according to the aforementioned wackmobile, the whole idea is so that they can keep track of who is headed for termination:
More and more people are reporting their mail box or their house has been marked with color stickers or marks. Are these the FEMA death camp markings for foreign troops to gather us when the government declares martial law? In some area, even the local police & utility companies don’t even know why they are there.
He then follows it up with a couple of videos, showing his mailbox and a neighbor's mailbox that have stickers.  And lo, one of them was red and one of them was blue, as was foretold by the prophecy.  Worse still, one of the mailboxes had the lock forced.  He talked to a guy at the post office, who said that the blue sticker meant that there was a forwarding order on that address.  The guy who made the video, who calls himself "Master Paul," draws from this the following breathtaking conclusion:
If blue means "forward," why is (the neighbor's) red?  There are a lot of conspiracy theories on YouTube.  This is not a conspiracy theory.  You're seeing it.  Red and blue!
Yup.  We saw it.  Red and blue.  And therefore FEMA death camps and martial law and public floggings of American citizens, or something.

To hammer home the point, we're shown the following map, illustrating where stickered mailboxes have been reported to Master Paul et al.:

So after seeing all of this, I had to go out and check my own mailbox, to see if I'd been color-coded for execution.  I mean, inquiring minds want to know, and all.  My mailbox didn't have a colorful dot, but it did still have the Borg insignia that a student of mine put on it five years ago:

And I guess, all things considered, being assimilated is probably preferable to being beheaded.  But still, it was a little disappointing that the Evil Government Operatives don't even consider me important enough to be color-coded.

There are two things, though, that strike me as funny about all of this.  One is that the conspiracy theorists think that the conspirators are these ultra-intelligent, secretive Men In Black, who despite having access to god-alone-knows-what sorts of sophisticated technology, keep track of their victims via stickers?  All I can say is, if that's the level of finesse these guys are capable of, I'm not very worried:
First conspirator:  Shit!  Mrs. Finkwhistle ripped the sticker off her mailbox again!  Third time this week!  What color was she supposed to be? 
Second conspirator (consulting rolodex file):  Um, I think she was yellow.  No, wait, she's chartreuse. 
First conspirator:  What does chartreuse mean? 
Second conspirator:  It means people who aren't really threats to our Evil Plans, but who do own annoying yappy little dogs named "Foofoo." 
First conspirator:  Oh, right.  Well, I'm all out of chartreuse stickers.  I guess we better go back to Staples.
But it's not only the general incompetence of the Evil Government Operatives that bothers me.  If you looked at the website, you'd see that right in the comments section, someone explains the actual significance of the stickers (other than forwarding orders):
I am a newspaper person and we have different stickers for different houses.  A red one may mean the person is handicapped so take it to their door.  Standard use is blue ones although some freaks use fluorescent ones to see them in the dark so we don’t pass your house.  Sometimes they also use these so they can tell what type of account the person has.  Like Daily, Weekend, Sunday only.  I gotta tell the guys about that one.  Thinking it’s FEMA.  bahahawahhahahahahaha.
Well, I guess he told "Master Paul."  But the thing of it is, the other commenters immediately shot the guy down.  It is too FEMA.  Stop confusing the situation with your silly "facts," dammit.  Stickers!  Death camps!  Martial law!  AAAUUUGGGGHHH!

Righty-o.  So anyway, if you find a sticker in your mailbox, I wouldn't remove it, unless you're really keen on your newspaper being delivered to someone else.  You have nothing to worry about other than that, however, whether you have a sticker or not.  On the other hand, I'd still suggest watching out for the Borg.  Assimilation has got to be uncomfortable, what with all of those implants and everything.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The pink glove agenda

I try not to repeat myself, I honestly do.  Recycling topics -- the way Ann Coulter's column always seems to boil down to liberals being morons who hate America -- is a lazy way to run a blog.

But sometimes the temptation is just too strong.  Such as the topic of my post earlier this month, that the fundamentalist Christians are running out of sane arguments against equal rights for LGBT individuals, so now they're making up stuff that is batshit insane.

In that post, we had A. J. Castellitto claiming that gays were secretly commies, and Rick Santorum opining that if gay marriage becomes legal, there'll be more single moms.  But just in the last couple of days, we have had some further rants from the right that make Castellitto and Santorum sound like the voice of reason.

First, we have a film from Truth In Action Ministries warning Christian parents that public schools are actually being run by people who are determined to lead children astray:
Public schools, and this is right on some level, want to teach kids right and wrong.  But what if their definition of right and wrong says, "Opposing homosexual behavior is wrong, and embracing homosexuality is right"?  Then of course you're going to start seeing that in the public schools.  I've noticed that in textbooks the words "husband," "wife," "family," "worship," "pray" have been taken out...  I know there is a controversy in California right now about teaching gay history in the public schools.  Many Christians and others are concerned about this agenda being foisted upon children who are being required to attend public schools.  I know a girl in my home town who was flunked because she refused to write a paper about gays having the right to adopt kids.  So they actually flunked her from the school.  When that happens, Christians need to speak up and say, "Wait a minute.  What about my constitutional rights?  I'm being denied my right of free exercise of religion."    If my state denies me the right to refuse to participate in a classroom project I disagree with, then I should have the right to refrain from doing it.  So, mom and dad, if you have a school district where in fact they are introducing pernicious ideas that are antithetical to the word of God, then you are going to ask yourself who you are going to serve: Mammon or God.
Yuppers.  I'll just leave that right there.  Because that's bush-league crazy compared to Flip Benham, of Operation: Save America, who claims that the whole thing boils down to Satan wearing gay gloves:
Ours is a gospel battle.  We see the gospel battle.  Homosexuality is the same fist with a different colored glove...  Homosexuality is a pink-colored glove covering the same fist, the fist of the devil...   (Islam, abortion, and homosexuality) are three of the greatest physical manifestations between the two seeds -- the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.  It’s the same battle, it’s the same fist, we’re fighting the Devil and his lies in the world and the flesh, and moving it to a thing called the homosexual agenda – and it’s the Devil’s agenda.  But now, we're not allowed to speak against it.
I'm thinking that pink is really not Satan's color.  The overall Infernal Theme seems to be red, you know?  Pink would clash terribly.

Satan and Job by William Blake (1826) [image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Maybe some nice elbow-length gray suede gloves would be less gauche.  Fashion is everything, especially when you're trying to seduce souls into an Evil Agenda.

Then we had Gordon Klingenschmitt, Republican nominee for congress in Colorado, who in an email to supporters warned that the presence of an openly gay man in congress would lead to Christians being beheaded:
The openly homosexual Congressman Jared Polis introduced a revised bill to force Christian employers and business owners to hire and promote homosexuals with ZERO RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS for Christians who want to opt out. 
Polis ‘wants sexual orientation and gender identity treated the same way as race, religion, sex, and national origin, when it comes to employment protections,’ claims the Advocate, under the headline ‘Polis trims ENDA’s religious exemption’... 
The open persecution of Christians is underway.  Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy.  Next he’ll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America.
Man, that's one hell of a slippery slope. Klingenschmitt later posted -- well, not a retraction, exactly, but a snarky followup that claimed he was "joking" and that the Democrats "don't recognize hyperbole."  Unsurprisingly, no one except his ultra-religious followers were much impressed by this, and the general consensus is that he may just have torpedoed whatever chance he had at his party's nomination.

And I'll only give the briefest of mentions to Pat Robertson's claim that homosexual male teenagers will turn straight if they have male companionship, and a post on the website of the Louisiana Tea Party claiming that the Common Core was designed to turn children gay, and that the "first wave" had  already been converted.

What always strikes me about this is to wonder why god, not to mention his various mouthpieces, are so damn worried about what consenting adults do in their bedrooms.  It's just one more aspect of God-As-Micromanager, but while most of the devout have jettisoned all of the picayune rules from Leviticus about what you can eat, and touch, and do on Sundays, they still have this bizarre hangup about how people get off.

Worse yet, there's the fact that these people's prejudices are denying loving couples the right to have that love recognized and protected under the law.   You'd think that devout Christians would have the attitude that the statement from 1 Corinthians -- "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" -- kind of outweighs the verse from Leviticus that says, "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."  It's pretty clear that most of the religious ignore most of Leviticus -- except, apparently, the parts governing behavior they find icky.  I mean, there's the line from Leviticus 11 about the devout being prohibited from touching pig skin, and that hasn't stopped Tim Tebow.

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

So I find the whole thing baffling.  I've come to expect that these people will be Johnny One-Note on their favorite bible verse, even though it does call into question why they think about that one so often.  But the fear mongering, not to mention babbling about pink gloves and gay agendas running public schools and gay congressmen supervising the beheading of American citizens, is simply bizarre.  I surmised in my previous post that this wacko behavior was a sign that they were running out of ideas, and I fervently hope this is true.  But whatever is driving it, I wish they'd stop.  They're turning me into a Johnny One-Note myself, and I'd rather avoid that if I can.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gnome-man's land

Yesterday, I thought we had reached some pinnacle of cryptozoological silliness with "Batsquatch," the denizen of the forested Pacific Northwest that looks like you put a chihuahua's head on Arnold Schwarzenegger's body, and added humongous bat wings.

But no.  Today we do even better, with a report from north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of a man who saw...

... a gnome.

Yes, a gnome, complete with pot belly and little conical cap.  And no, he says, it was not a garden statue.

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Over at the site EarthFiles, we hear the account of one Keith Sniadach, who owns a cabin in western Pennsylvania.  He set up a game camera, but instead of the usual deer and raccoons, he captured something different -- a moving figure with a "pink, pig-like face, bulbous black eyes, and a coned head (that) seems to be a hat with a white ball on top."  The figure also has "skinny legs" and "seems to be wearing leather."

You'll have to go over to the link provided to read Sniadach's entire account and to see the photographs, because the EarthFiles site has a big warning at the bottom that everything on their site is copyright-protected, and I'd rather avoid legal entanglements.  But when I read this story, three things jumped out at me:

  1. The camera, which Sniadach pronounces an "awesome camera," gave photographs of this thing that are blurred enough that you can turn them into just about anything you want.
  2. A gnome?  Really?
  3. Sniadach is the author of Relics of God: A Supernatural Guide to Religious Artifacts, Sacred Locations and Holy Souls.
Okay, I know #3 may be a little unfair, but it does occur to me how infrequently gnomes appear to skeptics like myself.  So I thought: all right, Sniadach has his own set of biases, as does Linda Moulton Howe, owner of EarthFiles.  But don't we all?  Couldn't Sniadach still be a reliable witness?

Then I scrolled down on the above Amazon link, to read his reviews, and found the following one-star review:
I reviewed this book before and the Author had posted vitriolic and obnoxious comments regarding my view on his work.  This prompted me to read the book for the second time and my stand on this opus remains the same. 
Relics of God is an attempt to compile objects associated with the superphysical realm and other stories about Christianity...  (Yet) eighty-nine percent of the information were taken from internet sites and the only primary source consulted was the bible.
Which, of course, also doesn't mean that he made up the gnome story, but it does call into question his scientific credibility.  Which is not helped by the fact that in his account, he says that there has also been a lot of Bigfoot activity near his cabin, and he and his father have heard and recorded "Bigfoot screams."

He says he's also really interested in The Winged Humanoid of Butler County.

On the other hand, Howe contacted Daniel Drasin, "professional digital image analyzer," who pronounces that on examining the gnome photographs, he sees "no obvious evidence of Photoshop manipulation."

Not, of course, that that's the only way to create a fake paranormal photograph.  My younger son took the following just a couple of days ago, using his old digital camera:

The ghost in the photograph is me, walking across my rec room.  I guess I'm like those creepy guys in The Sixth Sense who are ghosts and don't know they're dead.

In any case, I'm doubtful about the whole Pennsylvania gnome thing, Sniadach's claims to the contrary notwithstanding.  Being a biologist, no one would be more tickled than me if there was some previously-undocumented species of sentient creature moseying around in the woods of my neighbor state.

But I don't think this is it.  I'm placing the gnome in with Batsquatch, squarely in the "nope" file.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bats in the belfry

Over at the site Pararational a couple of days ago an article appeared describing a cryptid I'd never heard of.  Huge, brawny, with pointed ears and enormous, leathery wings, this character haunts the forests of the Pacific Northwest.  As if they didn't already have enough problems with their Sasquatch infestation.

And despite living for ten years in Seattle, I'd never heard of him.  So, dear readers, meet...

... Batsquatch.

The first thing I notice, being a biologist, is that Batsquatch seems to have no... equipment.  If you get my drift.  Above the waist, he's built like a bodybuilder, and below the waist he's built like a Ken doll.  So you have to wonder how there'd be more than one of them.   Maybe they reproduce from spores, or something.

The other thing is that he's got kind of a small head in comparison to his body, and a rather derpish expression.  Low cranial capacity, you know?  A knuckle-dragger type.  The overall impression is of a demon from the redneck part of hell, where instead of stealing your soul, they just down a six-pack of Miller Lite and then take a baseball bat to your mailbox.

Beelzebubba, is kind of how I think of him.

Be that as it may, Batsquatch has apparently been seen a number of times, starting back in 1980, and has generated reports with some regularity since then.  Here's one from 2009:
Me and my friend were hiking around Mt. Shasta and out of one of the crevices, flew out this big creature.  I mean this thing was huge. It was as tall as a man, as stocky as Hulk Hogan and had leathery wings.  I believe the wing span was at least 50 feet from one end to the other.  I was holding up my camera, but was paralyzed with fear as this thing flew by.  I didn’t get a picture, sorry.  What do you think this might be?  Could it have been a pterodactyl?  It was flying or gliding fast, it seemed to have a head of a bat.  Thinking about it, it doesn’t have the head of a pterodactyl, I just saw a picture of a pterodactyl and the heads are not similar.  I would think it had the head of a bat or maybe more like a fox.  The damn thing finally flew into a clump of trees and vanished.  I heard you guys might be going back to Mt. Shasta, if you do, please look out for this thing.  If you see it, you will piss all over yourself, I kid you not.
Well, yeah, I guess that'd be a natural enough reaction to seeing Hulk Hogan with fifty-foot wings.

Then, we're told of several "fake" reports of Batsquatch.  I'm not entirely sure how one vague story with no proof differs from another vague story with no proof, but the author of the website says that some of the accounts are real and some are not, so there you are.

Because the fact remains that there isn't a scrap of hard evidence that Batsquatch exists, just a lot of anecdotal reports and a sketch of a sketch.  That didn't stop the folks over at Pararational from coming up with what may be the all-time silliest explanation for a cryptid sighting that I've ever read:
(Perhaps) Batsquatch is an extra-dimensional creature that dropped through a rift and got stuck here.  If the first sighting really was in close proximity to the Mt. St. Helens eruption, it seems probably that the force of the blast may have ruptured time/space allowing something to get sucked through.  In that case, it may have flown around for a while and died in some remote location, or else found a way home.
Because, of course, "rupturing space-time" is what happens when a volcano erupts.  Probably also happens during earthquakes, thunderstorms, and early cold snaps.  You know how fragile space-time is, at least if Star Trek: The Next Generation is to be believed.

So anyway.  If you're in the Northwest, look out for Batsquatch.  Given how big he supposedly is, I don't see how you could miss him, frankly.  If you see him, maybe he won't hurt you if you offer him a Miller Lite.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

James Foley, and the moral bankruptcy of the conspiracy theorists

Every time I think the conspiracy theorists can sink no lower, they outdo themselves.

Not that it's easy.  These are the people who think that everything from the Sandy Hook massacre to the Boston Marathon bombing were "false flags" to distract us from what the Evil Government is doing, or else outright hoaxes staged by "crisis actors."  They've dogged the footsteps of bereaved parents who have lost children to school shooters, desperate to prove that their child never existed, thereby ranking even lower on the Great Chain of Being than the members of the Westboro Baptist Church (who fall somewhere below slime molds themselves).  They spread their fear messages amongst the gullible, turning jet contrails into toxic "chemtrails," fluoridation of water into a campaign by the government to convert us all into mindless drones, and vaccination programs into a plan by "Big Pharma" to give our children autism, ALS, and lord alone knows what else.

And now they have latched onto the brutal beheading of James Foley by the butchers of ISIS as the latest target of their poisonous nonsense.

The flag of jihad [image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

We have the conversation over at the r/conspiracy subreddit claiming that ISIS is an arm of the CIA.  Worse still, from the site Epoch Times comes a claim that the execution video itself is a fake, and that the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is actually an Israeli Jew named Elliott Shimon who is on the payroll of Mossad.  Other claims are floating around various social media, suggesting that Obama operatives staged the execution (or possibly carried it out for real) to distract us from the riots in Ferguson or the illegal alien crisis or the ongoing non-scandal surrounding Benghazi.

(And just for the record: though I provided links to the r/conspiracy thread and the Epoch Times article, I am actively recommending that you don't click them, unless you really enjoy experiencing outrage at near-aneurysm levels.)

But to the people promoting these ridiculous claims, I have only the following to say:

Have you no shame at all?

A man died, for fuck's sake, slaughtered in the desert with less dignity than we accord cattle in an abattoir.  His executioner's blank eyes are the face of true human evil, and the cause he belongs to is representative of the worst human nature can do.  I am by nature and philosophy a pacifist, but reading about Foley's horrifying last moments (I refuse to watch the video, and so should you) makes me roundly in favor of tactical strikes to wipe every last member of ISIS off the face of the earth.  These subhumans deserve no better.

And you dare to bend this story to fit your twisted little view of humanity?  You have only proven your own moral bankruptcy, if there was any doubt of that left.  Your lies are nearly as sickening as the brutal jihadist message of ISIS itself, because you, like they, have no apparent regard for the life and dignity of a human being who (by all accounts) was a kind, courageous, intelligent man whose death should be mourned in peace by his family and friends, not used as a means for bolstering a warped worldview.

It shouldn't surprise me by now.  You people are willing to lie about damn near everything else, why wouldn't I expect you to lie about this?

But it always does, somehow.  I always think, "This, at least, is beneath even the conspiracy theorists."

And I'm always wrong.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Alien rock mania

In the last week or so, there's been a sudden rash of claims of discovering alien artifacts on the Moon and Mars.

To which I respond: will you people please get a grip?

It's often hard enough, here on Earth, with the actual item in your hand, to tell the difference between a human-created artifact and an object with entirely non-human origins.  Chance resemblances and oddball natural processes sometimes result in rocks (for example) with strikingly organic-looking appearance.  For example, what do you make of this?

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Looks like coral, right?  Or maybe some sort of fossilized plant?  Nope, it's a fulgurite -- a rock that forms when lightning strikes sand.

So chance appearances don't tell you much.  Especially when you are looking at a grainy photograph of the object in question.  And especially when you want very much for there to be something impressive there.

For example, we had a claim a couple of days ago over at the International Business Times that the Mars rover Curiosity had photographed what appears to be a thigh bone.  "None of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration scientists have spoken about it," the article states, with some asperity, "but the news has been going viral."

Well, when you look at the photograph, you'll see why NASA really didn't want to spend their time debunking it:

[image courtesy of NASA]

It's a rock, folks.  Being a biology teacher, I know what a thigh bone looks like, and this ain't one.  It's a rock.

Oh, and to the folks over at the IBT: you do not improve your credibility by following up the story on the Martian thigh bone with the statement, "In the past, there have been claims of noticing objects on the surface of Mars like a dinosaur spine, dinosaurs, mysterious light, a toy boat, an iguana, a cat and a half-human and half-goat face."  Just to point that out.

Then, over at The UFO Chronicles, we had Skeptophilia frequent flier Scott Waring claiming that what is almost certainly a digital imaging glitch was "clearly an alien base on the Moon."    Here's the image:

According to Waring, you can see all sorts of things in this, like a wall and the entrance to an underground facility.  Me, all I see is a black blob.  Not the first time that imaging glitches have caused a furor; remember when a glitch in a NASA photograph of the Sun caused all the conspiracy-types to claim that the Earth was about to be attacked by the Borg cube?

Then just this morning, we had another report from Mars over at UFO Sightings Daily that there's an outline of a wolf on the Martian surface.  Here's that one, which made me choke-snort a mouthful of coffee:

Helpfully colored in so that you can see it.  Sad for Mr. Wolf, however -- he seems to be missing one of his hind legs.  Maybe with the lower gravity, you can get by with three.

So anyway.  I really wish people would stop leaping about making little squeaking noises every time one of the lunar or planetary explorers stumbles on something that has a vague similarity to a familiar object.  Aren't there enough cool real things out there in space to think about?  You have to invent Moon bases, thigh bones, and three-legged Martian wolves?

I'm sticking with the science.  That's always been plenty awesome enough, as far as I'm concerned.