Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Maybe those Aurora nuts weren't so crazy

First of all, thank you to all who linked to this site to read about the death of Norman Rubin.

He was a gentle, wonderful man who will be missed a lot by those who knew him and were touched by him. As the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach said, "If we make ourselves small, then there will be room for a lot more of us." Mr. Rubin made himself small, but his knowledge and his willingness to share it made the rest of us who learned from him feel very big.

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When I was growing up, the UFO believers were also growing up. Books like "Chariots of the Gods?" by Erich von Däniken and the works of J. Allen Hynek and Donald Keyhole stoked the imagination of youngsters like me. Then we were going into space, which lent credence to the possibility of UFOs coming here.

Then there was Area 51, an area in Nevada within Nellis Air Force Base, which some say has been moved. Strange sights were to be viewed there: lights in the night that some said were from outer space, but later proven to be so-called black projects, such as the F-117A Nighthawk, the so-called Stealth Fighter, which isn't a fighter at all but an attack plane.

The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber also was tested there.

Then there was the Aurora.

Back in the 1990s, a strange phenomenon was seen there, a plane going very, very fast but whose contrail looked more like someone blowing smoke rings rather than the straight trail left by other aircraft. The plane was said to have looked like this.

This thing was said to be capable of going 6,000 miles an hour or faster.

No such thing, the government said. Can't be done. We don't know what you crazies are talking about.

Well, a couple of days ago, I was looking at the Comcast news page and there was the following Fox News report about an airplane concept being studied. It worked not by blowing a steady stream of very hot air out the back as most jets do, by also by many small explosions that take place in its engines. That would leave a contrail that looked as if somebody were blowing smoke rings. It was said to be capable of going 6,000 mph or faster. Anybody see a connection here?

Sorry, but I cannot get the link to the Fox report to work. If you want to see the report, and you should, you have to copy the entire link below and paste it into your Web browser. I just tried it and it works. You'll first see a 25 second commercial, then the report. Try to ignore the embarrassing banter between the anchors. It's worth a look.


Doesn't the plane depicted in the Fox news report look an awful lot like the picture of the Aurora above? Again, maybe those lights in the sky weren't somebody's imagination after all. And it causes one to ask: What else is out there?

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With the price of things so high and the economy squeezing those who are not at the top of the economic ladder, Isn't it especially important for people trying to sell us things to tell the truth about what those things will cost us?

For example, my daughter Esther wanted to attend a wedding in Toronto recently. She and I looked all over the place for affordable airfares that were available when she wanted to go. We would find airfares quoted in the low $200 range. Fine -- she could afford that.

But when we went to purchase, the final figure, including the taxes, fees and the rest of the baloney, was more than $420. That didn't count the fees for luggage, drinks and the rest of the stuff.

Bottom line: She took a bus. For $85 (final figure), she got a round-trip ticket between New York and Toronto. The bus trip took 11 hours each way, but she still has about $300 that would have gone to the airline.

Merchants: Please tell us what something costs. Lose the asterisks. We don't need to read a lot of mumbo jumbo that says the thing will cost a lot more than the big numbers in the ad indicate it will.

You're not fooling anybody. Nobody with their heads screwed on right will complain about paying a fair price for something. Just don't entice people with one price and then break their hearts when they learn they can't afford the trip after all.

By the way, don't you hate the word "fee"? Let's call it a charge. You have to pay it, so it's a charge.

Cars are another thing. The big letters in the paper, or even better, on the television screen say the car costs $23,000. If you want to get the car you see, however, it'll cost you $39,000. On television, you get the whole picture if you can read the baby type going by so fast that Evelyn Wood couldn't read it. In the papers, bring your magnifying glass and on radio, the mumbling that goes on under the music would be a challenge to a National Security Agency snoop.

And while we're talking about cars, how about the dealers who offer to "get you approved." They don't care whether you can afford the car or not. By the time you drive your shiny new car that you have no hope of being able to afford off the lot, the car dealer has sold the loan to a bank or finance company. Now, you are their problem.

Say, wasn't that the way we got into the whole sub-prime mortgage mess in the first place?

Until next time...

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