During the winter of 1944-45 a large spherical object appeared in the sky over Cape Alava on the Washington coast, the furthest-west point of land on the 48 states of America. Without haste, without sound, defying gravity, it flew across the Olympic Mountains, skirted Seattle, and seemed to survey the 14,000 foot volcano the native people called, ‘Tahoba.’ Unknown to anyone on this planet it was headed for the top-secret military reservation at Hanford Engineering Works - one of the key sites of the Manhattan Project.
Forty-five thousand people lived and worked there along the Columbia River. Only a tiny handful knew what they were doing. FBI agents, also in the dark, prowled the site looking for anyone who might be an easy target for spies. Hanford had its own justices of the peace and its own jail. What happened at Hanford stayed at Hanford.
Without knowing why, workers did as they were told and washed their hands dozens of times a day. Any minor cut contaminated by plutonium required the ‘immediate high amputation’ of the affected limb. On and off the site, rumors were ceaseless about Hanford’s contribution to the war effort: variously, it was a P.O.W. camp, a processor of solid rocket fuel, a biological kitchen preparing things for germ warfare . . . Asked what was really going on, the Army’s knowledgeable liaison, Captain Frank Valente, said, “We are dehydrating the Columbia River for shipment overseas.”
In this atmosphere, in the winter of 1944-45, another rumor began circulating: a flying saucer had attacked the building that contained the reactor that was producing the Nagasaki plutonium. There were posters everywhere, ‘Don’t Be Caught with Your Mouth Open.’ The UFO rumors persisted.
Naturally the rumors weren’t true. Perhaps aware of the danger of widespread contamination, perhaps aware of the danger to itself, the unidentified flying object did NOT attack the Nagasaki plutonium building; instead, it attacked the high-tension line that supplied that building with power, shutting it down.
Why wasn’t the attack reported? Keep in mind that ‘the Manhattan Project was so secret that the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not know about it. Harry Truman learned of it only after the death of Franklin Roosevelt . . . Key personnel were known by false names. Enrico Fermi was Mr. Farmer. Eugene Wigner was Mr. Winger. Arthur Compton was Mr. Comas. People referred to John Wheeler as Johnny the Genie. Radiation exposure was called “shine,” and the word for radiation itself was “activity.”
After the attack, the electricians who repaired the high-tension line that supplied power to the Nagasaki plutonium building reported that the wrecked UFO appeared to have been about 33 feet in diameter and had been equipped with weapons of an incendiary and high-explosive nature. There was no sign of life, but by the time anyone reached the object any surviving aliens could have vanished into the vast bunch-grass and rattlesnake infested steppes of Eastern Washington. More likely, the UFO had been a drone, unless the crew was tiny - like intelligent Rodentia, clever Formicidae-like creatures, or Copepods now escaped into the Columbia. Perhaps the aliens were microscopic, or even invisible!
Quite a few people had seen SOMETHING. Some had seen the damaged high-tension line. Some had seen the clean-up crew at work - people working in hazmat suits - bomb squad units, FBI personel, and, of course, the site manager of B Reactor.
At the local taverns rumors bounced off the walls along with bottles of Rainier beer. “Why do you think we have to wash our hands fifty times a day? Why else would Charlie get his arm amputated at the shoulder for a tiny scratch on his wrist? Listen people, there’s something loose among us. Want to leave here? Want to go back to Hoboken and see the wife and kids? Go ahead and try it! This is scary shit man. We’re in a lockdown! Something landed here!”
Aside from the incendiary device and the high-explosives, the most telling clue to the object’s origin came from the fact that it was made out of paper. It was a paper balloon, 33 feet in diameter.
Called FUSEN BAKUDAN, the Japanese had launched nine thousand of these weapons balloons in less than a year. From a beach on Honshu, the main island, the fragile devices soared up into the jet stream and were carried across the Pacific Ocean. ‘They killed six people in Oregon, five of them children, and they started forest fires, and they landed from Alaska to Mexico and as far east as Detroit.’ A hit at Hanford had to be kept quiet along with everything else.
The taverns mentioned above ‘were erected for the nighttime bibulation of construction workers, whose tendency to brawl was so intense that Johnny the Genie later recalled “those beer joints with windows close to ground level so that tear gas could be squirted in.”
This story is based on an article in the Feb. 9 & 16 New Yorker Magazine - ‘CHECKPOINTS’ by John McPhee. Some lines were quoted directly from that article.
Mr. McPhee’s title, ‘CHECKPOINTS’ refers to the fact-checking department of the New Yorker. It is the task of special editors to scrutinize and check the veracity of every fact that appears in stories and articles before the magazine goes to press. Imagine what Christendom would be like if the Bible’s authors had such people working with them before their stories were reproduced!
McPhee writes, “The worst checking error is calling people dead who are not dead. In the words of Josh Hersh, “It really annoys them.” Fact-checking editor Sara Lippincott remembers a reader in a nursing home who read in THE NEW YORKER that he was “the late” reader in the nursing home. He wrote demanding a correction. THE NEW YORKER, in its next issue, of course complied, inadvertently doubling the error, because the reader died over the weekend while the magazine was being printed.”
Bible scholars and Christendom should pay heed to Sara’s lecture to journalism students: “Any error is everlasting. Once error gets into print it ‘will live on and on in libraries carefully catalogued, scrupulously indexed . . . silicon-chipped, deceiving researcher after researcher down through the ages, all of whom will make new errors on the strength of the original errors, and so on and on into an exponential explosion of errata.”