Friday, March 21, 2014

The Chicken From Hell

Scientists have discovered a freakish, birdlike species of dinosaur — 11 feet long, 500 pounds, with a beak, no teeth, a bony crest atop its head, murderous claws, prize-fighter arms, spindly legs, a thin tail and feathers sprouting all over the place. Officially, it’s a member of a group of dinosaurs called oviraptorosaurs.

Unofficially, it’s the Chicken From Hell.

...That’s the nickname the scientists have been using. It’s the term in the news release associated with the discovery. This dino-bird is not literally a chicken, or even a bird. It’s definitely a dinosaur, and it lived at the end of the Cretaceous period, from about 68 million to 66 million years ago.

“It would look like a really absurd, stretched-out chicken,” said paleontologist Emma Schachner of the University of Utah, one of the scientists describing the new species.

...The fossils of three specimens of the new dinosaur were found in a sedimentary rock layer known as the Hell Creek Formation in three locations in North and South Dakota. The formation, the scientists said, helped inspire the nickname.

...It’s a big animal, the biggest oviraptorosaur species found in North America. The creature brings to mind a huge flightless bird, such as an ostrich or emu. The weird crest on its head, which resembles half a dinner plate turned vertically, looks like that of a cassowary. The new dinosaur is loaded with biological accessories and adaptations, as if evolution had been inspired by a Swiss Army knife.

...But now comes Anzu, adding another genus to the dinosaur bestiary.

Anzu also reminds everyone of the birdiness of dinosaurs, and the dinosaur-ness of birds. Paleontologists can become dyspeptic when they hear that dinosaurs are extinct. Not so: Birds are dinosaurs.

Anzu is from the line of non-avian dinosaurs that went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous. Some of the birdiness of Anzu reflects “convergent” evolution, Lamanna said. Its ancestors had teeth, but it has none, meaning that the beak — a very birdy feature — evolved as an adaptation independently of the beak in the evolutionary line of true birds. That’s true also of the birdy crest on the head.

“It would have had a lot of birdy behaviors,” Lamanna said.
Reminds me of those Australian birds, cassowaries, that have the bony crest, the slashing talons, and an irritable nature. They’re smaller, but they can do a pretty good imitation of the Chicken From Hell:

Massive Explosion This Week at White Sands

I pointed out to John this remarkable Socorro County 'Weather' on a clear and calm night:

John at first noted:
Hmm. It appears to be well north of US Hwy 380 which would put it outside of the WSMR boundaries, although I recall that the area directly to the north was a region they sometimes closed off for tests. Chaff testing seems unlikely since it's old technology and, one would presume, there is not a whole lot more that could be done with it. Maybe it's a malevolent spirit rising up from the old pueblo ruin you saw there...
Later, he reported:
Here is a video loop of the still radar picture you sent yesterday. There were plenty of large explosions at White Sands when we were there but I've never before seen anything like this reported.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Abbott's Statement

Crap in the ocean is just crap in the ocean, until they get a better look.

Michael Flowers Worked On Laurence Fishburne's New-Mexico Made Movie

And Michael is SO excited!

The Decay Of The GOP

Detain us, Atanus;
For we have sinned;
Blame us, for we called forth,
That big whirlwind:
"Everybody knows that God controls weather," she told the news site in January. "God is super angry," she added. "Gay marriage is not appropriate, and it doesn't look right, and it breeds AIDS."

Verbalizing What Needs To Be Said

Yeah, what are the angles of these other pings?:
So here's the question: What else can we determine from those extra handshakes? If one data point can indicate MH370's distance and angle relative to the satellite, couldn't a string of them — which we apparently have — help plot the aircraft's trajectory? Why aren't we looking more closely at the other data? Why is the last one so important?

We can plausibly guess that this idea has already occurred to someone. Inmarsat says it's shared its information with Malaysian Airlines. But it's not clear why officials haven't said more about this line of reasoning.
And speculation in reader's comments too:
In the past several days, I see people draw this line from the point of disappearance straight toward Penang, west southwest, and then just stop, as if that is where the plane disappeared, meaning it could have turned north or south after that, we just don't know. But we do know where it went from that point. It actually turned at Penang and continued northwest for over a hundred miles before disappearing off the limits of that radar. The plane was taking a route, it was obviously heading somewhere. There is no indication at all that it later turned south. The actual data and route it was traveling shows north on a corridor toward the Middle East.

The only reason people have put the southern corridor into their heads is because they don't know how the plane could've gotten through the radars of those countries up north. This objection seems strong until you think for half a second and realize that it had just gotten over Malaysian radar without incident that very night, overlying the entire peninsula and even a major city at lower-than-normal altitude. And this was picked up on radar but not noticed - it took them seven days to put together that this was the missing flight. The Indian Navy later admitted that their radar system is used on an "as needed basis", and is often off at night. If India and Malaysia's radar system is so pathetic you can bet Bangladesh and Myanmar's are worse. So the northern radar objection just doesn't hold, and again, that is the way the plane was actually going, and there is no reason other than the radar objection to speculate at all that the plane later turned south.

A Hazy Kind Of Sense

The information from Thai authorities that the Malaysian airliner crossed back over the Malaysian peninsula, but didn't cross Thai territory, suggests the plane nearly double backed instead of headed straight west. Whoever was in control wanted to minimize any contact with any authorities, limiting them to Malaysian air space and Malaysian authorities, probably because they were most familiar with Malaysian methods and reactions. To escape detection, they could have instead flown straight south, but eventually they would have encountered Java and other heavily-populated, well-guarded Indonesian territories. They could have flown northeast over the South China Sea, but eventually you run into militarily-sensitive places over there too. The Thais say the last they saw of the aircraft was turning right, northward, in the general direction of Butterworth, which means they were trying to reach the solace of the Andaman Sea. They apparently didn't try to cross Sumatra.

So then what? The strange aircraft report from the Maldives later that morning doesn't square with the last-known satellite arcs, so it probably was another aircraft involved with that. Maybe. They could have made it to the airstrip on the Cocos Islands, but that's increasingly militarized these days, and people would have noticed. Ile Amsterdam is way, way out there, but there's no airstrip there. It's seasonally inhabited, so maybe there are people there, and maybe not, but it's hardly a garden spot.

But why all alone at night over the Indian Ocean? Where were they going? What was the plan?

We may never know.

But if you have temporary omnipotence over a motley throng of people, 2/3 of whom are Chinese, what would human nature suggest? Not a direct suicide, but enslavement, calculated murder, or trade.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Cameo Of The Malaysian Airliner?

That's a bit creepy! I may have caught sight of the unicorn!

On February 24th, I was at LAX, and took some video footage that included a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 (of which they have - had - fifteen in their fleet). They all have identical registration codes, except for the last digit.

Magnifying an image, it looks like 9M-MRO - the aircraft in so much trouble!! Either that, or the sister ship 9M-MRQ (but I don't think so). I used the footage for a time lapse video (first draft of which is here):

Our Descanso Featured In "5 New Mexico Tourist Attractions Now Extinct"!

I like this Fridgehenge thing:
These sites and statues are sorely missed in New Mexico. But though they may be gone, they are not forgotten.

Ana Tijoux - "Vengo"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Everyone's Drawing Circles Today

And if the aren't drawing circles, they are looking for things in the water:

And a warning to be skeptical of the Malaysian government's smear of the pilot:
Anwar is trying to defeat Malaysia’s authoritarian regime through elections—not terrorism, let alone revolution. So, to be clear, what we know is that the pilot of MH370 is a fanatical supporter of a nonviolent man who supports a pluralistic and democratic Malaysia.
And on reliable FOX News, all they can talk about is a TERRORIST GROUP must be to blame!!!!! (Although they can't identify the terrorist group, or even possess as much initiative as Courtney Love does in trying to help.)

CORE Contemporary Dance's "Barebones"

A wonderful evening with the wonderful dancers of CORE!

The group appears in the midst of a transition - new studio, new opportunities, new events - so some dancers I'm quite fond of weren't onstage.  Still, the rest really delivered!
Once again, Blair Cacanando must be the best dancer in Sacramento: perhaps the West Coast, or the world, for that matter! There is something about her zeal, precision, and artistry that just does it. I am in absolute awe!
Andrew Hopper just gets better and better! Wonderful duet with Rachael Jensen!

There was a moment where Jamie Day just captured the flame. She had a brief solo in the center of a ring, but the brilliant moment started earlier, about twenty seconds earlier, when she swept downstage. It was like a divine light ignited!

I like Cat Davis too: her big smile and energy. And she's moving forward too, and getting better and better!

I was intrigued by the sweater-like tops they wore. I liked the way they caught the light and thought maybe they were like half togas. Were they a classical reference? Afterwards, at the question-and-answer session, I asked about them. Kelli Leighton said the tops represented skin: the show being called "Barebones", and all. So obvious, yet it eluded me!

"The Doorway" will reopen this autumn, and so I'm very much looking forward to that!

The Dog Next Door

Lucy, the Lemon Beagle
Lucy just loves keep-away!

The Last Straw

After the wonderful Muppets movie, I decided I needed some oil and get that brake light fixed, so I went over to Jiffy Lube. "Would you like your headlights buffed?" they asked. Well, the headlights have been looking pretty cloudy, so I said yes.

Turns out, it was an impossible task. They worked for an hour and a half on it, finally gave up, didn't charge me for that part, and gave me half off everything else! Still I was becalmed for awhile, so I decided to walk over and eat lunch at the neighboring KFC.

There was a mix of blacks and whites in the restaurant.  Soon, I realized there was a very strange white woman in the restaurant too. She was sitting by herself and having spasms. She'd wince uncontrollably, rock her head back hard, scrape her chair legs against the floor, and let loose with a volley of sexual insults, apparently aimed at herself, or the voices in her head.  Sometimes she lobbed the N-word at anyone who got too close. I noticed some of the other restaurant patrons shrink away from her corner of the restaurant, and I did too, but the woman would sometimes come over and approach the counter and check on the status of her order.

There was another woman there too, an African-American woman, who eventually decided to take offense at the first woman's behavior. It looked like a calculated decision, like she wanted to yank the crazy woman's chain. I've had some craziness in my family, and one thing I learned was you never, ever yank the crazy woman's chain, especially if she really is crazy, because she will do ANYTHING, and you'd better be prepared for the consequences! Still, she decided to have some sport. The African-American woman decided to object, not based on the plentiful N-words spewing from the white woman, but on the basis of her loud phlegm hawking. "You can call me what you like, but that's just disgusting!"

So, there was a very tense standoff, with both women lobbing B-words, N-words, F-words, and general mental-health insults. Both women seemed to enjoy the confrontation. The long-suffering KFC clerk - "oh, this kind of thing happens almost every day here" - finally called the crazy woman by name, called her over, and gently said "I'm going to have to ask you to leave, and have a nice day." (Which has got to be the most-hilarious thing I've ever heard from a clerk in a fast-food restaurant.) So, the crazy woman left, shouting insults, with the African-American close on her heels, shouting insults and following her onto the neighboring sidewalk, and with customers reaching for cameras for what looked like might be an upcoming brawl.

The crazy woman really did leave, though, so the African-American woman eventually returned. She approached the counter and asked the clerk, "Do you have a straw? I can't believe I gave that pink-assed bitch a straw!" I turned towards her and said, "Was that" - ba-dum-bum - "the last straw?"

Muppets "Most Wanted"

I got a strange request from Justin Lau (Assistant Stage Manager, "Guys and Dolls", 2010). He had free passes (from Sacramento Bee points) for the Sacramento premiere of "Muppets Most Wanted". Would I like to come along? So, I said yes.

The new Muppet Movie is brilliant! Moments like self-described 'Triple Threat' Danny Trejo (guest-starred in "Breaking Bad") singing "God, I Hope I Get It" from "A Chorus Line" with other prisoners in the Gulag Musicale. Or the Lutheran moment between the Swedish Chef and the Grim Reaper. Or "The Wall." And many celebrity cameos. And Tina Fey's solo!

Flashing Red And Blue Lights

The hazards of driving past the Zebra Club at 1 a.m. on a Saturday morning. A very pleasant policeman stopped me to let me know my left rear brake light is out.

Flight From San Diego To Albuquerque - February 19, 2014

Downtown San Diego, as seen from the runway at Lindbergh Field.

Lindbergh Field, San Diego Bay, and Point Loma.

Naval Training Center Housing, Shelter Island, and Point Loma.

San Miguel Mountain again, but this time from higher up and about an hour after the previous view, with the marine stratus clouds receding as the day warms up.

Interstate 8 and Kitchen Creek Road.

Thing Valley and the escarpment of the Coast Range above the desert near Mt. Laguna.

Wind Farm near Golden Acorn Casino.

Fish Creek Mountains and Superstition Mountain, and the bleak-looking desert west of the Imperial Valley.

New River, the Imperial Valley, and the Salton Sea.

Laguna Dam and Imperial Reservoir, from which water is removed from the Colorado River and sent to the Imperial Valley.

Laguna Dam and Imperial Reservoir, from which water is removed from the Colorado River and sent to the Imperial Valley.

At first, I thought there must be some kind of power plant down there making all this smoke. The coherent smoke plumes went a considerable distance downwind, 30 miles and more, up to and a bit past the Castle Dome Mountains. But there is no power plant. This appears to be agricultural burning in the vicinity of Martinez Lake, next to the Colorado River.

After a cloudy interval over Arizona, here we are in western New Mexico, looking at the southern end of the Malpais, SW of Grants.

Impressive escarpment about forty-six miles west of Los Lunas, and about 9 miles SSE of Acoma. Acoma is in the distance, but can't be made out easily.

Impressive escarpment about forty-six miles west of Los Lunas, and about 9 miles SSE of Acoma. Acoma is in the distance, but can't be made out easily.

Acoma Pueblo is the oldest continuously-occupied village in the entire continental United States, and dates to the 1200's, or even earlier.

Squinting from the plane, I wasn't precisely sure where Acoma was. The little tower on the right is about 3.5 miles south of Acoma.

None other than famous Enchanted Mesa, 2.4 miles NE of Acoma!

Mt. Taylor (known by the Navajo as Tsoodzil).

Rio San Jose, with BN&SF railroad (on the left) and Interstate-40 (on the right).

Route 66 Casino, at the Rio Puerco, on Interstate-40 west of Albuquerque.

The Rio Puerco Valley.

The Volcanoes of Albuquerque's West Mesa, and Double Eagle Airport.

This is "J" Mountain. Before St. Joseph's College became defunct the students used to make annual trips here to refurbish the "J" with lime. Decades of neglect have almost erased the "J".

Paseo del Norte crossing over the Rio Grande, in Albuquerque's North Valley.

San Antonio Dr. NE and Interstate-25, with the Sandia Mountains in the background.