Friday, January 16, 2015

They Found The Beagle!

It never worked. No one knows why:
The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact.

High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece.

The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags - but no radio contact was ever made with the probe.

...Mark Sims on Beagle2's silence: "It was most probably a bad luck scenario"

"Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels," explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle's mission manager from Leicester University.

"The failure cause is pure speculation, but it could have been, and probably was, down to sheer bad luck - a heavy bounce perhaps distorting the structure as clearances on solar panel deployment weren't big; or a punctured and slowly leaking airbag not separating sufficiently from the lander, causing a hang-up in deployment," he told BBC News.

A Big Circle!

During a routine flight over the Antarctic ice shelf on 20 December last year, geophysicist Christian Müller spotted something strange: a huge, 2-kilometre-wide circle on the ice.

Müller, a contractor with research consultants Fielax from Bremerhaven, Germany, was in Antarctica as part of a polar survey conducted by the German Alfred Wegener Institute. Six days after spotting the weird ice-ring, he and his colleagues returned and flew over the site at two different altitudes, to photograph and scan it. Their working theory is that the ring marks an ice crater left by a large meteorite that slammed into Antarctica in 2004.

Two previous studies seem to back up this theory. First, a trail of dust was seen 30 kilometres above Antarctica on 3 September 2004. An Australian team speculated at the time that this was the remnants of one of the largest meteoroids to have entered Earth's atmosphere during the decade (Nature, 10.1038/nature03881).

Second, in 2007, another team used global infrasound (low-frequency sound) data to triangulate the location of a big bang that was picked up by remote sensors on that same date (Earth, Moon and Planets, 10.1007/s11038-007-9205-z. They pinpointed the Antarctic ice shelf, very close to where Müller spotted his ice crater and speculated the bang had been made by a meteoroid the size of a house

La Sonora Dinamita-El Viejo Del Sombreron

Los Hermanos Barreto been playing this in Zumba class. The "beep, beeps" throw me off every time. Silly song!

Rorschach Test

Shattered eyeglasses in the Safeway parking lot. There's a story here, but the evidence is mute.

Damn Cat

Puzzled by the secret life of cats. They can get into my shed, and I had noticed an increasing cat odor. Went to the back of the shed and found an immense number of droppings. Like, WTF?

Colorful dreams lately. The latest may have been triggered by this discovery. Last night, I dreamt I was chagrined to discover the cord of maple firewood I had stored in a fastidious friend's yard had become infested with uncountable numbers of marmorated beetles. It's funny the way the brain represents things to itself.


I like the Q&A in this article about sending glitter to your enemies:

Q.: Are you on your own or is anyone helping you with this crazy plan?
A.: The website is 24 hours old and despite my cries for help I stand alone.

Q.: How many orders have been placed so far?
A.: Over 2,000 of the world’s brightest people have spent money on this service. It's good for business, but bad for society.

Q.: Who, would you say, is your target consumer?
A.: People with too much disposable income.

Q.: This might be a dumb question, but do you see this a long-term viable business plan?
A.: God I hope not.

"The Room Source, Of Course!"

Last week, a satchel-laden homeless man asked for spare change. The smallest denomination I had was $5, which I handed to him. He was surprised, and pleased, and started talking animatedly. Apparently he was recently a furniture salesman. Looking for new work was unexpectedly-difficult at age 61. He sang the store jingle: "The Room Source, of course!" For a while I didn't think he would leave me be. I was thinking how employment was the only thing separating him from me, and how tentative that might be.

Monday, January 12, 2015

"Big Eyes"

Pleased to hear Amy Adams won Golden Globes for 'Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy' for portraying Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's movie "Big Eyes". Saw the movie this weekend and liked it a lot. I liked Christoph Waltz and Krysten Ritter too. Lying lies, and the lying liars who tell them! A very San Francisco movie with a friendly portrayal of Jehovah Witnesses.

I was talking up the picture this weekend, and it jostled one of Charlotte H.'s memories. In her court reporter days she took a deposition in the Keane lawsuit that is central to the movie. She's eager to see the movie now!

Lana del Rey's theme song didn't win Golden Globes, but I like it too:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Charges To Be Filed In Boyd Killing

It's taken a lot of determination to get to this point, and a lot more will be required to get convictions. (I don't think there have been police convictions in the U.S. in more than a generation).

People have a hard time accepting just how deep the corruption has gotten in the APD. For me, the most-offensive part of the Boyd video was the triumphant "booyah!" when the officers shot Boyd. It was a easy hunt, nothing more. (And still, people say booyah was the name of the dog. People will say anything, and make any excuses - they can't help but resist the obvious and disturbing truth):
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – District Attorney Kari Brandenburg plans to file murder charges on Monday against the two Albuquerque police officers who shot James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills last March, according to multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of her decision.

It will mark the first time an APD officer has faced criminal charges for shooting someone in the line of duty in New Mexico’s largest city. APD has one of the highest rates of police shootings in the country, and the Boyd’s death was the result of the most controversial in a series of 27 fatal shootings here since 2010.

Boyd, 36, had been camping in a restricted area of open space at Albuquerque’s eastern edge. During a four-hour standoff with police who had responded to a call about Boyd from an area resident, he brandished two small knives multiple times.

One officer’s helmet-mounted camera captured the final moments of the encounter, when Boyd appeared to be complying with commands to leave the area. As he bent down to gather his belongings, an officer threw a flash-bang grenade at his feet. Another officer sicced a police dog on Boyd, who pulled the knives out of his pockets again. As he was turning away from the officers, two of them fired three rounds apiece from assault-style rifles, striking Boyd in the back.

Boyd, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, died later at the hospital.

Prosecutors will charge officer Dominique Perez, of the APD SWAT team, and former detective Keith Sandy, who was allowed to retire from the department eight months after the shooting, by “criminal information,” the sources told KRQE News 13.

Filing charges by information is common in many parts of New Mexico, but rare in Bernalillo County. The process is authorized under New Mexico law and allows prosecutors to charge suspects without obtaining an indictment in a secret grand jury proceeding.

The move is likely to trigger a preliminary hearing in state District Court, where Sandy and Perez would be able to contest the charges. Prosecutors also would present evidence at the hearing, which would be open to the public. At its conclusion, a District Court judge would decide whether there is probable cause to bind one or both of the officers over for trial.

Brandenburg’s filing will charge Sandy and Perez with open counts of murder. That means a trial jury could consider a range of charges from voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison, to first-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence.

Reached by telephone, Brandenburg refused to comment for this story. So did attorneys for the two officers.