Hot Links

These days, drone aircraft deploy their own drones. Cicada is a strange choice for a name – too noisy for a stealthy drone.

Think you can train cats to walk on a leash? May be easier than herding them.

A new study indicates the ancient city of Angkor and the Khmer Empire may have been done in by a drought.

For many years, it was believed syphilis originated in the New World and spread to the Old World – actually introduced by Columbus’ First Voyage. Native American populations were devastated by diseases introduced by Europeans after 1492, and syphilis is one of the few diseases to have gone the other direction. Lately, a number of researchers have claimed to have found instances of Precolumbian syphilis in Europe, casting doubt on that interpretation. Now a new study has reviewed 54 published studies of European evidence and finds them all in error, either through misidentification of skeletal evidence or problems with radiocarbon assays. This is the sort of academic controversey that will go on for decades, but my bet is on the New World origin.

Two companies that are working toward building solar thermal power plants here in the US are planning to store some of the heat in molten salt. This would allow them to continue generating electricity after the sun goes down.

This survey claims to rank America’s top 25 drunkest cities and rates Boston number one. I have my doubts about any such survey where New Orleans doesn’t crack the list.

Some Replies–Eagles for Jim, “UFO Area” for Chas…

Below, Jim Cornelius wrote: “Caught an episode of Human Planet on Saturday, featuring a 16-year-old Kazakh making his first hunt with an eagle he had captured and trained. They had a camera mounted on the eagle. OH, MAN! I want to see an entire movie on this type of hunting in IMAX.”

Actually, a wonderful movie about a young eagle hunter’s journey from the smoky ger suburbs of Ulan Bataar to the wilds of Olgii already exists: Kiran Over Mongolia. Links will take you to where you can buy a copy; trailer here:

We know people on both ends of this production and can vouch for its integrity.

Chas was amused by our address post: “”UFO Area” is pretty special. I should ask our postmistress (it’s a one-person p.o.) if she has seen anything that good.”

Well, the Alamo UFO story involves gullible Anglos and a joke, but other gullible Anglos have come here from as far as Germany in search of flying saucers and cattle mutilations.

An old, very country cowboy named “Rink” used to work on a ranch near the Rez just north of here (“I been just three places; North Dakota, Viet Nam, and Socorro County.”) We were sitting in the Spur one night listening to a woman from Germany, a UFO conspiracy theorist, drink brandy as she made an amazing speech. First she described an alien structure she had found on a bare hilltop, made of fiberglass; she would not allow me to persuade her that it was a Game and Fish quail waterer. Then, warming to her subject, she argued that powerful groups were attempting to shut her down: “…the CIA targeted my son. He didn’t dare leave his bathroom for eight years. The final straw was when they killed my nine- year old Labrador– the Vatican sent a hit team for him…”

Rink leaned over to me and spoke quietly: “Steve, that lady is counterfeit. I don’t know what no Vatican is, but it didn’t send no hit team to kill her dog!”

Slightly idiotic photos… farewell to 2011

And welcome 2012!

A New Year’s party, the first I can remember attending in– decades?– at our home bar, the legendary Golden Spur, yards not miles from Casa Q, my watering hole for some thirty years, Peculiar’s first “regular”, Eli’s from birth a few months ago, and where Phil Grayson grew up (his father used to own it; unfortunately not here because he went back to NYC a couple of days ago)…

Some day I’ll focus on history and the cowboy tradition there, but this batch is pure happy idiocy.

Family & postmaster Greg, L’s boss, our friend; Peculiar with well- decorated offspring; L; Greg; part- time bartender Cat Aragon, who both teaches and works here, admiring the Beastie. Click to enlarge. (I promised Sam, who worked the door, not to “put him on the internet” without his photo approval).