Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Los Angeles Contrail, Conspiracy Theories, the News, and Getting a Grip

In case you've got something better to do with your time than follow the news (wouldn't take much, sometimes), a reporter got video of a contrail in the sky west of Los Angeles yesterday.

'So what?' Well, some frames from that video looked cool.

And, it must have been a slow news day. The Lemming read quite a few stories about that contrail - along with speculation about what it was. Quite a few news outlets were talking about a missile being launched from the ocean, near one of America's larger cities.

I think much of the credit for that situation goes to KCBS/KCAL, the station that seems to have started the story. And, like the Lemming said, it may have been a slow news day.

Nine Day Hour Wonder

By evening, people in the American military were doing their job: checking out possible explanations for that contrail. Hey, it could have been a missile that somehow didn't show up on their radar.
Swamp Gas and the Mind of the Bureaucrat
Meanwhile, various and sundry federal functionaries were making statements that fell at a variety of points on the insane-reasonable continuum. "Swamp gas" wasn't mentioned, so far as the Lemming knows - but some of what surfaced made about as much sense.

For some folks, that 'proves' that there's some sort of conspiracy afoot. The Lemming is more inclined to think that all too many bureaucrats - in and out of government - tend, when confronted with something unexpected, to issue daft denials and fire up the document shredders.
Occam's Razor
Besides, the Lemming that applying Occam's razor makes sense. I've discussed that principle, and conspiracy theories, in another blog's post. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (April 4, 2008))

By the end of the day, an 'expert' had come up with an explanation that made sense. The Lemming doesn't regard the utterances of 'experts' with the uncritical awe that was more common a half-century ago - but this dude let his name be used. And what he said made sense.

As the sun set here in central North America, the 'missile' seemed to be a nine day wonder, as the Lemming is wont to say. Life moves faster these days - so it's more like a nine hour wonder.

Illuminati? Knights Templar? Space Aliens?

Now, in a display of blatant self-promotion, here's an excerpt from a post the Lemming wrote in another blog, about that contrail. Also space aliens, giant atomic mutant ants, and Ron Paul supporters:

"Los Angeles Contrail: Missile? Jet? Giant Atomic Ants?"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (November 9, 2010)

"That contrail that hit the news this morning wasn't from a missile launch - it was from a jet. An expert said so.

That makes sense - or is that what They want us to believe?! Or am I one of Them?! I don't mean a giant man-eating ant. You know: one of the Illuminati/Knights Templar/space aliens who 'really' rule the world. Does that 1954 man-eating atomic ants movie still run on television? That's another topic.

If you get the impression that I don't take experts, conspiracy theories, or movies about atomic tests spawning a Godzilla-size ant problem for Los Angeles very seriously - you're right.

Wait a minute! Them showed mega-ants in the drains of Los Angeles. Today's mysterious contrail was sited over the Pacific near Los Angeles - IT ALL FITS TOGETHER!!!!!!!!

Or, not....

For what it's worth, the Lemming thinks "not."

Or, as I wrote in that post, "I could be a giant mutant ant in league with the Illuminati and Ron Paul supporters. I'm not: but I'd be hard-pressed to convince someone determined to believe otherwise."

The Lemming had written another post that morning, while news services were still breathless with the story - and folks with the government were starting to make silly statements:

"Missile Launched Near Los Angeles: Prelude to Attack, or the Next Bond Movie?"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (November 9, 2010)

At that point - shortly before noon, Central Time - what was showing up in the news allowed several non-crazy guesses about what the KCBS helicopter reporter had seen:
  • Filmmakers
  • Someone in a branch of the U.S. military who
    • Didn't fill out all the right paperwork
    • Pushed the wrong button
    • Is working on something very hush-hush
      • Just off the coast of Los Angeles?!!
  • Somebody else
The 'filmmakers' idea wasn't all that likely. On the other hand, some studio might have decided that it was worth the publicity to fire off a rocket without telling the FAA of their plans.

That's not as crazy as it sounds. The hypothetical film company wouldn't have to use something as big and expensive as the sort of service Lockheed Martin offers. And since the 'missile' seemed to be coming from somewhere off Catalina, the launch site might have been in international waters.

Colorful as that (monumentally imprudent) publicity stunt would have been - it really does look like that contrail was made by a jet.

Too bad: it'd have been cool if it was space aliens escaping with cloned Elvis impersonators.

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