Late into the night on New Years Eve, 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky, raining like the apocalypse around the small town of Beebe, Arkansas.
A rattling sight to be sure. True to its name, the red-winged blackbird is raven-shiny black but for a war paint-like smear of red across its wings, and to see so many blanketing the ground would have felt like a sign from God. Even non-believers must have stared into the sky and wondered what they’d done to deserve this.
To lend oil to the flame of unrest and shaken nerves, city workers arrived in environmental protection suits to clean up the thousands of dead while fending off the dogs, cats, and wildlife that had come out to feed on the carcasses. It would have looked like something out of a horror movie.
Shortly after the discovery of the birds, 125 miles away near Ozark on the Arkansas river, a tugboat operator called in another horrible sight – 100,000 dead and dying drum fish washing up along the banks. While fish kills are not out of the ordinary, the size of this one was extraordinary and horrible.
While news outlets scrambled to link the two massive die-offs, experts with Game and Wildlife swept in to assure everyone they had nothing to do with each other. The fish, because it only affected one type of fish, probably died of disease. Initial autopsy results of some of the birds show blunt trauma and that they died in mid-air. Theories abound quickly about fireworks, hailstorms, fast and furious storm systems that dropped on the roost of the flock, sucked the birds into the air where they were battered around and beaten by hail, wind, and lightening before being dropped from high above onto homes, cars, and streets.
It should make us all feel better that there is a reasonable, scientific explanation for these biblical-apocalypse type events. But if books and movies have taught me anything, it is that if a third mysterious event springs up in Arkansas, then the Vatican ought to start sending its best warriors to the center of the triangle of signs to search for a baby or small child that appears to have become recently possessed by evil incarnate. I’d start with the small towns in search of paranoid folk who do a lot of staring and whispering and referring to those passing through as “strangers” and “outsiders” and say things like “You best be on your way,” before you’ve even finished your pie at the local diner.
Because those folks are cultists.
And we all know where there are cultists there’s someone trying to raise the Elder God of Pestilence. Bloody cultists. And they wonder why they never get invited to all the good parties.
In more wondrous news, cavers have descended into core of Vietnam’s Annamite Mountains and what they found there was nothing short of other-worldly.
These caves, Hang Son Doong, are not the dank, creepy, bat infested places of darkness. With rooms large enough to accommodate a block of New York City skyscrapers, 300 foot wide shafts of light descend from natural skylights to illuminate deep blue lagoons, a gorgeous jeweled river, a dense underground jungle, massive calcite walls, and air so humid it has formed its own cloud system.
Emerald green algae carpet rock surfaces where light reflects from the smooth blue pools. Unchecked ferns, snaking vines, and towering trees reach hundreds of feet up towards the light while thick jungle growths descend back into darkness. It is a lost civilization that far outpaces the scope and breadth of my imagination. One cavern is aptly named “Watch out for dinosaurs.”
Some of the rock formations resemble the skeletal ruins of a fabled Narnian castle.
I am humbled by the knowledge that spectacular places like this can still exist untouched by the damaging hands of human consumption. I cannot express to you how much pleasure I feel knowing this place exists.
These caves have seemingly no end. They go on for at least 150 miles of subterranean wonderland, like something out of Jurassic Park, as beautiful and foreign as another planet. During the monsoon months the caves fill with water, making them impassable to sky dwellers.
For these pictures and more, please visit the National Geographic website.
Those crazy scientists at the University of Washington have moved one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming an international tech hacker spy. I want to sit in a van digitally unlocking doors and setting off distraction alarms on the opposite sides of buildings while my team runs into a building, steals the schematics of a sonic bomb. I want to play video games with my mind and surf YouTube while not listening to the General in command of my missions. I’m going to be so good at the future.
Researchers have managed to create red pixels and blue pixels on semi-transparent contact lens LEDs that can display images right onto your retinas. Once they work out creating green pixels they will be able to create full color displays.
Powered by wireless electricity transmitters from a belt pack, data will be transmitted the same way. I will finally achieve my dream of having a computer in my eyeballs!!!! When the neural implants and spinal data jack are ready for testing, sign me up.
Using “secret technology” (that’s my favorite line in the article) Swiss scientists from Meteo Systems International, hired by the United Arab Emirates President, created 52 rain storms in an arid region of the United Arab Emirates (aka, the freaking desert.)
Well, they claim to have created 52 rain storms, though American scientists are calling foul. I have to admit though, the scientists have a glass half-full, thinking out of the box, the world is full of opportunities optimism in their interview, but the Americans sound like petulant children who have probably been trying to create similar secret technology and didn’t find it first. I’m just saying – I realize it sounds hoaxy and impossible, but computer contact lenses, underground jungles, and invisibility cloaks sort of makes me think almost anything is possible. Weather control is surely not the most fantastic idea every considered.