What’s up with the 'mystery missile' off California?

Updated: Your guess would seem to be as good as any

So let me get this straight: Yesterday the Transportation Safety Administration tells us that printer cartridges may no longer be brought into the U.S. aboard airplanes because they may contain explosives, yet today no one in the government is able to say who fired that big-ass missile caught on tape off the coast of Southern California.

Unrelated, you say?

I say given my druthers I'd rather have the printer cartridges than a mystery missile. But that's just me.

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It would be somewhat comforting if the denials of knowledge coming from military sources held a strong undercurrent of, "We know but we just can't tell you."

Unfortunately, such is not the case.

It would seem as though they just don't know.

The Los Angeles Times came up empty in its efforts to get an explanation, but here's what they did get:

"We are aware of the unexplained contrail reported off the coast of Southern California yesterday evening," according to a statement Tuesday from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Northern Command, which operates the U.S. and Canadian missile warning system. "At this time, we are unable to provide specific details but we are working to determine the exact nature of this event.

"We can confirm that there is no indication of any threat to our nation and we will provide more information as it becomes available," the statement said.

Yes, perhaps there is a hint of unspoken awareness in the words "specific" and "exact," but, if so, the least they could have done would have been to say, "Rest assured that it was one of ours."

Meanwhile, Stars and Stripes would appear to have no inside sources.

The IEEE Spectrum invites IEEE-type speculation.

And Space.com speaks of an "investigation" that would really seem to be nothing more than everyone in the government staring at each other with quizzical looks on their faces.

But at least we have a handle on those printer cartridges.

(Update, Wednesday, Nov. 10: Experts say "mystery missile" neither a mystery nor a missile.)

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