Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"It was an obviously symbolic thing to do..."

I have to admit that I think Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show is actually one of the more thoughtful of the lefties. Not that I agree with him much, but just that he's better at making his points than the DU/Mother Sheehan crowd.

And I further have to admit that I think Christopher Hitchens is often full of himself, and can't help but express himself in a hoity-toity manner.

However, I ran across this video of Hitchens' appearance on Stewart's show, and can't help but think that while Hitchens seems to have been holding back, he still sliced Stewart's positions to shreds without Stewart appearing to know it was happening.

As an example, Hitchens asks Stewart why, back in '98, Congress passed, by a near unanimous margin, a resolution making Iraqi regime change the policy of the US, Stewart responds...
It was an obviously symbolic thing to do...
Question for Mr. Stewart: Please expand on how we are supposed to know when the actions of our government are just symbolic or when they really, really mean something.

Enquiring minds and all that.

God Bless...

Those in Mississippi, and Louisana who are enduring the aftermath of Katrina. While yesterday it looked as though New Orleans had missed most of Katrina's wrath, it is now beginning to look bad for them.

Monday, August 29, 2005

"...he did a crazy judo roll and came up shooting..."

Everybody else in the blogosphere has spoken already about this post, but I thought I'd add it to my humble blog along with these two points...
  • The incredible bravery of our soldiers just defies words. I'm sure there are tons of paper-pushers and bean-counters for every guy pulling a trigger, but as Casey Sheehan's story exemplifies, regardless of MOS, everyone is a soldier.
  • Michael Yon's reporting is far and above the caliber of reporting seen by both the right and left sides of the MSM. Of course, the NYT-WaPo-BroadcastNetwork versions of news would actively avoid such situations, but even the Fox News-style openness in reporting both the good and the bad from Iraq doesn't touch this level of reporting. There's way too much reporting done from hotels safely inside the Green Zone. If Yon doesn't get a Pulitzer or other recognition for his work, there's something seriously wrong in journalism.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A couple of political notes...

  • Via Viking Pundit, I was directed to this article, which includes a mention of my very own Congressman, Jeff Flake. The money quote...
    What continues to amaze, however, is the sheer arrogance and hubris with which the Republicans have chosen to govern. As Congressman Jeff Flake — one of the few principled Republicans in Washington — told the Washington Post, "Republicans don't even pretend anymore." [emphasis added]
  • Today's Arizona Republic includes this article in the local (Mesa) section. [You may have to semi-register to read this. I did.] It seems McCain is overdoing it for even the loyal Arizonans who have kept re-electing him. Not to worry--I've been voting against him for years.

More Shit Happens...

Update to Bob...

Although at my last update, it looked like Bob was progressing well, since then the improvement to his health has stopped, if not regressed. He's been back into the ICU twice since then and will have to have a kidney removed this morning.

Will report more as I know it.

As promised--Update to the update: We spent much of the mid-day at the hospital with Diane. If you look closely, you can tell the strain is wearing on her, but otherwise, she's a rock. Bob's trauma surgeon said he had complications that had to be dealt with beyond the loss of the kidney, but seems optomistic otherwise. Now that the source of his troubles (his damaged kidney) is gone, the other troubles should begin to improve. Of course, he won't be able to travel to see his son graduate from Army Basic next week. They're still hopeful that they'll be able to make their trip to Ireland. From my seat however, there is much to focus on right now, and while I hope they can make their trip, I'd rather see Bob healthy now than risk a relapse in Ireland.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Shit happens...

Sorry--this isn't a discussion of the conjugation of one of my favorite all-around words.

This one is "Shit Happens sometimes to some of the best people who least deserve this sort of thing".

I got word last night that one of my closest friends in this world--a Deputy Federal Marshal--was gut-shot yesterday as he and a Maricopa County Probation Officer attempted to arrest some slimeball.

Bob is this great big Bear of a man, and one of the nicest guys ever. If you didn't know what he did for a living, you'd never guess that he spends his days chasing some of the worst bad guys out there. He's doing OK, but at this moment, I suspect that it'll take some time for him to get back up on his feet.

His wife is a complete Saint of a woman. Like all good wives, she's been a rock throughout this, but I cannot imagine that she's not cracking a bit underneath. She's absolutely livid that the press has found out Bob's name (probably through his boss--idiot that he apparently is).

To respect their privacy, I'll leave out the further details, but they've had to go through quite a bit recently, and if any family deserves a break, it's this one.

I don't know him at all, but the other officer in this incident is much worse off. I understand he was shot in the neck at C-6, and is paralyzed. Prayers for both families are in order.

Update: Bob is not quite out of the woods yet, but is doing much better. He's breathing on his own, has been up sitting, and even taken a few steps. He watched Blackhawk Down today. There are cautionary good feelings about his partner too. He still has much more serious wounds, but perhaps not quite as ominous as we thought yesterday. Prayers still.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A small cautionary note...

Air France lost an Airbus A340 yesterday in Toronto. A quick thumbnail analysis of what happened...

The weather absolutely sucked...


YYZ 022004 SPECI 022004Z CCA 34024G33KT 1 1/4SM PTSRA SCT015 OVC045TCU 23/ RMK RA2SF2TCU5 CB ASOCTD

YYZ 022020 SPECI 022020Z 34024G33KT 3SM PTSRA FEW015 OVC040TCU 23/ RMK SF2TCU6 CB ASOCTD

To help those who need the important parts translated from Aviation Meteorology-talk into English... There are three reports here. The first two are basically the same; YYZ (Toronto) on the second (the date) at 2004 (GMT-which is 4:04pm local and 1 minute after the accident). But here's where it gets interesting--winds 340˚ (from a direction just a bit west of due North) at 24 knots gusting to 33 knots. Visibility 1¼ miles and heavy(P) thundershowers(TS) and rain(R). The third report comes 16 minutes later, and has the visibility lifting to 3 miles, but otherwise is basically the same.

So for their landing on runway 24, they had to assume a crosswind at 33 knots--which, although I don't know what the limits of the A340 are, it has to be quite near the plane's crosswind limit.

Most runways in America are grooved. They diamond cut grooves into the concrete about 2 inches apart, and maybe ½ an inch deep. These grooves act to channel water off the runway and improve traction. For some reason (climate perhaps), most runways in Canada are not grooved, and none of the runways in Toronto are. What I'm getting to here is that, with the heavy rain they were getting at the moment of the accident, it is likely that the runway surface was very slick. [I'm here to tell you it doesn't take much water on a runway to make it feel like you're landing a locomotive on a skating rink.] Given these crosswind conditions, IMO it is admirable that they were able to keep it on the runway at all. [Of course, their best choice would have been to go around and wait for the thunderstorm to clear before attempting to land. However, there's lots more yet to investigate (reports of lightning, possibility of microburst, etc), so I won't Monday-morning Quarterback things quite yet.]

So, although they kept it on the runway despite the rain and crosswind, they were unable to brake sufficiently before they ran off the end of the runway by some 200 yards. Their evacuation went just about as perfectly as you can make it. For those who don't know, most airline captains (or maybe it's just me) assume that an evacuation--for any reason--will result in minor injuries to about 10% of your passengers. This is just about what we see here.

However, related to this, and the real reason why I'm writing this comes from this sentence from this report...

"We were all trying to go up a hill; it was all mud, and we lost our shoes. We were just scrambling, people with children." [emphasis mine]

I cannot tell you how many times I cringe inside, especially this time of year, when I see someone board my plane while wearing sandals. Men, kids, but especially women. I understand that everyone wants to be comfortable, and that on flights of more than an hour or so, feet tend to swell. But I sense that much of the trend towards sandals--again, especially for women--seems to be more out of a sense of fashion than of comfort. Ladies will often go out and get a cute pair of sandals or thongs, a nice pedicure, maybe a toe-ring, and you just want to show it all off. Now I like a well-turned ankle as much as the next guy, but I'm here to tell you that, at the moment you jump down that evacuation slide, lose your shoes, and then attempt to get away from the twisted and burning wreckage of an aircraft accident while in your bare feet, you'll wish more than anything that you'd put on that pair of Nikes.

Moral of my story: Despite how incredibly rare it is to be a passenger in an aircraft accident--Wear sensible shoes.