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NBCNews: Flight 370's Westward Turn Began 12 Minutes Before Co-Pilot's "All Right, Good Night" Sign Off | Main | Top Headline Comments 3-19-14
March 18, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (3-18-2014)

The Lifeboat Mutiny

When I was around 10 or 11 I inherited a book of science fiction short stories by Robert Sheckley from my youngest uncle when he was clearing out his garage. When I got home my father happened to see it and remarked that it was a good book and that his favorite story was 'The Lifeboat Mutiny'.

Now I was a bit surprised by his casual familiarity with the book since I had no idea that my father had even heard of the author much less read anything by him. Of course it was only later I found out that it had been his book originally before my uncle had gotten it from him - and that my father was as much of a voracious reader as I was to become.

Anyway here is the intro to the story. You can read the rest here - it's not long.

"Tell me the truth. Did you ever see sweeter engines?" Joe, the Interstellar Junkman asked. "And look at those servos!"

"Hmm," Gregor said judiciously.

"That hull," Joe said softly. "I bet it's five hundred years old, and not a spot of corrosion on it." He patted the burnished side of the boat affectionately. What luck, the pat seemed to say, that this paragon among vessels should be here just when AAA Ace needs a lifeboat.

"She certainly does seem rather nice," Arnold said, with the studied air of a man who has fallen in love and is trying hard not to show it. "What do you think, Dick?"

Richard Gregor didn't answer. The boat was handsome, and she looked perfect for ocean survey work on Trident. But you had to be careful about Joe's merchandise.

"They just don't build 'em this way any more," Joe sighed. "Look at the propulsion unit. Couldn't dent it with a trip-hammer. Note the capacity of the cooling system. Examine-"

"It looks good," Gregor said slowly. The AAA Ace Interplanetary Decontamination Service had dealt with Joe in the past, and had learned caution. Not that Joe was dishonest; far from it. The flotsam he collected from anywhere in the inhabited Universe worked. But the ancient machines often had their own ideas of how a job should be done. They tended to grow peevish when forced into another routine.

"I don't care if it's beautiful, fast, durable, or even comfortable," Gregor said defiantly. "I just want to be absolutely sure it's safe."

Joe nodded. "That's the important thing, of course. Step inside."

They entered the cabin of the boat. Joe stepped up to the instrument panel, smiled mysteriously, and pressed a button.

Immediately Gregor heard a voice which seemed to originate in his head, saying, "I am Lifeboat 324-A. My purpose-"

"Telepathy?" Gregor interrupted.

"Direct sense recording," Joe said, smiling proudly. "No language barriers that way. I told you, they just don't build 'em this way any more."

"I am Lifeboat 324-A," the boat esped again. "My primary purpose is to preserve those within me from peril, and to maintain them in good health. At present, I am only partially activated."

"Could anything be safer?" Joe cried. "This is no senseless hunk of metal. This boat will look after you. This boat cares!"

Gregor was impressed, even though the idea of an emotional boat was somehow distasteful. But then, paternalistic gadgets had always irritated him.

Arnold had no such feelings. "We'll take it!"

"You won't be sorry," Joe said, in the frank and open tones that had helped make him a millionaire several times over.

Gregor hoped not.

The next day, Lifeboat 324-A was loaded aboard their spaceship and they blasted off for Trident.

MH370: What We Know As of Today

Since Sunday the Malaysians have backtracked on some of the details initially released plus there have been some new developments based on Thailand's radar records. So commenter D.S. of made this summary of what is known and believed to be true as of this moment about the flight. I added an orange diamond to the map where Kota Bharu is on the Malaysian coast.

Don't forget that everything we know is being filtered through the media which is like playing a game of telephone with mentally challenged people in the middle.

What we know* timeline
(*or at least have a separate "unidentified official" verification on from a reputable source)
- 1:07 - ACARS last transmission (thru VHF) which apparently includes notation of a WP change having been entered into system since last scheduled report at 12:37
- 1:11 - INMARSAT ping would have been received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite?)
- 1:19 - 'Alright, Good Night' at handover (supposedly by co-pilot)
- 1:22 - Transponder goes off
(note: those previous two might be reversed, we have multiple sources seemingly confirming both possibilities. One happened at 1:19, one at 1:22 though. I'm putting them in this order mainly because...)
- 1:22 - Plane goes out of range/black from Thailand Radar (likely from the transponder going black and not the plane going out of range)
- 1:28 - Unidentified plane shows up on Thailand Radar roughly off the Kota Bharu, Malaysia coast (at Malaysia/Thailand border) and this apparently shows plane crossing the Peninsula to the Straights of Malacca (unknown endtime for this path)
- somewhere between 1:15-1:30 - Vietnam sees plane turn around.
(note: they have not told us a specific time of turn or if they know this because of a Military or ATC radar hit, but they told Malaysia they 'watched plane turn around' sometime shortly after contact was lost)
roughly 1:30-forward, Vietnam is "frantically" trying to contact the plane
- 1:37 - ACARS misses scheduled transmission
- 1:30-1:45 - at minimum 11 eye witness reports from around and past the Kota Bharu, Malaysia/Thailand border areas (including one saying 'plane descending fast' like one of the later radar hits indicates)
- 2:11 - INMARSAT ping would have been received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite)
- between 1:30-2:40 - Malaysian Military and Civilian radar picks up an "unidentified" plane flying over peninsula (Daud says "this was corroborated by civilian radar" in the March 9th press conference). Those include a couple radar WP hits we have specifically been told about* (and who knows how many that haven't been provided/leaked):
(note: we are not sure of the timing of the radar hits, and there is very contradictory evidence here. The most recent seemingly-official time is 2:15 for the last hit. Which hit that was, we don't know for sure)
post 2:15/or/2:40 apparent absolute complete blackout of plane (except...)
- 3:11 - INMARSAT ping received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite)
- 4:11 - INMARSAT ping received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite)
- 5:11 - INMARSAT ping received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite)
- 6:11 - INMARSAT ping received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite)
- 7:11 - INMARSAT ping received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite) near 40 Degree line
- 7:24 - Statement released by Malaysian Officials saying contact lost at 2:40 and SAR efforts are underway
- 8:11 - INMARSAT ping received, as apparently Boeing's AHM report attempted to automatically transmit (thru Satellite) (thru Satellite) on 40 Degree line
*those way-points on map


(Note on map: the Thailand radar data, as we understand it, indicates a straight path from IGARI to VAMPI is not possible, so there are more unknown/unreleased turns in there somewhere. Please do not read that map as a 'straight flight' from WP to WP; it was not a straight path over the peninsula, in the very least)

Intern Pay and the Goldilocks Principle

The worst offender, interestingly, is Market Watch, a project of the Wall Street Journal, which has posted a listicle headlined "America's 10 Most Overpaid Interns." Note: not "highest paid," but "most overpaid." As if there is a magical number that these skilled employees should be paid. As if the author understands exactly what these workers are worth. As if wage controls for interns are any more sensible than wage controls for any other employee.

It's as though intern pay is subject to the Goldilocks Principle: there's a certain level of salary that is "just right." Unpaid internships are unfair to the intern and overly paid internships are unfair to the rest of us. Instead, there's a magical level of earnings that-regardless of skill level, regardless of the work to be done, regardless of how many people want to do the work-all interns should earn. And if these tech companies are so gauche as to flaunt this principle?

Well, maybe it's time to start confiscating some wealth.

Germany's Hypocrisy on NSA Surveillance

Or why you should take European outrage!! over NSA spying with a very large chunk of salt.

Germany would like the world to believe in a simple narrative regarding privacy and surveillance: Unlike the NSA, Germany does not spy on its citizens, and it respects privacy rights.

But, like most things in Germany, it's more complicated than that. Germany does monitor citizens and foreign nationals living within its borders-it just does so quietly.

...he most glaring fact that Germans ignore is how much their government works with the NSA. Reports last summer in Der Spiegel-ironically, the same magazine that published some of the first NSA-Snowden accusations-indicated that Germany and the NSA work closely, and that German intelligence services were eager and willing to work with the Americans.
"The German services are cooperating with NSA big-time," Neumann said. "I mean, they have weekly meetings a couple of miles from here. . They do all kinds of surveillance on users as part of their daily work. So we basically have the same issues here." Neumann, who is German, said that he believes that his government also oversteps its authority. "Of course Germany's also doing some kind of surveillance, and this surveillance is probably very intrusive and not constitutional," he said. (The German government did not respond to a request for comment.)

Neumann's claims are supported by revelations about U.S.-German intelligence collaboration. According to Der Spiegel, German intelligence agencies have been using a program called XKeyScore to collect metadata within Germany. Last April a high-ranking delegation of German intelligence officials met with officials from the NSA to discuss cooperation. The Washington Post reported that in 2008, German intelligence accidentally sent American intelligence 300 phone numbers of American citizens, raising suspicions that the numbers were being tapped. This, combined with Neumann's accusation, lends credence to the sentiment expressed by National Intelligence Director James Clapper when the Merkel-cellphone scandal broke: Everyone is doing it. The NSA is just better at it than anyone else.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull and the Rise of Simpleton Wisdom

There are the books that change your life. Then there are the books that people tell you will change your life. If those people are stoners you met in college, then the books in question are either Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, or Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Pray that you don't wind up with the seagull book. Because nothing is quite as bewildering as digging into Richard Bach's 1970 novella, having heard over and over again that it will totally blow your mind, only to discover a story about a seagull who loves to fly very fast, rejects the flock (All they do is squabble over food, dude!) and is eventually reincarnated as a seagull angel. By these discriminating standards, one could argue that The Very Hungry Caterpillar offers profound commentary on the capitalist fantasy of overconsumption as path to elite metamorphosis, and Goodnight Moon presents a radical handbook for nonattachment to the material world.

Full disclosure: I haven't read any of these books other than most of the first chapter of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.


An Honest University Commercial

5 Awful Stories You Shouldn't Laugh At (But Probably Will)

Well you have this classic one:


And then you have this one which I'm fairly happy to not know the details of.

#3. Man Revenge Rapes Son's Rapist

'Cunty' Added to the Oxford English Dictionary

Seem like a rather late addition but Adam Carolla certainly deserves some credit for helping keep it alive in current usage.

cunty (n.): adj. despicable; highly unpleasant; extremely annoying.

The word cunt, which more literally refers to female genitals, dates back to the 1200s. In the Middle Ages, English speakers were less squeamish about obscene language because they had much less privacy and therefore less shame about things like sex and body parts. So the c-word probably wouldn't have raised too many Black Death-plagued eyebrows. It was even used in surnames at the time, like Clawecuncte.

Tortoise Pr0n

Consider this fair warning before you click.

The AoSHQ group. Yeah.

Teh Tweet!

Tonight's post brought to you by the first picture from space (taken in 1946 from a V2 rocket):


Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.

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