Re: Pass The Salt, D.B.

1

Aside from the likely tragic deaths of a bunch of people, it is kind of nice to know that there are some places that are off the grid.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 5:43 AM
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Since the planet is in fact three dimensional, most of it is off the grid and likely to stay that way. Including the bit where these unfortunate people presumably are.

Now how they come to be there, that is the question.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 5:46 AM
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Those two Iranians had nothing to do with it. Or so the mullahs and Interpol would have you believe.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 5:52 AM
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2: When you look at things that way it certainly gives a different perspective. You can travel thousands of kms across the surface of the earth but almost none of us have ever been a mere 20kms above it.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:07 AM
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I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering if the people who were on that plane have found any of the old Dharma Initiative stations yet.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:23 AM
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Part of me rebels whenever the fiction of finding the missing is indulged, whether at this level or the level of the abducted-child-might-look-like-this-ten-years-later notices on the local news.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:29 AM
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6: They do sometimes find those kids, albeit rarely. But yeah, an airplane disappearing over the ocean is like a set of keys dropped into a river of molten lava. Let em go, because man, they're gone.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:38 AM
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6: OTOH there's the occasional case like the airliner that went down in the Andes and wasn't found for two months.

I think I'd likely give up hope relatively early, because I'm maudlin like that, but I can see the possibility of hanging on for a long time, especially if it was family.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:39 AM
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So the "may have turned and flown west" thing was basically just some radar blip that the Malaysian military tracked about the same time? I'm assuming it is most likely a complete red herring unless there is more to it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:49 AM
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I get very cold-hearted about people who have to be retrieved because they're living-on-the-edge adventurers. (Stand back--I have unholstered the italics of sarcasm.) Like the people who, SURPRISE!, meet with mishap in the part of K2 affectionately termed "the death zone." Oh hey maybe you're not supposed to be up there anyway. Try the Happy Fun Bunnies Zone, and if you meet a horrible fate there I'm all for sending out the planes or whatever.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:53 AM
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a complete red herring

This is not clear, from what I can tell. In fact, nothing is clear, which is why this is becoming fascinating.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:54 AM
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I'm all in favor of rescuing people who get in trouble due to their own stupidity (or adventurousness) just because it gives the rescue people a workout that ensures they are overprepared for rescues in the Happy Fun Bunnies Zone, where I am likely to be. If I need rescuing I want to be over-rescued, not merely adequately rescued.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:57 AM
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Smearcase we need you to name some cocktails on the boston meetup thread. Hurry! Our livers have fallen into a crevasse of healthiness!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:00 AM
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9, 11: it would have to be a big herring, traveling very quickly, to bring down a 777.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:01 AM
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Like the people who, SURPRISE!, meet with mishap in the part of K2 affectionately termed "the death zone." Oh hey maybe you're not supposed to be up there anyway. Try the Happy Fun Bunnies Zone, and if you meet a horrible fate there I'm all for sending out the planes or whatever.

The problem here is that the Happy Fun Bunnies Zone is not adequately or unambiguously delineated. And, also, it's a good job that the analogy ban prevents people from drawing comparisons with other instances of the argument "these guys were knowingly engaging in a high-risk activity of which I disapprove, and which I think is against the will of God and Nature, so I don't think we should be spending lots of money to stop them dying".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:03 AM
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Charlie Stross was speculating (it's irresponsible not to) that something disastrous went wrong, the pilots were unconscious or dead, and nobody could get into the cockpit due to the reinforced doors which, man, totally sounds like the plot of a horror movie.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:05 AM
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In conjunction with this someone linked a story on the details of Air France 447 (Brazil -> Paris disappeared over the south Atlantic) with black boxes recovered two years later. Almost entirely pilot error in response to a minor equipment emergency (with perhaps an assist per the article from an Airbus pilot interface design choice). Anyway, not the cockpit scene you want on your flight:

Thus it was that even when Bonin had the A330's nose pointed upward during the fatal stall, his colleagues failed to comprehend what was going on. It seems clear from the transcripts that Robert assumed the plane was flying level or even descending. Robert himself was panicking: "We still have the engines! What the hell is happening? I don't understand what's happening." Ninety seconds after the emergency began the captain was back in the cockpit demanding: "What the hell are you doing?" To which both pilots responded: "We've lost control of the plane!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:08 AM
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14: Maybe a whale fell on it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:08 AM
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14,17: the pilots were unconscious or dead.

Never eat the herring.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:10 AM
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This tragedy has led to me reading about a bunch of old crashes (including the one in 17). Some of them are real nightmare fuel. Others make clear why the airline industry is so risk averse.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:12 AM
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I generally support Smearcase on this (sorry Tog, tonight you sleep with the fishes). It isn't as shaded as ajay makes out. Frex, every year you get multiple stories about people who have wandered into Snowdonia or the Cairngorms or somewhere when snow and fog have been forecast for a week and the Mountain Rescue service have posted warnings everywhere instructing everybody not to fucking do it but they do, and when they get stuck they expect the Mountain Rescue people to risk their own necks, literally, pulling them out of their own damn mess. Bollocks.

On the other hand, if you've boarded a scheduled flight to go and visit your auntie, I think t's reasonable that people should look for you if you don't arrive.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:15 AM
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Never eat the herring.

Not even the whistling green one nailed to the wall over there? It looks tasty.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:15 AM
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17: Reading that voice recorder transcript is really horrifying. One thing that surprises me is that there isn't a GPS based speed measurement system alongside the pitot tube system. Obviously you need airspeed rather than ground speed, but the latter is useful information too, and provides a sanity check on the pitot tubes.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:17 AM
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The problem here is that the Happy Fun Bunnies Zone is not adequately or unambiguously delineated.

And really, in the actual death zone, rescuing gets done by other climbers. That is, if there's any around and conditions are good enough that they think they won't join you as a mountaintop frozen treat.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:17 AM
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every year you get multiple stories about people who have wandered into Snowdonia or the Cairngorms or somewhere when snow and fog have been forecast for a week and the Mountain Rescue service have posted warnings everywhere instructing everybody not to fucking do it

I would be very interested to see a single verified case of Mountain Rescue warning people not to go on any mountain area in the UK. They are very good at saying things like "make sure you are properly equipped and have appropriate footwear" and "beware of avalanche risk" and "tell someone else where you're going before you head out" but they do not say "don't go on the Cairngorms this week, it's too dangerous". And to my knowledge they never have.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:19 AM
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And, also, it's a good job that the analogy ban prevents people from drawing comparisons with other instances of the argument "these guys were knowingly engaging in a high-risk activity of which I disapprove, and which I think is against the will of God and Nature, so I don't think we should be spending lots of money to stop them dying".

If I'm reading this right, boy, it's really pretty dumb as any sort of an argument other than, and perhaps this is really how it was intended, in favor of the (really pretty dumb) analogy ban.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:21 AM
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20: Things that you didn't know existed but could kill you anyway: Servo valves (from the horrific nose-first plunge of a 737 coming into Pittsburgh in the '90s):

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the USAir flight 427 accident was a loss of control of the airplane resulting from the movement of the rudder surface to its blowdown limit. The rudder surface most likely deflected in a direction opposite to that commanded by the pilots as a result of a jam of the main rudder power control unit servo valve secondary slide to the servo valve housing offset from its neutral position and overtravel of the primary slide.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:22 AM
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Plus, building on what gswift said, "the Mountain Rescue service" is a service provided by charitable organisations made up of volunteer climbers. They're rescuing their own people, more or less.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:22 AM
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26: the analogy, were one to be made, would be with heroin users - who are not only doing something that they know is very risky, but doing something that is actually illegal - and we still don't leave them to die because leaving people to die is not something that we as a society do.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:25 AM
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Also, threads about plane crashes are banned.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:25 AM
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I don't know, is it really such a slippery slope up to something that 20% of people who try to do die trying? Go ahead and make your analogy. I won't tell Ogged.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:25 AM
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Oh. You already did, while we were underground.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:26 AM
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I think the slippery slope down is more of an issue with mountain rescues.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:26 AM
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I feel so bad for the mom of the kid with the stolen passport. I just imagine she's been waiting and waiting for your son to be able to move to Germany, and out of all the complications, things probably seemed pretty in the clear once he boarded the plane.

Probably because I don't know any details about any other passengers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:26 AM
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Bringing the two banned subthreads together:
"They bought their tickets, they knew the risks. I say, let 'em crash!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:27 AM
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And to my knowledge they never have.

Well I must have been imagining the bloke who told me not to go up Snowdon because I wasn't equipped for the predicted weather then. And I don't care whether they're volunteers or paid by the United Nations, putting them in the position of having to take risks because you're such a special snowflake that you can ignore all the warnings from all directions is unconscionable.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:29 AM
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29: then I was misreading you, which always seemed likely (because I'm often an idiot and you almost never are).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:29 AM
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37: I misread him, I think the same way, and it seemed pretty punchy for ajay.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:33 AM
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29: Yeah, overdoses and motorcycle accidents were the first ones that sprang to mind, probably because of the job.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:36 AM
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37, 38: same here.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:37 AM
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Well I must have been imagining the bloke who told me not to go up Snowdon because I wasn't equipped for the predicted weather then.

You weren't equipped for the weather. But presumably, some people could exist who were so equipped, and would have been allowed to go?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:37 AM
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I would be very interested to see a single verified case of Mountain Rescue warning people not to go on any mountain area in the UK. They are very good at saying things like "make sure you are properly equipped and have appropriate footwear" and "beware of avalanche risk" and "tell someone else where you're going before you head out" but they do not say "don't go on the Cairngorms this week, it's too dangerous". And to my knowledge they never have.

Welcome to the alpine zone! You're all going to die!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:43 AM
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38: me too!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:44 AM
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"You got married. You should have known it would end in divorce."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:47 AM
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The widespread misreading of the proposed analogy underscores the enduring wisdom of the analogy ban.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:48 AM
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37, 38, 40: Yeah, I feel like we'd be letting the Mineshaft down if that wasn't our reading.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:48 AM
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41: well, exactly. "Don't go up the hills unless you're properly equipped" is different from "don't go up the hills".

And the point is not just that they're volunteers, it's that they're volunteer climbers: when rescue's happening at the top end, it is, in essence, the climbing community rescuing itself.

42 is extraordinary. "The Worst Weather In America" is quite a statement. I wonder if teo would agree?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:50 AM
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I'm puzzled. I can't work out how everybody else read ajay's 15, which seemed completely clear to me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:51 AM
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It's not actually 20%. Those percentage figures you see are actually death to summit ratios where the deaths include everyone who died on the mountain regardless of whether they summitted or even made a summit attempt. So for example, in the 2013 season K2 had an infinity percent death rate - two dead by avalanche at high camp, no summits or even summit attempts. Plus, the death rates are lower these days but are still skewed by the even more insane levels back twenty or forty years ago. And like ajay said, the rescue service in the really crazy mountains is made up exclusively of other climbers. The Pakistani military which provides helicopter rescue service doesn't go up anywhere near the death zone. They'll take you out if your buddies can get you down to a low level camp and you can pony up tens of thousands of dollars.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:52 AM
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Yeah, overdoses and motorcycle accidents were the first ones that sprang to mind

People who shoot heroin while motorcycling in avalanche zones during snowstorms are the most irresponsible of all.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:52 AM
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I didn't get what ajay was thought to be alluding to either. Looking back, I don't know, maybe AIDS?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:52 AM
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I'd like to visit the Happy Fun Bunnies Zone, please.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:52 AM
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when rescue's happening at the top end, it is, in essence, the climbing community rescuing itself.

I think the point is that even if it's the climbing community rescuing itself, you're being kind of a dick member of the climbing community if you knowingly waltz into a really dangerous environment, since that has the potential to bring other members of the climbing community into the selfsame (or numerically identical, thanks doc slack) really dangerous environment when they, surprise!, go rescue you.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:53 AM
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47.last: it's pretty legit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:54 AM
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People who shoot heroin while motorcycling in avalanche zones during snowstorms are the most irresponsible of all.

Get me Danny Boyle, I have a sequel concept he will love.

"It's shite being Alaskan! We're the lowest of the low!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:54 AM
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47.last: It really is "worst weather in America" compared to your priors established in seemingly similar environments. Whereas if you're in the Brooks Range you know you're in the Brooks Range.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:55 AM
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Not too bad right now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:56 AM
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"against the will of God and Nature" clearly sounded like AIDS to me. Motorcycle riding is against the will of God, maybe, it's not in the Bible, but Nature?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:56 AM
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Friends of mine run a backcountry ski lodge (and I recently won a free night there for 6!) They had a guest killed in an avalanche this weekend. Local kid (27), popular and very experienced. His friends dug him out, but it took too long, and they couldn't revive him.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:57 AM
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53: but this really isn't the attitude of the climbing community, though. You're being a dick if you go somewhere dangerous without adequate preparation or kit or experience or whatever and people then have to rescue you. But knowingly going into really dangerous environments is what top-end climbing is all about. You just won't get MRT guys saying "we had to rescue him from Zero Gully, what an idiot he was, no one should go up Zero Gully."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:57 AM
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12: nobody wants to be partially rescued.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:58 AM
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It really is "worst weather in America" compared to your priors established in seemingly similar environments.

We don't even have Bayesian weather forecasts in the UK.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:58 AM
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51: I'm wondering if my reading is the same as the common misreading. To me unless it's otherwise specified "against God and Nature" connotes buttsex, which goes with your reading.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:58 AM
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48, 51: That was how I read it until the clarification -- it was the callout to "against the will of God and Nature". I'm much happier after 29. But still liking the analogy ban.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:59 AM
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Crossed with togolosh, who thinks like I do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:00 AM
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The analogy ban is like a rhetorical safety net.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:01 AM
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63: "against God and Nature" was a reference to the thing about "in the part of K2 affectionately termed "the death zone." Oh hey maybe you're not supposed to be up there anyway."

nobody wants to be partially rescued.

Aron Ralston?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:01 AM
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Though I suppose that even he would rather have been fully rescued.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:03 AM
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67.1: That makes sense. I guess I just leap to buttsex whenever I'm confused.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:05 AM
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As who among us does not?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:06 AM
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57: You can see the result of the very strong cold front (came through here yesterday afternoon) --temperature fell 10 degrees since 6:00 AM. Atypical diurnal pattern.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:07 AM
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NASCAR and buttsex, they just naturally go together.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:09 AM
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Lots of people who get rescued from the Death Zone are only partially rescued. In fact it's pretty common for successful climbers who make it back to lose pieces of themselves. Maurice Herzog wasn't shaking anybody's hand after Annapurna.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:13 AM
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I don't think I would have thought Ajay was referring to AIDS in a thousand years without you all getting worked up about it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:15 AM
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But presumably, some people could exist who were so equipped, and would have been allowed to go?

And so they would be less likely to fuck up to the point of needing to be dug out. Nosflow gets it in 53.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:16 AM
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74: You appear to worship some kind of offbrand God with a broader range of interests than the one the rest of us are familiar with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:17 AM
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in a thousand years

You lack imagination.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:19 AM
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I think this one is pretty easy. Yes, it's dickish to take stupid risks (with stupidity dependent on context; a meticulously prepared climb of a tough mountain is risky but not stupidly so). Yes, "they took a risk, fuck 'em, let 'em die" is pretty much always a dickish attitude, and one that basically no one applies to their own risky activity of choice, whatever that is.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:20 AM
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Leaping to buttsex is the new jumping to conclusions.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:21 AM
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Am I being tone deaf for not understanding why the AIDs analogy doesn't work or is offensive? Some people have made that argument. Dickish people, of course. It's just about the maximally dickish version of the argument ajay was criticising.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:23 AM
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Leaping to buttsex is the new jumping to conclusionsfroggy style.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:24 AM
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That was me, leaping to the comment button too early.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:25 AM
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78: I don't think it's that easy. Professionals use complicated formulas for assessing gradations of risk, right?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:25 AM
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Sure but I'm not talking about making reasonable efforts at saving peoples lives, not risk management or setting insurance policies or saying that you can't factor in the cost of rescue to the efforts you make at rescue (as of course happens with mountain climbers, coast guard accidents, etc.). There's a difference between thinking that maybe it should be more expensive and harder to build in flood prone areas and saying fuck it, let 'em drown, they should have known of the hurricane risk when they built the beach house.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:30 AM
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That first not should not be there. Oh well, onwards!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:33 AM
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83: So if you send a lot of ill-prepared climbers up K-2, but divide them into tranches...


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:40 AM
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86: Lowest-rated tranch is "toes and other extremities." Horrible investment.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:42 AM
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80: Okay, so it turns out that I read it the same way everybody else apparently did. But like Eggplant, I'm having trouble seeing what the problem is, or how the clarification in 29 is somehow inconsistent with that reading. I'm very confused.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:45 AM
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And plenty of people do seem pretty okay with letting heroin users die after overdose. It's a huge issue here and people are getting all bent out of shape about offering easier access to Narcan, though thank goodness that's happening.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:46 AM
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At the other end of the being-responsible-for-bad-things-that-happen-to-you spectrum, I was super rattled by the horrible car accident (although accident is really not the right word) here at SxSW last night. I know in the abstract that bad things could happen any time any where, but to be run down in the middle of a crowd in the middle of a closed-off street seems extra... unfair? Random? Arbitrary? Just not something you could ever protect yourself against, or anticipate, or take any responsibility for happening to you. Again, of course none of us is safe anywhere any time, but somehow this really made me feel it.


Posted by: freight train | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:55 AM
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Anecdatum re Mt. Washington: the one time I hiked up there, it was a gorgeous autumn day for most of the way (and I saw a bear cub!), but then it turned to whiteout conditions in about five minutes when I was just above the timberline. It's not hard to see why so many people have died there. Still, months of rain and leaden skies are the worst weather in America, and I'd be waiting for rescue if spring hadn't started yesterday.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 8:57 AM
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More people in the US OD on prescription opiates than heroin. (Fig 2. of the linked article) This fact should not be fine print specialist knowledge.

Casting overdoses as an offense against law and order is a mistake. One of my hopes is that a more rational healthcare system will make cheap rehab possible. (really minimal stable environment and twelve-step or similar amalgam of therapy-ish time and loose oversight) It was nice to read that Holder is suggesting looser sentences for drug crimes, even if he is likely doing it to distract attention from himself.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:00 AM
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RE Mt. Washington, first time I ever heard of it was seeing an ad for a window company showing the modern observation station, which iirc cantilevers over a cliff edge, encased in a foot or more of ice. Pretty breathtaking.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:04 AM
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||

Jesus fucking christ you would think that if you were among the richest nonprofit institutions on the planet you could figure out a way to let somebody make 88 fucking black and white, letter sized photocopies without going through four different layers of approval on three floors of two buildings, maybe? Especially when those photocopies are to enable your teaching staff to grade a multiple choice exam by hand, because you do not believe in scantrons?

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:04 AM
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I was aware that prescription opiate abuse is a horrible problem but I'm surprised at people OD'ing on them at a greater rate than heroin. One of the big benefits of the prescription opiates over street drugs is fine control over the dosage.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:06 AM
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The depressurization one that comes to mind is the one in Greece. Helios Airways 522. A bunch of mistakes.

And then there was the flight attendant who was conscious to the end and did what he could. DNA testing revealed that the blood on the aircraft controls was that of flight attendant Andreas Prodromou, a pilot-in-training with approximately 260-270 hours of training completed. He tried to save the plane; he called "Mayday" five times, but the radio was still tuned to Larnaca, not Athens. Since he could access the cockpit at fuel starvation it was futile. But imagine him there, outside the cockpit, with portable air, in the cold cabin, waiting and waiting and waiting. Terrifying.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:08 AM
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only at fuel starvation


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:09 AM
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I too leapt to buttsex against God and Humanity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:11 AM
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67: The shameful truth is I was mostly setting up a two-thread cocktail joke.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:13 AM
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94: sometimes heebie u feels like heaven on earth. Would you believe I just...make copies?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:13 AM
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Me, obvs. I guess I should stop using Chrome in no-homo mode.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:13 AM
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100: This is a math department vs. other departments issue. Math departments all have easy copying. In science departments things are all attached to grants and specific labs, so copying for teaching may be complicated. Humanities departments are broke so have all sorts of restrictions.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:18 AM
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95: OxyContin is designed to be timed release; if you crush up a bunch and snort them or whatever that sort of goes out the window.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:42 AM
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This loss reminds of the Payne Stewart crash, in which a learjet going from Florida to Texas lost pressure, flew on for four hours with an incapacitated crew, and eventually crashed in South Dakota. If the same thing happened over the ocean, I suspect the chances of eventual recovery are vanishingly small.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:48 AM
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"In science departments things are all attached to grants and specific labs"
It's awesome that you don't have to pay overhead, then.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:50 AM
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Reading the Helios story, why aren't autopilots designed to descend to safe pressure altitude if there's a low cabin pressure emergency?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:53 AM
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Presumably "safe pressure altitude" could include mountains. Although one would hope that modern autopilots could be made aware of such things.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 9:57 AM
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Yeah, but even if they're not mountain-aware you'd probably prefer taking that chance- if the pilots are responsive they just take manual control and avoid mountains, if they're not responsive the plan crashes anyway if it stays at cruising altitude until it runs out of fuel.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 10:07 AM
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I was aware that prescription opiate abuse is a horrible problem but I'm surprised at people OD'ing on them at a greater rate than heroin.

What sifu said. There's a lot of people out there who aren't exactly following the instructions on the bottle.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 10:16 AM
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57, 71: The effects of the front continue, temp down another 3 degrees and winds now continually above 60mph with gusts in the 80s.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 12:01 PM
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Good grief, how did anyone read 15 and not immediately think AIDS, given that the comment was addressed to a gay man of a certain age from Kentucky?!


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 12:47 PM
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Did you guys see the letter from the man working on the oil rig who may have seen the plane on fire? I was so impressed with that letter. He gave absolutely every piece of information he had clearly and concisely and didn't write anything extra. I wonder how long he worked on it. It was a great letter.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 12:59 PM
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I eventually thought AIDS, but at first I thought he meant a medically necessary/health-of-the-mother abortion sought by an out-of-wedlock couple, but that seemed like it didn't fit.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 1:00 PM
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crush and snort

Phase 3 clinical trials are many tens of millions of dollars per trial attempt. Vioxx, non-addictive but harmful only to an identifiable subpopulation, remains illegal. Yet truckloads of this drug approved ostensibly only for the agony that follows serious surgery get prescribed, no effective regulatory response, a shrug and eventual repackaging from the now-wealthy privately held patent holder.

Scandalously bad outcome.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 1:04 PM
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I didn't understand 15 because the main thing I weigh in stupid risk-taking scenarios is the danger to the rescuers, and there is little or no danger to the rescuers in medical threats, so I didn't get make any medical scenario analogies at all.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 1:06 PM
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Why isn't the "black box " information transmitted to a ground station in real time? One could erase the data on safe landing, or transfer the data to a storage facility for compilation.

At the time that they came up with the flight data recorder they didn't have the technology we have today. Upgrade to the cloud!


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 2:50 PM
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Charlie Stross on Twitter:

I am told that MH370 was flown by the four hundred and fourth Boeing 777 to come off the production line.

Yup ...

Error: 404 Not found.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 2:54 PM
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Error: 404 Not found.

More proof of God's twisted sense of humor?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 2:57 PM
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111: wait, Smearcase is from Kentucky? I did not know that.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 3:03 PM
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96/97: Since he could [only] access the cockpit at fuel starvation it was futile.

Was there actually something preventing him from entering before fuel starvation? (Other than the locked door, to which IIRC he eventually used the emergency code.) I thought that was an unsolved mystery that he didn't go in sooner. Of course the terror of waiting, whatever the cause, must have been unbearable--the unconscious passengers at least were spared that. The official report's account, with the guy at the controls and one engine flaring out and then the next a few minutes later, gesturing helplessly at the fighter jet alongside, is just awful. (Moderate obsession with the Helios crash due to having heard the news shortly after dropping my then-girlfriend off at the Athens airport, which was my own brief moment of terror when all I could figure out was that a plane had just crashed somewhere in Attika.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 3:08 PM
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|| Megan!! Smelt ruling! Good thing or bad thing? |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 3:22 PM
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Ha, comment 111 is my first time being labeled d'un certain age by someone other than me being campy. But yes. I lived in Kentucky from age 6 to 18.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 4:13 PM
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I didn't even know about it until your comment! The news articles make it sound like a win for the enviros and I don't have any contradictory opinions about it.

The part about how the lower court called the FWS biological opinion "arbitrary and capricious" and then the 9th Circuit said that the lower court should have shown more deference to the agency sounds familiar. If the lower court was Wanger's ruling, he called out two FWS scientists by name. (He retired shortly after and went to work as a consultant.) There was an investigation into their work and it was found to be perfectly fine, not biased, solid science for agency work. If this is the same, it'd be a nice additional redemption for them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 4:15 PM
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123 -- That's the one. You haven't read a 168 page opinion yet? It cites a California water blog, btw.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:00 PM
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And oh hey, I hear on the radio that Obama is going to have the Labor department re-write the rules so more folks get overtime.

More, please.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:03 PM
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119: Since all the best people are, you certainly could have guessed.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:20 PM
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Was there actually something preventing him from entering before fuel starvation? (Other than the locked door, to which IIRC he eventually used the emergency code.)

More IIRC...I thought he wasn't able to enter the cockpit until after one of the engines had flamed out. My recollection was that the door automatically unlocked then. (It wouldn't do to have the door locked in case of a power-out crash.) If he had a pasccode, why didn't he use it earlier? Because looking down that cabin at the unconscious passengers (and colleagues? who knows what self-triage they did with the portable generators), and then looking out at the fighters, should certainly have encouraged him to use an emergency passcode well-before the very end. He deserved accolades for hanging on and trying so hard.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 6:47 PM
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There's this one: http://www.kboi2.com/news/local/idaho-fish-game-helicopter-crash-kamiah-146543745.html


Posted by: Cecil Andrus | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:08 PM
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127: From the official report it looks like they couldn't be sure that he hadn't previously entered the cockpit before the fighter escort started observing, but from the flight recorder (covering the last 30 minutes of the flight) it sounded like he'd used the emergency access code a few minutes before the first flameout. And I think they surmised from this that he likely hadn't previously entered the cockpit, because if he had he wouldn't have subsequently needed to use the code? "The Board found the fact that this cabin attendant might not have attempted to enter the flight deck until hours after the first indication that the aircraft was experiencing a non-normal situation quite puzzling."


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:28 PM
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129. Consider me puzzled too. Having the code and not entering is weird. (My recollection of all this is based on info from articles soon after the crash. But obviously from late enough for them to ID the FA via DNA.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 7:43 PM
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"The Worst Weather In America" is quite a statement. I wonder if teo would agree?

I didn't at the time I first read it, but the subsequent comments make a strong case for it at least in context. I'm sure the summit of Denali, for example, has "worse" weather in most respects, but there aren't, like, buildings there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-14 11:06 PM
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I just enjoyed _Submerged: Adventures of America's Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team_, in which really a startling number of people die in a completely non-agressive pursuit. They mostly don't expect to be rescuable, if they get in trouble, though they will go in after each other's bodies.

It was charming to have repeated campaigns to Isle Royale and one offhanded mention of the wolves and the moose.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:46 AM
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126: I don't even see Kentucky.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:05 AM
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131: I assume that part of the claim is the changeableness. I know that most (all?) mountains are prone to swift weather changes, but Mt. Washington basically goes from pleasant Katahdin to, well, hellish Denali in a matter of a few hours, and does it as the norm, not the exception.

But maybe the swing is less exceptional than my impression.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:34 AM
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The weather may be bad, but you've got a great view of the Point.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:37 AM
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Cedar Point?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:42 AM
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131: buildings where you can buy a bumper sticker attesting that you just drove there in your Hyundai, even.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:44 AM
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Pittsburgh joke.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:44 AM
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138 to 136. The upper lip of the river-carved valley that overlooks downtown Pittsburgh is called Mt. Washington.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:45 AM
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Or Coal Hill back in the day.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 7:23 AM
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Far more than anyone actually wants to know about it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 7:29 AM
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The upper lip of the river-carved valley

At first I thought this was hott, but then I realize it's just an ad for a clothing company.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 7:32 AM
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142: Wafer is just winning left and right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:47 AM
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People who shoot heroin while motorcycling in avalanche zones during snowstorms are the most irresponsible of all.

I'll have you know I had excellent reasons: I wanted to get high and risk my life for thrills! no, seriously, I have like 99% done this! but you can't really shoot up on a moving motorcycle, you have to pull over and use a gas station toilet, the most salubrious pleasure-taking spot imaginable, as you all know. (I think technically you could get everything set up c-a-r-e-fully and then do it when the motorcycle was in motion, but that would only happen in a late 90s aerosmith video, and the chances of you going "whoops" over a bump and grinding the needle into your bone is high. says the woman who puts on eye makeup in the taxi, on the highway.)

also, you shouldn't shoot up and then ride pillion with someone who isn't high (wait, no, kind of ideal that he should be sober, actually, but see pt. 2) and who doesn't know you're high, because it seems like I easily could have nodded out and leaned all the way into a curve, wiping us both out on a twisty mountain road. truly it was a "danger falling rocks" avalanche zone, not a "there are 10 feet of powder" avalanche zone. and there were only flurries as we got to the peaks. so, yeah, maybe 80%. if anything had happened to me I should have been medevaced out on ajay's dime. I feel certain he would have covered for me.

separately, my man, gotta say my first instinct was, "he went right for the bitchy AIDS comment? damn. that's cold why we have an analogy ban." I'm glad you didn't go there. please continue to advocate saving dumbfuck drug users, and to note that if you are making a serious attempt to summit K2 and fellow climbers rescue you, they are not going to say "don't you know this mountain is hella dangerous?!?"


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:27 AM
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also, sifu, you can't grind up and snort any oxy anymore, it's all timed release. there's bupenorphine and there's fentanyl patches and there's instant-release morphine, but there's no more instant-release oxy at all. I hope I haven't spoiled any weekend plans.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:29 AM
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Back to OP & 9: I'm assuming it is most likely a complete red herring unless there is more to it.

Well shit, apparently the "flown east for a non-trivial period of time" is getting more support.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:05 AM
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Is this potential flight path fanciful or based on reasonable data and analysis?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:34 AM
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yes, that's the current state of the inquiry based on the primary radar tapes. big open question: did they go north or south from last fix? we now know they were on an arc of constant range from the satellite, so in context they can't have gone east or west.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:48 AM
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it's all timed release

And the timed release mechanisms are getting more and more tamper-proof. Can't even melt down and shoot up the latest ones.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:58 AM
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(I know this from my job, not from trying to shoot up oxy)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:00 AM
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149: yeah, as far as I know it's always been timed release, but you could either scrape off or just ignore the coating. Sounds like it's getting less doable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:06 AM
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Because you still have plenty of the old stuff for shooting up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:07 AM
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The "lamb kabobs in a Pakistani village" theory is looking more plausible.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:35 AM
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I've worked on some "Pharma" cases in the last few years, and a lot of the action is in timed-release, as I know Apo knows and others in their own way. Known, and heretofore insignificant drugs are transformed by timed-release, and are often very effective for completely different indications than what they might have been developed for.

Yes, the usefulness of timed release for public policy--preventing the harvesting and abuse of drugs for addictive purposes--is important, but so is the revolution in dosing and prescription. We've got a whole new medicine chest, and a world to discover about what drugs long-developed might be able to accomplish.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:05 AM
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153 As does the Dharma Initiative theory referenced upthread.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:32 AM
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I crushed and snorted an extended release Imodium. It was a rush, but then I crapped dust.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:02 AM
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153: It does, doesn't it? But wouldn't someone have noticed a jetliner flying over their airspace? Getting from Malaysia to Central Asia involves flying over at least one of China, India, Pakistan, (much less likely) Iran or Russia, and most likely through an area where their militaries are keeping rather close tabs on their borders.

Not that the possible southern route makes any sense if it was deliberate.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:56 PM
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I like the idea of the planned southern route. "Take this plane to Antarctica. There's no law there."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:14 PM
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In the land of the penguin, the hijacker is king.

The proposed southern route almost goes directly over Jakarta. It seems really unlikely that the Indonesian authorities wouldn't have noticed. Maybe they went slightly to the right to go in the straight between Java and Sumatra?

So, back to the northern route. In addition to crossing the border region between Thailand, Myanmar, and China, it crosses Tibet lengthwise. I find it really hard to believe that the PRC wouldn't have noticed an unscheduled flight somewhere along that route. Maybe it went too far north to be seen by the authorities in Lhasa, but it probably wasn't too far from Kashgar. Then again, there are large unpopulated areas in the region and perhaps it was able to remain far enough from any populous area or military base to avoid detection until it reached wherever.

If so, that really says something about China's air defense capabilities. (Assuming they don't know more than they're letting on.) But this is all irresponsible speculation about something I know nothing of, and perhaps it's normal for countries not to be able to detect when large planes enter their airspace unannounced.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:23 PM
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The CBC has an article explaining the various forms of aviation radar and how it could have disappeared to secondary radar. It says that the plane was seen crossing the Malay peninsula via primary military radar. No info yet on why they weren't seen by other military radar, if they took the northern route.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:44 PM
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Getting from Malaysia to Central Asia involves flying over at least one of China, India, Pakistan, (much less likely) Iran or Russia, and most likely through an area where their militaries are keeping rather close tabs on their borders.

As I understand it, if a stolen 777 were to fly somewhat close to another airplane, say another passenger jet on a regularly scheduled route, it might not be identified as a separate airplane on military radar. Particularly if, the two planes were over roughly the same spot on the ground, but at different elevations... the radar would only pick up a single plane, because it does not distinguish elevation.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:07 PM
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The proposed southern route almost goes directly over Jakarta.

That red arc on the map is not representative of the airplane's route. All it says is that, at a certain point in time, the airplane was somewhere along that arc. But the plane wouldn't necessarily have to have been following the arc, or even have been going in the same direction as the arc.

Since they were able to pick up one arc from one satellite ping, I'm guessing we will be hearing about others soon enough, and perhaps a route will come more clearly into view.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:13 PM
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The old hide the plane in the radar shadow of another trick. Classic!

I thought--and perhaps very much misunderstood--that they were getting regular pings on hourly intervals from the engine or whatever, and via the (very precisely measured) timing were able to confirm that the plane was not increasing its distance from the satellite. Therefore, it would be traveling approximately along a (not-quite great) circle with the center at the point directly below the satellite.

I may be filling in details from shitty news reports with things that sound sensible to me, so the above could well be nonsense.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:53 PM
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Incidentally, I was wondering whether US missile warning satellites could have tracked that plane. After googling a bit it sounds like the answer is no, although they would probably have seen it if the plane had exploded... or if it had lit its (sadly nonexistent) afterburners. Still it's pretty amazing that DSP and SBIR satellites can see such things from geostationary orbit.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:15 PM
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Assuming the info in this article is accurate, it is a good overview of how the satellite "pings" work and why it has led to the presumptive flight paths they are looking at.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:41 PM
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