Daily Archives: February 21, 2010

Microbursts can ruin your day

The Concordia on a better day

Canadian sailing classroom vessel done in by a microburst that sank her in twenty seconds. All aboard rescued. I believe another educational ship sank like this and, maybe, a movie made of it? I’ll have to go prowl around.

This local paper has further details.

The Concordia’s captain, the American William Curry, told reporters that he thought the cause of the shipwreck was a sudden, powerful gust of vertical wind. He also said that the sailboat sank in just 20 seconds.

Curry said that one of the three lifeboats had to be detached from the sailboat with a knife, and that a crew member, “with great courage,” jumped in the water to recover an emergency signal that had fallen in the sea.

“His intervention was fundamental since it put the signal in the boat, which helped send the navy our call for help,” Curry said, alluding to officer Goff Byers.

Young Lauren Unsworth, 16, said that the students were at class when the boat was shipwrecked, which, she said, occurred when “the boat heeled over and the windows broke.”

“We had to climb a wall, put on life jackets and get in the life rafts,” she said.

The Japanese-flagged merchant ship Hokuetsu Delight with a Philippine crew, which was sailing near the site of the shipwreck, was alerted by the navy and picked up 48 of the people who had been on the Canadian boat. Later another 16 were rescued.

Keaton Farwell, 17, had words of thanks for the sailors who rescued her: “They were very polite, they loaned us clothes and washed ours.”

The teen said she felt lost at sea in the midst of the storm. “We thought we weren’t going to survive. We cried with happiness when we saw the airplanes flying over us. It’s hard to describe the emotion.”

UPDATE: I believe I was thinking of this ship, The Pride of Baltimore. But no movie, apparently, and no students. Other than that, my memory was accurate. I was aboard a 30′ boat out on the Sound once when we were hit by a microburst and stand a very long minute on our side. Caught our attention, most assuredly.

UPDATE II: Aha! There was a school ship that sunk, and there was a movie, White Squall”, made in 1997 and starring Jeff Bridges (one of my favorite actors – I’ll have to get this on NetFlix). The actual sinking happened in 1961, to the Albatross.


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Glen Beck on the difference between the parties

“Democrats tax and spend, Republicans just spend.”


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LA Times on predator drones

Interesting, “day in the life” article on drone pilots who are based in Nevada yet waging war in Afghanistan. Some years ago the WSJ reported on these pilots when drones were pretty much just starting. Not surprisingly, fighter pilots absolutely hated being taken from their cockpits and forced into unglamorous duty in a dark room away from combat. But drones seem so effective, I wonder whether the fighter jocks have much of a future?


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Dexter Filkins on Aghanistan

A cautious, guarded optimism. Filkins has reported from our war zones for a long time now and I always found him perceptive and objective – rare qualities for the New York Times but then, he’s not an editor.

It’s been a long time since the Americans seemed to be in the driver’s seat here — or to be on top of things at all. So long, in fact, that the history is worth recalling. Following the 9/11 attacks, the Americans blew into Afghanistan with force and savvy, knocking the Taliban and Al Qaeda off their feet and out of the Afghan capital.

And then, remarkably, they threw the initiative way. Over the next five years, the Afghans, Americans and their NATO partners squandered their success by doing too little — just enough, it often seemed, to ensure that they wouldn’t lose. The Afghan government, led by President Hamid Karzai, proved itself corrupt, incompetent and offensive to ordinary Afghans, while the Afghan Army showed itself to be a cipher. America and its NATO partners fielded too few troops to keep the Taliban at bay; Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan went unmolested.

The decisive turn came in summer 2006, when the insurgency exploded across southern and eastern Afghanistan, with depth and skill. It hasn’t been the same since.

By any measure, 2009 was the most difficult and demoralizing year.

“The Afghan insurgency can sustain itself indefinitely,” Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, the head of military intelligence, said in a briefing paper at year’s end. Twice as many American troops died in combat in 2009 as the year before. Worst of all: the model of democratic rule painstakingly constructed since 2001 collapsed, in the presidential election, under an avalanche of fraud.

Which brings us to now. The capture of Mr. Baradar, followed by the arrest of two Taliban “shadow governors” in another Pakistani city, suggested that the haven the insurgency’s leaders have used for so long might not be so safe after all. If that proves true, the potential impact — on Taliban operations, on the prospects for a negotiated peace — seemed enormous.

Still, it was the mission in Marja that seemed to bear the most potential, if only because in the end the war’s outcome is going to be decided on Afghan ground. In Marja, the Americans, British and Afghans were implementing the ambitious new strategy championed by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top military commander.

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Mortgage rates expected to increase – buy now?

Not necessarily.

Economists are generally predicting that mortgage rates will begin to edge up in late March, settling at about 5.5 percent, possibly as high as 6 percent, for a 30-year fixed-rate loan. The rate today is around 5 percent. They also expect that the inventory of foreclosed homes will grow through the summer, saturating the market with cheap properties and keeping overall prices low.

“I wouldn’t rush,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, “but if I found a house I was excited about, I wouldn’t wait. You might not be buying at the very bottom, but you’ll still get a great rate, and if you stay for more than a few years, you’ll be rewarded.”

By that time, he added, home values will have appreciated.

Or so we hope.


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When written correspondence served as email

Mail deliveries twelve times a day, back then.

In England in 1830, postage for letters was calculated not only by the number of sheets of paper but also by the number of miles traversed, and the recipient was the one who had to pay. For a person of ordinary means, a letter of middling length could come to about a day’s wages, a fearsome cost for the unfortunate household that received a letter.

But a decade or so later, when Britain and the United States introduced cheap, flat postal rates, without regard to the number of sheets or distance traveled, correspondents enjoyed something like our unmetered broadband today. Communication became more frequent, and ties were strengthened among families and friends. But cheap rates also led to junk mail and postal scams.

In Victorian London, though service wasn’t 24/7, it was close to 12/6. Home delivery routes would go by every house 12 times a day — yes, 12. In 1889, for example, the first delivery began about 7:30 a.m. and the last one at about 7:30 p.m. In major cities like Birmingham by the end of the century, home routes were run six times a day.


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Sunday morning wisdom from InstaPundit

The Professor nails it, as usual. Probably explains why I’m so spiritual.

YOUNG VOTERS WANT SPIRITUALITY, BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELIGION. Well, that’s because religion often tells you to do things you don’t want to do, or to refrain from doing things you want to do, while spirituality is usually more . . . flexible.

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