Oh, Wow.

On this day a year ago I was in either day 3 or 4 of rehab, so I guess that means I have been sober for a year.

It seems a lot, lot longer than that, to be honest. Not because it has been hard or anything, just time goes a lot slower when you aren’t on the bottle.

Can’t say I miss it one bit, either. I feel a lot better mentally and physically.

Plus, it’s clear I didn’t need the bottle to retain my irresistible charm.








Thorsday Evening Open Thread

Doing my part to keep Thor in Thursday:  FYWP is particularly squirrelly in the back room tonight, which may be discouraging others from posting. Hopefully it’s not eating your wise and beautiful contributions. 

It’s raining as usual. The mister is making a pizza, so I’ve got that going for me. What are you up to?








A Visual Protest of Hyperbolic Headlines (Open Thread)

hyperbolic_headline

The offending publisher is Politico this time, but the phenomenon isn’t confined to that hive of click-baiting hacks. It’s a small thing, but it irritates me. The same principle applies to headlines that allege that one pol has “hit” another. I don’t want to read that unless there are teeth on the fucking floor.

Speaking of hives of click-baiting hacks, The Rough Beast has a piece up entitled “Can Florida Dems Squash Alan Grayson?” — which probably would have made a much better subject for illustration than the above, now that I think of it. Be that as it may, the article explores an interesting topic, particularly relevant to Sunshine Staters but touching upon primary vs. general election themes that potentially affect everyone who longs to give the Overton Window a shove.

Alan Grayson, beloved of firebaggers, is competing against blue-doggy fellow US Congressman Patrick Murphy for the US Senate seat Marco Rubio has already vacated in his quixotic pursuit of the GOP presidential nomination (or more realistically, a veep slot with the eventual winner, who will not be Rubio). Conventional wisdom holds that a liberal firebrand can’t win in purple Florida and that Murphy represents the Dems’ best shot to gain the seat.

I say conventional wisdom means nothing in Florida, as demonstrated by the election and then re-election of Governor Rick Scott, who is not only plainly an alien from Planet Reptar but a transparent crook and the worst public speaker / retail politician that ever slithered across the hustings. But Grayson isn’t just a firebrand; he’s occasionally an embarrassment. His recent annulment (after 25 years of marriage and five children) made sleazy headlines, and he apparently socks away millions of dollars in the Caribbean and is putting forth his girlfriend to take over his Congressional seat. Ew.

Murphy was until quite recently a Republican and has a voting record that liberals such as myself find…troubling. But I think he’d have a better chance of defeating whichever hairball the FL GOP horks up in the general. I could see myself holding my nose and voting for Murphy every six years, just as I’ve done for fake astronaut Bill Nelson. But I wish for the ten thousandth time we had better choices.

Anyhoo, no real point to all of this except a plea for less hyperbolic headlines and an invitation to discuss whatever — open thread!

PS: The US Fish & Wildlife Service is asking the lion-killing prick who formerly ran a dental practice in Minnesota to contact the agency “immediately.” Hmmm. My father, who hunts deer, wild boar and gators, always calls Fish & Wildlife officials “bunny sheriffs” behind their backs. I’m not sure why, but it always made me laugh. I bet Palmer isn’t laughing.








MH370 evidence possibly found, after a long tour at sea

Exciting news! A piece of what could be erstwhile MH370 has turned up. Its location seems puzzling at first, mostly because oceanographic literacy is understandably rare in the reporting world.

The wing part washed up recently on the French island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. On the surface this seems odd because many experts believe that MH370 crashed when it ran out of fuel in the south and west of Australia, also in the Indian Ocean but a long way from Reunion. Reaching that little island would be a long trip given that plane’s fuel reserves, and it might call for a significant detour around our powerful radars in Diego Gracia. But in fact some cocktail napkin calculations I think Reunion could be quite consistent with the original crash theories.

The first thing you need to know is the surface of the ocean is everywhere in motion, driven by the prevailing winds and bent by coastlines and the gentle tug of Earth’s rotation. You probably know about the Gulf Stream, part of the great gyre that circulates surface water clockwise around the northern Atlantic. All major oceans have gyres like this, and unlike your Australian friend’s toilet they do respect the Coriolis effect, so these gyres circulate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the South.

If it followed expectations then debris from MH370 would have ended up in the southern Indian Ocean’s primary gyre, called the South Equatorial Current or SEC. It loops east through isolated Antarctic waters, heads north off of Western Australia and then takes a very long journey just south of the equator, arcing north and west from Perth and then back south again until a brushes past the island of Madagascar. Within the SEC you can find a number of tiny, isolated island chains, from the Cocos in the east to Diego Garcia with its strategic airfield over to the Reunion on the western edge of the Indian Ocean. If you stand on the southern shore of Reunion and toss a bottle in the water, there is a small but nonzero chance that a beachcomber in the Cocos islands 2,800 miles away will trip on it some time later.

So I asked whether MH370 would have enough time to tour two thirds of the SEC. That wing spar would have spent most of its trip in the northern SEC, where surface currents average a hair over one mile per hour. That adds up to just under nine thousand miles per year (one mile per hour sounds slow, but a year has a lot of hours in it). Floating the SEC in the outside lane, which includes Reunion and the estimated crash site, you have a full circle of ten to twelve thousand miles. That puts the debris in about the right place and time if it followed the canonical trajectory of the Indian Ocean’s southern gyre. I would say the odds of a piece of debris from MH370 finding a spit of land as small as Reunion is pretty tiny, but if it were to find a tiny island somewhere then Reunion seems like as good a place as any to look for debris.

***Update***

Large parts of airplanes all have serial numbers like the VIN on an automobile, so we will know for sure pretty soon. Plus apparently Boeing is only missing one set of 777 wings.








50 years of a BFD

Just a reminder — Medicare and Medicaid turned fifty today:

1st Medicare card issued

1st Medicare card issued

These two programs are a combined big fucking deal on making this country a better spot to be. We should celebrate our successes, and then get back to work on making our successes better.

Open thread