Friday, March 7, 2014

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 missing, likely crashed

It appears that a Malaysian airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has crashed with 227 passengers plus crew on board.  This is terribly tragic and saddening.  But I'm also confused by news reports which are stating that the airline has no idea where the plane is and that they lost contact 2 hours into the flight.  The fact that they don't know where it is seems crazy, since planes are tracked on radar and with radio beacon system called ADS-B.  According to wikipedia "Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) is a cooperative surveillance technology for tracking aircraft. The aircraft determines its own position via GNSS and periodically broadcasts this via a radio frequency.".  So how can they not no where the plane crashed?

The second thing that's not making sense is the 2 hours before they lost contact.  According to, which monitors plane locations using ADS-B, the last reported position for the plane was braodcast at 12:02 pm EST, less than 20 minutes after it took off, at Lat 4.9, Long 102.6. (  This would put it just a hundred of so miles from Kuala Lumpur and near a Large Lake called Hulu Terengganu.  So either the location beacon failed before communications, the news reports are wrong, is wrong, or the airline is not telling the truth.

The Audacity of Paul

I see Rand Paul and Chris Christie led the latest New Hampshire poll of the probably GOP field, tying with
12% each.  Forgoing all the caveats about a single poll in 2 years before the election, i think there are some interesting things to be said about the result.  First, it highlights the divide between the establishment and Tea Party/Libertarian wings of the party.  Christie is still the leading establishment choice despite his scandals, mainly because the rest of the field is so weak.  Rand looks like he may end up as the major challenger from the right.  But what I think is more interesting is why Rand Paul is so prominent in the GOP.  I'd argue that it is mainly fortuitous historical timing. There's no other time in modern American politics where a far right libertarian could contrast himself favorably as the reasonable moderate voice in his party. His father was basically the same guy (with a bit less charisma), and was generally marginalized as a crank. So Paul, having set himself up with strong right wing cred, and with a small but dedicated libertarian base, can get away with kicking the extremists and moderating on certain non-fiscal issues.  For example, criticizing Ted Nugent for calling Obama a "subhuman mongrel".  The fact that this is more about the GOP than Paul himself is pretty obvious if you try to imagine the republican reaction to Nugent's racist insanity in the context of the 80's or 90's political landscape. If he even made the news, disavowing his comments would be automatic for any major political figure. Today, doing so is some sort of brave political stand.  The truth is that Rand Paul, like his dad, is basically a right wing crank peddling childish economic policies he learned from reading a few terrible novels by a sociopath name Ayn Rand which he apparently mistook for academic texts.  But nowadays being a crank is en vogue in the GOP.