The Hobbit to Film in 2007?

Filed under:Movies — posted by Anwyn on August 31, 2006 @ 9:45 pm

Revivalmania. You may have to scroll down, as TORn doesn’t have permalinks. Xoanon got an email:

Please leave my email anonymous as I have some very exciting news to report. I was in New Line’s NY offices to discuss upcoming projects when I clearly saw something very intriguing on a year planner. ‘The Hobbit’ was clearly marked on what looked like July 2007. I couldn’t exactly take a moment to investigate the calendar with my audience in the room, but it definitely said ‘The Hobbit’.

I’m interested, though Ian Holm and Ian McKellen sure aren’t getting any younger. But hey, a little WETA magic and … shazam. Would it play without those two? Yes. Would it play well? Dicey.

Participatory Politics

Filed under:Blogging,Politics — posted by Anwyn @ 8:40 am

I called the office of Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, to ask whether he has placed a hold on S.2590, the bill that will show the public who and/or what is getting money from earmarks. Honestly, I expected “No, he hasn’t, and we’ve answered that question many times already,” because the blogsophere has scoured this story to death this week. I was a nervous little constituent, never having called an elected official’s office before. With the previous elimination of all the senators but Stevens, it was a low-odds gig that D-OR was the correct D-.

I called, a staffer answered on the first ring, and after stating my question, I got an answer that sounded like, if I’d been in the room with him, he would have been gazing off someplace over my left shoulder as he replied in a distant voice, “Um, not that I know of,” went on to ask the name of my blog, and said he would look for the person in the press office who could answer that question. She wasn’t available. I declined to leave a message and said I would call back later. I will, after lunchtime in D.C. Hopefully with a little more backbone.

Or maybe I won’t. As I wrote this, Allah got the word that Red State got the word that the culprit is Byrd. Oh well–I made my call. Go me, participating in the legislative process. Or at least getting a staffer to trot out “Not that I know of” while looking for somebody to hand me off to. Woo!

Hurricane Aughey John Threatens Mexico

Filed under:Miscellaneous — posted by Anwyn on August 30, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

Category 4. Fear him!

AP Course-Corrects

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Sad — posted by Anwyn @ 8:22 am

Yesterday I took the AP to task for wrongly implying that the first officer was at the controls of Comair 5191 when it taxied onto the wrong runway.

Today’s AP article corrects the error without reference to the incorrect article:

Polehinke was flying the plane when it crashed, but it was the flight’s captain, Jeffrey Clay, who taxied the aircraft onto the wrong runway, Hersman said. Clay then turned over the controls to Polehinke for takeoff, the investigator said.

Before Hersman’s briefing on Tuesday, the NTSB said Polehinke was flying the plane; it made no mention of Clay being the one who taxied the plane into position.

And people deride Fox News for, they say, taking dictation from press briefings. It sounds like the AP could take a lesson here. I.E. taking the press briefing as delivered, without unconfirmed extraneous assumptions, might be a good thing. They took “Polehinke was flying the plane” and extrapolated into “Polehinke taxied onto the wrong runway” without bothering to get the NTSB to confirm or deny. A mistaken assumption that led to a smear of the surviving pilot.

Today’s article also casts a grim light on the role the tower played in the accident:

The lone traffic controller at Blue Grass Airport cleared a flight for takeoff, then turned his back to handle administrative work.

What the controller didn’t see, a federal investigator said, was the Atlanta-bound jet heading down the wrong runway.

The “lone traffic controller” was in violation of an FAA policy that requires at least two controllers in the tower specifically so that there will be one controller to handle “control tower observations.”

It’s not the first time familiarity has led to slackness has led to deaths. Nobody, from the FAA on down to the pilots, will come out of this without a black mark. I’m glad the AP has recognized its error of yesterday, but yesterday’s story is still out there without clarification or caveat. Speaking of slackness.

Update: CNN specifically mentioned the nosewheel tiller and the fact that Clay taxied the plane. Somebody, either press or NTSB, must’ve cottoned to the fact that Polehinke was getting a worse rap than he deserved–and “deserved” in this case is quite bad enough–because the lead NTSB investigator made sure CNN had these facts:

Hersman said it was the flight’s captain, Jeffrey Clay, who taxied the aircraft into position at the start of the wrong runway. Clay then turned over the controls to the co-pilot, James Polehinke, who was flying the plane when it crashed. Hersman said that was standard procedure since only the captain can reach the tiller used to steer the plane while it’s on the ground.

You don’t say.

Prairie Home Comrade

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,Jerks — posted by Anwyn on August 29, 2006 @ 10:32 pm

Liquidation based on political leanings.

Annual interest on the national debt now exceeds all government welfare programs combined. We’ll be in Iraq for years to come. Hard choices need to be made, and given the situation we’re in, I think we must bite the bullet and say no more healthcare for card-carrying Republicans. It just doesn’t make sense to invest in longevity for people who don’t believe in the future. Let them try faith-based medicine, let them pray for their arteries to be reamed and their hips to be restored, and leave science to the rest of us.

Cutting out healthcare for one-third of the population — the folks with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers, who still believe the man is doing a heckuva job — will save enough money to pay off the national debt, not a bad legacy for Republicans. As Scrooge said, let them die and reduce the surplus population. [Emphasis mine.]

The federal government already pays for my health care? Then what the hell is Kerry so exercised about?

AP Doesn’t Get the Facts

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Sad — posted by Anwyn @ 4:34 pm

Today’s AP article about Comair Flight 5191 is a sensationalist piece that emphasizes the colorful family life of Comair first officer James Polehinke while apparently completely ignorant of facts that flatly contradict its clear implication that Polehinke was primarily responsible for Sunday’s tragic crash in Lexington.

AP’s opening paragraph:

LEXINGTON, Ky. James Polehinke had a clean record as a pilot, with no accidents or mistakes, but he made a fatal error as he taxied Comair Flight 5191 into position: He made a wrong turn and tried to take off from a runway that was too short.

It is an established fact that the plane took off from the wrong runway. But Polehinke was the first officer, or copilot, of the plane; this article does not say so but previous reports have, and this article identifies the other pilot, Jeffrey Clay, as the flight captain. The paragraph indicates that Polehinke alone was responsible for the misguided taxi of the aircraft that lined it up on the wrong runway, but the crucial fact the AP missed is that the first officer physically cannot taxi the aircraft. The controls to do so are only on the captain’s side.

The plane that crashed in Lexington was a CRJ-200, an update of the CRJ-100. The -100 was introduced in 1992, the -200 in 1996. My father flew for Comair from 1991 to 2002, transferring into the CRJ-100 in 1995. He tells me that in this jet, unlike in a small propeller plane, the rudder pedals, which both pilots have, do not totally or even marginally control the ground movement of the aircraft. In addition to the rudder pedals, a pilot needs a nosewheel tiller, a small lever found at the left hand of the captain, who sits in the left seat. I spoke to a technical assistance employee at Bombardier, the maker of the plane, who confirmed that just as in the -100, the nosewheel tiller in the -200 is found at the captain’s station. My father confirms that the copilot is never in the left seat except during training, which does not take place on passenger flights.

The statement that Polehinke “made a fatal error as he taxied” is reprehensible. Though clearly both pilots were under a mistaken assumption about the correct runway, the captain takes ultimate responsibility for the behavior of the aircraft, and in this case physical responsibility as well, since only he can have been in control of the aircraft while it taxied.

The shorter runway at Blue Grass Airport is for daylight operation only, and its lights have not worked since October 2001. NTSB officials said the cockpit voice recorder showed the pilots were talking about the absence of lights on the runway, but they did not report it to the control tower.

The pilots, both of them, made a tragic error. But this article puts James Polehinke under a cloud of deeper suspicion than he deserves, and the AP should focus on facts like the specs of the cockpit rather than the fact that Polehinke’s mother is a lounge singer in Florida. Moreover, Polehinke and Clay are not the only pilots to have made this error, although unfortunately it was only theirs that resulted in loss of life.

In a letter filed in 1993 with the Aviation Safety Reporting System, maintained by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a pilot described his experience: “Aircraft was cleared for immediate takeoff (traffic was inside the marker) on runway 22 at KLEX. [Lexington's Blue Grass Airport.] We taxied onto the runway and told tower we needed a moment to check our departure routing with our weather radar (storms were in the area, raining at the airport). We realized our heading was not currect for our assigned runway and at that moment, tower called us to cancel the takeoff clearance because we were lined up on runway 26.” The pilot, who is not identified, suggested the Lexington airport post a warning to pilots “to clarify multiple runway ends,” according to a text of the letter provided by FlightAware.com.

There were many moments at which the pilots, both of them, could have realized their error. The lack of lights on the runway and the incorrect navigational heading should have told them they were in the wrong place, but a possible unfamiliarity with Lexington’s layout, among other probable factors of darkness and rainy conditions, prevented them from recognizing their mistake. As the above example shows, the tower should also have realized at some point that the plane was lined up incorrectly.

Richard Fausset of the L.A. Times reports that Polehinke was flying the plane at the time of the crash. This is in no way inconsistent with the facts above, as first officers routinely take off and land as pilots share duties. But the fact remains that control would have been transferred to Polehinke after the taxi to the runway that the AP trumpets as the “fatal error.” It appears that both pilots were at fault in this tragic accident. The sole survivor should not bear the sole guilt and in fact does not. He was not taxiing the plane; the flight captain bears ultimate responsibility, not the FO, and the AP needs to check its facts.

2996 Reaches 2996

Filed under:Sad — posted by Anwyn on August 28, 2006 @ 11:04 pm

The memorial project has signed up 2,996 bloggers, one for each victim of 9/11. There is little information on the web for some of these people other than the fact that this is when and how they died. I’m hoping these 2,996 tributes will leave a lasting internet footprint describing each person as something more than a victim doing his or her job on the worst day.

May they rest in peace.

24 Wins the Big One…

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn @ 3:51 pm

… what Ace said. Mike Lief tells me that the show skews to the right in that Jack’s nemeses are usually foreign terrorists, but this year the enemy is the President of the United States and the Academy suddenly goes nuts for it? I definitely question the hell out of the timing. The cliffhanger led us to believe the Chinese will be on the seat next year. We’ll see. Congratulations to Kiefer Sutherland, but I was really hoping Jean Smart would take home the Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy for her role as the president’s wife. She was fantastic.

Comair Flight 5191: Close to Home

Filed under:Sad,Television — posted by Anwyn on August 27, 2006 @ 11:14 pm

My father was a Comair pilot for more than ten years; before that he was a career pilot for the USAF. He was raised an hour south of Lexington; this morning’s crash is a heartache. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all on board.

USA Today describes similar incidents of pilots using the wrong runway. The short runway at Lexington did not allow sufficient time for the plane to get up to the correct airspeed for liftoff. Both runways at Lexington, per USA Today’s diagram, require a left turn off the taxiway, but the turn into the shorter runway is considerably sharper. It was early, it was dark, and it was rainy, but it also seems that the pilots must have been lacking in familiarity with Lexington’s layout.

“There are a lot (of planes) that actually do make wrong-runway takeoffs and just make it,” says John Purvis, former chief accident investigator for Boeing.

Maybe so, but he’s not specifically speaking of Lexington, and not all airports are created equal–short prop-aircraft runways are less likely to be side-by-side with big commercial jet runways at most large airports. You can take off on the wrong runway just fine if it’s long enough; you might be running a risk with the wind direction, but in a jet that’s a much smaller risk than a short runway is.

Recent problems with runway lights at the airport could have caused confusion. The smaller runway is not supposed to be lit at night, according to an airport guide. Normally, the longer runway’s bright lights would make it easily distinguishable from the smaller runway.

However, most of the lights on the longer of the two runways had been inoperable until early Saturday and pilots had been notified of the outage, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said. Brown declined to comment on the accident.

The smaller runway is not supposed to be lit; it’s not said if it was lit, and by raising the question, USAT implies that it might have been. The lights on the long runway were inoperable until Saturday; they don’t say how they were this morning. These are all facts that should come out in the investigation.

Later today, Hollywood kicked off the Emmys with a marked lack of taste. It’s true, as Hot Air’s Ian says, that it’s less a case of bad taste and more one of bad timing, but with so much in the news–and Hollywood–the timing is the taste. And as Ian goes on to ask, if a plane had gone down near L.A. instead of in Kentucky, would they have proceeded with the opener as planned? If all else failed, they could have cut off the scene in the plane and just started with Conan washing up on the beach. Everybody would have gotten the Lost reference with no need to depict even a vestige of the horror of a plane crash.

Update: If I’m going to get along in blogging I need to trust my first instincts more. Ace said he thought the opening looked a tad edited truncated. I was out last night and not watching the Emmys live. I got home and went to the computer first, not the TV. When I saw Hot Air’s headline, I went to my TiVo, not Hot Air’s vid, and watched the opening myself. I thought it looked edited, and went back to Hot Air to see if the East Coast live show might have been different from the West Coast delayed broadcast. They were the same.

But the opening was edited before the show was broadcast. I watched the TiVo again this morning to be sure. It’s harder to see at Hot Air’s embedded vid than on the TV screen, but look out at the ocean behind Conan–there’s a large splash, with nothing there to cause it. It’s too much to believe that a random passing whale decided it was time for his appearance with O’Brien. I’m thinking they showed part of the plane hurtling into the ocean a la Lost and subsequently edited it out. If so, good for them.

Freed

Filed under:It's the Jihad — posted by Anwyn @ 7:43 am

After converting to Islam at gunpoint. That smacks of a sop to the Palestinian “constituents;” it’s not like the kidnappers could expect that to have a lasting effect.

But the point is, Centanni and Wiig are free, dropped off at a Gaza hotel by “Palestinian security officials.” Allah has the videos.

Release Near?

Filed under:It's the Jihad — posted by Anwyn on August 26, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

Allah at Hot Air has the round-up of links to the Palestinian government’s remarks on the Centanni/Wiig kidnapping. He has speculated that if Hamas plays the big hero in getting them released, doesn’t that point to some involvement in the first place?

I would think so. Mainly because of their big “this is your fault too, Our Leaders” manifesto–if they really had that big an ax to grind, if they were trying to make a name for themselves, would they then roll over when Hamas said “Give it up”? It doesn’t make sense. In any case, from this point forward if this group does anything like this again, it won’t matter whether Hamas actually ordered it or not–we’ll know they could have stopped it.

Whatever the case, I hope they are rolling over and that the two men will be returned swiftly and safely. Godspeed.

Update: Freed, after converting to Islam at gunpoint.

TV-Watchin’, Beer-Drinkin’, Live-Bloggin’.

Filed under:Blogging,Mothering,Television — posted by Anwyn on August 25, 2006 @ 9:00 pm

Yes, it’s Friday night. Yes, I have a toddler. So yes, I am frequently at home on Friday night. And yes, it’s been a long week and I’m tired, and yes, anything I would want to blog about takes too much link-huntin’ and is too depressing.

So I grabbed my current Beer of Choice (Skinny Dip, by New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO) and turned on the TV. First thing I see: Tom Hanks, eyeballing the reps from Animal Control and saying, “You going in there with just these things?” Animal Control Gal eyes him back, brandishes her dog-noose-on-a-pole: “We do this for a living. Step aside, please.”

Mwahahah. Tom Hanks was/is one of the finest actors of his generation. He does Everyman to perfection and adds a wicked list of character skills as well. I say was/is only because I’ve taken a pass on a big bunch of his more recent movies, including The DaVinci Batch of Christians-Are-Evil Truthiness Code, through a combination of child-rearing and “these movies don’t look so good.” Maybe someday I’ll catch up and find out if the first impression was misleading. Also, in Turner and Hooch, Mare Winningham was awesome.

Hanks to incessantly barking dog: “What am I supposed to do, make you a margarita? SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”

Update: Since I had a child, I’ve watched TV with captions. At first this was because I watched TV muted so the drone would not get into his innocent little ears at an early age (or while he was nursing to sleep and I wanted quiet entertainment). After a while it just became habitual and occasionally is highly useful. While Turner’s screaming at Hooch, the neighbor says, “Give him a valium, Turner. Take one yourself.” Never was able to catch that line before.

Update: After a brief foray into the funny but unaddictive That ’70s Show (kudos to them for putting the apostrophe in the correct place), I momentarily lose interest in the TiVo and get caught by the shinies at IMDb. Specifically, after being taken to task by William H. Macy about her bad, bad work ethic, Lindsay Lohan is working on a movie with Macy’s wife, Felicity Huffman. Now I am conflicted. I Heart Huffman; she is for me part of the Sports Night Legacy. But can I see a movie starring Hanoi Jane? No, probably not.

Update: While I was slogging through all that IMDb linkage, Billy Dee Williams popped up on That ’70s Show as a pastor who references Han Solo from the pulpit. On any show but this one that would probably be too cute.

Update: Who says TV is escape from reality? A few clicks of the magic TiVo wand brought up Frasier (no more IMDb linkage; look them up yourself, it’s not exactly an obscure site), where Niles and Daphne, having finally reached blissful coupledom after how many? tortured years of TV-off-limits-dom, are applying for the exclusive private “Pre-Kindergarten and Daycare” they want for their potential child(ren). The Little Bean is coming of a preschoolish age right now and definitely needing more of a play companion than BlogMom. It is HELLA DIFFICULT to find the right school, y’all. Too much chaos. Too much structure. Too much Bossy Teacher. Not enough Bossy Teacher. Teacher who thinks she knows more than I do about what’s good for my kid. Teacher who has no control over her classroom. It is a huge Pain. In. the. Ass, and it’s only preschool. You might think, “Yeah, it’s only preschool, what can the big deal possibly be?” Well, as Niles just said, “The top two percent in coloring and putting away can pretty much write their own ticket.”

Update: While writing the above, I reached for my beer and knocked it all over the recliner and the floor. Yes, it’s Full Disclosure Night here at Chez Anwyn, and after spending all day trying to teach The Little Bean that when he’s wearing the Manly Striped Underpants, pee where you feel like it is not a good choice, I then am the one to spill beer all over the place. You can’t make this stuff up. Well, I couldn’t. Goldstein could, but funnier. The armadillo would spill the beer while contemplating where the little one should be sent for preschool, not me. And for the record, Goldstein’s right about children’s shows–it is hard to find one not chock full of PC references and brainwashing. Even Little Einsteins, a favorite around here for a brief time–classical music! famous art! my kid knows how to crescendo and diminuendo before he’s three! what’s not to love? How about: references to the U.N. and a fighter jet as a recurring villain? I’m fine with The Bean not loving that show any more.

Update: Jimmy Stewart is the cutest thing ever.

Kidnapped Journalists Still Missing

Filed under:It's the Jihad,Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn on August 22, 2006 @ 10:30 pm

Michelle Malkin asks that we keep Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig in our thoughts and at the forefront of the blogosphere.

The spirit exhibited by a TV critic in San Diego is appalling. As Malkin quotes:

… the Fox sales pitch has been to deride other media, to declare itself the one source of the real truth, the sole source of ‘fair and accurate’ news reporting. As a result, there’s not a reservoir of kinship or good will with Fox on the part of the rest of the news media. You can’t keep insulting people and then expect friendship when you need it. They’ve made it a policy to keep a distance between themselves and the rest of the media, far beyond the usual competitive spirit, so that’s where they are: at a distance.

The insinuation of “Play with us on our terms or witness our indifference as you’re left to the mercy of terrorists” is despicable. The point is, do people, in their ordinary or professional lives, have enemies so hated that they wish these enemies would be kidnapped by murderers, or at least, once kidnapped, write them off as jerks who thus deserve to go down to their fate unnoticed?

No. Nobody does. Except debacles of human beings like Bob Laurence.

Update: A group calling itself Holy Jihad Brigades is demanding the release of “Muslim prisoners” in the United States within 72 hours and has released a video of the captives. It doesn’t seem effective to kidnap two journalists and then put out a leaflet introducing your terrorist group to the world and targeted at Arab leaders:

“Muslims have been oppressed around the world. The Arab world is doing what the American government would like them to do. The Arab world has sold out the Palestinian cause. All non-believers should become believers. You raped us. You raped our nation.”

I suppose it’s to the group’s bona fides that they kidnapped infidel journalists, but other Palestinian groups have up till now, they say, considered Western journalists off-limits. It’s going to irritate them, to say the least, that this upstart group considers itself more knowing about what must be done to coerce the West than the older, established groups. Infight?

Pravda remarks on the PR effects of the move for Palestinians, in an article notable for its circular equivalence reasoning: Israel’s as bad or worse than Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, but gee whiz, now one of those groups has captured journalists! Suddenly the terrorist guys are down by a run. I guess kidnapped soldiers and blown-apart Israelis really just can’t stack up to fellow journalists in the “leverage” column.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace