Fast news days.

What a weekend, eh? It started with submersible clean-up and ended with a called-off coup. It’s amazing that I had time to go grocery shopping, but I did.

The more we learn about the OceanGate disaster, the more it becomes clear that Stockton Rush, born on third base with a long lead to home and a blind pitcher, was fortunate to the end, because the lawsuits his estate will be dealing with would leave him wishing he was dead. You could almost argue that anyone dumb enough to pay an arm and a leg to even go aboard is probably not smart enough to sue, but rich people have great lawyers. The detail that most struck me? The sub had limited propulsion, so landing in the right place to see the bow of the Titanic was pretty much a crapshoot. I learned this from a Detroit News story about a guy who took an earlier trip, which is paywalled, but I’ll quote the relevant parts:

On the day of the descent, the crew of five, including the OceanGate CEO serving as the pilot, were bolted into the submersible and sealed to avoid water leakage. A barge with the sub floated away from the ship, and the barge was sunk. The crew disconnected the sub to drop into the deep.

Weights sunk the sub for a more than two-hour journey to the ocean floor where the Titanic rests. Wortman could look out the single porthole, watching the “disco show” of red, green and blue sea life as the crew talked and listened to music. Wortman’s choice: Eminem.

Eventually, there was a complication. Wortman brought commemorative challenge coins to share and the passengers may have underreported their weight, and the sub fell faster than expected.

The faster descent meant the sub missed its destination. The hope was to land near the front of the ship. It landed roughly 300 yards off the back in a debris field of the Titanic. It was pitch black. With a light, Wortman could see ceramic tiles, wine bottles and one of the boilers. On the ascent, he saw the back end of the propellers, but the sub had to avoid getting caught in the metal remains of the vessel.

They spent about four hours on the ocean floor. A normal ascent required dropping the sub’s weights and floating to the surface, usually no more than three hours. But one of the weights didn’t drop during Wortman’s dive, consuming time to change the programming code to address the weight issue. It took 3 hours and 20 minutes to surface.

As a result, they didn’t see the bow of the ship, much of which remains intact. A later dive did see it. Hungry, tired and cold at 33-degree temperatures at the ocean floor, the passengers on Wortman’s dive agreed to return to the surface. Divers can’t recover the sub in the dark, and Wortman said he didn’t want to spend the night underwater.

Indeed. Man, remember when rich people felt they had a duty to leave a legacy behind? Carnegie libraries, major university endowments, scholarships? Also: Imagine being trapped in a minivan-size submersible listening to Eminem.

Well, Stockton Rush is plankton food now, so let’s surface and turn our eyes to Russia. Despite being something of a Russophile for much of my life, I have no idea what really happened here. A friend, who is not a cynic but sometimes leans that way, thinks the whole play was about money, that Putin had to put a nine-figure sum into Prigozhin’s Swiss bank account, and then and only then were the troops called back. Given that all involved are thugs and criminals, I wouldn’t be surprised. If this weakens Uncle Vlad, can’t complain. But as in all things Russian, beware what might be coming up behind him. As the U.S. has shown us, there are bottoms below the one we’re standing on now.

Speaking of which, Big Daddy is in southeast Michigan late this afternoon, if he isn’t here already. The Oakland County GOP is having a fundraiser with him as the big draw. They plan to give him a “Man of the Decade” award, which is something of a joke for people who can remember when he was here in 2016, and boasted from the podium that the last time he’d been in Michigan, it was to accept a Man of the Year award. Reporters, local burghers and others did their research and thinkin’, and no one could remember any such thing, or even any such award. But being bootlickers and ass-kissers of the first order, they’re going to do it for real this time, and add nine years.

The jokes, they write themselves.

OK, gotta make dinner for our little tribe of two before more world news breaks out.

Posted at 5:05 pm in Current events |

33 responses to “Fast news days.”

  1. David C said on June 25, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    Every time he opens his yap, Jack Smith has a dozen more counts to add. He’ll be man of the decade in prison if he keep accepting these invitations.

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  2. Joe Kobiela said on June 25, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    Well who would have thought a top flight accountant at a big accounting firm would meet a laid off factory working muddy Rugby player at a dive bar on west state street after a game on a Saturday afternoon. Yet here we are celebrating 40yrs of marriage today.
    What a great wife and a great life.
    Pilot Joe

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  3. David C said on June 25, 2023 at 7:25 pm

    Congrats, Joe.

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  4. FDChief said on June 25, 2023 at 7:39 pm

    So it’s hard not to see some real “China in the 1920s-30s” energy in the Russia news. Warlords? Why not? How long before some ambitious division commander sees setting up an autonomous oblast in Vladivostok is preferable to a Ukraine deployment?

    Our boy Vlad seems to have skipped the part of “The Prince” where he would have been warned that the problem with mercenaries is that if they’re shit they lose, you get conquered and killed, but if they’re good they win, realize they don’t need you, you get overthrown and killed.

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  5. Mark P said on June 25, 2023 at 9:29 pm

    My brother was a materials scientist before he became a Presbyterian minister. I wish he was still here so I could ask him about carbon fiber. He would have known.

    Russia? I’m afraid it’s still a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

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  6. Brandon said on June 26, 2023 at 1:49 am

    Congratulations, Pilot Joe.

    Imagine being trapped in a minivan-size submersible listening to Eminem.

    Or Taylor Swift.

    Well, Stockton Rush is plankton food now

    This comment piqued my curiosity about what happens to a human body under the sea. And the marine food web.

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  7. Dexter Friend said on June 26, 2023 at 2:22 am

    CNN covered the Russia situation thoroughly and I watched. Anybody who cares has already read or saw enough, so no need for me to review the news. One thing hit me hard. The CNN host emphasized the thug angle of Wagner Group, saying prisons were opened to get troop strength for all the Wagner activities in Africa, Russia, and a litany of other nations they are in. You know, like what kind of militia would resort to hiring prison felons to come kill for them.
    OK, you guessed where I am going: I took US Army Basic Training with a barracks full of young men, mostly comprised of prisoners-to-be that were given the chance to serve various prison sentences for all kinds of horrible crimes, or go to fucking Viet Nam in all likelihood. All these guys were from Detroit. Being sheltered except for my 2 summers paying baseball, I had never even smelled weed smoke. I learned quickly…the mail was never checked then and these guys had weed mailed to them, and the barracks was perfumed every night. This was a long time before skunk weed arrived. The old stuff smelled sweet and pleasant. I was never invited to share. I have no idea if the army straightened these bad apples out, or they all ended up in prison after they made it back home; after all, they were all sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for infantry training, and they all knew they were heading to Viet Nam. Yes, this was Robert McNamara’s army, his idea, to boost the cannon fodder reserve.

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  8. Dexter Friend said on June 26, 2023 at 2:48 am

    Folks interested in drag may enjoy this :

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  9. A. Riley said on June 26, 2023 at 2:56 am

    The whole story of that improvised sub and the rich man who believed his own delusions strongly enough to (1.) build it, (2.) sell tickets to ride in it, and (3.) actually get in and ride in it himself, over and over until it burst — well. It’s downright Greek, is what that is.

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  10. ROGirl said on June 26, 2023 at 5:49 am

    The Greek reference brings to mind the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun with his wax wings and plunging into the sea. Splash, glug.

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  11. Suzanne said on June 26, 2023 at 8:44 am

    A rich man who believed his own delusions reminds me of the Theranos debacle and Elizabeth Holmes who equally seemed to believe in her delusions. A grifter for sure, but I also think she believed that her idea of one drop blood testing would come to fruition because she wanted it to.

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  12. Icarus said on June 26, 2023 at 10:11 am

    The Greek reference brings to mind the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun with his wax wings and plunging into the sea. Splash, glug.

    Hey, I resemble that remark! I adopted the Icarus alias during my marathon running heyday. I was forever trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon and managed to ruin my knees in that pursuit.

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  13. Deborah said on June 26, 2023 at 10:49 am

    Weird, I wrote a comment about a congresswoman from Indiana that was in a recent car crash but when I went back to read more about the situation, I saw that it happened last summer? Somehow I was sent to a link about it as though it happened yesterday? Then I tried to delete my comment here and I see that it’s still there. I feel like I went through the twilight zone.

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  14. John said on June 26, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    The sub fiasco and the rescue efforts reminded me of a quote I once read from an ocean racer doing the around-the-world-solo race. Lamenting the cost and high risk of rescue efforts in the southern ocean, he said something like: “If you are crazy enough to take a risk like that and something goes wrong, you should die like a gentleman.” Harsh, perhaps, unless you are a Coast Guard rescue diver who has to jump out of a helicopter into 50-foot seas to pluck one of those dudes off the bottom of his overturned carbon fiber rocket sled.

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  15. MarkH said on June 26, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    For those of you commenting on the OceanGate/Titan disaster, there’s some more light on what happened. Rush was not without engineering cred, but had serious judgement issues. ICYMI, here is yesterday’s CBS Sunday Morning segment on the event. Correspondent David Pogue was supposed to go down to the Titanic last year on the Titan, but the mission was scrubbed due to multiple malfunctions. He goes through the whole thing here. Very revealing.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on June 26, 2023 at 12:57 pm

    An actress from our church hit hard times for roles and got hired on at the local Titanic museum, where she portrays passengers and guides visitors. Putting aside judgment on whether or not this is a good idea, the French oceanographer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who died on the Titan, had contributed many of the artifacts there. He visited frequently and became friends with everyone on staff. Understandably they are devastated.

    It seems no one really knows what is happening in Russia or even where Putin is at the moment. The more I read, the less I know.

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  17. Scout said on June 26, 2023 at 3:03 pm

    I find the turmoil in Russia fascinating. I fervently hope the weirdness of the Wagner coup means the beginning of the end of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

    This was informative:

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  18. Jeff Borden said on June 26, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    British military intelligence reports the families of Wagner leaders participating in the mutiny were threatened with physical harm, which is right on brand for Putin, whose political enemies often seem to fall from tall buildings.

    Meanwhile, in the Why Don’t You Just Stay Away news. Lance Armstrong, the disgraced steroid abusing cyclist and –until the arrival of tRump– the most accomplished liar of our time, is weighing in on trans athletes.

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  19. Mark P said on June 26, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    I saw Pogue coming very close to defending Rush as if no one had expressed any concerns about his submersible. But that’s not accurate. At least two people were apparently quite explicit in questioning his use of carbon fiber in the pressure vessel, and he was quite explicit in rejecting their concerns.

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  20. FDChief said on June 26, 2023 at 5:49 pm

    Here’s one of the better summaries of the situation in Russia surrounding the Wagner debacle:

    Bottom line? Sounds like Wagner was going to get the axe, so this was a desperation move. It failed, the organization is disbanded and the mercs are going to be drafted into regular Army units.

    Not a good outcome for anyone involved, and even tho he succeeded it’s clearly an issue for Putin

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  21. Jeff Gill said on June 26, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    Wait: their entire buoyancy system was weights which they just dropped to join the debris field in front of the bow of HMS Titanic? That’s just awful, like the Chinese rocket launches which just spray debris both into orbit or drop at undesignated locations. They are being abused, rightly, by the international community; this seems of a piece. The construction grade PVC pipes with concrete in them are just left on the bottom when they were wanting to ascend? Krep.

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  22. Sherri said on June 26, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    It seems pretty clear that the only innovation OceanGate had was in separating more fools from their money. The reason for going with carbon fiber was because then there would be room for five people in the submersible, where a submersible actually rated for that kind of depth and pressure can only hold two.

    Early on in its existence, OceanGate did some work with the University of Washington, but UW eventually pulled out. Even on their previous submersible, which was steel-hulled and only went down about 1600 feet, they didn’t get certified and had lots of problems with communication, propulsion, and navigation (which required communication with the boat at the surface). At least one UW researcher refused to ride with them.

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  23. Deborah said on June 26, 2023 at 10:05 pm

    This is funny I know it’s based on stereotypes etc but it actually is kinda scary how accurate it seems. The only one that seemed off to me was Indiana but a lot of you would know better about that than I do.

    At the cabin and we’re having another wind event. This is the climate change caused situation that is going to be the end of us in Abiquiu, it doesn’t end, it’s ferocious.

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  24. Hank Stuever said on June 26, 2023 at 11:11 pm

    I’m surprised AI doesn’t know that Americans in every state are FAT.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on June 26, 2023 at 11:15 pm

    Too thin, too attractive, too well dressed, men too old, women too young. Too white.

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  26. Brandon said on June 27, 2023 at 2:05 am

    Too white.

    Not the Hawaii one. Or New Mexico, or Virginia, for that matter.

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  27. David C said on June 27, 2023 at 5:50 am

    It looks like the average person in many states needs to learn to use a hairbrush and maybe get a little trim.

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  28. alex said on June 27, 2023 at 6:02 am

    What? No pasty-white flabby goobers in MAGA hats to represent Indiana? Maybe AI knows how to overcorrect when the truth is gonna hurt too much.

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  29. Mark P said on June 27, 2023 at 10:12 am

    The AI is, for the most part, showing what people like to think they look like, and they all look too much alike, with a few exceptions. I knew right off the bat it wasn’t going to go well when I saw Alabama. There are a few interracial couples in Georgia, of course, but it’s far from typical. And they are still too thin.

    I don’t know where the AI got its information about what typical people look like, but it wasn’t security footage from Walmart.

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  30. FDChief said on June 27, 2023 at 10:15 am

    Yeah, the “Oregon” couple looks a trifle too upscale.

    But the real problem is the “Oregon” is everything from a Starbucks in Lake Oswego to a hardscrabble stop-n-rob outside Central Point. So it’d be impossible for any two portraits to cover that range.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on June 27, 2023 at 10:17 am

    Those depictions by state look like wishful thinking. Aside from a very small number of people of color included, they’re all much too fit, too healthy with good skin and teeth. Harvard University estimates 69% of Americans are overweight while a full 36% are obese. As noted, wishful thinking. Maybe this miracle weight loss drug will transform our population, but for now, this is bulshit.

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  32. LAMary said on June 27, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    Agreed, too white, too thin, too young.
    After applying to a stupid number of jobs I got an offer and accepted it yesterday. It’s with the county department of mental health, specifically the office that serves native Americans and indigenous Alaskans. Now you’re wondering, “are there many indigenous Alaskans in Los Angeles?” I’ll let you know when I find out.

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  33. tajalli said on June 27, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    LAMary, when the Census (and presumably the Federal government) discusses racial categories, Native Americans and Native Alaskans are lumped together, which is probably carried over when naming county departments since they have a dependency on federal funding.

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