Friday, April 22, 2016

The Great Hoagland/Wickramasinghe Disaster 0f 2016

        Kudos to whoever managed to book Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe onto Richard Hoagland's Other Side of Midnight chat-show, which is hanging onto the Dark Matter Digital Radio Network by its metaphorical fingernails, due to move to an as-yet unannounced new net-home at the end of next week. Wickramasinghe is exactly the right kind of guest for RCH: A respected but highly controversial scientist, working in an area (cosmology) that Hoagland has a nodding acquaintance with, and so ought to be able to ask some of the right questions.

        Booking decent guests has been this show's Achilles heel right from the start. Not a lot of interesting people are willing to be interviewed from midnight to 2 a.m. Pacific, or -- even worse -- 3-5 a.m. East. Keith Laney, in the EDT zone, may be always willing, but that kind-of proves my point about "not a lot of interesting people." Of course it greatly helps if, like Wickramasinghe, you're in the UK where it's 8-10 a.m. and you're fully awake. That also applied to another recently successful guest, my former colleague James Burke.

        Note that I did NOT say "my good friend James Burke," although I might have been justified in so doing. Richard Hoagland is, famously, not shy about name-dropping at all, and once he'd got over some connection problems and ascertained that he really was talking to the right cosmologist, he lit right in with (02:02) "Well an old friend of mine and yours, Arthur C. Clarke..."  (04:35) "...In addition to Arthur C. Clarke, who was a very good friend of mine, going back to my days at CBS when I was advising Walter Cronkite during the Apollo missions..." Oh Lordy, it never stops.

        Anyway, as I said, Wickramasinghe was a very promising guest. Such a pity that this turned into an unmitigated, cringe-worthy disaster after only 14 minutes. Wickramasinghe was filling us in on his relationship with Fred Hoyle, and the history of the Steady-State cosmological model, when he just dropped out. Went away. Vanished. Hoagland said "Did I lose you? Dr. Wickramasinghe? Hello? I'm really getting very unhappy with Skype. I think we're going to go to a different system, because Skype is not reliable...So... let me see what I can do here... Sorry, folks, this happens with unfortunate regularity because we're using this technology...We'll obviously have to explore another technology... ummm... in the future, and we will do that. But not tonight. So... let me get rid of this particular... er... item ... I think we might have to go to some music before I can connect up with Dr. Wickramasinghe again... So, Keith, if we can do that? Put a little something on while I'm connecting my switches here... and then we will be back momentarily..." However, he was not back momentarily, or even at all that night. Not having an engineer in his "studio," the simple task of re-connecting was beyond Hoagland's skills.note 1 After eight minutes of music, we were back to the Intro and the October 24th show with Seimion and Matloff re-ran until off-air time. The Wickramasinghe show was simply purged from the show's web-site and Farcebook page. As Khruschev was declared a non-person by the Kremlin in 1964, so this was declared a non-show by Keith Rowland (owner of DMDN) and Richard Hoagland. Oh. My. God.

        Well, what future for Hoagland and his chat-show? He's been dropping hints (at least it makes a change from dropping names) that "some Big Players" are interested in giving the show a home. After this fiasco, I imagine Big Players will be having Big Second Thoughts.

Thanks to Dr. Stuart Robbins for providing the audio. 

Update 3 May
        Well, now we know. The show moved to KCAA, an AM/FM station in the Inland Empire area east of L.A. The station rents its chat-show facilities to anyone who can pay. "Big players" my ass.

[1] Of course, it's always possible that he actually did reconnect, only to hear the professor say he was tired of this amateur bullshit and wanted no further part in it. That would jive with the purging of the show's online archive. We will never know.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Robert Morningstar and the Daily Mail really hate Hillary

        We don't do politics here because — particularly right now, and particularly in the USA — it's everywhere else. But James Concannon reports from the Facebook trenches with an aeronautical/avionics story that's certainly rooted in the P word.

James Concannon writes...

        There's no possible doubt about where Robert Morningstar's political sympathies lie. On the book of farces, he's now posting almost daily diatribes against the Democratic US presidential candidates. One that made me smile and react yesterday was this piece of tabloid trash from the London Daily Mail: Conspiracy theorist claims Hillary Clinton 'murdered' John F Kennedy Jnr because he was planning to run for the same senate seat as her in shocking new book.

        Recap: JFK Jnr., his wife and sister-in-law all died when the Saratoga light plane he was piloting went down during descent to Martha's Vineyard on the night of 16 July 1999.

Splashdown point of the aircraft: Not lined up with runway 6

        I happen to know that Mr. Morningstar is an accomplished private pilot himself, so I asked him for some clarification. How could this dirty deed have been accomplished, what evidence of foul play exists, and what evidence of Clinton skullduggery? He replied thuswise:
"The murder method was sabotage. executed by disabling the Saratoga's electrical system so that all JFK Jr's attitude and navigational instruments would fail when he arrived at Martha's Vineyard at night. I proved this to the NTSB in 2003, and his accident report file was subsequently changed from "Pilot Error" to "spatial disorientation" through my intercession with the Vice Chairman of the NTSB, General Rosenker. You can write to the NTSB under FOIA and ask them (with my permission) for the 2 accident reports (2000 & 2003), and request copy of our correspondence. Concannon, Thou art a "loose cannon." and Thou art truly our "Facebook village idiot." Stick to analyzing "moon dust" and leave flying to pilots. -> M*"
        Well, that of course is far from being a complete answer, and perhaps unnecessarily scornful, but it helps to understand AM*'s blinkered view of the event. The problem is this: JFK Jnr. was certified to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) only, not by instruments. He got very unlucky with the weather — on approach to the Vineyard, the haze was so comprehensive that there was no visible horizon. Several other pilots in the area confirmed this. That was, in fact, the predominant cause of the tragedy, and a presumptive saboteur could not possibly have predicted that fact in advance. In fact, tampering with the avionics flown by a VFR pilot is extremely unlikely to succeed, since by definition such a pilot would not be relying on his instruments. The theory therefore inherently lacks credibility. In addition, Robert Morningstar and the Daily Mail will need to explain why radar was getting good and accurate data from Kennedy's encoding altimeter. NOTE: The NTSB Final Report includes this: "Examination of the airframe, systems, avionics, and engine did not reveal any evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction."

        As for identifying the Clintons as the saboteurs, there isn't even a whisper of evidence of that in the Daily Mail. I truly doubt that Roger Stone's book includes credible evidence either. None of that is a problem for Morningstar — he just goes ahead and posts anything derogatory about Democrats, truth be damned.

        I reject religion because it seems to me it makes people hate each other. Now it seems that politics does the same.

ref: More deets on the tragedy from the pedia that is wiki.
ref: The NTSB Final Report, including much altitude data that can only have been obtained from a functioning encoding altimeter.

It's now more than a week since I asked Mr Morningstar to explain the altitude data. We can now safely assume that he has exercised his right to remain silent on that question.