Imagine that … MH 370 search questioned

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing on March 8, 2014 … and then vanished.

Not into thin air. It wasn’t swallowed by a black hole, as at least one TV commentator theorized.

It likely crashed into the Indian Ocean.

But 16 months later, with no trace of the plane or its 239 passengers and crew, some are questioning the search techniques used to find the Boeing 777 — which, by the way, happens to be a very large commercial aircraft.

According to Reuters: “Experts involved in past deep water searches say the search to find MH370 could easily miss the plane as Dutch company Fugro NV, the firm at the forefront of the mission, is using inappropriate technology for some terrain and inexperienced personnel for the highly specialized task of hunting man-made objects.”

Australia has taken the lead in the search effort. The Malaysians have sent out all manner of conflicting messages. Search teams scoured one huge section of ocean, then shifted to another huge section of ocean floor. Where on God’s Earth is that jetliner?

Not a single sign of debris has been spotted. No human remains have been detected. A plane that large hitting the water, presumably at a high rate of speed, breaks apart.

And still no sign of it?

I’m amazed, to be honest, that it took this long for serious questions to come forward about the manner in which the search has dragged on.



Abbott challenged by forces beyond control

This is why we pay the governor the big bucks.

He or she must deal with forces they cannot control. Political will? Forget about it. Returning favors? Not a chance. Paying someone back for doing you wrong? Not even close.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is dealing with forces no one can control.

As the Texas Tribune reports, Abbott’s immediate predecessor in the governor’s office, Rick Perry, quips to audiences to this day, that “Nobody gave me the manual” that explains how he copes with disaster.

Perry had his share during his 14 years as governor: hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, that big fertilizer plant blast in West. He had to buck up and just plain lead.

Abbott is now facing his own challenge barely five months into his first term.

Our weather has turned on us. Yes, it’s good to have the moisture — a term that seems quaint, given the volume of water that has fallen all across the state. The floods it has produced, though, is spreading heartache, grief and misery throughout much of the Hill Country and the Gulf Coast.

Abbott says the flooding is the worst in Texas history. He spoke by phone with President Obama, who pledged the federal government’s full support in helping Texas deal with this tragedy. Indeed, this is precisely the occasion to put all political differences aside — and there exist plenty of them between the governor and the president — while all parties work on behalf of stricken victims.

Has the governor done all he can do? I’m not prepared to make that judgment. The Texas Tribune reports: “To be sure, Abbott’s handling of the crisis has not been without some questions, including whether the state was fully prepared for the unrelenting run of inclement weather that began weeks ago. At news conferences throughout the state this week, he has assured reporters Texas was ready and everything worked that was supposed to.”

Actually, it seems almost impossible for any governor — or any elected official at almost any level — to be fully ready when events spring forth the way the flooding has done throughout the state.

This is Gov. Abbott’s crisis now. No one schooled him precisely on how to deal with it.

Let’s just call it a hyper-serious on-the-job training class.

We’ll see how it all grades out when the water recedes and Texans start reassembling their shattered lives.


‘Routine’ traffic stop? No such thing

Anyone who’s ever worn a badge and a uniform while serving in law enforcement say the same thing.

There’s no such thing as a “routine traffic stop.”

Gregg “Nigel” Benner is just the latest symbol of that fundamental truth.

Benner pulled someone over during a traffic stop in Rio Rancho, N.M., just outside Albuquerque. The driver of the car then shot Benner to death.

He is the first officer in the history of the Rio Ranch Police Department to die in the line of duty.

Police later arrested Andrew Romero and charged him with the officer’s murder.

I’ve made this point before, but I believe one cannot make if often enough. Police officers risk their lives with every call they answer, every time they go to work, every time they approach someone — anyone — they don’t know while carrying out their duties to protect the community they serve.

And yet … I keep hearing local media — whether it’s here or wherever I happen to be at the time — refer to these traffic stops as “routine.”

“State police pulled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drugs out of a car during a ‘routine traffic stop,'” the news report might state, either on the air or in print.

Gregg Benner didn’t expect to die when he pulled that car over in Rio Rancho, but he did.

He wasn’t performing a routine act in the line of duty — because there’s nothing routine about police field work.

Obama pledges to aid, not invade, Texas

Did I read this correctly?

President Obama told Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that the federal government stands ready to assist in helping the state recover from the devastating floods of recent days. That’s what I read.

What a marvelous turn of events.

Barely a month after the governor ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor federal troop movements in Texas after an Internet post declared Obama intended to invade and occupy Texas, the president is going to actually aid the state in its flood recovery.

“I assured Gov. Abbott that he could count on the help of the federal government,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office. “I will anticipate that there will be some significant requests made to Washington. My pledge to him is that we will expedite those requests.”

That’s what presidents are supposed to do.

The floods have ravaged much of the state. Eleven people are now known to have died as a result. Others are missing. Property has been destroyed. Gov. Abbott compared the floodwater to a tsunami.

Better to aid than to invade. Then again, the invade part was a hoax.

This Texas resident wants to say “thanks” for lending a hand. We’ll need it, Mr. President.

Pumping water saves water? Sure it does

Allow me this admission.

Sometimes — maybe more often than I care to admit — I’m a bit slow on the uptake when it involves certain elements of science.

I’m not a scientist. Or a mathematician. Or an accountant. Numbers and scientific theories boggle me.

So it is with that caveat that I suggest that I am beginning to accept the notion that pumping water out of Lake Meredith to 11 cities throughout the Panhandle actually saves surface water that collects in the lake.

The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority is starting to pump water out of the lake in the wake of recent rainfall that has continued to restore the lake levels to something far greater than puddle designation.

Kent Satterwhite, general manager of CRMWA, said: “Everything we pump out of the lake is one gallon less than we pump out of the (Ogallala) aquifer.” He said it is “really important. The aquifer as you use it, it’s gone. It recharges to some slight degree … So it’s really important to try to preserve it and that’s why the lake is here to take some of the heat off the aquifer.”

Who knew?

Pumping water also maximizes the quality of the water, Satterwhite said. The Canadian River contains salt that evaporates more easily during dry periods.

Lake Meredith’s levels have risen fairly dramatically in recent days. It’s nearly at 50 feet, which is far greater than the 26 feet it measured in 2013. OK, so the lake is now about halfway toward its historic high of 100-plus feet set back in the early 1970s.

I guess I’m trying to express some appreciation of the knowledge that water managers must have to monitor this priceless resource.

The region depends on it at almost every level imaginable. There must be some faith placed in the individuals charged with ensuring we keep it as close to forever as we can.

Video is funny … and also tragic

This video popped up on YouTube.

The first time I saw it, I laughed out loud.

I’ve seen comedians impersonate Muhammad Ali. Billy Crystal’s perhaps is the most famous. But then I watched this brief snippet, featuring the late Jerry Quarry, a former heavyweight fighter — and a very good one at that.

So help me, I didn’t know Quarry had that kind of wit and charm.

Then my thoughts turned to what happened to Jerry Quarry. He became terribly disabled because of the profession he chose to pursue. Quarry won a lot of fights during his fighting days. He also lost some fights. And in all of them he took a lot of punishment. To the head. The result of that punishment resulted in Quarry’s death.

He suffered complications from something called dementia pugilistica. He was punch drunk. He suffered irreparable brain damage.

Another YouTube video, which is attached to the link shown on this blog, shows Quarry being inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. He didn’t understand the event where he was being honored. He needed help from his brother to dress, to feed himself, to do anything.

I once was a huge fan of boxing. I once couldn’t get enough of the Friday Night Fights. I cheered for Jerry Quarry and occasionally against him, such as when he fought Muhammad Ali twice — in 1970 and again in 1972.

The price that these men pay saddens me. Yes, I know they choose to do this for a living.

Seeing this video and knowing how it all ended for the man it features offers a serious lesson to anyone who wants to take up this line of work.


Duggar saga gets even more weird

The Duggar saga has taken a number of bizarre turns.

Get this tidbit as it relates to the scandal involving Josh Duggar, of the “19 Kids and Counting” reality show and his admitted molestation of young girls, including some of his sisters, while he was a teenager.

Josh’s father, Jim Bob, ran for the Republican Party nomination to the U.S. Senate in 2002. He lost to eventual GOP nominee Tim Hutchinson.

Jim Bob Duggar was asked what he thought should be the appropriate punishment for those who commit incest.

He responded: “Rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.”

You know, of course, how society treats “capital criminals.” It executes them. Capital crimes deserve capital punishment. Isn’t that correct?

He said also, “If a woman is raped, the rapist should be executed instead of the innocent unborn baby.”

TLC, the network that broadcast “19 Kids,” has pulled the series off the air. It might return the reality show to the airwaves, but without Josh Duggar. He would be excluded from any future on-air face time.

As for Daddy Duggar’s view of how society should punish those who’ve committed the very crimes to which his own son has admitted, well … I’m betting his view on that has “evolved.”