Whatever happened to 'women and children first,' tough times in the wild; an orchestra, a viola, and a woman; how it's all connected to the weather, and how the world might end.
There's no question that Pioneer Press photographer Ben Garvin's aerial photographs of the Crashed Ice event are some of the most spectacular photographs ever taken of the Capital City. True to the nature of geeky pilots, I wondered how it was possible the pilot could legally -- not to mention, skillfully -- get them.
It was difficult airspace for the pilot of the Cessna aircraft to navigate, given the smokestacks along the river (note: they're not so much aviation hazards as they are markers of the point at which the big airport's airspace begins at ground level), the height of the Cathedral, and the heavily-controlled airspace overhead that's meant to protect the jets at the big airport. Any safe pilot is always mindful of the possibility of an engine failure, but Garvin's pilot left himself with few options if something had gone wrong.
Having witnessed the plane circling the Cathedral at a low altitude on Saturday, I tweeted on Sunday that the pilot may have been breaking the regulations to help Garvin get his shot. He was that low.
In MinnPost writer David Brauer's excellent interview with Garvin, the suspicion was confirmed with this passage:
"We had to fly low because of the smokestack of the District Energy power plant. The pilot mentioned a couple of times, 'We're too low, we might get in trouble.' I was kind of saying 'Do what you have to do, but keep doing it,'" the photographer says with a chuckle. "He said he hardly ever got to do cool things like this. He was banking sharp, and flying in high-traffic airspace, so it was technically challenging."
It was also likely illegal at some point. Here's the relevant FAA regulation:
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
If the engine had failed, there was nowhere for Garvin and his pilot to go but into a neighborhood, building, or the crowd below (one might have been able to limp over to the Sears parking lot to minimize the toll). And on ( b), the pilot also likely failed. The highest obstacle in the area, of course, was the Cathedral at 306 feet, requiring a minimum altitude of 1,306 above it. That would have put him in the so-called Class B airspace above the city, which protects the jets landing at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (It's not restricted airspace, a pilot simply needs permission to enter it). It appears that he was circling just outside the reach of the controllers at the downtown St. Paul airport.
This photo, which raced around the Twitterverse -- and deservedly so -- reveals the pilot was no more than 200-500 feet above the top of the spire (estimate adjusted for the use of an 80-200 mm lens).
Who couldn't look at that beauty all day?
Fortunately, airplanes don't usually develop mechanical problems, and Garvin wasn't responsible for following aviation rules -- his job was to get the shot. But the regulations exist because of the high risk involved in low- altitude flights with steep turns, which increase the danger of a stall/spin crash that, in this case, could have far eclipsed the toll in the recent Reno airshow crash.
A study by the Aviation Safety Foundation found that 80 percent of all crashes involving a stall/spin, began within 1,000 feet of the ground.
The challenge of photographing an event like Crashed Ice is also why TV news organizations use helicopters for their photo platforms. The FAA regulations exempt helicopter pilots from the minimum safe altitude requirements above, as long as the helicopters are flown "without hazard to persons or property on the surface."
It's hard to know whether the "trouble" the pilot of the plane was concerned about was the potential problem of an engine failure, or the possibility the FAA would find out .
The FAA has not yet responded to inquiries on the matter, and it's fairly unlikely it will.(12 Comments)
Gary Eichten has just started today's Midday show in his usual style. There'll be only two more such occasions until he retires to the good life.
His retirement has brought out the literary genius -- more or less -- in his audience, which has been submitting messages to him for the last few weeks.
Today's highlight, courtesy of "Steve R." is worthy of mention:
O CAPTAIN! my Commentator! Your wonderful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel of news has been grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of real news,
Where on the deck my Captain now resides,
Retired and much missed.
O Captain! my Commentator! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up-for you the flag of honest news is flung-for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear Newsman!
This Network beneath supported your clear head;
It was a dream that you were on the air,
You've captured our hearts and heads.
My Commentator does not answer the call in lines anymore;
My Commentator does not feed my head and now I have no pulse nor will;
His news was anchor'd safe and sound, now the voice closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
I walk the dial my Commentator left,
Now shallow, empty and with dread.
If we only had a name for this society of Midday fans.(2 Comments)
The big projects get all the ink and attention when a governor releases a bonding bill , but there are smaller projects which pique interest, too.
Gov. Dayton issued his bonding recommendations today, included therein was a fence for the Shakopee women's prison. It was built in the 1980s without a fence. The governor is seeking over $5 million for a fence. He says the population has increased six-fold. Not having a fence has also made Minnesota the butt of a few jokes. (may not be suitable for the workplace)
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
More seriously, Shakopee Patch describes a good reason for a fence: To keep people out:
"We have more males than females intruding," said Calvin Miller, associate warden of administration. "We had some recently pull up in a car calling an inmate's name. We don't know if that was for an escape."
One man recently walked onto the prison grounds waving a cane designed for the blind. When staff approached, he dropped the cane and took off running. One inmate thought she saw her ex-boyfriend's car driving and feared he was coming to kill her. Staff have found drugs and alcohol stashed on the grounds, presumably left for offenders, and they say their big fear is their ability to stash weapons.
"Many of these women have been in volatile relationships with people who are on the spooky side and may not be overly stable," Beltz said. "I can't harp on this enough --not having a fence is a safety issue for our staff, offenders and the public."
By the way, whatever happened to Bo Dietl, the over-the-top "security expert" featured in the comedy bit? Three years after this 2006 Daily Show episode, the New York Post reported he was one of the corrupt cops in New York who tipped off members of the Gambino crime family.
When WikiLeaks distributed classified information in 2010, Dietl called for the assassination of its founder, Julian Assange.
Few of us probably know offhand what tax bracket we're in, but if Mitt Romney is anywhere near correct about his, it's a safe bet that most people aren't in his.
Most people are in a higher one.
Romney told a news conference today that he's "probably" in the 15-percent bracket.
What is it in dollars and cents?
The 15% tax bracket for an individual is a ataxable income between $8,500 and $34,500. For a married couple filing jointly, it's between $17,000 and $69,000 of taxable income.
"Taxable income" is really regularly taxed Income minus adjustments, deductions, and exemptions.
How does a rich guy like Romney pull off paying taxes like a working stiff?
"Because my last 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from some investments made in the past, whether ordinary income or earned annually. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away. And then I get speakers' fees from time to time, but not very much.' "
Not very much would be about $362,000 in speaking fees. His net worth is about $200 million.
If just half of that is liquid (not likely) and he gets the miniscule 1% return each year, based on current rates, that's $1 million a year. That is to say: It takes a lot of work to be that wealthy and be in that tax bracket.
The 15-percent tax bracket, by the way, is one of the few tax brackets that were not affected by tax increases in the last several decades. It was unaffected by the tax increase of 1993, which targeted the wealthy.(7 Comments)
How far reaching can schools be in policing the behavior of students?
The U.S. Supreme Court had a chance to settle once and for all whether school officials can discipline students for their off-hours, off-school-property activities on social networking sites.
Instead, it punted.
The Court refused to hear two cases, one that said school officials could discipline the students, and one that said school officials cannot.
In Pennsylvania, the parents of a 17-year old senior sued a principal who suspended the student because she created a MySpace page that described him as a "hairy sex addict" and a "pervert" who liked "hitting on students" in his office.
In that case, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said the school cannot discipline students for their conduct outside of the schoolhouse.
But in another case, the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals ruled a West Virginia senior could be suspended for her MySpace profile that made fun of another girl as a "slut" who had herpes.
In Kowalski's appeal, her lawyer described her as a cheerleader and "the reigning 'charm queen' of her school," but the appeals court threw out her free-speech suit. She "used the Internet to orchestrate a targeted attack on a classmate," the judges said.
"The court needs to explain when school officials have the power to regulate off-campus student speech," David L. Hudson, a First Amendment scholar at Vanderbilt told the Los Angeles Times last week. "The phenomenon of cyber-bullying ratchets up the importance of the issue."
By the way, with the Supreme Court rejection of the appeal in the Pennsylvania case, the school district of the principal who was falsely accused of being a "hairy sex addict" now has to pay the ACLU's attorney fees and damages to the parents who fought it their daughter's suspension..
If you're a school official, is it worth fighting when the parents start calling?(1 Comments)
This image is sweeping across the Internet, apparently spawning questions about priorities and perspective. A couple pays attention to their baby, while tragedy looms just a few feet away.
But is it fake or real?
If anything, there's something going on in the photography to make the ship closer than it really is.
Here are several pictures that suggest there isn't a sidewalk or bench area anywhere nearby.
All of these might lead one to conclude it's a fake. There doesn't appear to be a sidewalk within range to make the shot possible.
But then I found this one:
Your verdict?(8 Comments)