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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Theory About Flight 370, Peddling Watches and a Gnu Story from Harvey

A Theory About Malaysian Flight 370

by the time you are reading this, there has not been a long-overdue demand received from the possible hijackers of Flight 370, it is probably safe to assume that the plane did not land anywhere in southern or central Asia, as I had originally suspected.  Satellite and intelligence sources would have found it there by now and therefore, reluctantly, the “northern arc” of the plane’s possible location as suggested by “pings” received by satellite can safely be abandoned as a search area. 
This leaves the “southern arc” suggested by the “pings” as the more likely place to look for the plane or more properly its wreckage.  Because there is no place to land in that direction, one must conclude that the plane continued to fly along that “southern arc” after contact with it was lost until its fuel was exhausted and it crashed.  That would place it in the sea somewhere southwest of Australia, about a thousand miles short of the shores of Antarctica.  That is where all search efforts are now being made.


From all reports thus far, Flight 370, after executing a sharp turn to the southwest within an hour of its taking off from Kuala Lumpur, disappeared over the Malacca Straights, its transponders being turned off or otherwise ceasing to operate.  The reason for this, be it a mechanical problem or a hijacking attempt, is unknown, as was the condition of the crew and passengers at that time.  What is known, however, is that the “pinging” intercepted by a single satellite indicated that it eventually was going in a direction other than its last known westward heading, and those “pings” were heard for several hours after contact with the plane was lost.  It is not known how, when or why its course was changed to its final southward route.  Because flying along that “southern arc” led nowhere, it seems safe to assume the pilots or whoever was flying the plane did not choose this direction with the intent of making a landing.  Suicide or destruction of Flight 370 also seems an unlikely explanation since that could have been accomplished by simply diving the plane into the sea, rather than waiting for the fuel to run out for that to happen.  No, there had to be a another reason for the plane to intentionally follow a course which could only lead to its crashing in one of the most remote, stormy and inhospitable portions of the world’s oceans when it ran out of fuel, at which time it is unlikely that the pilots would still be flying the plane if they even, along with the passengers and crew, were still alive at that point.

Could it be possible that control of the plane was taken over by “hackers” who disabled its transponders and other methods of contract with the ground and also put the plane on automatic pilot, determining its ultimate course, taking full control of the plane away from the pilots and putting it in the hands of the “hackers”?

All of the experts say that such an act would be impossible. 
The talking heads we have seen on TV have been pilots and investigators, but I do not recall seeing an opinion voiced by a cyber security expert.  

I wonder what the American and Israeli scientists who developed the Stuxnet virus which wreaked havoc on the operation of the underground centerfuges in Iran’s nuclear fuel refinement facilities would say. 

I wonder what the cyber security people at every major electric utility in the United States, where layer upon layer of computer safeguards have been installed to fend off the thousands of hacking attempts into our nation’s power grid which take place each year, would say.  

I wonder what the developers of the heavily protected internal billing system of Target Stores, where millions of individuals’ credit card data was recently hacked into by cyber criminals would say. 

Governments are reluctant to announce the capabilities of their surveillance systems, but a well-informed friend recently told me that the United States presently has a satellite surveillance system capable of imaging someone anywhere on the planet tossing a ball into the air.  What are the computer geniuses in Silicon Valley and at NASA, where earthbound computers routinely control satellites and missions far out in space thinking?  We have technology which can remotely navigate a rover on the surface of Mars which is a bit further away than the 35,000 foot altitude at which Flight 370 was flying.

Why is it not then conceivable that the internal computer systems of an aircraft in flight cannot be similarly hacked and captured.  It is well known that China has said that any future wars will not be fought with armies but involve cyber warfare instead. I wonder what the opinion of the legions of hackers China employs think about Flight 370. We should not underestimate the technology available today in the world. 
We should not rule out the possibility that there may be technology available which was utilized to enable someone to take over the operation of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, cutting off all communications with the ground, disabling its oxygen apparatus thereby killing all aboard and ultimately controlling its movements through its automatic piloting mechanism.

Confirmation of this theory would probably be possible once Flight 370’s flight recorder were found, and clues as to the identity of the perpetrators might even be revealed from it.  But the perpetrators of this cyber hijacking made certain that would never happen by making sure that the plane crashed in the deepest, most remote and stormiest part of the world’s oceans.  Could that be the reason that Flight 370 was terminated in the South Indian Ocean?  To prevent recovery of its black box?

The cyber hijackers did not do a perfect job on Flight 370, however.  A satellite was able to detect signals which hinted as to where the plane might have flown, providing those “northern” and “southern” arc clues  (See map above).  Is it conceivable that a cyber hijacking of Flight 370 was merely a test run, a “beta version,” to iron out kinks such as this, and the next time the hijackers attempt a similar aircraft abduction, there will be no clues whatsoever?   In cyber warfare, battles without armies, this would indeed be a potent weapon.

Is this why so many nations, in an unprecedented manner, are utilizing so many of their resources in trying to locate the wreckage in the hope of its leading them to the black box and the information it contains?  I don't think any of them have really discounted this scenario, and if it is close to the mark, they want to know who the true villains may be. . . .  Before It Happens Again.
Jack Lippman


A Peddler of Watches

Let me quote from an advertising circular I received from a company I had once bought something from online.  (I was satisfied with what I had purchased.)  The circular’s language read as follows:

"This watch doesn’t do dainty.  And neither do I.  Call me old-fashioned, but I want my boots to be leather, my tires to be deep-tread monsters, and my steak thick and rare.  Plenty of folks around here appreciate the softer side of life.  Monet, Shakespeare, whoever.  They’re all great, but I don’t want to wear anything inspired by pastel waterlilies or a 400 year-old sonnet.  Its inspiration should come from things like dirt and axes, Firefighters and belt sanders.  And if you want to talk beauty, then let’s discuss a 428 cubic inch V8.

The …… Centurion Hybrid is a grown-up watch for grown-up boys who want grown-up toys.  The heavy-duty alloy body is chromed and detailed with a rotating bezel that allows you to track time and speed.  The luminous hour and minute hands mean you can keep working into the night.  And the dual digital displays give this watch a hybrid ability.  The LCD windows show the time, day and date, include a stopwatch function, and feature a green electro-luminescent backlight.

The genuine leather band is accented with yellow stitching and the dial and second hand pop with that same memorable color.  So go ahead, get to work on that engine or fire up the radial arm saw.  This watch can keep up.  The only problem you’ll have is deciding whether to keep the …… Centurion on your dresser with your wallet and car keys or tucked inside you toolbox. $39 (Originally $199)"

                                  Some People like big tires and big watches

It bothers me that there are people out there who are dumb enough to buy something because of advertising like this.   I considered it insulting and probably will just throw future mailings from this company into the trash, and direct future Emails from them to my spam folder.  

                    Water Lillies by Claude Monet and a Bust of Shakespeare

While I don’t “do dainty” either, I am not ashamed to be a bit old-fashioned, prefer sneakers to leather boots, like my Michelin tires to be normal size, shun cholesterol-laden steaks and have come to enjoy the softer side of life. It’s really nicer than the side where this company’s copywriter pretends to hang out. And I wouldn’t mind occasionally wearing something that manages to capture the beauty of a Monet painting (I once had a tie that did) or a Shakespearian sonnet.  I haven’t been inspired by dirt since I was six years old,  can’t think of an axe as anything other than something with which to chop wood, and while I respect all Firefighters, I don’t own, nor plan to purchase, a belt sander, let alone be inspired by any of these things.   And my 350 horsepower V6 engine gets me from zero to sixty quickly enough.  Also, I don’t own a radial arm saw.  


I probably am politically prejudiced, but I would wager that the vast majority of people who respond to an ad like this and buy "Centurion Hybrid" watches for $39, also are against gun control, immigration and vote for Republican candidates who appeal to them in the same way as this company peddles its watches.



Harvey Sage (Based on a true incident 3-14-14)

A handsome young wildebeast named Lou

Is known in the zoo as a gnu

Went to swim ‘cross a stream

To the gnu-ess of his dreams

To court her with a love that is true.

Lou was half way across the stream. It had been a good day. He really enjoyed his visit with Anna, the gnu-ess of his choice. It was getting toward evening now and he wanted to get back to the safety of the herd before dark. Night brought out the predators, such as crocodiles. Even though he weighed a hefty 500 pounds, tackling with a croc wasn’t advisable. They loved gnu meat and lonely gnus were ideal prey.

On the shore ahead a group of tourists visiting the Masai Mara preserve in Kenya were taking pictures. Lou, ever loving photographic subject that he was, headed for them. He never looked back. He should have.

To his side he noticed a half-dozen hippopotamuses (or is it hippopotami?). These huge 1.5 ton animals were vegetarians so Lou had no fear of them. The gnus and hippos co-existed peacefully, each minding their own business. Lou kept swimming till suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his rear leg. Then he felt himself being dragged down. It was a croc and it was trying to drown him. Lou panicked. He thrashed and grunted loudly.

The tourists screamed in horror expecting the worst. One photographed the whole scene as Lou started sinking deeper. Was there any hope?

Call it instinct, luck, fate, or divine intervention, but a strange thing happened. And it was recorded and sent by video via the internet. The hippos took note and swam over to intervene. One slammed into the croc, pushing it away from Lou. Another began nudging Lou, moving him toward the shore. 

The hero hippo. Injured one of the pictures taken by the tourists.  See pictures of the entire rescue of Lou by the hippos at http://fotozup.com/hippo-saves-gnu/

The others established a hedge of protection around him as he continued swimming. When he reached safety the pushing hippo opened his huge mouth wide to kiss Lou and bellow a victory cry. Lou was able to scramble away, alive to court Anna another day.

Evolution theory proclaims survival of the fittest. I don’t know Mr. Darwin. Looks like the grace of the Creator saved Lou’s bacon from being gnu stew, or whatever.

(Editors Note: Harvey's contribution ... which I hope encourages others to submit their work ... brings back a memory of something I recall from many years ago.  There was an ice cream store on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck, NY with a sign listing the many, many flavors they served.  Way down on the list was a flavor most customers had never heard of:  "Sneuu."  The proprietor of the store took great pleasure, when asked, as he frequently was, "What's Sneuu?" in replying, "Not much, what's new with you?")



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Jack Lippman