News Roundup for 11/10/10

'Mystery missile' contrail
Not the end of humanity after all

-Headline of the Day-
"Pentagon officials more confident that 'mystery missile' was actually an aircraft."

As I reported in my headlines yesterday, everyone was freaking out over a "mystery missile" in the skies over LA yesterday. Michelle Malkin thought it was probably a screw up by the Obama administration, who'd shot off a missile to take a picture of it and never told anyone they were going to do it. Jonah Goldberg thought it was a ballistic missile from who-knows-where and that it was proof that the government couldn't do anything right -- including securing our airspace. Even I got in on the fun, speculating wildly that it "may or may not have actually been a missile -- and, at any rate, didn't actually do anything."

Wait, I'm being told I'm defining "speculating wildly" incorrectly. I regret the error.

Anyhoo, it turns out that the Pentagon is pretty darned sure it's a jet. Just your regular big ol' airliner. And "flames" people thought they saw coming out of it was just the orange setting sun reflecting off the fuselage. "There is no evidence to suggest that this is anything else other than a condensation trail from an aircraft," Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan.

See, it works like this: you see in 3D because you have two eyes. But the farther you get from an object, the less pronounced the differences in the images in those two eyes. Your depth perception suffers the farther away you are and, once you reach a certain distance, the difference is so lost on you that you might as well just have one eye. At this point, you're judging distances using perspective.

But in the sky, there are no perspective lines. So you're easily fooled by what looks like lines of perspective. A jet coming toward you can look like it's going the other way or even straight up, because as the vapor disperses, the contrail may get wider the farther it stretches from the plane. It's all very complicated and much less exciting than a mysterious terr'ist missile launch (that oddly doesn't blow anything up) or a big embarrassing snafu by an administration you don't like very much.

That's what you like about conservative pundits: their ability to calmly wait for all the facts to come in before crapping themselves in fear or laughing at someone else's incompetence. That's why they were all so skeptical of Bush's WMD fairy tale, while we irrational liberals fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

All sarcasm aside, though, Jonah Goldberg is just dumb and Shelly's double-barreled crazy, so maybe speculating wildly is the best we can expect from them.

I think I used "speculating wildly" right that time. (LA Times)

-It's not in the (tea) bag-
You know that election fight up around the North Pole between teabagger Joe Miller and regular (AKA: fake RiNO!) Republican Lisa Murkowski? Yeah, so far Lisa's winning that. It looked for a bit like Miller was catching up in the absentee ballot count -- many of which would've been cast before Murkowski launched her write in campaign -- but they're running low on absentee ballots and things aren't looking so hot. Right now, he's about 11,000 shy. In most elections that'd be tight, tight, tight, but only a couple dozen people actually live in Alaska, so...

Basically, this means, according to Dave Weigel, Miller would need to disqualify 11.5% of the write-ins, more or less, to have a shot at turning this thing around. So he's attacking spelling. Being the frivolous-lawsuit-hatin' conservative he is, he's suing the state of Alaska to make sure they only count write-in ballots that were spelled correctly. None of this "intent of the voter" crap, like in Florida 2000. Who cares what the voter intended? Democracy and freedom and liberty are all about filling out the big gummint, bureaucratic paperwork properly.

So no Merkowskis or Murkovskis or Murkplxtx. It's M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I or we live in communism! The lawsuit hasn't been ruled on yet, but Team Miller is already going through and picking out the ballots they want to challenge, because the most patriotic thing an American can do is throw another American's vote in the trash. The only problem is, they're running low on write-in ballots and things aren't looking so hot.

According to one report, "Chip Thoma, observing for the Alaska Democratic Party, tells me that around 98 percent of the write-in ballots cast appear to be for Lisa Murkowski. Roughly 10 percent of those are being challenged by the Miller campaign on spelling grounds. But Thoma said the Division of Elections is overruling 90 percent of those challenges. The Miller campaign than re-challenges. Those ballots will get another review, with the final say going to the certification board (or the courts.)"

So yeah, the math isn't really adding up. He needs 11.5% spelled wrong, he's finding 10% -- and 90% of those he's just pretending he can't make out, so he's having about a 1% success rate when all is said and done. Add in the smartasses who wrote in "your mom" or "my butt" and he's got 3%, which is... let me check my math here... yeah, turns out 3% is less than 11.5%. Damned Alaska public schools, teaching kids to spell! It's socialism!

Still, this marks a PR win for the teabaggers as a high-profile member proves that at least one of them gives a crap about spelling. (Alaska Daily News)

-Bonus HotD-
"O'Reilly jokes about cutting off reporter's head."

Because decapitation would just be the wackiest prank ever! (Raw Story)

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