Wednesday, July 26, 2017

COPA 201 crash (1992)

I bought my tickets! I'll be flying COPA, a Panamanian airline. I will fly to Lima and return from Bogota, stopping at Panama City both ways. Here is a video of the flight from Panama City to Lima. Even though I've been to the Panama City airport once, I have absolutely no recollection of any of its details.

This will be my first time flying COPA. My habit is to look up any and all air disasters related to any new foreign airline I am flying. That's how I discovered COPA 201. It was a 1992 flight from Panama City to Cali, Colombia. It mysteriously crashed into the Darien Gap(!). Here is an excellent Nova documentary about the crash investigation. Just the theme music from this PBS show brings back memories of my high school days.


The documentary is worth watching for a number of reasons. First, it's a professional journalistic piece. There is no hype. Just the facts. The camera crew followed the NTSB team from beginning to end, and had incredible access. It's also neat to just see what people were wearing in the early 1990s.

For those that don't want to watch it, the 737 crashed because the wire for the gyroscope was loose. 

Hunting down the autonomous Buick LeSabre

I had to find out if any of these Buicks are in storage at the Richmond Field Station.

The reply: No. We tried to give one to the Smithsonian but they wanted a substantial donation. All are scrapped, except maybe one that's at the Blackhawk museum or the San Diego car museum.

I emailed Blackhawk's executive director. Stay tuned...

Here are some technical papers about these cars.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

1990s autonomous cars

I was not hallucinating.

In the 1990s, while I worked for the campus police, I was once assigned to work at the Richmond Field Station. It's a large facility that Berkeley operates for its engineers who need a lot of room to conduct their experiments. Well, during that shift, I saw a bunch of Buicks drive autonomously on the tarmac, with magnets guiding them.

I've never been able to find any evidence that this program existed. Until today. It wasn't just my imagination.

This evening, I went to a focus group of BMW i3 owners run by a Berkeley transportation researcher. After the session ended, I went up to him and asked him about Buicks, magnets, and the Richmond Field Station. He knew what I was talking about. The man in charge of the project was Steven Shladover.

And here is a very comprehensive video!

Pablo Escobar White House vacation photo

Monday, July 24, 2017

A message from my 5th cousin (predicted)

23andMe thinks an Azeri man is my 5th cousin. We share 0.11% of our DNA together.

I reached out to him and asked if he had any Chinese ancestors. His response:

Hello, Jim,
I am Azeri and my grandmother is Russian, so I don't think I have any direct ancestors from China but we could be DNA relatives from some Far East ancestors, like Mongolians, I suppose. Historically, Turks came from Enisey river region.

50% of Canadians live south of red line