Mr Romney brought up an incident at the weekend when his wife's aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing. He mused that she would have coped better if she was able to breathe outside air during the fire. "I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don't think she knows just how worried some of us were," Mr Romney said, according to the LA Times. "When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no – and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous."Most well-informed people do know "why they don't do that." At typical jetliner flying height, the atmospheric pressure is about 20% of normal. The inside of the plane is pressurized to near normal. That's why a blast of air carries passengers out through the hole when the windows or outer walls break. And if you were still inside after that moment of horror, you couldn't breathe the extremely thin air and you'd freeze instantly. However, the "experts" are hardly better:
Experts pointed out that opening a window would provide oxygen to fuel the fire and a loss of cabin pressure that could rip the fusilage apart.Sort of correct on the latter part. It's not the loss of pressure that rips the "fusilage", it's the momentary blast of air through the hole that rips the panels near the hole. But completely wrong on the former. In a house fire at ground level, breaking a window does let in air, because the fire has used up the oxygen. The internal pressure is slightly less than the outside. That couldn't happen on the plane, precisely because the inside pressure is so much higher. A few seconds after the break, the high-pressure air would be gone, leaving the interior air just as sparse as the exterior. Sparse super-cold air would give less support to combustion, and the fire would actually extinguish faster than in the pressurized cabin. = = = = =The real problem with Vulture is not his ignorance of basic natural facts. An executive doesn't need to know specific facts about science or foreign policy or anything. CEOs are delegators above all. No, the real problem is that he doesn't know where he's ignorant. Any competent adult knows his own skills and limits, knows which parts of reality he can talk about and which parts he should remain silent about. Vulture clearly doesn't have that basic human equipment. He is not a competent adult. Later: There's a nice audio example of the same phenomenon. People who have a realistic sense of their own abilities don't sing in public unless they're good. Compare Vulture singing 'America the Beautiful' with Obama singing an Al Green song. Vulture doesn't realize how awful he sounds, presumably because nobody has ever dared to tell him. Obama is good at singing and knows it.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.