Malaysia MH 370 potential landing sites map

Click for much larger version
Based on the latest data, it seems feasible to narrow down the potential landing locations of Flight MH 370 to about  two dozen airports on the map above. Calculating the plane's speed and known positions, the most likely place for the plane to land are in the green area (assuming the plane landed, which we all hope is the case). Read more about the calculations here. The next step is to add in the runways where a plane that size could land. It seems unlikely that  anyone smart enough to divert a plane would just crash it. You could crash it anywhere. But if you are hijacking it, you would want to go somewhere and land it. So here is a map with the airports in the likely landing zone. The map narrows it down to about a dozen or two locations in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. (Of course, this projection is based on government data... and there has been a lot of bad government data in this situation.)

Better Names for the 6 Californias

By now you may have heard of the new plan to split California into 6 states. Proposals to split the state are as old as California itself; the 1859 attempt nearly succeeded. The problem with this latest proposal isn't the idea, it's the incredibly boring state names that have been proposed (e.g. North California, Central California etc). Why not propose names that will teach people a thing or two? So I'm proposing better names that will reveal a bit of the history about the 6 states:
The nearly-successful 1859 plan to split California proposed the name Colorado for the southern half of the state. That name is now taken, but the "new" version would pay homage to that earlier plan. It's ironic how similar the issues were back then. The Spanish "Californios" who had settled So-Cal were alarmed by all the gold seekers in the north. To keep control of their region, they proposed the split.
John Fremont was the rogue US Army Captain who (along with just 50 guys) wrested California from the Mexican government in 1846. The US government wasn't too happy about this and court martialed Fremont. But he bounced back—and later ran for President... the very first Republican to run for that office.
For millions of years, rich sediment and precious water has run off the Sierra mountains, creating the fertile Central Valley of California; the place where most all our vegetables are grown.
The biggest thing to happen in this state was the 1967 filming of the famous Patterson-Gimlin film... the best-known documentation of a Bigfoot. The film is a reminder that California's far north is still wild and unpopulated (and maybe home to a sasquatch).
Sure, we all know about the Gold Rush in this region. But the truth is, most everyone who got rich made their money in the year before the gold rush. By the time the bulk of the gold seekers arrived, most of the gold was gone. The 48ers made money, but the 49ers didn't.
This name is a reminder that the dividing line between California and Baja California is a fascinating story. The U.S. government drew the line where it is because the US wanted the port of San Diego. Later, America tried to buy most of northern Mexico. The Mexicans resisted, but were willing to sell Baja for cheap. The U.S. government didn't want it.

(Michael Trinklein)

Canada - U.S. merger

Should Canada and the United States merge? What once might have seemed like a crackpot idea is given a very serious look in Diane Francis' new book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country.  Her premise is that Canada needs the United States' protection—and capital. And the United States needs Canada's untapped natural resources and strategic land mass. It's a perfect match according to Francis. Of course, this isn't a new idea. Had a few battles in the War of 1812 gone differently, the amalgamation of the two countries might have happened 200 years ago. And whenever Quebec threatens secession (as it did seriously in the 1980s and again in the 90s), there is talk about which of the other provinces might join the U.S. What's new is Francis careful weighing of the economic and political issues as they stand today. The Wall Street Journal found the idea interesting, and devoted two-thirds of a page to Francis' ideas. But the Journal had no map! So I created one (above.)

How the British see the states

Buzzfeed asked a bunch of British people to fill in a map of the states, and many did surprisingly well—better than the average American. Some of their state names were wrong, but better than the actual names. For example, one person filled in the Nebraska space with "Middleshire." Nice. And what elementary school kid wouldn't agree that a better name for Colorado is "Squaresies." My personal favorite was the person who (working from north to south) added North Dakota, South Dakota, and Further South Dakota (above). See all the maps here.

Denver Post fact-check

I take no pleasure in correcting the Denver Post, or their source Prof. Richard Collins, a constitutional law expert at the University of Colorado—but, well, they got it wrong yesterday. In the Post's article on state secession efforts in Colorado, writer Monte Whaley wrote, "The last time a state consented to the loss of territory was when Maine split from Massachusetts in 1820." That's not accurate. First, West Virginia split from Virginia in 1863. Thus the Virginia legislature did consent to the loss of territory. However, many would argue that the Virginia legislature that signed off wasn't the "real" legislature, it was a dummy group that was quickly formed by northern politicians when the "true" Virginia seceded from the United States.

So I can forgive Prof. Collins that oversight, but not the split of California in 1859. Southern "Californios" were so concerned about the massive influx of gold rush miners in the north, they pitched the idea of splitting California. And in 1859 the California legislature DID consent to split the state in two. The U.S. Congress did not act, but the state did, an important landmark that is often forgotten.

And if we want to get technical, there have been dozens of times that states have consented to give up small bits of territory. For example, in 1977 Texas gave away land to Mexico near the city of Rio Rico. So hopefully the Denver Post will issue a correction, and Prof Collins will pick up a copy of  Lost States ;)

by Michael Trinklein

Raise a Stink

Jake Grovum at Stateline talked with me last week... and wrote a nice piece focusing on the side of the 51st state issue that is all too often forgotten. That is, the goal in places like Colorado isn't really to get a new state, it's to get the government pay attention. From that perspective, the Colorado movement has been a big success. Read more here.

by Michael Trinklein