10 February 2016
article by Justin Peters , a Slate correspondent and the author of The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet, about Apple's 2017 Super Bowl ad:
In 1984, Apple changed the Super Bowl forever. The computer manufacturer enlivened a dismal game between the Los Angeles Raiders and the Washington Redskins with a commercial that was unlike any Super Bowl commercial that had ever aired. It was called 1984, and evoked George Orwell’s dystopian novel of the same name to announce the release of the Apple Macintosh computer: a machine that would ostensibly free computer hobbyists worldwide from the tyranny of their Windows machines. Beautifully filmed, intelligently paced, and featuring an all-time great tag line— “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”— the ad was to Super Bowl commercials what Joe Montana was to Super Bowl quarterbacks: a brand new standard of excellence against which all new entrants would subsequently be measured.
Everyone says that 1984 is the best Super Bowl commercial of all time, and, just this once, everyone is right. 1984 wasn’t just entertaining and beautiful, with great pacing and actual production values, it was important. Before 1984, nobody ever claimed that they watched the Super Bowl for the commercials or, if they did, they probably worked in one of the ad agencies that produced them. Super Bowl commercials pre-1984 were almost all chintzy, insincere irritants that could neither be trusted nor enjoyed. Look at some of the other commercials that aired that year to get a sense of the extent to which Apple outclassed its competition:
Chevrolet ran several ads during Super Bowl XVIII centered around its slogan Chevrolet: Taking Charge. Compared with 1984, they look like they were produced by high school students in a remedial telecom class. Take this cringe-worthy commercial for the Chevy Cavalier station wagon, titled Hot:
The problem here is that, no matter how many times the commercial referred to the Cavalier as hot, any rational person could see that it was not. Or take this commercial, titled Mars, which also deployed science-fiction imagery, to much lamer effect:
I’m trying to imagine the initial meeting between Chevrolet and the ad agency: “We want something that sort of feels like a cross between Tron and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Your budget is $3.” This was what commercials were like in 1984: cheap and unconvincing. Apple wasn’t the only tech company debuting a new computer that year, and it wasn’t the only tech company to invoke the future in its sales pitch. But notice the vast disparity between Apple’s commercial and Tandy’s ad for its TRS-80 Model 2000 Personal Computer. “It’s the dawn of a new era,” insists Incredible Hulk actor Bill Bixby at the beginning of a commercial that, compared with 1984, already looks like it’s twenty years out of date:
Before 1984, Super Bowl commercials were almost all explicit sales pitches. 1984 showed advertisers that an evocative approach could be much more effective, that consumers would notice the care that went into the making of the commercial and subconsciously assume that similar care went into the making of the computer.
Given that Apple is famously known for its focus on presentation and production values, it’s no surprise that the company is responsible for the best Super Bowl commercial of all time. But it is a surprise that Apple is also responsible for the worst. During the 1999 Super Bowl, fifteen years after 1984 aired, Apple produced another dystopian-inflected commercial, this time to laughable effect.
The 1999 spot, titled HAL 9000 Y2K Bug, cast the murderous computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to try to frighten consumers into buying a Macintosh. The core of the ad was a series of laughably inaccurate predictions about the Y2K bug,which, according to the commercial, would bring humanity to its knees in the year 2000, otherwise known as the year “when computers began to misbehave”.Rico says people forget that Apple fucks up, too...
The Y2K commercial is everything that 1984 was not. It’s smug and preachy and creepy and illogical. It plays on people’s fears, rather than appealing to their dreams. The commercial strongly implies that HAL 9000 plans to murder Dave for being an Apple fanboy, which sort of makes HAL 9000 a contender for worst pitchman in advertising history. Whereas 1984 cast Apple as a liberating force, Y2K just makes the company seem menacing, the publicly traded equivalent of an old crone in a horror movie waving her index finger and yelling Doom! Doom! Worst of all, the commercial was completely wrong! The Y2K bug did not set off a global economic disruption! The “think different” graphic at the very end just kills me. “Hey, instead of running a good Super Bowl commercial this year, let’s think different and run one that’s super-alienating and ineffective!”
There have been plenty of other terrible Super Bowl commercials, of course: nonsensical ones, confusing ones, sexist ones, shrill ones. But Y2K is worse than all of those, precisely because Apple should have known better. We can laugh at the terrible dot-com ads, cringe at the lame beer commercials, and so on, but we never really expected great work from those advertisers anyway. But Apple set the standard. The company responsible for the best Super Bowl commercial of all time has absolutely no excuse for also commissioning one as bad as Y2K. It can only be attributable to human error.
Posted by Rico at 12:53
Rico says some animals are too cute, as Robby Berman notes:
In the video above, we see a situation any parent of a young child would recognize, except maybe cuter. (Certainly fluffier.) It's the time a parent struggles to get a little kid to follow a few simple instructions.
At the Smithsonian National Zoo, giant panda cub Bei Bei has just climbed a tree for the first time. It took a few tries, but he finally made it up. Getting down? That’s another story.
Six-month-old Bei Bei’s mother, Mei Xiang, stands by, ready to help, offering a few encouraging touches. Of course, each time she tries to guide him down, Bei Bei scoots right back up the tree. He’s speaking in panda, but we imagine he’s saying something along the lines of: “Mom, I got this.”
The adorable back and forth goes on for a while, until Mei Xiang eventually wins the battle and gets her adventurous little boy safely back on terra firma.
Bei Bei, who was born on 22 August 2015, lives at the Smithsonian National Zoo with his mom, dad (via artificial insemination) Tian Tian, and sister Bao Bao. We’ve been watching him grow— and sneeze— in the zoo’s videos. Bei Bei was given his name by first ladies Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan of the US and China as part of a Sino-American panda diplomacy. When he’s four, he’ll be returned to China.
Posted by Rico at 12:48
Donald Trump (photo), who sparked criticism for using a vulgar term to describe Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Monday, defended the incident in interviews on Tuesday, as New Hampshire voters took to the polls for the first-in-the-nation primary.Rico says if anybody's a pussy in this election, it's Hillary...
“Can I tell you what? The audience went crazy, standing ovation, five thousand people went nuts,” Trump said on Fox News. “They loved it.”
A woman in the audience at Trump’s rally in Manchester, New Hampshire responded to Cruz’ stance on waterboarding, yelling: “He’s a pussy!”
The Republican presidential candidate repeated the phrase. “You’re not allowed to say that, and I never expect to hear that from you again,” Trump said. “She said he’s a pussy.”
While Trump has said he wants to bring back the practice of waterboarding, Cruz has said he “would not bring it back in any sort of widespread use”.
“It was like a retweet,” Trump said on Tuesday. “I would never say a word like that.”
As he has throughout his campaign, Trump emphasized that he will not subscribe to political correctness, and he chalked the incident up to having a little fun. “We were all just having fun,” Trump said on MSNBC. “It was a great moment.”
Posted by Rico at 11:44
The Land Rover Defender has emerged from the company's Solihull factory for 68 years, which means that, in car years, it roughly predates the invention of the wheel. But like the wheel, the Defender has aged remarkably well (better than, say, singer Steven Tyler, also born in 1948). The proto-Landie has aged so well, in fact, that many people with passionate opinions on the subject and a willingness to share those opinions in public (car writers, that is) have wondered aloud, and often, why the Defender couldn't slog on for another 68 years in its present form, though maybe with a better radio. Well, it couldn't, for a variety of legitimate reasons: safety standards, emissions standards, the usual. That's the bad news. The good news (we hope) is that Land Rover has promised to deliver a new, kinder, gentler Defender. With a better radio. Eventually.Rico says it's been nearly forty years since he last owned a Land Rover, but he still remembers it fondly...
For now, however, let's bask in the minty glory of Defender number 2,016,933, a 90-Series Heritage Soft Top— surrounded by some seven hundred current and former Solihull employees, proud parents all. To the certain dismay of a legion of well-heeled hunters, horticulturalists, and hipsters, this last Defender is not for sale; it's bound for the Jaguar Land Rover Collection.
Introduced at the Amsterdam, Holland motor show in 1948, Land Rover's original Series I cost £450. In 2015, Defender number 2,000,000 sold at auction for £400,000.
Fittingly, Land Rover took the opportunity to announce a new Heritage Restoration program, offering factory restoration and maintenance services for the marque's classics models. The program, smartly, steps right into the line at Solihull, and of its twelve team members, ten who are former members of the Defender production crew, will be restoring the very vehicles they helped build.
Said Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth: "There will always be a special place in our hearts for Defender, but this is not the end. We have a glorious past to champion, and a wonderful future to look forward to."
And we do.
Posted by Rico at 11:10
Shortly after 0200 on the morning of 21 November 1970, the night sky near Hanoi in North Vietnam was shattered by the roar of planes on their way to undertake one of the most carefully planned and executed rescue missions of the Vietnam War: the raid on Son Tay Prison to rescue American POWs. Son Tay, 23 miles west of Hanoi, the capital of then-North Vietnam, was attacked and, less than an hour later, the plan had been carried out faultlessly. Then the bitterly disappointed Raiders were on their way home, having rescued no one.Rico says he's old enough to remember it well... (And yet another war he's glad he missed.) But when the military screws up big time, it strews medals in all directions to cover its ass...
The USAF Intelligence Unit had been monitoring a compound near Son Tay since it was first suspected in 1968 of being a POW camp. Carefully analyzing hundreds of aerial photographs, alongside intelligence gathered on the ground and elsewhere, the analysts determined that there were at least fifty American servicemen being held at the camp.
This information was taken to Brigadier General James Allen, then the Deputy Director for Plans and Policy for the Air Force; once he was convinced of the validity of the analysis, he took the issue to Brigadier General Donald Blackburn, then the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA) in the Army. Blackburn reported directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, so he took the intelligence to General Wheeler, the outgoing JCS Chairman at the time. The recommendation was that the POWs at Son Tay be rescued. General Wheeler concurred, and set up a planning group tasked with conducting a feasibility study.
Polar Circle was code name for the study into rescuing the captured Americans by conducting a raid on Son Tay Prison in the hours of darkness. The fifteen men working on this study found that the plan was feasible, and recommended that the raid be executed as soon as possible. The treatment being given the captured Americans was, at times, inhumane, and their living conditions atrocious. Polar Circle also determined that there were at least sixty men being held at the camp.
Within a couple of months, Operation Ivory Coast was launched to undertake the detailed planning and training for the rescue attempt. Overall command of the entire operation was placed in the very capable hands of Air Force Brigadier General LeRoy Manor, who assembled a crew of planning and support specialists. The planning had to be superb, as Son Tay was in one of the most heavily defended areas of North Vietnam.
They would have to contend with MiG fighters, as there were bases in the area, as well as anti-aircraft batteries and surface-to-air missile sites strategically placed by the North Vietnamese. Undaunted, Manor’s specialists undertook the logistics, weather forecasting, and fine planning to identify two possible windows of opportunity for the mission. These dates were the 21st to the 25th of October, or the 21st to the 25th of November. Both these periods offered the best conditions in terms of the weather forecast and moonlight.
While General Manor and his staff were undertaking the planning, command of the ground forces that would undertake the actual raid was given to Special Forces Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons. He selected over a hundred volunteers from the 6th and 7th Special Forces Groups, based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
With the assistance of the CIA, a model, called Barbara, was built of the camp; later they built a full-scale replica of the camp using poles staked in the ground and covered with canvas. This replica was used for training so that, when the mission arrived at the actual camp, the layout would be second nature to them. Simons and his Green Berets undertook nearly two hundred rehearsals of the raid on their mock-up camp, until Manor and Simons were satisfied that their men were ready to launch the mission.
The training took into account all the scenarios that the team could think of, right down to planning to take bolt cutters with them, as they had been told that the prisoners may have been shackled to their beds. This training was done under an impenetrable veil of security and the usual inter-forces rivalry that bedeviled so many operations was absent; all the teams worked seamlessly together.
At the same time, meetings were held with Vice Admiral Fred Bardshar on board the USS America, which would create confusion by using its naval aircraft to fly a diversionary mission. At this time there was a ban on bombing missions, so planes flew without ordnance, except for those that would undertake and search and rescue missions.
The naval aviators would fly circles over Phuc Yen Air Base, which housed the MiGs that undertook night missions, thus pinning the MiGs on the ground and forcing the North Vietnamese to use missiles for defense instead of the MiGs. This also had the effect of turning the North Vietnamese radar to the east while the raiders approached from the west.
On the 24th of September, General Manor met with the Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, to advise that the team was ready to go during the October window. But, after meeting with Henry Kissinger, then the National Security Advisor, the raid was moved to the November window. This was due to the fact that President Nixon was not in Washington, so he could not be briefed on the raid in time to meet the October window.
The entire operation was then moved to a forward base in Thailand, arriving on the 18th of November. There, Simons selected the final team of 56 Green Berets which would undertake the actual mission. This group was split into three combat groups: “Blueboy”, consisting of fourteen men, would be the group to land inside the compound, “Greenleaf”, a group of twenty-two, would land outside and blow a hole in the surrounding wall to gain entry and assist those landing inside, and “Redwine”, the twenty men who would provide a defensive perimeter against the North Vietnamese forces reacting to the raid.
In the week preceding the raid, the weathermen began watching Typhoon Patsy, which made landfall in the Philippines on the 18th of November and appeared to be heading for Vietnam. The weather forecasters were concerned about two different weather patterns. The first was the typhoon that would, by the 21st of November, cause the Navy’s Carrier Group in the Gulf of Tonkin difficulties and could prevent the launching of the naval diversionary force. The second was a cold front moving from southern China that would result in poor weather conditions over Vietnam from the 21st onwards.
The one piece of good news from the weather desk was that the cold front would make for good conditions over the compound on the 20th of November, and acceptable conditions for the naval aviation force. A reconnaissance flight was carried out on the afternoon of the 20th of November, and General Manor made the decision to go one day early rather than delay a further five days. Just before 1600 pm on 20 November, Manor issued the order to commence the mission.
General Manor and his team flew to Danang, where they monitored the mission from the USAF Tactical Air Control Center. The raiding party left their Thai base at 2325 pm that evening and had an uneventful flight, meeting up with their helicopter transport. Captain Richard Meadows was to command Blueboy, Colonel Simons was to lead Greenleaf, and Redwine was to be led by Lieutenant Colonel Elliott Sydnor. The raiding party was extremely well equipped, carrying M16 rifles, CAR-15 carbines, grenade launchers, claymore mines, hand grenades, and the axes, bolt cutters, wire cutters, and crowbars that they brought along in case prisoners were shackled.
At 0218, the HH-3E Jolly Green helicopter carrying the Blueboy team executed their arrival precisely by crash landing inside the Son Tay compound. Captain Meadows and his team carried out their part of the plan flawlessly and eliminated the guards, thus securing the compound. Three minutes later, at 0221 am, Colonel Simons and Greenleaf landed some distance from their intended landing zone and, instead of destroying the compound wall, they attacked a North Vietnamese barracks, killing a hundred to two hundred soldiers.
They then boarded their helicopters again and flew to the compound. Meanwhile Redwine, led by Colonel Elliott Sydnor, had filled in the position that Greenleaf was supposed to have taken, and they blew in the wall to the compound. This was within the contingency plan laid down before the operation started. Captain Meadows and his team searched in vain for the American POWs that should have been interred at the camp and with a heavy heart, he radioed back the words: “Negative items”, the signal to the command team at Danang that there were no POWs in the camp. At 0236, the first team left the compound, having spent a total of 27 minutes on the ground. Within a few minutes all had left, and by approximately 0428 they were all back at their base in Thailand.
The Americans had sent 56 Green Berets and 28 aircraft, manned by 92 airmen, to Son Tay, and the only casualty of the raid was the flight engineer of the Blueboy helicopter, who had his ankle fractured by a fire extinguisher that had broken loose in the crash landing. As a result of the raid, the members were awarded six Distinguished Service Crosses, five Air Force Crosses, and all fifty members of the ground crew, in addition to thirty-five of the active members, received Silver Stars. General Manor received the Distinguished Service Medal.
The armed services believed the mission to be a complete tactical success, as it was so well-planned and executed, but the intelligence failure was a significant blow to all involved. It was later learned that there were 65 prisoners interred at Son Tay, and they had been moved 15 miles closer to Hanoi due to a threat of flooding. This move had taken place on 14 July, almost four months before the raid, a major gaffe on the part of the intelligence agencies responsible.
This raid was severely criticized in the media and by opponents of the Nixon Administration and to the Vietnam War. The major charge made was the poor quality of intelligence upon which the operation was mounted. One of the greatest fears was that, as a result of this abortive raid, the prisoners in other camps would be treated worse.
In fact, reports from prisoners later confirmed that this raid did, in fact, improve their conditions. Prisoners that had been kept for long periods in solitary confinement were placed in cells with other prisoners, which improved their morale considerably. The amount and quality of the food they were given also improved.
While the success or failure of this raid can be debated ad infinitum, it is recognized as being a model for the planning, training, and deployment of this type of mission. It formed the blueprint for future missions of a similar nature, and for that reason, it deserves its place in history.
Posted by Rico at 10:56
Rico's old work buddy Don sends this satirical piece:
Iowa GOP Primary in a Nut Shell by Don Monkerud
Like the Pony Express roaring out of a cloud of dust, the GOP candidates came last week, promising to return America to the 1880s. In this Great March Back to the Past, there are only a few things you need to know about the GOP candidates as they change positions, jockey for advantage, and pontificate endlessly to promote guns, cut taxes for the rich, foster hate for gays and immigrants, and to end government regulations and programs. The top polling candidate, Donald Trump, aka Mister Combover, was not in attendance, having decided he didn't like being questioned by a woman. Eight out of ten of his supporters have a high school education and most have never voted before. Why people support a multi-billionaire is puzzling. Maybe they think Trump is just like them, as he moves between his hundred-million-dollar condo on Fifth Avenue or his other forty apartments in New York City, his quarter-billion-dollar Palm Beach, Florida palace, his sixty room Bedford, New York summer retreat, his twenty thousand square foot mansion in Virginia, or his ten thousand square foot mansion in Beverly Hills, California. Or are they just wannabes who worship wealth?Maybe his uneducated, white male supporters like his sons because they shoot exotic African animals and kill birds for fun? Or do they hate Mexicans and support Trump's plan to deport eleven million of them? Or maybe like his messages that climate change is a hoax, police need more power and, if there is less government, they will all become rich?
Next in line to nip at Trump's popularity is Ted Cruz, known as the most hated man in the Senate. He promises to turn America on its head, carpet bomb the Middle East, provide free guns to every white American, allow the rape of the environment, and abolish Social Security, Medicare, the Federal Reserve, the IRS, and other government functions, if he can remember them. Conservative white Christians love him because he will replace the Pledge of Allegiance with the Lord's Prayer.
Marco Rubio, another knight in shining armor, promises to ban gay marriage, do away with corporate regulations, increase the prison population, ban pot, cut educational funding, turn American transportation over to private companies, choose Jesus as his vice president, abolish property taxes, and cut taxes on the rich. He doesn't say whether he will stop stealing funds from his political campaign or taking secret personal loans from his billionaire handlers.
And the beat goes on: Ron Paul wants to balance the budget and give voting rights to fetuses, Ben Carson wants to do away with civil rights and send American troops to the Baltics. Kasich wants to bomb Iran and take care of the mentally ill, which will kill his chances of a GOP nomination. And Christie? He just looks like the fat bully on the playground when you were in the sixth grade. In the last debate, he bemoaned not being able to get his wife on the phone during 9/11 and, if she'd been killed, he didn't want to get stuck with the kids.
Considered a front runner a while ago, Jeb Bush fumbles along with a frog in his voice. Any minute you expect him to come clean and admit that he got his brother elected by manipulating the Florida courts, leading to the most disastrous presidency since Herbert Hoover.
Ben Carson thinks the Egyptians built the pyramids to store grain, and has a photo of himself and Jesus; an Oklahoma GOP candidate says gays should be stoned to death; Scott Walker says he's part of "God's plan,"; and Carly Fiorina believes women should remain silent in church and be submissive. It appears Americans will believe anything. Half of Americans don't know Judaism came before Christianity, half don't believe that evolution occurred, twenty percent believe the Sun revolves around the Earth, twenty percent knows someone abducted by aliens, and three-quarters of Republicans believe in One Nation Under Jesus. Half of our Congresspeople deny global warming, while a third believe in ghosts, and vast numbers believe in witchcraft, ESP, and other supernatural phenomena.
But a puzzle arises over the importance of the state of Iowa to choose presidential candidates. Iowa is not representative of America. Some eighty percent of its precincts are rural, while twenty percent of the US is rural. Almost ninety percent of the population is white, while white people represent just three-quarters of the US population. Given Iowa's Fruit Cake Derby and Americans' fungible beliefs, anything can happen.
Rico says he concurs, but wonders if that should be half-vast numbers... (Pun intended.)
Posted by Rico at 09:43
It is not every day that vintage Louis Vuitton suitcases come up for sale, particularly cases in such condition as those you see here. Buyers of these exceptional cases will receive not merely the finest in French bagages, they'll also get a very handsome (and period-appropriate) luggage carrier: a 1931 Bentley 8 Litre, one of just a hundred built. Offered by UK-based William Medcalf Vintage Bentley, the car features a dashing two-seat sports body in British Racing Green over green leather. A bespoke removable metal frame, added late in the car's history, secures the vintage Vuitton cases, which feature leather handles, spring buckles and the luggage maker's famed "unpickable" lock.Rico says that James Bond drove a four-and-a-half-liter version... (And Rico's late wife had a Vuitton suitcase just like that one, which she'd bought in Brussels, Belgium. No telling where it is now, alas.)
Bentley's flagship 8 Litre was the last model designed by company founder Walter Owen Bentley before a corporate takeover by Rolls-Royce in 1931. Bentley took the second production example for himself, in fact (the first went to Scottish music-hall star ‘Gentleman’ Jack Buchanan). The car's 8000 cc in-line six-cylinder engine produced somewhere between two hundred and two hundred and thirty horsepower, fairly monumental for the time. Buyers could opt for a twelve- or thirteen-foot wheelbase with open or closed body work and seating for two or four. The 8 Litre, said Bentley, could be put into top gear then accelerate from zero all the way to a hundred miles per hour with a full load of passengers and their luggage.
The price for these exceptional Louis Vuitton cases and the Bentley? "Around £800,000", reports the seller. In plainer terms, that's two suitcases full of cash, or approximately $1,600,000.
Posted by Rico at 09:05
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Posted by Rico at 09:03
German police have rejected a report that a line controller turned off an automatic safety system shortly before two passenger trains collided in Bavaria. An unconfirmed report suggested that an automatic braking system had been switched off to allow one of the trains to make up time. But a police spokesman rejected the theory as pure speculation. "Discard that, we reject that," a spokesman told local broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk.
The braking system, which is supposed to kick in when a train runs through a red light, was installed after a 2011 disaster at Magdeburg in which ten people died.
Reports in German media suggested that, in exceptional circumstances, the automated system could be overridden by rail staff. But police said the controller had been questioned as part of the inquiry, and there was no immediate suspicion of him. As the investigation was still in its early stages, nothing could be ruled out.
Human error is still being investigated as a possible cause of the disaster, which happened on a single-track commuter line on Monday morning near Bad Aibling, a spa town about sixty kilometers south-east of Munich, Germany. The control room at Bad Aibling is also at the center of the inquiry.
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the trains had crashed into each other while both were traveling at about a hundred kilometers an hour. Although the search for a third data recorder is still being carried out, Dobrindt told reporters that one of the "black boxes" had already been analyzed. No technical fault or evidence of driver error had been found on the westbound train, he said. But the eastbound train's data recorder may be of more importance, as it was several minutes late when the two trains crashed head-on.
The accident occurred on a single-track route between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen at 0648 local time. Officials say they assume both train drivers had no visual contact before the crash, as the site is on a bend, and they crashed into each other largely without braking. The stretch of line did have an automatic braking system designed to halt any train that passed a stop signal. It is not yet known why this failed to stop the crash.
Two of the three data recorders or "black boxes" on board the trains have been recovered.
Nine of the ten victims of the crash were men. Both train drivers and two train guards were among those killed. The tenth victim was a teenaged girl, according to local reports.
Police said that the search of the wreckage had been completed and no more victims had been found or were missing. None of those being treated in hospital was in a life-threatening condition, they added.
Analysis by Richard Westcott, Transport correspondent:
It seems likely that one of the trains ran a red light, but it's hard to know why. It could be human error, technical problems, or a combination of the two.
The line is fitted with a modern safety system that slows the train down if it is going too fast, then stops it automatically if it passes a red signal. Drivers get warnings in the cab if there is a problem. The speed of each train suggests that neither had any warning.
It is highly likely they'd have known the route, too. Only by analyzing the "black boxes" will investigators know for sure what happened. It's incredible that so few people lost their lives, and that's almost certainly because of the huge improvements in train design over the years; they are much safer than they used to be.
The search has been complicated by the difficult terrain where the crash happened.
A hundred-ton crane arrived at the scene of the disaster, as salvage workers prepared to remove the two mangled trains from the track. The work was expected to last at least two days.
Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer laid a wreath at the site with his colleagues and said it was a tragedy. "The whole of Bavaria has been shaken," he said.
The trains collided in a hilly and densely wooded region near the Mangfall river.
Investigators will have to find out why a train that left Holzkirchen travelling east to Rosenheim was on the single track at 0648, four minutes after it was due to reach its next stop at Kolbermoor, where it would have met the westbound train on a double track.
The westbound train from Rosenheim to Holzkirchen would have left Kolbermoor at 0645, and would have been expected to be on the single track at the time of the accident.
As the PZB automated braking system had been checked a week ago, there has been heightened speculation that it may have been temporarily disabled, and it is the controller's responsibility to ensure trains are running safely.
In case signals fail, German railways are fitted with a final safety guard to prevent crashes. Cab signalling known as PZB (Punktfoermige Zugbeeinflussung or "intermittent train control") will set off an alarm in the driver's compartment when the train approaches a red light. If the driver does not respond by pressing a button, the train will brake automatically.
Other fatal German train crashes:Rico says that no good German would turn off a safety system...
January 2011: ten were killed at Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt when a commuter train collided with a freight train after the driver ran through two signals.
February 2000: nine died when an overnight train from Amsterdam, Holland to Basel, Switzerland crashed near Cologne in Germany.
June 1998: A hundred were killed when a high-speed train with a broken wheel derailed and smashed into a bridge at Eschede in Lower Saxony.
Posted by Rico at 09:02
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This day in History
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1996 Kasparov loses chess game to computer On this day in 1996, after three hours, world chess champion Garry Kasparov loses the first game of a six-game match against Deep Blue, an IBM computer capable of evaluating 200 million moves per second. Man was ultimately victorious over machine, however, as Kasparov bested Deep Blue in the... read more »
American Revolution 1779 The Battle of Carr's Fort »
Automotive 1966 Auto safety crusader Ralph Nader testifies before Congress »
Civil War 1861 Davis learns he is president »
Cold War 1962 Soviets exchange American for captured Russian spy »
Crime 1992 Boxing legend convicted of raping beauty queen »
Disaster 1970 Avalanche buries skiers in France »
General Interest 1763 The French and Indian War ends » 1962 Spies swapped » 1989 Brown elected chairman of the Democratic Party »
Hollywood 2006 Final episode of Arrested Development airs on Fox » 2014 Iconic child star Shirley Temple dies at 85 »
Literary 1957 Laura Ingalls Wilder, chronicler of American frontier life, dies »
Music 1972 Ziggy Stardust makes his earthly debut »
Old West 1846 Mormons begin exodus to Utah »
Presidential 1899 Herbert Hoover marries Lou Henry »
Sports 1996 Deep Blue beats Kasparov at chess »
Vietnam War 1965 Viet Cong blow up U.S. barracks » 1971 Journalists killed in helicopter crash »
World War I 1916 U.S. secretary of war resigns »
World War II 1942 Japanese sub bombards Midway »
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Posted by Rico at 09:00
Rico says talk about your frivolous lawsuit...
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Posted by Rico at 08:56
Rico says it's another sign of the Apocalypse:
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Posted by Rico at 08:53
09 February 2016
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Posted by Rico at 18:11