Air Errors

The night before the accident in Buffalo, Co-Pilot Shaw commuted overnight from Seattle to Memphis — where she rested in a crew lounge on a couch with her name on it — before flying to Newark to work.

She made $16,254 a year — so low that she was living with her parents in Seattle and commuting across the country. Colgan Air says, “It is their responsibility to commute in and be fit for duty.”

Wishing not to interfere in business, the FAA has a backlog of several safety rules that it had failed to put in force since the year 2000.

Stop A Cruel Fool

I think careful discretion is needed if publishing photos of torture. Each pic will inflame, and recruit.

I think Congress should should immediately censure Cheney’s road show too. For him, defending torture increases his profile. For each new victim too.

Time Magazine:

For a man whose public profile was almost nonexistent while he was a public servant, it’s clear from his schedule alone that private citizen Cheney hasn’t merely resurfaced — he’s gone on the offensive.

Greg Sargent points to testimony that Cheney is not telling the truth:

A top FBI interrogator who witnessed CIA enhanced interrogations firsthand will offer a detailed explanation at a Senate hearing today of the ways the techniques were ineffective and even counterproductive — and will directly contradict claims that they extracted high-value information…

“The new techniques did not produce results…”

Dana Blankenhorn explores the logic of torture:

What kind of country are we?

It seems simple enough but it’s a question that has bedevilled us since the founding of the Republic.

Are we strong because we’re good or good because we’re strong? Each generation has had to face that question, and the answers have varied.

Kent State Murders

MendoCoastCurrent, May 6, 2009

On May 4, 2009 I participated at the 39th Annual Kent State University Memorial Event.

As the sister of the slain student Allison Krause, I created and gave the following speech: Speaking Your Truth

The Dump The Size Of Texas

Give a bit of support to continue Agalita’s ‘ocean breaking’ research.

Help share the data with the scientific community and educate the public about the consequences of continuing to add to the “plastic soup bowl”. They’ve worked the last 15 years with just a smidgen.

Eating floating plastic at just five weeks old! Our great shame. Our great danger.

Plastic eaten by fish

A graft of plutocrats

A noisy pundit said on television if the economy fails to improve, Romney has a chance to color his business background to become leader of the Republicans. How weak is that?

The Republican Party is a clamor looking to revive a compulsion. Any high ground it has owned for more than thirty years will require a terrific new leadership to restore.

The vigor in the Republican effort to dismantle excess regulation, bureaucracy and overhead is gone. The vigor to ignite partnership in the marketplace is gone. Republican diplomacy plucks new violence and dwindles habeas corpus. Their defense of individual dignity and private domain is gone.

The Republican culture is a graft of plutocrats lifting a basket of opportunists; authoritarians increasingly unable to keep fundamentalists, anarchists or the outright paranoid; not liberty, but a veneer of autocracy over rank.

Richard Posner:

…the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings…

Black-Budget Procurement

DARPA's Super SoldierTo run at Olympic sprinter speed for hours…

A 19 page pdf on DARPA’s Super Soldier of 2030 reveals a long-term, $3 billion program to create ‘Metabolically Dominant Soldiers’: 10 times muscle endurance, 7 foot vertical leap, wall crawling, personal flight and more….

Just over $50 billion is listed for classified programs, the largest-ever.

“What does it all go for?

“In simple terms, we don’t know.

“It is apparent that much if not all of the intelligence community is funded through the black budget…”

Only through the exercise of candor

Farewell to the American Century
By Andrew Bacevich

Americans have perpetuated a mythic version of the past that never even approximated reality and today has become downright malignant.

What are we to make of these blunders?

The temptation may be to avert our gaze, thereby preserving the reassuring tale of the American Century. We should avoid that temptation and take the opposite course, acknowledging openly, freely and unabashedly where we have gone wrong.

We should carve such acknowledgments into the face of a new monument smack in the middle of the Mall in Washington: We blew it. We screwed the pooch. We caught a case of the stupids. We got it ass-backwards.

EZ Way to Cook a Roast

Gracie Allen’s Classic Recipe for Roast Beef

1 large Roast of beef
1 small Roast of beef

Take the two roasts and put them in the oven.

When the little one burns, the big one is done.

And the full video with George Burns and Gracie Allen at the Hungry Artist.

Other Non-Profits, and Journalism

What America needs these days is a “corruption commission”.

This is a percentage fee paid to everyone that finds waste or thievery. Wall Street is only one beginning.

Much more universal than blowing a whistle, this idea is outright trumpeting.

In business, it’s conventional to pay a finders fee, for instance, but in our public life, there’s nothing.

It would be very good to think of supporting “whistle charities” to build our new culture based on honorable expenses, required vehicles and needed travel as well as quitting outright fraud in public and corporate offices.

In fact, a group formed along these lines could quickly trump the popular banner associations that bleed billions in non-profit causes. Are we broke because we cannot target our spending?

Britain is going through a huge scandal these days about raw exploitation of exec and gov expenses. Crushing manipulated line items would be great fun for Americans too.

Plus, journalists could take the job they were trained to finish.

Oh shit. It’s so Red Guard. But you know what I’m hoping.

One Dumb Administration

Paying interest to ChinaWe’re paying far more interest to China than in 2000.

Send the invoice to George Bush.

Disband Republicans!

China bought over $1 Trillion of our debt.

“We should track that.”

China's currency, the RMB“There will come a time where the lack of Chinese participation may have a significant impact.

“Because up until last month they were the number one provider of currency to the United States and now they’re gone.”

50 gallons of water per mile

Cash from cornEthanol is a “costly proposition in terms of gallons per mile”.

It takes 800 gallons of water – from crop irrigation through final processing into ethanol – to create a single gallon,

Ethanol derived from corn would require 50 gallons of water per mile, when all the water needed in irrigation of crops and processing into ethanol is considered.

Fuel derived from irrigated sorghum uses as much as 115 gallons per mile.

Moreover, increasing production of biofuels from row crops will likely result in more water pollution due to soil erosion and the increased use of pesticides to grow enough crops…

Color is a lousy indicator

Doug Powell at UKansas asks

Anyone out there want to do a graduate degree?

Go to 100 burger joints, order burgers, and when they ask how would you like it cooked, ask the server, what does that mean.

See if anyone mentions temperature.

Write up the various responses in a methodologically sound way.

You may save a President.

Kingdom Corporations

Bank of America:

$135 billion in profits over 10 years. $34.8 million for CEO Ken Lewis the past two.

The American Dream, right?

Not for their workers.
The median wage for a Bank of America teller is near the poverty line.

Not for taxpayers.
The fact that many Bank of America employees can’t afford their company’s health benefits costs taxpayers an estimated $50 million a year in public health programs.

And not for consumers.
Last year, Bank of America collected $10.3 billion in bank fees, almost 30 percent higher than either of its two largest competitors.

CEO pay has gone from 27 times higher average pay to 344 times higher.

Wages for workers dropped 13 percent.

To be fair, writes Jeff Maldrick at NewDeal 2.0, some Republicans must have thought there was a just social contract, but it was largely based on an ingenuous faith—at least among the most sincere of them—in the fantasies of Milton Friedman.

Make individuals free to buy, sell and work, especially by relieving them of tax obligations and expensive regulations, and most will prosper, even the poor.

But what happened is that incomes and wealth became increasingly unequal; family incomes rose only limb marginally higher even as spouses worked; class divisions based on college entrance became stark; healthcare costs soared, and many more had no health insurance; the quality of the nation’s infrastructure deteriorated; dependence on dirty fossil fuels rose — and on and on.

Democrats bought into this idea to a surprisingly large extent.

There were many causes of the Clinton boom of the late 1990s, but perhaps most important were cheap money, speculative stock and housing prices, and a lot of borrowing. As noted, debt covered up the failures of the social contract and the economic model. Borrowing—and hence, the cover-up– was brought to us by a high U.S. dollar, which was the pride of deregulation champions Robert Rubin, then the Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers and Alan Greenspan.

As most know today, and some of us knew back then, access to borrowing was the salve that soothed harsh reality.

Now overly indebted Americans are paying a large price, losing homes and livelihoods. The debt was the source of enormous of wealth for a small privileged sliver of Americans located on Wall Street, where profits rose to nearly two fifths of all American profits.

Let’s face it.

America will not be fine again until we have a new social contract, one that recognizes that high wages are a source of growth and that government must have a robust role in creating prosperity again.

That role includes vigilant oversight of financial markets and active investment in infrastructure, energy, education, and healthcare reform. Without these, America’s future prosperity in a global economy is seriously endangered.

Feed to zero

The global level of nitrogen and phosphorous available to plants has doubled in 50 years.

Thus, fertilizer is one of the main threats to biodiversity.

Extra nutrients allow fast growing plants to dominate a habitat, blocking smaller species’ access to vital sunlight, researchers have found.

As a result, many species are disappearing.

Automated Credit Fails

Yves Smith:

Banking has suffered a not-sufficiently-acknowledged loss of know-how on the lending side.

…by the mid 1980s, the big end of town was fascinated with automated models and expert systems. American Express was considered the sophisticate of the crowd, allegedly with the most finely tuned program.

Fast forward 20 plus years, and the credit card issuers formerly seen as most savvy, Amex and Capital One, now are sporting credit losses not markedly different than their peers.

FICO based mortgage lending has proven to be a train wreck.

The problem is that there isn’t a good substitute for knowledge of the borrower and his community. Does he understand what he is getting into? How stable is his employer? What are the prospects for the local economy? Those are important considerations, and they require judgment.

Rant on Disney marketing

A cutting rant that covers today’s music production and transportation system: “Disney is selling sex to kids, pretending they’re not, and making a fortune while forcing their audience into cultural bankruptcy.”

rant on Disney marketingLittle girls’ hands innocently reach toward the Jonas Brothers’ crotches.

The Jonas Brothers are a flagship weapon in the culture wars.

They feign conservative social values while romping around the bizarre hyper-sexual Disney meta-verse where young kids dress like Madonna and Mick Jagger and live the rock n’ roll lifestyle, promising to America’s young, malleable minds a life of glamor and cool that can never be obtained, while diverting these child automatons from healthy creative engagement, imaginative play, and intelligent thought.

This is the same sexual dynamic that occurs when Ann Coulter flashes leg while decrying sexual promiscuity, or when Fox News is so horrified at a “disgusting” sexual photo or video clip that they decide to show it to you over, and over, and over.

Hands-on Windows 7

Scott Finnie, honest, professional analysis:

windows 7 thumbnailBut Windows 7 isn’t really about features. It’s about fixing what’s wrong with Vista and a general refinement of the operating system that appears to be XP-like in its attention to detail.

Please be clear, Win7 isn’t really much like XP. That’s not what I’m saying. But Microsoft spent a lot of time getting XP right, and rather than adding lots of features, Microsoft has been focusing on getting Win7 right. This is what reviewers mean when they say that Windows 7 is what Windows Vista should have been.

…a late July release is not totally outside of the realm of possibility.

What remains to be seen is whether I would buy a copy of Windows 7 for decently equipped XP hardware.

And the others?

Souter’s tenure on the court was marked by a willingness to vote outside political party lines, marking him as an independent thinker. [ABC News]

Strikes me that thinking has been as rare a prerequisite as empathy.

Target of Soul

I’ve held my imagination to a very narrow plane, not dreaming more than giving you a strong tomorrow, and not wanting more than that. I’ve lived simply and propelled my honor. My memory of me is a relentless trail to places I can only describe to myself. I knew at the beginning I would leave ordinary things to travel to my hope. I did not know now is where I’ll be.

Sperm are abundant and cheap

Columbia University
Chapter 5: The Enigmatic Orgasm
David P. Barash, Ph.D. and Judith Eve Lipton, M.D.

How Women Got Their CurvesMale mammals are, in a sense, roving inseminators. Sperm are abundant and cheap, and males, as a result, are primed by evolution to be quick on the draw and not terribly selective as to targets. Their modus operandi is shoot first and ask questions later, if at all.

But in certain species, human beings most especially, males have more to contribute: they can be providers, protectors, helpmates, and partners, not just lovers. In addition, a man’s behavior as a lover may yield some clues as to his inclination in these other crucial dimensions. According to a simple game theory model, males can be caricatured as either Cads or Dads. Cads are superficially attractive, but lack parental follow-through; they’re inclined to love ’em and leave ’em. Dads are, as their name implies, more likely to stay the course and to take the kids to soccer games, but less flashy and perhaps with less instantaneous sex appeal.

Might it be that the elusive orgasm has been tuned to help transcend first appearances and encourage women to respond to men who aren’t simply out for a quick sexual encounter—that is, to respond in favor of those who are likely to be Dads? If so, how might this work?

If female orgasm were unlocked quickly and easily, then any Cad could do the trick, then be on his way. But, of course, it isn’t.