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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

Journal Archives

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and the Decline of Innovation

(Bloomberg Businessweek) By the standards of commercial airplanes, the Boeing 787 was supposed to be a modern marvel. Its carbon-fiber body and new electrical system give it a reduced weight, which allows it to burn 20 percent less fuel than the midsize airplanes it’s meant to replace. The interior cabin features cathedral-like archways to reduce the sense of claustrophobia and enlarged windows that dim at the touch of a button. Because of the new, stronger composite materials, the cabin can also be maintained at higher pressure and humidity, so travelers feel fresher at landing. The airplane even has a soaring name, the Dreamliner, the winning submission in a naming contest held on America Online 10 years ago.

Now the Dreamliner has turned into a nightmare for Boeing (BA) and the airlines that paid a list price of more than $200 million per airplane. It suffered problems typical for new planes, ranging from brake malfunctions to computer glitches. On Jan. 16, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded the fleet after the battery on a 787 that had just landed in Boston caught fire and another produced a fault that forced an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways flight bound for Tokyo, with the passengers evacuating via inflatable slides.

The grounding of the 787 was in many respects inevitable for a project marked by missed opportunities, narrowed visions, and, yes, dreams deferred. It’s also a dispiriting example of the shrinking tolerance for risk among corporate executives and government regulators, which is stifling innovation and threatening America’s competitive edge. “I often wonder, if society existed as it does today with the media, politicians, and lawyers and managers focused on not missing earnings by two cents per quarter, whether we would have made the advances of the past,” says Bob Bogash, who retired after a 30-year career at Boeing and now writes a blog about aviation, rbogash.com.

The skies have long been a showcase for America’s genius for invention. More often than not, Boeing, founded in 1916 on the shores of Seattle’s Lake Union by a lumberman named William Boeing, was right in the thick of it. During World War II, the B29 Superfortress had a pressurized cabin and remote-control guns. The 707 ushered the U.S. into the Jet Age in the 1950s, and the 747, introduced in 1970 as the world’s first wide-bodied aircraft, revolutionized long-haul air travel. All of these efforts had teething problems even worse than the 787’s. Bogash recalls that “the 747’s windshields used to crack so often that when I was based in Honolulu as a field service engineer I had two spares in my home garage, just in case.” And yet each time, Boeing made the necessary fixes and plunged ahead with the next big bet. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-24/boeings-787-dreamliner-and-the-decline-of-innovation#r=rss

Washington DC: Metro’s Expansion Plans Include New Tunnels

(Armando Trull — Washington, D.C., WAMU) Metro transit agency officials are proposing new tunnels to help the system keep up with growing demand. The tunnels are included in a 49-page strategic plan (pdf) presented Thursday to the transit agency’s board of directors.

Metro’s immediate goals call for measures to improve the existing infrastructure, including adding powering capacity to allow for more eight-car trains and building new pedestrian connections between certain stations.

More ambitiously, Metro says the plans also include the possibility of new tunnels in the core of the system to separate lines that currently share tunnels. It also calls for building express tracks along the Silver and Orange lines in Virginia, as well expanding current lines. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://transportationnation.org/2013/01/24/metros-expansion-plans-include-new-tunnels/

The Tragic Death of a Commons Hero: Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)

from OnTheCommons.org:

The Tragic Death of a Commons Hero
Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)

By David Bollier

Aaron Swartz’s death is a sobering story about the collision of free culture activism with vindicative prosecutorial powers. It’s also about an amazing tech wizard and the personal costs of his idealism. Here’s hoping that Swartz’s tragic suicide at age 26 prompts some serious reflection about the grotesque penalties for a victimless computer crime and the unchecked power of federal prosecutors to intimidate defendants. Perhaps MIT, too, should reflect deeply on its core mission as an academic institution – to help share more knowledge, not fence it off.

Swartz was a hacker-wunderkind, a boy genius who played a significant role in many tech innovations affecting the Internet: RDF tags for Creative Commons licenses; a version of RSS software for syndicating web content; an early version of the platform that became Reddit, the user-driven news website. In 2006, when I interviewed Swartz for my book Viral Spiral, I was astonished to encounter a 19-year-old kid who had already done the path-breaking technical work that I just mentioned.

Swartz had been a junior high school student when he was doing mind-bending coding and design work for the Creative Commons licenses and their technical protocols. “I remember these moments when I was, like, sitting in the locker room, typing on my laptop, in these debates, and having to close it because the bell rang and I had to get back to class….”

When a windfall of cash came Swartz’s way following the sale of Reddit to Conde Nast, Swartz did not launch a new startup to make still more money. He intensified his activism and coding on behalf of free culture. He sought out new projects that would make information on the Internet more accessible to everyone. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/tragic-death-commons-hero

Eleanor: The Radical Roosevelt

from YES! Magazine:

Eleanor: The Radical Roosevelt
Hollywood just can’t seem to tell the truth about Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a fierce defender of human rights. Historian Peter Dreier steps in to set the record straight.

by Peter Dreier
posted Jan 24, 2013

Many younger Americans probably know little about Eleanor Roosevelt, and if their first encounter with her is the new film Hyde Park on Hudson, what they’ll learn is incredibly misleading and inaccurate. Other films—including Sunrise at Campobello (1960); the two-part Eleanor and Franklin HBO mini-series (1976); Eleanor, First Lady of the World (1982); and Warm Springs (2005)—have depicted different aspects of her life. Yet not one of these films accurately portrays the depth and influence of Eleanor’s radicalism.

Hyde Park on Hudson focuses on the relationship between President Franklin Roosevelt (played by Bill Murray) and his distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Stuckley (Laura Linney) during a weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of England are visiting the Roosevelts at their second home in upstate New York. The film shows FDR and Stuckley having a sexual love affair, although many historians believe that their relationship was merely a flirtation.

Given its focus on the affair, it is perhaps not surprising that the film treats Eleanor (Olivia Williams) primarily as a ceremonial helpmate whose major function is to help FDR negotiate the social rituals of being president. The biggest controversy Eleanor deals with in the film is whether to serve hot dogs to the British royals.

In reality, Eleanor’s life—before she met FDR, during the 13 years she served as first lady, and after FDR died in 1945—was filled with important public controversies, including her activism around such issues as workers’ rights, civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights. She became FDR’s most important, and most progressive, advisor. FDR was the most powerful president in American history, and Eleanor (who died in 1962) wielded her own power, sometimes behind the scenes but often in public, breaking the mold for first ladies. No first lady before or since—not even Hillary Clinton—has had as much influence while her husband was president. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/eleanor-the-radical-roosevelt

Making ‘Lethal Drones’ Routine

from Consortium News:

Making ‘Lethal Drones’ Routine
January 22, 2013

Seeking consistent standards for using lethal drones, the Obama administration is drafting a manual to govern when such attacks can be unleashed. But the secret guidelines carry other risks, including the acceptance of assassination as a routine part of U.S. foreign policy, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

In one sense the Obama administration’s reported creation of a “playbook” establishing rules for killing alleged terrorists helps to meet calls from outside commentators — this one included — to clarify the criteria that are being applied to such assassinations.

Writing this kind of manual, however, has another side. It represents the institutionalization of worldwide assassinations as a regular, ongoing business of the United States government. As such it raises larger questions, which the playbook might not address at all, of how an assassination program does or does not conform with the pursuit of U.S. national interests.

Institutionalization of anything entails a bias toward its indefinite continuation, and maybe even its expansion. This tendency has often been discussed regarding other government programs, sometimes with a tie-in to what is outside government.

The military-industrial complex about which Eisenhower warned, for example, represents a bias toward big defense expenditures and military operations to justify such expenditures. Likewise, it has often been remarked that creation of a bureaucracy to run domestic program X immediately creates a vested interest in favor of continuing and even expanding program X. Why should such tendencies not be just as likely to appear with an assassination program? ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/01/22/making-lethal-drones-routine/

"Cleaning Fairy" arrested after shovelling snow without permission

CLEVELAND—The Ohio woman dubbed “the cleaning fairy” by local media because she broke into a home and cleaned it without permission, was arrested on Tuesday after police found her shovelling snow from a driveway without the owner’s consent, police said.

Police in Elyria, a city about 50 kilometres southwest of Cleveland, arrested Susan Warren, 53, on an outstanding warrant stemming from the separate incident last year where she entered a suburban Cleveland home, did some light cleaning and left a note charging the owner $75.

She could face jail time for a probation violation but no charges have been brought for the unsolicited snow shovelling, an Elyria Police Department spokeswoman told Reuters on Thursday.

Last November, Warren pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and trespassing in connection with the house cleaning incident in May. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1319723--ohio-woman-arrested-after-shovelling-snow-without-permission

A FETUS IS A PERSON......until we get sued.

via truthdig:

A Catholic health provider has abandoned its beliefs by arguing that a dead fetus and a dead person are not the same thing in order to win a malpractice lawsuit.

The case stems from the death of 31-year-old Lori Stodghill, who was pregnant with twins when she died of a heart attack in 2006. The woman’s husband, Jeremy, filed a wrongful death suit against the faith-based, nonprofit hospital chain Catholic Health Initiatives, alleging its decision not to perform a perimortem cesarean section led to the deaths of the twins.

The health provider was able to win that lawsuit by arguing—against its own religious doctrine—that a fetus is not a person. The hospital chain’s strategy demonstrates that, in the end, greed and money ultimately triumph over principles and beliefs. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/catholic_hospital_wins_lawsuit_by_arguing_fetus_is_not_a_person_20130124/?ln

The Ick in Your Shrimp

via truthdig:

The Ick in Your Shrimp
Posted on Jan 24, 2013

Seafood consumed in restaurants like Red Lobster is likely to be imported from foreign factory-style farms, where antibiotics, bacteria and carcinogenic drugs are found in products that often go uninspected by the Food and Drug Administration.

Retailers such as Walmart and restaurant chain owners assure the public of their food’s safety via Best Aquaculture Practices labels that appear on the products. But the board that oversees the group that awards that label consists of representatives of the businesses that sell the food. In 2012, the University of Victoria’s Seafood Ecology Research Group ranked the organization’s standards for farmed fish at 16 out of 20 among the industry’s aquaculture labels.

In 2011, Americans bought 4.7 billion pounds of seafood, 91 percent of which was imported. Just 2 percent of it was inspected by the FDA.

“That’s worrisome,” writes Tom Philpott at Mother Jones, “because imported seafood has a spotty track record. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44 percent of the 39 foodborne-illness outbreaks caused by imports from 2005 to 2010 involved seafood—more than any other type of food.” ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/the_ick_in_your_shrimp_20130124/

Keiser Report: Burgers, Banksters & Blackholes

Russia Today
Published on Jan 24, 2013

In this episode, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the Brits offended by the horsemeat in their burgers and yet silent on the disgusting black holes of toxic debts inside taxpayer owned banks. In the second half of the show, Max Keiser talks to Pulitzer award winning journalist, Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica.org about big banks like Wells Fargo using accounting tricks very similar to those used by Enron, including off balance sheet entities, black box trading, black box loans and black hole financing.

Bobby Jindal: Republicans Need to Move Even Further to the Right to Recapture the Center

The Washington Monthly / By Ed Kilgore

Bobby Jindal: Republicans Need to Move Even Further to the Right to Recapture the Center
The Louisiana Governor is setting himself up as the absolutist right's rising star.

January 24, 2013 |

I will be watching for a transcript of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech to the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Charlotte tonight with considerable anticipation. It looks like he’s going to personally brand the tendency within the GOP to identify “party reform” with an even more ideologically savage brand of conservatism than the one they’ve already embraced.

In an account based on an advance copy of the speech, WaPo’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake (under the sycophantic headline, “Bobby Jindal Speaking Truth to GOP Power”—gag!) tell us this about Bobby’s Big Message:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will deliver a forceful denunciation of his party’s Washington-centric focus in a speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday evening, arguing that the GOP is fighting the wrong fight as it seeks to rebuild from losses at the ballot box last November.

“A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and short-sighted debate,” Jindal will tell the RNC members gathered in Charlotte, N.C. for the organization’s winter meeting, according to a copy of the speech provided to The Fix. “If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win….” ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/bobby-jindal-republicans-need-move-even-further-right-recapture-center

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