Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fifteen years ago and now

by Ken Houghton

The last time I saw a World Series game in person was 19 October 1993, in Philadelphia.

Dr. Black appears to have better luck than I at picking Phillies games to attend.

Or perhaps it's just a Random Walk.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Home State Flashback

by Ken Houghton

People's Exhibit #1 that John McCain must be dead:
One Indiana lobbyist predicted last spring that the Democratic nominee would be clobbered by "any Republican who happens to be alive."

Exhibit #2:
McCain, in contrast, has no offices in [Indiana] and hasn't been here since July.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Suggested Plane Crash Metaphors for the Crisis

by Tom Bozzo

1. The U.S. allows Lehman Brothers to fail... Singapore Airlines Flight 006:
An investigation into the accident was conducted by the Taiwan Aviation Safety Council (ASC). The final report was issued by the ASC on 24 April 2002... [I]t was stated that the flight crew did not review the taxi route, despite having all the relevant charts, and as a result did not know the aircraft had entered the wrong runway. Upon entering the wrong runway, the flight crew had neglected to check the paravisual display (PVD) and the primary flight display (PFD), which would have indicated that the aircraft was lined up on the wrong runway. According to the ASC, these errors, coupled with the imminent arrival of the typhoon and the poor weather conditions, caused the flight crew to lose situational awareness and led them to attempt to take off from the wrong runway.
The "wrong runway" was closed for construction, and the Boeing 747 was destroyed after colliding with construction equipment. The pilots' lack of situational awareness made a risky activity (taking off at night in heavy rain) deadly.

2. The financial crisis in general: Air France flight 4590.
The official investigation was conducted by France’s accident investigation bureau, the BEA, and it was published on 14 December 2004. It concluded that the crash was caused by a titanium strip, part of a thrust reverser, that fell from a Continental Airlines DC-10 that had taken off about four minutes earlier to Houston. This metal fragment punctured Concorde's tyres, which then disintegrated. A piece of rubber hit the fuel tank and broke an electrical cable. The impact caused a shockwave that fractured the fuel tank some distance from the point of impact. This caused a major fuel leak from the tank, which then ignited. The crew shut down engine number 2 in response to a fire warning but were unable to retract the landing gear, which hampered the aircraft's ability to climb. With engine number 1 surging and producing little power, the aircraft was unable to gain height or speed, entering a rapid pitch-up then a violent descent, rolling left. The impact occurred with the stricken aircraft tail-low, crashing into the Hotelissimo Hotel in Gonesse. According to the report, the piece of titanium from the DC-10 had not been approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Despite being obsolete in some ways, Concorde represented a pinnacle of sorts for the 'optimistic phase' of civil aviation. However, it happened to operate at extremely low safety margins in some phases of flight. So FOD led to a cascading series of failures ending in the disaster.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Guy Who Will Say Anything to Get Elected

by Tom Bozzo

Brad DeLong blogs the train wreck at a clown show that is the McCain policy apparatus so I don't have to (big report due in a week, sorry remaining readers). He has a quite brilliant twofer.

First, there's the suckitude of the McCain health plan. Or, rather, the evolution from

We're phoning it in, to

OMG, people are looking at it and figuring out ways it might suck, so

Sweeten it, but...

That's too expensive for our small-government-conservative narrative, and voila,

Let's commit political suicide!!
You know, we have llike seen this before. On health care:

  • McCain started with a tax credit that was equal in aggregate to the additional tax he levied on employer-sponsored health benefits in the first year--in later years the credit became much smaller than the tax.
  • Then it was like ooops, that's not popular. We know--we never intended to subject employer-sponsored benefits to the FICA tax, only to the income tax.
  • Then it was like ooops, now we're scared that the plan is fiscally irresponsible and will raise the deficit. We know--we will cut Medicare!
  • Then it was like ooops, we have to carry Floria. We know--have Sarah Palin say that McCain will not cut but will protect your entitlements.
Can't anybody play this game? If we lose the election to these clowns, I am going to be really embarrassed. It seems as though nothing is competently staffed out--as if nobody in the McCain campaign cares about actually having policy proposals, but only about having something incoherent that an ignorant and lazy reporter can be deceived into thinking is a policy proposal.

Second, on the housing crisis, McCain pulls his new bailout plan out of his behind at the "debate." However:
But it soon develops that much of Senator McCain's proposal is not his but Barney Frank's, and that the differences make it not a homeowner relief bill but an imprudent banker profit and rescue bill.

And so our so-called conservatives want to nationalize negative home equity (that's some concern for the taxpayer, there):
[DeLong quoting the Politco] “Clearly we face the trade off that we would in fact be taking the negative equity position and putting it on the taxpayers books instead of putting it on the private lenders books or the homeowners books,” Holtz-Eakin told Politico. “We think the balance of risk has shifted to the point where this is the way to go.”
Does the McCain website say that? No.
But by the time I got to the website, it read differently: - McCain-Palin 2008: For those that cannot make payments, mortgages must be re-structured to put losses on the books and put homeowners in manageable mortgages. Lenders in these cases must recognize the loss that they’ve already suffered. [Apparently that last sentence was struck by a panicked editor -- ATB.]

Apparently the schmuck who was assigned the job of writing up the web description did not believe the plan could possibly be what he was told it was.

Most deliciously, someone couldn't stop from thinking out loud in naming the "program," such as it is: it's the "American Homeownership Resurgence Plan (McCain Resurgence Plan)." Apparently it's change someone can believe in.

(Cross-posted at Angry Bear.)

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tell me again why ANYONE should EVER give ANY money or time to N.O.W.?

by Ken Houghton

Sybil Vane at Bitch Ph.D. mentioned this:
I was going to embed a video of the President of the L.A. chapter of N.O.W. introducing and personally endorsing Sarah Palin at a CA rally, having the audacity to end her introduction with the phrase "This is what a feminist looks like."

I figured she was joking, that not even N.O.W. leadership was that stupid.

I was wrong.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Go Auks!

by Tom Bozzo

It's a measure of how lousy the McCain campaign is that not turning in a Couric-level performance (but see) and instead pulling quasi-relevant talking points and zingers off of notecards is supposed to exceed expectations. Confidently-delivered blather is still blather. I don't know about you, the last two people who read this blog, but I'm not less terrified at the prospect that enough of the electorate might be hoodwinked into having Gov. Palin warm Dick Cheney's chair.

At the risk of exposing my Delawarean biases (full disclosure: I was in French I and II with Beau Biden back in high school), Sen. Biden demonstrated that he has such skills as "listening comprehension" that go beyond "nope, not gonna answer that." As Biden is a modern Democrat, those inclined to put the perfect ahead of the good might pick away at some votes even I'd wish Biden had cast another way (AUMF, bankruptcy bill), but the bottom line is that the Good Dems have been the party of good government and Biden was advocating policies that are liable to make the country a better place.

Plus, were there justice, this would blow the whole "maverick" business out of the sky.

By the way, it took me a while to put my finger on what Sarah Palin's debate performance reminded me of, but then it came to me...
I was brought up in a very small town, south of the Chicago city limits. Just far enough away to have been peopled with pure, unadulterated white trash.

And because I was one of so many children, I don't believe that anyone noticed when I blew town at 15 and ended up in San Francisco, California.

And it's at this point in my story that the dark clouds part because I met a certain Mr. Wiseman, who gave me a job in his shop.

And before long, he tapped me to do some small roles in some of his short films for more mature audiences.

And before long, I had landed, if you will, some leads and then I started to do some cameos.

Well, I was known for doing a certain thing that many of the other girls
wouldn't do.

Of course, I loved to sing, ever since I was a little girl.

And I learned to play the ukulele in one of my last films, Not So Tiny Tim.

And based on that, my world opened up because I was invited to join the re-formed New Main Street Singers.

And that's where I met my man, and before long I was the new Mrs. Bohner.

Ain't that something?

No video, alas, but Jane Lynch's sublime performance there had the essential feature that you need to slow down and listen to what's actually being said to appreciate the horror.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

One Heartbeat Away, My Friends.

by Tom Bozzo


Via Americablog.

By the way, having been a Delawarean second-grader during Joe Biden's first term, Palin's "second grade" line is one of the more bizarre political attacks by way of blatant lie in a season of increasingly bizarre political attacks by way of blatant lies. (Not to mention other things Palin doesn't know can come across as blatant lies, like not knowing that there's more to the print media than the Anchorage Daily News, a unitary Liberal Media Establishment, and Moose Hunter's Quarterly.) For better or worse, the Delawarean blatherer Palin would have been much more likely to have heard of as a curious grade-schooler would be one William V. "Bill" Roth, Jr., now a patron saint of the supply-side tax-cutting movement.

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