Airplane Pilot Suicide?

March 27, 2015

Holy mother of god… this changes everything.

If it’s true that the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight did in fact intentionally fly the plane into a mountain, then the world truly has gone amok.  Taking his solemn duty to fly 150 passengers to safety — but killing them all in cold blood.

This seems even one step beyond the lone gunman shooting up an elementary school.  The pilot has our trust — it’s an avoidable element of everyday life.  If not in airplanes, then on trains, buses…  Random drivers on the highway could go rogue and commit suicide by crashing into other drivers…  It’s so pedestrian, and so unavoidable, it’s truly eerie.  (Whereas the lone gunman scenario is more freakishly unreal — equally as damaging, of course, but less threatening to the social fabric as we know it.)

Will flying ever feel the same again?

Will there be copy-cat suicides of this nature?

How on earth do they evaluate pilots for this anyway?  I mean, do they have any reliable way of weeding out trainees who might do this?  They apparently only test pilots when they get hired, so it’s entirely possible that they go rogue later, too.

If the world is slowly going insane, then this is proof positive that we’re all in it together.  We can put giant tubes of metal up in the air and transport hundreds of people around the globe in them, but it’s all only as safe as the crazy m-f behind the wheel!

Oy vey!


Building a Winning Club in New York: A 1918 Interview with Colonel Jake Ruppert!

July 19, 2013


If you love or hate the Yankees or are generally interested in sports, you’ll genuinely like this.  John Thorn is one of the greatest, btw.  His blog is incredible.

There Ought To Be A Law…

April 3, 2013

…that requires the President of the United States to send his or her children to public school in the District of Columbia.   Any POTUS, not just Obama.  It’s scandalous that the leader of the country can’t abide his local public schools.  Don’t you think our public schools would get a hell of a lot better once our elected officials had to send their kids to them?  

I’d say the same for Congresspeople, by the way, with the option of keeping the family in their home state.  (Or maybe, they should just have to go to public school wherever they spend the majority of the school year.)

Of course, this might simply reduce the pool of interested candidates for elected office, but maybe that’s just as well…  If our public services aren’t good enough for you, should you really be their steward?  

For what it’s worth, my town — admittedly affluent, with excellent public schools — has a policy that allows all faculty to send their children to the district regardless of residence.  It sends a strong message, in my eyes, having teachers who actually WANT their kids to attend the schools in which they teach.  Related principle…

Inequality Today (it’s worse than you can even imagine):

March 26, 2013

Fact of the day, and a depressing one at that (from NYTimes):

“The average net worth of someone 29 to 37 has fallen 21 percent since 1983; the average net worth of someone 56 to 64 has more than doubled.”

Harvard to Feds: Pay Up!!!

March 19, 2013

Here it is, in black and white!  Some of the world’s richest universities just won a fight to protect the ‘overhead’ payments they cull from the federal research budget.  What’s more, the rich get richer!  

And I quote:

Harvard, for example, gets 69 percent in extra funding, among the highest in the nation and well above the national average of 52 percent.

“Harvard is taking the government to the cleaners,” said Richard Vedder,director of the Washington-based Center for College Affordability and an economics professor at Ohio University, a public college that receives overhead compensation at the rate of 48.5 percent.”

Here’s the full piece from the Boston Globe:

Memo: Q-2 Objectives: Innovation @ Yahoo

March 14, 2013

Memo: Q-2 Objectives — Innovation From: Marissa Mayer, CEO
To: All Yahoo Employees

Dear Collaborators,

Our new ‘Work-means-work!’ mandate is off to a propitious start! In addition to ‘bringing all our chickens home to Sunnyvale,’ we’re happy to announce a new set of politices designed to make your workday more collaborative, innovative, and F-U-N-fun!

The following new policies will be in effect as of tomorrow.

Great ideas happen in the hallways as much as the conference room. To that end:

  • All employees will now spend 3.5 minutes per hour at one of our conveniently

    located Water-based-collaboration-and-refreshment centers (WCFCs). Newcomers are invited to weekly training sessions in ‘Advanced Downton Abbey,’ fantasy football, and ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians.’

  • All Band-2 employees should report to HR to pick-up their new NERF supplies and Super-Soakers.
  • Our research shows that teams that ‘play’ together report 4% higher trust scores, leading to 7% greater innovation and idea-sharing. Thus, all food consumed on- site will now be prepared by you at our new D-I-Y kitchen. Our ‘Teaching Garden’ will also provide heart-healthy opportunities to relax and rejuvenate while growing your own food. As our formerly home-based employees tell us, there’s nothing like a meal you farmed, sourced, and prepared yourself!

    Many of our younger employees have expressed concerns about quality of life issues, and we wholeheartedly agree. Work is about much more than money, accomplishment, and the wonderful feeling you get from finishing a 120 hour work week with 1,000 of your closest pals. To that end, we are offering a number of new social opportunities here at Sunnyvale:

  • Mandatory a cappella choir practice will begin this Saturday at 10 PM. Bring your dancing shoes!
  • Our ‘Goo-goo-less’ childcare cooperative will now run 24/7 and be jointly staffed by the families of our little colleagues.
  • We are implementing a new Big Brother/Big Sister program whereby employees here in Sunnyvale will cyber-mentor orphan children specially selected by our Bangalore team. What a great opportunity to give something back to the global workforce!
  • All staff 5’7″ and above are invited to try-out for our Silicon Valley Basketball League team. We have a great chance to bring home this year’s iCup, since Zuckerberg blew out his ACL at Justin Timberlake’s birthday party. Our first game is this Friday against the formerly Groupon, now Atherton Wondernail n’ Wax, Giants.

Our first commitment at Yahoo is to having a horizontally-integrated workplace where EVERYONE feels able to speak out, collaborate, and work through the night.

  • Following some turnover in the C-suites, our CFO will now be referred to as ‘Chief Fraternization Officer.’ CMO will be ‘Chief Meet-n-Greet Obligatizer,’ and COO, ‘Chief Outing Optimizer.’ All vice-presidents will henceforth be referred to by one of two designations: ‘Very Popular’ and ‘Very Personable.’
  • I will now proudly serve as Yahoo’s ‘Chief Enthusiasm Officer!’
  • Because we at Yahoo put such a premium on openness, we are removing all walls

    and doors from our Sunnyvale offices. ‘Modesty robes’ will be available in the washrooms for those too egocentric to ‘bear it all.’

    We recognize that workplace health and safety are vital to ‘inno-vention.’ Henceforth:

  • All collaborative work will take place either in walking meetings or on one of our

    new 7-person circular ‘Conference Bikes.’

  • All office furniture is being replaced with beanbag chairs and treadmill-desks.
  • In order to further facilitate collaboration and fitness, all computer keyboards will

    now be shared by two-person teams. Operation of the left and right sides of the keyboard will alternate every fifteen minutes so as to keep those achey muscles and tendons nice and limber.

    Last but far from least, a diverse, family-friendly workplace is one of our top priorities. To that end:

  • To save employees’ time and money on wasteful commuting, we’re offering special onsite accommodations for those employees who’d rather have their families come to them. Special weekend activities will include Vacuum-Tag, Fun with Mops & Pushbrooms, and Monitor-cleaning Races. Fun for the whole family!
  • We’re also souping up our nap rooms to double as suites for those ‘conjugal visits’ you’ve been clamoring for!
  • All maternity leaves will now be replaced by daily at-your-desk visits from one of our in-house lactation consultants.
  • All female employees will receive two free (!) copies of Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In.’
  • Our new Having-It-All Club for Women will meet Fridays at 9PM in the nursery next to my office.

    It is of the utmost importance to provide you a warm, happy, nurturing workplace. I am pleased to be offering these new policies — they are sure to liven up your work week.

    Hugs! Marissa

ps. If you see me and baby Macallister around the office, please be sure to get the all- clear from my nanny, then wash and dry your hands and say hello! I look forward to ‘rubbing elbows’ with each and every one of you.


March 6, 2013

Sequester That…

February 26, 2013

I last wrote about the pending ‘sequester’ and what a terrible idea it is for the American people…  Today, one silver lining, or a scary fact about government spending you probably didn’t know:

Federal support for scientific research goes a huge way toward funding today’s mega-universities, colleges, and medical schools.  That funding supports all sorts of good things — pure and applied science.  What few realize, however, is that the schools themselves receive a ‘top-off’ or premium on every dollar of federal research aid they receive.  

In other words, a scientist who receives $100,000 for her research actually brings something on the order of $160,000 to her university.  The extra money is ostensibly allocated to keep the lights on, pay the janitors, etc… all the stuff those same schools say they pay for with tuition.  Universities call these ‘indirect costs,’ though they’re really just hidden subsidies from government to tax-exempt non-profit corporations.  (And that’s not even touching the fact that megaliths like Harvard U. pay nothing in corporate taxes — despite making billions in tuition, donations, and federal grants.)

My point is not to knock science but to question some of the high-handed preaching university presidents are doing about the dangers of the sequester…  Sure, it hurts they’re bottom line.  Why don’t they try being honest about what that bottom line really represents.  You and I are not only paying for cutting edge scientific research — we’re subsidizing their university’s maintenance costs, payroll, fancy new gymnasia, etc…  Remember that next time you watch an NCAA game.  

Tuition-paying students and parents should be truly outraged.  For once, the GOP has reason to question the bill for federal research.  If a grant isn’t really a grant but funding-plus-indirect-costs, we should question what the funding is for in the first place.  You’d really turn off the lights on that federally-funded researcher???  I’m talking to you, over-paid university president…

Sequester This…

February 22, 2013

In not much more than a week, the American economy will go (back) down the tubes…  I fault the GOP chiefly, but I have to say that Obama should have seen it coming when he relented on the Jan 1st deadline.  That was his window to make a grand bargain.  Now, the GOP is calling his bluff.  It’s going to hurt the GOP some, but since their chief worry is their tea-bagger constituents, they’ll live to fight another day.  The Obama administration, meanwhile, will flounder while recession kicks back in and takes us all down with it.

Admittedly, the GOP has at least one legitimate grievance:  Obama already got his tax hike — back in January.  How in the world did he think he’d get to dip into that pool twice???  I favor tax hikes, but he’s simply being unrealistic.  He bet his chips and underplayed his hand.

Instead of a tax hike, Obama should now consider means-testing Medicare and Social Security.  No one would argue that rich old people need those benefits (even tho they helped pay for them, as they’ll whine all the way to the grave).  I should know — my dad is one of those people.  He hates gov’t and taxes, but does he gladly cash those SSI checks and covet his low-cost Medicare?  You better believe it.  He doesn’t need either, and the savings would be tremendous.  Moreover, the GOP wouldn’t be able to whine about tax hikes, since they, too, want to scale back entitlements.  Obama should get Paul Ryan on the phone right now and join forces in an ambush of Congress.

The other thing that should be done is a HUGE cutback on defense spending.  This is the one silver-lining to the sequester:  we’ll see dramatic cutbacks without the sky falling.  Defense contractors are the welfare-queens of the modern era.  (Only bested by big-agriculture, who would also lose their subsidies in an ideal world.)  Defense Secretary Panetta is being a tool for arguing otherwise.  We should peg our defense spending to, say, the equivalent of the total of the next 5 top military spending countries — think that sounds ludicrous?  We currently outspend the top 14.  Per capita, only the United Arab Emirates spend more.  Israel, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia are distant followers.

Yes, defense spending creates jobs — which is why it’s so odd to hear the GOP says gov’t NEVER creates jobs (see: Marco Rubio, State of the Union response).  The question is: what kinds of jobs and benefits do we want to produce with gov’t spending?  Schools and infrastructure, or tanks and nuclear submarines???

One thing’s for sure:  it’s not going to be pretty.  As Krugman says in today’s Times, the sequester slashes government spending without actually addressing the real drivers of gov’t debt — health care and old-age pensions.  Oy gevalt.

Dog days…

February 17, 2013

Sadly, we had an ‘incident’ today between our dog and our 7-year old.  The boy got in the dog’s face, and the dog snapped back, resulting in the mom feeling uneasy having the dog around the baby. 

If you or anyone you know would be interested in adopting said dog — she’s a lovely mutt, about 9-years old, very loyal but a bit skittish around other dogs — please be in touch.  We love her so much; we very badly want to find her a decent home.