Archive for July 11th, 2009

Obama lucky to be alive

And he has skilled pilots to thank for his survival:

Skillful piloting may have prevented a disaster for President Obama and his campaign last summer, a former federal safety official said Friday.

A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board indicates an inflated slide may have pressed against critical control cables, forcing the emergency landing of Obama’s campaign plane on July 7, 2008.

The slide inflated inside the tail cone of the campaign’s McDonnell Douglas MD-81 shortly after takeoff from Chicago’s Midway International Airport, the report said.

Investigators found evidence that the slide and a broken walkway railing inside the tail cone may have pressed against elevator cables that run the length of the plane. The cables are used to control whether the plane points up or down.

The plane’s flight crew struggled to level the aircraft’s nose, which continued to point upward after takeoff, but regained control by manipulating the control column and adjusting the trim on the plane’s tail, the report said. However, the flight crew noted the pitch control pressure required to level the airplane was higher than normal, the report said.

Former NTSB member John Goglia said the problem, had it continued, had the potential to cause a stall “at a critical point in flight.”

“It did have the potential of causing a catastrophic event,” Goglia said.
At the time of the incident, the pilot told passengers they were never in danger, and the Federal Aviation Administration said no emergency had been declared.

However, audiotapes released about a month later showed that after the pilot discovered he no longer had full control of the plane, he told an air traffic controller: “At this time we would like to declare an emergency, and also have CFR (crash equipment) standing by in St. Louis.”

Asked which runway he wanted to use, the pilot replied, “Well, which one is the longest?”

When you consider how long the average lifespan of a commercial aeroplane is compared to a consumer motor vehicle, and the fact that aeroplanes have a considerably larger chance of disaster should something go wrong (based on speed and height of travel, plus the higher number of people on board), it is absolutely amazing the amount of skill from pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers etc which goes in to generally keeping us all safe, and averting disaster when things do go wrong.

It’s just unfortunate that it takes somebody of a high profile to be involved in a close call for us to recognise the skill involved, and in this particular case, the considerable ability to stay calm under pressure, as the joking of the pilots proves.


July 11th, 2009 at 04:43pm

Revenge of the phone book deliverers

It’s taken a few years, but the people who deliver the phone books in my area have finally had their revenge.

A few years ago I complained about the standard of dress employed by people delivering the phone books, and noted that it was nice to see fully-clothed people delivering phone books for a change, as in previous years I had been annoyed by semi-naked phone book deliverers.

This year in my area, the phone books were due to be replaced by April, however none have arrived as yet, and we’re already in to July. I can only assume that word of my disgust has finally reached the phone book deliverers, and they decided to get even.

The good news for me is that they failed to get even. There is an apartment block a couple blocks away which did receive their phone books earlier this year, in large piles dumped underneath their mailboxes. I noticed this a few months ago on one of my 3am walks, and have been keeping an eye on the piles since then. It has amused me that very few of the phone books have been picked up by the residents of the apartment block…I suppose that people in this apartment block are quite happy to rely on electronic telephone directories.

Anyway, I decided last night to relieve them of one of these sets of phone books as, after three months, I think it’s safe to say that the people of the apartment block aren’t going to need them.

So, if word of their failed revenge takes as long to reach the phone book deliverers, as did word of my disgust at their standard of dress, then I look forward to seeing what revenge they come up with in the year 2012.


July 11th, 2009 at 02:26pm

G8 Climate Deal

Kevin Rudd has signed on the dotted line on behalf of Australia, despite the fact that Australia is not a part of the G8.

AUSTRALIA has signed off on a global deal to restrain global warming to two degrees which could mean Australia must do more to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Errr, no. Greenhouse gas emission continue to skyrocket, but temperatures haven’t risen for about a decade, in fact they seem to be going down.

Anyway, the science of it (which Kevin Rudd and his “G8 and then a few” buddies clearly don’t understand) to one side, if they’re serious about this, it’s a serious worry.

Australian climate expert Will Steffen says limiting warming to two degrees means a global atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases of not more than 450 parts per million.

And for the world to reach that, Australia must cut emissions by 25 per cent by 2020, and by 80 per cent by 2050, he says.
Australia has promised to cut emissions by 5 to 25 per cent by 2020, and by 60 per cent by 2050.

The existing (albeit thankfully unpassed by parliament) targets are damaging enough. If they go ahead with the greater cuts, we might as well all pack up and go to a country with a sane government, and take our money with us. In fact, it looks like that’s what Kevin Rudd wants us to do:

Mr Rudd said international progress on climate change at talks in Italy represented “modest” but significant steps.

Meanwhile Mr. Rudd is using the hot air of non-binding agreements to try and ram through his Emission Trading Scheme.

The G8 had provided strong support to emissions trading schemes as a good way to reduce emissions, Mr Rudd said, adding the federal opposition should take note of this and pass the government’s scheme.

The forum aimed at making progress ahead of key UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December, which is due to ink a new climate pact.

But a stray microphone has caught Mr. Rudd out. It turns out that he doesn’t believe Copenhagen will be any more than a bunch of people ranting at each other:

“Right now I don’t think we are on track to get an agreement at Copenhagen,” Mr Rudd told [Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen]. “There are too many problems.”

It looks like I won’t need to lose any sleep over the economic consequences of the “G8 and then some” communiqué after all.


July 11th, 2009 at 11:17am

Too drunk to drive? Get your kid to drive you home…

…and then get arrested for your alleged trouble.

Metro has arrested a local father for letting his eleven year old son drive after he had too much to drink. The man and his son were stopped near Boulder Hwy and Twain. The man was arrested for suspicion of DUI and child endangerment and the child was released to a relative.

I’m struggling to work out whose driving would have been more dangerous. Over to the the courts to sort that one out now.


July 11th, 2009 at 10:50am

Moratorium Lifted

My moratorium on mentioning things which are related specifically to the Capital Radio Network has been lifted for the weekend, for reasons which will become apparent shortly.

I’m glad that it has been lifted, because there are two voice on 2CC this morning that I quite like hearing on the radio. Newsreader Jane Turner who is normally heard on weekdays, and Southern Cross Ten’s presenter on the State Focus program, and former regular presenter on 2CC, Mike Frame. Two voices that I haven’t heard on the same day for a very long time…too long in fact.

A very nice surprise for a Saturday morning.


July 11th, 2009 at 10:21am

Jerry Seinfeld’s ad not a complete secret

By now you have probably heard that Jerry Seinfeld has filmed an ad for the Greater Building Society of Newcastle (which, I should note, has many branches across New South Wales and Queensland), only the third business for which Seinfeld has ever done an ad, the others being Microsoft and American Express.

Well, this just isn’t the sort of thing you can keep under wraps, especially when you film in on the streets of New York. Back on the 11th of May, YouTube user Jchief117 noted that “Jerry Seinfeld was in Cedahurst, NY filming a 30 second commercial for Greater, a bank in Australia” and recorded two videos to prove it:

And yet it still takes a press release two months later for the media to notice.

If The Greater Building Society were an American company, the gossip magazines and tabloids would have been all over this on May 12.


July 11th, 2009 at 02:47am

This would be a killer punch in any assault against the US military

And no surprises lay in the fact that it comes from within the US Government.

A proposed ban, on both the sale to, and smoking of, tobacco for military personnel. A move which could easily see a third, possibly more, of the military quit.

Pentagon health experts are urging Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ban the use of tobacco by troops and end its sale on military property, a change that could dramatically alter a culture intertwined with smoking.

Jack Smith, head of the Pentagon’s office of clinical and program policy, says he will recommend that Gates adopt proposals by a federal study that cites rising tobacco use and higher costs for the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs as reasons for the ban.

The study by the Institute of Medicine, requested by the VA and Pentagon, calls for a phased-in ban over a period of years, perhaps up to 20. “We’ll certainly be taking that recommendation forward,” Smith says.

And worryingly it’s not just a lone voice supporting this.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the department supports a smoke-free military “and believes it is achievable.” She declined to elaborate on any possible ban.

Unless such a ban were to be extended to all US citizens, I really don’t see how it is legally workable. Tobacco, as a legal product, is a choice. Military personnel aren’t prohibited from drinking, so why should they be prohibited from smoking?

And how would the US military cope if a third of its staff were to quit?

One in three servicemembers use tobacco, the report says, compared with one in five adult Americans. The heaviest smokers are soldiers and Marines, who have done most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the study says. About 37% of soldiers use tobacco and 36% of Marines. Combat veterans are 50% more likely to use tobacco than troops who haven’t seen combat.

It’s simple…it wouldn’t.

I’m not denying that there are health risks and associated health costs, related to smoking. But banning smoking won’t stop the smoking, it will just prompt the addicted to quit so that they can continue to smoke…and amongst the public, especially those sympathetic to the military, it will be seen as an assault on the military by the government…an incredibly unpatriotic thing to do, and not something any sane president would do while sitting on a “-7” approval rating.

Expect this report to be buried, and for the government’s propaganda machine to pump out a distraction quick smart. Aren’t they lucky that it’s Government Motors’ first day out of bankruptcy? And Obama is visiting the Pope? A perfect day to bury such a report.


July 11th, 2009 at 12:29am


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