26 November, 2020

Tossing a Bird That Does Not Fly Out of a Plane


YELLVILLE, Ark.It is October in the Ozarks. The grass has dried out and the trees have bronzed and browned. Deer lie glaze-eyed in the back of camouflaged pickup trucks. High-school football helmets crack every Friday night. And seven days a week, workers in processing plants are helping to kill, gut, pluck, and truss turkeys for Thanksgiving tables around the country.

Here in Yellville this cold and rainy weekend, there are turkeys everywhere—turkey shirts and turkey costumes and turkey paraphernalia. There is a raffle giving away birds for Thanksgiving dinner. There’s a brisk trade in turkey legs, too, pulled out of a barrel smoker. At the bandstand, a judge announces the winner of the “Miss Drumsticks” contest, who gleams and sparkles in her pageant finery. “It’s Miss Drumsticks because they’re judging who has the best thighs,” an older woman explained to me, matter-of-fact.

But—and this is unusual, and much to the dismay and consternation of many locals—there are no live turkeys. None in a cage towed behind a pickup. None thrown from the courthouse roof. None pitched off the bandstand and picked up by screaming teenagers. And none dropped out of an airplane. That is what the Yellville Turkey Trot festival is famous and infamous for, you see: living, breathing, squawking birds getting lobbed out of a low-flying aircraft.

Fevercrumb1649 on the US Army Corps of Engineers


Their standards for quality are infamous, and many masonry companies in particular won't do government work for USACE because their bricklaying standards are essentially "perfection". They have an internal QC system that they, along with NAVFAC, have been refining for many decades, and it makes the quality control systems in the private sector look like an Eritrean infrastructure project. I generally quite enjoy working on USACE jobs precisely because I know that I will never be asked to cut corners for cost reasons- quite the opposite, in fact.

Further, USACE projects have costs higher than the private sector for a few reasons- Davis-Bacon wage standards apply, guaranteeing solid pay for all laborers and tradespeople on the project, as well as mandating they be lawful citizens. The Buy American Act ensures that government dollars go in a circle, from taxpayers, over to USACE, then out to exclusively US firms to the greatest extent possible. Government construction contracts are effectively a perpetual stimulus package, paying a higher price tag to ensure the work is done by well-paid citizens, using materials from as American of a supply chain as humanly possible.

24 November, 2020

The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal


“A lot of our leaders in this country ought to be ashamed of themselves,” said Thomas, the nonpartisan elections guru who kept Michigan’s governing class guessing his political affiliation for the past several decades. “They have propagated this narrative of massive fraud, and it’s simply not true. They’ve leapt from some human error to massive fraud. It’s like a leap to Never Neverland. And people are believing them.”

He exhaled with a disgusted groan.

“The people of this country really need to wake up and start thinking for themselves and looking for facts—not conspiracy theories being peddled by people who are supposed to be responsible leaders, but facts,” Thomas said. “If they’re not going to be responsible leaders, people need to seek out the truth for themselves. If people don’t do that—if they no longer trust how we elect the president of the United States—we’re going to be in real trouble.”

20 November, 2020

Funkyouup82 on COVID


 I am a CCU nurse who worked the covid floor of our hospital on and off for three months. I contracted the virus two weeks ago and yesterday discovered I have a pulmonary embolism. I'm 14 days in, struggling to breathe and struggling to stay alive. This is all anecdotal, I'm a nobody on the internet but I beg you please wear your mask, please follow the guidelines. For what it is worth i began to feel fine but yesterday morning had some chest pain and spiked a fever. My HR was in the 140s and I my O2 in the high 80s by the time the ambulance got me I had dropped to 77%. I felt like I was suffocating and was powerless. I'm in my 30s, I work out and have no comorbidities. I'm responding to meds but I had a 40 year old patient die a few weeks ago so I've seen first hand what can happen and now I'm living and potentially dying in my own hellish reality. Again, you don't have to believe me I'm a nobody on the internets and this comment will be lost but I beg you please do what's right. If you don't wear your mask, don't follow the guidelines you are the reason me and 11 million in this country are sick and why a quarter of a million are dead. I don't want to die. I'm alone and I just want to see my wife and kids. Im suffocating and I'm scared and it could have been prevented.

19 November, 2020

What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max?


The rush to lay blame was based in part on a poor understanding not just of the technicalities but also of Boeing’s commercial aviation culture. The Max’s creation took place in suburban Seattle among engineers and pilots of unquestionable if bland integrity, including supervising officials from the Federal Aviation Administration. Although Boeing’s designers were aware of timetables and competitive pressures, the mistakes they made were honest ones, or stupid ones, or maybe careless ones, but not a result of an intentional sacrifice of safety for gain. As always, there was a problem with like-mindedness and a reluctance by team players to stand out from the crowd. Even more pernicious was the F.A.A.’s longstanding delegation of regulatory authority to Boeing employees — a worry that is perennially available to chew on if you like and may indeed be related to the configuration of the troublesome system as it was installed. Nonetheless, in Seattle, at the level where such small choices are made, corruption, like cynicism, is rare.

That is not meant as a blanket defense of Boeing. On the corporate level, the company is the worst sort of player — a corrosive agent that spreads money around Washington, pushes exotic weapons on Congress, toys with nuclear annihilation, sells all sorts of lesser instruments of death to oppressive regimes around the world and dangerously distorts American society in the ways that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against in his prescient 1961 farewell address. But hardly any of that matters in the story of the 737 Max. What sent an expensive new Boeing into the ocean on that beautiful, bright morning in Indonesia? It is understandable to look for a simple answer. Laying the blame on a poorly implemented system, even a complex one, made the accident relatively easy to understand and also provided for a material solution: Simply fix the system. But the focus on a single shoddy component — as the news media and government regulators have rushed to do — has obscured the larger forces that ultimately made these accidents possible.

16 November, 2020

Why Obama Fears for Our Democracy


America as an experiment is genuinely important to the world not because of the accidents of history that made us the most powerful nation on Earth, but because America is the first real experiment in building a large, multiethnic, multicultural democracy. And we don’t know yet if that can hold. There haven’t been enough of them around for long enough to say for certain that it’s going to work.  


It’s interesting. You’re in high school and you see all the cliques and bullying and unfairness and superficiality, and you think, Once I’m grown up I won’t have to deal with that anymore. And then you get to the state legislature and you see all the nonsense and stupidity and pettiness. And then you get to Congress and then you get to the G20, and at each level you have this expectation that things are going to be more refined, more sophisticated, more thoughtful, rigorous, selfless, and it turns out it’s all still like high school. Human dynamics are surprisingly constant. They take different forms. It turns out that the same strengths people have—flaws and foibles that people have—run across cultures and are part of politics. This should be empowering for people. My ideal reader is some 25-year-old kid who is starting to be curious about the world and wants to do something that has some meaning. I want them to read this and say, “Okay, this is not all rocket science; this is something I could contribute to and make a difference in.”

15 November, 2020

‘No One Is Listening to Us’


 The entire state of Iowa is now out of staffed beds, Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease doctor at the University of Iowa, told me. Worse is coming. Iowa is accumulating more than 3,600 confirmed cases every day; relative to its population, that’s more than twice the rate Arizona experienced during its summer peak, “when their system was near collapse,” Perencevich said. With only lax policies in place, those cases will continue to rise. Hospitalizations lag behind cases by about two weeks; by Thanksgiving, today’s soaring cases will be overwhelming hospitals that already cannot cope. “The wave hasn’t even crashed down on us yet,” Perencevich said. “It keeps rising and rising, and we’re all running on fear. The health-care system in Iowa is going to collapse, no question.”

In the imminent future, patients will start to die because there simply aren’t enough people to care for them. Doctors and nurses will burn out. The most precious resource the U.S. health-care system has in the struggle against COVID-19 isn’t some miracle drug. It’s the expertise of its health-care workers—and they are exhausted.

Sex-Abuse Claims Against Boy Scouts Now Surpass 81,000


 More than 81,000 people have come forward with sex-abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America, describing a decades-long accumulation of assaults at the hands of scout leaders across the nation who had been trusted as role models.

The claims, which lawyers said far eclipsed the number of abuse accusations filed in Catholic Church cases, continued to mount ahead of a Monday deadline established in bankruptcy court in Delaware, where the Boy Scouts had sought refuge this year in a bid to survive.

Paul Mones, a lawyer who has been working on Boy Scouts cases for nearly two decades, said the prevalence of abuse detailed in the filings was breathtaking and might reflect only a fraction of victims.

“I knew there were a lot of cases,” Mr. Mones said. “I never contemplated it would be a number close to this.”

14 November, 2020

Before You Go


Fail. Make plenty of glorious mistakes. Learn from them and don’t harp on what could’ve been or might be. Failed attempts will make you more resilient, and resiliency is something you will need in abundance. You can only obtain resiliency from your experiences. So have them. Put yourself out there and experience all that life has to offer. Yes, you can certainly observe from the sidelines and learn from other people’s mistakes, as your Papa has often done, but you won’t necessarily get the same kind of deep-rooted resilience. True resilience is absent of callousness.

In addition to resilience, it is important to be elastic, disciplined, and discreet. Allow us to call it living in the REDD zone:

Resilience: when you get knocked down, get back up and keep moving forward

Elasticity: be flexible enough to bend but not break

Discipline: stay focused on the task at hand and steadfast in protecting your values and ethics

Discretion: make responsible choices, be trustworthy, don’t spread gossip, fake news, or conspiracy theories

12 November, 2020

Super-spreading wedding party demonstrates COVID-19 risk posed by holiday gatherings


If you want to know why public health officials are so nervous about how much worse the COVID-19 pandemic will get as the holiday season unfolds, consider what happened after a single, smallish wedding reception that took place this summer in rural Maine.

Only 55 people attended the Aug. 7 reception at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket. But one of those guests arrived with a coronavirus infection. Over the next 38 days, the virus spread to 176 other people. Seven of them died.

None of the victims who lost their lives had attended the party.

3D Map of COVID Cases by Population, March through November


08 November, 2020

Clyburn on slogans


CLYBURN: Well, Jake, you may remember, months ago, I came out very publicly and very forcibly against sloganeering.

I happen to also be -- you know, John Lewis and I were co -- were founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. John and I sat on the House floor and talked about that defund the police slogan, and both of us concluded that it had the possibilities of doing to the Black Lives Matter movement and current movements across the country what "Burn, baby, burn" did to us back in 1960.

We lost that movement over that slogan. And a lot of people don't realize it, but John Lewis walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in February 1965. A year later, we got the Voting Rights Act out of that, six months later. And it wasn't a year after that that John Lewis was ousted as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. And so we saw the same thing happening here.

So, I spoke about against the sloganeering. And I feel very strongly we can't pick up these things just because it makes a good headline. It sometimes destroys headway.

We need to work on what makes headway, rather than what makes headlines.

04 November, 2020

The belief that people who suffer will receive future virtuous rewards


A study published in the British journal of Social Psychology proposes that people expect suffering to result in a greater likelihood of attaining future rewards. This research was carried out by Dr. How Hwee Ong, Dr. Rob M. A. Nelissen and Dr. Ilja van Beest from the Department of Social Psychology at Tilburg University. 

There are two primary theories for why people believe that suffering in the present will lead to fortuitous rewards in the future. The first is known as the “just-world maintenance” explanation. This explanation states that individuals often believe that they’re living in a world where people get what they deserve. 

Thus, people who suffer unnecessarily will be compensated for the pain they’ve endured. In doing so, this will restore balance to a supposed just-world.

The alternative theory is known as the “virtuous suffering” explanation. This suggests that experiencing suffering can improve one’s moral character.