Author Archive | ralph

America Is Making Its Own Pilots Sick (Video)

F-22 RaptorDraw your own conclusions, but where active members of the military speak out, we all should be listening.

As reported by 60 Minutes:

Military officers rarely speak out against their services, but in our lead story you’ll hear from two elite pilots who question the safety of Air Force’s most sophisticated, stealthy, and expensive fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor. Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Joshua Wilson have chosen to stop flying the F-22 because they say during some flights they and other pilots have experienced oxygen deprivation, disorientation, and worse. They are concerned about their safety in the air, as well as the long-term health consequences. The Air Force says it is doing all it can to investigate and solve the problem, and are keeping the jets in the air with careful supervision of the pilots.

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Bill Hicks on Freedom of Speech

Site note: Problem with site, cached version here: Letter Of Note

American FlagThis is beautiful. Via Letters of Note:

In May of 1993, deeply offended by its “blasphemous” content, a priest wrote to Channel 4 and complained about the recent screening of “Revelations,” a recording of Bill Hicks‘s live show at London’s Dominion Theatre some months before (a show which, incidentally, can be seen in its entirety here).

Upon receiving said complaint, Channel 4 passed it on to Hicks himself. Hicks then responded to the priest directly with the following letter. It doesn’t disappoint:

8 June 1993

Dear Sir,

After reading your letter expressing your concerns regarding my special ‘Revelations’, I felt duty-bound to respond to you myself in hopes of clarifying my position on the points you brought up, and perhaps enlighten you as to who I really am.

Where I come from — America — there exists this wacky concept called ‘freedom of speech’, which many people feel is one of the paramount achievements in mankind’s mental development.

Read the rest

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The Real GSA Scandal: Playing Politics With Big Business

GSA VP Jeffrey Neely enjoying himself at the taxpayers' expense.

GSA VP Jeffrey Neely enjoying himself at the taxpayers' expense.

Elliott Rosenfeld writes in the Washington Post:

As more details about wasteful spending and outright fraudulent practices at the General Services Administration are emerging, it becomes clearer every day that there is a far deeper, government-wide contracting problem plaguing the nation.

News of the scandal broke two weeks ago, when GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned following the agency inspector general’s report claiming that more than $800,000 of federal spending on a GSA employee conference held in Las Vegas in 2010 was “excessive, wasteful, and in some cases, impermissible.”

Of particular concern to small-business advocates, the IG’s report found that the GSA allegedly awarded “a $58,000 contract to a large business in violation of small-business set-asides.”

This problem of large companies receiving federal contracts that are reserved by law for small businesses is a decades-old scandal of corrupt federal spending and undue corporate influence over politics.

Read the rest

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Young Mitt Romney Makes A Lot of Sense Talking About Politics and Partisanship (Video)

Mitt Romney’s parents were two moderate politicians who bucked the Republican establishment of the time, an idea that has been unthinkable to Mitt in his two presidential campaigns. Maybe it’s time to have a talk with your younger self, Mitt. Great find from Andrew Kaczynski on Buzzfeed:

Mitt Romney’s roots in politics run in his family. His father George served as the Governor of Michigan from 1963–1969 and later as HUD Secretary in the Nixon Administration. George Romney was a natural and charismatic politician, but the younger Romney perhaps better takes after his mother Lenore, who lacked her husband’s natural political gifts. Lenore Romney ran for Senate in 1970, and 23-year-old Mitt Romney campaigned during his summer vacation for his mom. Romney appeared in a video made for her campaign.

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Lean, Finely Textured Beef = Pink Slime (Video)

Pink Slime“Pink slime” is is a food additive consisting of animal by-products treated with ammonia gas to kill bacteria.

The treatment makes the by-products legally fit for human consumption.

The material is not approved for sale by itself (WHAT?!?), but is used to add to ground beef and other products.

Via the Daily Show:

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Why Couldn’t Congressman Bobby Rush Wear a Hoodie in Congress? (Video)

Bobby Rush HoodieThe ONLY person to beat Barack Obama in an election. Reports Peter Grier in Christian Science Monitor:

Hoodies on the House floor are verboten, apparently. Rep. Bobby Rush (D) of Illinois was scolded and escorted from the chamber of the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning, when he attempted to give a speech on the need for a full investigation of the Trayvon Martin shooting while wearing sunglasses and a gray hooded sweat shirt. “Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker,” said Representative Rush while doffing his suit jacket to reveal his hoodie garb. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.”

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What James Cameron Saw At The Deepest Spot on Earth (Video)

Mariana TrenchMore people have been to the Moon than to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Reports Steve Gorman on the Christian Science Monitor:

Returning from humankind’s first solo dive to the deepest spot in the ocean, filmmaker James Cameron said he saw no obvious signs of life that might inspire creatures in his next “Avatar” movie but was awestruck by the “complete isolation.” The Oscar-winning director and undersea explorer said his record-setting expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 7 miles beneath the surface of the western Pacific, not only capped seven years of painstaking preparation but was the “culmination of a lifelong dream.”

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Exploding H-Bombs In Space: Operation Starfish Prime

Starfish PrimeIt was hypothesized at the time, the radiation might provide a defensive shield above the U.S. against Soviet nukes, but aside from the light show, it ended up frying many of our satellites. The radiation took 10 years to dissipate, which made study of our natural radiation belts, the Van Allen belts, problematic during that period.

Wikipedia has a good article explaining the test and NPR has a good article and video about it from a few years ago:

Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will:

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The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs [Mike Daisey]: His Reaction To Critics

Mike DaiseyVia Mike Daisey’s blog for audio and transcript on The Atlantic :

Last night, at a long-scheduled appearance at Georgetown University, Mike Daisey gave his first public talk since the news broke last Friday that This American Life was retracting the now-infamous episode featuring his work. Daisey is a complicated and conflicted figure, and, it’s hard not to feel complicated and conflicted about him and about his work. His talk last night, which I’ve transcribed below as best I could, provides a new dimension to the story that is now at the center of a scandal.

This is my first scandal. (Laughter)

I haven’t had another one like it.

And, as they say, if you’re going to go, go big.

And so, I was on the train down here today, and I was keenly aware that I was coming down to talk about “Art and the Human Voice in the Global Labor Struggle,” and I was keenly aware of the situation that I have been embroiled in, that I embroiled myself in …

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