This weeks Economist has a terrific parody of pre-flight announcements:
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.
Through diligent effort, the Chicago Cubs have achieved something truly impressive. By losing to Pittsburgh yesterday, they exchanged places with the Pirates to gain the bottom rung on the ladder.
Loveable? Maybe. Losers? Demonstrably.
Forget the comedy, this has security implications:
An Air Canada pilot who left the flight deck to visit the washroom found himself locked out of the cockpit when he tried to return—forcing the crew to remove the door from its hinges.
For approximately 10 minutes, passengers described seeing the pilot bang on the door and communicating with the cockpit through an internal telephone, but being unable to open the cabin door.
Eventually, the crew forced the door open by taking the door off its hinges completely...
Gosh, that's nice to know. Comforting.
I suppose if the pilots noticed someone trying to take the door off the hinges, they could take corrective action easily, like inverting the plane or diving (which pretty much stops all movement in the cabin). But still, that seems like a little security issue, doesn't it? Sort of like having a debug mode on a login prompt?
As little Parker (Cutest. Puppy. Ever.) alternates between chewing his rawhide stick, a vegan snack my mom found, my laptop power cord, and my toes, I'm loading up on carbs for today's ride and reading the news. The Washington Post had a heartwarming story that made me almost as happy as Parker's second accident-free night with us:
Facing the most difficult political environment since they took control of Congress in 1994, Republicans begin the final two months of the midterm campaign in growing danger of losing the House while fighting to preserve at best a slim majority in the Senate, according to strategists and officials in both parties.
Over the summer, the political battlefield has expanded well beyond the roughly 20 GOP House seats originally thought to be vulnerable. Now some Republicans concede there may be almost twice as many districts from which Democrats could wrest the 15 additional seats they need to take control.
If you're at all unhappy with the war, the imminent collapse of the housing market, the enormous differences between how the rich are getting richer while everyone else isn't, or how the government is listening to your phone calls, and you happen to live in a Republican district, you can do something to change it when polls open in 64 days and 15 hours.
Everyone with a phone will get a tax refund this year:
Individuals will be eligible for a refund of the long-distance tax billed for any phone service—cell, fax, computer or land-line—in the 41-month period from Feb. 28, 2003, through July 31, 2006. Taxpayers can claim a maximum refund of $60 with no questions asked, meaning they don't have to produce copies of phone bills to get money back.
For the 2006 return, a person filing a return with one exemption can claim $30; two exemptions, $40; three exemptions, $50; and four or more exemptions, $60. The agency cited this example: A married couple filing a joint return with two dependent children, for a total of four exemptions, would be eligible for the maximum amount of $60. A line for the refund will appear in the 2006 federal tax return.
Apparently, the government has collected this tax since 1898. The Spanish-American War, for which this tax was imposed, has been paid for already.
First, I just put a major project to bed. It was my first time out doing litigation support, meaning I wrote software to crunch a whole bunch (= about a billion) of numbers for a law firm who represent a large (= about 350,000) class of plaintiffs. They got the results just now, so unless the defendant chooses not to settle and I get subpoenaed, I believe I'm done.
Second, at least one petty little man on the South Shore Line apparently doesn't "get" the whole idea of bikes on a train:
A day trip to South Bend ended up costing a Lincoln Park man $150 in cab fare after a South Shore Line crew member told him he would have to get his bicycle off the train.
What startled Alan Forester, 34, was that he had taken the South Shore Line to South Bend earlier in the day Sunday and no one said anything to him about his bike. Even more puzzling, he said he had followed the bicycle policy that he read on the railroad's Web site.
I had a similar problem about two years ago, when, after bonking on a very long ride, I attempted to board a Union Pacific North Line train at Highland Park, and got turned away by a conductor who thought my bungee cord was too short. (I think I may have told him at least I had a bungee cord, but we won't go there right now.)
The CTA largely gets it right. All CTA buses have bike racks. This means people can get out of their cars and save the environment by biking without worrying they'll be stranded because of weather or traffic. Why is Metra so opposed to the idea?
Letter to the Chicago Tribune:
The August 24th editorial on the Chicago City Council implies that the Council's
recent actions, including its enacting a ban on the sale of foie gras,
are paternalistic: the Council is "meddlin'," a "bossy governess," a
bunch of "scolds"; its decisions are "petty intrusions in people's
All of those words and phrases describe paternalistic actions; that
is, actions whose purpose is to save people from themselves. The foie
gras ban is intended to save geese from people. The distinction is
clear as day, yet opponents of the ban keep missing it.
—Guest blogger Anne
Bruce Schneier reminds everyone how we can really defeat the terrorists:
The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.
And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.
The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.
As channeled through American Prospect columnist Julian Sanchez:
August 11: My anger at The New York Times subsides somewhat as I skim Foucault and Sartre. Surveillance serves its disciplinary function only if the populace is conscious of it. And if Americans aren't wrenched from being-pour-soi to being-en-soi (at least in relation to an observer who is Other) by the objectifying gaze of the state—well, then the terrorists have won.