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Flight: A pilots view of the air… April 30, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Reading Mark Vanhoenacker’s Skyfaring, a point was made that I think resonates. When we fly we – that is passengers, tend to see out the windows on the side motion of travel, not forward. And that’s largely unlike other modes of transport. Even trains curve ahead, and the windows are large enough to get a sense both of forward motion and the direction of travel. Van…. thinks that may add to the nervousness some experience in those situations, that it may add to the sense of a loss of control. But it’s not just control.

There are sights that pilots see every day that are denied to passengers due to this. So I went looking for cockpit views from aircraft that give some sense of this. I think the first YouTube clip here is perhaps the best, showing the journey from terminal to runway and then on to the take off roll and then on up into the sky before, well, wait for it. The last few minutes are worth, as it were, the price of admission.

The second is sort of breath-taking in a somewhat different way and only works as it should on my computer in Firefox, not Safari.

The third and fourth are from Dublin, the latter has some fabulous cloudscapes.

But it’s also fascinating from a technical point of view, the sense of this as a mature technology, the fourth clip which shows the Decide call where the landing has to be gone through with or aborted is fascinating. Note the runway is still fog bound as the jet decelerates along its length.

The last clip shows a takeoff from Belfast from the passenger viewpoint and I think underlines how limited, in a way, our visual experience of flying is in that context. But still amazing nonetheless. Of particular interest is remarkable technology, the wing, as it changes shape and profile before, during and after take-off. Though listen to the announcement c. 5 minutes for more prosaic aspects of the experience.

The days of passengers being ushered up to the cockpit during flights are now long gone, I almost had that experience on a flight across the Atlantic in 2000, not sure what happened. I’m sorry I missed it.

BTW, reading Fly by Wire by William Langewiesche, and very interesting it is too. And very cynical. It’s more an extended magazine piece but none the worse for it.

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The Book of Alien April 30, 2016

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Mentioned Alien a few weeks back and here is a book that, if you’re interested in the topic, is well worth getting your hands on. Written by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross – the first edition was published in 1979, it is a large format paperback which includes photographs, illustrations and articles on the film.

A friend of mine had it and I recall whiling away hours in the Summer of 1979 poring over the Chris Foss, Ron Cobb and Giger and Moebius illustrations. I was particularly taken by those of Foss the page below shows some of his work – the idea of a spaceship that could land with ship like deck balconies as seen in the drawing was particularly attractive to me for some reason.

There’s lots on the alien itself and also the model work used in the film. And there’s an odd sense of potential alternative Aliens, films that were never shot that would have been led primarily by the work of Foss or Moebius. As I said in the previous post I find the world conjured up primarily Giger and Cobb to be a wonder, I’ve no doubt that Foss and Moebius would have done likewise. And in any event their fingerprints are all over the finished film as it stands.

A deeply unfair analysis of the anti-bin tax campaign April 30, 2016

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Check out the Irish Times today for what has to one of the most unfair analyses I’ve read in a while. Which is saying something. In the course of taking a few pot-shots at PBP-AAA and ‘street politics’ (tremble you citizens at their collective six TDs for instilling bourgeois fear is the name of the game here) Colm Keena offers this:

One of the biggest people power movements in recent times was the campaign against paying for having rubbish collected. For many in the PBP-AAA camp, that campaign against bin charges was the launchpad for their public careers, and a model for the way forward. Yet there are obvious problems with viewing the anti-bin tax campaign as a success. First, and most obviously, bin charges were introduced. That decision wasn’t taken by Boyd Barrett or Smith and their PBP-AAA colleagues, but the first step surely in measuring the success or otherwise of a campaign of resistance is to ask if it achieved its stated objective.

And:

But the anti-bin tax campaign was worse than just a failure. What had been a service delivered by local councils eventually became a service delivered by private waste disposal businesses, in competition with each other, some of them owned by way of offshore corporate structures. The bin charges campaign contributed to the local councils’ enthusiasm for exiting the waster collection business.

While:

Work that had been done by men who had permanent, reasonably well-paid jobs, public service pensions and good employment conditions became the work of people whose pay and conditions are markedly different, and for the worse.

Whereas:

Permanent jobs, with pensions; the kind of jobs a working class man could get and hold for his entire life, and use to support a family, have being replaced by lower-paid, increasingly casualised work, where there is little by way of contract between employee and employer other than a direct sale of labour, for the lowest price the market will bear.

Of course:

Again that’s not the fault of the PBP-AAA but it is a wonder that the members of the movement don’t occasionally pause and fret over how the waste charges issue has played out. Did the campaign against paying the charge feed into, or facilitate, the decision to privatise the service? Did what was nominally a campaign on behalf of the working class, have the net effect that rubbish that was formerly collected by men with good working conditions, is now collected by men with enormously reduced working conditions? Is there not something to be learned from this?

Hold on. The reduced conditions weren’t a function of protests. The push to privatisation wasn’t a result of councils seeing protestors and saying ‘hey! We’re out of here’. Anything but. It was precisely this outcome that protestors were protesting against. And to pretend otherwise is to play it fast and loose with the truth. One doesn’t have to be partisan in any sense to PBP-AAA or agree with their approaches to feel this is both inaccurate and unfair.

And of course Keena doesn’t bother to do anything other than treat them as an undifferentiated whole. The anti-bin tax campaigns were the result of many different groups coming together including the SP etc long long before PBP-AAA was a glint in anyone’s eye. But this isn’t really about anti-bin tax campaigns or who participated, or the tactics or strategies of same but about ultimately criticising citizens of this state for their temerity in electing who they damn well want to the Oireachtas.

The issue here is not the extent or otherwise to which the water charges debacle is the product of the so-called hard left, as against the other actors involved. Rather the water issue is illuminating because it fits with an international trend.

Risibly he continues:

From bank bailouts, to stagnating wages, to failed states on Europe’s borders, the Western world’s economic system is under serious pressures, the causes of which are numerous and the subject of endless debate. One thing is clear however; the solutions are neither easy nor obvious.

Now apply that to the policy of hiving off provision of waste services in the cities. The solution was clear. Retain them in situ as effectively state services. Yet FF and PD thought otherwise (no doubt agreed with by FG). This had literally nothing to do with those who opposed privatisation. Yet for Keena:

The difficulty the system is having in coming up with solutions is surely the explanation for the political “success” of Donald Trump, the Brexit campaign, the Front Nationale, the right-wing Freedom Party in Austria, and, closer to home, the independents, the PBP-AAA, and even Sinn Féin, with its scandalously positive attitude towards the illegal and violent activities of its recent past.

No. Political decisions were taken that shifted in a rightward direction. They were implemented in the teeth of protest. They became the status quo. That’s it pretty much. There’s no broader lesson to be learned unless he believes that activism against such decisions is in and of itself illegitimate. And he might reflect on the thought that the corollary of what he argues is that if these privatisations hadn’t occurred then there wouldn’t be PBP-AAA, SF etc TDs in the Dáil today. Is that what he’s seriously saying?

Or, as the logic of his argument would appear to suggest, that citizens should vote for parties who – in relation to bin taxes – held policies he seems on the one hand to say were wrong and worth protesting about, but… er… not by those who protested against them? Which means FF, FG, et al who supported such taxes must be voted for whatever their policies?

He concludes:

It is easy to foresee a future in the West where there will be widely differing degrees of success among nations in dealing with the pressures that exist. The levels of dysfunction that may or may develop within any particular country or community (with inequality being one measure of dysfunction), will be dictated by the quality of the decisions made when addressing the problems that have to be confronted.
From Ireland’s point of view, the key player is the Oireachtas. Electing people to the Oireachtas so they can protest, rather than govern, is another protest we’ll all pay dearly for.

I guess I could argue that Keena seems unable to understand that this is what it is like in polities dominated by the right – where the alternatives offered to people ultimately devolve to different flavours of that right. Policies made by that right are implemented in whole or part because they can be because there’s sufficient support for the parties that champion them. To blame those who oppose them however effectively or otherwise is to wilfully misunderstand and misinterpret the power dynamics at work.

 

BTW, Labour has come out with this line in the past too. Expedient but again incorrect.

This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… some songs. April 30, 2016

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It is early Summer, isn’t it? Sure, it’s snowed and hailed and frozen this week. But it’s kind of the Summer. Almost. Anyhow with that in mind here’s a bunch of tracks in no particular order and from recently and not so recently that I’ve been listening to.

Go! – Mai Lan and M83

As they push ever more urgently towards 80s revivalism (guitar solo courtesy of Steve Vai FFS) here’s exhibit A from their most recent album released this month or last or sometime c. 1986.

Hot for Nietzsche – Turbonegro

A single from last year that somehow I missed. This, with the immortal line “If this weekend doesn’t kill me… it can only make me stronger” providing the missing link between philosophy and death punk. Should one be needed.

No No No – Dan White

Techno.

kresy – Miles in the Galaxy

From a few years back I think. Techno house or is it house techno?

Aziol – Trux

New and IDMish.

Out of Control – Lush

A real return from Lush. A new EP, gigs. And a more meditative approach that links neatly with their earliest EPs.

Sugar Town – Nancy Sinatra

And more from Ms. Sinatra soon too – this is a pop classic, surely?

Amanda Ruth – Rank and File

From 1982 or so, one of the original progenitors of cowpunk.

Ball of Confusion – Monster Magnet

A cover of the classic which brings out the… er…spacerock side of the song.

100% or Nothing – Primal Scream with Haim

Great song, album is okay.

Dance the Night – The Cult

The album is a mixed thing but this track is pretty good.

Songwriters on the Run – Robert Forster

He plays Ireland in the next month or so.

Not a marriage, not quite cohabiting, and we’ve three years of this? April 29, 2016

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Looks like they’ve agreed to… three years of FF support for an FG minority government. How is this going to work, how long is it going to last? And is that sound in the background that of hands being rubbed with glee as the opposition sizes up the position of FF having to stand over government decisions and FG implementing them? Small wonder FG wants some of the Independents inside the tent.

Street names and other matters in West Cork April 29, 2016

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Street names, West Cork, Jim Lane and more from Archon of the Southern Star. Many thanks to the person who forwarded it.

STREET names can politically define a place. Pearse Street in Clonakilty, for instance, forms part of the West Cork historical memory and is a statement of identity and of pride in a shared past.
Generally speaking, when streets are renamed to commemorate major political events, such as the 1916 Rising, the purpose is to instil a sense of national dignity and self-respect; however, occasionally there’s a downside that can provoke ideological opposition.
Here’s an example. Although the Real Capital has street names that celebrate Britain’s imperial past – that of the Marlboroughs, the Georges, the Alberts and the Victorias – the City Fathers always have been reluctant to change the names of such streets in order to commemorate our own patriots.
It’s a scenario that perplexes educationalist and historian, Charles Hayes. At a recent 1916 ceremony in Farsid, East Cork, he made his opinions known. Mr Hayes commented in his oration that ‘we have a Marlboro’ Street to honour a British Grandee, but we have no Pearse Street.
We have George’s Quay, named after an English king, but we have no quay or city centre street named after James Connolly.
‘We have a Princes Street, but no MacDonagh Street. There is not a single city-centre street in so-called Rebel Cork that is named after any signatory of the 1916 Proclamation.
‘Neither is there any standing monument in the city centre that is dedicated to an Irish patriot of the 1916-1923 era. General Tom Barry, for instance, lived for many years in an apartment overlooking the little square where Patrick Street swings into the Grand Parade. But this square is called Daunt Square.
‘It is not named after the great patriot who lived there, as it would be in any liberated, self-respecting country, and it is more than time for this situation to be rectified,’ he said.

Republican historian Jim Lane points out that one has to go back to the dark days of World War II for any sustained effort at replacing existing street names with those of the 1916 Proclamation signatories.
In May 1945, the Lord Mayor of the time, Seán Cronin, and members of several nationalist groups decided to alter the situation whereby Cork city was devoid of ‘even the meanest tribute to the memory of the seven signatories.’
In conjunction with a group called the ‘Street Names Sub-Committee,’ he drew up a list of street names to be changed, along with the names of Irish heroes he wanted as substitutions.
But he hit a brick wall. Whenever the Mayor and his group asked the Corporation to abandon ‘a shameful state of affairs that guaranteed the survival of anti-Irish symbols,’ certain cliques surfaced in the city to ensure that the old, imperial monikers were preserved for ‘historical reasons.’
Which intensely annoyed the First Citizen and his republican group! So they organised a parade through the streets of Cork, stopping at key locations to erect new nationalist street signs that they said would impact on the nationalist consciousness of Leesiders. Lord Mayor Cronin was convinced that in the decolonising environment of the time the new street names would help perpetuate the memory of Irish historical figures.
Thus the Grand Parade became Connolly Street, and a new street-sign was erected.
The large crowd then moved onto the South Mall, which was formally converted to Pearse Street; Princes Street became Clarke Street; Marlboro’ Street MacDermott Street; Winthrop Street Plunkett Avenue and so on to other streets, where changes also were made.

Nationalist Cork was jubilant but, sadly, the patriotic nomenclature lasted a mere day and a half! Infuriated traders and their legal eagles demanded that City Manager, Philip Monahan, immediately remove the new signs. They argued that the original names could not be unilaterally altered without the support of two-thirds of the ratepayers on the street.
Mr Monahan quickly acceded to the request, apparently influenced also by a secondary argument: that the business community would be out of pocket if it had to change the addresses on stationery, lorries and vans!
The new street-signs were taken down amid vociferous criticism from nationalist-minded Cork. Five weeks later, the City Manager held a plebiscite in order to establish if, in fact, a majority of ratepayers was in favour of a name change.
It turned out that Rebel Cork, as represented by its business leaders, didn’t give a hoot about the 1916 heroes! And matters have remained that way to the present day.

Now, whatever about Leeside forelock tugging, a town once perceived as a hotbed of Southern Loyalism did things differently – and in a more civic spirited fashion. In Bandon, as with 1940s Cork, members of the public asked that patriotic names be assigned to many of the town’s ancient streets.
As a result Devonshire Square became Allen Square after one of the Manchester Martyrs.
Warner Lane was turned into Casement Road, Boyle Street (originally named after the Boyle family who were Earls of Cork) was renamed Connolly Street, Burlington Quay became McSweeney Quay, and Castle Street changed to Pearse Street. There were others but, curiously, Fluke Hole Lane remained as it was!
Clonakilty also changed. Over the years Sovereign Street became Pearse Street, George’s Street became Connolly Street, Oliver Street Casement Street, School Street O’Rahilly Street, and Bank Street became Kent Street.
But, as for Skibbereen, well, not much remembering of revolutionary times went on in that noble municipality – at least in relation to street names. Indeed should any ghost of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy come trotting through the town he’d have no trouble ascertaining his whereabouts.
In Skibbereen, no serious street renaming took place in response to major political activities.
Townsend Street remained the same, as did High Street, Bridge Street, Main Street, Ilen Street and Market Street. Indeed our traveller from the past would enjoy a warm sense of recognition and belonging in Skibbereen, a town that took a utilitarian approach to the official version of history and of street names!

Certainly a Civic Guard from the old days would have endorsed the Skibbereen approach.
The story goes that a certain Leeside policeman was called to an incident in Marlboro’ Street, Cork, where he was confronted by a dead horse that had been pulling a dray full of Suttons’ coal. Taking out his pencil, he proceeded to record the details in his notebook.
‘And the name of the street?’ he asked.
‘Marlboro’ Street, Guard,’ came the reply,
‘Marl…Marl…bo…bor….’ he spluttered with his pencil raised in the air, repeating the words until the linguistic difficulty of spelling ‘Marlboro’ beat him.
Then, a little embarrassed, he turned to some men in the crowd and whispered: ‘Listen, lads, would ye ever do me a favour?
Pull that shaggin’ horse into Cook Street, will ya!’

Basic Income April 29, 2016

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I’ve noted before that I’m not hugely fond of Freakonomics. But every once in a while I’ll listen to the podcast and every so often there’ll be something interesting. For example, in the course of a broadly positive overview of basic income schemes recently – and noting that many economists are coming around to it due to certain trends in employment and so on the following point was made that far from BI schemes weakening research and development ‘some of the great cultural break throughs (in the 19th century) were made by people who did not work’. Scions of the aristocracy, those who had their own guaranteed incomes from the ever expanding capitalism and whoever. And it’s worth noting that for certain sections in society – those just mentioned basic income, and indeed more than basic income, was a part and parcel of the social (and economic) existence.

Of course BI’s are far from being the concern of the left. Milton Friedman was a fan (though IIRC he also agreed with universal healthcare). And one entrepreneur was open that it was an almost libertarian approach (of sorts). But… the sort of pressures that are coming it is difficult not to think that some fairly radical ideas are going to get practical outings sooner rather than later.

Those Hollywood rights… April 29, 2016

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I’d never heard of the ‘Friends of Abe’, apparently a low profile group of conservative Hollywood actors – mind you can’t have been that low profile, it had 1,500 members. Though members were initially sworn to secrecy. Why so? Because:

[it was] a refuge from what they see as Hollywood’s bullying liberal ethos.
It was the one place where many of its members – actors, producers, writers and technicians – felt safe from liberal sneers and potential retribution.
“As a conservative, if you expressed your political views at work you would be weeded out,” said Jack Marino, a film-maker. “At Abe events we could get together over dinner and hang out with our own kind and speak freely.”

Anyhow, as reported in the Guardian, the it could well be that the Trump effect continues to work its magic on the US right.

…on Thursday the organisation – which counts Jon Voight, Jerry Bruckheimer and Kelsey Grammer among its 1,500 members – made an abrupt announcement: it was dissolving.
“Effective immediately, we are going to begin to wind down the 501 c3 organization, bring the Sustaining Membership dues to an end, and do away with the costly infrastructure and the abespal.com website,” the executive director, Jeremy Boreing, told members in an email, a copy of which the Guardian has seen.
“Today, because we have been successful in creating a community that extends far beyond our events, people just don’t feel as much of a need to show up for every speaker or bar night, and fewer people pay the dues that help us maintain that large infrastructure.”

Hmmm… does that sound like a definition of success? Not to me it doesn’t. Or to the Guardian.

The announcement caught members by surprise and fueled speculation that infighting over Donald Trump’s candidacy, among other factors, had drained commitment. Others said the group had been losing steam for years.
Instead of electrifying the organisation, California’s 7 June primary, a final and potentially decisive showdown between Trump and his GOP rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich, appeared to frazzle it.

And:

Lionel Chetwynd, a producer and screenwriter and co-founder of the FOA, recently spoke of the primary campaign causing a “civil war in slow motion”, which fractured friendships and shredded solidarity.

It’s funny reading the list of members – there’s a lot who I like as actors. Grammar, Gary Sinise, and I’ve a certain odd degree of sympathy (misplaced no doubt on my part) for them in regard to the difficulty of holding different political convictions in certain environments. In the early 1990s I worked for an offshoot of the Murdoch empire, in my office alone three of us were paid up members of the British Labour Party, myself included, but it was months of working closely together before we discovered that and it was an affiliation that we all kept very very quiet about. The funny thing was that that sentiment, leftwards I suppose one could call it, was much much more general in the company and related companies (we shared a floor or two with other Murdoch owned companies), than might have been thought.

The day Thatcher was unceremoniously evicted from office a massive cheer went around the floor at the moment the news broke.

Eugenics in the US April 29, 2016

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A review of what looks like an interesting book on The Eugenics movement in The US
The first two paragraphs of the review in The New Yorker

Carrie Buck was nobody you would have heard of. She was born in 1906 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Soon afterward, her father either abandoned the family or died—there’s no reliable record—leaving Carrie and her mother, Emma, in dire poverty. As a toddler, Carrie was taken in, with the approval of a municipal court, by a well-to-do couple, John and Alice Dobbs, who asked to become her foster parents after seeing Emma on the street. Carrie lived with the Dobbses and went to school through the sixth grade, after which they pulled her out of school so that she could do housework full time. She cleaned their house and was hired out to clean neighbors’ homes, until, at seventeen, she was discovered to be pregnant—she later said that she’d been raped, by Alice Dobbs’s nephew—at which point her guardians moved to have her declared mentally deficient, although there was no prior evidence that this was the case. They then had her committed to the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded.

When Carrie was sent to the Virginia Colony, in 1924, the forward thinkers of America were preoccupied by the imagined genetic threat of feeblemindedness, a capaciously defined condition that was diagnosed using often flawed intelligence tests and by identifying symptoms such as moral degeneracy, an overactive sex drive, and other traits liberally ascribed to poor people (especially poor women) who were seen as having stepped out of line. (Just a few years before Carrie was committed to the Virginia Colony, Emma was also sent there. It seems that she had turned to drug use and prostitution—although it’s hard to say, since many female vagrants were labelled prostitutes.) A sloppy reading of Gregor Mendel’s pea pods and Charles Darwin’s theories gave a scientific veneer to the conclusion that many social ills were caused by the proliferation of the wrong sort of people and that they could be neatly nipped in the bud with the intervention of eugenics—a term coined, in 1883, by Darwin’s half-cousin Francis Galton, who declared it “a virile creed, full of hopefulness.” Soon, the United States, along with Germany, was at the forefront of the movement to improve the human species through breeding. Scientific American ran articles on the subject, and the American Museum of Natural History hosted conferences. Theodore Roosevelt, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and many other prominent citizens were outspoken supporters. Eugenics was taught in schools, celebrated in exhibits at the World’s Fair, and even preached from pulpits. The human race, one prominent advocate declared in 1909, was poised “to dry up the springs that feed the torrent of defective and degenerate protoplasm.”

The full review is here

This Week At Irish Election Literature April 29, 2016

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A Seanad Election Leaflet from Cian Prendiville of AAAPBP

From the 1977 General Election , a Leaflet from Niall Andrews, Ruairi Brugha and Jim Murphy who were running for Fianna Fail in Dublin South County

The Pro-Life Campaign are urging people to “Celebrate The 8th”

Then two from The Assembly Elections
A Leaflet from Richie McPhillips who is running for The SDLP in Fermanagh South Tyrone.

“Tír gan teanga – Tír gan anam” Bileog ó Sinn Féin in Iarthar Bhéal Feirste.

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