Safety Looms Large, Presidents Gather, and Disinformation Abounds

This Week We See an Interesting Mix of Subjects in the Physical and Political Worlds

Safety First!

 Two interesting and compelling reminders about safety in transportation in recent days.

The first reminder is the sorry story about safety at Boeing. It is important to remember that commercial aviation remains one of the safest possible ways to travel, but the Boeing sage reminds us of a couple of points not to be overlooked.

First, as safe as flying can be, when you think about it, it can be dangerous when systems fail. We are packing a large group of people into a thin aluminum tube, putting it up a couple of miles in the air, and hurtling it through the sky at a few hundred miles an hour. Safe as long as everything goes right (and is built right), but things can go badly in a hurry where negligence comes into play. I have had this photo on my wall ever since I was in flight school learning to fly helicopters (still feels like magic doing that).

Never a truer statement spoken about flying.

Second, Boeing committed the ultimate sin of neglecting safety in favor of production. It was a shortsighted set of deliberate decisions. Those being fired as a result deserve it and should be gone even sooner than planned. They put people’s lives at risk and ruined a corporate reputation that will be very hard to win back.

When making something like aircraft, nothing is more important that safety and sacrificing safety will eventually cripple all those other priorities of production, profitability, image, market share – all of it. There are some serious matters here of government inspections and oversight that also need a hard look. Glad Pete Buttigieg is the Secretary – the right guy to dig in and get that part back on track.

The second reminder is brought to us by the destruction of the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore Harbor. Like many of you, I have driven over that bridge often. Watching it collapse so quickly is a sobering experience. This accident reminded us how interconnected things can be in ways easily overlooked until they come together.

A ship lost power (not the first time for this ship. Investigators will surely look into that). The ship is one of those of what would have been unimaginable size and density only a few years ago. The resulting drift pattern took the ship into a major bridge support element. Six people died and consequences for the economy and other elements will unfold for some time.

Sometimes, crap just happens and sometimes several factors come together to make the situation even worse. This is one of those. Still, as tragic as was the loss of life, so many more could have been lost. Good luck and fast action by a number of people eased the loss.

So far, the actions by the new governor of MD have been solid and timely (hey, the man is a former 82ndairborne paratrooper – he can handle tough situations) and that of the federal government have been impressive. The coordination and speed of action have been examples of exactly how it should be done.

The Commanding General of the US Army Corps of Engineers said the President called him immediately after the accident and made it crystal clear this was the corps number one priority. Trump would have never figured out who to call and likely would have tried to sell some souvenir item connected with the tragedy.

Three Presidents in NY

The fund raising event put together by the Biden team featuring 3 Democratic presidents on stage was something special. Seeing all three of them together just reinforced what an outcast Trump is among former presidents.

I expect Carter would have come along had he been able. I wonder if anyone considered inviting George Bush? He might have come also. Wouldn’t that have been something to see. The event went well, Colbert did a great job as MC (“Just imagine – 3 presidents all in New York at the same time and not one of them here to be at his trial.”). Protestors outside had some valid issues and were given freedom to make their case. And Biden raised a staggering $26 million in one night. I admit I bought a lottery ticket for a chance to attend and meet the three presidents. That would have been great. Wonder who won that?

Disinformation is Now Everywhere

Every story that breaks now seems to generate almost instant disinformation. The tools to do this are increasingly impressive. Just look at all the nonsense that has been circulated and Princess Kate, about the Baltimore bridge, and other stories.

Some of this comes from foreign entities looking to stir up trouble, some from people with agendas or just a fondness for hurting others. We are already at a point that one can no longer assume any story, video, or audio is valid until one takes a little time and effort to cross check. Some of those who wish us ill are delighted if some are fooled by their work and equally delighted if others simply give up and trust nothing from any source.

Let’s not give up. Let’s dig in.

See you next week.

Bill Clontz (in the back seat)

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