FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 1st and 2nd 2017

Happy Labor Day

Well here it is Labor Day already.  The long weekend holiday is the unofficial end of summer (hate that thought), the beginning of school (hated that), the time for expansion of the baseball rosters (hate that – 40 man rosters change the game too much going into the playoffs), and it’s time to save 50% or more on your next mattress set with no payments for at least two years (don’t need a new mattress).  But it is also the beginning of college football (Go Navy), the start of professional football (that’s good, but they only play once a week), a great weekend to grill some steaks (love that), International Bacon Day (love that – you can look it up), catch some of those Atlantic salmon that made good their escape and now need to be caught (love that), NASCAR’s  Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015 (like it as it’s usually a good short track race), ride your bike (gotta love that), at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association holds their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals (some great names and cars show up for this one), and of course it’s the last day it’s considered acceptable to wear white or  seersucker (who knew – OK fashion folk like Friend of FOD Mr. Fuzzy have this marked on their calendars to go along with the opening day of elk season).  Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.  Photo below right shows first Labor Day Parade in NYC in 1882.  I was pretty much against labor unions until I joined Northwest Airlines.  There was a snap back clause in the contract under which I was hired providing for a pay raise of the lesser of 3% or the average pay increase of the seven major airlines in business at the time.  The math clearly pointed to the 3% option as all those airlines had received increased wages as airlines were making money.  Imagine then our surprise when our paychecks in mid-September only included a 1.4% pay increase.  When management was queried as to this decision, the reply was, “we think that’s what it should be.”  Eight months later and utilizing binding arbitration, it took less than fifteen minutes for the pilot’s to prevail.  The back pay was returned over a two month period and we each received a note from management in our company mailbox stating, that as the company didn’t have to pay back interest on the monies withheld over that time period, it shouldn’t be taken as a personal matter as it was only a prudent company business decision.  They had an eight month interest free $84M loan paid for by the pilots.  That’s why pilots have unions (but I’m not bitter – well just a little – no a lot – OK, I’ll let it go – someday).

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 11 through 15 August 2017

What Our President Did and Didn’t Say

While many in President Trump’s administration have since spoken out against the hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis, during the events in Chancellorsville, Virginia this past weekend, it is what President Trump did not say that is concerning.  These extremist hate groups have no place in the American debate and by not condemning them, you allow them a voice.  The President needed to condemn those groups.  As Dante Alighieri said in his Divine Comedy, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”  I am encouraged by President Trump’s statement on the morning of 14 August 2017 where he did call racism evil and where he did explicitly denounce KKK and neo-Nazis organizations and stated they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda is the operative line here.   As a consequence of the President’s comments, the African-American CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Kenneth

Frazier (below right) resigned from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council Monday after Mr. Trump failed to condemn white nationalists for deadly violence at a weekend rally in Charlottesville, Va.  “Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, faces, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement announcing his departure from the council.  “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier added.  Less than an hour after Merck released Frazier’s statement, Trump slammed the exec in a tweet.  I don’t see where alienating this individual adds positive value to the discourse.  In a similar manner I don’t see how lashing out at his own party’s Majority Leader of the United States Senate Mitch McConnell (left) benefits the President’s agenda on issues such as increasing the debt ceiling, tax reform, infrastructure improvements, and of course health care reform and gets worse with every tweet. Hey, there are daunting budget related deadlines coming with the end of the fiscal year, September 30th.  Comments appreciated!

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 31st through August 3rd 2017

May You Live In Interesting Times

“May you live in interesting times.”  Well at least that seems to be true when looking at the national and international picture today.  I had always heard ‘May you live in interesting times to be a Chinese curse or to have at least originated in China.  Despite being widely attributed as a Chinese curse, there is no equivalent expression in Chinese.  The nearest related Chinese expression is “太平” (nìng wéi tàipíng quǎn, mò zuò luàn lí rén), which is usually translated as “Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a human in a chaotic (warring) period.”  The expression originates from Volume 3 of the 1627 short story collection by Feng MenglongStories to Awaken the World.  Evidence that the phrase was in use as early as 1936 is provided in a memoir written by Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, the British Ambassador to China in 1936 and 1937, and published in 1949. He mentions that before he left England for China in 1936, a friend told him of a Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 12th through 14th, 2017

T-45 OBOGS News – No News

In a FOD update from the last edition, Marine Times reports, After more than two months, the Navy still has no idea what is causing serious problems with the OBOGS (On-Board Oxygen Generating System) oxygen systems in its training aircraft and fighters.  “We’re not doing well on the diagnosis,” Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, Naval Air Systems Command , told lawmakers on Tuesday. “To date, we have been unable to find any smoking gun.”  In April, the Navy temporarily grounded all of its T-45 training jets after dozens of instructor pilots refused to fly, citing a spike in pilots suffering from dangerous symptoms caused by a lack of oxygen or contaminants in the oxygen system. FOD and Navy Times first reported in May 2016 that Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers also experience oxygen system failures with alarming regularity.

170320-N-QI061-024
ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the optimized fleet response plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

Worse: The potentially catastrophic failures have been becoming more frequent.  Most of the problems in the T-45s involve breathing gas, while the F/A-18s tend to have problems with cockpit pressurization, Grosklags told the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee on Tuesday.  The Navy has literally torn T-45s apart at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where investigators have tested every single component in the aircraft, yet the root cause for the problem remains elusive, he said.  “To date, we have not been able to discover a toxin or a contaminant in the breathing gas, despite our testing,” Grosklags said. And in a related story, the Air Force’s variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is also experiencing problems with its oxygen systems. Flight operations at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, have been suspended after five pilots from the 56th Fighter wing reported suffering symptoms from lack of oxygen.  In May 2012, F-22 Raptor pilots went public with their concerns about the aircraft’s oxygen system. Two months later, the Air Force determined the cause of the problem was a valve on the pilot’s Combat Edge life support vest, which improperly tightened, making it harder for the pilots to breathe. More news as FOD hears about it.

 

Senators Push Bill to Raise Military Pay

Frustrated over increasing issues with military salaries, a pair of senators on Wednesday June 14th will introduce new legislation to ensure “equal compensation” among senior enlisted service members and limit the president’s ability to reduce troops’ pay raises, according to Military Times.    Under the measure, the president would no longer be able to use “economic concerns” as a reason to decouple the military pay raise from the Employment Cost Index, which estimates private sector wage growth.  The bill — sponsored by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — could affect President Trump’s plans for the 2018 military pay raise, if lawmakers finalize the measure before the end of August.  But it faces an uncertain future, given the busy budget schedule facing Congress in coming weeks and the restrictions it would place on the executive branch.  Both Trump and President Barack Obama used that clause in recent years to offer smaller-than-expected pay raises for troops, redirecting the money to other readiness and modernization accounts. The bill sponsors criticized that as bad policy. “Our men and women in uniform serve this country with honor,” said Warren in a statement. “They know they won’t get rich in the military, but they serve with skill and dedication, and they are entitled to basic pay increases that will give them a chance to build some economic security.”  Trump’s suggested pay increase for 2018 is 2.1 percent, equal to the 2018 pay raise but 0.3 percentage points below the Employment Cost Index figure.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 18 and 19, 2017

A lot of details today.

The Killing of Bill O’Reilly

In a statement released by 21st  Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News today, they said, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”  Gee, I thought it was going to take a few more weeks before he’d be dismissed.  In any case his departure follows reporting by the New York Times disclosing that the influential and incendiary political commentator had settled multiple sexual harassment complaints against him over the years for a total of $13 million.  So The Killing of Bill O’Reilly was due to his own behavior – it was a suicide.

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