July 28, 2009
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July 25, 2009
Recording Hoboken’s latest 15 minutes of corruption-related fame with my handy Flip:
A Fox 5 reporter rehearses his outrage towards Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano in front of city hall as traffic and curious onlookers compete for attention.
The outrage was based on the fact that on “June 23, Cammarano accepted $10,000 in cash from the cooperating witness, in response he said “great, we’re going to be friends for a long time.”
He was one of several political figures arrested in the state’s largest corruption bust.” *
* Info from the written news report and video, here on the Fox News Site
UPDATE: Today my husband bicycled past Cammarano’s house and saw a large group of people protesting, demanding the Mayor’s resignation. According to this article in the Hudson Reporter, “Community backlash grows regarding arrested Hoboken Mayor Cammarano”, there will be another protest on Monday..
July 25, 2009
Michael Totten reports on The Future of Iraq, Part IV
We were in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah. It was a stronghold of support for Saddam Hussein’s government, and a stronghold of support for Al Qaeda more recently. Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, who make up around 15-20 percent of the country’s population, are by the far the most anti-American. Yet Adhamiyah appeared, on the surface at least, to be no more hostile to Americans than Iraqi Kurdistan.
I needed help from reliable straight-shooting Iraqis to see the truth behind the façade. I can’t know if everything Sayid told me was true, but what he told me was a lot more interesting and substantial than the “America good” boilerplate I often heard from random civilians.
What I wanted from Sayid was a glimpse into the Iraqi psyche, which he delivered. He also shared with me his vision of Iraq’s future. And I should warn you that his vision is not pretty. (For optimistic assessments, see The Future of Iraq Part I and The Future of Iraq Part II.)
Four of us sat on couches in his living room – me, Sergeant Franklin, Lieutenant Eric Kuylman, and our Iraqi interpreter “Tom.” We didn’t need to bring Tom with us, though. Sayid spoke near-perfect English.
I’m going to skip the exposition and switch to interview mode. Our conversation speaks for itself.
MJT: They say you’re a good guy to talk to because you give straight answers. It’s hard to get straight answers in Iraq.
MJT: Can you explain to me why that is? I mean, I have an idea why, but I’m sure you understand it better than I do.
Sayid: It’s the formula of our community. There are many kinds of people. I will give you a straight answer, but it’s Iraqi like me.
Just 20 percent of our people are good. 80 percent are bad. You should know that….
July 24, 2009
NEWARK — The bribes went down in diners, living rooms and parking lots. New Jersey Assemblymen took them, mayors took them, and so did dozens of others…
…It was a sting operation that could have been taken from the pages of an Elmore Leonard novel: the FBI and IRS agents arrested five rabbis, two New Jersey state legislators, three mayors, political operatives, and many others, as part of a probe that spanned from Hoboken to Israel.
Other records were taken from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City and from at least one synagogue in Deal. Meanwhile, a top member of the Corzine administration unexpectedly resigned after agents arrived at his home and office with evidence boxes…
Among those charged included newly elected Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, 32, and rabbi Saul Kassin, the 87-year-old spiritual leader of the close-knit Syrian Sephardic Jewish community in Deal and Brooklyn. Others were Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, 64; Anthony Suarez, 42, the mayor of Ridgefield; Leona Beldini, 74, the Jersey City deputy mayor; Assemblymen L. Harvey Smith (D-Hudson), 60 and Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), 44; rabbi Edmund Nahum, 56, of Deal; and rabbi Eliahu Ben Haim, 58, of Long Branch. In all, 44 people were charged, 29 of them from New Jersey.
The case had immediate political ramifications, particularly for Democrats in Hudson County and the administration of Gov. Jon Corzine. By the end of the day, Joe Doria Jr., the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, abruptly resigned from his cabinet post after his Trenton office and his home in Bayonne were searched by the FBI.
How things change. Here’s an article from July 1, 2009 “New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine praises Hoboken and its new mayor”
Photo from the pro-Christie site, “Save New Jersey”
Corzine was already looking vulnerable in the upcoming race for governor.
The only way the Republicans could lose the upcoming race for governor is if they fear being seen as RINOs and focus on ‘family values’.
If they focus on Dem corruption and law and order, it’s likely that Jersey will become a red state. Well, temporarily purplish, maybe…
UPDATE: Dawn Zimmer, who opposed Cammarano in the recent Hoboken mayoral election, is calling for his resignation.
“And I said maybe and talked to Dawn. She said, ‘I don’t want to take any developer money.’ And I told her, ‘Well, then you have to stop moaning about how much we’re spending — you have to stop telling me we’re throwing away our kids college education.””
According to Stan, Zimmer said she’d “rather write the check herself” than take money from a developer.”
AND ANOTHER UPDATE: A petition has been started to urge Cammarano to resign
July 17, 2009
From the CFI guy: Using the heading indicator to visualize pattern entry
Sometimes it seems like the most difficult part of a cross country is properly planning and executing the traffic pattern entry at an unfamiliar, non-towered airport. Did you know that you can use the heading indicator to visualize your pattern entry well before you can even see the runway? Let’s pretend that we are on a heading of west, going direct to the airport. After checking the weather, we have determined that runway 32 is the best one to use. Now, how do we enter that pattern?
July 13, 2009
From Brady Lane’s excellent vlog, Earning my Wings:
It was in the high 90s in Oshkosh today and well over 100 degrees inside the cockpit. Even though I grew up in Texas, I’m not used to those temperatures anymore.
I knew the heat would have an effect on airplane performance, but I underestimated the effect it would have on me as a pilot – both physically and mentally.
Toward the end of the lesson I started making mistakes I don’t normally make. I was drenched in sweat, mentally sluggish and physically exhausted, so after an hour I finally admitted to myself it was time to call it quits for the day.
It was a good lesson for me to learn my personal tolerances.
After seeing the video, I think I’ll bring a bottle of water along on my next flight…
July 7, 2009
In simple terms, Photosynth allows you to take a bunch of photos of the same scene or object and automagically stitch them all together into one big interactive 3D viewing experience that you can share with anyone on the web.
Photosynth is a potent mixture of two independent breakthroughs: the ability to reconstruct the scene or object from a bunch of flat photographs, and the technology to bring that experience to virtually anyone over the Internet.
July 7, 2009
Magatte Wade* describes how Western academics make life difficult for African entrepreneurs
As an African who has spent my adult professional life in the U.S., I am proud to say that I have never encountered racism here. I am, of course, even prouder of the U.S. for having elected Barack Obama, thus proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that a majority of U.S. voters care more about merit than they care about race. I truly believe that the U.S. has largely moved into a post-racial phase, and that in the future we will continue to move towards a world in which people love and celebrate racial and cultural differences. I look forward to bringing my children into such a world, one in which they will be celebrated for who they are.
Prior to living in the U.S., I was educated in France, and occasionally I would encounter some racism there, especially among older people. On one occasion I was visiting an elderly French woman, a relative of a white French boyfriend, who, when I arrived, whispered to him, “But what will I feed her? I don’t have any bananas.” She was well-intentioned but ignorant; good-hearted as she was, she confused black Africans with chimpanzees. What does one do if one doesn’t have bananas to feed them?
On a brochure for a tour of Jeff Sachs’ Millenium Village in Rwanda, managed by one of Sachs’ Columbia University colleagues, Rule #1 is “Please do not give anything to the villagers — no sweets, cookies, empty water bottles, pens or even money.” While I’m sure the rule is well-intentioned, it captures perfectly the revolting condescension that I feel from the Millenium Villages project. Unlike the ignorant elderly woman, celebrated professors at Columbia University cannot be excused through their ignorance. When highly educated people can objectify us with a “Don’t feed the animals” sign, the only explanation is a blinding arrogance. These people are so sure that they are noble for helping the ignorant chimps, that they hadn’t even noticed just how humiliating the expression is.
Of course, these academics would probably show the same sort of condescension to the participants in a NASCAR rally.
Wade’s article expresses the same sentiments I’ve heard from entrepreneurs and farmers in India and Africa – they know what they want and how to get it, and they’d appreciate it if these environmentalists and NGOs would get out of their way.
Have these helpers ever bothered to listen to the people they’re supposedly trying to help?
* Link thanks to Alan Sullivan
July 6, 2009
At Solberg Airport’s Solstice celebration my son introduced me to this tiny multi-engine plane, a “Cricket” (the official name is the “Cri Cri.”) The French homebuilt is the smallest multi-engine aerobatic plane around.
My son was interested in the plane because, like many pilots hoping to fly for the airlines, he’s hoping to build up multi-engine time. This would be a small, fun, relatively cheap way to get it.
Unfortunately, Cri-Cri kits aren’t being manufactured anymore, and (according to this fan site) assembled versions are hard to find.
I tried to get a video of it in flight, but it was too quick for me. Here’s a video of a Cricket at an airshow in New Zealand
July 3, 2009
Seasteading, a term derived from combining “sea” and “homesteading”, is a general term given to the notion of either converting existing structures, such as old boats or disused oil rigs, or custom-building new ones to allow people to live in the middle of the ocean. Generally, this also includes the interrelated goal of establishing a sovereign state on the open seas, away from any existing governmental structures on dry land. Patri Friedman and Wayne Gramlich – whose 1998 article “Seasteading – Homesteading on the High Seas” is generally given credit for popularizing the term – founded the Seasteading Institute in 2008 in order to better organize the seasteading effort.
Perhaps the most famous – and, to some extent, the only – example of successful seasteading is the microstate of Sealand, which started life as the World War II sea fort HM Fort Roughs. Located six miles off the coast of Suffolk, Sealand was occupied by Roy Bates and his family in 1967. Crowning himself Prince Roy, Bates declared the disused fort to be the independent Principality of Sealand. Although the “country” is only the size of about two tennis courts, the Bates family has lived on the desolate fort for much of the last four decades. As one might well imagine, Sealand’s history is about as eccentric as it origins, including an attempted invasion by a group of German and Dutch entrepreneurs in 1978, which forced the exiled Prince Roy to take up arms to reclaim his country. (How that hasn’t become a movie yet is completely beyond me.)