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In This Corner: Stuff Still Happens, week 45: President Homer Simpson

As always, The Simpsons predicted the future.

In a season 9 episode called Trash of the Titans, Homer runs for sanitation commissioner against career civil servant Ray Patterson, voiced by Steve Martin. At one point, Homer gets into a shouting match with Patterson, and threatens to run for commissioner.

“Wanna know what I think?” Homer . . . → Read More: In This Corner: Stuff Still Happens, week 45: President Homer Simpson

Zorg Report: Zorg Report 2015-03-27 07:56:00

Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again

 Abstract: Fear and paranoia enabled the conditions and killing of the passengers on Germanwings 9525; in honour of the victims of that flight, and for all future fliers, sensible policies, that do not replace reasonable prudence with get-tough politically-expedient reactions and expressions of fear, nor place sole . . . → Read More: Zorg Report: Zorg Report 2015-03-27 07:56:00

Zorg Report: Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again

Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again

 

Abstract: Fear and paranoia enabled the conditions and killing of the passengers on Germanwings 9525; in honour of the victims of that flight, and for all future fliers, sensible policies, that do not replace reasonable prudence with get-tough politically-expedient reactions and expressions of fear, nor place sole power in the hands of One person or agency, should be enacted.

 

Surely I’m far from the first (1000, 10 000?) people to make this simple point, but fear and paranoia and obsession with “security” appear to have led to another disaster and mass loss of human life.  That the 9/11 attackers de facto created a policy that made much of the world place collective fates in the hands of one extreme or potentially wingnut person no doubt gratifies them immensely in their exquisite afterlives—surely such terror, or infidel reduction, was key amongst their goals.

The tragedy occurred because one pilot was allowed to stay in the cockpit, and prevent entry from anyone else.

(I’m a little uncomfortable that now, barely two–three days after the crash, we’re being asked to trust officials who tell us it was an intentional downing by a sole-acting young co-pilot.  A little more time for the public revelation of evidence and something emulating some sort of legal process would be more reassuring.)

 

I’m struck by how former pilots and aviation talking heads are expressing shock and amazement that pilots would do something so horrible, when of course there are many examples of pilots embracing their godlike roles and taking many lives other than their own into their hands not for professional reasons, but for their own personal use and/or destruction (Ethiopian Airlines 702 and Egypt Air 990 are a couple of recent examples amongst numerous instances).  On CTV News, an “aviation expert” named Phyl Durdey offered: “You know, who would think that, y’know, an aircraft would be put into a descent by the co-pilot?”  I can’t speak for Phyl, but I don’t care if there’s 4 passengers or 400—I sure wouldn’t want to be on board an aircraft if one of the pilots found out that, say, he was being canned, or his co-pilot was sleeping with his wife, or something.  Phyl seems to attribute godlike non-humanity to pilots, and with reference to the black box in the German pilot’s head, Phyl’s views are terrifyingly ironic, indeed. 

(And Phyl, dude, if you’re out there, flying somewhere, I was initially with you.  I really didn’t buy that a pilot, wishing to commit suicide and mass murder, would do it so slowly and deliberately.  I would have thought he’d just have done a nosedive.  So far, we have only what “officials” tell us—heavy breathing and no contact—and for me that’s not total circumstantial incrimination enough—but that does not take away from the fact that there have been numerous instances of pilots taking themselves and their passengers down with them in recent years. Dan Zorg has been acquainted with several pilots, and one very close pilot acquaintance in particular has expressed greater mystification than this post does.)

As with most people, this crash caused me to reflect on some of my own flying experiences.  I remember being becalmed at the sleepy little Dusseldorfairport for hours on a bright sunny morning.  I remember being young—not that young—and being on an Air New Zealand flight. . .somehow, and surely not through anything anyone said with intention, the flight crew must have learned that it was my birthday, and an elderly pilot came right down to my seat and asked me if I’d like to see the flight deck.  Imagine (!).  I’m pretty sure I can remember, not just imagine, times when the flight deck was actually open during the flight and I could glimpse it.

 

Or then there’s good ol’ Air Canada.  One time, just after 9/11, I was coming home from the U.S., and it was one bizarre flight.  The flight crew brought our food, late at night, and then disappeared to sulk, never to return.  We all sat there with our trays for an hour or so, and then began shifting them into bulkheads and under seats and into the aisles and so on; the attendants weren’t coming back.  This wasn’t prior to any kind of strike or major job action or anything.  I still don’t know what was up.  But what’s so chilling to think of now was how the Air Canada pilot (was he alone?) came on during that inky night at 35 000 feet or more and embarked on this long and incomprehensible diatribe about things in general.  He invoked Christ (Preston—“Presto”—‘no government is good but if we just follow God it’ll be great!!’–Manning, seated a few rows behind me, was perhaps comforted, but I sure as heck wasn’t).  The pilot talked about holidays and work and unfairness and so on, but I do remember he didn’t say anything explicit to explain what was going on behind him, as the flight crew basically vanished and refused to work.  He definitely didn’t support them or explain anything.  He really only referred to himself, not crew or passengers. But he talked religion and fumed and rambled disconnectedly as though he were playing a video game or poking a mobile device at the same time.  I suppose he was—I hope he was.  To be truthful, my most exact recollection of this flight was exchanging looks with my flight partner, looking up and around in the darkened cabin (I still have the beige mental images, to be sure), and just thinking to myself (praying?), “Christ, I wish he’d just shut up, because the longer he keeps talking and keeps working himself into this lather, the more dangerous it gets for all of us and the more likely it will be for all of us that something catastrophic could happen because of his distractedness and anger.”  Only when he quit rambling, and nothing radical ensued, did I start to breathe easier.  Thank goodness I didn’t have a heart condition and was flying, say, to see family for an almost last time—the Air Canada pilot’s irresponsibility could have caused a death in and of itself.  Was there anyone with him?  Maybe there was and it finally caused him to glance over and take a nod and settle down.  Or maybe there wasn’t and he took advantage of his godlike moments to berate the world in general as we soared through the black night in his hands.  Something like the Germanwings flight sure makes you recollect and ponder.

How in the world could a responsible company, or government, allow a situation in which a pilot, who could experience a medical difficulty (say, cabin depression?) be allowed to be in sole “control”?  The news says that someone who tries the correct password from outside the cabin can try again in five minutes if the password doesn’t go through.  Can a correct password be forgotten? Is five minutes not enough to crash a plane?  Unbelievable. 

This is what fear and paranoia have done to us: cause us to place godlike powers in the hands of one person.  In order to act tough against our fears, we seek out fear and establish rules to protect ourselves from fears that, ironically, can lead to our destruction.  In no sane jurisdiction would it be possible for one person to completely shut out the world and take the lives of others—this is what the 9/11 pilots did, and their actions constitute the response much of the world came up with in turn—a carbon copy of the 9/11 killers’ gambit. Yet in the Germanwings case, of course, allegedly, unlike with that of the 9/11 pilots, there wasn’t even any need for accomplices with box cutters; the only things required, like Chinese or North Korean self-censorship, were abstract–generalized fear and paranoid public representatives, infinite mistrust, and the infantile ability to flick a switch shutting out the real world of/to other human beings. 

Sure fine, I’m all for security; I have no wish to die on an airplane.  I’ll stand in line forever—whatever.  I just want public representatives to be sensible.  I’ll stand in an airport forever and take off my shoes and belt and hat and have my computer sprayed and my travel toothpaste taken away and go through a body scanner and all that—sure fine; but I expect public representatives not to endanger my life by putting in place measures that transfer godlike powers to sole individuals who can never be held accountable for their actions.  If the German pilot (is guilty, and if he lived), I wouldn’t want to act like God myself and determine that he should be killed; I’d want to keep him alive for his life so that he could be studied and so that he could ponder his actions until fate took those powers away from him.  I think it’s fair to say that, if most of Canada’s Conservative caucus had their choice, if the pilot had lived, they’d have killed him with capital punishment.  Only problem is, they wouldn’t even have had that option because of their fear and paranoia that enabled him in the first place—the Conservatives elected to place sole power in the hands of one pilot (it might be said that many of them are used to that, metaphorically if not literally, as with Presto).  The Germanwings flight could have happened over the Canadian Shield; the deaths of the Germanwings passengers could have happened to anyone on a plane flown by a Canadian carrier—all because the Harper government, cherishing its fear and paranoia about someone (other than God or the pilot God) gaining access to the cockpit, chose to endanger passengers on the flights of Canadian carriers by ensuring that there could be no God but the Pilot in the cockpit—not rational or life-cherishing, capable crew–or even passengers–just the Pilot/God.

 

Well, as I say, the terrorists won again.  A statesman once said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  By fearing fear itself, and distrusting one another and enacting ludicrous policies that can put One and only One person in charge, we opened the door for One to perversely and inexplicably take the lives of others.

I was going to draw in other political and domestic issues in this post, but when one writes about something like this, there’s no way to end (because you’re talking about people whose lives have ended, unlike yours, so far), and there are always those who will say “you’re exploiting a tragedy.”  Well, if I had brought in the other issues or shaped a different message, it would have been a bit harder to fling that charge.  Or maybe easier.  How many 9/11s (no, not hijackings) were there before 9/11?

 

That’s right, 0 (until I stand corrected).  But the world largely reacted with policies that insisted that One godlike person should take control, and that does reflect a lot of our yearnings, whether that One is a person in a uniform or a generalized kind of overlord agency (or obviously a religious proxy/prophet).  And obviously the exact wishes of the terrorists.

 

I’ve never been fond of flying.  I usually have to overcome physical and physiological fears and work my way into a kind of philosophical-mental zone.  You know how they say that, when you’re about to die, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes?  I thought that was just a phrase—a believable phrase—but just a phrase.  But I know it’s true because I’ve had that dream on airplanes and on airplanes alone—first pet, mother, etc.  You never have dreams like that on the ground.

Long ago I had some fears allayed by reading the French doctor and politician, Bernard Kouchner, saying that dying in a plane crash is probably a great way to go.  I’d never thought of that, I must say. I haven’t looked up that comment, but basically his attitude was that, hey, you’ve only got a few minutes left, and then it’s all over.  Contrasted with months or years of pain through innumerable possible illnesses, involving not just me but anyone associated with me, I’ve thought, yeah, the guy has a point.  Flying over Greenland, I subsequently haven’t necessarily thought: “could we land on that spike if we had to?,” but rather, “if we go on that spike, it’s done and done, full stop, and a few minutes of terror may be a better way to go than the one the One has in store for me (and in any case, I may die of something else first).” 

But this Germanwings 9525 is different—it’s different because our fear and paranoia– pace“Phyl Durdey”–allowed us to put in place a situation in which, if a remedy were even possible, it was taken out of the hands of pilots, crew, passengers, and ground control experts, and all given over to exploitative “get-tough” politicians who dictated that there could only be One in a sealed God-only zone at the front of an airplane.  I have a feeling that that feeling is a little bit like what the 9/11 “pilots” felt.  Smug and in control, never having to answer to other humans for their actions that would be hailed by a “divine” being in the afterlife, ultimately blissfully unconcerned with a world that involved real human beings while they themselves lived.

The emotions of the people on that flight—or Egypt 990 or Swissair 111 or or or—are unimaginable and uncontactable—utterly unapproachable—but some things are, even without divine approbation, certain: amidst all the chaos and screaming and terror, surely people’s lives flashed before their eyes, bringing up the most vivid and important and crucial mental images—a kind of about-to-be-dead homage to the possibly still living.  Surely people embraced one another in the most basic human ways.  In my most tearful moments about this crash, I’d like to think that some of the German high school exchange students were able to express for the first and last times nascent desires or expressions thereof that might or would have sustained them throughout their lives, had they had those lives to live.

I really think we owe it to the fear and terror that those people experienced NOT to create policies based on fear and paranoia which allow sole, godlike powers to be placed in just one person’s hands.  It may be that “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” but the generalized interests of “security” should not be allowed to jeopardize the lives of individuals who may be subject to incomprehensible, cruel, and sometimes, if humans are in charge, avoidable fates.

 

–zr

. . . → Read More: Zorg Report: Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Air Canada to London: back again #nlpoli

How times change.

Last week, industry minister Susan Sullivan attended an announcement by Air Canada that they would be bringing back year-round direct flights between St. John’s and London.  Starting in the fall,  Air Canada will offer three direct flights a week to London.  Next summer, they’ll offer daily service. 

It’s great news for . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Air Canada to London: back again #nlpoli

The Canadian Progressive: Air Canada should cancel request for Transport Canada exemption: CUPE

by: CUPE | Press Release:

Ottawa, July 12, 2013 – As more details emerge following Asiana flight 214’s tragic crash in San Francisco on Saturday July 6th, CUPE flight attendants are hoping that Air Canada learns from the flight attendant ratio on the airplane at the time of the accident.

The rapid actions taken by . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Air Canada should cancel request for Transport Canada exemption: CUPE

The Canadian Progressive: Six ways Stephen Harper is killing Canadian democracy

Published on Monday January 7, 2013 by UFCW Canada Political Action Blog For many Canadians, the phrase “Canada: The True North Strong and Free” means that we are free to live in a democratic society where we have the right to freedom of expression and association, but under Government Boss Stephen Harper, many citizens are . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Six ways Stephen Harper is killing Canadian democracy

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Rick Mercer on the Low Wage Economy

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– John Conway discusses the Cons’ project of destroying Canada’s social safety net.

– But the good news is that Stephen Harper is running into a few roadblocks along the way. For example, the rule of law – as a Federal Court judge has concluded that the Cons’ attempt . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Trashy's World: Friday miscellany…

… complete with Dippers, Lisa Raitt, Ashley (boo-yaa) Madison! And fish trafficking too! —————————————————————————————————————————————————— The NDP leadership convention is this weekend and NDPers from across the nation are flocking to the land of the Toronto Blue Jays (used to be the Leafs) to choose and bless the leader to replace Mr. Jack Layton. How will . . . → Read More: Trashy’s World: Friday miscellany…

Leftist Jab: Aveos: Denis Lebel More Or Less Says Chuck Strahl Lied To Parliament

Denis Lebel’s formal salute to union workers involves another finger. When Air Canada passed off its maintenance jobs to Aveos in 2011, there was a significant outcry about the move. Nobody at Air Canada wanted to go to Aveos which had financing issues as late as 2010. They were told to take the deal that . . . → Read More: Leftist Jab: Aveos: Denis Lebel More Or Less Says Chuck Strahl Lied To Parliament

BC teachers to fight Bill 22

With the federal Conservatives trying to destroy unions and bully working men and women, the BC Liberals are following suit with teachers. Unlike Air Canada employees, BC’s teachers are not going to take this one lying down.

The bill, which will become law by Saturday, orders a six-month cooling-off period in a bitter contract dispute, . . . → Read More: BC teachers to fight Bill 22

cmkl: And again with the pre-emptive legislation, Lisa Raitt

I’m beginning to think this might be a pattern. Same company, same rhetoric, same lies. They’re all in favour of letting workers try to defend their livelihoods at the bargaining table, so long as no one notices. What I said before still goes too. I’m sorry Madeleine, things seem to be well on their way . . . → Read More: cmkl: And again with the pre-emptive legislation, Lisa Raitt

Paul S. Graham: Stop the CBC Smackdown – Stop Harper!

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting continues to raise the alarm over threats to our nation’s public broadcaster and well they should. While Heritage Minister James Moore promised in May to maintain and expand support for the CBC, Tory antipathy to the CBC is well known. Recent initiatives, such as the petition by Tory MP Rob . . . → Read More: Paul S. Graham: Stop the CBC Smackdown – Stop Harper!

cmkl: Air Canada arbitration: so what was that decision all about?

Air Canada was happy. The union was not. But then, this is Lisa Raitt’s shop, we could have predicted that, right? So here is my understanding – as an outsider – of what was at stake. . . . → Read More: cmkl: Air Canada arbitration: so what was that decision all about?

cmkl: Lisa Raitt sends labour relations back to the 1920s

When I first saw reference to this on Twitter I thought maybe it was some sort of hyperbole. Or that some progressive soul, like myself, prone to Swiftian rhetoric, had done the whole reductio ad absurdium thing to normal Tory talking points. But no. L… . . . → Read More: cmkl: Lisa Raitt sends labour relations back to the 1920s

Canadian Progressive World: Occupy Ottawa to Join Air Canada Flight Attendants Rally on Parliament Hill

The General Assembly (GA) of Occupy Ottawa last night resolved to join Air Canada flight attendants’ rally on Parliament Hill at 12:00 noon on Friday, Friday, October 21, 2011. Occupy Ottawa is encouraging all in the movement to come out and &#8220… . . . → Read More: Canadian Progressive World: Occupy Ottawa to Join Air Canada Flight Attendants Rally on Parliament Hill

Trashy's World: This would be funnier…

… if I couldn’t imagine it actually happening… Share and Enjoy: Trashy, Ottawa, Ontario . . . → Read More: Trashy’s World: This would be funnier…

A BCer in Toronto: More belated political musings

I write this from Arizona, where I’ve been attending a work conference this week in the Phoenix area. I’m staying through the weekend to see some hockey, as the Coyotes play their home opener vs. the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. The old Jets vs. the new … . . . → Read More: A BCer in Toronto: More belated political musings

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Trish Hennessy is on board for an Occupy Canada movement:To my friends adopting a wait-and-see approach, I say: The least they can expect from progressives who have been criticizing the system (some since Woodstock) … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

ParliamANT Hill: Minister’s ‘Super Elite’ upgrade needed no help from above

Inspired by this story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/interactives/air-canada-passengerlist/?cmp=rss . . . → Read More: ParliamANT Hill: Minister’s ‘Super Elite’ upgrade needed no help from above

cmkl: Air Canada vs CUPE: the company charges ‘bad faith’

It would be funny if I didn’t think that the livelihoods of 6,000 or so people hung in the balance. But Air Canada has charged the union with bad faith bargaining because the membership refused to accept the second tentative agreement CUPE negotiators … . . . → Read More: cmkl: Air Canada vs CUPE: the company charges ‘bad faith’

cmkl: The federal labour board ‘reviews’ the situation at Air Canada

Journalism can be so maddeningly vague at times. This business of the federal labour relations board “reviewing” the negotiations at Air Canada and therefore rendering any strike illegal is just one of those times. . . . → Read More: cmkl: The federal labour board ‘reviews’ the situation at Air Canada

Well, Lisa, Just How ‘Sexy’ Were You For the Canadian Industrial Relations Board?

Yeah, I know, cheesy title. Save it. Lisa Raitt’s a aging tart, I can’t do anything to change that. Something about her will perhaps turn me into a female center-left version of Don Cherry, with a better taste in clothes–they’re all black. Something about her just brings out the vulgar language out of . . . → Read More: Well, Lisa, Just How ‘Sexy’ Were You For the Canadian Industrial Relations Board? . . . → Read More: Well, Lisa, Just How ‘Sexy’ Were You For the Canadian Industrial Relations Board?

cmkl: Air Canada flight attendants vote down two tentative agreements

Wow. This does not happen a lot. Air Canada flight attendants – CUPE members – have voted down not one but two tentative agreements that the union’s leadership was recommending. . . . → Read More: cmkl: Air Canada flight attendants vote down two tentative agreements

And Here We Go Again! Lisa ‘I’m Too Sexy For The Proletariat’ Raitt Is Mad And She Ain’t a Takin’ It No More! Part D’Uh!

Yep, Dear Lisa is busy sharpening her claws and no doubt finding ‘sexy’ ways to stamp on workers, yet again, boys ‘n’ girls, and this time, it’s Air Canada Flight attendants. Flight attendants, who are represented by CUPE, have voted to reject the latest deal negotiated between CUPE and management. Interesting twist. What . . . → Read More: And Here We Go Again! Lisa ‘I’m Too Sexy For The Proletariat’ Raitt Is Mad And She Ain’t a Takin’ It No More! Part D’Uh! . . . → Read More: And Here We Go Again! Lisa ‘I’m Too Sexy For The Proletariat’ Raitt Is Mad And She Ain’t a Takin’ It No More! Part D’Uh!