November 19, 2008
One of two U.S. astronauts who had set out to begin maintenance on the International Space Station Tuesday watched her tool bag float out into orbit after a grease gun she was carrying inside it exploded.
And so on, so forth.
Onto the fun part: here are a couple of the comments posted:
by gary fortt7: heidiemarie…..dont worry about losing one bag. air canada does it all the time.
by YoYo Yo: Must be a union job up there. They always “accidently” lose things and mysteriously the item shows up at home
by Salubrious: Aw come one, I thought that was rather witty . “Houston, we have TWO problems” Get it? 1) We HAVE a problem 2) We’ve lost the toolbag to fix it. Sheesh. Haven’t you seen Apollo 13?
by Pumpkin eater: Is Tim the Tool Man on this team? What about Joe the Plumber? Why do they hire a rocket scientist to do a journeyman’s job?
November 19, 2008
(NEW YORK) CNN — After raising a staggering amount of money for the general election, President-elect Barack Obama must now rake in more cash for his transition and inauguration.
There is about $9.74 million of taxpayer funds available to pay for the transition, but experts say that’s not enough.
To make up the difference, past presidents have turned to private money and corporate cash.
Obama’s transition team, however, is taking pains to keep lobbyists out of his transition and forgo corporate cash.
John Podesta, the co-chair of Obama’s transition team, has vowed to make this “the most open and transparent transition in history,” but Obama has not explicitly outlined his intentions for the inauguration.
The Obama team will have to balance how to raise enough money without contradicting its tough talk against lobbyists.
“I really do hope Obama sticks by his principles and does not accept corporate money, does not accept money from lobbyists, and places a very, very low ceiling on the amount of money he’d accept from individuals to pay for his inauguration,” said Craig Holman, a legislative representative for Public Citizen.
Public Citizen is a national nonprofit organization that says it advocates for consumer interests in Congress and openness and democratic accountability in government.
The group says companies sometimes contribute cash to the inauguration in order to buy influence.
President Bush raised a record $42.8 million for his second inauguration, and according to Public Citizen, more than 90 percent of donations to his second inauguration were from executives or corporations.
Bush limited corporate donations to $250,000 each in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interests.
Obama could decide to accept corporate donations for the inauguration, but impose tighter limits.
“I think past presidents have had to raise lots of private money to do these things. And I think he’s actually got a good resource base of donors that are willing and probably will give money for both the transition effort, but also the inaugural campaign as well,” said David Lewis, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and author of “The Politics of Presidential Appointments.”
Even without corporate cash, the Obama fundraising machine has been a force. Nearly half of the record $639 million that the Obama campaign raised during the primaries and general election came in the form of donations of $200 or less.
As of mid-October, the Obama campaign had spent about $594 million, but any money left over from the general election cannot go toward the transition.
The president-elect could return that money to contributors, donate it to charity, form a political action committee or contribute to other candidates, PACs or party committees, as long as he stays within federal contribution limits.
Obama could also hold on to the money and use it for a future federal campaign, such as a re-election bid.
The public will get a better idea of exactly how much cash is on hand when the next reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission on December 4.
November 19, 2008
We humans are an interesting species. We want to get things done the fastest and easiest way possible, so you would think we would trust the simplest solutions? Logically, yes. But since we are humans, we tend to trust the most complicated solutions. Actually, it’s even worse: we not only trust the most complicated solutions, we tend to disbelieve the simple ones because they are too, well, simple. In yet another demonstration of our brilliant higher thinking processes, we believe that something simple can’t possibly help solve something complicated.
And so we lean towards the more complicated and often less efficient solutions.
This is particularly evident in the field of medicine. One cute example is that of a family doctor in West Africa who gave injections of saline on top of normal treatments. He did this because the norms of the society he practiced in demanded that an efficient treatment involve at least one injection. So this doctor added the placebo injections and because he ‘healed’ so many people with ‘injections’ without charging much, he became very popular.
Interestingly enough, big medical advances often are the result of relatively small discoveries.
“Today, we’re far more likely to hear exaggerated tales of breakthrough new drugs, aggressively marketed and hyped. But it’s the leukemia story that’s the historical norm. Back in the early 20th century, for example – decades before the discovery of antibiotics – tuberculosis mortality fell almost 70 percent (…) due largely to careful studies of nutrition and hygiene. From 1980 to 2000, death from heart disease plummeted an astonishing 50 percent, almost entirely from the use of existing medicines and surgical treatments. These were gradually tweaked, like leukemia therapy, in response to scores of incremental studies. During the past 30 years, mortality from diabetes in men also has decreased by half, largely due to improved use of flu vaccines, smoking reduction, and possibly aspirin use—but not a new blockbuster drug.”
This tendency towards complicated solutions in response to problems doesn’t seem to be limited to the medical field. It actually seems to be happening on a day to day basis everywhere around me. I see so many people struggling to become better, to overcome adversity and succeed in a competitive world. I will never forget the plan a wonderful friend of mine made a couple of years ago. I really wish I had taken a picture. The flow chart took over half her bedroom wall and was so full of colors and post-its and annotations that even she had sometimes problems reading it. For those of you who watch Heroes, her flow chart was even more complex that Dr. Suresh’s interconnectedness map.
What happened to my friend? Well she still had that flow chart rolled up somewhere in her house. She now admits that the only thing it really helped her realize that she was planning more than she was acting, and that the day she took the flow chart off her wall was the one she started succeeding. She made herself a list of three things she would work on and stuck to them until they got done. As soon as one of the items would get done, she’d scratch it off and replace it with another. Some disappeared within hours, others took a couple of weeks. But she accomplished everything she had wanted to and more – because she stuck to a simple solution.
So hopefully, next time I’m looking to solve another one of the wonderful obstacles that life has decided to toss in my way, I will remember to take it one little step at a time and, most importantly, to persevere until the very end. And if I don’t… I have enough post-Its to keep me grounded .