APTOPIX Massachusetts Gas Explosion

A hole in the Columbia Gas explosion story

The hole in the ground where the Scores strip club used to be isn’t the only hole in Springfield this morning.

Media reporting has left a gaping, unexplained hole after Columbia Gas admitted the cause of the explosion on Worthington Street was human error.

Here’s a basic timeline of what happened Friday, November 23:

  • potential gas leak reported
  • 4:05pm Columbia gas shows up
  • 4:20pm Columbia gas punctures the pipe
  • Columbia gas reports the puncture and evacuation proceeds
  • 5:25pm explosion

Okay, why/how did Columbia Gas originally show up? It wasn’t for the puncture that happened at 4:20.

In fact, there have been reports of natural gas smells at Scores for some time:

On Friday night, a dancer at the club told the Globe that she had smelled gas in the building over the past four months. She said the club’s owner used deodorizers to mask the scent.

Besides, the puncture happened out on the street, at the building foundation. In one hour how does an overpowering gas smell move from outside to inside the building on the second floor?

Lastly, except for one story in the Boston Globe, media members seem to be afraid to speak with strippers that worked at Scores.  It might upset some sensibilities, but talking to the strippers might push this story along.

Photo from WBUR/AP.

Is it okay to highlight how a website looked before I worked on it?

I’ve got one question for you, web designer pro: is it a dick move for a freelance web designer to point out how a site looked before they started working on it?

Here’s the context of the question. I’m a partner in a small design shop. We’re just getting our business off the rails (we’ve got clients and no live website for our business!), and we’d like to write case studies about our clients on the website to be. In one instance we’d like to show before and after screenshots of the site they hired us to redesign, along with text describing what we did.

The idea for having before and after screenshots of our clients’ websites came from plastic surgeon’s websites. They show before and after photos of their clients, so why can’t I?

I’d appreciate your feedback on this question. I have no sense whether it’s a dick move or not.

Photograph by Elizabeth Runder and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

The Constitution Fetish

The original Constitution was simply filed away and, later, shuffled from one place to another. When City Hall underwent renovations, the Constitution was transferred to the Department of State. The following year, it moved with Congress to Philadelphia and, in 1800, to Washington, where it was stored at the Treasury Department until it was shifted to the War Office. In 1814, three clerks stuffed it into a linen sack and carried it to a gristmill in Virginia, which was fortunate, because the British burned Washington down. In the eighteen-twenties, when someone asked James Madison where it was, he had no idea.

In 1875, the Constitution found a home in a tin box in the bottom of a closet in a new building that housed the Departments of State, War, and Navy. In 1894, it was sealed between glass plates and locked in a safe in the basement. In 1921, Herbert Putnam, a librarian, drove it across town in his Model T. In 1924, it was put on display in the Library of Congress, for the first time ever.

The battle over the Constitution : The New Yorker

Rich Frat Boy Gets a Conscience, Gets Attacked By Other Rich Frat Boys

“Fraternity life is at the core of the college’s human and cultural dysfunctions.” Lohse concluded by recommending that Dartmouth overhaul its Greek system, and perhaps get rid of fraternities entirely.

This did not go over well. At a college where two-thirds of the upperclassmen are members of Greek houses, fraternities essentially control the social life on campus. To criticize Dartmouth’s frats, which date back more than 150 years, is tantamount to criticizing Dartmouth itself, the smallest and most insular school in the Ivy League.

[…]

In response to Lohse’s op-ed, the Dartmouth community let loose a torrent of vitriol against him on The Dartmouth‘s website. Lohse, it was decided, was “disgruntled” and a “criminal.” His “blanket and bitter portrayal of the Greek system” was not only false, complained one alumnus, “but offensive to tens of thousands of Dartmouth alumni who cherished the memories of their fraternities.”

Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses – Rolling Stone

John Roberts Blinked When He Saw His Legacy In The Mirror

Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy – believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law – led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

“He was relentless,” one source said of Kennedy’s efforts. “He was very engaged in this.”

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law – CBS News

Let’s Necklace Romney With Ryan’s Economic Plan!

Updates below

First, according to Wikipedia here’s what necklacing is (you can probably get the drift by looking at the above photo too):

Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim’s chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.

The fun bunch in South Africa during the 80s and 90s used to spring this on fellow black folks (it was mostly black on black violence) when someone was “sentenced” as a collaborator with the government.

Sentence Romney By Wrapping The Flaming Ryan Budget Around His Neck

Mitt Romney thought enough of Paul Ryan (and his budget plan) to rope him into the 2012 presidential race. So, we shouldn’t let Romney wiggle away from that budget.

clown paul ryan
The clown, Paul Ryan. From WMxdesign

Despite what you might have heard from the popular media, Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin, 1st District) is a clown. He doesn’t dress up like a clown (not that I know of), but he likes to clown around with budget numbers, and play games like “who’s really going to pay for all this?”.

This page is an archive of all the links to articles detailing exactly what the Ryan budget is proposing. There aren’t a lot of details, mostly just aspirational goals without realistic, specific numbers.

Have you got more evidence from the Ryan Clown College to light that necklace around Romney’s neck? Leave links and comments below.

Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan – David Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 (The Reagan years!) (NY Times, 8/13/12)

Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade.

A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing. Yet the supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.

Instead, it shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.

Pink Slime Economics – Paul Krugman (NY Times, 4/1/12)

As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

Understanding the Ryan plan – Matt Miller (Washington Post, 8/12/12)

Ryan is not a “fiscal conservative.” A fiscal conservative pays for the government he wants. Ryan never has. His early “Roadmap for America’s Future” didn’t balance the budget until the 2060s and added $60 trillion to the national debt. Ryan’s revised plan, passed by the House in 2011, wouldn’t reach balance until the 2030s while adding $14 trillion in debt. It adds $6 trillion in debt over the next decade alone — yet Republicans had the chutzpah to say they wouldn’t raise the debt limit! (I remain mystified why President Obama never hammered home this reckless contradiction by insisting that the GOP “raise the debt ceiling just by the amount it would take to accommodate the debt in Paul Ryan’s budget.”)

Ryan’s Tax-Rate Drop Would Require Lawmakers to Consider Favored Breaks – Richard Rubin (Bloomberg News, Apr 6, 2011)

The fiscal plan outlined by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan calls for reducing the top individual and corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent, which would require lawmakers to consider eliminating tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction to meet his revenue targets.

Over the next decade, the Wisconsin Republican wants the government to collect $4.2 trillion less than it would if Congress did nothing, and $1.8 trillion less than under the budget proposed Feb. 14 by President Barack Obama. Ryan’s targets in the plan he released yesterday are similar to the amount of revenue that would be raised if Congress extends tax cuts set to expire at the end of 2012.

Lowering rates that much while reaching the revenue targets in Ryan’s budget would require lawmakers to consider eliminating so-called tax expenditures, including the mortgage interest break and the deduction for charitable contributions, said Mel Schwarz, partner at the Washington national tax office of Grant Thornton LLP. Both have long been viewed as politically difficult to challenge.

The Battle Over Climate Science

“There’s really only about 25 of us doing this,” Steve Milloy says, shortly after sitting down at Morton’s, a Washington, D.C., steakhouse favored by lawyers and lobbyists. “A core group of skeptics. It’s a ragtag bunch, very Continental Army.” Milloy, a Fox News commentator and former tobacco-industry advocate, runs a website called JunkScience.com that is an outlet for attacks on those he calls “global-warming alarmists.” Many of those who question mainstream climate science resent being called deniers; they say it unfairly equates them with Holocaust deniers. They prefer doubters, skeptics or realists. “Me, I just stick with denier,” Milloy says. “I’m happy to be a denier.”

Milloy is dressed in a striped pink button-down shirt and khaki pants, classic Potomac prep. He moved into climate denial in the 1990s as funding from the tobacco lobby began to dry up. At the time, conservative and libertarian think tanks were just starting to take aim at climate science. Milloy, who has received funding from entities controlled by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, helps them get their message to the masses.

The Battle Over Climate Science – Popular Science

milton bradley school

What a 2nd grade teacher did this summer

School teachers do all kinds of things in the summer. Hang out, travel, spend time with their families, learn.

My sister Patty took one of her former students, now in the fourth grade, to the zoo. From the story I heard, the little boy has lived a rough life. Already. He was a behavior problem in school, which probably had something to do with having a less than stable home.

Patty brought the student under her wing, staying in touch with him and his family, inside and out of school. At the end of his year in my sister’s class, the boy won a bicycle for being the most improved student. He didn’t know what to do with it. He’d never ridden a bike.

If you were to ask my sister’s colleagues at the elementary school she teaches at, some might say she’s a strange bird. She taught in an inner city school with inner city problems (Springfield, MA); left for a plum job in the suburbs, only to get bored and realize those kids didn’t need her; then come back to the city because the job was more rewarding.

Students in Patty’s class get presents from her at Christmas. Don’t think just pens, pencils, and paper. Depending on the student, the present is more likely to be underwear, socks, or other essentials.

Sometimes, that’s the way teachers in an inner city school roll.

madonna super bowl

Judging By Madonna’s Super Bowl Performance And Twitter, Are You A Crabby Person?

Your reaction to Madonna’s Super Bowl performance, and the kinds of people you follow on Twitter, may hint at whether you’re a positive or negative person. Let me explain.

Watching the wreck that was the Madonna halftime show at the Super Bowl, the first thing I did was reach for my laptop to see what my followers were writing on Twitter. I follow around 330 people, of whom about 50-75 were tweeting about Madonna. Monitoring my stream closely, there wasn’t one positive comment about Madonna’s performance. Not one. Not even a borderline positive comment.

Now check this out: some CEO marketing hack (Mark Ghuneim) from an outfit called Wiredset says that Madonna’s performance had 59% positive, 31% negative, and 11% neutral response on Twitter. How’s that possible?

Am I following very negative people because I’m a negative person (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)? Maybe the people we follow on Twitter does say something about us.

Here are the two Tweets I wrote about Madonna:

Betty White should have done the half time show. #superbowl #nfl

Madonna has chronic fatigue syndrome #superbowl

Did you read any good Madonna take-down tweets?

Trailer Parks and Parking Lots

Last night was a double feature: 3 episodes of Trailer Park Boys then taking in the documentary The Parking Lot Movie. There’s a symmetry there: testosterone and pavement.

A documentary can’t answer every question about its subject in 90 minutes, but sometimes there are omissions so gaping your mind wanders during the film. Parking Lot Movie, I’m talking to you.

For example:

  • How come no women work at the Corner Parking Lot? You’ve really got to answer why there aren’t any women parking lot attendants in the movie.
  • Increasingly parking lots are fully automated; take a ticket, put your money in a machine, and leave. Does the Corner Parking Lot have any plans to automate? Automation must have crossed the lot owner’s mind. Why hasn’t he done it?

You don’t know the Trailer Park Boys? Think live action Beavis & Butt-Head in a trailer park, Canadian style. Watch it and mainline pure stupid/funny.