Friday: Death to All That Jazz

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

— excerpt, Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen

This week has been a long death march. Death to optimism, death to pre-existing notions of political parties, death to futures defined by progressive visions.

Ironically, the march led to today’s 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme — the beginning of World War I and the bloodiest day in British military history. The battle lasted five months and cost a million soldiers’ lives. The British suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day alone as they fought alongside the French against the Germans.

Among the British dead were black soldiers from Britain and British West Indies, and Indian Army Calvary who came from what is now India and Pakistan. The British recruited from South Africa, Egypt, China, and more to replace their losses as the Somme continued.

One hundred years later they have forgotten all of this shared pain and history, along with Winston Churchill’s post-WWII vision of a unified European family, a Pan-European Union which the United Kingdom, United States, and Russia supported.

On that bright and cheery note, have a little Death to Jazz — music which never dies.

Democracy elsewhere
Australians went to the polls on July 2nd for this year’s federal election. They didn’t torture themselves with a year or more of campaign crap, thank goodness. I can’t tell you much of anything about this election except that like the US and UK, there are two major parties running neck-and-neck — the Liberal/National coalition and the Labor party — while the world might hope for Greens to succeed. At least Aussies have more than two major parties to choose from even if they are more colorful than any of ours. Putting aside my flippant attitude, this election has serious consequences for the globe given the need for Australia’s climate change research in spite of its excessive reliance on sales of coal as well as its creeping authoritarian approach toward the internet and surveillance. What policies will the next Aussie government pursue?


  • NHTSA launches investigation into fatal autopiloted Tesla crash (Tesla Motors) — OMG if you look at the Florida Highway Patrol report sketch of the accident you’ll immediately grasp what fail this was. This was a really horrific accident. Tesla’s post indicates the sensor read the gap below the semi-truck’s trailer as open space. Jalopnik picks apart the accident; they may be right that the obstruction detection sensor is too low on the vehicle. Besides the fact the driver was completely distracted and watching a movie while on autopilot, something else doesn’t sit right about this crash — like the truck failed to yield, or the car was traveling at too high a rate of speed? Truly a sad situation for the driver’s family and the truck driver.
  • Volkswagen thinks its 3.0L passenger diesel engines can be “fixed” to meet emissions standards (Reuters) — Wait, what? They used “undeclared auxiliary emissions-control devices” on this engine, and not the emissions controls defeat software used in the 2.0L engines, which somehow means they can fix the larger engines. I’ve missed something somewhere along the way because I don’t recall reading about any “auxiliary devices” before now. Color me skeptical.
  • June car sales remain on pace with May, except for Volkswagen (Business Insider) — Dieselgate has really done a number on VW brand here in the U.S.; sales are down 22% for the German automaker over last year. Other brands have picked up the slack, though; the biggest winner is Nissan.

Don’t forget about China
Fourth largest by area, second largest by GDP, and first largest by population, let’s not forget about China!

  • ICYMI: Insurance company to CIA employees bought by Chinese company (Newsweek) — You might want to read Marcy’s piece if you haven’t already. The U.S. really needs to improve the CFIUS review process given this egregious example. It only takes some big iron computing to crunch a match between Wright USA’s business database and other breached databases out there in the cyber-wilds to identify…well, you’re smart. Figure it out.
  • Taiwanese missile mistakenly fired, kills fishing boat captain (IBT) — No words for this, which could have been very ugly. Somebody kept a cool head.
  • Taylor Swift’s love life no longer the subject of Chinese bettors (Billboard) — Chinese government banned the sale of insurance instruments which paid off when celebrity singer/songwriter Swift broke off her romance. Good move, this one, because Swift changes partners like some women change purses and shoes. Don’t waste your money betting on what is surely a PR-driven romance between Swift and the flavor of the month, British film star Tom Hiddleston. (Better off betting on who will be the next James Bond — Hiddleston? Doubtful.)

Party Plans
It’s a long holiday weekend here in the U.S. If you don’t have plans, here’s a few tips.

  • The party moved, dudes; new sandbar this year (Mlive) — Court tossed the monster party held on one of Michigan’s inland lakes because it was monster. This year it’s being held at Wixom Lake instead of Torch Lake. Poor Wixomites; brace yourselves for 1000-plus partiers.
  • Non-Terrible Songs about America (BitchMedia) — This week’s BitchTapes playlist is estrogen driven, a nice even-handed, clear-eyed change of pace for a mellow Fourth of July. Kind of like a hug from your mom or sister who love you in spite of the fact they know only too well you’re a bonehead.
  • Baking cookies for holiday snacking? Don’t eat the raw dough! (Yahoo News) — We’ve always been told raw dough is risky to eat because of uncooked eggs in the batter. But unless you’ve checked yours against the FDA’s recall list, it’s the flour that’s the potential threat. E coli-tainted flour is still in the food system and could be in uncooked dough products. Cook them well, don’t eat them raw.

Holiday mode commences in three, two, one — boom! Because nothing says freedom like incendiary devices at close range!

9 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    ~setting the countdown timer on my phone~

    It’s coming. I know it’s just a matter of time, like watching the water after tossing some chum overboard. The real question is which post is visited first? :-)

  2. bloopie2 says:

    Too much bad news. I quit; it’s a good news weekend. And here’s a nice start. Juno, a space probe launched five years ago, is now ready to descent into orbit around Jupiter, and give us our best knowledge yet of that marvelous place. So many mysteries there waiting to be solved—the Red Spot, the storms. Some posit that the rest of our solar system is what was left over after Jupiter was formed. Anyhow, it’s typical NASA—the best science and technology and long-range vision, that ever existed. Bless you all.

  3. bloopie2 says:

    As to Tesla, what strikes me is the comment that, often, truck drivers will turn into traffic coming from their side, because they simply have to do that in order to make the turn. If they don’t, they will sit there forever. They assume that the other cars will slow/stop to allow them to “do their business”. That sounds right to me; in Manhattan, the large vehicles often take temporary charge of the space, else they would wait forever for an opening. And so people do stop for them, knowing that trucks and buses are, like it or not, essential to their lives. We don’t know yet whether that is what happened here, but it leads me to wonder if a computer that knows it has the right of way can be programmed to say “Yeah, I’ll give you a break this time” and back off.

  4. bloopie2 says:

    Lateness of the comments arises from the fact that the New York area airports were screwed this evening because of weather and so my kids were screwed trying to get here for the holiday. Air travel–ain’t it the greatest? Anyone got an answer for how to handle air travel when JFK closes?

  5. bloopie2 says:

    The drone report on civilian casualties is out and of course it sucks in more ways that one. I wonder if, in our lifetimes or soon thereafter, technology will find ways to identify individuals with truly great accuracy, from great distances, so as to enable fully the concept of war at a distance. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? N.B.: Let’s not stick our heads in the sand and say “We can’t let that happen.” It’s coming, sure as shootin’, and we’d best start thinking about it soon or we will, as before, be left in the dust. Technology—gotta love it.

  6. P J Evans says:

    What I read about the Tesla accident was that the sensor wasn’t seeing the side of the trailer, which was light colored, and that the Tesla driver had a history of speeding (at least six tickets in the last three or four years, including one for 65 in a 35mph zone).

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