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What’s Up with all These Planes going Down?

File this under scary. Today, Reuters cited sources giving an eerie explanation for the crash of a Helios airliner last month in Greece: Confused pilots. The tragedy had been confusing from the start, because the flight crew and most of the passengers appeared to be unconscious when the Boeing 737 ran out of fuel and crashed. De-pressurization was a leading suspected cause of the crash.

Reuters, citing a story in International Herald Tribune, claims that a maintenance crew left a pressurization control knob undone. The pilots missed this and misunderstood a pressurization warning alarm. Apparently, the cabin never pressurized at all. 

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The Green is Now About the Money

In a Saturday New York Times review, Jon Pareles writes about the parody Green Day has become. I totally agree with the headline, “Now a Band That It Once Parodied.” Green Day has gone mainstream, along with punk culture.

When I was a teenager, disco choked culture and music to near the point of death. Then along came New Wave and Punk—real Punk—bands pushing a harder sound and lifestyle. Spiked, died hair, black leather, tattoos, and piercings were as much statements as attire, as teens sought to throw of the yolk of their older, self-obsessive Baby Boomer siblings

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The Wrong Gulf

On Sunday, I gassed up my 1989 Volvo 740 for $2.69 a gallon–the good stuff–and moaned about high prices. Yesterday a friend IMed and told me to gas up before prices jumped 40 cents a gallon. Too late, $3.19 when my wife got the pumps. She paid more today, $3.49 a gallon, or a delightful 80-cent increase in just two days.

I predict the situation will get a lot worse. New Orleans is now the equivalent of a Biblical epic—disaster that will keep on going. The death, the destruction, the economic impact will be like another 9-11, except as an Act of God (Why should he get the blame, anyway?) rather than act of terrorism. Few weeks back, I blogged about the housing bubble. Katrina, that vicious bitch, put a hole in the bubble, I think. 

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Buy Refurbished and Save

I often recommend that people buying new PCs should consider refurbished. In my experience, used is typically better than new. I want to say always, because I’ve never had a bad refurb.

Refurbished is a computer sold secondhand by the original seller, which could be the manufacturer or a retailer. Hypothetical: Jack Consumer buys a new Mac from Apple, but after getting the computer home he sees the new Dell TV commercial with Sheryl Crow. He returns the Mac and buys a Dell. Apple still has to sell that computer, but now potentially at a loss and discounted to future buyers. Maybe Jack liked his Mac but it had a bum hard drive, so he exchanges it for another. Apple still has to sell that computer, albeit with the hard drive replaced, again discounted.