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Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition

News Bureaucracies Recommended Links Elite Theory Bootlickocracy: Prevalence of "kiss up, kick down" treatment in corporate IT The Peter Principle
Fundamental Absurdity of IT Management The Fiefdom Syndrome The authoritarian personality  Double High Authoritarians F-scale Social dominance orientation
Bureaucratic ritualism Bureaucratic Inertia Bureaucratic avoidance of responsibility Meetingomania National Security State Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite
 Machiavellism Mayberry Machiavellians  Mayberry Machiavellians bag of tricks Lysenkoism Humor Etc

...one can generally infer the actual intent of a system
 by assuming that a surviving system is providing
desirable functions to those who decided to create it.

Bureaucracies are systems of power -- social organizations whose purpose is to control material, informational, and especially human resources.

And as such they very quickly deviate from stated external goals replacing them with internal goals of top bureaucrats.

One way to view corruption is to see it as the way of getting something that should not be for sale by those who have the legal status as trustees of persons or property:

“The corrupt buy or sell what was not supposed to be for sale – a vote, for example, or public property. They turn to personal advantage their legal status as trustees of persons or property. Or they grant only to a privileged few what is purportedly available to all or available only through open and fair competition.”

This represents corruption of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. If you think about it "turning official position into source of personal advantages" is the essence of behavior of bureaucrats. In a way this is immanent feature not a deviation. So the legitimate question is "How do modern organizational forms permit it, and what do they do to deter it?" not "How to eliminate it?" The latter is naive.

In one of his earlier writings, Karl Marx described bureaucracy like this:

"The principle of its knowledge is...authority, and its mentality is the idolatry of authority. But within bureaucracy the spiritualism turns into crass materialism, the materialism of passive obedience, faith in authority, the mechanism of fixed and formal behavior, fixed principles, attitudes, traditions. As far as the individual bureaucrat is concerned, the aim of the state becomes his private aim, in the form of the race for higher posts, of careerism."

Any large enterprise or a department in a large corporation should be viewed as a political coalition, not merely as a functional unit that produces specific type of goods or serves. Typical case of autocratic manager ("kiss up kick down") is just one political form: monarchy reproduced in the firm with all typical attributes (court of sycophants, etc). That means that the fundamental assumption that large public firms maximize profits "as if" an individual owner/decision maker was running the firm is deeply, fundamentally wrong in case of bureaucratic organizations. They behave quite differently. In a large public company conflict exists on several levels:

  1. Managerial vs. shareholder compensation vs. survivability and the future of the firm,

  2. Short-run vs. long-run goal setting (intersects with (1) especially if options are used for managerial compensation). ,
  3. Conflict between the labor and management, recently fought in the area of outsourcing.
  4. Hijacking of management ranks by sociopaths and authoritarian individuals.

If we view the public business firm as a Political Coalition it is clear that the firm’s executive is like a party leader. “His problem …[is] to select a coalition so as to maximize the difference between the demands of his coalition members and the potential return from the environment of the coalition.” [March, p. 674.

Important concept here is the concept of the minimum-winning coalition. It is related to situation in US Senate: when building a coalition in Senate, it is important not to give away more than needed for 51 votes.

The book Bureaucratic Phenomenon by Crozier's  was a landmark in the development of both the sociology of organizations and the study of French society in the 1960s. He analkysed the role of trade unions in the US and France during the cold war.

This led to his main cultural finding that in bureaucracies exists the fear of face-to-face communication. And it requires impersonal mediation to avoid confrontation with those in authority.  That's why number of layers of management never reflects that real necessities of the organization.


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Old News ;-)

[Mar 24, 2019] This aviation expert says Boeing made 'disastrously bad decision' on training for 737 MAX

Mar 18, 2019 | www.youtube.com

The recent Ethiopian Airlines crash led to the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX planes across much of the globe. But as new details emerge about the cause of the model's second crash within five months, questions are being raised about how the plane's safety was approved in the first place. John Yang talks to Jeff Wise, a pilot and author of a book about MH370, the flight that vanished in 2014.


Kellie Hickman , 1 day ago

Hundreds of lives lost...because of nothing more than corporate greed and its enablers at the FAA.

Ray Quinn , 1 day ago

World to Boeing. Safety features are not optional! SMH😑

Zemli Drakona , 1 day ago

The warning light should be always on and should say "This plane sucks!"

die Macsmannschaft , 23 hours ago

No wonder Airbus become the new prince on the air! No wonder european produce luxurious goods, not the US!

LA's Totally Awesome , 1 day ago (edited)

So it was like driving a car while the "check engine" light is on X1000

K Me , 22 hours ago

Imagine buying a car with ABS, but the ABS failure light was an "optional extra".

CK Man , 1 day ago

$80,000 for a safety warning light! It should have been standard. How could they justify charging $80,000 for a warning light? It's like Ford charging $800 for Brake Fluid warning light, they would never have gotten away with that!

Africanknight88 , 19 hours ago

LAWSUIT and CRIMINAL CHARGES NEED TO BE FILED!!!! ....Now take that "optional".....my lord 😤🤬

Brandon E. Smith , 23 hours ago

It took only 346 lives to "improve" safety. 🙄 Boeing has always been a horrible, horrible company.

GNegasi , 1 day ago

How design or structural problems can be solved in a software update???

Jenny Kevin , 1 day ago

please don't hide the true, and don't the victim,

numbersix100 , 18 hours ago

I'll never fly on a 737 max, it's inherently unbalanced with its engines so far forward

Armando D'SOUZA , 20 hours ago

First make plane stable in flying mode when engines are producing force to move forward.

[Mar 24, 2019] Boeing 737 Max approval documents subpoenaed by fraud unit - YouTube

Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Published on Mar 21, 2019

With the 737 Max still grounded after last week's deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, the focus turns to Boeing. The company offered a warning system that -- for a price -- might have helped prevent the crashes. Kris Van Cleave reports.


Edmund Ming Yip Kwong , 2 days ago

This is so evil. Very disappointed at this multi-billion corporation

Arun K P , 2 days ago

I didn't know safety features were optional on planes 😂 wtf.

Suprianto , 2 days ago

$80 thousand for a warning light??? Unbelievable.... How much money can an indicator light cost? Software for detecting sensor malfunction should've been there in the first place.... For such a critical sensor, those safety systems should've been built into the systems in a $120 million dollar plane in the first place.

Ester F , 2 days ago (edited)

Why charge more for safety? It should be included by default. Then they kept saying it was safe for flight but excluded a crucial piece. It's all for profit... smh. 🧐 they are trying to deflect blame on the airline. Those planes should have never been sold in the first place.

Schmoo , 2 days ago

WOW! An add-on safety feature? Are you kidding me? That's just pure evil!

Rust belt McCLanahan Crawling , 2 days ago

Actually they should be charged with manslaughter for both plans ! Enough playing games with just a public court hearing then a fine ! Some Big People need to be held accountable by full law ! Jail time !

Crude Rude , 2 days ago (edited)

Wow.... just wow.... So they're releasing a flawed, unfinished product that requires glitchy software they have to patch and are also offering DLC?

Wenderz 26 , 1 day ago

That is like selling cars with no brakes, airbags, or seat belts, expecting the consumer to pay extra for necessary safety equipment . UNBELIEVABLE!

The Watchful Hunter , 2 days ago

I bet Boeing has been frantically shredding and wiping documents off hard drives for a week.

Mr. Sarcastic , 2 days ago (edited)

To bad all Airlines didn't buy the Super Deluxe "I really want to Live Package" from Boeing.

Hermes Trismegistus , 2 days ago

Once again, profit over safety! Those Boeing executives are money hungry demons! What a bunch of egotistical beasts!

Ryan Davis , 2 days ago

I would bet that the actual labor and materials are less than $2000. The engineering had already been completed as it is an option. Why then would safety be optional? Criminal greed, or a low value placed on human lives. Whomever is responsible has no moral or social compass and should be punished. Not with a fine but a lengthy prison term in Leavenworth.

Joseph Holland Pontes , 2 days ago

Oh no DLC is also optional to airplanes.

Dr Evil , 2 days ago

They should never have extra charge on safety features . Evil company

jaja smile , 2 days ago

80K just cost them billions ......

george movies , 1 day ago

Boeing and FAA, GUILTY! MASS KILLING . FIRST DEGREE MURDERERS.

David L , 1 day ago (edited)

I never thought capitalism was evil. Boeing: our planes were NOT safe to fly unless you pay extra.

Q & A , 2 days ago

That's one expensive bulb. 😳

105 Wonky , 1 day ago

You can have these 2 safety features which could potentially save lives, but your gonna have to pay 🤦‍♂️

Henry kirya , 1 day ago (edited)

if we can have recalls for cars, why cant we have the same for aircraft and force those chaps to install foolproof sensors in triplicate, complete with warning inidicators at no additional cost to the airlines!

[Mar 24, 2019] Ethiopian Airlines crash 'It seems amazing that Boeing have not provided the proper training' - YouTube

Notable quotes:
"... Profit before people. Computer says no! Failsafe failed. No manual over ride. Sorry folks. Say Your prayers. The problem maybe rebranded. Best case scenario. Impeccable flying from technical progress made. ..."
"... Totally unnecessary crash that was caused by cutting corners and greed. ..."
Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

leemsy lazy , 1 week ago

Imagines if Airbus was crashing in America like that.

Mulya hadi purnama , 1 week ago

Very Clearly, Unsafety... " Recall " and Grounded all Boeing Type 737 Max 8...Most Dangerous aircraft, almost 400 people's dead in 6 Months !!!

rocco decrescentis , 4 hours ago

No resignation! Like dumbbell n.45 used to say: You are fired!!

Robert Stephens , 1 day ago

When you see documentary of broken dreams. You'll be surprised as i was is that Boeing is using lithium batteries on these aircraft.

Zelalem Zemene , 1 week ago (edited)

Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best known safe reputation. Of course Indonesian Airlines is the best too. The crash was very similar after take off and dive into the ground. Boing is just protecting itself for its market.

Global Solutions , 6 days ago

Boeing needs to be sued for $2 billion for each victim of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines plus $300 billion in punitive damages, and jail time for some executives ~ they knowingly put up unsafe planes. In its early days, the 737 also had several cashes.

QECHEW , 4 days ago (edited)

Obviously Boeing knew about the shortcomings of their design in earlier stages and instead of fixing their design they chose to use a software to fix it without informing the airlines or giving pilots adequate training in order to save costs.

GH1618 , 1 week ago

What is more surprising is that the angle-of-attack sensor system is not fail-safe.

Al Bundy , 6 days ago

Did the pilot's do the mandatory operating system Flash Player updates before takeoff?

Andy Roo , 16 hours ago

Profit before people. Computer says no! Failsafe failed. No manual over ride. Sorry folks. Say Your prayers. The problem maybe rebranded. Best case scenario. Impeccable flying from technical progress made.

Kamau Phillip , 1 week ago

The American pilots complained of the same issues with the same plane model but Boeing did nothing to correct the situation why????? ???

globalvillager700 , 3 days ago

Totally unnecessary crash that was caused by cutting corners and greed.

B M , 1 week ago

Prediction: Director of the FAA will resign!

Shinrin Yoku , 1 week ago

The MC-21300 is a much better plane anyway. Why do airlines not order it I wonder.

[Mar 24, 2019] Flying the Boeing 737 Max 8 A pilot's view from inside the cockpit - YouTube

Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Probir Ghosh , 5 days ago

Its a shame that Boeing didn't tell this little piece of information to the rest of the world.

Ed Estrella , 5 days ago

You're telling me that lack of knowledge is what got over 300 people killed.... Beyond disturbing..

KimsonJohn , 5 days ago

Ipad course GTFOH! This is no cooking recipe. ..it's people's lives!

Weez naz , 5 days ago

56 minutes with an iPad lesson... Jesus Christ

sando wando , 1 day ago (edited)

PR stunt proudly paid by Boeing after being in bed with the WP. 😤

John S , 5 days ago

This piece of PR brought to you by Boeing!

Carl Johnson , 5 days ago

Nice ad after two crashes in less than six months

David Njabia , 5 days ago (edited)

Boeing must be lobbying really hard and it's a shame that a respectable entity like Washington Post is helping the narrative to shift the blame to pilots who are now dead. If it's a Boeing, I'll have second thoughts.

Tewoflos Telahun , 5 days ago

This video is brought to you by Boeing ! Please, Washington Post, be less biased next time.

lucius1976 , 5 days ago

1:39 MCAS = Mass Coffin Automation System

Jason L , 2 days ago

'commitment' OH PLEASE.....america was the last to ground their 737s.

Ab Xarbi , 15 hours ago

I tried to show this video to an Ethiopian, and he almost killed me.

MrXperx , 4 days ago

1. Boeing wanted a new plane with larger enginers but without spending money on a new fuselage. 2. Sold their planes to customers saying that Max type is same as the NG and that no cost is involved for retraining pilots. 3. Make the MCAS system so that the new and plane and old plane feel theoretically same to the pilot. 4. Not tell pilots about MCAS or hide critical details about the system. 5. 300+ people dead. I hope the Boeing management can sleep well knowing they have blood on their hands.

Stephen Courton , 5 days ago

Sounds like they created a dangerously unstable craft that requires a computer system to keep from stalling. Even if pilot turns off plane may have already got in situation hard to recover from manually especially near ground. Two planes found this out.

scrimmo , 21 hours ago

Time for Boeing and FAA officials to be locked up

ludovicoC , 2 days ago

To paraphrase Dr. Strangelove: "The whole point of the [MCAS] is lost IF YOU KEEP IT A SECRET! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL THE [PILOTS], EH

[Mar 24, 2019] US Transport Department Looks Into Boeing 737 Max 8's Approval

Mar 20, 2019 | www.youtube.com

US Transport Department Looks Into Boeing 737 Max 8's Approval | al Jazeera English

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ge8v5cIxm0

New investigations are starting into the certification of the Boeing 737 Max 8 after two fatal crashes in less than six months.


Damon Reynolds , 3 days ago

At the root of almost every problem today is 'cost cutting' for short term profits to satisfy roaming vulture capitalist greed. Why is the FAA 'under funded'? Why is it 'too expensive' to give pilots the sim time they need even after hundeds of people are dead??

Ardhi Adhary Arbain , 3 days ago

Ask manufacturer's engineers to check the plane for their own certification? That's crazy.

srinivas reddy , 3 days ago

I think boeing, FAA and US are working for each other I feel no surprise if they find no wrong doing

MVE , 3 days ago

profit over safety, that's what it is all about

DJ DA VINCI , 3 days ago

Did u know that when u turn off the MCAS it reset itself back on. Victims family should sue Boeing and the FAA till their last dime.

MegaTriumph1 , 3 days ago

Engines too far forward wings too swept back computer and pilot can't find center of balance and it piledrives into earth, its not a mystery. If I wanted to take a perfectly good 737 and turn it into an unflyable plane, well they did it.

Major Skies , 3 days ago

Just fix the auto pilot issue. Also, what in all of God's green earth? Pilots only learned about flying this new model with just textual information? No simulation? No wounder pilots of both airlines were confound by the conflicting warnings blaring at them in the cockpit.

GreenStorm01 , 3 days ago

First.

dinesh prabhu , 3 days ago

Ha ha ha there is no money for the faa, but the government had enough money to go on a bombing run around the world. So now who is responsible ? Boeing faa or other aviation authorities like the icao or others ? Who is going to be jailed for this mass murdering? Since they have accepted it so the faa chief should be put behind bars for lying about the inspection and the certificate !!!!!!

[Mar 24, 2019] FAA 'dropped ball' on Boeing 737 Max 8 - official - YouTube

FAA rep is a clown! It is not FAA fault and Boeing was under pressure. If one of your family was in one of those crashes, you would never shill for those corporate murders.
Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Leon Eldarion , 5 days ago

He is a clown! It is not FAA fault and Boeing was under pressure. If one of your family was in one of those crashes, you would never shill for those corporate murders.

gtud65 cutting , 2 days ago

If BOEING company is from another country, then USA 🇺🇸 Boeing air plane ✈ crashed The Boeing company will be closed immediately

Sammy Woo , 2 days ago

Ex FAA employees have come out and say FAA doesn't have the expertise and have to rely on Boeing for aspects of the certifications, why? because dumb Americans buy politicians ever selling lower taxes. Hey dudes, u gotta spend money to hire good people duh! something gotta give. Cheap government, cheap results. U deserve what u paid for America.

Robert May , 13 hours ago

The MCAS system was not revealed to the first receivers of the Max 8's, nor was it in the Manuals. Boeing thought it would quietly do it's job in the background, but they were wrong. After the first accident from Lion Air, out of Indonesia, then all airliners were informed of this. The pilots in Ethiopia may or may not have been aware of this, and if they were they lacked insufficient training on how to deal with this problem. The MCAS system works to bring the nose of the plane down so it can fly at a level flight. MCAS get's it's information from AOA sensors that send info to the plane as to what angle the plane is flying at. Pilots have reported that the AOA sensors are faulty and sending "wrong information" and "activating" the MCAS system when it shouldn't have, causing the planes nose to point downward, and causing the plane to go into a nose dive, and this is what happened. Basically the MCAS was needed because Boeing redesigned the engines, that were bigger, and were mounted differently -- more forward and up on the wing, throwing off the center of gravity of the new 737 Max 8.The old 737 does not have this problem. AOA sensors, stands for Angle of Attack, to make sure air flow is right both over and under the wings, to make the plane aerodynamic. According to reports from pilots, you can "disengage" the MCAS SYSTEM, buy pulling back on the yoke, and this will do it. At the same time there are wheels by the throttle that you turn manually, to trim the planes stabilizer manually by yourself. This was done many times by well trained American pilots, who averted crashes with this jet. So, proper training and awareness could have saved a lot of lives. Let's not forget these MAX 8 jets have been flying for a couple years, with thousands of flights in North America and developed countries with "no" accidents, and pilots say the plane flies beautifully. They say it's a very smooth flying aircraft, and a pleasure to pilot. So, who's responsible for this -- well it's Boeing, for non disclosure of the MCAS system, and what to do, if it functions in error, and how to manually disengage the system. In my opinion, all pilots should know how to manually take a plane from takeoff, and land it smoothly with no automation, or computers to help them -- just like in the old days. Over the last 20 years, there have been so very few major aircraft go down. I'm all for automation, but I fully support proper pilot training should some of this automation fail -- like faulty sensors. It's completely crazy to rely on robots or Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) to fly planes, if you don't understand how the computers work, and how they fly the plane, and in the event of a failure of the computer, you can then shut it off, and have "no problem" , and take control of the aircraft yourself,- "manually" with a lot of confidence. I SHOULD ADD - this MCAS system and it's AOA sensors, should all be mandatory on a plane, and not be sold as extras, same as brakes on a car. You don't play around with peoples lives, to make a few extra dollars, selling "options." These features "must be standard equipment", on all these aircraft sold, PERIOD. This is why I'm "very against" self driving cars'. Can you imagine all the accidents that will happen from "faulty sensors." WOW , it will be a nightmare. Faulty sensors could be caused by snow, ice, extreme heat or cold. Are we getting so lazy that we need to have Artificial Intelligence driving our cars. No thanks for me, I'll drive my own car, and hope that people will rebel against this idea, and the makers of these cars, won't sell any of them, and thus, taking them off the market.This Boeing Max 8 should send a good example, of things to come if we allow driverless cars. Not for me, and I hope the general public will agree with this.

You Tube , 2 days ago

Terrorists aren't needed to bring down airliners and frighten the public. Boeing and a failed Trump policy, that won't staff FAA department with a permanent and qualified leader, are managing the same thing through their fashionable neglect and arrogance.

Jackyboy335 , 3 days ago (edited)

The word Federal is part of this....right ? Profit is king...right ? "...we are a country of laws.."....right ?

Armando D'SOUZA , 3 days ago

Just look at the investigation of sinking and tilting Mellilium Tower in sanfransico. Building concrete Foundation and glasses are cracking and investigators are still studying what caused the two glass windows to crack. Similar investigation is going on how these two Boeing max crashed.

AJJ Against Jihadi Justin , 5 days ago

The FAA is in Boeings pocket book. Search... problems with Boeing 737 next generation with structural dangers reported on sbs datline australia

Vic Chavez , 5 days ago

Trump privatized the faa and this is what happens.

Wizkin Li , 5 days ago

No no no, this time it's all A320 neo 's fault

osidartaha2 , 4 days ago

Deadly strategie from Boeing for quick profits and market shares . Airliners are built to be operated for at least a couple of decades Boeing was providing worldwidely flying coffins made by mixing new technologies (leap engine ) with cheap and old technologies (1/2 century old airframe).A new well designed aircraft is stable, well-balanced without extra software's help.

barrych mak , 4 days ago

Check also the Boeing 767-300 nosedive crash on 23 Feb 2019 ! 3 Boeing nosedive crashes in 5 months !!!

I.P. Knightly , 3 days ago

Trump nominated his personal pilot to head up the FAA. After 2 years, they still have an "acting" director. Tim Boeing shows up at Mar-a-lago every weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Peter Wexler , 1 day ago

I dissented this.

yin ng , 5 days ago

Same as to Ask Wall Street to regulate Wall Street and the Bankers to regulate themselves. Or ask the committed criminals to jail themselves.

Paradigm , 5 days ago

Byproduct of revolving doors.

Paul Forester , 3 days ago

This been a long time coming. Who cut the FAA? BOTH PARTIES DID! The system is gonna fall apart because too much damage has been done. Just keep paying people peanuts and have them try to do a skilled job. My cousin quit the airline industry because they don't want people to be able to pay for the education needed for these jobs. Like who program these systems.

roxar69 , 19 hours ago

So the merica is not really a saint..so now it not america dream but america dreaming..

Marcus Coyle , 5 days ago

Looks like I'll be getting that 🚲 sooner than later. I won't be traveling by plane for a few Give it time for all the smoke to clear and heads to roll😳

[Mar 23, 2019] Boeing Crapification 737 MAX Play-by-Play, Regulatory Capture, and When Will CEO Muilenburg Become the Sacrificial Victim by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... "It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained. ..."
"... Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling. ..."
"... Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. ..."
"... The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below. ..."
"... Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash. ..."
"... Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification": ..."
"... In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said. ..."
"... (Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More: ..."
"... The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient. ..."
"... The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes. ..."
"... Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.). ..."
"... Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing . ..."
"... In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing . ..."
"... It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. ..."
"... The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing. ..."
"... Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence. ..."
"... I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes. ..."
"... This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders. ..."
"... The moral: Neoliberalism Kills. ..."
"... Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die. ..."
"... > "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane." ..."
"... As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft. ..."
"... "This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes." ..."
"... Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities. ..."
"... that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. ..."
"... In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling. ..."
"... Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air." ..."
"... Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes. ..."
"... The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing ..."
"... Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers. ..."
"... The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry. ..."
"... I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality. ..."
"... Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual ..."
"... Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced. ..."
"... The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths. ..."
"... Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial. ..."
"... "The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence. ..."
"... That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)). ..."
"... Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS): ..."
"... This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior. ..."
"... authority would revert to the pilot ..."
"... How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company? ..."
"... President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S." ..."
"... Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA . ..."
"... we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.) ..."
"... Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal. ..."
"... Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run. ..."
"... Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.* ..."
"... know your customer ..."
"... Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary: ..."
"... this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. ..."
"... The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/ ..."
Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

At some point in the future, I'd like to do failure matrix for the pathways to misfortune ( example of such a matrix here ) that precipitated two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes on take-off in five months , but I don't feel that I have enough information yet. (I'm not unsympathathetic to the view that the wholesale 737 MAX grounding was premature on technical grounds , but then trade and even geopolitical factors enter in, given that Boeing is a "national champion.") We do not yet have results from the cockpit voice and flight data recorders of either aircraft, for example. But what we do know is sufficiently disturbing -- a criminal investigation into Boeing had already been initiated after the Lion Air crash, but before the Ethiopian Airlines crash -- that I think it's worthwhile doing a play-by-play on the causes of the crashes, so far as we can know them. About that criminal investigation :

According to the Wall Street Journal, a Washington D.C. grand jury issued a March 11 subpoena requesting emails, correspondence, and other messages from at least one person involved in the development of the aircraft.

"It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained.

"Nobody knows the answer to that yet," Rosenberg cautioned, adding that he had not yet seen the Justice Department's subpoena and therefore could not know its full scope.

Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling.

Bloomberg comments :

A possible criminal investigation during an aircraft accident investigation is highly unusual . While airline accidents have at times raised criminal issues, such as after the 1996 crash of a ValuJet plane in the Florida Everglades, such cases are the exception.

Before we get to the play-by-play, one more piece of background: CEO Dennis Muilenburg's latest PR debacle, entitled " Letter from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to Airlines, Passengers and the Aviation Community ." The most salient material:

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone. This overarching focus on safety spans and binds together our entire global aerospace industry and communities. We're united with our airline customers, international regulators and government authorities in our efforts to support the most recent investigation, understand the facts of what happened and help prevent future tragedies. Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we're taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet's grounding.

Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, and we'll continue providing the best products, training and support to our global airline customers and pilots. This is an ongoing and relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer .

Soon we'll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.

Fine words. Are they true? Can Boeing's "commitment to everyone to ensure " safe and reliable travel" really be said to be "absolute"? That's a high bar. Let's see!

I've taken the structure that follows from a tweetstorm by Trevor Sumner (apparently derived from a Facebook post by his brother-law, Dave Kammeyer ). However, I've added topic headings, changed others, and helpfully numbered them all, so you can correct, enhance, or rearrange topics easily in comments (or even suggest new topics). Let me also caveat that this is an enormous amount of material, and time presses, so this will not be as rich in links as I would normally like it to be. Also note that the level of abstraction for each topic varies significantly: From "The Biosphere" all the way to "Pilot Training." A proper failure matrix would sort that out.

* * *

(1) The Biosphere : The 737 MAX story beings with a customer requirement for increased fuel efficiency. This is, at bottom, a carbon issue (and hence a greenhouse gas issue , especially as the demand for air travel increases, especially in Asia). New biosphere-driven customer demands will continue to emerge as climate change increases and intensifies, and hence the continued 737 MAX-like debacles should be expected, all else being equal. From CAPA – Centre for Aviation :

The main expected impacts of climate change on aviation result from changes in temperature, precipitation (rain and snow), storm patterns, sea level and wind patterns. In addition, climate change is expected to lead to increased drought, impacts on the supply of water and energy, and changes in wildlife patterns and biodiversity. Consequences for aviation include reduced aircraft performance, changing demand patterns, potential damage to infrastructure, loss of capacity and schedule disruption.

All of these factors will affect aircraft design, manufacturing, maintenance, and use, stressing the system.

(2) Choice of Airframe : The Air Current describes the competitive environment that led Boeing to upgrade the 737 to the 737 MAX, instead of building a new plane:

Boeing wanted to replace the 737. The plan had even earned the endorsement of its now-retired chief executive. We're gonna do a new airplane," Jim McNerney said in February of that same year. "We're not done evaluating this whole situation yet, but our current bias is to not re-engine, is to move to an all-new airplane at the end of the decade." History went in a different direction. Airbus, riding its same decades-long incremental strategy and chipping away at Boeing's market supremacy, had made no secret of its plans to put new engines on the A320. But its own re-engineered jet somehow managed to take Boeing by surprise. Airbus and American forced Boeing's hand. It had to put new engines on the 737 to stay even with its rival .

Why? The earlier butchered launch of the 787:

Boeing justified the decision thusly: There were huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles on its way to a new single-aisle airplane. In the summer of 2011, the 787 Dreamliner wasn't yet done after billions invested and years of delays. More than 800 airplanes later here in 2019, each 787 costs less to build than sell, but it's still running a $23 billion production cost deficit. .

The 737 Max was Boeing's ticket to holding the line on its position "both market and financial" in the near term. Abandoning the 737 would've meant walking away from its golden goose that helped finance the astronomical costs of the 787 and the development of the 777X.

So, we might think of Boeing as a runner who's tripped and fallen: The initial stumble, followed by loss of balance, was the 787; with the 737 MAX, Boeing hit the surface of the track.

(3) Aerodynamic Issues : The Air Current also describes the aerodynamic issues created by the decision to re-engine the 737:

Every airplane development is a series of compromises, but to deliver the 737 Max with its promised fuel efficiency, Boeing had to fit 12 gallons into a 10 gallon jug. Its bigger engines made for creative solutions as it found a way to mount the larger CFM International turbines under the notoriously low-slung jetliner. It lengthened the nose landing gear by eight inches, cleaned up the aerodynamics of the tail cone, added new winglets, fly-by-wire spoilers and big displays for the next generation of pilots. It pushed technology, as it had done time and time again with ever-increasing costs, to deliver a product that made its jets more-efficient and less-costly to fly.

In the case of the 737 Max, with its nose pointed high in the air, the larger engines "generating their own lift" nudged it even higher. The risk Boeing found through analysis and later flight testing was that under certain high-speed conditions both in wind-up turns and wings-level flight, that upward nudge created a greater risk of stalling. Its solution was MCAS , the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System control law that would allow for both generations of 737 to behave the same way. MCAS would automatically trim the horizontal stabilizer to bring the nose down, activated with Angle of Attack data. It's now at the center of the Lion Air investigation and stalking the periphery of the Ethiopian crash.

(4) Systems Engineering : Amazingly, there is what in a less buttoned-down world that commercial aviation would be called a Boeing 737 fan site, which describes the MCAS system in more technical terms :

MCAS was introduced to counteract the pitch up effect of the LEAP-1B engines at high AoA [Angle of Attack]. The engines were both larger and relocated slightly up and forward from the previous NG CFM56-7 engines to accomodate their larger diameter. This new location and size of the nacelle causes it to produce lift at high AoA; as the nacelle is ahead of the CofG [Center of Gravity] this causes a pitch-up effect which could in turn further increase the AoA and send the aircraft closer towards the stall. MCAS was therefore introduced to give an automatic nose down stabilizer input during steep turns with elevated load factors (high AoA) and during flaps up flight at airspeeds approaching stall.

Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. Reading between the lines (I've helpfully labeled the pain points):

Boeing have been working on a software modification to MCAS since the Lion Air accident. Unfortunately although originally due for release in January it has still not been released due to both engineering challenges and differences of opinion among some federal and company safety experts over how extensive the changes should be.

Apparently there have been discussions about potentially adding [A] enhanced pilot training and possibly mandatory [B] cockpit alerts to the package. There also has been consideration of more-sweeping design changes that would prevent [C] faulty signals from a single sensor from touching off the automated stall-prevention system.

[A] Pilot training was originally not considered necessary, because MCAS was supposed to give 737 MAX the same flight characteristics as earlier 737s; that's why pilots weren't told about it. (This also kept the price low.) [B] Such alerts exist now, as part of an optional package, which Lion did not buy. [C] The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below.

(The MCAS system is currently the system fingered as the cause of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes; we won't know for sure until the forensics are complete. Here, however, is the scenario for an MCAS-induced crash :

Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash.

(5) Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification":

The FAA's publication of pilot training requirements for the Max 8 in the fall of 2017 was among the final steps in a multiyear approval process carried out under the agency's now 10-year-old policy of entrusting Boeing and other aviation manufacturers to certify that their own systems comply with U.S. air safety regulations.

In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said.

(Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More:

The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient.

Four years after self-certification began, fires aboard Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jets led to the grounding of the fleet and a wave of questions about whether self-certification had affected the FAA's oversight.

Why "self-certification"? Investigative reporting from the Seattle Times -- the article is worth reading in full -- explains:

The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes.

Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.).

(6) Transfer of Authority to Boeing : In the case of the 737 Max, regulatory capture was so great that certification authority was transferred to Boeing. In order to be certified, a "System Safety Analysis" for MCAS had to be performed. The Seattle Times :

The safety analysis:

Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.

Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane's nose downward. Assessed a failure of the system as one level below "catastrophic."

But even that "hazardous" danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor -- and yet that's how it was designed.

So who certified MCAS? Boeing self-certified it. Once again The Seattle Times :

Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing .

"There wasn't a complete and proper review of the documents," the former engineer added. "Review was rushed to reach certain certification dates."

In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing .

(I'm skipping a lengthy discussion of even more technical detail for MCAS, which includes discrepancies between what Boeing self-certified, and what the FAA thought that it had certified, along with the MCAS system acting like a ratchet, so it didn't reset itself, meaning that each time it kicked in, the nose was pitched down even lower. Yikes. Again, the article is worth reading in full; if you've ever done tech doc, you'll want to scream and run.)

(7) Political Economy : This tweet is especially interesting, because even I know that Muddy Waters Research is a famous short seller:

MuddyWatersResearch ‏ Verified account @ muddywatersre Mar 18

What's the result? Two $ BA planes have been grounded: 787 and Max. Last FAA grounding of a type of plane was 1979. In the case of the Max, FAA outsourced more than planned bc BA was 9 months behind Airbus 320neo 3/4 2 replies 4 retweets 19 likes

This is a great example of real short-termism by a corporate. It's clearly in $ BA LT interest to have robust cert system, but those chickens come home to roost years later, allowing mgmt to meet ST expectations. BTW, semi-annual reporting would do NOTHING to fix this mentality. 4

And here we are! There are a myriad of other details, but many of them will only prove out once the black boxes are examined and the forensics are complete.

* * *

It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. I understand that commercial aviation is a business, but if that is so, then Muilenburg's claim that Boeing's commitment to safety is "absolute" cannot possibly be true; indeed, the choice to re-engine the 737 had nothing to do with safety. Self-certification makes Boeing "a judge in its own cause," and that clearly contradicts Muilenburg's absurd claim that "safety" -- as opposed to profit -- "is at the core of who we are."

The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing.


John A , , March 19, 2019 at 4:34 pm

Maybe they should have appointed aviation expert Nikki Haley to the Boeing board earlier.

Yikes , , March 19, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Sacrificial Victims were spread over land and sea in Kenya and Indonesia. Muilenburg and Obbie The Wan both are the criminals who profit.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 4:36 pm

That should be "five months" not "five weeks" in the first sentence. Lion Air crashed on 29 October 2018.

Howard Beale IV , , March 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

IIRC, one of the big constraints that was leveled was the need to keep the 737, regardless of version, into the same height relative to all other generations of the 737, whereas Airbus kept their height a lot higher than the 737.

If you look at many 737's over the years, some of the engine's nacelles were flat at the bottom to accommodate larger engine. Why? Boeing kept the height the same in order to maintain built-in stairs that, with virtually all airports having adjustable jetways, was basically redundant.

When you compare an A320xeo against a B737, you'll find that the Airbus rides higher when it comes to the jetways.

Michael Hudson , , March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm

It seems to me that the Boeing 737-Max with the heavier, larger fuel-saving engines is so unbalanced (tilting over and then crashing if not "overridden" by a computer compensation) that it never should have been authorized in the first place.

When Boeing decided to add a much larger engine, it should have kept the airplane in balance by (1) shifting it forward or backward so that the weight did not tip the plane, and (2) created a larger landing-gear base so that the large engines wouldn't scrape the ground.

The problem was that Boeing tried to keep using the old chassis with the larger engines under the wings – rather than changing the wings, moving them forward or aft, and expanding the plane to permit a more appropriate landing gear.

The computer system has been blamed for not being a "smart enough" workaround to tell the plane not to plunge down when it already is quite close to the ground – with no perception of altitude, not to mention double-checking on the wind speed from both sensors.

Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence.

I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes.

This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders.

The moral: Neoliberalism Kills.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die.

> "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane."

As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft.

* * *

I'm not sure about redesigning the wing and the landing gear. That might be tantamount to designing a new plane. (I do know that the landing gear is so low because the first 737s needed to accommodate airports without jetways, and so there may be other facets of the design that also depend on those original requirements that might have to be changed.)

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Correct – redesign the wing = new plane.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Rule #3 of Neoliberalism:

Their profits = Your cancer, which presents even more profit taking. I.e. Bayer makes the carcinogenic pesticides AND the chemotherapy drugs.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:19 am

Precisely this. Thank you.

John Zelnicker , , March 19, 2019 at 7:46 pm

@Michael Hudson
March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm
-- -- -

"This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes."

That would be great for Mobile as the Airbus A320neo is assembled here.

Octopii , , March 20, 2019 at 7:38 am

And provides time for the A220 to ramp up in Mobile as well. Not a direct competitor for the 737 but a very good airplane developed by Bombardier.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 11:20 am

Also, the MC-21 is in final testing now; still using Western engines, for the moment. One to watch, maybe.

Which is worse - bankers or terrorists , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 am

Engineering logs seem to indicate that larger landing gear cannot be added without re-engineering the plane.

115 kV , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities.

After the 2003 northeast & Canada blackout, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It directed FERC to create an "electric reliability organization". Previously there were voluntary organizations set up after the 1966 blackout to establish operating standards in the industry. One of them was the North American Electric Reliability Council which morphed into the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in 2006.

NERC is headquartered in Atlanta and employs hundreds of people. The standards setting generally takes place in NERC Committees and Subcommittees and sometimes from FERC itself. These are typically packed with industry people, with a patina of diversity that includes some governmental types and large industrial consumers. Let it suffice to say the electric transmission industry itself largely sets the rules how it operates.

Now consider the article in yesterday's NYT " How PG&E Ignored California Fire Risks in Favor of Profits ". The transmission circuit featured in the article (the Caribou-Palermo line) that caused the destruction of Paradise is a transmission line that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. As described in the article the circuit had many previous failures and was well beyond its design life.

However, both FERC and NERC have a laser focus on "market players" (think Enron or JP Morgan) and system operations (e.g., prevent collapses like the blackout of 2003). AFIK, neither FERC or NERC have prescriptive standards for routine maintenance or inspection and replacement (i.e., very expensive capital replacement that was not done on the Caribou-Palermo line), these are left to the discretion of the transmission owner. While substantive information about electric reliability is maintained by industry trade groups and submitted to FERC, what is available to the public is generally useless and subjected to scrubbing and polishing (often under the guise of Critical Energy Infrastructure Information).

We can see how self-policing work, can't we??? Rent-seeking market players can arbitrage markets, inflating prices consumers pay and make billions in profits, while California burns.

The neglectful rot in California is endemic in the industry as a whole.

A little bit of dignity , , March 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm

How about seppuku for the entire top management?

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:14 am

If an airplane crashes in the forest, and no American were killed, did it make a sound?

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 5:07 pm

That Seattle Times investigative story is indeed very good and a rare instance of newspaper writers troubling to carefully and cogently explain a technical issue.

In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling.

One reason they may not have was that crash several years ago of a commuter plane in upstate NY where the plane started to stall and the confused pilot pulled up on the controls rather than making the airplane dive to regain speed. Still one has to believe that no automation is better than badly designed or malfunctioning automation.

allan , , March 19, 2019 at 5:31 pm

"depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling"

IANAP, but maybe the problem is that "nose up" situations can go south very quickly. For those with the stomach for it, there are videos on youtube of the 747 freighter that went nose up at Bagram a few years ago (perhaps due to loose cargo shifting backwards on takeoff). It was over very quickly.

ChrisPacific , , March 19, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Yes, I was impressed with it. Unfortunately the investigation precludes Boeing from responding as they did indicate they would have had something to say about it otherwise. But the analysis looks pretty cut and dried:

  1. Boeing underestimated the risk rating for the sensor, excluding the possibility of a catastrophic failure as occurred in the two incidents to date;
  2. Boeing also failed to implement the redundancy that would have been required even for their lower risk rating;
  3. Manual correction by the pilot as a possible risk mitigation was constrained by the fact that pilots weren't trained on the new system due to commercial factors.

Fixing any one of those three issues would have averted the disasters, although #3 is pretty precarious as you're relying on manual pilot actions to correct what is a clear systems defect at that point.

It sounds like #1 was partly because they failed to account for all the scenarios, like repeat activation raising the risk profile in certain circumstances. This is very easy to do and a robust review process is your best defense. So we could add the tight timelines and rushed process as a contributing factor for #1, and probably the others as well.

XXYY , , March 20, 2019 at 12:08 pm

People who work on accident investigation would probably agree on 2 things:

So while there is much to be profitably learned by investigating everything here, an effective "fix" may be surprisingly (or suspiciously) small in scope. There will be much clamoring for the whole plane to be resigned or scrapped, for better or worse.

anon in so cal , , March 19, 2019 at 6:28 pm

The Colgan crash, whose pilot, Renfrew, was chatting with the co-pilot below the allowed altitude? And who had apparently lied about his background, and had a pay-to-play pilot's license?

I think the Air France Airbus 447 also had a high-altitude stall (due to a faulty air speed sensor) and needed its nose pushed down, not up (which the copilots didn't realize).

Also, very informative article / OP, thanks for posting.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:47 pm

MCAS was added to change the behavior of the plane from to tend to stall as speed increases. That is stall and crash, because such a high speed stall makes polit recovery very, very difficult.

In addition the MCAS driven amount of elevator change was initially 0.6 to 2.5, which indicates the 0.6 increment was found to be too low.

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 8:07 pm

Well they are planning to keep it but

According to a detailed FAA briefing to legislators, Boeing will change the MCAS software to give the system input from both angle-of-attack sensors.

It will also limit how much MCAS can move the horizontal tail in response to an erroneous signal. And when activated, the system will kick in only for one cycle, rather than multiple times.

Boeing also plans to update pilot training requirements and flight crew manuals to include MCAS.

–Seattle Times

So apparently the greater elevator setting is not so necessary that they are not willing to reduce it. Also the max power setting would normally be on take off when the pilots are required to manually fly the plane.

Synoia , , March 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm

It is about speed, not power. I presume that MCAS was developed to solve a problem, nose up behaviour.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:28 am

Yes, that was an excellent Seattle times piece. Surprising to see that kind of truth-telling and, especially, *clarity* in an MSM piece these days. So what's the angle?

voislav , , March 19, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air."

Apparently this was done after simulations showed that 0.6 degrees was inadequate and the new 2.5 degree setting was not extensively tested before the planes were rolled out. IANAL, but this may be a serious problem for Boeing. Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes.

Big question is how 737 issues will affect 777X rollout, due at the end of the year. If 777X certification is called into question, this may cause further delays and put it at a further disadvantage against A350.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:17 am

The 777 has been a great plane. Let's all pray the MBAs didn't fuck it up, too.

If I were Boeing, I'd have a team looking into the 777 certification process right now. And I'd set up a whistleblower line (so the Seattle Times doesn't get to the story first).

The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing

Chris , , March 20, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Thanks, Lambert, for post and comments. I don't know if this angle has been covered or explored: the relatively new way that Boeing now "manufactures" "tests" and "assembles" parts of its planes. I had dinner with new acquaintance, Boeing engineer for decades (I live near a plant in WA state). For the last few years, this engineer is stationed half year in Russia annually to oversee assembly there. In this newish, more profitable manufacturing system for Boeing, the parts come in from around the world with sketchy quality control, are then assembled by Russian workers this engineer (and other Boeing employees sent from States) supposedly oversees. But the engineer doesn't speak Russian and has too little access to translators .Needless to say, this engineer is planning an exit as soon as possible. Having grown up in WA state for 60 years with neighbors/friends who were Boeing engineers, assemblers, line workers, etc it makes me heart sick to see the current decimation of talent, rigor and wages with additional far-flung assembly factories (Russia with few translators?! who knew?). Might these manufacturing/assemblying "improvements" also be a contributing factor in these terrifying woes for Boeing?

PlutoniumKun , , March 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for this Lambert, fantastically informative and interesting post.

Self regulation only works when liability is transferred with it – over example, in construction whereby certification by the engineers or architects designing the building are also taking on liability in the event something goes wrong. It seems unlikely that this is the situation with Boeing.

Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers.

Airbus will no doubt try to take advantage – just as Boeing (with some justification) tried to focus attention on the Air France Airbus loss which was attributed at least in part to excessive automation. China is pushing hard with its new Comac aircraft, but they seem to be poorly regarded worldwide (only Chinese airlines are buying). The Canadians have missed their chance with the Bombadier C-series.

JBird4049 , , March 19, 2019 at 6:07 pm

The more I read of this the more baffling it is. What was there stopping Boeing from just highlighting the changes and installing an easy manual override instead of this hidden change with effectively no way to permanently do so? Especially when in crisis mode? One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm

I didn't see this before I posted my response. A more concise statement of my thoughts. This plus more robust redundant sensors. Penny wise and pound foolish.

The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

That's the expensive re-certification Boeing wanted to avoid.

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:52 am

That would entail simulator training, that would entail modifying the simulators and the curriculum.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:22 pm

I am leaning towards thinking the kludgy design of the 727 Max could have been rolled out with no major problems if Boeing had been up front about design changes, made a robust and conservative MCAS, fully at the command of the pilot, and provided ample training for the new aircraft.

They still could have saved billions on the airframe. They would have had to acknowledge the significant modifications to the airlines with the attendant training and other costs and delays. They would have lost some sales. They still would have been far ahead of Airbus and light years ahead of where they are now.

I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:08 am

> I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual engineering culture. The merger took place in 1997, 22 years ago, which is not so long, really. Note also that the finance guys drove the decision to outsource as much 787 manufacturing as possible , which creates headaches for real engineering, so the initial stumble with the 787 that led to the 737 fall is down to them, too.

Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced.

VietnamVet , , March 19, 2019 at 6:50 pm

The 737 Max crashes and Brexit are the chickens coming home to roost. NC is a treasure for your coverage of both.

Clearly upper management in Chicago only knows short term finance. Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

The criminal charges are that besides being a faulty design (it relies on one fragile exposed sensor that if out of position keeps triggering dives until switched off) but Boeing hid it and self-certified that it was safe. Adding a discrepancy warning and position indicator for the two independent flight sensors to the cockpit video display is an extra cost feature.

Neither of the planes that crashed had the added safety display. All are cost saving measures. Finally, if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral.

You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:01 am

> if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral. You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

That's what I mean by horrid UI/UX. Might as well as both pilots to pat their heads and rub their tummies in synch. And since the two pilots have to both understand what's going on, we've multiplied the chances for failure.

Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Added cost, "mandatory" safety feature. Does not seem to square with the [soon to be former?] CEO's apology-industry written claim to be committed to absolute safety.

You can't make this stuff up.

dearieme , , March 19, 2019 at 7:03 pm

"The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence.

But the bigger picture: suppose the FAA is to do its job properly. From where is it going to recruit its staff?

Smaller picture: it doesn't really matter whether the cocked-up MCAS killed all those people or not. Even if it's innocent of the charge, the account of its development and application is a horror story.

Bigger picture: what other horrors have been hidden by Boeing?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:48 am

> the account of its development and application is a horror story.

That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)).

Sounds like the MBAs in Chicago have been busy planting land mines everywhere. Somebody stepped on this one; there are others.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 7:05 pm

The unfortunate pilots were made test pilots; the unsuspecting passengers: Guinea pigs. Lab rats. And paid for the privilege. Some others may share this opinion. Change one little thing? Chaos Theory Rules. Same with weather/climate; folks. That rant is for later.

oafstradamus

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS):

https://leehamnews.com/2019/02/01/bjorns-corner-pitch-stability-part-7/

This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:55 pm

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing

Yes, after money.

drumlin woodchuckles , , March 19, 2019 at 8:08 pm

At what point does "crapification" become insufficient to describe Boeing's product and process here? At what point do we have to speak of " ford-pintofication"?

barrisj , , March 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

OK, I'm told to resubmit my crib re: "Boeing options" from the ZeroHedge "tweetstorm" by Trevot Sumner, and include a link got it:

Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed

https://mobile.twitter.com/trevorsumner/status/1106934369158078470

Ooops! "Options package"? Wait, a "package" that in the interim corrects a potentially catastrophic mfg. defect and airlines have to pay for it? Whoa, here's your late capitalism in play.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:45 am

> Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light

This is one of the details I could not get to (and we don't 100% know this is an issue until the forensics are done. Right now, we have narrative. Truly excellent narrative to be sure -- if only we thought of government the same way as pilots think of their aircraft! -- but narrative nonetheless).

Let me see if I have this right. Pilots, chime in!

"Authority" is one of the big words in this discussion; MCAS takes authority away from the pilot (and can do in such a drastic fashion as to crash the plane). Worse, the default case is that it can do so on the basis of a single sensor reading. In a design appropriate to the consequences for failure (i.e., a different design from that described in the "System Safety Analysis" that Boeing self-certified) MCAS would take readings from two sensors, and if they disagreed, authority would revert to the pilot . That's a general principle at Boeing, and so it's reasonable for pilots to assume that they retain authority of MCAS has not told them they don't have it any more.

Hence, the disagree light, which tells the pilots to take back authority because the sensors are confused. However, I think there are UI/UX issues with that, given that the 737 cockpit is extremely noisy and pilots have a lot to do on take-off. So a light might not be the answer. (The light also strikes me as a kludge; first, MCAS feels to me like a kludge, in that we're making the aircraft flyable only through software.* Fine for fighter jets, which can be inherently unstable, but perhaps not so fine for commercial aircraft? Then we have a second kludge, a light to tell us that the first kludge has kicked in. I dunno.)

NOTE * However, it's also true that automation affects flight characteristics all the time. So I'm not sure how savage to make this indictment.

rowlf , , March 20, 2019 at 6:00 am

The AOA indication is Service Bulletin 737-31-1650 (there may be others) and is on the both Pilot Flight Displays (PFDs). Pilots would likely abort a takeoff if they saw the indication come on before getting airborne.

California Bob , , March 19, 2019 at 8:20 pm

In hindsight, it appears Boeing should have made Mulally CEO. He appears to be competent.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 8:25 pm

"Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, "

How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company?

I want to fly on Boeing planes put together by well paid members of the Seattle Machinists Union, not low wage peons. Let's not even mention the maintenance of American aircraft in China and El Salvador.

https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2018/04/20/southwest-airlines-should-have-inspected-engines.html

President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:32 am

> President Trump, here's a reelection tip:

> "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA .

And your suggestion is very good one. I wonder if he could do that by executive order? And I wonder how many grey-beards would come off the golf courses to help out? I bet a lot.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 8:47 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!! However. It should have been flown A WHOLE LOT MORE before receiving certification.

*Real* test pilots should have their a–es on the line ; operating for a lot more hours at *the edge of the envelope*, as it is known. Stability should be by design; not software*patch*. Patch this!

What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation? Like the so-called Doppler Radar; which *magically* predicts what the future will bring; while the experts pitch it as fact? And make life-or-death decisions on the theoretical data???
Rush to market; markets rule. We can die.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 9:19 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Agreed, but I think we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.)

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:25 am

> The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Didn't say it was. The headline reads "Boeing Crapification," not "737 Crapification."

That said, the 737 clearly has issues, as Boeing itself knew, since if they'd had their druthers, they would have launched a new plane to replace it. See point #2.

> What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation?

That is a very good question. If I understand the aerodynamics issues aright, MCAS would be most likely to kick in at takeoff, which raises a host of UI/UX issues because the pilots are very busy at that time. So was MCAS not tested in the simulators? If so, how on earth was a scenario that included sensor failure not included? It may be that there are more issues with Boeing's engineering process than the documentation issues raised by the Seattle Times, though those are bad enough.

Ron D , , March 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm

I say the 737-whatever is a flying Turd, and always has been. It has a bad wing design which means it has to fly nose up compared to other models( I always remember that when going to the restroom while going somewhere on one). And because of its poor design it has to takeoff and land at higher speeds. So when flying into someplace like Mexico City it can be quite a harrowing experience, and the smell of cooking brakes is relatively normal.

Boeing never should have let go of the 757. Now that was a good plane that was simply ahead of its time.

The Rev Kev , , March 19, 2019 at 8:53 pm

Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal.

We now know that the FAA does not audit the work done for these aircraft but the airlines themselves do it. It cannot be just Boeing but the other aircraft manufacturers as well. Other countries are going to be asking some very hard questions before forking over their billions to a US aircraft manufacturer in future. Worse is when Ethiopia refused to hand over the black boxes to the US but gave them instead to a third party.

That was saying that based on how you treated the whole crash, we do not trust you to do the job right and not to change some of the results. It has been done before, ironically enough by France who the Ethiopians gave the black boxes to. And when you lose trust, it takes a very long time to gain it back again – if ever. But will the changes be made to do so? I would guess no.

notabanker , , March 19, 2019 at 9:44 pm

But if the discount foreign airlines had just trained their pilots and paid for the non-crashintothegroundat500mph upgrade, all of this could have been avoided.

The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 12:55 am

Do you think that there was an app for that?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:23 am

> we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal

Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run.

Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.*

NOTE * There ought to be a way to reframe contradiction in terms of Net Present Value which would not be what we think it is, under that model.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

Can Boeing survive? Yes, as a much smaller company. What is upsetting to me, is that the Boeing management has sacrificed thousands of Jobs.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:10 am

> Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

I wish it were as complete as it should be! There are a ton of horrid details about sensors, the UI/UX for the MCAS system, 737 cockpit design, decisions by the marketing department, and training and maintenance for Asian airlines that I just couldn't get to. (Although most of those presume that the forensics have already been done.) But I felt that dollying back for the big picture was important to. Point #1 is important, in that all the factors that drove the 737 decision making are not only still in place, they're intensifying, so we had better adjust our systems (assuming Boeing remains a going concern -- defenestrating Muilenberg would be an excellent way to show we accept the seriousness of customer and international concern).

Bill Smith , , March 19, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Bloomberg is reporting that : "The Indonesia safety committee report said the plane had had multiple failures on previous flights and hadn't been properly repaired."

And the day before when the same plane had the problem that killed everyone the next day: "The so-called dead-head pilot on the earlier flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:14 am

There's an enormous expansion of air travel in Asia. The lower end -- not flag -- carriers like Lion Air and also Air Asia are in that business to be cheap ; they're driven by expansion and known to be run by cowboys.

That said, know your customer . I would translate this into an opportunity for Boeing to sell these airlines a service package for training their ground operations. But it seems that cutting costs is the only thing the MBAs in Chicago understand. Pilots, pipe up!

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:13 am

Pilot training and requirements are in the hands of the country, not Boeing. If the story that the copilot of the Ethiopian Airlines plane had only 200 hours of experience that is astounding.

In the US that requirement is 1500 hours. In addition most US airlines would require more than that. And then they slot 'beginning' pilots for flights in good (better) weather as high minimums pilot.

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:17 am

"sell these airlines a service package" That won't help an airline that is in the business to be cheap. The Indonesia airplane was repeatedly reported for problems in prior days/flights that was never fixed.

Basil Pesto , , March 20, 2019 at 2:42 am

indeed I was just about to mention this same story. The link is here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-19/how-an-extra-man-in-cockpit-saved-a-737-max-that-later-crashed?utm_campaign=news&utm_medium=bd&utm_source=applenews

and this quote makes an interesting follow-on to the thread yesterday with 737 Pilot (which Lambert linked to in the first paragraph here):

"The combination of factors required to bring down a plane in these circumstances suggests other issues may also have occurred in the Ethiopia crash, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, who also directed accident investigations at FAA and is now a consultant.

"It's simply implausible that this MCAS deficiency by itself can down a modern jetliner with a trained crew," Guzzetti said."

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

JBird4049 , , March 20, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

One can often point to inexperience, incompetence, stupidity, incompetence or just bad luck when some disaster happens, but Boeing counted on perfect performance from flight crews to successfully work with a workaround needed for other workarounds that needed perfect performance to not catastrophically fail. I know enough about complexity that you cannot depend on perfection because something will always fail.

BillC , , March 20, 2019 at 7:25 am

Your excellent summary lacks some MCAS details that are not widely reported by the general-audience press.

Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary:

A. The requirement for MCAS apparently emerged very late in the MAX's development, when it became clear that the upper cowling around the larger engines, being moved up and forward with respect to earlier 737 versions, adds nose-up force as the angle of attack (AoA) approaches the upper limits of the MAX's operating envelope because at such angles, the cowling itself generates lift beyond that of the wing.

B. As perceived by a pilot flying manually (not on autopilot), this added nose-up force makes it easier to pull back on the control column ("stick"), increasing the AoA further. This is like a car running off the asphalt onto a muddy shoulder: the steering wheel wants to turn the wrong way (toward the ditch) rather than the right way (back on the road).

C. An FAA regulation prohibits certification of an aircraft that presents the pilot with changing stick forces near stall that nudge the pilot toward the wrong reaction, 14 CFR 25.203(a) , IIRC (unfortunately, I can't find the original blog citation).

D. MCAS was put in place to satisfy this certification requirement -- not to automagically correct stalls without pilot action.

E. Other means of meeting this requirement exist, ranging from an airframe redesign that avoids the extra nose-up effect of the larger repositioned engines down to a "stick pusher" that increases the force a pilot would need to pull the stick back further in this situation.

F. Any of the other options would negate one or both of the MAX's chief selling points: little cost or schedule impact to Boeing (in a rush to meet the Airbus 320 NEO challenge) and to its customers ("No new flight crew training necessary, because to the pilot, the MAX feels just like its 737 predecessors.") That is, all the other options introduce new hardware to a completed design and the more fundamental changes could require new type certification.

G. The easiest fix was pure software: at high indicated AoA, under manual control, and with flaps up, automatically rotate the horizontal stabilizer a little bit nose-down, which increases the pressure needed to pull the stick back (nose-up). No need to tell the pilot about this in training or real time, since it's just to make MAX feel like any other 737.

H. The design presented for certification described a single small rotation. Testing showed this was insufficient to provide the tactile feedback necessary for certification in all cases, so the software fix was obvious: if the trigger conditions still hold after a 5 sec. pause, do it again.

I. Apparently nobody asked at that point, "What if the AoA indication is stuck high?" We're under schedule and cost pressure, so who wants to complexify things by (1) adding additional sanity-checking to the aircraft's AoA computations or (2) limiting how many times we add a little bit of nose-down.

J. When these details combine with a consistently erroneous AoA reading, MCAS can -- if not repeatedly countermanded or disabled and manually reversed -- eventually rotate the horizontal stabilizer to its maximum nose-down position, where it was found in both recent incidents, IIRC.

Even if the pilots figure out that's what's happening amid a cacophony of seemingly contradictory instrument readings and warnings (stick-shaker, trim wheel clacking, alarm chimes, and synthesized voices), the pilots still have to (1) cut power to the electrical trim systems and (2) restore the required trim, which may then require as many as 50 manual turns of a trim wheel. If you're near the ground, time is short

A minority of commenting pilots assert that any competently trained cockpit crew should be able to identify MCAS misbehavior quickly and power off automatic trim per the same checklist that was prescribed for "runaway automatic trim" on every 737 variant, MAX included. Most seem to agree that with aircraft control difficulties, multiple alarms, and disagreement among the pilot's and first officer's airspeed and AoA readings almost from the moment of takeoff (not yet officially confirmed), an MCAS-commanded runaway trim event may feel very different from the runaway trim flavors for which pilots have had simulator training, making problem identification difficult even given knowledge of the earlier Lion Air incident.

I imagine most software developers and engineers have seen cost/schedule pressures lead to short cuts. If their life was at stake, I doubt that many would think self-certification that such a project complies with all relevant safety requirements is a good idea.

ShamanicFallout , , March 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Thank you for that. And just 'wow'. I don't really know anything about aircraft/flying but this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. I guess we'll know what the current 'temperature' is out there when the fallout (civil liability, criminal liability, plane orders cancelled/ returned, etc) manifests. If Boeing skates, we'll know we've got a long way to go.

Cheryl from Maryland , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/

drfrank , , March 20, 2019 at 9:22 am

Yes, but. Part of what we are seeing in this case is a rush to judgement based on less than full evidence and analysis, and so prejudices and ideological positions (which I share actually) are plainly to be seen (and perhaps worth analyzing). "Crapification," says the headline.

Yet, I cannot say that I disagree with BA's business decisions as such in a highly competitive environment as regards the tradeoffs in the development of the MAX and there is a certain absurdity in the idea that Boeing would knowingly take a high reputational risk, in an industry where failure is front page news (contrast banking or pharma failures).

I have no reason to believe that an FAA fully in charge of all aspects of certification would have prevented these crashes, as banking and drug regulators have not kept us safe either. What seems worthy of note is that neither the airlines that buy the product nor the foreign aviation regulators nor pilots' associations do their own testing and certification, in an area where more redundancy would be good. Nor is there any kind of private third party watchdog testing, like a Moody's or S&P, evaluating potentially toxic products and services for a price.

Finally, I suppose we have to ask ourselves why the price of the stock is holding up fairly well even as the news flow on these tragedies is helping the short sellers. Lest we forget that Boeing is the 5th largest defense contractor in the US.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 10:01 am

Is engine throttle automated in the flight regime where these accidents occurred? Or are the pilots controlling power? Is the lag in thrust response interacting with the MCAS in an unanticipated way? Aerodynamic lift of nacelles is mentioned several times; there is another lift factor relating to the thrust angle; which is not necessarily aligned with the fuselage axis in flight. Departure procedures often require speed limits and altitude changes; so it is likely multiple power demand levels get set through takeoff and climb until cruise altitude is reached. Does Autopilot/Flight Director integrate with MCAS; or are they independent systems? Even without touching flight controls; power changes affect pitch forces. I am wondering if consequences of manual power changes on an otherwise automated departure were adequately investigated in the certification of the MCAS. Please excuse my ignorance of these details.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 11:18 am

Regulatory elements that have been getting attention include the use of *standard* weights for passengers; IIRC, 170 lbs for US (and possibly ICAO) passengers comes to mind . Many aircraft accidents have an element of disregard for proper weight distribution, either accidental, or negligent. For instance: Tail-heavy bad! Intentional loading outside of subsequently approved C.G. and/or max weight limits is a common, if not ubiquitous part of determining certification limits.There is a safety factor in the certificated limits; but banking on this; using estimates; is proven risky or disastrous when actual weights, and distribution thereof, is uncertain. Cargo with false weight values could also occur. One might find incentive to claim lower weights than actual to save on freight charges. How many 170 lb passengers do you know? I am not familiar with scales being used to check aircraft weight and balance before takeoff; only calculations; based on formulas and charts.
Scales ARE USED during certain maintenance procedures; for airworthiness certificates; and following certain modifications.

Jack , , March 20, 2019 at 11:50 am

Here is an interesting article by a professional pilot blogger Patrick Smith. He calls the 737, "the Frankenplane", and traces its history all the way back to the 707 in 1959. According to Smith, "We wonder if the 737 MAX even needed to exist in the first place. Somewhere deep down, maybe the heart of this whole fiasco is Boeing's determination to keep the 737 line going, variant after variant, seemingly forever. I'm not saying this is the reason for what happened in Indonesia or Ethiopia, but the whole 737 program just seems misguided and unnecessary. Instead of starting from scratch with a new airframe, they took what was essentially conceived as a regional jet in the mid-1960s, and have pushed and pushed and pushed the thing -- bigger and bigger engines, fancier avionics and more seats -- into roles it was never intended for. The "Frankenplane," I call it.
See the article here .
As a pilot myslef, I feel the airlines have a lot to answer for as well. Their constant "dumbing down" of pilots, which comes from making pilots work long hours for low pay, results in pilots not being the best of the best. And training is a cost to airlines. Training doesn't result in revenue. Better to have the pilots actually flying, hence Boeing selling this new version of the 737 as not requiring further training. But, training and practice is everything in flying. Flying a plane is actually a relatively easy skill to acquire. Most people can learn to fly a trainer in 5 hours or so. Most people solo (fly the plane without an instructor) with only 10-20 hours of instruction. It takes a lot longer to learn how to drive a car for most people (45 hours is the average). So it really isn't that difficult .until something goes WRONG. That is when the training kicks in. An often quoted flying truism, is that flying is "99% boredom and 1% stark terror". What happened with these two crashes is that you had some inexperienced pilots who were not fully trained on the systems (a lot of that blame goes to Boeing). When things start going wrong, information overload can easily occur if you have not been properly trained, even with two pilots.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Maybe this is the link mentioned above:

http://www.askthepilot.com/ethiopian-737max-crash/

allan , , March 20, 2019 at 11:57 am

"you had some inexperienced pilots"

The captain, Yared Getachew, had more than 8,000 hours of flying under his belt.
(It is true that the first officer only had 200.)

You have to wonder how the average US commercial pilot would have done under the circumstances.

(Reply to Jack at 11:50 am)

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Thanks for that correction. We can expect a deluge of blame-the-other-guy PR from the aircraft manufacturer and certification agencies. Billions are on the line for Boeing if a cascade of judgments it made materially contributed to these crashes. The usual strategic corporate bankruptcy might follow. I presume Boeing is considered much TBTF by the USG.

JerryDenim , , March 20, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Great job summarizing and connecting dots Lambert. I might add one more bullet point though. Items #5 and #6 were aided, abetted and perhaps somewhat necessitated by 'ye ole NeoLiberal playbook' you spoke of, but more specifically, the current regulatory FAA/Boeing milieu is attributable to years of budget cuts and strategically applied austerity. The old Grover Norquist, ' not destroyed, but small and weak enough to be drowned in a shallow bath' saw. Exact same thing we've witnessed with other formally effective regulators like the EPA, the SEC or the IRS.

I remember having a conversation with an FAA maintenance inspector, an old timer, about ten years ago. He looked to be upwards of seventy, and he told me he was eight years beyond eligibility for a full retirement. He informed me that a few years back he was supervising a team of ten people that was now down to two. Their positions had been cut outright or eliminated after they resigned or transferred when the remaining positions were made miserable by the increased workload and bureaucratic headaches. The inspector said he had not retired yet because he knew he would not be replaced and he felt the work was important. I asked him if his department was atypical and he said it was not. Same thing, across the board, with the exception of the executive level desk jobs in DC and Oklahoma City. Readers can draw their own conclusions but when it comes to funding Federal regulators, I believe you should never attribute anything to incompetence that you could attribute to malice.

No doubt Neo-Liberal ideologues in high places pushing the corrosive "customer/client" model of regulating along with the requisite deference and obsequious to industry played a large role as well.

"Chickens coming home to roost" Indeed.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 2:44 pm

I understand the published materials to boil down to this possible scenario:

To remain competitive and profitable, Boeing needed to improve the fuel efficiency and flight characteristics of a mainstay medium-haul aircraft. Instead of designing a new aircraft, it modified an existing airframe. Among other changes, it added more powerful engines, new lift and control surfaces, and enhanced computerized controls.

The modified Max aircraft **did not** fly like the earlier version. That meant Boeing would have to disclose information about those changes. It would need to train pilots in them, in how to integrate new protocols into existing ones, and in what to do if the enhanced computer controls malfunctioned, requiring the pilot to regain manual control.

These steps could have increased cost and time to market, might have involved new certifications, and might have reduced sales. Boeing appears to have relied on enhanced computer flight controls to avoid them.

The newly enhanced computerized controls meant that the computer would do more of the actual flying – the part that was different from the pre-Max version – and the pilot less. It gave the pilot the virtual – but not real – experience of flying the older aircraft, obviating the need, in Boeing's judgment, for additional disclosures and training. That worked except when it didn't. (See, driverless car development.)

One possible failure mode derives from the Max's reliance on a single sensor to detect its angle of attack, the aircraft's nose-up or nose-down deviation from level flight. Reliance on a single sensor would make it harder to detect and correct a fault. (Boeing's version of commitment to "absolute" safety.)

In these two crashes, the sensor may have given a faulty reading, indicating that the aircraft's nose was higher than it should have been for that stage of flight, an attitude that risked a stall. The programmed response was to drop the nose and increase power. A normal reaction to a real stall, this response can become catastrophic when unexpected or when the pilot cannot correct it.

In both crashes, it appears that the pilot did attempt to correct the computer's error. Doing so, however, reset the automated control, leading the computer to reread the faulty sensor to mean "stall." It again dropped the nose and increased speed. The pilot recorrected the error in what would become a deadly loop, a tug of war that ended in a powered dive into the ground.

Seal , , March 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm

This is like #Immelt at #GE

VietnamVet , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 pm

What is interesting is what comes next. The FAA was drowned in the bath tub along with the EPA, FDA, SEC, etc. It doesn't have the money or staff to recertify the 737 Max. An incompetent Administration that is interested only in extracting resources is in charge. It is clear that Boeing hid the changes to save money and time. Adding a warning indicator that the flight sensors are not in the correct position to the pilot's display, including it in the preflight checklist, plus flight training would have prevented the Indonesian crash. But these changes would have raised questions on the adequacy of the new flight critical system and may have delayed certification overseas. It is easy to overlook problems if your paycheck is at risk. The Boeing managers who pushed this through deserve jail time for manslaughter.

Canada said it will recertify the 737 Max before it flies in their airspace. China won't recertify the Max until the Trump Trade War is over. Also, a delay boosts their replacement airliner. If Chicago and DC paper this over like the 2008 Great Recession; the final nails will have been hammered into the coffin of the hegemon. Trust is gone

[Mar 23, 2019] The Other Recent Deadly Boeing Crash No One Is Talking About - Slashdot

Mar 23, 2019 | tech.slashdot.org

The Other Recent Deadly Boeing Crash No One Is Talking About (nymag.com) 65 Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:34PM from the searching-for-answers dept. New York magazine's Intelligencer remembers last month's crash of a Boeing 767 carrying cargo for Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service -- and shares a new theory that its cause wasn't a suicidal pilot or an autopilot malfunction:

In online pilot discussion forums, a third idea has been gaining adherents: that the pilots succumbed to a phenomenon called somatogravic illusion, in which lateral acceleration due to engine thrust creates the sensation that one is tipping backward in one's seat .

The effect is particularly strong when a plane is lightly loaded, as it would be at the end of a long flight when the fuel tanks are mostly empty, and in conditions of poor visibility, as Atlas Air 3591 was as it worked its way through bands of bad weather. The idea is that perhaps one of the pilots accidentally or in response to wind shear set the engines to full power, and then believed that the plane had become dangerously nose-high and so pushed forward on the controls.

This would cause a low-g sensation that might have been so disorienting that by the time the plane came barreling out of the bottom of the clouds there wasn't enough time to pull out of the dive.

It has been speculated that this might have been the cause of another bizarre and officially unsolved accident from three years ago: Flydubai Flight 981, which crashed 2016 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia....

While it's still too early to draw any kind of conclusions about Atlas Air 3591, the possibility exists that a firm conclusion will never be drawn -- and if it is, the cause could turn out not to be a design flaw or software malfunction that can be rectified, but a basic shortcoming in human perception and psychology that cannot be fixed as long as humans are entrusted with the control of airplanes.


BobC ( 101861 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @02:26PM ( #58321314 )

Re:Flying by Instruments? ( Score: 5 , Informative)

Yes, commercial pilots are taught to "fly their instruments". General aviation pilots may enjoy more "seat-of-the-pants" flying, but even they are taught to trust instruments over human perceptions, which are easily fooled, as even simple demos will show.

I used to work for an aircraft instrument maker, and our user interfaces, everything the pilot interacts with, got more care and attention than the rest of the instrument. Of course we had to display nothing but totally accurate data, and do so promptly, but we also had to do so in ways that were obvious and clear, so the pilot can take in the most important information with a quick glance.

The pilot's standard "scan" is perhaps the most-trained skill. To look at everything on the instrument panels and outside the windows often enough to not miss anything, yet slow enough to take in all vital information.

When things get hectic, the pilot still does this scan, interrupting it as needed to deal with situations, but still doing it. Because, as the saying goes, "trouble often comes in threes": Stopping everything to handle an initial situation may mask what's really going on, and lead to a cascade of failures.

With ever more data being aimed at the pilot, there is a distinct risk of information overload, especially when tired, or during tense but otherwise normal situations, such as take-off, landing, or flying through turbulence. This overload often encourages the pilot to rely more on signals from the body, which need less conscious processing, rather than focus on all that data.

Here, again, is where commercial pilots receive extra training, but perhaps not often enough. This is one of the factors that keep commercial pilot mandatory retirement ages so low: The risk of overload increases with age, even when all other factors match those of a younger person.

Plus, staying in peak training for decades is fatiguing, and relatively few can do so "naturally". Which is one of the reasons we're running out of commercial aircraft pilots.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but this overload risk is often handled by adding more automation, more automatic systems to "help" the pilot. So much so that actually manually "driving" a commercial aircraft, with hands on the controls, is an increasingly rare part of a normal flight.

Our instruments also tried to take pilot fatigue into account, saving our brightest and loudest alarms only for the most desperate situations, to punch-through that overload to help ensure prompt and correct reactions.

One product I worked on was a TAWS (Terrain Awareness and Warning System) instrument, which basically stayed quiet unless there was a risk of the pilot flying into the ground, to help prevent "CFIT" accidents (Controlled Flight Into the Ground). It has special modes for take-off and landing, though our instrument was designed to actually *avoid* making the pilot depend on it's display: Useful for information as part of the scan, but not to be used to navigate the aircraft. Our main function was to provide visual and audible alerts only when needed.

I believe 100% of US commercial aircraft (and perhaps now even biz-jets) are required to have TAWS on-board and active. Any TAWS-equipped plane approaching the ground outside of an approved approach path for a know airport will give the pilot "Terrain ahead. Pull up! Pull up!" alerts until the hazard no longer exists.

Unfortunately, if a stall is also immanent, the pilot will simultaneously receive an alert to push the nose down. And increase power. And other things as well. An overload of alerts, which a skilled and calm pilot will respond to with the most correct action. But which can overload a stressed or tired pilot, or one with the beginnings of a cold or flu.

The thing is, every alert can be silenced, to reduce the confusion and distractions. But an overloaded pilot can forget even this simple aid to keeping full awareness and control.

This is a big part of why pilots are so often blamed for crashes: Because, for whatever reason, they failed to take the appropriate action demanded by the situation.

As a former aircraft instrument developer, I was always well aware of my instruments' contribution to the pilot's mental load. Our teams agonized over tiny changes to font selection and sizes and colors and contrast. And how many button presses were needed to accomplish a function. And how easy it was to switch modes or silence an alert. Which is why we had a massive alpha test system that got even the earliest versions of our instruments in front of pilots with experimental aircraft and ratings. (Experimental aircraft and the pilots who fly them are rare and precious things to instrument developers, even when we owned and operated our own corporate test aircraft.)

Fortunately, our efforts paid off, and pilots (and the FAA) loved our instruments. Some of our design innovations were adopted into instrument regulations by the FAA, so all manufacturers had to build to our standard. But always hovering over our success was the fear of news of the crash of a plane flying our instruments. And the fear that information overload from our instruments would be shown to be a contributing factor.

Which is why part of our required reading was any and all reports (mainly NTSB and NASA) that even mention pilot overload. Even a decade after leaving that industry, I still read these reports.

rnturn ( 11092 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:55PM ( #58321174 )
Oh... Are we back to t"pilot error" excuses again? ( Score: 2 )
``...the cause could turn out not to be a design flaw or software malfunction that can be rectified, but a basic shortcoming in human perception and psychology that cannot be fixed as long as humans are entrusted with the control of airplanes.''

On the other hand, we have two recent examples of what can happen when a flight computer is given control of the plane and it is unable to avoid doing something stupid like -- as the old euphemism goes -- `make inadvertent contact with the terrain'.

Until we know more about how this was supposed work and exactly why it didn't , I think I'll trust the human with his hands on the controls more than the flight computer.

(Thankfully, the occasions for my needing to fly are few and far between.)

Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) writes: < MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com > on Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:39PM ( #58321082 ) Homepage
Design errors in the 737 MAX-guidance system ( Score: 2 )

Everything I've been able to learn has indicated that there are major design errors in the guidance system of the Boeing 737 MAX-8

ebonum ( 830686 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @02:02PM ( #58321206 )
Artificial horizon? ( Score: 3 )

If you look at it and you are headed down (and you have good airspeed), you don't need to keep trying to nose down - regardless of what your senses are telling you.

What about looking at how the altimeter is changing?

The artificial horizon gives you a lot of information when your sense of direction is playing tricks on you (in the clouds and feeling like you are going up,down, rolling, etc.)

[Mar 21, 2019] The Lives the Free Market Took

Mar 21, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

BY
BRANKO MARCETIC

The people who died in last Sunday's plane crash were not just killed by Boeing. Their deaths stemmed from an ideology that puts business interests above human life.


... ... ...

Boeing is not just a lobbying juggernaut that donates prodigiously to politicians all over the country; it's also a company in which numerous members of Congress are personally invested, and it cultivates mutually beneficial financial relationships with top officials . Meanwhile, as William McGee of Consumer Reports told Amy Goodman , these issues are rooted in the FAA's lax, business-friendly oversight of the very industry it's meant to regulate, a case of regulatory capture that stretches back long before this administration.

Whatever the black box from the Ethiopian Airlines flight reveals, the lives put at risk by lax regulations are not apolitical tragedies; they are caused by an administration that time and again has shown itself to be callous and indifferent to the lives of the people it claims to fight for, whether Puerto Ricans left to fend for themselves in the wake of natural disaster, or federal workers used as bargaining chips in a game of political brinkmanship.

But more than that, they are victims of an ideology that tells us the greatest insult to human life is not the death and misery that comes from unchecked greed, but efforts to democratically control it through public institutions. The real problems aren't unsafe products, pollution, dangerous chemicals, and the like, we're told, but "red tape" and the taxes used to fund the bodies regulating them. Meanwhile, activists like Nader have long been painted as " wacky " extremists in the pursuit of some quixotic ideological crusade simply for trying to do things like prevent people from dying in cars without seat belts .

When social-democratic policies are enacted, wealthy people take less home after taxes, and businesses are inconvenienced by regulations meant to secure the common good. But when neoliberal policies are put in place, people and their families go hungry, they lose their homes, they get injured on the job, they get sick, and, sometimes, they die. The public should be enraged by the actions of governments like Trump's and Trudeau's; but we should also be angry at a political narrative that tells us trying to stop such tragedies is "ideological" instead of common sense. We owe it to the crash victims to create no more of them.


[Mar 21, 2019] The Boeing 737 Max 8- a Case Study in Uncreative Destruction

Mar 21, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

On May 12, 2010, the New York Times ran an article by economics editor Catherine Rampell titled "The New Poor: In Job Market Shift, Some Workers Are Left Behind"that focused on the largely middle-aged unemployed who will probably never work again. For example, 52 year old administrative assistant Cynthia Norton has been working part-time at Walmart while sending resumes everywhere but nobody gets back to her. She is part of a much bigger picture:

Ms. Norton is one of 1.7 million Americans who were employed in clerical and administrative positions when the recession began, but were no longer working in that occupation by the end of last year. There have also been outsize job losses in other occupation categories that seem unlikely to be revived during the economic recovery. The number of printing machine operators, for example, was nearly halved from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2009. The number of people employed as travel agents fell by 40 percent.

But Ms. Rampell finds the silver lining in this dark cloud:

This "creative destruction" in the job market can benefit the economy.

Pruning relatively less-efficient employees like clerks and travel agents, whose work can be done more cheaply by computers or workers abroad, makes American businesses more efficient. Year over year, productivity growth was at its highest level in over 50 years last quarter, pushing corporate profits to record highs and helping the economy grow.

The term "creative destruction" might ring a bell. It was coined by Werner Sombart in his 1913 book "War and Capitalism". When he was young, Sombart considered himself a Marxist. His notion of creative destruction was obviously drawn from Karl Marx, who, according to some, saw capitalism in terms of the business cycle. With busts following booms, like night follows day, a new round of capital accumulation can begin. This interpretation is particularly associated with Volume Two of Capital that examines this process in great detail. Looking at this material, some Marxists like Eduard Bernstein drew the conclusion that capitalism is an infinitely self-sustaining system.

By 1913, Sombart had dumped the Marxist commitment to social revolution but still retained the idea that there was a basis in Karl Marx for upholding the need for "creative destruction", a view buttressed by an overly positive interpretation of this passage in the Communist Manifesto:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.

By the 1930s, Sombart had adapted himself fairly well to the Nazi system although he was not gung-ho like Martin Heidegger or Carl Schmitt. The wiki on Sombart notes:

In 1934 he published Deutscher Sozialismus where he claimed a "new spirit" was beginning to "rule mankind". The age of capitalism and proletarian socialism was over and with "German socialism" (National-Socialism) taking over.

But despite this, he remained critical. In 1938 he wrote an anthropology text that found fault with the Nazi system and many of his Jewish students remained fond of him.

I suspect, however, that Rampell is familiar with Joseph Schumpeter's use of the term rather than Sombart since Schumpeter was an economist, her chosen discipline. In 1942, he wrote a book titled Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy that, like Sombart, retained much of Karl Marx's methodology but without the political imperative to destroy the system that utilized "creative destruction". He wrote:

The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation–if I may use that biological term–that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . .

The wiki on Schumpeter claims that this theory is wedded to Nikolai Kondratiev's "long wave" hypothesis that rests on the idea that there are 50 year cycles in which capitalism grows, decays and enters a crisis until a new round of capital accumulation opens up. Not only was the idea attractive to Schumpeter, it was a key part of Ernest Mandel's economic theories. Unlike Schumpeter, Mandel was on the lookout for social agencies that could break the cycle and put development on a new footing, one based on human need rather than private profit.

Returning to Rampell's article, there is one dimension entirely missing. She assumes that "creative destruction" will operate once again in order to foster a new upswing in the capitalist business cycle. But how exactly will that manifest itself? All the signs point to a general decline in business activity unless there is some kind of technological breakthrough equivalent to the computer revolution that fueled growth for decades. Does anybody believe that "green manufacturing" will play the same role? I don't myself.

One thing does occur to me. Sombart's book was written in 1913, one year before WWI and was even titled eerily enough "War and Capitalism". One wonders if the Great War would be seen as part and parcel of "creative destruction". War, after all, does have a knack for clearing the playing field with even more finality than layoffs. Schumpeter wrote his in 1942, one year into WWII. My guess is that he did not theorize war as the ultimate (and necessary?) instrument of creative destruction but history will record that WWII did introduce a whole rafter of new technology, including aluminum, radar, nuclear power, etc., while bombing old modes of production into oblivion. What a great opportunity it was for capitalism to rebuild Japan, especially after firebombing and atomic bombs did their lovely work.

In my view, there's something disgusting about this "creative destruction" business especially when it is articulated by a young, pro-capitalist Princeton graduate like Catherine Rampell who wrote for Slate, the Village Voice and other such b-list publications before crawling her way up into an editorial job at the NYT. She clearly has learned how to cater her reporting to the ideological needs of the newspaper of record, growing more and more reactionary as the crisis of capitalism deepens.

[Mar 21, 2019] Neoliberalism at 30,000 Feet

Mar 21, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

hen United Airlines flight 1462 made an unexpected landing in Chicago last month, it was not due to mechanical issues, weather conditions, or flight logistics, but a battle over legroom in the aisles. As one passenger tried to recline her seat and another used a $20 device called a Knee Defender to prevent the occupant ahead of him from leaning back, the battle over personal space descended into a scuffle. The pilot opted to make an additional stop to remove the unruly passengers.

Flight 1462 hasn't been alone. Not just the random dispute of irate travelers, similar flights have been diverted because of the airlines' frenzied drive to wring as much money out of customers as possible. Airlines are increasingly cramming more passengers onto each flight, termed "densification," and regularly overbooking flights. Any aspect of a flight that was once provided free of charge -- from a checked bag to a complementary drink to using a credit card to pay for a ticket -- can now be charged ŕ la carte.

So relentless has this nickel and diming been that when news reports claimed the discount airline Ryan Air was about to start charging for in-flight bathroom use, many people took them seriously. But the story wasn't true -- it was all a ploy for free press from a company unwilling to pay for advertising, help disabled passengers, or provide ice for drinks.

Such frugality is only one of the problems wrought by airline deregulation. If the greatest benefit of deregulation has been that more people can afford to fly, it has come at the cost of increased tumult within the industry and reduced pay for workers.

Before the airlines were deregulated under President Jimmy Carter, the Civil Aeronautics Bureau (CAB) maintained flight pricing structures, airport gate access, and flight paths. There were rules that stipulated which airlines could compete in which market and what prices they could charge. Loosening restrictions meant abandoning the CAB and its pricing structures, and allowing an unmediated flow of competition.

With fewer restrictions, upstart fly-by-night airlines could compete against major airlines like American/US Airways, United, Delta, Alaskan, and Hawaiian Airways. Such competition, conservative and liberal advocates claimed, would bring down flight costs, providing more savings and convenience to the customer.

But allowing this level of competition also unleashed chaos. While the discount airlines would win over passengers for a time by offering flights half as expensive, the major airlines would respond by slashing their prices in an attempt to drive the upstarts out of business.

By drastically reducing ticket costs, the major airlines would take on an unsustainable amount of debt that, combined with the loss of business to the new entrants, would lead to layoffs or bankruptcy. Pension funds were then raided and labor contracts voided to pay for the price wars. With each airline company collapse, thousands of employees were laid off, decimating union membership.

To compete, the legacy airlines also drove down the salaries of their pilots, and cut benefits and vacation time. Besides a reduction in compensation, a two-tiered pay system has been set up with decent pay for incumbent pilots and markedly low wages for new entrants. Starting salaries for pilots are now as low as $15,000 a year, even as CEO pay rises inexorably. Remarking on a career in which he had seen his pay cut in half and his pension eliminated, captain Sully Sullenberger told the BBC in 2009 that he did not know "a single professional pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps."

While unions were still strong in the industry, they were constantly embroiled in bitter labor disputes. Between the voided contracts and the hemorrhaging membership caused by regular bankruptcy, they were left fighting to maintain wage standards in an unnecessarily competitive industry.

The only way discount airlines could offer such low prices was by paying their workers less, using less experienced pilots and sometimes non-unionized labor, offering fewer frills, and running spartan operations that only serviced a handful of routes with a single type of jet liner (thus simplifying pilot and mechanic training). Instead of a single union representing employees across the industry -- typified by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represented a majority of pilots -- some discount airlines maintained relationships with offshoot unions with smaller membership rolls and less leverage.

The discount airlines also depended on secondary, class-B airports that charged less in landing fees. But those discounts eventually disappeared when the secondary airports no longer needed to cut their fees to attract business.

To maintain their dominance over the market, the major airlines shifted from a direct city-to-city flight standard to the hub-and-spoke system of today. The hub-and-spoke setup allowed large centralized airports like Dallas-Ft. Worth and Atlanta to be ruled by a single company that determines which flights can use which terminals and at what cost.

While the hub-and-spoke system has some benefits, it's largely inefficient, dependent as it is on multi-stage connecting flights. Combined with the need to cut costs, it would also cause longer airport delays as planes were left waiting on the tarmac to make sure all passengers from connecting flights made it aboard. A single delay in a connecting flight could throw passengers' itineraries askew, leaving them stuck in a random airport overnight.

The major airlines used other tricks to keep out nascent airlines. They paid off travel agents and travel reservation sites to give preference to their particular airline. They introduced frequent flier miles to maintain brand allegiance.

Upstart discount airlines like Southwest were able to survive the vicious price wars by leaning on quality of service and direct flights, but most did not. The list of companies that were liquidated, temporarily or permanently, as a result is impressively long considering what it takes to start an airline: America West, PanAm, TransWorld, Western, Piedmont, Frontier, Northwest, National, Texas International, People Express, ValuJet, Air Florida, Eastern, Braniff, Skytrain, Pacific Southwest, Western Pacific, and many more.

Once bankrupt, the major airlines then bought the upstarts, creating an effective oligopoly. So much for competition.

Already on a spending spree during the heady years of the 1990s dot-com boom, buying up failed companies only saddled major airlines with more debt. While most people assume that the airlines had to be bailed out in 2001 because of the decrease in traffic after the September 11 attacks, it was also because the airlines were insolvent from previous financial problems, largely as a result of the price wars.

The actions of the major airlines may seem ruthless, but they were largely protecting their position in a deregulated industry that allowed the discount airlines to undercut labor standards just to offer cheaper prices to customers. They were defending themselves from disruption.

Considering the skill, education, and investment needed to maintain a safe and reliable airline, it is not exactly a business that needs to be disrupted. Running an airline is labor intensive, and it only turns a profit at random intervals. There's little money to be skimmed off.

With profit margins so thin, tickets on a half-empty flight have to cost twice as much as a fully booked one. Which is why, for a time, smaller cities that weren't necessarily travel hubs bore the brunt of deregulation. Routes that weren't fully booked experienced skyrocketing flight costs, which, for small-town travelers, was a huge disincentive to fly.

The bilking of transportation costs to and from smaller cities after a run of chaotic competition is eerily similar to what happened during the railway mania of the 1800s. Investors rushed to build rail lines everywhere and anywhere while money was flush. But once cash became tight, the rail industry used their monopoly power to charge exorbitant prices for anybody trying to ship in and out of smaller towns like Cincinnati. Such predatory pricing is what led to transportation regulation in the first place.

Since the 2001 airline bailout, things have calmed down a bit. It no longer costs $600 to fly from New York to Pittsburgh. Fewer discount airlines are entering the market, and the handful that are still in operation work with the major airlines on various routes (e.g. "flight provided by Frontier"). The price wars have settled to a quiet struggle played out on online travel registration websites like Kayak.com and Hipmunk.com, which have wholly replaced the job of travel agents.

But for airlines, the lower revenue from cheaper tickets has to be made up somewhere, and convenience may be the easiest element to remove. Airlines are pushing petty indignities on passengers and flight attendants by way of a million miscellaneous charges. Half the time, the discounts saved by cheaper tickets from deregulation are recouped in add-on fees. Eventually airlines may just offer extra-saver flights devoid of the most basic accommodations and simply force passengers who can't afford first-class seats to be stacked in the cargo hold like cord wood.

So what's the alternative? The airline industry is close to being a natural monopoly, there's little reason to foster competition. Indeed, the industry would benefit from nationalization or a well-regulated public option. At the very least, more regulation is necessary.

Without subsidization and some rules about flight costs, there is little incentive for the airline industry to provide affordable flights to locations that aren't fully booked. The irony is that we already subsidize airline travel. It just occurs through bailouts and bankruptcies after each airline has fought tooth and nail for market dominance. Public funds wind up paying for a wasteful, inefficient system characterized by irrational, destructive competition.

Through regulation or more aggressive means, it's quite possible to ensure good wages and working conditions and safe, affordable, reliable service -- all without blackout dates, three layovers, or all-out battles for legroom.

[Mar 21, 2019] With Personal Connection to Crash, Ralph Nader Takes on Boeing - WSJ

Mar 21, 2019 | www.wsj.com

He has long been a vocal critic of the Federal Aviation Administration, saying the agency lacks the resources and willpower to aggressively police airlines and manufacturers.

Mr. Nader said Boeing may be exposed to civil and possibly criminal liability. After the first fatal crash in October -- a Lion Air flight that crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff -- company officials "were put on notice about the problem" with an automated stall-prevention system that can misfire and override pilot commands by repeatedly pushing down an aircraft's nose, he said.

The Justice and Transportation Departments are scrutinizing Boeing's dealings with the FAA over safety certifications, people familiar with the matter have said.

... ... ...

Mr. Nader has expressed his concerns to lawmakers and former regulators, and called for congressional hearings. Before the U.S. grounded the planes last week, he championed the idea of a sweeping boycott of all versions of 737 MAX aircraft. He also has stressed the importance of having Mr. Muilenburg, Boeing's CEO, testify on Capitol Hill about safety issues with the fleet.

Criticizing Boeing's original design of the automated flight-control feature, dubbed MCAS, Mr. Nader said it reflected a misguided view driven by engineering overconfidence and called it "the arrogance of the algorithms."

[Mar 21, 2019] Ralph Nader's Grandniece Died in Ethiopian Plane Crash; Now He Is Urging Boycott of Boeing Jet Democracy Now!

Mar 21, 2019 | www.democracynow.org

... ... ...

RALPH NADER : Boeing is used to getting its way with the patsy FAA . And this time, however, it's in really hot water. If it continues to dig its heels in, it's going to expose itself and its executives to potential criminal prosecution, because they are now on notice, with two crashes -- Indonesia and Ethiopia. There's probably a lot more to come out in terms of the technical dissent, in the, what was called, "heated discussions" about the plane software between the FAA , the pilots' union, Boeing. And you can't suppress technical dissent forever. And Senators Markey and Blumenthal are calling for the release of all the relevant information. And while that happens, the planes must be grounded. You see, they're on notice now. This is the future of passenger business for Boeing. They've got orders for over 3,000 planes from all over the world. They've produced and delivered about 350. Southwest is the leading owner and operator of these planes. It's digging its heels in, and so is American Airlines, I believe, and Air Canada. And Boeing is not going to get away with this, because this is not some old DC-9 about to be phased out. This is their future strategic plan. And they better own up. 2013, they grounded the 787 because of battery fires, and they had about 50 or 60 of those planes. So, there's plenty of precedent.

And the most important thing that people can do is: Do not fly this plane, the 737 MAX 8 and 9. Ask the airline, when you book the flight, whether it's that plane. The airline should not dare charge you for reservation changes. And I'm calling for a boycott of that plane. If several hundred thousand air passengers boycott that plane and there are more and more empty seats, that will do more to bring Boeing around than the patsy FAA and a rather serene Congress, which, by the way, gets all kinds of freebies from the airlines that ordinary people don't get. We've sent a survey last year, twice, to every member of Congress, asking them to disclose all these freebies. We didn't get one answer. And that helps account for, over the years, the total reluctance of members of Congress even to do such things as deal with seat size, restroom space and other conveniences, never mind just the safety of the aircraft. So, this is important for consumers. Just don't fly 737 MAX 8 or 9. Make sure that you're informed about it. And for up-to-date information, you can go to FlyersRights.org . That's run by Paul Hudson, who lost his daughter in the Pan Am 103, 30 years ago, and has been a stalwart member of the FAA Advisory Committee. And that's where you get up-to-date information, FlyersRights.org .

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we're also joined by William McGee, who's the aviation adviser for Consumer Reports . Could you give us your perspective on what's happened here? And also, could you expand on what Ralph Nader was talking about, about the use of artificial intelligence in these new planes?

WILLIAM McGEE: Sure, absolutely, Juan. You know, there are so many unanswered questions here, but many of them are focused on the time period between the first crash in late October with Lion Air and the crash on Sunday with Ethiopian. Again, for perspective here, as Ralph noted, we're not talking about old aircraft. This is an airplane that's only been in service since 2017. This is the Boeing 737 MAX 8, a recent derivative of the 737. Now, in that time period, the aircraft that crashed in October was 2 months old; the one that crashed on Sunday was 4 months old. This is really unprecedented in all the years that I've been in this industry. We don't see brand-new airplanes crash on takeoff like this under similar circumstances.

... ... ...

WILLIAM McGEE: Absolutely. And, you know, this goes back many years. Ralph mentioned that the FAA is known throughout the industry, even among some of its own employees and to airline employees, as the "tombstone agency." And that phrase comes from the fact that the FAA has shown time and time again that it is reluctant to act unless there's a tragedy and, unfortunately, unless there are fatalities. Now, we have seen this as recently as last year, when, you may recall, over Philadelphia, a Southwest 737 had a major engine malfunction that punctured a hole in the fuselage and killed a woman who was nearly sucked out of the aircraft. Well, what wasn't as well reported was that two years prior, that same engine type and that same airline, Southwest, same aircraft type, 737, also had an uncontained engine failure. But in 2016, there were no injuries, and there were no fatalities. Instead of the FAA stepping in and saying, "We need to, you know, have all of these engine blades inspected on this engine type, on all the carriers that are operating it," the FAA asked the industry, "What would you like to do? How long would you like to take to look at this?" And the industry dragged its heels, not surprisingly, and said, "We need more time." Two years later, in 2018, there was a fatality. And then, two days after that, last April 2018, two days after that woman was killed, the FAA issued what's called an AD, an airworthiness directive. That's what should have been issued in 2016, where that death wouldn't have happened. So, we have seen this time and again.

And you mentioned Attention All Passengers , my book. Much of the book, about a third of it, is devoted to the issue of the FAA oversight of airline maintenance. We could easily talk about it for two or three more days. But the bottom line is that the entire model of how the airline industry works in the United States has been changed dramatically in the last 15 years or so. All airlines in the United States -- without question, all of them -- in 2019, outsource some or most or just about all of their maintenance, what they call heavy maintenance. Much of it is done outside of the United States -- El Salvador, Mexico, Brazil, China, Singapore. Again, we're talking about U.S. airlines. And although the FAA , on paper, says there is one standard for maintenance of U.S. airlines, the reality is there isn't. There are waivers given all the time, so that when work is done outside the United States, there are waivers so that there are no security background checks, there are no alcohol and drug screening programs put in place. And, in fact, many -- in some cases, most -- of the technicians cannot even be called mechanics, because they're not licensed. They're not licensed as they're required to be in the U.S. So, basically, you have two sets of rules. You have one that's for in-house airline employees and another for the outsourced facilities. And this all leads back to the FAA . I have sat in a room with FAA senior officials and asked them about this, and they say that they don't think it's a problem. It is a problem.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what impact --

WILLIAM McGEE: I've spoken to --

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What impact have the mergers, of the constant mergers of airlines, had, so we basically have a handful of U.S. airlines now, on all of this?

WILLIAM McGEE: Oh, no question. We have an oligopoly now. And, you know, even just going back as far as 2001, you know, there were four or five major carriers that we don't have anymore: America West, Continental, US Airways, TWA . You know, so what we have now is effectively an oligopoly. And this is unprecedented in the history of the aviation industry here in the United States. And so, you know, even when -- Ralph was talking about boycotts, and, you know, it's an excellent idea. But it's more challenging now than it would have been a few years ago. You know, there might have been more pressure on Southwest and American 10 or 15 years ago, when consumers had more choices. Now it's getting harder and harder for consumers to express their displeasure. We saw this after the Dr. Dao incident, where that passenger was dragged off United. In the long term, it didn't really affect United's bookings. It would have in another time, but so many people are locked in, particularly outside New York, Washington, Los Angeles. They're locked in, where they don't have a lot of choice on carriers.

AMY GOODMAN : Ralph Nader, I wanted to get your response both to this news that they were working on a fix -- they know there's a software glitch, that somehow, when on automatic pilot, when the plane is taking off, it takes this precipitous dive, and the way to deal with it is to take it off automatic and put it on manual. Now, AP has been doing a deep dive into the database of pilots complaining over and over again about this problem and saying they have to quickly switch to manual to prevent the plane from nosediving into the ground. And this latest news from The Wall Street Journal that while they're talking about this glitch being fixed in the next five weeks or so, that five weeks were lost in January because of the government shutdown.

RALPH NADER : Well, that's what Paul Hudson wrote in his press release at Flyers Rights. The focus has got to be on inaccurate or nonexisting information in Boeing's training manuals and inadequate flight training requirements. They sold this plane on the basis, among other things, of having larger engines. It's supposed to be 10 percent more fuel-efficient. But they sold it on the grounds that "You don't have to really train your pilots, airlines. This is really just a small modification of the reliable 737 that's all over the world." The question really comes down to cost cutting. They tantalize the airlines by saying, "This isn't really a new plane. It's very easy to fly, if you can fly a 737." And that turned out to be quite false...

... ... ...

[Mar 21, 2019] Pentagon to probe if Shanahan used office to help Boeing

Mar 21, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

The Pentagon's inspector general has formally opened an investigation into a watchdog group's allegations that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has used his office to promote his former employer, Boeing Co.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint with the Pentagon's inspector general a week ago, alleging that Shanahan has appeared to make statements promoting Boeing and disparaging competitors, such as Lockheed Martin.

Shanahan, who was traveling with President Donald Trump to Ohio on Wednesday, spent more than 30 years at Boeing, leading programs for commercial planes and missile defense systems. He has been serving as acting Pentagon chief since the beginning of the year, after James Mattis stepped down.

The probe comes as Boeing struggles to deal with a public firestorm over two deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner within the last five months. And it focuses attention on whether Trump will nominate Shanahan as his formal pick for defense chief, rather than letting him languish as an acting leader of a major federal agency.

Dwrena Allen, spokeswoman for the inspector general, said Shanahan has been informed of the investigation. And, in a statement, Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson said Shanahan welcomes the review.

"Acting Secretary Shanahan has at all times remained committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the DoD," said Crosson. "This agreement ensures any matters pertaining to Boeing are handled by appropriate officials within the Pentagon to eliminate any perceived or actual conflict of interest issue(s) with Boeing."

During a Senate hearing last week, Shanahan was asked by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., about the 737 Max issue. Shanahan said he had not spoken to anyone in the administration about it and had not been briefed on it. Asked whether he favored an investigation into the matter, Shanahan said it was for regulators to investigate.

On Wednesday, Blumenthal said that scrutiny of Shanahan's Boeing ties is necessary. "In fact, it's overdue. Boeing is a behemoth 800-pound gorilla -- raising possible questions of undue influence at DOD, FAA and elsewhere," said Blumenthal.

Shanahan signed an ethics agreement in June 2017, when he was being nominated for the job of deputy defense secretary, a job he held during Mattis' tenure. It outlined the steps he would take to avoid "any actual or apparent conflict of interest," and said he would not participate in any matter involving Boeing.

The CREW ethics complaint, based to a large part on published reports, including one by Politico in January, said Shanahan has made comments praising Boeing in meetings about government contracts, raising concerns about "whether Shanahan, intentionally or not, is putting his finger on the scale when it comes to Pentagon priorities."

One example raised by the complaint is the Pentagon's decision to request funding for Boeing 15EX fighter jets in the 2020 proposed budget. The Pentagon is requesting about $1 billion to buy eight of the aircraft.

Shanahan, 56, joined Boeing in 1986, rose through its ranks and is credited with rescuing a troubled Dreamliner 787 program. He also led the company's missile defense and military helicopter programs.

Trump has seemed attracted to Shanahan partially for his work on one of the president's pet projects -- creating a Space Force. He also has publicly lauded Shanahan's former employer, Boeing, builder of many of the military's most prominent aircraft, including the Apache and Chinook helicopters, the C-17 cargo plane and the B-52 bomber, as well as the iconic presidential aircraft, Air Force One.

This is only the third time in history that the Pentagon has been led by an acting chief, and Shanahan has served in that capacity for longer than any of the others.

Presidents typically take pains to ensure the Pentagon is being run by a Senate-confirmed official, given the grave responsibilities that include sending young Americans into battle, ensuring the military is ready for extreme emergencies like nuclear war and managing overseas alliances that are central to U.S. security.


3 hours ago Why did Trump appoint a former Boeing executive and industry lobbyist to the the Secretary of Defense to replace General Mattis? What in Shananhan's background makes him qualified to lead our nation's military forces? 3 hours ago WITHOUT A DOUBT HE DID., ALSO INVESTIGATE NIKKI HALEY'S APPOINTED ON BOEING'S BOARD TO REPLACE SHANAHAN. FOLLOW THE HOEING KICKBACKS(MONEY), TO DONALD TRUMP'S FAMILY. 3 hours ago Shanahan probably helped Boeing on the promise of a later payback just like Ms. Nikki Haley did while Gov of SC where Boeing built a new plant on her watch. She helped big time to keep the Unions out of the new Boeing plant and now Boeing is going to put her on their board of directors. Nothing like a bit of an obvious payoff. 2 hours ago Reminds me of the Bush Jr days in the White House. During the Gulf War (#2) Vice President #$%$ Cheney awarded oil company Halliburton (Cheney was CEO before accepting the VP job) to deliver meals for the troops. The contract was ?No Bid.? Why was an oil company delivering food to troops with a no bid contract? After Cheney?s Job was over being VP he went back to being CEO at Halliburton and moved Halliburton?s headquarters to Dubai. What an American! 2 hours ago Now we understand why Boeing & the FAA hesitated to ground those planes for few days despite many countries who did grounded those plane which is a precedent for a country to ground & NOT wait for the manufacturer. ONLY after Canada grounded those planes Boeing & the FAA & that's because Canada IS a the #1 flight partner of the US ! 4 hours ago Years ago there was a Boeing procurement scandal and Trump does love the swamp he claims to hate.

[Mar 20, 2019] Reuters natch, are trying to pretend it's somehow the pilot's or airline's fault, but the their own reporters show it ain't

Mar 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

FFS , Mar 20, 2019 2:26:33 PM | link

OT: Reuters natch, are trying to pretend it's somehow the pilot's or airline's fault, but the their own reporters show it ain't

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-crash-exclusive-idUKKCN1R10F7

[Mar 20, 2019] Was the 737 Max problem just bad software by Stephen Bryen

Mar 18, 2019 | www.asiatimes.com

he crash of the Ethiopian Max-8 Flight 409 on March 10, 2019, resulted in the grounding of all the Boeing 737 Max series aircraft – even the last hold-out, the United States, belatedly grounded them when President Trump acted and overruled the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that opposed any halt to flights.

In the United States, the FAA certifies aircraft as airworthy, puts out bulletins and advisories on problems and fixes and often is the "go to" agency for many aviation flight authorities around the world.

The 737 Max series is a new version of the venerable 737, equipped with new engines and other modifications that have impacted the aircraft's performance in good ways and bad.

Almost every expert today puts the blame for both flight disasters on faulty software that took over running the plane's flight control system. Many have pointed to Boeing's alleged lack of transparency in telling pilots what to do if the software malfunctioned. In addition, there had been at least eight pilot-reported flight control incidents prior to the first Lion Air crash.

Experienced pilots

Three of the pilots on the two doomed planes each had more than 8,000 hours flying experience – quite a lot – and the pilots of the Ethiopian airlines had additional information on the plane's flight characteristics and what to do in an emergency.

While we are still awaiting a final report on last year's Lion Air crash, we do have a quite informative initial report, although it lacks hard findings. In the Ethiopian case, we only have flight track information from ground radar and some incomplete reporting on what the pilots were saying to ground control. More will become available as the flight recorders are analyzed.

Yet despite this, we can understand some of what happened and clearly it is more than a single software glitch. This may help explain why Boeing did not meet its proposed deadline of January for installing updated software. Now in March Boeing says the replacement software will be available in April. But even if it is, there are more issues involving both hardware and software.

The software which so far has received virtually all the attention is called MCAS, for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. MCAS was added to the Max-8 series because new, heavier and larger engines replaced the old engines and as a result, the updated Max planes had a strong tendency to pitch nose up.

The new engine, CFM Leap-1B, was selected by Boeing because it was much more fuel efficient than the older models, one of the big reasons customers want the 737 Max.

The new engines forced re-engineering of parts of the 737.

Fitting the new engines meant moving them forward and lengthening the front landing gear to keep the engines from scraping on the ground. In turn, this changed the plane's center of gravity and also altered the air flow on the wings.

MCAS was a band-aid to fix the pitch up problem caused by the relocated and heavier new engines. MCAS is designed to push the nose down and prevent the aircraft from going into a stall. MCAS was intended to deal only with a specific flight risk.

The problems

Here are some of the problems one finds when reviewing the Preliminary Air Accident Investigation Report on the Lion Air crash.

1. MCAS operates by receiving information from a special sensor that measures the flying angle of the plane and takes over the flight controls if the angle is too great – meaning the aircraft could stall. A stall happens when a plane has too low an airspeed and not enough lift and the plane will literally fall out of the air.

There are two sensors that measure the angle of attack or nose-up condition of the Boeing 737 Max, one that provides data to the pilot and another that provides data to the copilot. The sensors are known as Angle of Attack Sensors, or AoA.

In the Lion Air aircraft, the pilot's AoA sensor had been found to be faulty on an earlier flight as reported by the pilot. That AoA sensor was replaced and tested by aircraft maintenance before the fatal flight.

The pilot gets no console or other warnings that his AoA sensor might be faulty. The pilot can ask his copilot what reading he is getting and see if there is a difference. That is exactly what happened on the Lion Air flight.

It would appear that the MCAS software is driven by information from the pilot's sensor. If the sensor itself is not at fault, there could still be wiring and connection problems that could feed bad information to MCAS. These conditions cannot be determined in flight.

If it is true that MCAS relies on information from only one sensor, that could be a design error. Modern aircraft are famous for built-in flight system redundancy, but apparently not in the case of MCAS. In addition, the pilot cannot manually change the MCAS choice of sensor.

2. No one has yet explained why the pilot's stick shaker was running on from the start of the flight and never stopped. The stick shaker is a motor with an unbalanced flywheel that is attached to the pilot's control stick, and another is attached to the co-pilot's stick. The stick shaker is supposed to warn the pilot of a potential stall. But why was it on nearly the whole time? And why was the co-pilot's stick shaker not on?

3. The pilots are supposed to be able to shut down MCAS, which only operates when the aircraft is manually operated, by switching the electronic trim control to off. The trim control is what MCAS uses to change the nose pitch of the 737 Max. But in the Lion Air case, we know the pilots turned off the electronic trim control. But MCAS kept adjusting the trim nose down, against the pilots' wishes. Or possibly something else was driving the trim control nose down, such as a shorted circuit or bad wiring.

4. The pilots also tried turning the aircraft's autopilot on, according to the report. MCAS is only supposed to work when the autopilot is off, that is only when the plane is operated under manual pilot control. The autopilot should have disabled MCAS but apparently it did not – in fact, the Lion Air autopilot would not turn on. There is no explanation for this. Was the autopilot locked out by MCAS? Or was there some other software or hardware foul up?

5. Pilots also had a very difficult time handling the aircraft stick, meaning that the flight control stick required a great deal of force to operate, especially when the pilots were, repeatedly, trying to recover the plane that was headed nose down, gaining speed and losing altitude. Stick force "feel" in 737s is artificial and is controlled by a couple of pitot tube sensors at the rear of the aircraft above the horizontal stabilizer.

There have been repeated problems on older 737s with the planes forward and rear pitot tubes, due partly to icing conditions and to pitot tube heater problems which are supposed to remove ice. Some pitot tubes have failed because of fouling. Pitot tubes detect aircraft speed and they do this by comparing the force of incoming air on the pitot tubes to what are called static ports located elsewhere on the plane. Accidents have been attributed to faulty or fouled pitot tubes.

It is not clear how the flight speed information from the pitot tubes is integrated into the MCAS if it is. But speed information is fed into the flight computer and if it is faulty it could create ambiguities in the MCAS and the flight computer.

6. Would better pilot training have helped pilots avoid disaster? Boeing has been criticized for not initially providing information about MCAS to Max pilots, and only later issuing a bulletin on how to deal with some MCAS anomalies. Boeing also apparently did not offer any additional pilot training, leaving pilots to find their way through a morass of complex problems made worse by possible hardware and software faults.

As it is, it appears the Lion Air pilots acted in the best way they could but were unable to overcome the instability of the aircraft as it headed nose down to disintegrate in the ocean. We don't yet know how the Ethiopian Airline pilots performed, but they had the advantage of advisories from Boeing and the FAA. Still, the same final result.

What is clear is that there is more than one single cause for the two aircraft crashes. And we know that other planes experienced control problems but recovered. These disasters suggest there was a complex of problems that caused the two disasters.

Boeing's engineers need to assess the entire flight control system, the electronics and mechanics, before a satisfactory solution is at hand.

[Mar 19, 2019] Trump Forced to Ban Boeing Poor Quality of American Planes to Affect Russian Airlines the Least! - YouTube

350 planes were grounded.
Notable quotes:
"... The United States held out to the last. Trump personally requested to ground the flagship aircraft of the American company only late evening yesterday, when Canada joined the interdiction. ..."
Mar 16, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Subscribe to Vesti News https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8M...

Today, Russia, following Europe and America, banned the flights of Boeing 737 MAX. Dozens of countries have stopped using this aircraft after the Sunday crash in Ethiopia.

The United States held out to the last. Trump personally requested to ground the flagship aircraft of the American company only late evening yesterday, when Canada joined the interdiction.


Putin The Great , 2 days ago (edited)

737 is out of date considering the modern bigger fuel efficient engines don't fit it.They're just applying band aid to fix it's short coming. Airbus A320 has no problems with these new engines as it sits higher.

orderoutofchaos621 , 2 days ago

Sukhoi superjet 100 and MC 21 should be prioritised by Russian airlines.

Richie Blackmore. , 3 days ago

40 countries banned these aircraft from their airspace..... Comparable to the vicious, aggressive, malign, thoughtless, selfish and self aggrandising SANCTIONS the US regime and its vassals slap on innocent countries in attempts to impoverish or/and change their governments!!!!!!!!!

But this is self inflicted!!!!!! I hope the US regime can see the irony in this!!!!

0pTicaL823 , 2 days ago

Boeing should thank China for being the first to ground it's entire fleet, if one of the 96 planes that China operated, god forbid, had gone down, Boeing is done, 3-strikes you're out

statinskill , 2 days ago (edited)

Something is wrong with these planes and it is a good thing that they're being grounded world-wide until the problem is fixed. It is prudent both from the side of Rosaviatsiya and the FAA to not permit these planes to fly in the meanwhile to prevent further potential tragedies. However this is no reason to simply write off the huge fleet of Boeing 737 MAX planes in service world-wide. Right now engineers at Boeing are working on the problem and then those planes will be retrofitted asap. Personally I have no particular concerns flying in a Boeing 737 MAX once the problem is fixed.

[Mar 18, 2019] Boeing (BA) Secures $250M Deal to Support LRSO Cruise Missile

Mar 18, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Zacks Equity Research , Zacks March 18, 2019

The Boeing Company BA recently won a $250 million contract to offer weapon system integration for the Long Range Stand-Off (LRSO) Cruise Missile. Work related to the deal is scheduled to be completed by Dec 31, 2024.

The contract was awarded by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Per the terms of the deal, this aerospace giant will provide aircraft and missile carriage equipment development and modification, engineering, testing, software development, training, facilities and support necessary to fully integrate the LRSO Cruise Missile on the B-52H bomber platform.

Attributes of LRSO

The LRSO is a nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile, under development. It is set to replace the current AGM-86 air launched cruise missile (ALCM). LRSO, might be up to about 50% longer than Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and still be suitable for internal carriage by the B-2 and B-52.

Our View

AGM-86 ALCM has been serving the U.S. Air Force quite efficiently. However, with increasingly sophisticated air defense systems developed by America's nemeses, especially Russia, demand for a new stealth nuclear-armed cruise missile capable of either destroying these defenses or penetrating them has been increasing consistently. In this scenario, the LRSO comes as the most credible stealthy and low-yield option available to the United States (according to Strategic Studies Quarterly Report).

Boeing's B-52, which has been the U.S. Air Force's one of the most preferred bombers, is completely dependent on long-range cruise missiles and cannot continue in the nuclear mission beyond 2030 without LRSO. As B-52 is expected to play a primary role in the U.S. nuclear mission for at least next decade and ALCM is already well beyond its originally planned end of life, we may expect more contracts similar to the latest one to usher in from the Pentagon in the coming days. This, in turn, should prove conducive to Boeing.

Price Performance

In a year's time, shares of Boeing have gained about 16.5% against the industry's 2.2% decline.

[Mar 18, 2019] Boeing Tumbles On Grand Jury Subpoena Probing 737 MAX Approval

Mar 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

In the latest blow to both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, the WSJ reported overnight that Federal prosecutors and Department of Transportation officials are scrutinizing the development of Boeing 737 MAX jetliners and in particular its anti-stall (MCAS) system, inquiries described as "unusual" and which come amid probes of regulators' safety approvals of the new plane.

The Seattle Times separately reported that Boeing's safety analysis of a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws.

According to the WSJ , a "grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a broad subpoena dated March 11 - a day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash a week ago - to at least one person involved in the 737 MAX's development, seeking related documents, including correspondence, emails and other messages." The subpoena, with a prosecutor from the Justice Department's criminal division listed as a contact, sought documents to be handed over later this month.

It wasn't immediately clear if the Justice Department's probe is related to scrutiny of the FAA by the DOT inspector general's office, reported earlier Sunday by The Wall Street Journal and that focuses on a safety system that has been implicated in the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people, according to a government official briefed on its status. Aviation authorities are looking into whether the anti-stall system may have played a role in last week's Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed all 157 people on board . The WSJ sources add that the inspector general's inquiry focuses on ensuring relevant documents and computer files are retained.

The Justice Department probe involves a prosecutor in the fraud section of the department's criminal division, a unit that has brought cases against well-known manufacturers over safety issues, including Takata Corp.

The news comes at a sensitive time for both the FAA, which was among the last regulators to ground the 737 Max following a broad global response (led by China) and for Boeing, whose stock has tumbled in the aftermath of the latest crash, and as the WSJ notes, "it is highly unusual for federal prosecutors to investigate details of regulatory approval of commercial aircraft designs, or to use a criminal probe to delve into dealings between the FAA and the largest aircraft manufacturer the agency oversees."

Probes of airliner programs or alleged lapses in federal safety oversight typically are handled as civil cases, often by the DOT inspector general. The inspector general, however, does have authority to make criminal referrals to federal prosecutors and has its own special agents.

Ironically, over the years, U.S. aviation companies and airline officials have been sharply critical of foreign governments, including France, South Korea and others, for conducting criminal probes of some plane makers, their executives and in some cases, even individual pilots, after high-profile or fatal crashes. The FAA's current enforcement policy stresses enhanced cooperation with domestic airlines and manufacturers -- featuring voluntary sharing of important safety data -- instead of seeking fines or imposing other punishment.

News of the U.S. government scrutiny comes shortly after Ethiopia's transport minister, Dagmawit Moges, said there were "clear similarities" between the two crashes. U.S. officials cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions because data from the black boxes of the Ethiopian Airlines plane still need to be analyzed. The two crashes - which may be linked to the same structural defect on the airliner - have sparked the biggest crisis Boeing has faced in about two decades, threatening sales of a plane model that has been the aircraft giant's most stable revenue source and potentially making it more time consuming and difficult to get future aircraft designs certified as safe to fly.

The FAA said Sunday that the 737 MAX, which entered service in 2017, was approved to carry passengers as part of the agency's "standard certification process," including design analyses; ground and flight tests; maintenance requirements; and cooperation with other civil aviation authorities. Agency officials in the past have declined to comment on various decisions regarding specific systems. Sunday's statement said the agency's "certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft."

Earlier, a Boeing spokesman said: "The 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed certification of all previous new airplanes and derivatives. The FAA considered the final configuration and operating parameters of MCAS during MAX certification, and concluded that it met all certification and regulatory requirements."

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement Sunday the company continues to support the Ethiopian investigation, "and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available." Muilenburg added: "As part of our standard practice following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate, institute product updates to further improve safety."

Governments world-wide have grounded the MAX, an updated version of the decades-old 737, while investigators and engineers seek clues.

And so, as 737 Max scrutiny grows and as Boeing and the FAA now seek to deflect increased government attention to one another - Boeing stock is once again tumbling, and is down 3% in premarket trading...

[Mar 18, 2019] The Best Analysis Of What Really Happened To The Boeing 737 Max From A Pilot Software Engineer

"I think it is unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots flying an airplane without adequately training or ever providing available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the highly complex systems that differentiate this aircraft from prior models... The flight manual is inadequate and almost criminally insufficient." ANONYMOUS AIRLINE PILOT
Air cashes are always combination of human factor and airliner design problems plus weather condition and other transient factors. The Ethiopian pilot was young (29) but he has 8000 hours of experience.
Notable quotes:
"... Economic problem that the 737 engines used too much fuel, so they decided to install more efficient engines with bigger fans and make the 737MAX. ..."
"... Airframe problem . They wanted to use the 737 airframe for economic reasons, but needed more ground clearance with bigger engines.The 737 design can't be practically modified to have taller main landing gear. The solution was to mount them higher & more forward. ..."
Mar 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Trevor Sumner

And for those who are not particular fans of tweetstorms, here it is recapped:

BEST analysis of what really is happening on the #Boeing737Max issue from my brother in law @davekammeyer, who's a pilot, software engineer & deep thinker. Bottom line don't blame software that's the band aid for many other engineering and economic forces in effect.

Some people are calling the 737MAX tragedies a #software failure. Here's my response: It's not a software problem. It was an

During the course of developing the MCAS, there was a:

The easiest way to do this was to add some features to the existing Elevator Feel Shift system. Like the #EFS system, the #MCAS relies on non-redundant sensors to decide how much trim to add. Unlike the EFS system, MCAS can make huge nose down trim changes.

On both ill-fated flights, there was a:

All of this was compounded by a:

Nowhere in here is there a software problem. The computers & software performed their jobs according to spec without error. The specification was just shitty. Now the quickest way for Boeing to solve this mess is to call up the software guys to come up with another band-aid.

I'm a software engineer, and we're sometimes called on to fix the deficiencies of mechanical or aero or electrical engineering, because the metal has already been cut or the molds have already been made or the chip has already been fabed, and so that problem can't be solved.

But the software can always be pushed to the update server or reflashed. When the software band-aid comes off in a 500mph wind, it's tempting to just blame the band-aid.


Element , 34 minutes ago link

Aerodynamic problem. The airframe with the engines mounted differently did not have adequately stable handling at high AoA to be certifiable.

Notice how none of these 'critics' ever describe what this AoA range or angle actually is?

It'll be because the AoA angle in question is already outside of the standard 737 Type certificate and Flight Manual's delineated flight envelope. i.e. 'Trevor' and Co., are talking crap!

So they also smear the sensor!

Except Trevor and Co claim there's no redundancy , which is absolutely not the case, and he's being thoroughly dishonest about it, i.e.

Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed.

NOTE: "DISAGREE"

So what is the first AoA sensor DISAGREEING WITH?

Yes, that's right! The first AoA sensor is being CONTINUOUSLY CROSS-CHECKED IN REAL-TIME to see if the readings from the MCAS AoA sensor, actually always agrees with the readings from the jet's OTHER EXISTING AOA SENSORS.

i.e. THERE IS MCAS AOA SENSOR REDUNDANCY - WITHOUT ADDING ANOTHER VANE!

Well of course there ******* is! Otherwise it could not be certified! And would not be!

And nor would the airlines EVER take delivery of a jet with just one AoA sensor!!!

And this is why the option is not being taken up! This extra redundancy option is itself, ALREADY REDUNDANT!

Do you think everyone is as stupid as you TREVOR SUMNER? Maybe you actually do, but no, they sure aren't.

Cross-checking all sensors is standard and required system safety practice. There is usually AT LEAST THREE SENSORS (so why add a fourth, when they are extremely reliable actually?) and if one sensor's data does not agree with the other two's data, then the system decides (in real time, on the fly) to stop using the signal from the deemed dodgy sensor, and will to ONLY use just the data from the two that do agree, and are deemed to be good, until the faulty one is removed and checked or replaced.

And the jet's systems will usually even send a message to the maintenance people at destination to replace the faulty sensor and will even check the sensor is in stock, and where, and auto-arrange shipping of the part to the right location for the repairs (if it's not immediately available - it is after all a line-replaceable item ).

TREVOR SUMNER IS LYING.

You can pull the wool over other people's eyes dipshit, but I'm not one of the dumb sheep who will worship your little mounds of steaming fresh bullcrap. And any accident investigator will figure out that you're a completely ignorant ******** artist in about 5 seconds flat.

This is who Trevor Sumner 'CEO' of "Perch Experience" really is:

https://www.brandingmag.com/2018/09/03/the-c-suite-interview-with-trevor-sumner-ceo-of-perch-interactive/

Except here it's, "Perch Interactive ".

Bullshitter!

DisorderlyConduct , 1 hour ago link

Working in software for over 35 years, and all I've done for the last 20 has been to compensate for chip, design, and systems defects that occur upstream of software. The trend in all industries is to do less rigorous design and have the software guys fix it.

As last man in the game of hot potato, it's always software's job to paper over - everything. Since software is the lens through which the customer sees the system, we ares always asked to make lens corrections.

Faeriedust , 2 hours ago link

" Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed."

*** REGULATORY PROBLEM****

The lack of US regulation means that Boeing is ALLOWED TO SELL a plane with a KNOWN DEFECT *AND* a SUITABLE SAFETY WARNING SYSTEM -- WITHOUT THE WARNING SYSTEM . Cash-strapped customers of course forego the extra expense.

IF the plane had had the warning system, the little light would have come on, and the plane would't have left the runway without a shiny new, working sensor installed. But because the FAA doesn't give a **** about little brown people who BUY our products, Boeing was allowed to sell defective merchandise without the safety kit in order to Make More Sales. This little oversight may now have PERMANENTLY ruined the ability of one of America's few remaining manufacturing businesses to export its product. Dumbfucks.

What's that about Capitalism being self-correcting?

[Mar 18, 2019] Boeing's Doomed 737 Max

Mar 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Sun, 03/17/2019 - 19:50 72 SHARES Authored by Eric Margolis,

I don't like flying. I consider it unnatural, unhealthy and fraught with peril. But I do it all the time. For me, it's either fly or take an ox cart.

In fact, I've been flying since I was six years old – from New York to Paris on a lumbering Boeing Stratocruiser, a converted, double-decker WWII B-29 heavy bomber. I even had a sleeping berth. So much for progress.

Lots can go wrong in the air. Modern aircraft have thousands of obscure parts. If any one of them malfunctions, the aircraft can be crippled or crash. Add pilot error, dangerous weather, air traffic control mistakes, mountains where they are not supposed to be, air to air collisions, sabotage and hijacking.

I vividly recall flying over the snow-capped Alps in the late 1940's aboard an old Italian three-motor airliner with its port engine burning, and the Italian crew panicking and crossing themselves.

Some years ago, I was on my way to Egypt when we were hijacked by a demented Ethiopian. A three day ordeal ensued that included a return flight to New York City from Germany, with the gunman threatening to crash the A-310 jumbo jet into Wall Street – a grim precursor of 9/11. My father, Henry Margolis, got off a British Comet airliner just before it blew up due to faulty windows.

Which brings me to the current Boeing crisis. After a brand new Boeing 737 Max crashed in Indonesia it seemed highly likely that there was a major problem in its new, invisible autopilot system, known as MCAS. All 737 Max's flying around the world should have been grounded as a precaution. But America's aviation authority, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), allowed the Max to keep flying. The FAA is half regulator and half aviation business promoter, a clear conflict of interest.

The crash of a new Ethiopian 737 Max outside Addis Ababa under very similar circumstances to the Lion Air accident set off alarm bells around the globe. Scores of airlines rightly grounded their new Max's. But the US and Canada did not. The FAA continued to insist the aircraft was sound. The problem, it was hinted between the lines, was incompetent third world pilots.

It now appears that America's would-be emperor, Pilot-in–Chief Donald Trump, may have pressed the FAA to keep the 737 Max's in the air. Canada, always shy when it comes to disagreeing with Washington, kept the 737 Max's flying until there was a lot of evidence linking the Indonesia and Ethiopian crashes.

Trump finally ordered the suspect aircraft grounded. But doing so was not his business. That's the job of the FAA. But Trump, as usual, wanted to hog the limelight.

By now, the 737 Max ban is just about universal.

Interestingly, Ethiopia refused to hand over the crashed 737's black boxes (actually they are red) to the FAA, as is normal with US-built aircraft. Instead, Addis Ababa sent the data boxes for analysis to BEA, France's well-regarded aviation accident investigator. Clearly, Ethiopia lacks confidence in the veracity and impartiality of the FAA and the White House.

Today, Trump professes vivid interest in Boeing's well-being. Last May, however, Trump cancelled an Iranian order to Boeing for $20 billion in airliners which had originally been signed under the Obama administration. Israel's fingerprints were all over this cancellation. Iran desperately needs new aircraft to replace its fleet of decaying, 1960's passenger aircraft that have become flying coffins.

Boeing (I am a shareholder) will recover from this disaster unless the 737 Max's center of gravity is dangerously unstable. The mystery autopilot system will be reconfigured and pilots properly trained to use it. Air France had a similar problem when it introduced the new A320. But Boeing, not third world pilots, is at fault.

There's another key factor. I've been writing for decades that passenger aircraft should return to the three-man crew they had 40-50 years ago. The position of flight engineer was supposedly eliminated by cockpit automation. Today, aircraft are so electronically complex they need a specialist on board who can deal with problems. Pilots should not be expected to be masters of computer technology. A third crew member is essential when things go wrong. But employing one costs money. It seems rock-bottom fares remain more important than safety.

[Mar 18, 2019] How Boeing Should Have Responded to the 737 Max Safety Crisis

Mar 18, 2019 | hbr.org

As all of us watch, shocked by the human consequences of two crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets in just five months, it's hard not to wonder, why did Boeing resist efforts to ground the jets? And what about Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, two U.S. carriers that continued to fly them until President Trump announced the planes were to be grounded -- reversing an earlier decision by the Federal Aviation Administration?

Moments like these are a trial by fire for leaders. It is not yet clear why the second jet, an Ethiopian Airlines flight, crashed on Sunday, March 10. Regulators have been split, with those in Asia and Europe moving relatively quickly to ground 737 Max 8 jets, while in the U.S. the FAA maintained its "review shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft." Politicians weighed in, and Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, called President Trump to reassure him about the safety of the company's planes following a presidential tweet complaining that airplanes were becoming too complex: "I don't want Albert Einstein to be my pilot," Trump wrote. By Wednesday, March 13, the New York Times reported more than 40 countries had grounded the jets.

All this confusion does no one any good -- not the investors in the companies involved, not employees, and not passengers.

We could have avoided much of the turmoil had the company's leaders done a better job of framing the situation. Leaders have one crucial task at the start of a disaster in the making, and that is to use the art of framing to describe the nature of the problem the organization is facing. Frames shape the way we think about problems (and also opportunities). They tell us what category of problem we are dealing with, and because they identify a type of problem, they also contain the seeds of action and response.

During the Tylenol poisoning crisis in 1982 , Johnson & Johnson's CEO at the time, James E. Burke, famously declared that it was a public health problem. That framing set in motion all the activities we now associate with J&J's gold-standard reaction to a crisis in which human lives are at stake: recalling all bottles of Tylenol capsules -- against the advice of the FDA; designing new tamper-resistant packaging; and delivering the newly packaged capsules in a period of six weeks. And when a second outbreak of poisoning occurred four years after the first, Burke went on national TV to declare that J&J would only offer Tylenol in caplets, which could not be pulled apart and resealed without consumers knowing about it. He publicly admitted he wished he had made that decision in the first place.

Burke could have described the nature of the Tylenol poisoning in many different ways: as an assault on the company, as a problem somewhere in the process of getting Tylenol from J&J factories to retail stores, as the actions of a lone killer.

And each of these framings would have led to a different set of actions. If Burke had called the poisoning an assault, he would have set off a costly and hard-to-win war against unknown outsiders trying to bring J&J down. If it was a process problem, there would have followed a painstaking review of the supply chain of Tylenol and possible flaws in the system. And if the work of a killer? Well, we all know how generalities like that can lead to inaction on the ground, and a blaming of systems far removed from the company and its responsibilities.

Boeing CEO Muilenburg is reported to have insisted to the president and others that the aircraft are safe. We heard about the training that is designed to help pilots identify and override the automatic controls on the plane if those controls are mistakenly guiding its nose down. So Muilenburg's frame appears to be: This is a technical problem that we can correct with pilot training.

It's a common enough frame for a product malfunction, but we still don't know if the similarity in the two crashes is a coincidence or the sign of a systematic problem that needs to be corrected. Moreover, the frame seems to miss the point that hundreds of human lives have been lost, that more may be at risk, and that regulators in many countries have grounded the planes. Regulators' actions reflect a frame of "prioritizing human safety," which seems to better reflect the high levels of uncertainty and risk that Boeing is asking us to accept.

So what could Boeing have said? A better frame would be: This is a technical problem that we do not fully understand. In light of that uncertainty, we recommend grounding the 737 Max 8s and 9s until we can be sure we know what is causing these crashes, and can satisfy ourselves and all of the global regulators that the plane is safe to fly again.

That framing leads to a much clearer path of action, and acknowledges a partnership with regulators who are charged to protect human lives. And it would have been better for all concerned if Boeing had come to that conclusion before the president apparently did.

The main point here for leaders is you need to do the hard thinking first. You need to decide what kind of problem you are facing, and you need to describe it in clear language that will help the people who have to execute inside the company, as well as those who are judging it from the outside, understand how the company is thinking about the kind the problem they face. Framing is a tool to be used consciously. Done well, it can make an enormous difference in inspiring responsible action and trust in the judgment and values of the company, even if, as in the case of J&J, the problem turns out to not be totally solved, and needs to be addressed again.

[Mar 18, 2019] Flawed Safety Analysis, Failed Oversight - Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

Mar 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Flawed Safety Analysis, Failed Oversight - Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed bjd , Mar 17, 2019 12:55:20 PM | link

Two accidents of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft led to a loss of 338 lives. Planes of that type are now grounded world wide. We earlier explained in detail why the incidents happened. New reports confirm that take.

For commercial reasons Boeing wanted the new 737 version to handle like the old ones. But changes in the new version required an additional system to handle certain flight situations. The development of that system and the safety analysis of its implications were rushed through. Pilots were not informed of it and not trained to counter its failure.

Boeing now hopes that a software update, planned for April, will allow its grounded 737 MAX airplanes back to the flight line. For several reasons that is unlikely to happen.

On Thursday Captain C.B. Sully Sullenberger, who successfully landed a plane on the Hudson river after a bird strike disabled both engines, spoke out against Boeing's patch up attempt:

It has been obvious since the Lion Air crash that a redesign of the 737 MAX 8 has been urgently needed, yet has still not been done, and the announced proposed fixes do not go far enough .

The public will not trust Boeing's, or the Federal Aviation Administration's assurances if Sullenberger sticks to his view.

Another reason that Boeing's update will not suffice is a detailed bombshell report researched mostly before last Sunday's crash but just now published by the Seattle Times . It summarizes:

[T]he original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX -- a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly -- had several crucial flaws.
...
Current and former engineers directly involved with the evaluations or familiar with the document shared details of Boeing's "System Safety Analysis" of MCAS, which The Seattle Times confirmed.

The safety analysis:

  • Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document .
  • Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane's nose downward.
  • Assessed a failure of the system as one level below "catastrophic." But even that "hazardous" danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor -- and yet that's how it was designed.

The 737 MAX maneuver characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) depends on the input of a vane on the side of the airplane.


Angle-of-attack sensor

The vane measure the angle between the airflow and the wing. It thereby detects if the nose of airplane points up or down. It can easily be damaged by a ramp accident or due to a bird strike. The MCAS system depends on the input of only one of these sensors.

The corrections MCAS applies to the trim of the airplane are too large for a busy pilot to counter. (A detailed explanation of the system and the accidents is provided by a professional pilot in two videos here and here .) That the system, as designed, engages repeatedly can lead to situations that are extremely difficult to handle.

The Seattle Times also reports that managers at the FAA pushed their safety engineers to delegate more certification tasks to Boeing itself. Boeing was eager to get the new version of the 737 out of the door to catch up with Airbus's A-320 NEO. Shortcuts were taken to rush the safety analysis through.

The MCAS system is poorly engineered and the design should never have been certified in the first place. But the issue is even worse. The certification that was given relied on false data.

The first MCAS design, on which the safety analysis and certification was based, allowed for a maximum trim movement by MCAS of 0.6 degree of a maximum of 5 degree. Flight tests proved that to be too little to achieve the desired effects and the maximum movement was changed to 2.5 degree. A safety analysis for the new value was not conducted.

"The FAA believed the airplane was designed to the 0.6 limit, and that's what the foreign regulatory authorities thought, too," said an FAA engineer. "It makes a difference in your assessment of the hazard involved."
...
"None of the engineers were aware of a higher limit," said a second current FAA engineer.

Boeing and the U.S. government have a special relation . All administrations, independent of which party rules, give it extraordinary support. That leads to regulatory capture. The FAA is under constant political pressure to relent to Boeing's demands:

For Boeing's 102-year history, dating to the start of the First World War, the company and the country have relied upon one another, together creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, outfitting the United States with top military aircraft and supplying planes worldwide to allow the growth of passenger air travel and to boost U.S. exports.
...
"Whenever the government is seeking to enhance exports, usually you're going to find that Boeing is heavily involved in whatever initiative they're carrying out," said Andrew Hunter, a defense industry expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "That was true in the Obama administration, and it's true in the Trump administration."
...
"The risk is obviously that when agencies that are regulatory in nature work closely with a company over a long period of time, the concern is that it could undermine its independence," Hunter said.

After the accident last Sunday Boeing used its political connections to prevent the grounding of the 737 MAX. Only after all other countries prohibited further flights did the U.S. join in. It was the president, not the FAA, who announced the decision.

The new reports about the outsourcing of FAA safety analyses to Boeing itself, and of the inappropriate certification process, add to the impression that the FAA can no longer be trusted. Even if it certifies Boeing's patch-up solution for the MCAS problem other regulators will disagree.

That then will become a severe political problem. Trump's trade negotiations with China depend on the Chinese willingness to buy a large number of Boeing planes. If the Chinese regulators, who were the first to ground the MAX, do not accept the solution Boeing provides, those trade negotiations will go nowhere.

It is clear than that Boeing will have to provide a better solution. The U.S. government will have to strengthen its aviation regulator and will have to protect it from political pressure. Should either not happen Boeing's role in the international airline business will be severely damaged.

Posted by b on March 17, 2019 at 12:26 PM | Permalink The FAA wasn't keeping Boeing in check, Boeing was keeping the FAA in check.
Banks failing, Boeing failing, lives lost, lives wrecked, who cares
Regulatory Capture indeed. Neoliberal Capitalism. The Market knows best.
Externalities. What's our stocks doing.

Well feed Boeing to the market then.

Instead we all know what will happen: next week Trump will announce a special
aid package for poor Boeing, to help it improve its manufacturing and certification
processes.


Zim , Mar 17, 2019 1:00:28 PM | link

Profit over people. It's as simple as that. I work for Boeing on the 787. From my view, Boeing completely owns the FAA.
Kupkee , Mar 17, 2019 1:01:13 PM | link
So if the sensors are failing. Who makes the sensors, and who installs the sensors?
Also, how hard is it to place an over-ride to get the MCAS out of the picture during take-off?
foolisholdman , Mar 17, 2019 1:03:15 PM | link
That is not the whole of it. In the past, many countries have accepted that certification by the FAA was a good enough reason to accept the plane as fit to use. If it turns out (or is realised)that the FAA is really Boeing under an alias an awful lot of certifications are going to be suspect.
karlof1 , Mar 17, 2019 1:28:52 PM | link
Excellent follow-up report, b! Thanks very much! Clearly an excellent case of putting Profit over People. And the current situation guarantees that Profit over People will continue to win, which as psychohistorian alludes to points to a 100% morally dysfunctional system that must be replaced. Ultimately, that means the Outlaw Nature of the USA must be eliminated for that's where the source of the dysfunction lies. The result is essentially as David Korten outlined in When Corporations Rule the World . And as myself and others have argued, changing the directions within Corporate Charters--to support humanity and the environment first and foremost prior to shareholder consideration-- must occur for the dysfunctional system to be altered.
dh-mtl , Mar 17, 2019 1:58:01 PM | link
There is an excellent analysis over at Zero-hedge.( https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-17/best-analysis-what-really-happened-boeing-737-max-pilot-software-engineer).

A few other people may have a say as to if and when the 737Max will fly again:

- Passengers : Who is going to want to get on a clearly defective airplane that was not properly certified.

- Air Lines : Will open themselves up to massive law-suits if they fly this plane again with out ensuring that it is properly certified. Any accident would be fatal for the air-line.

- Lawyers : The litany of failures that led to the deaths of 350 people will expose Boeing (and possibly the FAA) to massive legal jeopardy.

joaopft , Mar 17, 2019 2:56:58 PM | link
The MCAS is there to prevent stalls caused by a large angle of attack (AOA) to become unrecoverable. Unlike the 737 NG, the 737 Max 8 (with MCAS turned off) will naturally pitch up, instead of down, when it stalls due to high AOA.

This is due to the fact that, despite the advertising, the aerodynamic characteristics of the Max are quite different from the NG. The large nacelles at the front of the wings provide lift at high speeds, performing like (unintended) canards. As they are placed forward the centre of mass, they add a pitch up moment. These "canards" are poorly designed, in the aerodynamic sense, because they should stall at a lower AOA than the wings. If that were so, the plane would tend to pitch down right before the stall (instead of up), making the stall more easily recoverable. The MCAS has been put there to fake the stable flight recovery characteristics of the 737 NG, that the MAX does not naturally enjoy.

Miss Lacy , Mar 17, 2019 3:11:21 PM | link
It's the Monsanto Syndrome. In house "safety tests" to push a toxic product. It's about the dollars. Somebody else gets to clean up the mess.
Lochearn , Mar 17, 2019 4:57:50 PM | link
Apologies for the long post.

b.s analysis is excellent from a technical and scientific point of view. But it suggests that Boeing has always benefitted from regulatory capture when for decades Boeing did not need regulatory capture because it built superb aircraft with double and triple redundancy mechanisms on all key systems. The 747 is still flying fifty years later and has had remarkably few accidents.

What few people seem to understand and what "psycohistorian" is always alluding to is that a revolution occurred when investment banking took over industry and almost everything else in the 1980s and 1990s. After 1997 Wall Street began to run Boeing, not the engineers that had always run the company (the exception being Bill Allen, its most brilliant CEO, who trained as a lawyer). Rather than regulatory capture Boeing's problem has been Wall Street capture under the guise of creating shareholder value.

In 1987 Wall Street first came banging on Boeing's door in the considerable shape of takeover artist and Texan mafia redneck T. Boone Pickens. Though his attempt was rebuffed Boeing felt forced into accepting the Wall Street shock doctrine to avoid another more powerful takeover attempt (GE under Jack Welch). Plans for new planes were frozen, R&D spending was slashed and 50,000 workers were laid off. Management consultants and MBAs flooded the place and so many new systems were in operation that staff could hardly remember what the acronyms stood for - WCC, the five S's. JIT, DBT's and AIWs to name just a few – all with the aim of cutting costs and employee numbers. So great was the employee cull that the whole place came to a juddering halt and no planes were built for several weeks in 1997 at a cost of $2.6 billion.

Wall Street loves what it calls M&Es (Mergers and Acquisitions) because it makes a hefty profit off each deal and it is a good way to achieve rapid earnings growth. So on Wall Street orders Boeing bought the ailing McDonnell Douglas (makers of the ill-fated DC10) in 1997 to gain income from MDD's miltary contracts. MDD boss Harry Stonecipher, who effectively took over Boeing, had been a Jack Welch (Mr Shareholder Value ) disciple for twenty years and had helped Jack eviscerate employee numbers and turn GE from an engineering company to a vast conglomerate with its own massive financial services arm. Just check out the parlous state of GE now!

But Boeing's commercial aircraft division was still not producing the expected results for the Street. Wall Street advisors decided that there was something unique in Boeing's culture that resisted the imposition of the new culture, and that the ties between management and staff were so deep and ingrained that only a physical separation could offer the distance and the anonymity necessary to "shake the company up". So it was decided to move HQ to Chicago, which boasted a well-developed financial sector where Condit and Stonecipher might find the sort of contacts befitting a company that was fast becoming a finance-driven business (Muellerleile, 2009). Employees in Seattle were stunned and morale sank to an all-time low.

Whereas previous CEOS had lived in modest middle class homes and travelled on Boeing commercial planes, Stonecipher and Condit treated themselves to luxury houses and corporate jets. The separation was complete. Now, twenty years up the line, the results of such greed and criminality are plain for all to see.

karlof1 , Mar 17, 2019 5:17:02 PM | link
Rae77 @20--

Strawman Hogwash makes your reply stydebris. The moral dysfunction of placing profit over people existed well before the rise of computers and its connective hardware. Indeed, it existed well before the formation of the Abrahamic religions, which we all recognize today as the Zero-sum Monopoly Game.

morning dove @17--

Hmm... how do you differ from mourning dove @16?

We've had both discussions--reformation versus total transformation--off and on here over the past several years. Yes, Congress is part of the problem; however, it's been proven through historical experience that the Congressional problem can be overcome. IMO, to have any meaningful chance to implement either requires an evolution in the Public's Moral Compass accompanied by a collective Epiphany that the Public has a Moral Duty to act.

Peter AU 1 , Mar 17, 2019 5:20:35 PM | link
I think there is still more to come out. That the fix for the stall problem was so severe it is likely the flight instability problem MCAS was designed to fix is worse than boeing has stated. On one of the flights that crashed the sensor had been replaced, thinking that fixed the nose down problem from the previous flight so problem likely to be more than just faulty sensor input. AOA sensor input is added to density altitude and airspeed input to determine if the aircraft is at risk of stall.
Boeing's bandaid after the Lion Air crash was for the pilots to first get the aircraft under control using the electric trim button on the yoke, and only when the plane was under control, switch off power to the electric trim motor. Boeing instructions on what pilots should do to recover from MCAS fault was also bullshit perhaps only usable if the aircraft had plenty of altitude. In the Ethiopia incident, MCAS tried to dive the aircraft into the ground very shortly after take off and the erratic vertical speed shows the pilots were using Boing instructions to recover control.
Boeing have lied about the severity or onset of the stall problem, they lied about MCAS, and even their bandaid patch after Lion Air was bullshit.
VietnamVet , Mar 17, 2019 6:20:56 PM | link
Outstanding reporting. The world has turned upside down. It is clear that the corruption of neoliberal capitalism is so bad it kills people. To meet the goal of less than one million chance of a catastrophic crash a third sensor must be added to the flight control system. Rather than punching a new hole in the fuselage perhaps a gyroscope or a satellite-based system to detect aircraft's flight position in real time plus the fixes listed in the Seattle Times report. Note the Air France Airbus crash in the Atlantic Equatorial Thunderstorm was due a cascade of disasters; input of bad data to the flight radar, icing of the three speed sensors that dumped control of the plane to the pilots, a cherry co-pilot who panicked, and lack of redundant flight controls so the other pilot did not realize the aircraft was stalling. The certification of the 737 Max was criminal. Boeing will have to stop production until a real fix is certified by China and the EU nations. They are in position to get what they want from Washington DC or the last manufacturing industry left in the USA is dead. Yes, the trade wars are over; unless the ideologues are so crazy, they start a real war with China. Corporate control of the USA government must end to address the ongoing corruption, the endless wars, and climate change.
Montreal , Mar 17, 2019 7:05:46 PM | link
One of several things I admire about our host at MoA is that he seems to have an unerring instinct for what is important. (Churchill really admired this talent in people and searched it out.). I found MoA as a result of the Skripal nonsense and have followed it with pleasure since - so over a year now.

Now I don't know one end of an aircraft from the other but this thread about the 737 Max has been very informative. I have also followed the story elsewhere.
What MSM is writing is also relevant and I was amazed to read in the London Sunday Times today an article about the affair which probably the best bit of journalism I have seen in a Murdoch title for many a year. It is measured and sensible. You won't learn more from it than you will read here - but to see the subject treated by the Times with the kind of respect which was standard 20 years ago - instead of the usual lazy, slanted, uniniquistive re-hash from the agencies that they churn out nowadays - confirms my view that our host is right in regarding this as a very big story indeed and the Times thinks this too.

Montreal , Mar 17, 2019 7:05:46 PM | link
One of several things I admire about our host at MoA is that he seems to have an unerring instinct for what is important. (Churchill really admired this talent in people and searched it out.). I found MoA as a result of the Skripal nonsense and have followed it with pleasure since - so over a year now.

Now I don't know one end of an aircraft from the other but this thread about the 737 Max has been very informative. I have also followed the story elsewhere.
What MSM is writing is also relevant and I was amazed to read in the London Sunday Times today an article about the affair which probably the best bit of journalism I have seen in a Murdoch title for many a year. It is measured and sensible. You won't learn more from it than you will read here - but to see the subject treated by the Times with the kind of respect which was standard 20 years ago - instead of the usual lazy, slanted, uniniquistive re-hash from the agencies that they churn out nowadays - confirms my view that our host is right in regarding this as a very big story indeed and the Times thinks this too.

[Mar 18, 2019] Leeham.net

Mar 18, 2019 | leeham.net

Management at Southwest Airlines told its pilots that Boeing did not include any description of MCAS in the flight manual because a pilot "should never see the operation of MCAS" in normal flying.

But in the extreme circumstances where it does activate, when the angle of attack hits the range of 10 to 12 degrees, the system rotates the horizontal tail so as to pitch the nose down. And if the high angle of attack persists, the system repeats the command every 10 seconds.

Fehrm said Boeing must have added this system on the MAX because when the angle of attack is high this model is less stable compared to prior 737 variants. That's because the MAX has bigger, heavier engines that are also cantilevered further forward on the wing to provide more ground clearance. That changes the center of gravity.

The scenario feared in the Lion Air case is that the AOA sensor sent false signals that fooled the computer into thinking the plane was in a dangerous stall position, and so MCAS was triggered.

What happened next is crucial.

Any pilot's natural reaction when a plane's nose begins to tilt down uncommanded is to pull back on the yoke and raise the nose. In normal flight mode, that would work, because pulling back on the yoke triggers breakout switches that stop any automatic tail movement tending to move the nose of the plane down.

But with the MCAS activated, said Fehrm, those breakout switches wouldn't work. MCAS assumes the yoke is already aggressively pulled back and won't allow further pullback to counter its action, which is to hold the nose down.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/faa-evaluates-a-potential-design-flaw-on-boeings-737-max-after-lion-air-crash/ 3 hours ago ( Edited ) This Kammeyer fella is being cute. All redesign of an aircraft is an economic dilemma not a problem. A million things must be considered before launching such a process.

In spite of what this dude assumes without proof, Boeing screwed this up. The question is where. It can be software, it can be sensors.it can be a lack of redundancy or It can be all of these things. Or, it could be an inherently unstable platform which it seems, according to all my buddies that are pilots on the MAX, it is not. When they're handflying, they say it flies fine. But it did come with a system MCAS that was not fully explained because, in the new world of aircraft design, ",there's just stuff you can't do anything about so why know all a bout it" line of thinking. AND IT DOES TRIM THE AIRCRAFT FOR REASONS NOT APPARENT TO THE PILOT AND IT DOES IT IN A SINGLE CHANNEL FASHION. ie. No dual system votes on wether it's doing the right thing for the phase of flight and no evidence to the pilot that it's doing it.

The problem is ending up with an aircraft that puts you in a full nose down or full nose up stabilizer trim position before you know it's happened making recovery difficult when close to the ground.

Wether it's due to a faulty angle of attack vane/sensor telling the trim motor to operate when it shouldn't or a badly designed software program that creates wrong outputs due to wrongly analyzing data inputs, there should be a dual system to alert the conflict before it gets out of hand.

These problems can be addressed. Lawsuits will be filed and won against Boeing and the MAX will fly again.

BTW if you're arguing that the 757 should have been redesigned and improved instead of trying to make the 737 do the 757 job, I'm with you since

it was the best jet I ever flew.

B787 Captain, KMOUT 2 hours ago even this is flawed. A320 has triple sensors so that an erroneous channel can be recognised and ignored and the appropriate protections retained. All that happens in the Boeing fix is that if two are different MCAS is cut out and the aircraft becomes aerodynamically unstable contrary to certification requirements. No thanks never thought I would say this but I would rather fly an Airbus... 4 hours ago Looks like all the deaths were due to Boeing's relentless quest for additional profits then. We need to examine corporate cultures that put profit ahead of safety and eliminate those companies that do so. Start with Boeing. No 737MaX flights for me even after they add the software patch....**** Boeing. 4 hours ago

On an earnings call in April 2017, Boeing's CEO Muilenburg was asked how deregulation early in Trump's term affected the company.

Muilenburg replied that "the administration has been very engaged across government agencies and with industry to find ideas and ways and opportunities to simplify and streamline.

" Things like FAA certification processes is one place that we're seeing some solid progress," he said. "That's helping us more efficiently work through certification on some of our new model aircraft, such as the Max, as it's going through flight test and entering into service ."

Unfortunate 4 hours ago Looks to me that Boeing might be baked and done, unless government sweeps it under rug, are there any honest and moral ppl working at these big corporations, I doubt it, my daughter work at ad agency it was about liberal politics all day long and use of F word until could take anymore and left. CEOs are not setting the example for their staff any more just about their stock options and million dollar salaries and to hell with everything else. 3 hours ago Suppose you're a software engineer. Top management comes and says we have to stabilize this new configuration of the 737 via dynamic flight controls, because it has an instability due to the change in engine placement. Your choices are

(1) don't do it and try to transfer to a different project or look for a new job at a new company, or

(2) do it as well as you can, or does it include

(3) go to the press and make a stink about it and say they shouldn't be making this change at all.

Well if you do (3), you won't be able to prove your case, you'll just ruin your career and maybe someone less competent will be tasked with that job you were assigned. They'll say you're a kook. But maybe it will get them to really fix the problem just to make sure you aren't right. I don't know.

So don't say there are no ethical people in those companies. There are some very ethical and world-class people there, and apparently a few bad managers. Also, every so often there will be accidents and tragedies despite people doing a uniformly great job. 3 hours ago Your right lower level guys for most part are honest, but how do all these dishonest guys get be in charge? 3 hours ago There;s a reason it's called climbing the greasy pole!

[Mar 16, 2019] Boeing 737 Crashes Raise Tough Questions on Aircraft Automation - Bloomberg

Mar 16, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Tom Enders just couldn't resist the swipe at the competition. It was June 2011, and the chief executive officer of Airbus SE was on a stage at the Paris air show after the planemaker won in a matter of days an unprecedented 600 orders for its upgraded A320neo airliner, while Boeing Co. stood on the sidelines.

"If our colleagues in Seattle still maintain we're only catching up with their 737, I must ask myself what these guys are smoking," Enders blurted out, to the general amusement of the audience, while Boeing representatives at the back of the room looked on.

Boeing had wavered on its decision whether to follow Airbus's lead and re-engine the 737 or go with an all-new aircraft. Customers were willing to wait for "something more revolutionary," as Jim Albaugh, at the time Boeing's head of commercial aircraft, said then.

But the European manufacturer's blow-out success with the A320neo, essentially a re-engined version of its popular narrow-body family, would soon force Boeing's hand.

As the A320neo became the fastest-selling plane in civil aviation history as Airbus picked off loyal Boeing customers like American Airlines Group Inc. , the U.S. company ditched the pursuit of an all-new jet and responded in July 2011 with its own redesign, the 737 Max.

"The program was launched in a panic," said Sash Tusa, an analyst at Agency Partners , an equity research firm in London. "What frightened Boeing most of all was losing their biggest and most important customer. American Airlines was the catalyst."

It turned out that Chicago-based Boeing wasn't too late to the party in the end: While the Max didn't quite replicate the neo's order book, it did become the company's fastest seller as airlines scrambled to cut their fuel bills with new engines that promised savings of 20 percent or more. All told, the Max raked in about 5,000 orders, keeping the playing field fairly level in the global duopoly between Airbus and Boeing.

Close Scrutiny

Now the 737 Max is grounded globally, after two almost factory-fresh jets crashed in rapid succession. As a result, the repercussions of Boeing's response to Airbus's incursion are under the microscope. Getting particular scrutiny are the use of more powerful, fuel-saving engines and automated tools to help pilots control the aircraft.

After the grounding, Boeing said that it "continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max, and that it was supporting the decision to idle the jets "out of an abundance of caution." The company declined to comment beyond its public statements.

In late October, a plane operated by Lion Air went down minutes after taking off in Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. Then on March 10, another 737 Max crashed, this time in Ethiopia en route to Kenya. Again, none of the 157 people on board survived the impact.

There are other similarities that alarmed airlines and regulators and stirred public opinion, leading to the grounding of the 737 Max fleet of more than 350 planes. According to the Federal Aviation Administration , "the track of the Ethiopian Airlines flight was very close and behaved very similar to the Lion Air flight."

How Boeing Safety Feature Became a Suspect in Crashes: QuickTake

After decades of steadily declining aircraft accidents, the question of how two identical new planes could simply fall out of the sky minutes after takeoff has led to intense scrutiny of the 737 Max's systems. Adding to the chorus in the wake of the crash was President Donald Trump, who lamented the complexities of modern aviation, suggesting that people in the cockpit needed to be more like nuclear physicists than pilots to command a jet packed with automated systems.

"Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," the president said in the first of a pair of tweets on March 12, darkly warning that "complexity creates danger."

Analog Machine

Automation plays a limited role in the 737 Max. That's because the aircraft still has essential analog design and layout features dating back to the 1960s, when it was conceived. It's a far older concept than the A320, which came to market at the end of the 1980s and boasted innovations like fly-by-wire controls, which manipulate surfaces such as flaps and horizontal tail stabilizers with electrical impulses and transducers rather than heavier hydraulic links.

Upgrading the 737 to create the Max came with its own set of issues. For example, the 737 sits considerably lower to the ground, so fitting the bigger new engines under the wings was a structural challenge (even with the squished underbelly of the engine casing). In response, Boeing raised the front landing gear by a few inches, but this and the size of the engines can change the plane's center of gravity and its lift in certain maneuvers.

Boeing's technical wizardry for the 138- to 230-seat Max was a piece of software known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. It intervenes automatically when a single sensor indicates the aircraft may be approaching a stall. Some pilots complained, though, that training on the new system wasn't sufficient and properly documented.

"The benefits of automation are great, but it requires a different level of discipline and training,'' said Thomas Anthony, director of the Aviation Safety and Security Program at the University of Southern California. Pilots must make a conscious effort to monitor the plane's behavior. And reliance on automation means they will take back control only in the worst situations, he said.

Errant Sensor

With the Lion Air crash, data from the recovered flight recorders points to a battle in the cockpit between the software and the pilots who struggled in vain to keep control. The data showed that an errant sensor signaled the plane was in danger of stalling and prompted the MCAS to compensate by repeatedly initiating a dive. The pilots counteracted by flipping a switch several times to raise the nose manually, which temporarily disabled MCAS. The cycle repeated itself more than two dozen times before the plane entered its final deadly dive, according to the flight data.

With the flight and cockpit voice recorders of the Ethiopian plane now in France for analysis, the interaction between the MCAS system and the pilots will again be under close scrutiny, probably rekindling the broader debate about who or what is in control of the cockpit.

That man-versus-machine conundrum has been central to civil aviation for years. Automation has without doubt made commercial flying much safer, as planemakers added systems to help pilots set engine thrust, navigate with greater precision and even override human error in the cockpit.

For example, automation on modern aircraft keeps pilots within a so-called flight envelope to avoid erratic maneuvers that might destabilize the aircraft. Analyses of flight data show that planes have more stable landings in stormy, low-visibility conditions when automation is in charge than on clear days when they land by sight.

Sully's Miracle Landing

The most daring descent in recent memory, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in early 2009, is Exhibit A of how an interconnected cockpit worked hand-in-hand with an experienced pilot. Automatic pitch trim and rudder coordination assisted manual inputs and kept the Airbus A320 steady on its smooth glide into the icy water. The drama showed that automation can play a crucial support function, provided a pilot is fully trained and the aircraft properly maintained.

"Some people are saying modern aircraft such as the 737 Max are too complex," said Dave Wallsworth, a British Airways captain on the Airbus A380 double-decker. "I disagree. The A380 is a far more complex aircraft and we fly it very safely every day. Pilots are capable of understanding aircraft systems so long as the manuals contain the information we need."

Airbus traditionally has pushed the envelope on automation and a more modern cockpit layout, with larger screens and steering by joystick rather than a central yoke, turning pilots into something akin to systems operators. Boeing's philosophy, on the other hand, has been to leave more authority in the hands of pilots, though newer designs also include some computerized limits. Like Airbus planes, the latest aircraft from Seattle -- where Boeing makes most of its jetliners -- are equipped with sophisticated autopilots, fly-by-wire controls or systems to set speed during landings.

"The big automation steps came in the 1980s with the entry into service of the A320 and the whole fly-by-wire ethos," said John Strickland, an independent aviation analyst. "I don't think automation per se is a problem, we see it in wide-scale use in the industry, and as long as it is designed to work hand-in-hand with pilots and pilots understand how to use it, it shouldn't be an issue."

Erratic Movements

But the counter-argument is that increasingly complex systems have led computers to take over, and that many pilots may have forgotten how to manually command a jet -- particularly in a moment of crisis. That criticism was leveled at Airbus, for example, after the mid-Atlantic crash of Air France Flight 447 in 2009 that killed all 228 people on board. Analysis of the flight recorders showed the crew was confused by stall warnings and unreliable speed readings, leading to erratic maneuvers that ended in catastrophe.

>

"I grew up on steam gauges and analog, and the modern generation on digital and automation," said Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association and a Boeing 737 captain for the Dallas-based airline. "No matter what you grew up on, you have to fly the plane. If the automation is doing something you don't want it to do or that you don't understand, you have to disconnect it and fly the plane."

A 2013 report by the FAA found more than 60 percent of 26 accidents over a decade involved pilots making errors after automated systems abruptly shut down or behaved in unexpected ways. And the 2016 inspector general's report at the FAA noted that as the use of automation increases, "pilots have fewer opportunities to use manual flying skills."

"As a result, the opportunities air carrier pilots have during live operations to maintain proficiency in manual flight are limited and are likely to diminish," the report found.

The grounding of the 737 Max fleet has left Boeing in crisis. The company couldn't get through with its message that the plane was safe to fly, as the group of regulators and airlines idling the jet kept expanding. The 737 program is Boeing's cash cow, accounting for a third of its profit, and Boeing's stock dropped sharply in the days after the disaster.

Get in Line

The Max gave Boeing a relatively cheap path back into the narrow-body game that it was at risk of losing to the Airbus neo. At the time, Boeing had to make a quick decision, as it was still burdened financially by the 787 Dreamliner wide-body that was over budget and behind schedule.

Both manufacturers have said they won't come out with an all-new single-aisle model until well into the next decade, preferring to wait for further technological advancements before committing to massive spending. The success of both the neo and the Max bought the companies that extra time, with orders books stretching years into the future.

Half a century after it was launched almost as an afterthought, the 737 program has become the lifeblood of Boeing that helps finance the rest of the corporation -- the biggest U.S. exporter. It's the one aircraft that Boeing cannot afford to give up.

"The Max was the right decision for the time," said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with the consultancy Teal Group . "Yes, there may be an issue with MCAS needing a software patch. Yes, there may need to be some additional training. But these are not issues that cause people to change to the other guys' jet. The other guys have a waiting line, and when you get to the back of that line, you burn more fuel."

-- With assistance by Alan Levin, Benjamin D Katz, Margaret Newkirk, Michael Sasso, and Mary Schlangenstein

[Mar 14, 2019] Boeing 737 Max an artificial intelligence event by James Thompson

Mar 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

Conventional wisdom is that it is too early to speculate why in the past six months two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have gone down shortly after take off, so if all that follows is wrong you will know it very quickly. Last night I predicted that the first withdrawals of the plane would happen within two days, and this morning China withdrew it. So far, so good. (Indonesia followed a few hours ago).

Why should I stick my neck out with further predictions? First, because we must speculate the moment something goes wrong. It is natural, right and proper to note errors and try to correct them.(The authorities are always against "wild" speculation, and I would be in agreement with that if they had an a prior definition of wildness). Second, because putting forward hypotheses may help others test them (if they are not already doing so). Third, because if the hypotheses turn out to be wrong, it will indicate an error in reasoning, and will be an example worth studying in psychology, so often dourly drawn to human fallibility. Charmingly, an error in my reasoning might even illuminate an error that a pilot might make, if poorly trained, sleep-deprived and inattentive.

I think the problem is that the Boeing anti-stall patch MCAS is poorly configured for pilot use: it is not intuitive, and opaque in its consequences.

By the way of full disclosure, I have held my opinion since the first Lion Air crash in October, and ran it past a test pilot who, while not responsible for a single word here, did not argue against it. He suggested that MCAS characteristics should have been in a special directive and drawn to the attention of pilots.

I am normally a fan of Boeing. I have flown Boeing more than any other plane, and that might make me loyal to the brand. Even more powerfully, I thought they were correct to carry on with the joystick yoke, and that AirBus was wrong to drop it, simply because the position of the joystick is something visible to pilot and co-pilot, whereas the Airbus side stick does not show you at a glance how high the nose of the plane is pointing.

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/fear-of-flying-and-safety-of-gruyere/

Pilots are bright people, but they must never be set a badly configured test item with tight time limits and potentially fatal outcomes.

The Air France 447 crash had several ingredients, but one was that the pilots of the Airbus A330-203 took too long to work out they were in a stall. In fact, that realization only hit them very shortly before they hit the ocean. Whatever the limitations of the crew (sleep deprived captain, uncertain co-pilot) they were blinded by a frozen Pitot air speed indicator, and an inability to set the right angle of attack for their airspeed.

For the industry, the first step was to fit better air speed indicators which were less likely to ice up. However, it was clear that better stall warning and protection was required.

Boeing had a problem with fitting larger and heavier engines to their tried and trusted 737 configuration, meaning that the engines had to be higher on the wing and a little forwards, and that made the 737 Max have different performance characteristics, which in turn led to the need for an anti-stall patch to be put into the control systems.

It is said that generals always fight the last war. Safety officials correct the last problem, as they must. However, sometimes a safety system has unintended consequences.

The key of the matter is that pilots fly normal 737s every day, and have internalized a mental model of how that plane operates. Pilots probably actually read manuals, and safety directives, and practice for rare events. However, I bet that what they know best is how a plane actually operates most of the time. (I am adjusting to a new car, same manufacturer and model as the last one, but the 9 years of habit are still often stronger than the manual-led actions required by the new configuration). When they fly a 737 Max there is a bit of software in the system which detects stall conditions and corrects them automatically. The pilots should know that, they should adjust to that, they should know that they must switch off that system if it seems to be getting in the way, but all that may be steps too far, when something so important is so opaque.

What is interesting is that in emergencies people rely on their most validated mental models: residents fleeing a burning building tend to go out their usual exits, not even the nearest or safest exit. Pilots are used to pulling the nose up and pushing it down, to adding power and to easing back on it, and when a system takes over some of those decisions, they need to know about it.

After Lion Air I believed that pilots had been warned about the system, but had not paid sufficient attention to its admittedly complicated characteristics, but now it is claimed that the system was not in the training manual anyway. It was deemed a safety system that pilots did not need to know about.

This farrago has an unintended consequence, in that it may be a warning about artificial intelligence. Boeing may have rated the correction factor as too simple to merit human attention, something required mainly to correct a small difference in pitch characteristics unlikely to be encountered in most commercial flying, which is kept as smooth as possible for passenger comfort.

It would be terrible if an apparently small change in automated safety systems designed to avoid a stall turned out have given us a rogue plane, killing us to make us safe.


Anatoly Karlin , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm GMT

Pilots are used to pulling the nose up and pushing it down, to adding power and to easing back on it, and when a system takes over some of those decisions, they need to know about it.

I have read that Boeing kept MCAS out of the limelight as otherwise the 737 MAX would need to be certified as a new plane and airlines would need to do $$$ pilot retraining, making their product less competitive.

James Thompson , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 3:09 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin Interesting. It is certainly hard to understand why MCAS was shrouded in secrecy, when it was potentially lethal.
Captain 737 , says: March 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm GMT
Interesting response from a "by-stander", who compares a sophisticated aircraft with a new model car !!!

As an experienced captain on 737s (not the MAX) I say, let the investigation begin; and let us not have by-standers giving their penny worth. A normal 737 . is there also an abnormal 747 or 777 or 787, or a 737 ??

Pilots carry the can . but, are the most respected profession in the world. What ever happened, let the investigation decide the outcome, and not the "un-trained" (is there such a term !!!!).

If one takes a look at the (released to date) information about the Lion Air crash – "unreliable airspeeds" (the airspeed indicator is providing erroneous information during a critical phase of flight (like climb out after take-off)) could have been the cause of that aircraft crash – not AI.

A simple explanation – the airspeed indicator is "unreliable", as one moment the indication is under-speed, then overspeed, followed by under-speed, and so it goes; like a yoyo going up and down; the indicated speed is erroneous and the pilots cannot rely on what is presented on the airspeed indicator. Pilots, according to the Boeing Training Manual, are trained to handle unreliable airspeeds – the key is to fly the plane based solely on pitch attitude and thrust (there are memory items for unreliable airspeed occurrences, along with the reference items in aircraft's Quick Reference Handbook – the QRH (Boeing term) is the pilots "bible" for any issues and problems when the aircraft is in the air !! ).

The point of the above paragraph is to enlighten the 'un-trained' as to not speculate too soon with ideas and a "hypothesis" of what may have happened, until the knowledgeable ones – the aircraft manufacturer (probably being the most knowledgable), the country's aviation authority, the engine manufacturer, and (dear I say) the FAA (the Yanks just cannot help themselves delving into other countries' affairs; when for 9/11 not one minutes was spent by anyone (FAA, Boeing, no one) investigating the so-called crashes of four aircraft – on one day, within one and a half hours of each other, and in the most protected airspace in the world (got the hint !!) – I have digressed, though for reason .. have completed their investigations.

I can assure you that no pilot wants to crash a plane we (pilots) all want to live to 100, and beyond.

Humans make mistakes, but technology needs humans to correct technology's mistakes. Boeing build reliable and trustworthy aircraft; pilots undertake their duties in a safe and controlled manner (according to training and aircraft manufacturer stipulated standards); but errors happen – and the investigator is there to establish what happened, so that these do not happen again. Unfortunately, it is just possible that the cause of the first MAX accident is the same as the second. But, let the knowledgable ones determine that fact – and let me, and us, not speculate.

AI in the MAX hhmmmmm – let Boeing release that information, before we start speculating again (on AI – is an auto pilot AI; the B737 I fly has two auto pilots; is that double AI ??).

To the rest of the travelling public – airline travel remains, and has been, the safest form of transport for decades. I am confident that the status quo will remain.

Time will reveal the answers to these two accidents, when the time is right – when the investigators (for both) have concluded their deliberations.

My guess is, the majority of people will have forgotten these two MAX events (but, for those who have lost loved ones), as some other crisis/event will have occurred in their lives and/or in the world.

Dieter Kief , says: March 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

737 MAX would need to be certified as a new plane and airlines would need to do $$$ pilot retraining, making their product less competitive.

Short sighted businessmen – Nothing lasts for long

Joni Mitchell – – – Chinese Cafè on Wild Things Run Fast

The Anti-Gnostic , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 7:45 pm GMT
I think the problem is that the Boeing anti-stall patch MCAS is poorly configured for pilot use: it is not intuitive, and opaque in its consequences.

I think that's the case with a lot of current technology. Human factors and tactileness don't seem to get much weight in current engineering.

Simply Simon , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:26 am GMT
@Captain 737 I respect your analysis especially coming from a seasoned 737 captain. I have over 5,000 flying hours in single and twin-engine, conventional and jet, all military. I have not flown since 1974 so the advances in auto-pilot technology are beyond my comprehension. My question to you is simple–I think. If the aircraft took off in VFR conditions I assume the pilots knew the pitch attitude all during the takeoff phase. Is there no way to manually overpower the auto-pilot once the pilots knew the pitch attitude was dangerously high or low?
kauchai , says: March 12, 2019 at 2:37 am GMT
If this is a made in china airplane, the empire would mobilize the whole world to ground the entire fleet. The diatribes, lies, cruel sick jokes, lawsuits, etc, etc, would fly to the heavens.

But NO, this is an empire plane. Designed, built and (tested?) in the heart of the empire. And despite the fact that more than 300 people had died, IT IS STILL SAFE to fly!

LOL! LOL!

Anonymous [414] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 3:41 am GMT
Quite a short and to-the-point article, although the link to "artificial intelligence" is tenuous at best.

What is sold as Artificial Intelligence nowadays is massive statistical processing in a black box (aka as "Neural Network Processing"), it's not intelligent. The most surprising fact is that it works so well.

Neural Networks won't be in high-assurance software soon. No-one knows what they really do once configured (although there are efforts underway to attack that problem ). They are impossible to really test or design to specification. Will someone underwrite that a system incorporating them does work? Hardly. You may find them in consumer electronics, research, "self driving cars" that never really self-drive without surprises and possibly bleeding edge military gear looking for customers or meant to explode messily anyway.

But not in cockpits. (At least I hope).

Check out this slideshow about the ACAS-X Next Generation Collision Airborne Collision Avoidance System. It has no neural network in sight, in fact if I understand correctly it doesn't even have complex decision software in-cockpit: it's all decision tables precomputed from a high-level, understandable description (aka. code, apparently in Julia) to assure safe outcome in a fully testable and simulatable approach.

In this accident, we may have a problem with the system, as opposed to with the software. While the software may work correctly and to specification (and completely unintelligently) the system composed of software + human + physical machinery will interact in interesting, unforeseen, untested ways, leading to disaster. In fact the (unintelligent software + human) part may disturbingly behave like those Neural Networks that are being sold as AI.

Anonymous [414] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:16 am GMT
A disquieting item on your morning cereal box:

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/boeing-cited-by-pentagon-over-quality-concerns-going-back-years-1.522343

https://www.stripes.com/news/air-force/air-force-won-t-accept-any-more-boeing-tankers-until-manufacturing-process-is-cleaned-up-1.571108

Anonymous [427] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:46 am GMT
@Anatoly Karlin I'm guessing that it would require a change in the TCDS and possibly a different type rating, which would be anathema for sales.

I'm a little airplane person, not a big airplane person (and the 737 is a Big Airplane even in its smallest configuration) but I know there have been several instances where aircraft had changes that required that pilots of the type have a whole different type rating, even though the changes seemed minor. I'm guessing airlines are training averse and don't want to take crews off revenue service beyond what is statutorily required. The margins in airline flying are apparently much leaner now than in the glory days.

I never approved of allowing fly by wire in commercial airliners, I never even really liked the idea of FADEC engine control (supervisory DEC was fine) because a classical advantage of gas turbines (and diesels) was that they could run in an absolutely electrically dead environment once lit. Indeed, the J-58 (JT11-D in P&W parlance) had no electrical system to speak of beyond the instrumentation: it started by mechanical shaft drive and ignited by triethyl borane chemical injection. The Sled could make it home on needle-ball and alcohol compass, and at least once it did. Total electrical failure in any FBW aircraft means losing the airplane. Is the slight gain in efficiency worth it? I'm told the cables, pulleys, fairleads and turnbuckles add 200 pounds to a medium size airliner, the FBW stuff weighs 80 or so.

The jet transports we studied in A&P school had a pitot head and static port on either side of the flight deck and the captain and F/O had inputs from different ones, though IIRC the altimeter and airspeed were electrically driven from sensors at the pitot head or inboard of it. I have a 727 drum-pointer (why are three pointer altimeters even legal anymore??) altimeter and it has no aneroids, just a couple of PCBs full of TTL logic and op amps and a DB style connector on the back. Do crews not cross check airspeed and altitude or is there no indicator to flag them when the two show something different?

Also, not being a jet pilot myself, my understanding is that anyone with T-38 experience is forever after thinking in terms of AOA and not airspeed per se, because that airplane has to be flown by AOA in the pattern, and classically a lot of airline pilots had flown Talons. Is there no AOA indicator in the 737? Flying in the pattern/ILS would make airspeed pretty dependent on aircraft weight, and on a transport that can change a lot with fuel burn, do they precisely calculate current weight from a totalizer and notate speeds needed? (I presume airliners don't vary weight other than fuel burn, not being customarily in the business of throwing stuff out of the airplane, although they used to fly jumpers out of a chartered 727 at the parachute meet in Quincy)

dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:00 pm GMT
@Captain 737 Why are you pretending to be a pilot, and a pompous one at that?
dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:06 pm GMT
Many problems in the world arise because many computing people reckon themselves very clever when they are merely rather clever. And often they combine what cleverness they have with a blindness about humans and their ways. I shouldn't be at all surprised if programmers at Boeing decided that they always knew better than pilots and doomed the planes accordingly.

I saw recently an expression that made me grin: "midwits". It describes rather well many IT types of my acquaintance.

dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:51 pm GMT
Another human cost of midwittery:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6797193/More-500-village-postmasters-wrongly-hounded-stealing-millions-system.html

Fabian Forge , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:55 pm GMT
@fish And that's the problem, as Mr. Kief also points out. The individuals at the decision making level (let's call them "executives") don't or can't think that far ahead, at least when the corporation they run is concerneed.

It really is a time-preference problem.

Fabian Forge , says: March 12, 2019 at 5:06 pm GMT
@dearieme One corollary is that the Midwits take such joy in their cleverness that they assume their wit has value in and of itself. This is most evident when they design clever solutions to invented problems. Billions of dollars of venture capital have been set on fire in that way, when technical and financial midwittery combine.
Dieter Kief , says: March 12, 2019 at 10:55 pm GMT
@Andrei Martyanov It's almost nitpicking. But – James Thompson says it above: The MCAS in this Boing model 737 MAX 8 is used to cover up a basic construction flaw. This has undoubtedly worked for quite some time – but it came with a risk. And this risk might turn out to have caused numerous deaths. In this case, if it will turn out, that the MACS system didn't do what it was supposed to do and thus caused numerous deaths – will this then be looked upon as a problem of the application of artificial intelligence? Yes, but not only . It was a combination of a poorly built (constructed) airliner and software, which might not have been able to compensate for this flawed construction under all conditions.

It's cheaper to compensate via software – and this might (might) turn out to be a rather irresponsible way to save money. But as I said: Even in this case, the technical problem would have to be looked upon as twofold: Poor construction plus insufficient software compensation. I'd even tend to say, that poor construction would then be the main (=basic) fault. With the zeitgeisty (and cheap!) software-"solution" for this poor construction a close second.

Eagle Eye , says: March 12, 2019 at 11:25 pm GMT
@Captain 737 Curiously, this is "Captain 737″'s first and only comment here.

It's almost as if Boeing hired a high-priced PR firm whose offerings include pseudonymous online "messaging" to "shape opposition perceptions" etc. Note the over-obvious handle. (Just like globalist shills like to pretend to be regular blue-collar guys in small fly-over towns.)

By their words shalt ye know them.

PREDICTION: In 3-4 years, we will "discover" a long paper trail of engineers warning early on about the risk of hastily kludging a half-assed anti-stall patch MCAS onto a system that had undergone years of testing and refinement WITHOUT the patch.

Only somebody PAID not to see the problem could fail to perceive that this means that as so altered, the ENTIRE SYSTEM goes back to being technically immature.

Anonymous [427] Disclaimer , says: March 13, 2019 at 12:00 am GMT
@Dieter Kief What "basic construction flaw" are we discussing here? The 737 airframe is pretty well established and has a good record-there have been incidents but most have been well dealt with.
Dieter Kief , says: March 13, 2019 at 12:39 am GMT
@Anonymous I've read today, that in the aviation world there is a consensus, that what James Thompson says in his article is right:
"Boeing had a problem with fitting larger and heavier engines to their tried and trusted 737 configuration, meaning that the engines had to be higher on the wing and a little forwards, and that made the 737 Max have different performance characteristics, which in turn led to the need for an anti-stall patch to be put into the control systems."

– A German engineer wrote in a comment in the Berlin daily Die weLT, this construction flaw makes the 737 MAX 8 something like a flying traktor . He concluded, that Boing proved, that you can make a tractor fly, alright. But proper engineering would have looked otherwise – and would for sure had come at a higher cost.
(The different performance charactersitics mentioned by James Thompson is an extraordinarily nice way to express, that the 737 MAX 8 is a tad more likely to stall, just because of the very design-changes, the bigger turbines made necessary. And this is a rather nasty thing to say about an airplane, that a new design made it more likely to stall! ).

Sparkon , says: March 13, 2019 at 1:54 am GMT
@Anonymous

What "basic construction flaw" are we discussing here? The 737 airframe is pretty well established and has a good record.

I 'm not so sure about the good record, and I too suspect the underlying problem is the 737 itself – the entire 737 airframe and avionics.

Worst crash record

LET 410 – 20
Ilyushin 72 – 17
Antonov AN-1 – 17
Twin Otter – 18
CASA 212 – 11
DC-9/MD80 – 10
B737-100 / 700 – 10
Antonov 28 – 8
Antonov 32- 7
Tupolev 154- 7

[a/o 2013 – my bold]

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/Least-safe-aircraft-models-revealed/

The 737 family is the best selling commercial airliner series in history with more than 10,000 units produced. However, this airplane in its various configurations has had many crashes since it first entered service in 1968.

[Mar 13, 2019] Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

Notable quotes:
"... To implement a security relevant automatism that depends on only one sensor is extremely bad design. To have a flight control automatism engaged even when the pilot flies manually is also a bad choice. But the real criminality was that Boeing hid the feature. ..."
"... The Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed went down in a similar flight profile as the Indonesian plane. It is highly likely that MCAS is the cause of both incidents. While the pilots of the Ethiopian plane were aware of the MCAS system they might have had too little time to turn it off. The flight recorders have been recovered and will tell the full story. ..."
"... The FAA certifies all new planes and their documentation. I was for some time marginally involved in Airbus certification issues. It is an extremely detailed process that has to be followed by the letter. Hundreds of people are full time engaged for years to certify a modern jet. Every tiny screw and even the smallest design details of the hardware and software have to be documented and certified. ..."
"... How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS? How could the FAA allow that MCAS was left out of the documentation? What steps were taken after the Indonesian flight crashed into the sea? ..."
"... That the marketing department has more say than the engineers who design and test the hardware and the software in passenger jets tells us a great deal about the Potemkin-style workplace culture that prevails in Boeing and similar large US corporations. The surface sheen is more important than the substance. The marketing brochures and manuals are no different from mainstream news media in the level of BS they spew. ..."
"... The Indonesian pilots did not have the time to figure out and realise that something else was controlling the plane's flight, much less deactivate what is effectively a second autopiloting system. ..."
"... B is right. This is a criminal act of deception and fraud thats cost hundreds their lives. Boeing executives responsible should be prosecuted and then jailed. ..."
"... while all the technical discussion around how to fly a plane is truly interesting, what's really at issue here is corporate and institutional betrayal of trust. ..."
"... The corporate aspect is Boeing, obviously. The institutional aspect is FAA, which used to lead the world in trust when it came to life and death matters. ..."
"... But now, in what Bloomberg, even while trying to support FAA, has no choice but to report as a "stunning rebuff" to FAA's integrity, countries around the world are grounding this flawed plane. Germany, among others, has closed its airspace to the 737. ..."
"... "Should anyone be flying 737MAXes before the black box data has been evaluated?" ..."
"... Before, the civilian airliners were falling out of the sky because of an immature technology, that is because of the learning curve. Now that the technology involved is fully mature the airliners are falling out of the sky for profit taking. ..."
"... Is it really so hard to connect the secrecy about MCAS and why it was needed in the first place? The lawyers will have a ball of the decade with this: the defendant created a secret software solution to turn a Lego airplane into a real airplane, made the software dependent on a single sensor, and made it difficult to switch the software off. ..."
"... I cannot believe that Boeing shares dropped only 7.5%, this is a statement of how untouchable Boeing is and how protected it will be by the Corrupt. ..."
Mar 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed psychohistorian , Mar 12, 2019 4:55:32 PM | link

On Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing all on board. Five month earlier an Indonesian Lion Air jet crashed near Jakarta. All crew and passengers died. Both airplanes were Boeing 737-8 MAX. Both incidents happened shortly after take off.

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are now grounded about everywhere except in the United States. That this move follows only now is sad. After the first crash it was already obvious that the plane is not safe to fly.

The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing's marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

To make that viable Boeing's engineers had to use a little trick. They added a 'maneuver characteristics augmentation system' (MCAS) that pitches the nose of the plane down if a sensor detects a too high angle of attack (AoA) that might lead to a stall. That made the flight characteristic of the new 737 version similar to the old one.

But the engineers screwed up.

The 737 MAX has two flight control computers. Each is connected to only one of the two angle of attack sensors. During a flight only one of two computer runs the MCAS control. If it detects a too high angle of attack it trims the horizontal stabilizer down for some 10 seconds. It then waits for 5 seconds and reads the sensor again. If the sensor continues to show a too high angle of attack it again trims the stabilizer to pitch the plane's nose done.

MCSA is independent of the autopilot. It is even active in manual flight. There is a procedure to deactivate it but it takes some time.

One of the angle of attack sensors on the Indonesian flight was faulty. Unfortunately it was the one connected to the computer that ran the MCAS on that flight. Shortly after take off the sensor signaled a too high angle of attack even as the plane was flying in a normal climb. The MCAS engaged and put the planes nose down. The pilots reacted by disabling the autopilot and pulling the control stick back. The MCAS engaged again pitching the plane further down. The pilots again pulled the stick. This happened some 12 times in a row before the plane crashed into the sea.

To implement a security relevant automatism that depends on only one sensor is extremely bad design. To have a flight control automatism engaged even when the pilot flies manually is also a bad choice. But the real criminality was that Boeing hid the feature.

Neither the airlines that bought the planes nor the pilots who flew it were told about MCAS. They did not know that it exists. They were not aware of an automatic system that controlled the stabilizer even when the autopilot was off. They had no idea how it could be deactivated.

Nine days after the Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 ended in a deadly crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive.


bigger

The 737 MAX pilots were aghast. The APA pilot union sent a letter to its members:

"This is the first description you, as 737 pilots, have seen. It is not in the AA 737 Flight Manual Part 2, nor is there a description in the Boeing FCOM (flight crew operations manual)," says the letter from the pilots' union safety committee. "Awareness is the key with all safety issues."

The Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed went down in a similar flight profile as the Indonesian plane. It is highly likely that MCAS is the cause of both incidents. While the pilots of the Ethiopian plane were aware of the MCAS system they might have had too little time to turn it off. The flight recorders have been recovered and will tell the full story.

Boeing has sold nearly 5,000 of the 737 MAX. So far some 380 have been delivered. Most of these are now grounded. Some family members of people who died on the Indonesian flight are suing Boeing. Others will follow. But Boeing is not the only one who is at fault.

The FAA certifies all new planes and their documentation. I was for some time marginally involved in Airbus certification issues. It is an extremely detailed process that has to be followed by the letter. Hundreds of people are full time engaged for years to certify a modern jet. Every tiny screw and even the smallest design details of the hardware and software have to be documented and certified.

How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS? How could the FAA allow that MCAS was left out of the documentation? What steps were taken after the Indonesian flight crashed into the sea?

Up to now the FAA was a highly regarded certification agency. Other countries followed its judgment and accepted the certifications the FAA issued. That most of the world now grounded the 737 MAX while it still flies in the States is a sign that this view is changing. The FAA's certifications of Boeing airplanes are now in doubt.

Today Boeing's share price dropped some 7.5%. I doubt that it is enough to reflect the liability issues at hand. Every airline that now had to ground its planes will ask for compensation. More than 330 people died and their families deserve redress. Orders for 737 MAX will be canceled as passengers will avoid that type.

Boeing will fix the MCAS problem by using more sensors or by otherwise changing the procedures. But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation. If the FAA is internationally seen as a lobbying agency for the U.S. airline industry it will no longer be trusted and the industry will suffer from it. It will have to run future certification processes through a jungle of foreign agencies.

Congress should take up the FAA issue and ask why it failed.

Posted by b on March 12, 2019 at 04:39 PM | Permalink

Comments next page " @ b who wrote
"
But the engineers screwed up.
"

I call BS on this pointing of fingers at the wrong folk

Engineers get paid to build things that accountants influence. The West is a world in which the accountants have more sway than engineers.

It is all about the money b and to lead folks in some other direction is not like what I think of you.

The elite that own global private finance and everything else killed those people in the planes because they set the standards that the accountants follow and then force the engineers to operate within

The profit narrative is bad for humanity.


bj , Mar 12, 2019 4:57:15 PM | link

A whistleblower at Boeing would have been nice.
bevin , Mar 12, 2019 5:00:23 PM | link
"Congress should take up the FAA issue and ask why it failed."
If there had been any chance of that happening, the planes would probably still be flying and dead passengers alive.
This, if you are right and I suspect that you are, is symptomatic of an empire dying of corruption. It is no accident that both the new secretary of defence and the neo-con cult itself were born of Boeing. A fact memorialised in the UK where the Blairites rally in the Henry Jackson society.
Lochearn , Mar 12, 2019 5:00:42 PM | link
Last night I wrote on a previous thread:
Over the space of a few months 2 almost new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have crashed. Rather than going to the expense of designing an entirely new fuselage and normal length landing gear for its larger and much more powerful 737 MAX engines Boeing stuck with the now ancient 737 fuselage design that sits only 17 inches from the ground – necessitating changes to the positioning of the engines on the wing, which together with the vast increase in power, created aerodynamic instability in the design that Boeing tried to correct with software, while not alerting pilots to the changes.
Through the 1980s and early 1990s Boeing executives had largely resisted pressure from Wall Street to cut staff numbers, move plant to non-union states and outsource. The 777 was the last real Boeing, though significant outsourcing did take place – but under the strict control and guidance of Boeing engineers. After the "reverse" takeover of MacDonnell Douglas in 1997 the MDD neoliberal culture swamped Boeing and its HQ was moved from the firm's home near Seattle to Chicago so executives could hobnob with speculators. Wall Street had taken down another giant.
David Park , Mar 12, 2019 5:01:36 PM | link
The story I have most interest in, at the moment, is the state of the power blackout in Venezuela and whether this was a cyber attack by the United States. If it was, it is, in my opinion, a weapon of mass destruction and a very major war crime. The story seems to be fading from the news so I'm hoping b. will be able to gather more information about it.

But I find every story by b, worthwhile!

Ghost Ship , Mar 12, 2019 5:04:07 PM | link
I don't know if this is true by my sister who was an engineer working on military jets said that she'd heard that because of various design requirements, the 737-MAX was inherently unstable but stability was provided by the fly-by-wire system. In military jets, this feature provides greater maneuverability and survivability but has no place on civilian aircraft as the outcome of a system failure would be catastrophic with the pilots being unable to do anything about it. Anyone heard anything similar?
james , Mar 12, 2019 5:09:31 PM | link
b - thanks for addressing this.. subservient canada is also flying them still..) canada is going the same way as the usa-faa - into a ditch long term... it is really sad for the people who have died and for the fact that as @1 psychohistorian notes - the decisions are being put in the hands of the wrong people...
Barbara Ann , Mar 12, 2019 5:11:56 PM | link
Excellent piece b.
karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 5:13:53 PM | link
Gotta agree with psychohistorian @1, that the engineers aren't totally responsible. Deregulation pukes at FAA, bean counters at Boeing and their managers who approved it all are morally culpable. Airline executives aren't immune either, although many will likely plead ignorance.
mourning dove , Mar 12, 2019 5:17:18 PM | link
If the US were a sane country, a Congressional investigation would follow, but it's not, and Congress is going to be more concerned with Boeing's bottom line than in public safety or the integrity of the FAA. That's probably why the planes haven't been grounded in the US. Congress is much more likely to impede investigation and accountability.
dave , Mar 12, 2019 5:17:28 PM | link

the dreamliner is the plane of the future barack hussein obarmie


The Boeing Broken Dreams Al Jazeera Investigations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvkEpstd9os

karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 5:19:49 PM | link
David Park @5--

You'll want to read this !

Steven , Mar 12, 2019 5:26:50 PM | link
You omit important facts: the pilots know by heart how to quickly cut off electronic control of the stabilizers and fly manually. The pilots on the preceding lion air flight had had the same problem, and immediately solved it. The defective sensor should have been immediately replaced, and would have in the United States. On the next flight, the pilots (the copilot being quite unexperienced) spent 10 minutes not doing what they were trained to do in an emergency where the stabilizers are out of control: disable them.

When some flight crews get it right, but others don't, it's not a design flaw but a problem with the flight crews.

I can't agree with your conclusions.

Lochearn , Mar 12, 2019 5:30:48 PM | link
Through the history of Boeing senior executives lived in modest middle-class houses. They traveled on Boeing aircraft to get pilot's responses. But when Phil Condit (Wall Street's man) took over he immediately bought private jets and started living the lifestyle. The difference between productive capitalism and financial capitalism.
Tom Welsh , Mar 12, 2019 5:34:56 PM | link
"How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS?"

Because it would be against the state religion to stop, or delay, a huge corporation earning even more money.

dave , Mar 12, 2019 5:36:39 PM | link
the broken dreams documentary above spells it out very clearly the documentary is from 2014.
it even has undercover folks in the boeing factory saying they would not fly on one.


if you fly you should watch that old al jazeera investigation.
the company does not pay tax and
the head of boeing paid himself 100s of millions of dollars

corporate manslaughter
could be

Zachary Smith , Mar 12, 2019 5:39:20 PM | link
But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation.

I'd counter this by asking "what reputation?"

I've known for years how it took take a "smoking hole" for the FAA to get off the can and actually do something about a problem with an airplane or airline. But things evolve, and here we have TWO such smoking holes and the FAA still allows it to fly. I'm not trying to pick on the current FAA leader, for the man is utterly typical of the people who are allowed to gain his position. From his wiki:

But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation.

Elwell joined Airlines for America (A4A) in 2013[3] where he was the Senior Vice President for Safety, Security, and Operations. Elwell left this role in 2015.

(Skipping to the A4A wiki:) Airlines for America
Officially, the A4A has announced five "core elements" of a national airline policy include reducing taxes on the industry, reducing regulation , increased access to foreign markets, making the industry more attractive for investors , and improving the air traffic control system.

I suspect that grounding the 737-MAX would contradict the goal of "making the industry more attractive for investors".

More on the FAA's Tombstone Mentality

About an hour ago I sent out an all-points email suggesting my family members avoid boarding a 737 MAX until the facts are better known and solutions are in place. The FAA may not care about them taking risks, but I sure do.

Tom Welsh , Mar 12, 2019 5:39:22 PM | link
Boeing has a get-out-of-jail-free card.

"Boeing is among the largest global aircraft manufacturers; it is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world based on 2017 revenue, and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing

Jen , Mar 12, 2019 5:39:56 PM | link
I agree with Psychohistorian @ 1 in less forthright terms: the engineers did not "screw up". On the contrary they most likely did what they could with the money and the time deadline they were given to carry out what essentially was a patch-up job that would make Boeing look good, save money and maintain its stock in sharemarkets.

Probably the entire process, in which the engineers played a small part - and that part in which they had no input into whoever was making the decisions - was a disaster from start to finish. The engineers should have been consulted at an early stage in the re-design of the aircraft's flight and safety features. Only when the appropriate re-design has been tested, changed where necessary and given the thumbs-up by relevant pilots' unions and other organisations with regard to passenger safety can the marketing department go ahead and advise airlines who buy the redesigned planes what training their pilots need.

That the marketing department has more say than the engineers who design and test the hardware and the software in passenger jets tells us a great deal about the Potemkin-style workplace culture that prevails in Boeing and similar large US corporations. The surface sheen is more important than the substance. The marketing brochures and manuals are no different from mainstream news media in the level of BS they spew.

One can think of other organisations where the administration has more power in the corporate decision-making process and eats up more of the corporate budget while the people who do the actual work are increasingly ignored in boardrooms and their share of the budget correspondingly decreases. Hospitals and schools come to mind.

Lochearn , Mar 12, 2019 5:45:36 PM | link
@ 19

Boeing got taken over Wall Street, which means cheapest solution to anything. Engineers are stuck with what they are given. What part of that do you still not understand.

viking3 , Mar 12, 2019 5:55:18 PM | link
A mitigating factor to the flightcrew is the take-off to 10,000ft is the busiest time. There is enough going on without having to deal with runaway stab. This is especially true for new crew to a new aircraft. Rode in many cockpits before 9.11.01 when company employees were allowed and the standing rule was no conversations below 10,000 and keep you eyes open for traffic. I also include my Maintenance brethren in that equation. Spent 30 years as a Avionics Tech. on both military and commercial aircraft so I am not really fond of giving flightcrew a break but I might this time.
karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 5:59:13 PM | link
Jen @19--

Dilbert , the comic strip , from today and yesterday nails the marketing angle. And this isn't the first time Scott Adams has targeted marketers.

ancientarcher , Mar 12, 2019 5:59:44 PM | link
Good point @4 Lochearn

Why is Boeing suffering from this design problem and not A320neo is that 737's wings are much lower to the ground than the A320. Unfortunately, more fuel-efficient engines require a larger air inlet, so the newer generation engines are much larger than the previously installed V2500 or CFM56 (anyone can verify that - the older engines are much, much smaller than the newer ones).

When Airbus introduced the Pratt & Whitney GTF on its A320s (calling it the neo - new engine option), it led to an increase (high single digits %) increase in fuel efficiency. Boeing had to respond to that. If they wanted to increase the height of the wings of the 737 from the ground, they would have had to redesign the fuselage which would have cost billions (and which they should have done, in hindsight). Instead, they listened to the investors and the bean counters as you have called them here and they jiggled the position of the wings a bit and introduced the new automatic stabiliser.

The people at Boeing are good or at least the engineers are. Imagine how many times this problem would have been brought up by someone for him/her to be shut down. It's not like they were not aware of the issue, but they were unwilling to let their bottom line suffer. Instead, they were okay with carrying the risk of killing hundreds of people.

That is what boggles my mind!

dh-mtl , Mar 12, 2019 6:00:43 PM | link
Lochearn | Mar 12, 2019 5:00:42 PM | 4;
Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 12, 2019 5:04:07 PM | 6

Agree with both of your comments. It looks like the 55 year old 737 air-frame design, which is very low to the ground when compared to more modern designs, is incompatible with the bigger engines required for fuel efficiency.

Being very low to the ground, Boeing was forced to put the engines out in front, which upset the airplane's balance, making the plane essentially unstable. To counter the instability they added the 'MCAS?' control system.

This solution violates a fundamental tenant of design for safety-critical systems. The tenant of 'fail-safe'. If something goes wrong the system is supposed to fail in a manner that preserves safety. For the 737 Max, when the this stability control system fails, the plane is fundamentally unstable. For this system it is not 'fail-safe'. It is 'fail-crash'.

Why would Boeing do this? Because Bombardier was building a clean sheet design, that would eat the 737's lunch. Boeing (and Airbus) were desperate to do something quick to minimize the 20% fuel burn advantage of the C-series. The more modern Airbus 320 air frame allowed it to re-engine their plane. Boeing's did not. But Boeing went ahead anyway and built an fundamentally unstable airplane, because the alternative was to walk away from their most important market.

To me, this looks like it could be catastrophic for Boeing. It reminds me of G.M.'s 'Corvair' moment (Unsafe at any speed), from the 1960s.

Jen , Mar 12, 2019 6:02:28 PM | link
Steven @ 13: The Indonesian Lion Air jet still crashed with all onboard dying, even after the pilots did as you said. B's post explains why: the MCAS system has to be deactivated separately as it is still active when autopilot is off and the pilots are flying manually. The Indonesian pilots did not have the time to figure out and realise that something else was controlling the plane's flight, much less deactivate what is effectively a second autopiloting system.
james , Mar 12, 2019 6:09:41 PM | link
how is this for reassuring? press release from boeing today... this info is from someone else, and i haven't verified it..

"For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer."

witters , Mar 12, 2019 6:10:37 PM | link
"Boeing got taken over Wall Street, which means cheapest solution to anything. Engineers are stuck with what they are given. What part of that do you still not understand."

Why they colluded with and indeed implemented what they knew to be - and now proven to be - a mass killing system. What do you not understand here?

james , Mar 12, 2019 6:11:02 PM | link
very un- assuring.. https://gizmodo.com/boeing-promises-to-release-software-update-for-737-max-1833224836
Whozhear , Mar 12, 2019 6:15:58 PM | link
Great article B.

There is much more behind the covering up of this "design flaw" from the start. The concept that, in this day and age, sensors used in the aviation field and close to brand new are defective is a stretch of the imagination. The current effort by Boeing to do a software upgrade, I suspect, is cover for something more damaging.

How easy is it these days to access the MAX's operation and flight control computers? Can it be done via WI-fi or Bluetooth from the airfield? We are well aware that in the newer heavies Seattle can take basic control via satellite.

Whozhear , Mar 12, 2019 6:19:12 PM | link
@ 5

You may also find this interesting........ https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/4837334.html

Steven , Mar 12, 2019 6:24:25 PM | link
@jen @james

You clowns don't understand what you're telling me I'm "getting wrong." MCAS ISN'T part of the autopilot, and I never said it was.

737 pilots have to be able to do about 10 procedures in their sleep. One is when the electrical control of the horizontal stabilizers doesn't work; Aa few steps but basically pull a breaker and revert to manual control only, no power assist.

The crew on the previous flight did this and flew on with zero problem.

It's outrageous that lionair didn't find out why emergency procedures had had to be used and fix them before they let the airplane fly again.

If airlines do not adhere to Minimal safety standards, it's not Boeing's fault if it's planes crash.

Jonathan , Mar 12, 2019 6:35:04 PM | link
@35 Steven,

Is Boeing paying you to miss this part:

"This is the first description you, as 737 pilots, have seen. It is not in the AA 737 Flight Manual Part 2, nor is there a description in the Boeing FCOM (flight crew operations manual)," says the letter from the pilots' union safety committee. "Awareness is the key with all safety issues."
Kadath , Mar 12, 2019 6:41:49 PM | link
Well it's good to know that Canada is still allowing this death trap to fly, I couldn't bare the thought that Boeing might lose more stock value merely because of a defective product that kills! Seriously though, the silence from the Canadian media on this subject is deafening. CBC news didn't even cover the banning of these planes in the rest of the world until an hour ago and even then they seemed more concerned about the impact on Boeing then the you know 300 people killed because of this flawed plane. Eventually (before Friday) I think Canada will be forced to ground it's fleet of 737-8s. With the current corruption scandal, Trudeau is too weak right now to stand up in Question period and claim the 737-8s are safe to fly. Even Trump is getting in on the action and blaming Boeing for the accidents. FAA may end up being the biggest loser from this situations with a huge hit to its' trustworthiness, I remember when the FAA would issue emergency maintenance/inspection orders after any crash suspected to be caused by maintenance issues and ground entire fleets of aircraft if two planes crashed within 2 years. You know, the FAAs behaviour now reminds me of the old Soviet joke, "our planes never crash, their just indefinitely delayed"
Meshpal , Mar 12, 2019 6:46:17 PM | link
These people did not die they were murdered. Long ago, I had worked with Boeing on a computer project and I had the highest respect for the company and engineers. Facts and reality were paramount for Boeing. Things started a slow downhill slope when that TWA flight that was accidentally shot down by a missile. I noticed how uncomfortable the engineers were to talk about it – just a short comment that the fuel tank was not the cause. When politics and management go away from reality and facts, it is just a matter of time. But for the life of me I do not understand how Boeing can come to this:

Fault 1: As B says, it should never have been designed like this.
Fault 2: Don't tell the pilots about MCSA.
Fault 3: Real time flight tracking altitude data show wild swings – red light ignored. No need to wait for a plane to crash.
Fault 4: Lion Air Flight 610 crash showed that this MCSA system is at fault and nothing much was done. The murder of 189 people.
Fault 5: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 murdering an additional 157 people.
Fault 6: FAA says everything is ok.

Especially the Ethiopian Flight 409 crash should never have happened. This issue became well known to engineers and flight crews world wide after Lion Air. A good question is: was the disable MCSA switch now a memory item or a check list item for the flight crew? Or did Boeing want to wait for the final report of Lion Air?

I noticed that the Ethiopian pilot was not western, but looks like from Indian decent. I would not doubt his abilities, but rather say that he would follow the rules more than a western pilot. Western pilots would network and study this thing on their own and would not wait for Boeing. They would have penciled this into their flight deck routine - just to be safe.

JohnT , Mar 12, 2019 6:51:38 PM | link
David Park #5

I read this yesterday regarding the Venezuela power outages. Possible Stuxnet infestation ala Iran 2010?

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/03/11/trump-regime-electricity-war-in-venezuela-more-serious-than-first-believed.html

Alpi57 , Mar 12, 2019 6:54:45 PM | link
One can always find a benefit in the sanctions, albeit coincidental. Iran avoided a lot of damage from Boeing. They had ordered 140 of 737's. All got canceled. Congratulations.
ancientarcher , Mar 12, 2019 6:59:53 PM | link
@40 Alpi57
Iran always has the option of buying the Irkut MC-21 which in my opinion is the best narrowbody plane that anyone can buy now. Fully redesigned body with significantly higher composite percentage and comes with the best engine in the world for narrowbodies - the P&W GTF. And Russia will be happy.

What's not to like

Likklemore , Mar 12, 2019 7:07:19 PM | link
Before you guys and gals bash b, hop over to Zerohedge citing Dallas Morning News revealing FAA database Pilots on Boeing 737Max complained for months...Manual inadequate ...criminally insufficient .just for starters.
karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 7:10:30 PM | link
james @32--

That Canada didn't is crazy :

"In a remarkable rebuke, nations from the U.K. to Australia have rejected public reassurances from the FAA and grounded Boeing's 737 Max."

Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 12, 2019 7:28:54 PM | link
I was a big fan of the 6-part BBC doco series Black Box from the 1990s. The main conclusion drawn was that the industry is way too fond of blaming as many mishaps as possible on Pilot Error, and way too slow to react to telltale signs that a particular aircraft model might have a fatal flaw. There was a tendency to ignore FAA edicts for inspection of a suspected design weakness. Two cases that come to mind were incorrectly locked DC 9 cargo doors ripping off with a big chunk of the plane plus half a dozen occupied seats, and a tendency of 727s to nose-dive into the "surface" at Mach 0.99.

I'll be very surprised if any part of b's analysis, conclusions and predictions turns out to incorrect.

World 3 - USA 0 , Mar 12, 2019 7:31:57 PM | link
Lights in Venezuela on. US Boeing stocks down. More evidence for the Lockheed f-16 downing. Reports it was a dogfight between an old MiG-21 (with modernised radar and missiles) that brought the modern US Lockheed f-16 down and maybe not from a launch of MiGs modern bvr missile.

Things are looking up.

Zachary Smith , Mar 12, 2019 7:33:32 PM | link
@ ancientarcher @41

The problem with a "new" airplane is the Western Content. Over a certain percentage, the US basically controls the situation. Another issue is servicing the things. If an airplane is sitting in Podunk Airport with a broken widget, the airline wants it fixed right now! Some planes like the 737 have been around for decades and there are probably parts for it - even at Podunk. A new plane will probably be grounded until a new part is transported in - a process which will take many hours even in the best of circumstances. Advantage to the 737 and other 'legacy' airplanes.

Just saw an interesting headline at Reuters - I'd suppose it is some friendly advice from Wall Street disguised as "news".

Breakingviews - Boeing needs to think faster than its watchdog

Change "watchdog" to "lapdog" and that would be about right. It seems to me a sensible proposal, for if Boeing must take a beating out of this, the company ought to at least adopt a pose of "really caring" and "doing the right thing". Try for the brownie points.

psychohistorian , Mar 12, 2019 7:40:55 PM | link
@ Zachary Smith who wrote
"
It seems to me a sensible proposal, for if Boeing must take a beating out of this, the company ought to at least adopt a pose of "really caring" and "doing the right thing".
"

China is coming to teach the West morals which are currently ranked below profit and ongoing private control of global finance

aspnaz , Mar 12, 2019 7:54:05 PM | link
@35 Steven

The Ethiopian airlines flight was an international flight, so the pilots will have been certified to international standards. I don't know the details of international standards for type training, but you are basically saying that the fault is not with Boeing, it is with the type training of international pilot crews. Can you elaborate and does this mean that we are equally in danger regardless of the aircraft model and that it is just coincidence that both these crew failures were on 737 Max models?

EV , Mar 12, 2019 8:07:08 PM | link
The evidences and recognizably legitimate information (there is always a lot of through-the-hat blather-yap from internet-"engineers") suggests thrust angle, not structure or CG destabilization. "larger" engines are not necessarily significantly heavier, but, today, and if more efficient, will be larger diameter for more fan, for more thrust (which in jet and fan engines is more power). Larger diameter nacelles will require modification of placement, higher, lower, larger weight will require modification of placement, forward, backward. Clearance restrictions may require modification of engine thrust-line angle, relative to fuselage, and fuselage-fit control surface lines (which include flight surfaces). Thrust changes with thrust changes, which means thrust-angle change will change thrust-effect at differing thrust amounts: Take-off and climb thrusts are near maximums, wherefore angular component will be near max then (cruise maximums are less, or less effective, or radical, for altitude air thinning).

What this means is that if larger engines on a 737 MAX, for larger bulk are slightly angled for clearance,the angling may have little effect except in specific instances and attitudes, such as take-off and climb. It sounds as if Boeing angled thrust slightly for engine fitting, and assumed a computer control fix could handle the off-line thrust component effect during the short duration times it was sufficient to effect flight characteristics, which, if the thrust-angling was up, would add a nose-up tail-down thrust rotation component, greater at greater power. to compensate which the software would add nose-down control surface counteraction, as incident described.

What it sounds like the pilot in the first, non-crash, case most likely did, that saved the aircraft, was not 'disable' an automatic system he had no information about, for it being not intended for disablement, but was reduce power, reducing the off-line thrust effect, so the auto system backed off. In the other incidents, especially if the airports were get-em-high-fast airports (to 'leave' the noise at the airport) the pilots would incline to not reduce power, and would be more likely to get into a war with the too automated auto-system, the way Tesla drivers can do with their over-automated systems.

All auto-control "AI" systems need human-override options built in, so that human-robot stand-offs to impact cannot occur. The real culprits in stand-off accident situations are the techie-guppies who think robotic control can always do everything better, and fail to think of the situation where the "right" response is wrong.

Jen , Mar 12, 2019 8:19:36 PM | link
Steven @ 35:

Lion Air's engineers had previously identified and tried to fix issues with the jet that crashed in October 2018.

The day before the jet took off from Jakarta airport and crashed, killing all 189 onboard, one of its Angle of Attack sensors had been replaced by engineers in Denpasar. Unfortunately the source I checked (see link below) doesn't say if this replacement AoA sensor was the one linked to the computer running the MCAS on the flight.

https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20181029-0

fast freddy , Mar 12, 2019 8:26:15 PM | link
Bean Counters:

Delta once initiated a fuel saving measure whereby aircraft were insufficiently topped off with fuel to prevent pilots from wasting fuel. Once this information began to leak, the measure was ended.

psychohistorian , Mar 12, 2019 8:40:43 PM | link
@ fast freddy with the Bean Counters example

Thanks for Bean Counters! I so much wanted to use Bean Counters in my rant but thought I should stick to their standard appellation....

Bean Counters need to be taken seriously because they are not going to go away in any form of social organization and represent where the rubber meets the road when it comes to social decision making/risk management

Bean Counters (along with their bosses) need to be required to place morals as a higher value than profit and forced to operate with maximum public transparency and input; then, all will be good.

Pnyx , Mar 12, 2019 8:41:19 PM | link
Thank you for the accurate information. The basic problem seems to be that the low-consumption engines protrude too far. A well-designed, reliable aircraft becomes a faulty design. To try to solve this using software is a precarious approach. The FAA should have rejected this in principle. But because to design an aircraft completely from scratch naturally takes longer and would have given the competitor Airbus time to take over the to much market share, this 'solution' was accepted. This type of corruption will cost the u.s. a lot.

But first let's wait for Tronald's tweet, which will certainly be aired by tomorrow at the latest, in which he states that the 737 Max is a great, great aircraft - if not the best ever...

Kiza , Mar 12, 2019 8:49:51 PM | link
There is no doubt that both Boeing and FAA are to blame, but we pay the Government to ensure safety. Businesses have always chased profit, some more ruthlessly than others. But when the real corruption sets in then the Government regulator works for the businesses at the expense of the public . Regarding FAA reputation, there was a time when US was the leader in aviation, military as well as commercial. This means that the best experts were in US and thus FAA had the best and the most knowledgeable people. It is similar with FDA, all countries in the World used to follow the touchstone drug approvals by FDA. Now the "Federal" in any US acronym has become a synonym for "Corruption" (FBI anyone?).

The expertise does not matter any more, only greasing of the hands does. In the old times, anyone from FAA whose signature was on this planes approval to fly would get a life sentence in jail. But 330 people dead is less than a days worth of US global victims - business as usual for US. It is just that these victims are getting much more publicity than the silent victims. We will be lucky if anyone influential from FAA even resigns let alone goes to jail. There will be many more dead before the World understands this new reality.

Would you fly on any Boeing plane designed or delivered after the company was taken over by the Wall Street wizards in the 90s?

Peter AU 1 , Mar 12, 2019 8:53:28 PM | link

Re the engineers - they agreed to build an out of balance aircraft (thrust vs weight and drag) and to try and rectify this with software. What we will do for money. Both the bean counters and engineers are at fault, perhaps the beancounters and shiney butts more so as they did not inform buyers and pilots of the faults.
Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 12, 2019 8:56:22 PM | link
Posted by: fast freddy | Mar 12, 2019 8:26:15 PM | 52
(Fuel 'economy')

QANTAS once decreed that pilots rely on brakes and treat reverse thrust as emergency-only procedure, until a 747 skidded off the end of a runway with the nose-wheel inside the cabin and bruised engines = lots of down-time + very large repair bill.

Clueless Joe , Mar 12, 2019 8:58:46 PM | link
Fast Freddy:

Not just Delta; Ryanair did the same, at least until there was a major storm in Spain (Valencia, I think) and all flights had to be rerouted to other airports. That was fine, with dozens of planes flying around waiting for a window to land, until the handful of Ryanair planes that had been rerouted to Madrid and other places called for emergency landings, because they didn't have enough fuel to fly for even 30 minutes longer than planned flights.

I'm still amazed that the EU regulators and EU fucking commission didn't downright dismantle such a bloody greedy and downright criminal company. That they basically did nothing is proof enough, imho, of the insane level of capitalism-worship and of corruption going on in Brussels (of course it's even worse in Washington DC, but that's basically a given).

bevin , Mar 12, 2019 9:19:41 PM | link
the toronto star is carrying this story
Headline:
"Ottawa exempts Boeing 737 Max jets from standards meant to minimize passenger injuries"

"Air Canada and WestJet are flying the Boeing 737 Max aircraft exempt from regulatory standards meant to limit passenger injuries in the event of an accident, the Star has learned."

What does it mean?

Pft , Mar 12, 2019 9:51:59 PM | link
B is right. This is a criminal act of deception and fraud thats cost hundreds their lives. Boeing executives responsible should be prosecuted and then jailed.

Instead the safety agency regulating them will cover it up, backed by the criminal congress.

We see similar crimes against humanity being committed in many other areas. FDA, CDC, EPA, FCC , USDA, etc covering up for Big Agra, Big Pharma, Big Telecom with dangerous products like vaccines, glyphosate,4G/5G, GMO foods, gene edited livestock, etc. Safety standards are lax and inadequate, safety testing is minimal and in some cases fraudulent or completely lacking. Defects and adverse effects are covered up. A revolving door between these agencies and the industry they cover presents significant conflict of interest. These industries finance congressional members campaigns. Public safety is sacrificed for the greater good (profits and personal gain). Whistleblowers are muzzled, attacked or ridiculed as the MSM are their lap dogs.

That said, the airline industry has had a remarkable safety record over the last 30 years if you can overlook their failure to have adequate locks on cockpit doors in 2001. However, the lack of competition and increasing corruption and continuing moral decay we see in society , government and industry has obviously taken its toll on the industry. This is inexcusable. Heads should roll (dont hold your breath).

El Cid , Mar 12, 2019 9:57:08 PM | link
Congress flies on these aircraft to and fro from Washington to their districts. It is to their interests to have these Boeing 737 permanently grounded.
ben , Mar 12, 2019 10:13:18 PM | link
psycho @1 said;"The West is a world in which the accountants have more sway than engineers."

Case closed, and anyone who thinks senior execs should be prosecuted and jailed are right.

BUT, never would happen in today's pro-corporate U$A mentality..

Profits uber alles!!

Kadath , Mar 12, 2019 10:23:36 PM | link
Re: 59 Bevin, "Ottawa exempts Boeing 737 Max jets from standards meant to minimize passenger injuries"

- what this means is that Washington called Ottawa and ordered little Justin that he had to allow the 737 8's to fly and Justin said yes sir! However, someone at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, told Justin that the threat these plane pose to travellers was so obvious that they couldn't just ignore it and that they would instead have to issue a waiver to show that they have done due diligence - apparently this person or someone else within the department then called the Star in order to leak the information and embarrass Justin into reversing his decision. I imagine tomorrow at 4:00pm during the question hour, Justin will get raked through the coals over his - Justin's whole defense of his actions during the Lavin scandal has been "I needed to protect Canadian jobs", I imagine the NDP or Conservatives will then retort something along the lines of "you'll break the law to protect Jobs, why won't you obey the law to protect Canadian lives!", I should point out that 8 Canadians were killed in the most recent crash in Ethiopia

paul , Mar 12, 2019 10:28:00 PM | link
Steven @ 35: watch this

from 2014: 32min in john woods aerospace engineer whistle blower https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvkEpstd9os

acementhead , Mar 12, 2019 10:39:09 PM | link
Steven is correct. Totally correct. I suspect that he is an airline pilot, as am I. Everybody else is wrong at least in part and most between 50% and 100%(The description of the cause of the QANTAS hull loss).

Pilots MUST know all about aircraft systems operation. It is crazy for Boeing to have functions not in the AFM.

The system in question is not operative with autopilot engaged. In manual flight if at any time one gets an uncommanded stab trim movement one should immediately disable electrical trim(One switch, half a second, no "procedure" required. In manual flight if the trim wheel moves and you hadn't touched the trim switches you have uncommanded trim. Immediately disable electrical trim.

There is procedure for reestablishment of electrical trim, that does take time. The defeat of the runaway trim does not take time. B737 has provision for manual trim(but it's very slow.

Bob , Mar 12, 2019 10:47:40 PM | link
Also a very interesting read about the JT610 Flight https://www.satcom.guru/2018/11/first-look-at-jt610-flight-data.html
VietnamVet , Mar 12, 2019 10:47:49 PM | link
I grew up reading Boeing's weekly employee newspaper. Times have changed too much since then. Moving the headquarters from Seattle to Chicago and a second 787 assembly line in South Carolina to bust their unions are proof that Boeing is a multinational corporation superior to national governments. The company is the Empire's armorer for profit. It is criminal to design an unstable passenger airplane that must be controlled by fly by wire sensors and computers to stay in the air. The problem is the aircraft industry duopoly and deregulation. Airbus has lost at least three aircraft to problems with the pilot computer interface. I was shocked when NBC put this first last night. I though it would be silenced. I blame Trump Derangement Syndrome. His trade wars and dissing have ticked off the world. When China grounded the 737 Max 8 everybody followed to show what they really think about the North American Empire. This could be devastating to the last manufacturing industry left in the USA.
Deal , Mar 12, 2019 10:58:29 PM | link
Boeing in my view took a cynical decision. That is, there would only be a few crashes within a set period. Thus the insurance companies would pick up the tab for their profits. However the loss of two planes so close together could destroy the company. The aforesaid insurance companies will not pay a single dime if they can stick corporate murder charges onto Boeing.

This smells of the Ford Pinto scandal where Ford knew that there was a problem with the fuel system if the car was rear-ended ( the vehicle burst into flames ) but it was cheaper to pay the compensation than fix the problem.

Kalen , Mar 13, 2019 12:25:40 AM | link
B is missing the point that fitting new engines caused airplane to take off close to stalling horizontal speeds and angles at very low altitude and more steeply ascending to flight altitude and that has left little time for pilots to react. That is very dangerous as much weaker tail wind may confuse pilots and sensors. To remedy that without recertification AI software was installed to react faster and overriding actions of pilot who was assumed not be aware of situation at the moment he had to immediately react at the latest.

Lack of sensor redundancy is also criminal as determination of sensor malfunction is critical for pilot. That is AI application correcting "human" physical mental deficiencies and that is deadly trap.

If it goes to court, interesting case will be, whose error was that as MCAS system acted correctly against pilot based on faulty sensor causing pilot to make mistake recovering from correct but suicidal software actions.

People must be warned of cultish trust in technology and AI which is ultimate guilty party together with greed that killed those people.

Pft , Mar 13, 2019 1:01:16 AM | link
Frances@70

There are unlimited dollars for any intervention they choose, publicly allocated or not. There is a reason 21 trillion in pentagon spending is unaccounted for. This does not count dark money from illicit means used to fund covert operations.

The fact its public just means Trump wants congress to sanction it, which they will. Seized Venezuela assets will serve as collateral for future reimbursement.

Grieved , Mar 13, 2019 1:02:08 AM | link
@65 acementhead - "It is crazy for Boeing to have functions not in the AFM"

No, it's criminal. And while all the technical discussion around how to fly a plane is truly interesting, what's really at issue here is corporate and institutional betrayal of trust.

The corporate aspect is Boeing, obviously. The institutional aspect is FAA, which used to lead the world in trust when it came to life and death matters.

But now, in what Bloomberg, even while trying to support FAA, has no choice but to report as a "stunning rebuff" to FAA's integrity, countries around the world are grounding this flawed plane. Germany, among others, has closed its airspace to the 737.

This situation has only a little to do with how to fly a plane. It has vastly more to do with the face of capitalism we see leering at us as our families live their last few moments, on the way to the ground. It has to do with how the corporate spin departments will attempt to cover up and evade responsibility for these crimes.

And it has to do with how the global consumer market will start to book its flights based not on price or time or seat location but on make of plane.

And despite your claim that "Everybody else is wrong at least in part..." , I doubt very much that most of the commenters here are wrong in their appreciation of the situation.

snake , Mar 13, 2019 1:07:41 AM | link
@68 No Deal

I don't think Boeing made a decision, they had little choice (stockholders were first, the jobs were essential to the politicians, and market share would become competitive if Boeing dropped out), it was the pressure of the system that charted their course.

Capitalism is about competition in a just, fairly well managed government regulated environment. In order for capitalism not to over step the bounds of competitive capitalism; government must remain present, to prevent foul play and to deny all hints of monopoly power...

Capitalism without an honest government becomes organized crime or, worse, it degenerates to allow private enterprise and special interest to dictate how the rule making and military arms of government should be used, against domestic and foreign competition. . Economic Zionism is what I call this last degenerative stage.

Defensively EZ teaches the winner to completely and totally destroy the infrastructure, the resources and the people (including competitive personnel with the brains to develop competition) of those who refuse to conform or those who insist on competing; offensively , EZ teaches the winner to take all and to take-over, own and keep the goodies taken from those destroyed, and in the matter of profit making and wealth keeping EZ teaches only winners are allowed to produce-and -profit everyone else is to be made to feed the monopoly that eliminated competition produced. The residual of eliminated, decimated competitive opposition = monopoly power

It is the king of the mountain monopoly that produces the wealth and power and feeds the corruption that makes the rich richer.

I think this case makes clear, privatization of government responsibility nearly always turns sour . The Government should take over and keep the operation of all of the Airlines strictly in government hands (privatization is proven to be problematic). When I grew up all of the airlines were so tightly regulated they were part of the government; the airlines were investors and operators following government rules and regulations. pricing was based on point to point fixed in price and terms (and the same for all airlines) and that was a time when aircraft design was not so accurate, meals were served and jets were nearly not existent but still there were very few accidents. Same for the Trucking Industry and the railroad.. Why should roads be government obligations, but rail, trucks and planes be privately owned?

I am not a communist or a socialist, I just know that private influence will always find a way to wrongly influence public sector employees when private interest wants something from government.

V , Mar 13, 2019 1:43:43 AM | link
VietnamVet | Mar 12, 2019 10:47:49 PM | 67

Agreed!

For a number issues/reasons, I quit flying in 2007, vowing never to set foot in an aircraft again. Trains or ships, okay. So far so good; the 737 Max just firms my rsolve...

Circe , Mar 13, 2019 2:17:54 AM | link
The aircraft did not undergo piece by piece certification or type certification . It underwent supplemental type certification that shortens the investigative process.

max 8 Certification

This is a potential disaster for Boeing. The stock is falling and it'll go into free fall if decision is made to ground this aircraft. FAA will also face a legal tsunami. If this is the reason they didn't ground the planes yet; it's going to look really damning when the find themselves in court later.

Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 13, 2019 2:21:34 AM | link
This is shaping up to be unnecessarily messy for the industry. Yesterday's Oz edition of PBS Newshour went over most of the topics touched on in b's posting but stopped short of finger-pointing although it insinuated that Boeing had blundered. Today's edition posed a question I was going to pose here...

"Should anyone be flying 737MAXes before the black box data has been evaluated?"

The answer, delivered by a female ex-Inspector General (of precisely what I didn't hear) is "No. Absolutely not!"

james , Mar 13, 2019 2:39:06 AM | link
@35 steven... i will take that as a compliment, referring to me as a clown.. i have high regard for clowns, although i don't think there is anything funny about the topic at hand.. innocent people dying and it being based on a corporation that might be negligent in it's responsibility to it's passengers, is something we will have to wait and find out about.. i am definitely not thinking it is pilot error here, as you suggest.. i saw what the canadian airpilot association said - essentially they don't believe Canada should be flying them either, as i read it..

@43 karlof1.. as i pointed out in the link @7 - the fact canada allows them to continue to be flown makes no sense to me..poor judgment call is what it looks like to me.. the canuck gov't and etc are living in the shadows of what b has described about the FAA.. a lot of credibility is on the line here as i see it..

i apologize for not reading all the comments, as i was out most of the day and just got back..

acementhead , Mar 13, 2019 2:48:25 AM | link

Kalen said

"...fitting new engines caused airplane to take off close to stalling horizontal speeds and angles at very low altitude and more steeply ascending to flight altitude and that has left little time for pilots to react. That is very dangerous as much weaker tail wind may confuse pilots and sensors. ..."

This is absolute garbage. Nothing but a "word salad" it has nothing to do with reality.

The Ethiopian crash is due to a useless pilot. A different crew, on the same plane, the day before had the same problem. They handled it correctly, which is EASY, and completed the day's flying without problem. Third world airlines have HUGE numbers of absolutely incompetent pilots.

Anyone interested in the operational aspects of this should go to an aviation site. PPRUNE has some good discussion of this event. There are a few idiots posting but very few. Most people there are very knowledgeable. I had a look at Airliners.net mostly rubbish.

Peter AU 1 , Mar 13, 2019 3:16:03 AM | link
Kalen 69
Installing the new engines changed the angle of thrust. In a balanced aircraft, engine thrust is pushing centrally on wight and drag.
If the thrust is below center of weight, it will nose up while accelerating. If thrust is below center of drag, the aircraft will be trying to nose up while cruising.

The original aircraft was most likely balanced, with thrust centered to weight and drag. Mounting new engines lower means the aircraft will tend to nose up when accelerating, and nose up during cruise. Relying on sensors and software to keep an unstable aircraft stable is not a good thing. To not notify pilots of this problem is worse than not a good thing.

psychohistorian , Mar 13, 2019 3:24:41 AM | link
@ acementhead with insistence that the pilot was at error.

Without the black box data you are sticking your **ck out a long way. I find it interesting that in both your comments you are insistent that the pilot was the problem. You wrote in your first comment
"
Pilots MUST know all about aircraft systems operation. It is crazy for Boeing to have functions not in the AFM.
"
The 2nd sentence is your only criticism of Boeing but then you spend the rest of the comment describing what the pilot should have done.....before black box data says what happened.

Kiza , Mar 13, 2019 3:45:44 AM | link
When a relative asked me recently why did the new Ethiopian plane crash, I generated a sound-bite like explanation. Before, the civilian airliners were falling out of the sky because of an immature technology, that is because of the learning curve. Now that the technology involved is fully mature the airliners are falling out of the sky for profit taking.

The scariest thing is that 737MAX model was a botched Boeing reaction to the market change towards budget flight. If the plane manufacturer and the approval authority were prepared to cut corners so badly to remain "market competitive", one can only imagine the compromises that budget airlines are making to sell cheap whilst increasing profits. Some airlines must be treating planes worst than buses are treated by the bus companies.

US citizens entrust their wallets to the private bank, The Federal=Corrupt Reserve, which prints money and gives it to the most exceptional among the exceptional (did you think that there was no hierarchy within the exceptionality?). We entrust our heads to the Federal=Corrupt Aviation Administration whose bureaucrats work for the porky revolving door consulting jobs that come after a stint in the Corrupt.

Kiza , Mar 13, 2019 4:01:48 AM | link
@Peter AU 1

As Aussies would say: using software to solve a hardware problem is like putting lipstick on a pig. More than 300 people dead are a terrible testament to this wisdom.

Yet, it is fascinating that you are blaming the engineers and some others are asking in the comments for whistleblowers in Boeing and FAA.

Well, if I were an engineer at Boeing I would probably have resigned if asked to do this design monstrosity of putting unfitting engines on a differently designed plane - creating a Lego airplane, but I never had a home mortgage over my head. Regarding whistleblowing, we all know how suicidal it is, why do supposedly intelligent people expect other to be so dumb to commit one? Before you expect others to self-sacrifice ask yourself if you would do so in their shoes.

b , Mar 13, 2019 4:01:57 AM | link
It seems that the U.S. now wants to manipulate the investigation of the Ethiopian Airlines crash. WSJ U.S., Ethiopia Maneuver Over Crashed Plane's Black Boxes Washington wants NTSB to download data from recorders, while African nation's officials prefer U.K. experts.
U.S. air-safety investigators on Tuesday engaged in intense behind-the-scenes discussions with their Ethiopian counterparts regarding where the black-box recorders found amid the wreckage of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 will be downloaded, according to people familiar with the matter.
Peter AU 1 , Mar 13, 2019 4:15:37 AM | link
Kiza 85 "Before you expect others to self-sacrifice ask yourself if you would do so in their shoes."
"Self sacrifice" ... Most of my life I have been self employed, but for a few years when I was young and then as I got older and ill health slowed me down, I have worked for others.

If told to do a job that I believed was destined to fail, I would pull out. What you call self sacrifice simply comes down to money, and as I put in an earlier comment "what we do for money" Engineers that put this schumozzel together were simply putting in the hours to received their pay check at the end of the week with no thought as to the people hurt or killed when this bodge job failed. The fault is equally with engineers who sell their souls for money and the bean counters who did not inform purchasers or pilots.

Kalen , Mar 13, 2019 4:16:24 AM | link
@aceme..

What you wrote is asinine garbage, my friend. Everybody except for bribed FAA dumped B737 Max 8 until notice. It is simply too dangerous to fly.

It is you who are trolling for Boeing, the problem was discovered five months ago never fixed, blamed pilots despite previous complaints. Now FAA admitted that fact by demanding software fix in April or they will ground the fleet. PILOT ERROR????? Of course not and they know it.

Not only worldwide airlines dumped this model so far but also they closed the airspace for them in EU, China, HK etc.,because the plane is dangerous and may require recertification of plane and pilots since Boeing lied about it and its flight parameters,p the trust was broken, they were cheating with deadly consequences was revealed. Expect hundreds of lawsuits, as American were also onboard.

Interestingly that anti-stalling software cannot be disabled on the ground only in flight in manual mode only after it was engaged exactly for reasons I mentioned about near-stalling dangerous flight parameters.

Peter AU 1 , Mar 13, 2019 4:27:42 AM | link
b 86

US Boeing are very much competing with France airbus and also the coming Chinese Russian airliner. The US is very much batting for the home team (as the mad monk told the Australian Broadcasting Commission to do so).

Kiza , Mar 13, 2019 6:14:40 AM | link
Is it really so hard to connect the secrecy about MCAS and why it was needed in the first place? The lawyers will have a ball of the decade with this: the defendant created a secret software solution to turn a Lego airplane into a real airplane, made the software dependent on a single sensor, and made it difficult to switch the software off.

The networked Western pilots learned how to compensate for the faulty design, but non-networked foreign pilots never got in on the flying tricks needed for this new plane because it was never been in their training. Also, the critical sensor may not be available on an airport in Ethiopia or Indonesia or .....

I cannot believe that Boeing shares dropped only 7.5%, this is a statement of how untouchable Boeing is and how protected it will be by the Corrupt.

[Mar 11, 2019] >Walrus on narcissistic leaders.

Notable quotes:
"... What is killing the Army is exactly the same disease that is killing the American economy and has killed American politics, and it is spreading internationally. That disease is the promotion or election of officials, be they Generals, CEO's or Congressmen who have a variant of narcissistic personality disorder. ..."
"... Such folk self select for high office because they will do anything to get ahead without the slightest qualm, and that includes lying, cheating, character assassination, backstabbing and outrageous flattery of their seniors. They mimic whatever behaviors they need to exhibit to get ahead, but they don't "own' those behaviours. ..."
"... Isn't the medal quest a game tailor made for narcissists? ..."
Mar 11, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"The idea has been allowed to take hold in the army that general officers are a race apart, not subject to the norms of ordinary life and that nothing should limit their ambition, not even common sense. " It seems quite clear from this and other articles, that the ROE are about covering General officers backsides, and nothing else.

What is killing the Army is exactly the same disease that is killing the American economy and has killed American politics, and it is spreading internationally. That disease is the promotion or election of officials, be they Generals, CEO's or Congressmen who have a variant of narcissistic personality disorder.

People so affected may be intelligent and hard working, but they cannot empathise with anyone. Normal human emotions, shame, love, fear, embarrasssment, etc. are a mystery to them.

Such folk self select for high office because they will do anything to get ahead without the slightest qualm, and that includes lying, cheating, character assassination, backstabbing and outrageous flattery of their seniors. They mimic whatever behaviors they need to exhibit to get ahead, but they don't "own' those behaviours.

At the core of them, there is a gaping hole where empathy for their fellow humans should be. Furthermore, since only a narcissist can or will work for a more senior narcissist, once the infestation starts it multiplies and filters up and down through the organisation. Based on what I've read about the levels of frustration, lack of morale and junior officer turnover, I believe, it may be safe to say that Petreaus and McChrystal are afflicted this way and most probably many officers below them and elsewhere in the Defence Forces as well.

Since McChrystal no doubt thinks of his troops as no more than a pack of valuable hunting dogs, why would he possibly consider muzzling them with restrictive rules of engagement to be a problem? "I mean it's not as if we actually have to succeed in doing good in this god forsaken country, it's not as if the troops have to care about what is happening, I just need to construct the illusion of success in Afghanistan sufficient to get my next promotion. Why can't the troops see things that way as well?" If you wish to read about an extreme example of this type of behaviour look no further than the case of Capt. Holly Graf, whose narcissistic abilities allowed her to rise to command of a Navy cruiser. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holly_Graf

To put it another way, the disease that permitted Goldman Sachs to sell bonds to investors while at the same time secretly betting that the value of said bonds would fall is one and the same as that affecting the Army. The absolute give away, which I have not yet heard of in the Army, is the mistreatment of subordinates. Of course the reason for the infestation of these folk in senior management is our well meaning efforts to end discrimination. Unfortunately discrimination on grounds of character is now forbidden, and solid evidence of good character provided by peers and subordinates is the only way to avoid promoting narcissists. To put it another way, there are people I was at school and university with who were rotten then and are rotten now, but today such evidence is inadmissible in promotion decisions. If you want a depiction of a Narcissist in high office, look no further than Australias current Prime Minister:

"The third example highlights Rudd's nascent contempt for most of the people who work for him and occurred days after his stunning election win. Staff who had gathered for a briefing on their responsibilities were told their Great Leader would address them. They were all on a high after the victory, but their excitement soon turned to dismay. They didn't get a version of the true believers speech; instead, Rudd had one clear message: if any of their bosses stuffed up, it would be on their heads. They were the ones who would pay the price. He told them they would be given their lines every day and their job was to ensure they and their bosses stuck to the script. They were not to put a foot out of line. Or else. No mistakes or deviations would be tolerated. Thank you and good night. Oh and the f-word, which Rudd loves dropping almost as much as the c-word, featured prominently in his little lecture. Old hands who had worked for previous Labor administrations didn't hang around for very long after that. One referred to him not by name but as "the megalomaniac from Queensland"."

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/rudd-revenge-on-alp-agenda/story-e6frg6zo-1225858519372

There is no cure for this disease until moral character is once again assessed before promotion decisions are made. Walrus

Posted at 01:07 AM | Permalink

Reblog


walrus , 9 years ago

Thank you all for your comments. I think I need to expand a few thing s alittle further.

Narcissism is not "Self Love", narcissism is a love of "reflected" love from others. Narcissus fell in love with his reflection in the pool. While Narcissism is an essential part of all our personalities in the NPD disorder the demand for constant narcissistic stimulation from other people consumes all other desires.

Now many people who suffer from this condition sublimate this need through hard work and apply great intelligence to it as well. However there is a huge cost because of the character defects Narcissism causes - chief of which is an inability to empathise with normal human beings.

There has been serious discussion in management theory that NPD sufferers can be valuable sometimes as managers can make ruthless but necessary business decisions. However that cynical observation has to be balanced against the damage and loss of staff and morale such a manager inevitably causes.

A classic example of Narcissistic behaviour was provided recently by the Chairman of an Airline, that for a whole year had ruthlessly worked to lower wages and employment conditions for its workers. At Christmas time she gave some Forty senior managers each a $600 bottle of wine (Penfold Grange Hermitage). Can anyone not imagine the multiple negative effects of such a gesture on the ordinary airline staff?

It is too big a task to catalogue the everyday examples of people with this condition. The movie stars and celebrities for example whose private lives, as seems normal with Narcissists, are a smoking wreck. Tiger Woods is a classic case.

However when we start talking about elected officials, or would be elected officials like Sarah Palin, we can see the serious implications. Australias Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for example has micromanaged a series of massive policy failures at home and now craves his narcissistic sublimation by impressing foreign dignitaries on every available occasion, earning him the nickname "Kevin 747" for his propensity to jet off overseas to speak at the U.N., confer with President Obama, etc. His bad, narcissistic, style of decision making has cost the nation a lot of money.

In the case of President Obama, what can we say about some one caught making an off the cuff remark about "The Special Olympics" or who was caught ogling a girl who was not much older than his own daughters? Do we see a pattern here?

I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the "Suicidal Statecraft" that destroy nations is a by product of narcissistic leadership - for example "The Habsburg Provocation" to "The honour Of France" that started the Franco - Prussian war.

At the General Officer Level, what can one say about Patton? A brilliant charismatic leader and strategist? What does the incident of the shell shocked soldier say? McArthur? Petreaus? The supposedly sleepless McChrystal? I don't know.

By way of contrats, and Col. Lang will take me to task on this, I was struck on reading Gen. Schwarzkopfs autobiography, by his apparent high degree of empathy with the average soldiers, even if he appeared far more uncompromising with the officer corps. I also was struck by his solution to logistical squabbling between Corps commanders in the lead up to Gulf war One - a field promotion of his logistics Chief from a Two Star to a Three Star General. Such a solution would be anathema to a narcissist.

Norm Mosher , 9 years ago
I am amazed at a discussion of narcissistic personality disorder that to this point, at least, has not mentioned today's poster child for this disorder -- Sarah Palin.
anna missed , 9 years ago
It would seem that narcissism is rooted in the notion of individualism, in that it expresses a love for the self over the group. Interestingly and ironically, wasn't it the Catholic Church that championed individualism in the post dark ages era, as a mechanism/method to disassemble the collectivist mentality of Germanic tribalism -- while at the same time replacing it with their own hierarchical social/religious authority structure.

I think what Walrus says is essentially true, but would be better said by including the social context by which narcissism or the cult-ification of individualism could be seen as generating its own kind of social order, or social hierarchy based upon meritocracy, or the illusion of merit when equated with raw power.

Or perhaps in better words, individualism or narcissism must be seen in the context of being its own hierarchical social structure, with its own construct of social (not individual) values that are internalized an acted upon by its participants.

And maybe, this why the "effects" of narcissism are so widespread and endemic in all of our institutions.

Sidney O. Smith III , 9 years ago
At least in the civilian world, there is an aspect to this personality trait that is not emphasized in Walrus' comment. A few -- not all -- of those with a narcissistic personality traits are brilliant. Megalomania is one of the pathways to creativity, albeit it usually ends w/ some kind of tragedy.

You can bring these people down, imo, and beat them at their own game but expect career sacrifice and do not expect fanfare. And I would never under estimate their extreme talent.

Can't say about the military world nor do I want to know. But it sure seems to be that General Bragg at Chattanooga fulfilled a lot of Dr. Dixon's categories in the article mentioned by S.Henning.

I don't understand all this hoopla about the greatness of Confederate Generals. Seems to be painting with too broad a stroke. Foote does a magnificent job debunking the myth as he continually details the shortcomings of various Confederate Generals. Where was Joe Johnston when Pembleton was suffering in the beleaguered city? Why isn't Ft. Bragg named Ft. Longstreet?

Maureen Lang , 9 years ago
Arun,

Re: SST wardrobe malfunction- seems it's just too much to ask that these seals, statuary, etc. be left as they are by prudish pols (John Ashcroft, anyone?)

Personally, my idea would be if a change simply must be wrought, let's go in the other direction & have Virtus' appearance match the one on the 1776 VA four dollar note:

View Hide
VietnamVet , 9 years ago
Rules of Engagement are simply the manifestation of tasking a bureaucracy, whose only purpose is to killing the enemy, to construct a puppet popular secular colonial government. It can't be done. "Winning Hearts and Minds", all over again.

There must be something that draws people to power who never learn from the past. On the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, there have been news stories that comment on the Vietnamese culture and their resistance to foreign Invaders. Yet, not one has mentioned the real hard nosed fundamentalist culture that has defeated every invader and has never been conquered, the Afghans.

Arun , 9 years ago
Off-topic, but it would seem that Sic Semper Tyrannis has had a wardrobe malfunction - at least according to the Virginia Attorney-General
Patrick Lang , 9 years ago
RoyG

Yes. pl

Roy G , 9 years ago
Well put. I didn't know about Holly Graf, and found her story interesting.The Wikipedia article about her included this:

Captain Graf's awards include a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal with one bronze service star.

I'm not military, but that's some fairly heavy heroic hardware, especially for a seaman, no? Isn't the medal quest a game tailor made for narcissists?

Stanley Henning , 9 years ago
The leadership conundrum is a crucial issue. It also brings to mind Norman Dixon's Psychology of Military Incompetence (1975), which I used to recommend to officers working under me in situations that reflected the problem. There is a good summary of this book at the following link:
http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/pointer/journals/2004/v30n2/book_review.html
JohnH , 9 years ago
Unfortunately I think that narcissism has always been the flip side of leadership. Most of us don't need the fawning adulation of our peers. And most of us have enough self-awareness to preclude us from exuding the self-confidence necessary for selection as a leader.

Narcissism and the accompanying tendency to put self-interest above public interest is why the founding fathers instituted a system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, leaders find ways to circumvent or disable checks on their authority over time.

rick , 9 years ago
HOW DO THESE MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE GET THEIR JOBS????

Oh. Wait. Never mind. The Americam People are the victims here...that's right.

I forgot that for a minute and in forgetting that it seemed for a second like the American People might get the behavior out of politicians that they consistently reward at the ballot box. How silly of me.

J , 9 years ago
Walrus,

We have had to witness this plethora of Narcissism being carried to the extreme ever since 911. Instead of holding accountable those responsible for failing to do their duties, the Narcissists in both our Congress and White House decided to create 'more' Narcissistic 'castles in the sand' with their DHS, TSA, NORTHCOM, etc.. I can understand to a point DOD deciding to create NORTHCOM, but I had always thought that was what NORAD was for. Alas, no NORAD accountability, heaven forbid. Let's create more $$$ sank-holes like TSA, and America's very own version of an internal NKVD force known as DHS (as what many of my fellow Americans refer to DHS as).

While the Narcissists in our White House and Congress eat their crumpets and drink their tea, everyday people who do show signs of human life inside them (i.e. emotions, moral instincts,etc.) continue to be downtrodden by these bands of Narcissists who have in effect altered the food chain. Accountability and responsibility are not in their Narcissist dictionaries.

Jane , 9 years ago
Our moral instincts are not logically consistent. A recent classic experiment shows that people would, without hesitation, hypothetically choose to flip a switch causing a speeding train to ploy into one person rather than into a group of people. But if the only way to stop the train was to shove the fat man next to them into its path they wouldn't do it even though doing so would produce one death rather than many.

It seems probable that in a combat situation a person of normal instincts would even more strongly favor the guy next to him and and tend to kill more freely to protect him even though in an insurgency situation the ultimate success would seem to rest on generating s little hatred among the populace as possible by killing as few bystanders as possible. Hence both the restrictive rules of engagement and the sickening taste they leave in the mouth of those required to act to risk a buddy for a bunch of strangers.

You can reach restrictive rules of engagement by either route: a deep empathic understanding of the human emotions of the insurgent population OR by an ant farm view which simply assigns no value to human life and emotions -- your own side or the others -- but simply sees ROE as the best means to success.

alnval , 9 years ago
Col. Lang:

An intriguing thesis and one with which I'm sure many would agree.

To keep it from turning into a never-ending and unresolvable debate, Walrus' argument would be strengthened significantly were he to describe the behavior and measurement techniques to be used to assess 'moral character' and the criterion to be used to determine the validity of the assessment results.

[Mar 11, 2019] Anyone remember Mullah Omar

Notable quotes:
"... That 93% of all personnel that are employed by the CIA are paper pushers in Langley and just 7% are in the field, of which I read sometime ago, has a ring of truth to me. ..."
Mar 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

David , Mar 10, 2019 2:18:10 PM | link

Anyone remember Mullah Omar, the deceased leader of the Taliban? The U.S. military and intelligence services claimed over and over again that he was hiding in Pakistan. Bette Dam finds (pdf) that he wasn't:
After 2001, Mullah Omar never stepped foot in Pakistan, instead opting to hide in his native land -- and for eight years, lived just a few miles from a major U.S. Forward Operating Base that housed thousands of soldiers.

In late 2001, after the U.S. invasion, Mullah Omar resigned as leader of the Taliban and the movement officially surrendered to Hamid Karzai who promised them reconciliation. The U.S. did not like that and launched a vengeful campaign against all former Taliban member. Eighteen years later the U.S. is suing for peace.

Mullah Omar lived quietly, meditated and studied religious text. Allah remarked on his death:

On April 23, 2013, Mullah Omar passed away. That day, Jabbar Omari told me, the hot, dry lands of southern Afghanistan experienced something he'd never seen before: a hail storm. I assumed it was hagiographic bluster, but later I found a U.S. army publication referring to that day: "More than 80 Task Force Falcon helicopters were damaged when a sudden unprecedented hailstorm hit Kandahar Airfield April 23, where nearly half of the brigade's helicopters were parked."
The fact that Mullah Omar's death was suppressed for two years even from high-level official sources, indicates to me that the theory bin Laden died in 2001 is very plausible. We even have a similar progression of statements regarding their respective health, doubts of whether they were alive at the respective time, etc.

Of course, both terror leaders were kept "alive" for geopolitical reasons. Once ISIS (and later Russia/China) took over as a serious threat in the corporate media narrative, they no longer had to cling to those old phantoms.

Jose Garcia , Mar 10, 2019 2:38:46 PM | link

The story on Omar is astonishing, but to me not surprising. If the US spends billions on finding one guy, and at the end of the day, he is literally just down the road, it shows how incompetent and useless our intelligence gathering has become.

That 93% of all personnel that are employed by the CIA are paper pushers in Langley and just 7% are in the field, of which I read sometime ago, has a ring of truth to me.

Stupidity has a firm grip on our rulers, and they are getting, not only us but many others, killed for absolutely no reason. And the dunces called the American voter, keep re-electing them. It leaves me breathless.

[Jan 29, 2019] Parkinson s Law

Notable quotes:
"... The title of the book is from Parkinson's statement that "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." He explains that "an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis." In contrast if all you have is five minutes to write a postcard, it takes just five minutes to write the postcard. ..."
Feb 22, 2007 | www.amazon.com

Henry Cate III 5.0 out of 5 stars February 22, 2007

Some great insights to human behavior

Parkinson's Law, written by C. Northcote Parkinson, is a wonderful book which explores the realities of human behavior within a bureaucracy. The author doesn't pay attention to theories or the idealized world, but instead writes about how people really function in organizations.

The title of the book is from Parkinson's statement that "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." He explains that "an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis." In contrast if all you have is five minutes to write a postcard, it takes just five minutes to write the postcard.

At a higher level this idea applies to many situations. For example people's stuff expands to fill their house and use up their income. Or in the computer world: Data expands to fill the space available for storage

Parkinson writes that it takes great discipline to fight the tendency to use up all the time available to do some job. And likewise it takes great discipline to save some of your income, or to avoid buying stuff just because you have room for it.

Parkinson has a number of other interesting observations. For example in his Law of Triviality he explains how a group of managers might spend hours on selecting a coffeepot and minutes on deciding matters of much greater importance.

I also appreciated his explanation on the effective size of a governing group. He says that the right number of people to lead an organization, like a business or a country, is about five. As the group gets larger, it takes longer and longer to get together and to agree on matters.

There are many other insightful comments on a variety of topics related to organizations. This is a great book to have teenagers read, and then to be reread every couple years. Just over a hundred pages it is a quick read, as well as being enjoyable.

If you haven't read Parkinson's Law before, I encourage you to read it this week.

not4prophet 4.0 out of 5 stars July 25, 2007

Parkinson's Law: funny, bitter, largely accurate

I first received a copy of "Parkinson's Law" from a retired three-star general. Since that time, I've seen copies on the shelves of almost every powerful person I know, from professors and deans to lawyers and businesspeople. Based on this wide-spread popularity, I can safely conclude that C. Northcote Parkinson has written something that transcends his time and profession to become a true classic. He has written, in short, the definitive work on bureaucracy.

Chapter one contains the titular law, which is frequently misquoted. The actual law gives a mathematical formula for how fast an office will grow, simply by observing that every bureaucrat will demand two subordinates at certain times. Parkinson backs this up with analysis of various British government bodies. The Colonial Office, for instance, more than doubled in size even as the number of colonies was shrinking. This is a rock-solid rule, as far as I can tell, and particularly relevant to an America where we somehow spend $728 billion despite having fewer actual soldiers than at any time in the past sixty years.

Chapter three famously looks at budget meetings. The conclusion is that up to a certain point, committees will spend more time on items that cost less. Some trivially small item, such as coffee, is easily understood, so every committee member has an opinion about it. On the other hand, nobody really understands expensive items such as reactors, so nobody has much to say about them. This is a phenomenon which I've seen arising in real life time and time again.

Chapter four is perhaps the most fascinating and devastatingly accurate one in the book. The hypothesis is that whenever an organization builds a fancy new headquarters, its time is up. Parkinson offers mainly British examples, but we can see the truth of this in America. The Sears Tower went up at precisely the moment when the Sears Corporation went down. When construction began on the AOL Time Warner Center in 2000, that should have been our indication that the dot-com boom was on its last legs.

There are ten chapters in all, but I'll let you discover the delights of the later ones on your own. For sure, some chapters aren't quite so hard-hitting. Chapter two on the French Parliament may strike some as no longer relevant, while chapter nine on crime and economics in China contains some cringe-inducing racism. But on the whole, "Parkinson's Law" is a delightful little book (150 pages) that will explain while it amuses you. "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and "Who Moved My Cheese" may rule the bestseller lists, but C. Northcote Parkinson has the real answers for the business world.

mirasreviews HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars June 12, 2009

50-Year-Old Satire of Business and Public Administration Still Sharp and Hilarious

Cyril Northcote Parkinson was a naval historian and writer with experience in the British Civil Service in 1955, when he wrote a humorous article for the "Economist" on the idiosyncrasies of administration. Parkinson was Raffles Professor of History at the University of Malaya in Singapore during this time, and, two years later, he expanded on that essay with the publication of "Parkinson's Law and Other Studies in Administration". "Heaven forbid that students should cease to read books on the science of public or business administration -provided that these works are classified as fiction," he says. Parkinson's own satirical take on the subject provides, "for those interested, a glimpse of reality."

There are 10 short chapters, each dedicated to a different quirk of business or public administration, beginning with the one we all know: Parkinson's Law: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for completion." -which the author reduces to a mathematical formula. Parkinson claims, tongue in cheek, to omit the statistical proof of his laws and observations out of consideration for space, but he often provides examples from the British military and civil service that do, indeed, seem to support his analysis. That's why this book has been popular for 50 years. Like all great satire, it distills the truth rather than creating a fiction.

Some other subjects that Parkinson addresses are: the function of British Parliament dictated by the seating arrangements, the Law of Triviality ("the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved"), a committee's power diminishes as its numbers grow, a well-designed building is a sure sign of the institution's demise, "injelititis" (organizational paralysis due to "induced inferiority"), and how to force older workers to retire in time for their successors to have a career. Some of this stuff is peculiar to the time and place it was written. For example, I have no idea if comments on how wealthy Chinese vs British evade taxes had any truth to them. But most aspects of administration haven't changed in 50 years, and Parkinson's take is still laugh-out-loud funny.

J. Fristrom 4.0 out of 5 stars May 24, 2003

Parkinson Isn't The Enemy After All

I've always considered Parkinson's Law to be the chief weapon of inept managers who "schedule aggressively" in an attempt to squeeze blood from stones, and thus compromise their project's effeciency, morale, and the like. After reading this book I've discovered that Parkinson's Law is *not* the often misquoted "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion" but (paraphrasing:) "the number of administrators in an organization will grow at a steady rate irrespective of the amount of work that organization needs to do." Not only does Parkinson never suggest that we should "schedule aggressively" (he never suggests that work can contract indefinitely no matter how little time is made available), he ridiculues nice offices, large meetings, top-heavy management, insecure leadership, penny-wiseness and pound-foolishness, typical hiring practices, and more.

While reading most of this book I had a wry grin on my face, and I laughed loud belly laughs at a couple of points. My only complaints stem from the last two chapters, which indulged in both racism and ageism, respectively. I only skimmed those. Still, an enjoyable and motivational read, and useful knowledge when confronted by a manager who thinks of themself as Parkinsonian but hasn't actually read (or understood) Parkinson.

Harold Hill 5.0 out of 5 stars June 11, 2009

dated but timeless

Parkinson's Law is a classic work concerning the dynamics of large administrative organizations. The vernacular of the book often felt dated to this reader, based it is on the inner workings of the British Empire, but that in no way took away from its overall impact and timeless message. This is a marvelously honest and insightful, also delightfully sardonic, look at how human nature and institutional politics really work on a grand scale.

The book starts with the most well-known of Parkinson's laws, which is, "work expands to fill the time allotted to it." But there are several other chapters in this very short book with other wonderful information as well. There's a whole chapter devoted to how to phrase a help wanted ad in order to get only one perfect candidate for the job. One chapter explains why bureaucracies grow at a standard rate of 5% a year regardless of workload. There are also wonderfully complex formulas concerning how to calculate the correct age of retirement, which has a lot to do with the age of the person who is hoping to edge you out and take your place as soon as possible. The mathematical analysis of at what time the truly powerful people arrive and leave a cocktail party was also a lot of fun.

While most books about management talk in highly idealistic utopian terms, this is one of those rare books that tells it like it is and makes you laugh at the same time. Its closest relatives are Machiavelli's Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius , Bertrand Russell's Unpopular Essays , and Justin Locke's Principles of Applied Stupidity (How to Get and Do More by Thinking and Knowing Less) .

While this is a fairly short book, my version was only 101 pages, I found I could not read it straight through because each chapter was so enlightening, I had to take a break in between. But that is hardly a complaint.

It's not so much the specific information that makes this book what it is. What makes the book is its honest appraisal of human nature. A wonderful thing to be reminded of as you go to that next meeting. A now somewhat forgotten classic, highly recommended.

Amazon Customer 3.0 out of 5 starsNovember 21, 2001

Glittering Generalities and Subtle Humor

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Another way of saying "people spend what they can afford". That statement makes certain simplifying assumptions in describing the action. Parkinson claims that Administrator A will, when overworked, call for subordinates C and D. And each of these, when overworked, call for two subordinates. Perhaps only a third subordinate E is more likely to be hired? Unless its a monopoly running on a "cost plus" economy.

The increase in Admiralty officials may be due to political decisions that reflect the feudal system and its pride in larger numbers. This increase from 1914 to 1928 may reflect the rise needed for The Great War, and a reluctance to cut back afterwards.

The author notes the growth in the Colonial Office from 1935 to 1954, while the size of the Empire decreased. But it assumes there was no longer any involvement in the colonies, and no new work assigned to them. Perhaps a need for political appointees?

In Chapter Four the author discusses the optimal number of members in a committee: somewhere between 3 and 21. Assume a committee meets to do work, not to make work. There is a limited number of hours in a day; if each member speaks for 15 minutes, then 12 will take up half a work day. Time constraints will limit the number who will speak; those who only listen can be given a printed report. Somebody must control the topics and meeting.

Chapter Five answers the question: why are students of the "Liberal Arts" generally considered for top positions? The answer is the adoption of the Chinese system for competitive examinations. Those with a Classics background were perceived as fittest to rule; those with a scientific background were perceived as followers. The author does not discuss the class differences usually covered by this distinction. His comments on advertising positions is interesting, but ignores the fact that an acceptable candidate may chose another firm. His final advice on choosing a Prime Minister is not always followed.

Chapter Six claims the health of an institution can be gauged by its buildings, and cites St. Peter's in Rome. A more modern edition might cite the former AT&T and IBM buildings in midtown Manhattan, instead of the Palace of Nations in Geneva. But office buildings are recyclable commodities. A monumental edifice can be the mausoleum of an organization. Does this apply to the Department of Agriculture building in Washington?

Chapter Seven shows his wit and powers of observation by summarizing the cocktail parties that he attended. Chapter Eight discusses the question of why organizations decline. One way to judge an organization is by the quality of their cafeteria. Chapter Ten claims the compulsory retirement age is set at 3 years past the age when people begin to decline. More simplifying assumptions and playing with numbers? If not, what objective facts were used to arrive at this conclusion?
The value of this book is its observations on the common activities that are not often studied.

Judah 2.0 out of 5 stars November 17, 2007

Outdated

Basically, this book may be distilled down into a few statements (below). The examples used are from the late 1950's, and not in touch with the culture of 2007.

**The work expands to fill the time available.
**People will attempt to hire more subordinates regardless of workload.
**Large committees will spend more time arguing over small line item expenses they understand, as opposed to huge expenditures they don't.
**Have two issue supporters sit next to and kibitz an undecided yahoo -- this will sway the yahoo into voting their way.
**Approximately five - eight people are the ideal number to run a huge endeavor.
**The best want-ad will only be answered by one (qualified) person.
**Rich men avoid taxes.
**Younger people force older conservatives to retire.

If you are interested in Parkinson's Law, I'd suggest buying a later edition with examples more in tune with modern computerized business. This older edition is for collector's and has limited business value. 6 people found this helpful

Acute Observer 4.0 out of 5 stars March 19, 2011

Analyzing Administrative Behavior

This was a popular book in the late 1950s. It is a collection of essays with a humorous look at common events. Parkinson criticizes the writers of text books who have an idealistic view about management (`Preface'). [Doesn't this fault still go on?] Chapter 1 claims "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". This is stated without supporting facts, so it just anecdotes. Does a growing number of civil servants reflect more work being done? Not if jobs are created for friends or relatives. No mention of a budget or bottom line here. Who approved this? ["Charlie Wilson's War" provides one example.] Those Admiralty Statistics suggest that some Officers in the R.N. were redeployed as Dockyard or Admiralty officials (p.8). The increase in the Colonial Office could represent more redeployment (p.11). [Statistics can't be trusted unless you understand the facts that were used or avoided.] Seating representatives in a half-circle is the rational rule used in most countries (Chapter 2). It allows better hearing, as in a theatre.

Chapter 3 discusses proposals before a Committee. The big ticket items are approved [the fix is in], the small items do not have as much support (p.29). Chapter 4 discusses the size of a Cabinet as it relates to its power; more members dilute its power. Chapter 5 discusses the best way to select candidates for a job. Parkinson recommends an advertisement phrased so only a few apply. But what if an important qualification can't be measured on paper (p.58)? There is a way to measure the status of an institution (Chapter 6). But this perfect layout is a sign of impending collapse (p.60). [Think of those Wall Street firms in 2008.] That big Department of Agriculture building in Washington DC marked the decline of family farms. One reason for this may be a perfected building no longer has the operational flexibility to expand (or contract) for current needs.

Parkinson explains how a cocktail party can reveal the real importance of the guests. The people who matter circulate with the general movement (Chapter 7), and arrive 30 minutes late. They cluster around an area at the far right, then leave. Chapter 8 discusses the "palsied paralysis" of organizations. The man at the top seeks to eliminate any possible rivals or successors. The result after about 20 years is failures when the leader grows senile or dies (p.81). That is why there are takeovers, or company subsidiaries are sold off. Can you judge an institution by its cafeteria (p.850? [If the managers have a separate dining room, beware.] Parkinson's advice on taking over an institution seems unrealistic (p.90). Corporations do buy up other businesses and integrate their buildings and personnel. This may be to eliminate competition.

Chapter 9 imagines the anthropological study of the rich. [Those who study primitive people are likely investigating mineral wealth.] He suggests a solution for lower taxes, but its only a theory. Chapter 10 discusses the mandatory retirement age. Parkinson claims that a person starts to decline three years before this age. [No proofs are given.] He suggests a method to force a retirement: nearly constant travel to foreign lands, and filling in forms like customs declaration. [This may tell you more about Parkinson than as a general statement.] This must be the least entertaining of these humorous essays.

These articles provide humor, they are not a scientific or practical guide. They should not be used for any college course. This same type of humor was found in "Freakonomics", whose essays are based on the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy (after this therefore because of this). They are not a reliable guide to knowledge.

TH 3.0 out of 5 stars September 13, 2004

Overly simplistic, Fun, but...

This book attempts to decrypt the enigma of hierarchies in a far too simplistic manner. One sentence to describe the whole book would be 'we keep getting promoted at work because we know how to do the job we are assigned, and stop getting promoted when we don't know how to'. The book is elaborate with supporting arguments.

One concept this book seem to assume is, all of us have a set of competencies and it is fixed. That is why we stop growing. But, in reality our skills continue to improve throughout our life time. Hence, accepting Peter Principle as a fact may be detrimental to our career, thus fulfilling his prophecy. I choose to accept his principle as a fact, only if I stop expanding my competencies (probably by freezing my brain). If I keep expanding my competencies, there is nothing but endless growth for everyone.

[Jan 29, 2019] Your tax dollars at government It work

Jan 29, 2019 | thwack.solarwinds.com

pzjones Jul 8, 2015 10:34 AM

My story is about required processes...Need to add DHCP entries to the DHCP server. Here is the process. Receive request. Write 5 page document (no exaggeration) detailing who submitted the request, why the request was submitted, what the solution would be, the detailed steps of the solution including spreadsheet showing how each field would be completed and backup procedures. Produce second document to include pre execution test plan, and post execution test plan in minute detail. Submit to CAB board for review, submit to higher level advisory board for review; attend CAB meeting for formal approval; attend additional approval board meeting if data center is in freeze; attend post implementation board for lessons learned...Lesson learned: now I know where our tax dollars go...

[Jan 05, 2019] The minister in charge, grayling, is a serial incompetent and genuine z grade genetic landfill. In a reasonably sane world he wouldn't be put in charge of running a bath.

Jan 05, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The Rev Kev , January 3, 2019 at 5:09 am

I think that the most ominous part of this article is where it is mentions that the Government gave a £13.8m (US $17.4) contract for ferry services between Ramsgate and Ostend in Belgium but that this company has no ships or any experience whatsoever in running a Channel service. In fact, it only came into existence about two years ago well after the Brexit referendum. A quick check shows that this company was awarded the contract without prior publication of a call for competition because of the "extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable for the contracting authority" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaborne_Freight ). Yeah, right! With 85 days left until Brexit, the Government has to really start getting its ducks lined up and making some tough calls. It may not be so but decisions like this make you wonder if this is a case of mates being taken care of by someone in Government and that this will be the trend after Brexit kicks in.

paul , January 3, 2019 at 5:56 am

That has always been the hallmark of this administration (to use the term very loosely), look at the 'help to buy scheme' and how it was a direct subsidy to the building industry's owners.
The minister in charge, grayling, is a serial incompetent and genuine z grade genetic landfill. In a reasonably sane world he wouldn't be put in charge of running a bath.
Brexit will just be a means to an end for the venal morons presiding over it. A way to continue austerity, rip the remaining copper out of the public realm e.g.privatise the NHS (even further) and put scotland back in its box.

larry , January 3, 2019 at 7:15 am

Paul,

grayling, is a serial incompetent and genuine z grade genetic landfill. In a reasonably sane world he wouldn't be put in charge of running a bath.

Brilliant take on Failing Grayling.

[Dec 30, 2018] C. Northcote Parkinson, 83, Dies; Writer With a Wry View of Labor - The New York Times

VIEW PAGE IN TIMESMACHINE
Dec 30, 2018 | www.nytimes.com
March 12, 1993, Page 00019 The New York Times Archives

C. Northcote Parkinson, the British historian and writer who propounded the notion that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion," died Tuesday at a clinic near his home in Canterbury, England. He was 83.

The cause of death was not announced.

Mr. Parkinson first put forth his famous dictum in an article for The Economist magazine in 1955. The article brought him considerable attention, and in 1958 he published an expanded version, "Parkinson's Law."

The book, which included the corollary that work expands to occupy the people available for its completion, became a best-seller. Mr. Parkinson once expressed surprise that the book seemed to be so well received by its implicit targets, business executives and government officials, at a time when corporate and state bureaucracies were growing rapidly. Where Six Do the Work of One

Mr. Parkinson said the theory had its roots in his experience in World War II, when he worked in training and administration for the War Office and the Royal Air Force.

"I observed, somewhat to my surprise, that work which could be done by one man in peacetime, was being given to about six in wartime," he told The Times of London. "I think this was mainly because there wasn't the same opportunity for other people to criticize. You could always riposte: 'Don't you know there's a war on?' "

His work was a mixture of serious economic analysis and satire. He argued that administrators and executives tend to make work for each other, and that because executives prefer to have subordinates rather than rivals, they create and perpetuate bureaucracies in which power is defined by the number of subordinates.

A committee, he said, "grows organically, flourishes and blossoms, sunlit on top and shady beneath, until it dies, scattering the seeds from which other committees will spring."

No matter how much work is actually getting accomplished, Mr. Parkinson wrote, the number of workers in an organization would relentlessly expand at a rate that he calculated, perhaps tongue in cheek, between 5.7 percent and 6.56 percent a year. From Cambridge to Singapore

Cyril Northcote Parkinson was born on July 30, 1909, in northern England. He attended Cambridge University and received a doctorate in history from Kings College in London.

He taught at Cambridge and at a private boys' school in the late 1930's, before his wartime service. After the war he became a lecturer in naval history at the University of Liverpool, then moved to Singapore in 1950, where he became the Raffles Professor of History at the University of Malaya. After the publication of "Parkinson's Law," he went on to complete scholarly works, including "British Intervention in Malaya, 1867 to 1877."

He wrote more than 60 books, including "Mrs. Parkinson's Law" (1968), which applied his principle to the household level. He also wrote business histories and fiction, including "Jeeves: a Gentleman's Personal Gentleman" (1979), the "biography" of the hero of the P. G. Wodehouse novels.

Mr. Parkinson is survived by his third wife, Iris Hilda Waters, whom he married in 1985, a son and a daughter from his first marriage and two sons and a daughter from his second marriage.


[Dec 30, 2018] New Book by C. Northcote Parkinson - A book review by Professor Carroll Quigley

Notable quotes:
"... "New Book by C. Northcote Parkinson" ..."
Dec 30, 2018 | www.carrollquigley.net

" New Book by C. Northcote Parkinson ",
a review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star , November 18, 1963,
of a book:
EAST AND WEST ,
by C. Northcote Parkinson.
Houghton Mifflin: New York, 1963

 

"New Book by C. Northcote Parkinson"

East and West, by C. Northcote Parkinson
(Houghton, Mifflin, 1963, $5.00),
a history of the contact of Europe and Asia since the fall of Troy, is the author's thirteenth book.
Carroll Quigley, author of The Evolution of Civilizations, teaches history at Georgetown University.

C. Northcote Parkinson, one-time Professor at the University of Malaya (but now removed from academic halls to the more remunerative work of an economic consultant in London), has produced more than a dozen books over the last 29 years. Most of these sank with scarcely a ripple, until, in 1957, his Parkinson's Law roused widespread enthusiasm. Its attack on bureaucracy and Big Government was kept afloat in a sea of jokes which helped to conceal the fact that the author's basic outlook was contemporary with Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). Three years later, Parkinson shifted his attention from politics to economics, and, in The Law and the Profits , attacked the basic principle of twentieth century taxation from a Spencerian (or John Birchite) point of view. He deplored the graduated income tax and any tax of over 25 per cent. This book, with fewer and poorer jokes, revealed its author's old-fashioned outlook to anyone who reads with both eyes.

Now Mr. Parkinson has shifted his field once again, this time to history. Lacking his earlier camouflage of jokes, except in isolated spots, East and West shows that Parkinson's historical training is as dated as his politics and economics, almost pure Oxbridge, vintage 1880. And unfortunately, not one of the better samples of that year. Except for its length, this work might pass for an undergraduate tutorial essay worthy of a "gentleman's C" or of a Third Class in the Final Schools examination.

The characteristics of a mediocre book are not very much different from those of a merely "passing" undergraduate essay and are fully evident in this volume: (1) underlying confusion of thought, and thus of organization; (2) inadequate knowledge of the evidence; (3) limited reading of up-to-date authorities; and (4) masses of factual information without strict control of its relevancy.

For Parkinson, as for his Victorian contemporaries, the meeting of East and West begins with the Iliad (on page 1) and advances chronologically, based on the writings of Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch, and the lesser historians of the wars against Carthage and the achievements of the Caesars, with much borrowing from that up to date writer, Edward Gibbon. More than half the volume is concerned with the period from the fall of Troy to the fall of Constantinople, and much of the rest is a prosaic account of the expansion of Europe to Asia (especially southern Asia) since the fifteenth century. The period before 1000 B.C., the immense impact of archaeological discoveries since 1880, the newer literary evidence obtained from the twentieth century's deciphering of papyrus and archaeological inscriptions are ignored. As a result, Parkinson believes (galley 45) that the "first wave of oriental influence to reach Europe came from Persia....Zoroaster [about 500 B.C.]" Such a statement wipes aside almost the whole of European, including Greek, culture as non-existent even when, like the alphabet, it was called by an Asiatic name. Parkinson has a whole chapter on Alexander the Great, but ignores all recent work on the subject going back to W. W. Tarn (1938). His extensive attention to military exploits may seem to reflect the present (1963) concern with military history, but Parkinson's approach is biographical not tactical, and his treatment of war recalls my own happy days reading G. A. Henty. There are scattered footnote references to books on the history of armaments but no evidence that Parkinson really read them, for he tells us such untruths as that the crossbow could be "shot with accuracy from a horse ridden at a gallop" (gal. 59), that "the real cavalryman" was invented by Macedonia before Alexander the Great's time (galley 21) (when real cavalry could, in fact, come into action only with the invention of stirrups many centuries after Alexander).

Much of the amorphous character of this volume arises from failure to define its terms. The first five words of the Introduction read, "This book deals with civilizations," but there is a firm refusal to demark any civilizations or culture areas. Instead, it soon appears that the author is thinking of Asia and Europe as geographic areas (which he mistakenly divides at the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea instead of at the Pripet Marshes, which form the only meaningful boundary.) This two-part division leads to great confusion because the situation can hardly be understood in terms any simpler than a four-factor mélange (Western, Asiatic, northern steppe grasslands, and Semitic). Culturally the optimistic and balanced empiricism of the West and the resigned Heraclitean flux of Asia have been separated by the rationalistic, dualistic, and often extremist, outlooks of the Indo-Europeans and the Semites. The former of these buffers left its imprint most strongly on Iran (Zoroaster and Mani) and on Greece (Plato), carried on through Byzantium and Russia. It is a fundamental fact in any history of the contacts of Asia and the West that many of these contacts were filtered through the two buffers of the Indo-European and the Semite cultural heritages.

Even on the simple level of contact between two geographic areas, Parkinson's attempt to show the interaction of Europe and Asia is almost a total failure. This results from his neglect of the most obvious interchanges and of the whole of the early (and most significant) period and from his failure to establish a chronological outline based on the factors which impelled such interchanges. These factors have rested on the interaction of climate changes and technology, with the former dominating the situation in the more remote past (by influencing the ability of the grasslands of Central Asia and Arabia to support herds of grazing animals and the human populations which used these herds as food) and the latter dominating the situation in recent centuries, with a lengthy period (500 B.C.-1700) of transition in between. Lacking any conception of this interplay of forces, Parkinson has no real conception of why the interactions occurred and falls back on quite unconvincing explanations based on personal reactions and personal revenge. The Persian invasion of Greece in 490 B.C. is explained as a reaction to the Greek capture of Troy in 1184 B.C.! (galley 2 and 8)

Even in Parkinson's day under the great Queen Victoria every school boy knew Ex Oriente Lux . Europe's peoples and languages came from the east as did the very basic attributes of European life: its food (wheat, beef, lamb, swine, fowls), its textiles (wool, linen, cotton, silk), its systems of measures (12 eggs in a dozen, 12 inches in a foot, 12 hours in the day and in the night, 60 minutes in the hour), its basic technology (writing, the wheel, paper, printing type, gun powder, the plow, the number system), and those three major targets of Parkinson's antipathy, governmental bureaucracy, taxation, and state regulation of economic life. Even today, a London economic consultant wears trousers and a jacket slashed in the rear so that the sides will hang straight as he sits on his horse, attire derived from a Turkic cultural predecessor in the central Asian grasslands of two millennia ago.

This volume contains scores, possibly hundreds of gross factual errors. If these were based only on the ignorance and prejudices of 1880, we might pass over them in silence, but when they join the current campaign to corrupt our youth with the myths of John Birch they should be pointed out. Parkinson tells us (galley 67) that the decline of Asia after A.D. 1000 was fundamentally due to biological decadence but the "immediate cause was of course, excessive taxation." We are solemnly informed (galley 102) that Marxism, like Marx himself, is "a religion derived ultimately from Judaism." Or again (galley 76), of British "administrative talent...the best always went overseas, leaving only the dregs in Whitehall." As long ago as the time of Alexander the Great, Greek ascendency in Asia meant that "democracy had to go" (galley 21). And of course, the fall of Rome in the West was due to "overtaxation" (galley 47).

These numerous outbursts of personal prejudice are buried in great masses of simple factual errors. Parkinson's knowledge of geography, despite his personal travels, is woefully deficient. Roman military control of the Balkans in the 3rd century, he says (galley 47) required "the reconquest of Dacia and Mesopotamia", a statement which is not only nonsense, but implies that Rome had previously held Mesopotamia. Or again (galley 51), he tells us that the Arabs, about 800, controlled the whole trade route between Canton and Cordova -- "from end to end."

Among numerous factual errors are statements: 1. that the Hittites taught Babylon to train horses (gal. 1; it was the Mittani); 2. that the people east of the Halys River in Asia Minor were "of Semitic character" (gal. s; they were largely Hurrian); 3. that the Hittites first coined money (gal. 6; it was the Lydians almost 800 years later); that all "Phoenician" literature was lost in the destruction of Carthage by Rome (gal. 13); 5. that no Greek would discard his possessions to become a beggar (gal. 17; there was a whole school of Greeks, the Cynics); 6. that the militarization of Spartan life was not based on "necessity" but on "self-respect" (gal. 17; it was based on the need to keep down ten times as numerous Helots); 7. that "the Greeks ceased to be discoverers when they became teachers" under Alexander (gal. 22; this ignores the amazing achievements of Hellenistic science, such as Hipparchus or Archimedes); 8. that the middle classes were "a Greek invention" (gal. 26; the Phoenicians were more middle class than the Greeks and much earlier); 9. that Rome obtained its original culture from the Greeks (gal. 30; it was from the Etruscans); 10. that the Greeks had a belief in Progress (gal. 39; on the contrary, the Greeks believed in retrogression from a remote "Golden Age"); 11. that the "pastoral type of economy" was earlier than the rise of agriculture (gal. 1; it was several thousand years later); 12. that Indo-European invaders about 1600 made Babylon "the center of the Hittite Empire" (gal. 2; Babylon was never a Hittite city); 13. that Alexander's Empire brought four "of the five known civilizations...in a single monarchy" (gal. 27; it did not include either India or China); 14. that Roman ships reached India (gal. 37); 15. that the Russian choice of Byzantine Christianity [presumably over the Latin type] brought Russia "into the western rather than the Eastern Camp" (gal. 48); 16. that "Gothic architecture is plainly Islamic" (gal. 58); 17. that the United States "began to look on the Chinese and the Japanese as possible customers and converts" because of the completion of the trans-continental railway in 1869 (gal. 73; American merchant ships were trading extensively with both peoples before the Civil War); and 18. that "discoveries in navigation did not precede but followed the great voyages of discovery" (gal. 81; in fact, the compass, rudder, sails, hull construction, and methods of determining latitude were all in use before the great navigations.)

Fortunately Parkinson does not launch this myriad of errors on the reader without fair warning, for in the Preface we may read, "Given a more suitable diet, as recommended by the food reformers (plain food, uncooked, and Spartan) I might perhaps have had the energy to ransack libraries....Instead I have relied upon the results of desultory reading...." Surely an honest statement, but without scholarship, the volume certainly needs more jokes!

[Dec 30, 2018] Obituary- Professor C. Northcote Parkinson by HELENA ROGERS

Mar 12, 1993 | independent.co.uk

Cyril Northcote Parkinson, writer, historian and economist, born 30 July 1909, Raffles Professor of History University of Malaya 1950-58, books include Edward Pellew, Viscount Exmouth 1934, The Rise of the Port of Liverpool 1952, Parkinson's Law: the pursuit of progress 1958, British Intervention in Malaya 1867-1877 1960, Mrs Parkinson's Law 1968, The Law of Delay 1971, Industrial Disruption 1973, Britannia Rules 1977, Jeeves: a gentleman's personal gentleman 1979, The Guernseyman 1982, The Fur-Lined Mousetrap 1984, married 1943 Ethelwyn Graves (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved), 1952 Elizabeth Ann Fry (died 1983; one daughter), 1985 Ingrid Waters, died Canterbury 9 March 1993.

ASK ANYONE if they have heard of 'Parkinson's Law' and they will probably answer, 'Yes, but I can't call it to mind.' Tell them that 'Work expands to fill the time available for its completion' and they will laugh and say with feeling that they most certainly have heard of the law, and understand its effects completely. C. Northcote Parkinson coined the phrase which is now known and quoted by frustrated business people (indeed, anyone trying to find 'spare' time) all over the world.

'Granted that work (and especially paper-work),' he wrote, 'is . . . elastic in its demands on time, it is manifest that there need be little or no relationship between the work to be done and the size of the staff to which it may be assigned. A lack of real activity does not, of necessity, result in leisure. A lack of occupation is not necessarily revealed by a manifest idleness. The thing to be done swells in importance and complexity in a direct ratio with the time to be spent.'

Parkinson first presented his formula in a humorous and paradoxical article for the Economist in 1958. This and a further series of essays were published by John Murray as Parkinson's Law in the same year with illustrations by Osbert Lancaster (it remains in print as a Penguin Business 'Management Classic'). He based his law, aimed largely but not only at the workings of bureaucracy, on experience gained in the Second World War with an Officer Cadet Training Unit in the RAF, and as a War Office staff officer.

General recognition of his law, he wrote, 'is shown in the proverbial phrase 'It is the busiest man who has time to spare.' Thus an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half an hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and 20 minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar box in the next street. The total effort that would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety, and toil.'

Most of Cyril Northcote Parkinson's large output as a writer disguises this wonderful sense of humour. As an authority on maritime history, in particular the Napoleonic era, he has a wealth of informative books to his name, including Trade in the Eastern Seas (1937), The Trade Winds (1948), The Rise of the Port of Liverpool (1952), War in the Eastern Seas (1954), as well as an imaginary biography, The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower (1970). As with the Hornblower biography, he used his historical knowledge to write the 'Delancey' saga, naval historical novels about a young midshipman in the Napoleonic wars, and his rise through the ranks eventually to become Admiral of the Fleet.

An unassuming man, Parkinson lived the latter part of his life modestly, if elegantly, in a Canterbury close, continuing to write on the subjects he loved most. His middle years, however, after the phenomenal success of Parkinson's Law, were taken up with lecturing and after-dinner speaking. He found it hugely amusing that he should be so appreciated in this way, and yet his easy manner and witty turn of phrase invited the attention of the most reluctant listener.

His early life was 'rather dull', he thought: educated at St Peter's School, York, he went on to study History at Cambridge. He left to become a historian, and took a further degree in London. After returning to Cambridge to do research, he could see only a dull future. 'There seemed to be nothing ahead but a series of professorships', he said. 'So I began to write books on naval history instead.' His first teaching post - arranged around his writing - was at Blundell's School, Tiverton. He wrote a book about it, attracted particularly by - as he explained - 'the school's most distinguished pupil, Guy Fawkes'. He later lectured in naval history at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, a post he held at the outbreak of the Second World War, and assisted in the formation of the National Maritime Museum.

His service career had begun in the Territorial Army, which he loved passionately, but it seemed to disappoint him that he never took part in active service. With a twinkle in his eye, he recounted that although he would have been a willing to play his part, he seemed to complete the war 'without killing or even seriously annoying any Germans'. He went on to say that the most dangerous episode of his war years was getting married. Then, to add 'insult to injury', his regiment disbanded at the time. 'I think they had a sort of grudge against me.'

He restored and lived for many years at Elham Manor, in Kent, while continuing to write books and lecture on naval and maritime history.

In 1950 he experienced a complete change when he accepted a chair as Raffles Professor of History at the University of Malaya, a post he held for eight years. The end of his time in Malaya came soon after the publication of the book which was to transform his life. With obvious delight he reported what Enoch Powell said of him: 'He's like a man who found an oil-well in his back garden.' The first publisher to which the book was offered returned it promptly. The second, Parkinson said, 'threw it in the wastepaper basket, but later retrieved it and thought again'.

After the success of Parkinson's Law, he entered the world of after-dinner lecturing and continued to be amazed that so many people wanted to hear him speak; he was often asked to give hour- long lectures to audiences of up to 8,000. After Leaving Malaya he held visiting professorships at Harvard University, in 1958, and the universities of Illinois and California in 1959-60. Thereafter he gave up his 'proper job' as an academic to devote his time to writing through the winter and lecturing across the United States in the summer.

It was with relief that he eventually gave up the lecturing circuit to live quietly with his third wife, in Canterbury, having moved there in 1989. Here he relaxed in peace in the shadow of the cathedral, and worked on his final project, his autobiography, A Law Unto Myself.

'The inexorable working of Parkinson's law ensures that appointments have constantly to be made and the question is always how to choose the right candidate . . . Past methods fall into two main categories, the British and the Chinese . . . The British method (old pattern) depended upon an interview in which the candidate had to establish his identity. He would be confronted by elderly gentlemen seated round a mahogany table who would presently ask him his name. Let us suppose that the candidate replied, 'John Seymour'. One of the gentlemen would then say, 'Any relation to the Duke of Somerset?' To this the candidate would say, quite possibly, 'No, sir.' Then another gentleman would say, 'Perhaps you are related, in that case, to the Bshop of Warminster?' If he said 'No, sir' again, a third would ask in despair, 'To whom then are you related?' ' Illustration by Osbert Lancaster for Parkinson's Law

(Photographs omitted)

[May 28, 2018] Movie: From Here To Eternity

May 28, 2018 | www.amazon.com

D. Blackdeer on September 3, 2001

From Here to Eternity

1953 Best Picture (eight Academy Awards) about Army soldiers dealing with corrupt leadership in Hawaii just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Burt Lancaster heads the cast as First Sergeant Milt Warden, a top soldier trapped in an infantry company commanded by the incompetent and corrupt Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes, played by Philip Ober.

Holmes is an incapable officer seeking promotion as the regiment's boxing coach while Warden holds the company together. Conditions are status quo until Private Robert E. Lee Pruitt, played by Montgomery Clift, arrives from the bugler corps.

Holmes attempts to recruit Pruitt as the new middleweight boxer, but Pruitt refuses for personal reasons. Holmes then embarks on a campaign of harassment, ordering the other boxers in the company to service Pruitt with frequent punishment and extra work detail to change his mind. In the meantime, Warden falls for Holmes's wife Karen played by Deborah Kerr, and risks his career in an adulterous relationship that soon develops into a serious love affair.

Frank Sinatra turns in a great performance as "Maggio," a fellow soldier who becomes Private Pruitt's best friend during the ordeal. Other marvelous features are the supporting cast providing terrific characters around the main actors, and the production's location at the historic Schofield Barracks on Oahu. It's easy to see why this was Best Picture in 1953.

JCY 500 on July 21, 2014
A film for all time

One of my all-time favorite films. Superb performances by Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, and Montgomery Clift in a gripping tale set in an army base on Hawaii in the period leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Frank Sinatra was born to play the part of Angelo Maggio in what is, along with Manchurian Candidate, his best work.

The most impressive acting is from Clift. The extended scene with Donna Reed, as she unsuccessfully pleads with him to not attempt to rejoin his unit, is simply breathtaking. What he does with his eyes and simple gestures so richly reveals his inner torment.

[May 27, 2018] The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Notable quotes:
"... Apparently misunderstood by some critics on its release, it is a powerful and intrinsically human anti-war film. It is not a happy film, but it is totally absorbing and thought provoking. ..."
May 27, 2018 | www.imdb.com

Throughly enjoyable. barberoux 28 March 2003

"The Sand Pebbles" was a throughly enjoyable movie. The setting was exotic and the story engaging. Though it starred Steve McQueen, who did an excellent job, its strength was the ensemble acting with a very talented cast including Richard Crenna, Richard Attenborough, Mako and Candice Bergen. The story was nicely involved and, though it portrayed the sailor's prejudices, did not feel condescending toward the Chinese as many war-type movies do. The men were caught up in the turbulent times and many of the conflicts portrayed seem to come more from troubled psyches. It is not Ramboish macho crap. I found the portrayals of the people and times entertaining. I had read the book so maybe I read more into the movie than others seeing it cold. It was a very good movie and well worth a watch.

The Sand Pebbles - a powerful and human anti-war film fernies 11 October 2000 `

The Sand Pebbles' has been one of my favourite films since I first saw it on television in 1976. The widescreen version does justice not just to the sweeping panoramas of the quite breathtaking Chinese scenery, but also to the sweeping events and themes of the story. It is in every way a `big' film, dealing with political and military intervention (clear parallels with Vietnam at the time of release), nationalism, racism, and the horrors of war. Yet for all its heavy themes, it is most successful in the depiction of its very human characters. These characters are not just the means of conveying the `messages' of the film, or fodder for the gripping and well-staged action scenes. They are individuals in their own right, involved in something far greater than their own destinies. Some are unpleasant and ignorant while others are honourable but lost in the sea of historic events surrounding them. Some, like Jake Holman (Steve McQueen), demand sympathy and respect as they struggle to come to terms with their personal challenges brought to the fore by these historically significant and politically dangerous events.

Inevitably there are slow and confusing passages as the political implications are expounded, but these are more than compensated for by our emotional engagement as we become involved in the stories of the people caught up in the political fall-out. Robert Wise's direction is strong and emotionally charged, complemented perfectly by Jerry Goldsmith's wonderfully haunting and ominous music. Steve McQueen gives what was probably the performance of his career (receiving his only Academy Award nomination), and he is supported by a wonderful cast including Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen (aged just 19), and especially Mako. But it is really McQueen's film. His very presence lifts scenes and he manages to convey authenticity and gain the sympathy of the viewer with consummate ease. Apparently misunderstood by some critics on its release, it is a powerful and intrinsically human anti-war film. It is not a happy film, but it is totally absorbing and thought provoking.

[May 27, 2018] From Here to Eternity The Complete Uncensored Edition (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)

May 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com

0 out of 5 stars with a tip of the hat to predecessors like "Golden Boy" and and Kipling's military tales By Jeffrey A. Beard on December 20, 2016 Ahead of it's time--feels contemporary in it portrayal of the morals and mores of peacetime barracks life, with a tip of the hat to predecessors like "Golden Boy" and and Kipling's military tales; still poignant and pointed after all these years. 3 1/2 stars


By Gerard J. St. John on June 15, 2015

I'll Bet That's Prewitt!

From Here to Eternity has long been one of my favorite movies. I cannot resist watching its reruns on television. Recently, I decided to read book, the 802-page hardcover volume.

Everyone knows that a book is always better than the movie, and that was the case here – but not by much. The casting for the movie was superb. You cannot read about Pvt. Prewitt in the book without seeing in your mind's eye Montgomery Clift; Sgt. Warden, without seeing Burt Lancaster; or Maggio, without seeing Frank Sinatra. The book reminds me of a string of short stories, mainly focusing on Prewitt and Warden during their assignment at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Prewitt is an outstanding welterweight (147 lbs) prizefighter who refuses to fight for the company's boxing team. Also, he is a gifted bugler who was once assigned to duty at Arlington National Cemetery. Prewitt's company commander, who is also in charge of the boxing team, orders the NCOs to give Prewitt "the treatment", i.e., all of the tough, dirty jobs, until he agrees to join the boxing team. Warden, the company's first sergeant, sympathizes with Prewitt but has no authority to override the orders of the company commander.

Most of the stories in the book were covered in the movie, with the exception of the one involving a group of homosexuals in the Honolulu area, and one involves a suicide by a member of the company boxing team. A few details of some of the other stories were revised slightly in the movie, but not to any significant level.

The author's writing style is interesting in many respects. For example, there is extensive discussion about psychology, philosophy, religion, and morality with respect to the persons and events that are the subject of the book. These comments give added meaning to the events in the book – and also account for its substantial length. On the other hand, such intellectual discussion is totally out of character coming from persons who had minimal education, and virtually no contact with liberal arts. The author seems to be cognizant of this disconnect when he mentions that a particular character or characters "read a lot of books." There is even one character that mysteriously shows up as a prisoner in the stockade, apparently for the purpose of abetting this type of discussion. He disappears from the book by walking out of the stockade in a successful escape. His purpose in the narrative appears to have been completed when he painted the philosophical setting of life in the stockade.

The author frequently uses poor grammar and spelling in an apparent effort to present a realistic speech pattern of the day-to-day language of the minimally educated soldiers. In addition to being inconsistent with the high level discussions of psychology and philosophy, it is a technique that doesn't work well.

All told, it is an excellent book that captures the atmosphere of an overseas military post. You feel like you were there.

By Peter Monks on July 21, 2012
Unmatched description of peacetime soldiers

"From Here to Eternity" is, together with Sword of Honour (Penguin Modern Classics) , one of the greatest books ever written about peacetime soldiering or soldiers not actually engaged in combat. While Waugh captures the absurdity, tedium and frustration inherent in being a junior officer marooned in military backwaters, in "From Here to Eternity" Jones is almost unmatched in describing in-barracks military life from a soldiers point of view. My only reservations are the author's occasionally excessive digressions to allow Malloy in particular to expound on what are the authors thinly-veiled views on politics and class, and that Jones shares with Mailer's The Naked and the Dead an inability to create an officer that is anything other than a caricature (Jones does a - slightly - better job in The Thin Red Line . While as individuals Jones' officers are one-dimensional, their collective introspection and emphasis on sports and the relatively trivial or routine at the expense of preparing seriously for war is accurate enough. The real strength of "From Here to Eternity" is Jones' ability to vividly illustrate the life of a soldier in peacetime, complete with the indignity, absurdity and coarseness that is often inherent in military life when not sustained by an immediate objective or sense of purpose. If there is a book that does a better job of portraying garrison life I am yet to find it.

By Garrett Zecker on December 1, 2016
The Greatest Generation" on the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor

I read this book as a part of wanting to accomplish The Modern Library's 100 Best Novels. It is also a preface to watching the film which is on the list of 1001 Films To See Before You Die (visit beforewediefilms-dot-com for the blog I write with my wife). It was opportunistic to finish this book this week as we are marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

From Here To Eternity is the first novel James Jones wrote, and he had set out to complete a novel that captured the essence of his life and those of his fellow soldiers in the peacetime army. It examines several characters who wander about trying to make sense of life, relationships, money, art, hobbies, work, brotherhood, and the pecking order while living the regimented military life. While the narrative mainly focuses on a young recruit named Prewitt, it also weaves through other stories of people who surround Prew in a somewhat inconsistent manner. The book is funny, touching, bold, and in many ways an extraordinary view into the pre-WWII lives of "the greatest generation."

I read this book over several months and had to put it down a few times. I am an avid reader and read voraciously, but the first half of the book was so dry that it seemed to be almost a catalogue of non-things happening. It wasn't until the halfway mark that the strings dangling off of the characters interactions began getting tied up in actual events, and it was at this point that my fascination with the characters and Jones' incredible building of so many characters as actual three-dimensional people began to take shape. It turns out that for the entirety of the time that I was bored, Jones expertly characterized hundreds of people for their true calling and individual moments of truth. When they were put into situations where they had to face a bad marriage, adultery, a broken heart, loss, death, being out of control of things, regimented systems, interpersonal conflict, and a hundred other challenges, it became immediately clear that Jones was putting the meat on the bones of these incredibly strong and true people to face what life was about to throw at them. The result was incredible for me, and while at times I was wishing the book wasn't so needlessly long, by the end I was wishing there was more.

Jones' prose is very interesting in the novel, as it switches between the pedestrian and (albeit, realistically) vulgar to some paragraphs that were truly memorable. The simple playing of TAPS by Prewitt danced the narrative camera from person to person and created this gorgeous symphony of experience that was a beautiful four or five pages if I remember correctly. Another was a night where one soldier was sleeping with another man's wife, but the horror of the betrayal is stripped away with Jones' writing to reveal the beauty of truly feeling free, and contented, and in love.

I read Open Road's "Restored" edition, which I only understand to include a lot more that the author wanted to include in the original but was asked to remove (some sexual language and vulgarity), and some portions that were almost completely censored because of obscenity laws (including entire chunks focused on homosexuality in the army and civilian life). I have never read the original, but what I read here felt true and real, and I am happy to have experienced Jones' preferred text my first time through.

A truly excellent book, well deserving of the National Book Award.

By Steve on March 11, 2015
So Very Good

I feel like an idiot. I'm 65 years and just discovered James Jones. This book is excellent in so many ways. I hated for it to end but instead of wallowing in self pity, I immediately read the other two in the trilogy, "The Thin Red Line" and "Whistle" and then his WWII. I will give each of those five stars as well. These plus "The Naked and the Dead" by Norman Mailer are simply fantastic.

I read "From Here to Eternity" in the Kindle edition but purchased all three as used hardcover editions. These are books you will want to keep as real paper books.

By Amazon Customer on July 1, 2013
Probably My Favorite Novel Ever

I doubt very much whether I have anything new or important to say about From Here to Eternity. It's a great book, but its greatness was well known long before I was born, let alone before I got around to reading it. Anyway, here goes...
As an author James Jones is brutally honest. He's also what every tortured high school English student probably begged God for at one point in their life: an author who does not use symbolism (or anyway, he claimed as much in an interview with some Paris based book reviewer back in the 50's). There are several advantages to this, technique, at least when the author put as much care into it as Jones did here. I feel he provides a vast insight into the human psyche in a host of situations. The shifting narrator helps there as well. Jones also does a wonderful job transporting the reader to wherever his characters are whether its a military base, a field exercise, or the stockade. Of course the downside to all the vast amount of introspection and exhaustive detail is that it makes for a looonng book, and there are even a few points where it drags for me. Moreover, since Jones pulls no punches it can be a dark book in places (in particular I had hard time with the portrayal of one character in a protracted drunken stupor because I've seen someone do the same thing in real life, and its extremely unpleasant), and there were other spots where it dragged for me. Finally, there are a couple of portrayals I'm not sure I agree with. The sequence of thoughts portrayed in the suicide scene is (I'm positive) impossible since it was a suicide by gunshot and the bullet would move faster than any sensation or thought it could have caused. Also, I have to question the idea that all senior officers of the era were worthless (its not that Jones ever implies that the officers he writes of represent the whole army, but clearly every senior officer he describes is a disgrace to his uniform, in fact the only decent officer he portrays at all is an ROTC replacement Lieutenant). On the other hand if the book wasn't intelligently (and sympathetically) written with very deep characters, I would not have even been able to tell whether Jones was portraying good or bad officers, so this is still a relatively minor criticism. In any case, if you want a detailed, unbridled, unvarnished look at the life of enlisted men in the US on the eve of WWII, I don't see how you could do much better than this novel. For me personally, I'm very glad to have had such a peak at the time and place. My Grandfather was about 4 years younger than Jones and also spent time on Oahu during WWII. He was an MP around 1943 (at which point Jones would have been somewhere on Guadalcanal or New Georgia). My Grandfather also died when I was just 6 years old, which was, of course, before I ever got to ask him what his time in the army was like (or could have begun to comprehend even if I had asked). So to me this book transcended literature alone, it put me in touch with a little piece of my own family that I never thought I'd get to know. For that I owe Jones a huge debt of gratitude. He showed me a part of my own family's past I never thought I'd get to see. Of course for most people, it won't hold that kind of meaning, it will just be a novel. But even then its a very good one, though also a long one. I highly recommend the whole trilogy" From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line, and Whistle. Of the three, I think From Here to Eternity is the best. The Thin Red Line is great as well, probably the best way anyone will ever come to understand combat without either being there themselves and suffering PTSD as both Jones and the characters he portrayed did or at least becoming a psychologist and tending to soldiers suffering from PTSD, and Whistle is also a very strong work, although possibly the toughest read of all because it is so tragic. From Here to Eternity was the last project of a literary agent who had previously worked with Faulkner and Hemingway. Since it was Jones's debut, it may also have been his greatest work. I've never read anyone else like James Jones, and there may not be anyone else like James Jones.

By J. BUCKWALTER on January 12, 2015
which I also recommend.

A must read for anyone interested in a novel with epic scope, issues of power/leadership/control, the "breaking" of men, war, and struggles for freedom and dignity. I was also surprised at how well he writes women! It's not often I have very fond and vivid memories of reading a book, but this was one long, languid dream. Will definitely be rereading. Psychologically, it reminded me very much of the black & white Sean Connery prison film "The Hill", which I also recommend.

By russell bentley on February 12, 2016
A Must read for a New Generation

This favorite book of my youth was bought as a present for a young relative. I think it is an important piece of literature that everyone should read and I am quite happy to pass it on to another generation. Its development of characters and portrayal of human nature is the equal of Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath".

By Terence M. Kelley on May 3, 2009
All for Naught

From Here to Eternity is James Jones' masterfully envisioned tale of soldiers and their lovers on the eve of 1941's Pearl Harbor invasion. The rest of the world is already at war, and the neutral United States has begun a peacetime draft as the prospect of war seems inevitable. Despite this impending calamity, the soldiers of Schofield Barracks go on about their daily lives as if nothing had or ever will change: they spend their days routinely and begrudgingly performing their military duties and their nights drinking and whoring, while rarely examining their existences for any greater meaning.

At the center is Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt who has just requested a transfer out of the Regimental Bugle Corps, where he had a soft existence, and into an infantry company, where he will perform "straight duty," soldiering as any other man of the ranks. He immediately incurs the wrath of his commanding officer, Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes, when he refuses to join the company boxing team, preferring to think of himself as retired from boxing after blinding another man in a sparring match. Holmes needs Prewitt to box if he wants to field a championship team, and his superior, Lieutenant Colonel Jake Delbert soon makes clear that such a victory would likely earn him a long sought promotion. The conflict thus established, the characters hurtle unwittingly towards America's humiliation at Pearl Harbor and their own mortal humiliations.

Even Prewitt in his self-righteous suffering is guilty of pride--there are no innocents in this book as in life. Jones draws the Army as a microcosm of society: men and women at odds with their surroundings as they search for meaning. Ultimately, all the characters efforts are in vain; even as they struggle mightily against one another, the reader knows that on December 7th their lives will all be smashed as trivial and meaningless by a calamity far greater than any of them.

By Phil Aaronson on March 18, 2013
Great Writing

I read once that Hemingway said that James Jones was the best writer of his generation. I don't know if this is true, but for years I have had this book on my "list" to read. I have finally gotten around to it and am thoroughly enjoying it. I've read a lot of war stories over the years but this is much more than a war story. Jones' insights into human nature are penetrating and revealing, and his writing has retained its power and freshness over the years.

By David Pancost on March 5, 2017
Recommended with conditions

If you love the movie and are interested in war narratives, as I am, this novel is a must read. But by itself it's overlong and tedious. The movie has a strong, driven narrative. The novel is a big baggy monster, with long tedious discussions of semi philosophical nonsense. Think Moby Dick without substance. Some things I found especially interesting. Hints of Catch 22. There's an Indian chief, a crazy officer or three, and and heaps of Heller irony but without the laughter. Anger. Everyone is angry with themselves, with the army, with sex, with their lovers, with poverty and with depression America. Sex. There's a strong gay theme. This is true of The Thin Red Line, too, but here it's more cynical. Army life. If you've ever been in uniform, this will strike you as genuine, much more so than The Naked and the Dead or any other novel which comes to mind. To be sure, there's a good deal of exaggeration, but mood and details ring true.

[May 27, 2018] Guard of Honor (Modern Library) James Gould Cozzens 9780679603054 Amazon.com Books

May 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com

stars


July 16, 2000 Format: Hardcover | Verified Purchase

A viable candidate for the "Great American Novel"

If a contemporary reader is looking for one novel that captures with unerring precision the nature of the military and society in World War II, look no further than "Guard of Honor." The setting is authentic, and the characters are drawn with abundant sympathy and an utter lack of remorse. The issues, the personalities, the key incident -- all reflect Cozzens' skill deep insight into human nature and the nature of military bureaucracies, the latter resulting from his service on the Air Corps staff during the war. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.

Five Stars

One of the best novels about WWII that I've read. Impressive in its knowledge of how organizations actually function.

Ursiform on April 15, 2001
WWII from another angle

Unlike many war books, which focus on either the glory or horror of battle, or both, Cozzens looks at troubles on the home front during World War II. His setting is a Florida airbase, and the action centers around the arrival of black pilots who are being trained as part of an experiment in integrating the cockpit. A few whites support the effort, a few more oppose it, but most characters are more concerned with their own self interest than with larger moral issues. The common desire to win the war doesn't eliminate social problems at home, nor does it trump human pettiness. Cozzens weaves together several interlocking stories, and while the final fabric lacks the exquisite integration that a truly great writer might achieve, it all manages to hold together in the end. Likewise his prose, while occasionally capable of taking flight, is generally adequate but workmanlike. This book is well worth reading, but go into it expecting a very good novel, not a towering classic of WWII literature.

Gene Cisco on January 17, 2009
Base Affairs

This is surely a masterful novel, though I would caution against depicting this as strictly a World War II epic. Anyone who thinks this has only nostalgic value is mistaken. It is classic in every way.

Gripping and mesmerizing at once, with moments of astounding resonance for today. "20/20" covered (01/09)last night the salaries of employees high and low, the way they are valued, with the result being according to their "usefulness." In this war yarn, various ranked individuals maneuver to avoid blame and scandal, etc. and it plays out according to their usefulness to command figures; in other words war or peace, it remains the same.

Whenever the plot movement lags and minor things intrude, Cozzens' palette of description never fails to amaze. Reading this work, I now realize where "Sgt. Bilko," "Hogans Heroes," and "MASH," derived their inspiration from.

The human comedy known as "life" survives within "Guard Of Honor's" pages in sweeping form. Makes no difference whether on base or in a large corporation, the class mentality survives. Which leaves us with the question to success, whether it will be determined by genetics or usefulness. Base life is much like a city within a city and Cozzens' succeeds in his entertaining military back drop to the human struggle. Cozzens makes it clear that the bullets and shells we avoid are not on the battlefield alone, no?

A customer on March 19, 1999
Fighting a war without bullets

Guard of Honor is a book about fighting a war in which not a single bullet is fired in anger. Readers looking for blood and glory will find it here only in the refracted light of the home front. But, this book IS about blood and glory; as well as boredom, loneliness, stupidity, comradeship, insanity, bureaucracy, death and many other things associated with the armed forces.

Cozzens decision to place his novel in Florida during World War II actually allows him to analyze the military culture in the minutest detail without the adrenaline distraction that actual combat would produce. It's a risky choice, but it works brilliantly.

The story contains a bewildering number of characters but is centered around two generous and kind men: Colonel Ross and Captain Hicks. Ross represents the command structure trying to hold an unwieldy organization together through the insanity of war. Hicks is the common man thrown into the same situation. How their lives play out is the heart of the book.

If you want explosions and gore, this book is not for you. If you want to know how the military lives, thinks and breathes read this book and cherish its portrait of a world very different from civilian life.

[May 15, 2018] Military Bureaucracy

Notable quotes:
"... The Fourth Star ..."
"... The Fourth Star ..."
"... Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife ..."
"... Dereliction of Duty ..."
May 15, 2018 | www.outsidethebeltway.com

Military Bureaucracy

James Joyner · Monday, October 26, 2009 · No comments

Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star , a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject.

fourth-star-generals NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ ):

"The Fourth Star" paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at its heart it's a story about bureaucracy. As an institution, the United States Army has much more in common with, say, a giant corporation like General Motors than with a professional sports team like the New York Giants. You can't cut players who don't perform, and it's hard to fire your head coach. Like General Motors, the Army changes very slowly, and once it does, it's hard to turn it around again.

Actually, it's arguably easier to "cut" bad soldiers than bad football players nowadays, since the latter often have huge signing bonuses and hold teams hostage in a salary cap era. But, otherwise, Filkins is right. While the military is relatively efficient, it's not only a bureaucracy but the very thing bureaucracy was modeled after. Which makes it amusing when conservatives simultaneously rant about the inefficiency of bureaucracy while extolling the virtues of military efficiency. (The military, along with their brethren in the intelligence community and foreign service, does tend to be more motivated and obedient to orders from above than your average bureaucracy.)

New Kings of War blogger " Captain Hyphen ."

One of the most trenchant discussions of these wrong "lessons learned" post-Vietnam is General David Petraeus' PhD dissertation , which the review of The Fourth Star mentions tangentially. While Petraeus might have "irritated many of his fellow officers on his way up," he also identified an important bureaucratic reality, noting it in his dissertation: any serving officer who writes a PhD dissertation critical of the US Army as an institution and publishes it as a book will not rise to the ranks of the general officer corps. Petraeus, of course, heeded his own advice, as his dissertation remained safely tucked away in the Princeton library (until the age of scanning and posting to the Internet; h/t to Paula Broadwell for sharing the link). He was able to continue his upward trajectory, unlike such recent soldier-scholars as Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John Nagl , whose Oxford DPhil became Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife , arguably a self-inflicted career wound as an Army officer because of its coherent, incisive critique of the Army's failures as a learning organization.

Brigadier General H.R. McMaster , however, is the exception that proves the rule, because it was only the patronage of General Petraeus that made him a general officer after twice being passed over for promotion from colonel to brigadier general. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty was the oft-cited, seldom-read mantra of senior officers in the last decade and appeared to be part of the hold-up for his advancement. Further compounding the delay, his successful counterinsurgency campaign as the commander of an armored cavalry regiment in Tall Afar made his conventionally-minded brigade commander peers look bad (or at least that's one interpretation of how it was viewed within the Army).

How a bureaucracy without lateral entry promotes and selects its leaders is a vital issue with implications measured in decades, dollars, and lives. I look forward to reading how Cloud and Jaffe capture this dynamic in the US Army today.

One could argue McMaster exemplifies, rather than serving as an exception, to the rule. Generally, being passed over -- let alone twice -- for promotion pretty much indicates that you're done. Certainly as a prospective general officer. Conversely -- and I don't claim to have any inside scoop here -- Nagl certainly seemed to be an officer on a fast track who left the Army voluntarily to 1) so his family could settle down and 2) to take advantage of a flood of opportunities to apply his expertise in the think tank arena. It seemingly proved a wise choice, as he soon wound up as president of CNAS.

[May 15, 2018] Bureaucrats Versus Artists by W. Patrick Lang

Notable quotes:
"... In fact, "Intelligence" is simply another word for "information" and in ages gone by the term was used in that way by authorities like Clausewitz or Jomini. ..."
"... Like any labor of scholarship involving the study of human beings by human beings, the work is nearly always conducted with incomplete and ambiguous information as a basis for the analysis. ..."
May 10, 2018 | www.unz.com

"Were we right or were we wrong?" This was Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet's central question in his 2004 talk to the faculty and students of his alma mater, Georgetown University. What he was talking about, of course, was the critical political issue of whether or not the Intelligence Community (IC) of which he was the titular head "got it right" in telling the American people and their government that Iraq was a clear danger to the United States, as opposed to being a threat to regional states, and if that danger was substantial enough to serve as a justifiable basis for war, invasion and occupation. In Tenet's address there was much of self-protection and an implicit warning that neither he nor the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would accept to be "scapegoated" in a search for the roots of misadventure in Iraq. His words establish a claim to blamelessness for the CIA and the larger Intelligence Community in the decisions leading up to the Iraq campaign and a related claim to have done as well as could fairly have been expected. In other words, he wished to be thought innocent in this matter. Is that reasonable? Is it fair to expect American citizens and officials to believe that the Intelligence Community did its work well in helping the government of the United States to make sound decisions about Iraq? This is an important question, because if they did not, then why were their judgments so flawed in spite of the incredible amounts of taxpayer money lavished on the agencies of the IC? Why should so much money have been lavished on these agencies if they could do no better?

In spite of the importance of this question, impatience with the performance of the intelligence people ought to be somewhat dependent on the outcome of a national debate as to what should be expected of the process labeled "intelligence." Reporters sometimes ask rhetorically if decisions should really be made on the basis of intelligence. At first hearing questions like this seem to be both naďve and nonsensical since it is obvious that information is the stuff that decisions must be founded on. Nevertheless, decipherment of these statements leads to an understanding that those who say things like this think that "intelligence" is a form of thinking both esoteric and obscure, a dark art, separate and distinct from the normal way of knowing things and subject to acceptance or rejection by special rules of perception. In other words, they think that it is something like astrology, to be judged by its own "rules."

In fact, "Intelligence" is simply another word for "information" and in ages gone by the term was used in that way by authorities like Clausewitz or Jomini. There is nothing mystical or mysterious about the process by which information or "intelligence" is collected, collated, analyzed and disseminated. "Intelligence" is scholarship conducted in the service of the state. The great bulk of the information used as data in this scholarship comes out of the huge archival files of the major agencies supplemented by daily "feedings" of; diplomatic chit-chat, aerial and satellite reconnaissance, intercepts of communications and hopefully the products of espionage (clandestine HUMINT). Like any labor of scholarship involving the study of human beings by human beings, the work is nearly always conducted with incomplete and ambiguous information as a basis for the analysis.

This natural phenomenon is aggravated by the desire of the studied group to hide something, usually, that which is under study. When George Tenet said before his Georgetown audience that "We never get things altogether right in the Intelligence business, nor altogether wrong," he was correct but his statement was irrelevant to a discussion of the utility of the intelligence process since the quality of the analytic product depends on many variables, among them; good information and the quality of the minds brought to bear on the imperfect information. It is both trite and a truism that "intelligence is an art and not a science." What this means is that human beings may succeed or they may fail in making judgments based on less than complete data and that the skill, intelligence and experience of those involved is the most important factor in determining the outcome. To say that "Intelligence" is a flawed process is simply meaningless in a discussion of the effectiveness of the state in making decisions. If the "Intelligence Community" as it now exists were abolished, some other group would have to assume the burden of performing the same functions for the benefit of the state. What would they be called? Perhaps it might be, "The Agency for Special Planning?"

The issue of the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing Intelligence Community is a separate but linked question from that of knowing whether or not the elected or appointed officials of the Bush Administration may have intruded themselves inappropriately into the deliberations of the Intelligence Community in a way that led to distortions in the estimates of Iraq's significance that were presented to the president and the Congress. It is widely believed now that this occurred but that is not the subject of this essay.

The question under examination here is simple. Premise: "The Intelligence Community produced poor quality intelligence on Iraq." Therefore, one asks – Are there imbedded structural defects in the present United States Intelligence Community that contributed either directly or indirectly to the production of estimates that were unsound and which failed the nation? And, moreover, are there characteristics in the present intelligence community of the United States which now prevent and will prevent it from "reforming" itself? It is clear that the inability of the Intelligence Community to forecast or estimate Iraq's true condition was a major failure. Why did this happen, and how can the defects in the "community" be repaired? What "limits" are there in the psychology and structure of the government that may prevent "repair" of the system?

ORDER IT NOW

The author's conclusion after a working lifetime of studying the flaws in the system from within the community and from the evidence of continuing contacts with old colleagues and new friends in the intelligence agencies is that there are a multitude of problems in the intelligence forces of the United states and that most of them have grown up over a very long time, are now "built into" the system and are unlikely to be resolved without outside intervention by the Congress of the United States. It is impossible to consider them all but a few of the most important are so intractable as to be worth discussing here:

-Leadership. There is a natural tendency in the general public to believe that the upper levels of the Intelligence Community are filled with learned, avuncular and sensitive people somehow reminiscent of "George Smiley," the wonderful British spy and spymaster whose presence fills the earlier novels of John Le Carre. The character, "Smiley" is wise, sadly pessimistic, a profound student of mankind and devoted to his "people." He has a deeply empathic nature, is widely read, speaks several languages and is so dedicated to his craft and its ethic that he fears nothing and will take any risk either to protect his own "people" or to "launch" operations that, if they fail may destroy him. What a marvelous conception this man is!

There are people like that in the leadership of US Intelligence. There are a few, but there once were many more and they are fewer all the time. In fact, the "system" works in such a way that people like "Smiley" are feared and distrusted by the bureaucratic politicians who really run the intelligence agencies. What are really to be found in the upper echelons of the "community" are either people who early in their government service became specialized in the generalized management of organizations (often after early substantive analytic work) or others who were "staff " of some kind, (budgetary planners, lawyers. liaison staff, etc.) The Directors of the various agencies are naturally attracted to such people because they are focused on the administrative functions of the agencies and the protection of their ultimate superior, the Director. This makes them a kind of "insurance policy " for the directors of the agencies.

The old veterans of the intelligence trade often make a distinction between "real intelligence officers" and "managers." "Real intelligence officers" are those who are known to be qualified and capable of the difficult work of analysis and field collection of information and who are known to have the moral character required to stand up to the pressure that is present in every political administration to make the "reality" presented by the "Intelligence Community" conform to the " reality" envisioned by the policy of the administration in power. The "managers" are essentially courtiers grouped about the throne of whichever baron of the Intelligence Community they may serve. The "managers" functions center on liaison with the other barons, lobbying the Congress for money and "protection" of the boss (the Director of their agency). Such people as the "managers" are easily recognized by the directors of the agencies as very valuable to their career survival in the stylized "dance" conducted around Washington by the various parts of the United States Government but they are not well suited to leading "real intelligence officers" to feats of brilliant analysis or imaginative collection operations because they are always in a "defensive crouch" fearing that the "real intelligence officers" will cause trouble for them or "the boss" through disagreement with the "picture" desired by the administration of the day or in Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations (espionage) gone bad which result in publicity that could be damaging to the "managers'" careers. Incredibly, these are the people who tend to be promoted to "line" command "at the top" in the collection, and analytic functions of the agencies over the heads of the "real intelligence officers."

This pattern of rule by the "managerial" class is now so well established in the intelligence agencies that it is simply expected that senior jobs which control large parts of the agencies in the analytic and HUMINT collection fields will be held by "managers" as opposed to "real intelligence officers." This tendency is so firmly rooted now that the author has often heard very senior "real intelligence officers" described as "just an analyst," or "just an operator" in the context of a selection board picking someone for a high level leadership job in the very field in which the "real intelligence officer" is an authority respected throughout the government.

This tendency is perpetuated and reinforced by a process of "mirror-imaging" in personnel selections in which the ever-growing number of "managers" who are in senior leadership position simply select others like them in the next generation for the top jobs. This results in a leadership cadre in the Intelligence Community which is more and more hostile to the risks demanded as the price of real success in collection and analysis and more and more favorable to the self indulgence of a focus on the "turf battles and budget wars" endemic to Washington and at the same time less and less driven by the desire to do good intelligence work. The personnel management disaster described above is ultimately the responsibility of the directors of the agencies that make up the Intelligence Community. If they wanted to have a different focus in their agencies, there would be a different focus. There have been many fine and devoted heads of the various American intelligence agencies, but all too often the directors themselves are members of the "managerial class" within the Intelligence Community or simply politically selected party functionaries. All too often directors see themselves as "travelers" on a journey to yet further heights within the government and therefore not "decisively committed" to the work of their people. For many directors, the "managerial class" within their agencies is a natural ally in controlling the "wilder impulses" of the "real intelligence officers" in the organization.

ORDER IT NOW

-Risk Aversion. One of the most trite and tedious of the many things said in the national media and in the U.S. Congress about the failures of the Intelligence Community in Iraq and with regard to so many issues is that "HUMINT (espionage in this context) must be improved!" Repetition of this thought has become obligatory in any "serious" discussion of security issues but in fact, no one has done much to improve US espionage capabilities. This would be amusing in its inanity if the underlying phenomenon were not so serious. In fact, the media and the Congress are largely responsible for creating the operating environment in which the wreck of once formidable American espionage capabilities became inevitable. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the public and its representatives convinced themselves that the intelligence services were somehow the enemies of the American people. The FBI COINTELPRO program aimed at Director Hoover's personal list of enemies and the Nixon Administration's meditations (the Houston Plan) on the possibility of effectively combining all U.S. counterintelligence groups into one force contributed to that idea. The Houston Plan was never approved or implemented but the concept itself was enough to "trigger" demand for congressional investigations into the "misdeeds" of U.S. counterintelligence groups.

Rather inevitably the "witch hunt" spread to include U.S. clandestine intelligence. The "Church Committee" in the US Senate resulted. Up until that time it was generally believed in the population of the United States that the intelligence services were filled with honorable people trying to protect the country, but the spirit of that age disagreed and a barrage of "literature" and films spread the idea that career intelligence officers were amoral opportunists animated by a kind of nihilistic sadism. "The Three Days of the Condor," "The Bourne Identity," and similar rubbish which portrayed a universe unfamiliar to anyone who had ever worked in intelligence filled people's heads with the idea that the clandestine services were to be tolerated but only just barely tolerated and that they must be closely watched and restricted. American espionage capabilities began to decline from that time and the process has not yet been reversed.

A mass of regulations were enacted in those and following years which tied the hands of the clandestine services so effectively that they have never recovered. Several categories of people were placed "off limits" as possibilities for recruitment as foreign agents (for example, reporters, professors, employees of American companies) without regard for the fact that these very people have inherent access to people and information often needed to carry out effective intelligence work. The rationale seemed to be that some kinds of people needed to be "protected" from the "dirty" business of espionage. The same kind of "thinking" has caused the clandestine services to rely far too much on "liaison" relationships with foreign intelligence services as a substitute for conducting American run espionage against difficult targets. The reason? Disclosure of foreign operations does not entail the career risk for the "managers" that the failure of an American operation would bring.

The creation of this kind of operating environment served as a powerful "enabling" mechanism for the not so gradual assumption of power in the intelligence agencies by the "managerial class." In an atmosphere dominated by fear of violation of legislated restrictions on behavior and the use of clandestine funds, it was only natural that the directors of the agencies would look to those who had little interest in driving forward the limits of accomplishment and every interest in "limiting the damage" and "preventing surprises" for themselves and "the boss." This has resulted in a degree of control over operations by lawyers and financial officers that is suffocating to the ability of skilled operatives to mount the kind of potentially rewarding but risky operations that would be needed, for example, to penetrate "Al-Qa'ida." Clandestine operations are inherently dangerous. It follows that if they are evaluated by people who "know the cost of everything but the value of nothing," they will inevitably be disapproved before execution if the risks are considerable. Those in Congress who wrote the rules used as excuses to disapprove these operations will then "bleat" pitifully about the need for "better HUMINT" the next time a disaster occurs.

Analysis by Committee. Much the same phenomena exist on the analytic "side" of the intelligence business. Brilliant people from the best schools "sign up" for a career in intelligence work from a sense of patriotism, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to "make a difference" in the world. What typically happens to them after that is that they are "eaten alive" by bureaucracies utterly controlled by the "managerial" mentality. Young analysts are called on to write papers that demand a fresh look, hard work and an undying devotion to the truth. The draft papers they write are not their property and these papers should not be subject to the vanities of "pride of authorship" so common in other works of scholarship, but neither should they be treated with a lack of respect for the views of the analysts and the creativity that the authors bring to the task. Too often, the "editing by committee" system that prevails results in papers that are not only irrelevant to the security needs of the nation but are actually misleading because of their lack of intellectual honesty.

In the "managerial" world, nothing matters so much as "staying in step" with the consensus in the various agencies of the intelligence world as well as making sure that analysis does not deny the political leadership of the country an intellectual "platform" from which they can proclaim their vision of the future. The "mere" belief of the analysts counts for little in the judgment of the "managers" when weighed against the career destroying effect of disapproval or disfavor from on high.

As a result analysis is "ironed out" in a "layer cake" system of committees at ever-higher layers of bureaucracy. These committees are made up of supervisors at the appropriate layer and they "take care" to insure that the interests of the various parties within an agency are protected in the text that goes forward to the next higher layer and that untoward results are avoided. When this process is ended, what is typically produced is a stereotypical example of the "lowest common denominator," not something on which the country should "hang its hat" in making decisions affecting the national fate, and certainly. Such papers are inevitably reflective of the kind of "group think" that grows up in any highly integrated and hierarchical bureaucracy that controls the career long expectations of its inhabitants. In other words, an individual analyst has no chance whatever of having his or her views expressed at the national level unless a large and self-serving group of careerists approve them and find them not to be threatening to their collective view of what serves the group's perceived best interest in terms of its relations with the rest of the intelligence community and the sitting government.

ORDER IT NOW

The rule of the "managerial class" in the intelligence community ensures the permanence of this "system." The ruling group will reproduce itself through "mirror imaging" ad infinitum and will be maintained in position through the perceived self-interest of the kind of people who typically become directors of the major intelligence agencies. This is not to say that there have not been brave, courageous and creative directors of the major intelligence agencies. The author has had the honor of serving under several. It was a pleasure and they know who they are, but the sad truth, known to all who have served for extended periods in intelligence is that most directors are part of the problem. The truth is that intelligence is an art best practiced by gifted eccentrics, people widely and deeply educated, favored by nature and training with intuition beyond the average and who care more for the truth than anything else. Such people consistently will follow their "nose" and their instincts on a trail of information like bloodhounds until they arrive at a truth that matters to the people of the United States. In the espionage field of endeavor, the function of managers is to be "enablers," to make workable the environment in which gifted case officers can break through the manifold barriers that will enable the penetration of groups that threaten the lives of our people. What must be avoided is the selection of managers who instinctively feel that their function is to "hold back" the operators and analysts in order to preserve "peace" within the bureaucracy.

Domination of the Intelligence Function by the Executive Branch: All the intelligence agencies are parts of the Executive Branch. The CIA is a separate organization within the Executive Branch and directly subordinated to the president. The Defense Intelligence Agency is part of the Defense Department as is the National Security Agency. The State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) is obviously part of that department. All these groups are deeply imbedded within these "ministries" of government in a constitutional system which ensures that the authority of the political party that controls the white House will control the intelligence agencies as well. This means that the temptation that will always be presented to politicians to attempt to shape" both information collection and the analysis of that information to their taste is likely to be overwhelming.

In most American administrations, the most senior authorities (generally elected) are wise enough to know that without sound and objective judgments from the intelligence agencies, the information upon which they base decisions is worthless. The reason one creates separate information gathering and analysis systems under the rubric of "intelligence" is that there is an inherent "conflict of interest" in any system that allows policy decision makers to be the same people who judge what the reality is upon which such decisions are based. Decision makers can always choose to decide policy questions based on their own view of the world, but it is intuitively obvious that this is not the best way to insure good decisions. For this reasons the most senior authorities generally restrain their subordinates on the policy side of government and prevent excessive interference with the process of judging information.

The danger is that the wisdom of that attitude is not universally appreciated and in some government past, present or future, policy officials may choose to drive the intelligence people supporting their deliberations towards judgments unsupported by convincing and dependable evidence. If one doubts the seriousness of the possible consequences of such a "cattle drive" one need only consider such historical examples of misadventure as the US strategic obsession with the likelihood of a Japanese first strike on the Philippines in 1941. This led the US Government to focus attention of its analytic force in that direction so firmly that Japanese preparations for an attack in Hawaii were completely missed. Another example would be the obsession with the "inevitability" of victory that influenced intelligence to "miss" completely enemy preparations for the Tet Offensive of 1968 in spite of the mass of information available that indicated something really "big" on the way. In both cases the results of policy or strategic thinking having been allowed to "intrude" on analysis were simply catastrophic. Strong leadership by "real intelligence officers" can help to prevent such disasters. The "dissent" taken by the State Department in the October 2002 NIE on Iraq may well have been an example of the survival of such leadership.

How can this be prevented? This problem exists across the world in every country where serious foreign policy and military issues must be considered and decisions on policy and strategy made on the basis of a systematic consideration of available data. In every country there is the problem of trying to insure that the judgments of the information or intelligence people are untainted by external pressures. There have been various methods and structures adopted to deal with this danger to the national security. In some places external "think tanks" are used to "test" the result of internal analysis. In others countries, reliance is placed on the competitive analysis of two or more intelligence agencies, often one military and the other civilian.

In Israel, within the Directorate of Military Intelligence there exists something called the "Devil's Advocate" a name borrowed from the process of canonization within the Catholic Church in which a cleric is appointed to oppose the sainthood of one who has been presented for consideration for that honor. In the Israeli "Devil's Advocate" section, the officers so employed have the job of opposing the analysis accepted by the government and of preventing the acceptance of institutional "group think" as the basis for decisions. For the senior Israeli officers who serve in the "Devil's Advocate" section it is understood that opposition to the judgments of the rest of the intelligence community will have a career price and that the officers who do this work should look forward to a fruitful life in retirement from the army soon after their service in this job. Nevertheless, they perform a vital; perhaps "priceless" is not too strong a word, service for their country. None of these devices seem altogether suitable for the United States as a "safeguard" against overwhelming pressure to bring their analysis into conformity with policy. The sheer scale of the institutions involved in American life dictate modification of the methods used in smaller governments. Some approach that combines the better features of these institutional "fixes" would probably be appropriate.

Can the "Intelligence Community" change itself to eliminate the problems discussed above?

It cannot.

The United States "Intelligence Community" is a "mature bureaucracy," a group of institutions that have reached a stable equilibrium in their internal politics and in their relationships


Heros , May 10, 2018 at 7:09 am GMT

I guess Lang is talking about what he refers to as the "Borg". His biggest problem is that he is one of them, as this long disinformation article shows.

How can you even pretend there were "intelligence failures" after these guys murdered the Kennedy's and pulled off the 9/11 new Pearl Harbor.

As usual, Lang is just laying a smoke screen for his war criminal Masonic brothers.

jilles dykstra , May 10, 2018 at 7:11 am GMT
Of course Iran is a danger to the USA.
In 1953 there was the CIA coup, that ended democratic Iran, and brought the USA puppet shah in power.
In 1979 Muslim clerics had the audacity to send the puppet away, and put themselves in power.
Since then they, with success, resisted the USA yoke.
Right now Assad is a danger to the USA, he's still alive, and, with help of Russia, and some help of Erdogan, in power.
Both regimes undermine USA prestige in the world.
Randal , May 10, 2018 at 9:12 am GMT
Fascinating stuff, thanks. One of the best articles I've read on Unz, in fact, and that's saying quite a lot because there's been a lot of great stuff here over the past few years.
anonymous [340] Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 10:11 am GMT
Mr. Lang hasn't appreciated my pending questions about his first two columns here at Unz Review, but I have a couple more, one substantive, the other editorial.

1. What does Mr. Lang specifically advocate, if anything?

He urges Congress to revamp a bureaucracy. But he says that when Congress addressed that bureaucracy in the mid-1970s as part of the post-Vietnam "'witch hunt'" it "tied the hands of the clandestine services so effectively that they have never recovered." (He seems to see himself as one of those so bound. But that's not made clear in the context of anything between 1968 (Tet) and the circa 2002 warmongering against Iraq.)

So if a Congressman during a hearing were to ask Mr. Lang how his work had been hampered before he retired, and for his specific recommendations going forward, what would he say?

2. What's "up" with the needless quotation marks?

Sceptical , May 10, 2018 at 10:23 am GMT
This is an interesting critique of the current state of the intelligence community. The author's contention that the system has devolved into a bureaucratic muddle under the thrall of the executive branch seems accurate but:

The disregard for the Church Committee and pining for the days of the gifted operator being free from pesky managerial control seems misplaced. I know most Americans have a limited sense of history and memory but, for example, look at the blowback from the Mossadegh coup, the bad intelligence we received from Gehlen about the Soviets, MK ULTRA, Robert Parry's revelation that members of the intelligence community interfered with Carter's attempt to negotiate the release of the hostages held by the mullahs. There are many more such examples. I am not so sure that the "good ol days" were that great. Also, is it even true that the Executive branch is in control(does the tail wag the dog)?

divadab , May 10, 2018 at 10:58 am GMT
Interesting analysis – apparently reflecting imperial institutions bureaucratized to the point of calcification, like an alzheimers brain. I wonder if by extension the senior ranks of the military in general have become inhabited by risk-averse careerists? Can this explain at least partly its lack of success in warmaking since Vietnam?
xxxyyyzzzttt , May 10, 2018 at 12:03 pm GMT
Lang is what we draft soldiers use to call "Lifers"; people who define their life by their love of guns and bombs etc. Reading him daily over the years brings to mind Kissinger's denigration of military men's intelligence or Hitler's comment that Generals don't understand economics. Not intelligence in the sense of IQ ( I have learned a lot from him; smarter than me no doubt). Rather intelligence in the sense of not being able to see reality through the lens of their love of shoot 'em up bang bang.
For example, he really would have us believe that there is something wrong with "Intelligence". They make mistakes. Not the reality that they provide the rational for the wars he is so proud to have been a part of. He is proud of his killing deeds in Vietnam, which was largely the result of what: failed intelligence in the Gulf of Tonkin? He is proud of the role he played in the killing Kaddafi's baby daughter. Was this the result of failed intelligence about terrorism? Come on Pat your are like the Robert Duval character in Apocalypse Now who "loved the smell of Napalm in the morning." Intelligence has not failed the likes of you. It provides the rational for you to do what is you live to do – killing. You spent your adult life killing or being responsible for killing people whose only crime was to be sitting on oil.
When you were doing your killing in Vietnaum, draftees like me were saying "hell no I won't go". There was a saying at the time: "What if someone gave a war and no one showed up". If people like you would stop showing up we would not have troops stationed in 125 countries in the world today. Guys like you show up because you love the shit and you could care less about the accuracy of Intelligence. Intelligence is the opium of the people. It gives them a reason to pay people like you to act out your childhood fantasies about war.
Repectually!
art guerrilla , May 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm GMT
@Heros

@ heros-
thank you, saved me a bunch of snarking at the author
.
as for the article itself, I rarely don't finish articles and comment on them, but the sophistry is so wide and deep, it was impossible to finish
.
the author -as does the korporate/lapdog media- makes a number of presumptions which are not supported by current reality (which is -in fact- the reason for their role as gatekeepers) firstly, AS IF we had a system which makes decisions based on facts, the greatest good for the greatest number, and -you know- reality
we do not
.
what we have imposed upon us, is a PURPOSEFULLY corrupted and broken system which is used by the 1% to enforce their will all the 'fact finding', 'research', etc, etc, etc, is so much window dressing and bullshit to justify doing what they want to do and has NOTHING to do with what eggheads, pontificators, pundits, academics, etc have researched, experimented on, or theorized
.
repeat: it is ALL bullshit to make the insane decisions FOR the 1% seem like the only choice we have

Kemerd , May 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm GMT
Oh Americans! One thing about brits that I like is tbat they never hesitated talking about their empire or imperial interests. But all americans seem to have have blinkers (set by their imperial hubris or genuine belief that their country stands for the good) even supposedly intellectuals cannot escape it. Taleb calls them intellectual yet idiot, l suppose Lang is one of them.
Anonymous [196] Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm GMT
The intelligence community, while apparently giving useful tactical-level information sometimes , is now, from what I seen, just a propaganda tool. Look at the Skripal farce. The IC of the "five eyes" confirmed Russia was behind trying to kill the Skripals by smearing his door handle with nerve agent (so ludicrous it's like something out of A Fish Called Wanda ). Or Russian collusion and the Steele dossier and golden showers. Or Clapper as head of the NGA in 2003 claiming they had satellite photographic proof Saddam was moving WMD's. Or Assad's "chemical attacks on his own people". What's worse is that the IC hucksters (not IC, per se, just those pitching the wares) no longer even bother putting on an elaborate dog and pony show, show & tell, and holding vials of inert anthrax at the U.N. Pretty soon we won't even need the IC middleman, though I'm sure the six-figure contractors, who now make up the bulk of the IC, will still be collecting the big bucks for "protecting America".

What is truth?," asked an exasperated Pontus Pilate after being badgered by a certain (((group))) to take action and put a certain innocent God-man to death. Somethings never change.

utu , May 10, 2018 at 2:25 pm GMT
Totally false article.

Mr. Lang created a false dichotomy which basically is reduced to No True Scotsman fallacy written from the position of the true Scotsman. There are no true Scotsmen.

Things are much simpler. It all comes down to integrity which is a question of morality. Mr. George Slam Dunk Tenet produced what he was asked to produce. There was a war to be had and he had to do his job and show that he was a team player and he did it. This was not an issue of bad intelligence or that somebody made a mistake. If anybody had integrity there in CIA he would refuse and be ready to resign. I haven't heard of anybody resigning or being fired prior to war in 2003. The additional dimension was a fear of physical threat. Mr. George Slam Dunk Tenet had attacks of anxiety fearing that he or his family would be hit while driving around Washington DC on business or with his family. Was it because there was something wrong with Mr. Tenet psychologically or was the idea planted in his mind by somebody who had enough credibility to make Mr. Tenet believe it? If the latter it shows that in Washington DC thing are done not differently than in some third wold capitol.

G Standfast , Website May 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm GMT
From the TV adaptation of Smiley's People, spoken by George Smiley as portrayed by Alec Guinness (49:30):

In my time, Peter Guillam, I've seen Whitehall shirts go up and come down again. I've listened to all the excellent arguments for doing nothing and reaped the consequent frightful harvest. I've watched people hop up and down and call it progress. I've seen good men go to the wall and the idiots get promoted with dazzling regularity. All I'm left with is me. And the thirty odds years of Cold War without the option.

English Outsider , May 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm GMT
@Heros

Oh, SUCH nonsense. What hope is there of a sensible attempt to alter the disastrous course Western foreign policy is taking if anyone can read a stunning piece of analysis like that and come up with such a reply?

Anon [198] Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 3:18 pm GMT
@English Outsider

The author has a valid point regarding "groupthink" in the intelligence services but his descriptions of the alternatives don't seem to hold much water. It's not like even it its glory days American HUMINT was anywhere near up to, say, Soviet standards.

LeaNder , May 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm GMT
@art guerrilla

as for the article itself, I rarely don't finish articles and comment on them, but the sophistry is so wide and deep, it was impossible to finish

But nevertheless you feel entitled to judge an author whose article you haven't even read? At what point did you decide it was sophistry pure and simple?

WorkingClass , May 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm GMT
Blah blah blah. Then more blah blah. Why would anyo0ne read this shit. The CIA is an abomination. It should be destroyed. Glad I could help.
Linda Green , May 10, 2018 at 3:58 pm GMT
The purpose of the Iraq war was to reunite Iran and Iraq as a bulwark against Israel. The goal was achieved. The resurgent Iran we are seeing today is the fruit of the Iraq war.

Watch what is happening rather than what the talking heads are saying. And keep your friends close and enemies closer.

If you listen closely you can hear the knashing of teeth in Israel that big brother stopped re-arranging the chess pieces in the M.E. after he installed a Iran allied shia (Nouri Al-Maliki) as leader of Iraq.

Mission Accomplished!

utu , May 10, 2018 at 4:19 pm GMT
@Heros

His biggest problem is that he is one of them, as this long disinformation article shows.

Exactly!

hyperbola , May 10, 2018 at 4:33 pm GMT
The elephant in the outhouse is again kept hidden by Lang. This alone is enough to disqualify anything he says.

Israeli Spies in the US

https://www.merip.org/mer/mer138/israeli-spies-us

. Intelligence Pact
It seems that, as Blitzer contends, Washington and Tel Aviv made a deliberate effort in the mid-1950s to put an end to these covert operations against one another. Most observers assign responsibility for this to top CIA official James Angleton .. Sharing information on Arab countries may have been one example of this. Another may have been assistance in getting nuclear weapons for Israel. According to Seymour Hersh, "sources close to" Angleton told former New York Times reporter Tad Szulc that the CIA helped the Israelis obtain technical nuclear information in the late 1950s. "This fits in with something I had been told by a high-level CIA official," Seymour Hersh added in 1978, "that Angleton, then in charge of CIA liaison with Israeli intelligence, gave the Israelis similar technical information in the mid-1960s." [19] During this period, enriched uranium was vanishing from an American atomic energy company with close ties to the Israeli government. [20] ..
A similar pattern of cooperation between US and Israeli intelligence agencies exists in the area of military procurement. "Israelis were caught in the Pentagon with unauthorized documents," one US official told former Congressman Paul Findley, "sometimes scooping up the contents of 'inboxes' on desk tops." This official recalled that a number of Israelis were very quietly asked to leave the US as a result of such activities; no formal charges were ever filed against them. Several US officials told Findley that the Israelis would submit orders for military items they were not supposed to have or even to know about -- using top-secret code numbers and sometimes precise specifications. Presumably they obtained the information from friendly executive branch contacts, but no official efforts were undertaken to discover the sources of the leaks. [22] ..

art guerrilla , May 10, 2018 at 4:35 pm GMT
@LeaNder

@leander
.
1. it appears you are guilty of the 'sin' you accuse me of: my post SAID why I thought it was sophistry (as well as in agreement with heros analysis) in short, because IT DENIES OBVIOUS REALITY
the author prattles on AS IF 'intelligence'/information that is gleaned by spooks or WHOEVER, actually matters in what decisions our 1% superiors make on our 99% behalf (but NOT for our 99% benefit)
.
2. don't be such an authoritarian tool: FORGET about what the 1% SAY is what guides their decisions, etc, LOOK AT WHO BENEFITS, you scared, shorn, sheeple again, in short, as they EXPLICITLY STATED in the bulldozing run up to the eye-rack-eee war part 1, they 'fixed the intelligence' around the ALREADY MADE DECISION TO ATTACK for the greedy reasons of Empire, NOT because sad damn who's sane was our hitler-of-the-month ™
*snort*
it is difficult to take such propaganda victims as yourself seriously; you are stuck on the superficial layer of what Empire presents as 'reality', and don't see (or even GUESS) that there is a man behind the curtain pulling the levers to bedazzle you
.
bread and circuses, kampers, bread and circuses
hee hee hee
ho ho ho
ha ha ha
ak ak ak

hyperbola , May 10, 2018 at 4:43 pm GMT
@English Outsider

Pity the English. They have been slaves of a racist-supremacist, foreign sect ever since Cromwell let the sect back in the country. Time for Americans to again free themselves from the "city of london" sect.

The goy and the golem: James Angleton and the rise of Israel

http://mondoweiss.net/2017/11/golem-angleton-israel/

.. "Angleton was was a leading architect of America's strategic relationship with Israel that endures and dominates the region to this day," Jefferson Morley writes in The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton. More than any other man, the longtime chief of U.S. counterintelligence made possible Israel's shift "from an embattled settler state into a strategic ally of the world's greatest superpower."

Angleton did so chiefly by burying any effort in the U.S. intelligence establishment to question Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1960s. "Angleton's loyalty to Israel betrayed U.S. policy on an epic scale," Morley writes. "Instead of supporting U.S. nuclear security policy, he ignored it." ..

schrub , Website May 10, 2018 at 4:57 pm GMT
My first contact with CIA was while visiting the remote Mojave Airport in California in the early 1980s during a motorcycle trip to Death Valley. While there I noticed numerous Boeing 707 airline sized planes parked off a faraway field in the distance. There must have been at least twenty five or thirty of these airline size planes just sitting in isolation from the rest of the planes at the airport.

At first, I thought the planes were merely being mothballed (stored) there until I saw one of them start to move. Curious, I remember asking one of the workers at the airport about who owned the large planes and was told that no one really knew but it was referred to as the "spook airline" because the planes and their use were shrouded in absolute secrecy. Nobody knew who piloted the planeseither because their pilots arrived at the airport either in smaller executive size planes or in vans that went without stopping directly up to the planes after entering the airport property.

it was only later that I discovered these planes belonged to Air America, the "the CIA airline" and were apparently used to ferry large numbers of mostly mercenary soldiers to areas the CIA was interested in at the time. I also learned that the Mojave Airport was only one of several other similar such bases of Air America operation. A friend described laughingly described Air America as the "Coup Airline" because of the CIA's propensity for the overthrowing of unfriendly governments.

About this same time, I also started reading more and more articles about the fact that our elected representatives, even at the highest levels, didn't actually fully know what the CIA was up to because of the CIA's so-called, ultra secret "black budgets" which allowed it to operate without any sort of control from our elected representatives below the Presidental level who claimed they didn't want to know about these "black" activities out of fear of getting blamed once the activities arising out of them became known.

I also started reading about rumors that parts of the CIA had become essentially self-funding using illicit activities like drug running and arms sales to avoid any sort of even marginal budget control by even the President of the US. The CIA's own airline would, of course, provide the ideal transportation vehicle to facilitate such activities.

Essentially this meant that a significant part of the CIA had been allowed to essentially go rogue without any sort of real supervision whatsoever. Unfortunately, The Mossad, would have been more than happy to step in and provide this oversight using friendly Zionists already embedded within the agency.

There are those who now claim that parts of the CIA are hotbeds of Israeli controlled spying activities operating specifically within its unsupervised "black budgets".

State department leader Dean Acheson warned this would happen in the mid-1940′s when plans started being made to turn the wartime OSS into the CIA. I have always thought his opinion might have been formed by his secret wartime access to the Venona Transcripts which extensively detailed how intelligence agencies in both the US and the UK had become hotbeds of Communist spying activities. (Sort of like the Israelis and the CIA today. )

Read about Acheson's very prescient criticism here

https://carnegieendowment.org/2005/12/20/case-for-abolishing-cia-pub-17846

The CIA cannot be fixed. It is too far gone. It should be abolished.

English Outsider , May 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm GMT
I would earnestly recommend that you go to the Colonel's site, SST, and read, from the beginning long ago, his articles analysing the defects of Western foreign policy and what leads to those defects. You will find there the most powerful and informed thinking on this subject that there is.

I myself don't really belong here because I'm a tooth and nail Deplorable as well as a foreigner. But so what? We both know that what our respective elites are doing is wrong. We both know that there has to be some other way. If we don't seek out balanced and considered analysis then we might as well run off and join those many dissidents for whom dissidence is merely a hobby, or those many others for whom it merely offers occasion for dispute.

Them Guys , May 10, 2018 at 5:28 pm GMT
So, these inner problem's within every major intel agency can be basically summed up in just four word's ..Beware the jews within.

Now back to my soon to be finished one page book that will sum up everything false we were told or taught regarding WWII in all it's many areas .."The Complete Untold Truth about, WWII" .

"Them Germans was Correct!" The End.

Best one page book length expose' one can obtain in the vast search for real fact based Truth, of which international jewry so hate's for one to learn of eh.

bjondo , May 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm GMT
Get rid of the intelligence agencies.
If Jewsa needs info about a region, country, even itself, ask Russia, China. Answers will be intelligent, diplomatic, accurate, and relevant.

Billions saved can go to help, real help not bombs, countries destroyed for Israel and impoverished by Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, ilk.

LeaNder , May 10, 2018 at 5:39 pm GMT
@LeaNder

I asked at what precise part of his piece you smelt sophistry. Maybe I have lost my ability in reading comprehension of your language. Could well be? Apparent from being more generally not too fond of sloganeering.

a number of presumptions which are not supported by current reality

Those would be specifically?

Them Guys , May 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm GMT
@schrub

Just look at how during the reign of Chabad Rabbi Dov Zakiem appointed as Head of Pentagon $$$ controls etc What began as a mention to tv reporters a day prior to 9/11 event's of somehow pentagon cannot account for a Missing $2.3-TRILLION!!! Has as of last date I read any new revelations of that missing cash, morphed into almost $9.5-TRILLION missing!!! And that last amount was like several month's ago.

What a Cohencidence eh? And just think what new and worse swindle scams Israel and it's mossad wonderkins can come up with to do next with so large an amount of Black Budget ready cash available?

Yes Yes I know that several hasbara clown's and tribal member's will say no such stolen cash ever goes to 100% innocent Israel and it's equally innocent jewry aka "The World's Biggest and Only Victim's that ever matter".

But daily now another 10,000 folks in America awaken to fact that research proves beyond all doubt that virtually Every evil and bad and immoral and unethical type issue or event since 3,500 yr's ago has More jewdeo fingerprint's all over it than any other cause period.

And once red pilled and awakened to such real truth's .None are able to return to their former asleep position even if they wished to No amount of jewish hasbara propagandas will ever be able to undo real truth once that cats been let out of the bag so to speak.

Mossad/Israel state moto:.."By Deception(lies!) You Shall Cause War's" .Indeed they do eh.

AriusArmenian , May 10, 2018 at 5:54 pm GMT
The author is right as far as he goes but he ignores the CIA/Wall Street complex that was established by Allen Dulles – that complex is at the very core of the US Deep State.
That complex is held together from the top; notice that only the very connected are put in charge of the CIA and connected means very tied into Wall Street.
The CIA, in spite of their low period in the 1970′s, has been very effective in controlling the US media.
Note how the Brennan secret team created a trap that the democrats walked right into.
And note how they have the FBI taking the fall while the CIA continues to operate in the shadows.
I like the author; he brings some sanity but he is still a creature of US supremacism.
He doesn't like me; he has blocked me from commenting at his site.
But I still hope he speaks out as far as he goes.
Hot Nuns of Castle Anthrax , May 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm GMT
It is helpful to learn the point of view of the knightly orders, which, as in the middle ages, constitute a parasitic class indoctrinated to see nothing but the stylized ethical set pieces proper to their order.

Here are a few things Lang cannot acknowledge without jeopardizing his identity:

Impunity. Doesn't show up in the list of CIA flaws, but it's staring him in the face, right there in black and white: the Central Intelligence Agency Act, the Rogers/Huston get-out-of-jail-free card, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the operational files exemption, the political questions doctrine, and lots of secret law and regulations. Under municipal law (strictly speaking, it doesn't meet minimal legal standards, it's administrative red tape,) CIA can get away with anything. So they are institutionally criminal. This is a sore point, frantically repressed. Even vague recollections of old movies are enough to trigger the traditional posturing of honor-based chivalric cultures.

Operations. Beltway courtiers are constrained to discuss CIA's intelligence function in isolation from its overwhelmingly dominant, and inherently criminal, clandestine operations function. In reality, all analysts are paid to do is complain about NCS crime. Then when their next criminal racket gets caught, NCS trots out some analysts to say, 'We at CIA warned about this.' CIA operations includes gun-running, drug-dealing, human trafficking and pedophile blackmail, murder, torture, coercive interference, and aggression by armed bands and irregulars. Intelligence is not CIA's business.

Rule of law. Lang, in the context of the USG going to war, writes, "If the "Intelligence Community" as it now exists were abolished, some other group would have to assume the burden of performing the same functions." Right. That other group would be the duly constituted authority under US supreme law, the UN Security Council, which the intelligence community devoted most of their efforts to subverting with foreign corrupt practices and fabricated war propaganda. It's not like CIA got stuck with this job, they usurped it.

Heros , May 10, 2018 at 6:20 pm GMT
@English Outsider

Having had my comments deleted and been blocked several times on SST, I can tell anyone who would listen to not listen to your advice and waste hours poring over that myopic blog. Myopic, because anytime someone writes an interesting comment that contradicts any of Lang's masonic beliefs, Lang gets nasty. Even TwistedGenius has had to dance around a snarling Lang because he crossed some secret line.

Sure, Lang was right about a lot of things from 2003-2007. But he was also often wrong and no one ever dared to call him on it.

Once again, I will point out Lang's complete failure to deviate from the narrative on things like all these gun-grabbing "mass shootings". As I recall Lang was even very wishy washy about the second amendment, offering to sell his guns in a government gun grab. So he lies to us about about what his masonic brethren are up to on this front.

But of course the biggest void in his analysis is the JQ. He attends barmitzfa's, purim, and who knows what other kind of cabal rituals. He cannot deal with the JQ because he is borg, and he knows what kind of punishment would await him. And angry jews crying for blood revenge aren't any where near as bad as when the masonic brotherhood turns on you.

RobinG , May 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm GMT
@Sceptical

(does the tail wag the dog)?

Good question. Where does Trump get his ludicrous talking points on Iran and Syria?

smelly oil and gas , May 10, 2018 at 7:01 pm GMT
@Heros

Agree but I think it is much more than a smoke Screen and preparation for war.
The 527 paid slave drivers and their bureaucrats and military (called the USA) has become a permanent false flag operation. The 9/11 advisory explained:
1. slave drivers have been ordered to spy on slaves,
2. slave drivers have been ordered to silence all slave protests and objections,
3. slave drivers have been ordered to study the slaves like rats in cage,
4. slave drivers have been ordered to deprive the slaves until production is sufficient to satisfy the Pharaohs.
5. slave drivers have been ordered to keep the USA dark, slaves are not allowed to know or learn anything
they don't pay for.
6. Slaves are expected to listen to Pharaoh produced, media distributed propaganda at least 12 hours per day.

Americans now live in fear of the Bastards from the Dark Side Kingdom of Lies.

The problem is how to save America from the USA. The USA is milking our cattle, selling our eggs, fencing us in with costly schooling and licenses to be eligible to get work, spying on our thoughts, destroying our earning platforms, price and ticket gating our access to information, bottling and selling to us, our once free water and air, and generally putting Americans at risk to attack from the global outside and famine blight from the inside.

[Nov 27, 2017] This Is Why Hewlett-Packard Just Fired Another 30K

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk ..."
"... My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit... ..."
"... HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host. ..."
"... I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.) ..."
"... Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs. ..."
"... So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same ..."
"... Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company. ..."
"... 'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations. ..."
"... A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium ..."
"... HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it. ..."
"... The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance. ..."
"... Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others. ..."
"... Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said. ..."
"... Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan. ..."
"... It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back. ..."
"... If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers. ..."
"... An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy. ..."
Sep 15, 2015 | Zero Hedge

SixIsNinE

yeah thanks Carly ... HP made bullet-proof products that would last forever..... I still buy HP workstation notebooks, especially now when I can get them for $100 on ebay .... I sold HP products in the 1990s .... we had HP laserjet IIs that companies would run day & night .... virtually no maintenance ... when PCL5 came around then we had LJ IIIs .... and still companies would call for LJ I's, .... 100 pounds of invincible Printing ! .

This kind of product has no place in the World of Planned-Obsolesence .... I'm currently running an 8510w, 8530w, 2530p, Dell 6420 quad i7, hp printers hp scanners, hp pavilion desktops, .... all for less than what a Laserjet II would have cost in 1994, Total.

Not My Real Name

I still have my HP 15C scientific calculator I bought in 1983 to get me through college for my engineering degree. There is nothing better than a hand held calculator that uses Reverse Polish Notation!

BigJim

HP used to make fantastic products. I remember getting their RPN calculators back in th 80's; built like tanks. Then they decided to "add value" by removing more and more material from their consumer/"prosumer" products until they became unspeakably flimsy. They stopped holding things together with proper fastenings and starting hot melting/gluing it together, so if it died you had to cut it open to have any chance of fixing it.

I still have one of their Laserjet 4100 printers. I expect it to outlast anything they currently produce, and it must be going on 16+ years old now.

Fuck you, HP. You started selling shit and now you're eating through your seed corn. I just wish the "leaders" who did this to you had to pay some kind of penalty greater than getting $25M in a severance package.

Automatic Choke

+100. The path of HP is everything that is wrong about modern business models. I still have a 5MP laserjet (one of the first), still works great. Also have a number of 42S calculators.....my day-to-day workhorse and several spares. I don't think the present HP could even dream of making these products today.

nope-1004

How well will I profit, as a salesman, if I sell you something that works? How valuable are you, as a customer in my database, if you never come back? Confucious say "Buy another one, and if you can't afford it, f'n finance it!" It's the growing trend. Look at appliances. Nothing works anymore.

Normalcy Bias

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Son of Loki

GE to cut Houston jobs as work moves overseas http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2015/09/15/ge-to-cut-houston-job... " Yes we can! "

Automatic Choke

hey big brother.... if you are curious, there is a damn good android emulator of the HP42S available (Free42). really it is so good that it made me relax about accumulating more spares. still not quite the same as a real calculator. (the 42S, by the way, is the modernization/simplification of the classic HP41, the real hardcord very-programmable, reconfigurable, hackable unit with all the plug-in-modules that came out in the early 80s.)

Miss Expectations

Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk

Miffed Microbiologist

My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit...

unplugged

I've been an engineer for 31 years - our managements's unspoken motto at the place I'm at (large company) is: "release it now, we'll put in the quality later". I try to put in as much as possible before the product is shoved out the door without killing myself doing it.

AGuy

Do they even make test equipment anymore?

HP test and measurement was spun off many years ago as Agilent. The electronics part of Agilent was spun off as keysight late last year.

HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host.

HP has also adopted the Computer Associates business model (aka Borg). HP buys up new tech companies and sits on the tech and never improves it. It decays and gets replaced with a system from a competitor. It also has a habit of buying outdated tech companies that never generate the revenues HP thinks it will.

BullyBearish

When Carly was CEO of HP, she instituted a draconian "pay for performance" plan. She ended up leaving with over $146 Million because she was smart enough not to specify "what type" of performance.

GeezerGeek

Regarding your statement "All those engineers choosing to pursue other opportunities", we need to realize that tech in general has been very susceptible to the vagaries of government actions. Now the employment problems are due to things like globalization and H1B programs. Some 50 years ago tech - meaning science and engineering - was hit hard as the US space program wound down. Permit me this retrospective:

I graduated from a quite good school with a BS in Physics in 1968. My timing was not all that great, since that was when they stopped granting draft deferments for graduate school. I joined the Air Force, but as an enlisted airman, not an officer. Following basic training, I was sent to learn to operate PCAM operations. That's Punched Card Accounting Machines. Collators. Sorters. Interpreters. Key punches. I was in a class with nine other enlistees. One had just gotten a Masters degree in something. Eight of us had a BS in one thing or another, but all what would now be called STEM fields. The least educated only had an Associate degree. We all enlisted simply to avoid being drafted into the Marines. (Not that there's anything wrong with the Marines, but all of us proclaimed an allergy to energetic lead projectiles and acted accordingly. Going to Canada, as many did, pretty much ensured never getting a job in STEM fields later in life.) So thanks to government action (fighting in VietNam, in this case) a significant portion of educated Americans found themselves diverted from chosen career paths. (In my case, it worked out fine. I learned to program, etc., and spent a total of over 40 years in what is now called IT. I think it was called EDP when I started the trek. Somewhere along the line it became (where I worked) Management Information Systems. MIS. And finally the department became simply Information Technology. I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.)

Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs.

So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you made it this far, thanks for your patience.

adr

Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company.

IT'S ALL BULLSHIT!!!!!

I designed more products in one year for the small company I work for than a $15 billion corporation did throughout their entire design department employing hundreds of people. That is because 90% of their workday is spent preparing crap for meetings and they never really get anything meaningful done.

It took me one week to design a product and send it out for production branded for the company I work for, but it took six months to get the same type of product passed through the multi billion dollar corporation we license for. Because it had to pass through layer after layer of bullshit and through every level of management before it could be signed off. Then a month later somebody would change their mind in middle management and the product would need to be changed and go through the cycle all over again.

Their own bag department made six bags last year, I designed 16. Funny how I out produce a department of six people whose only job is to make bags, yet I only get paid the salary of one.

Maybe I'm just an imbecile for working hard.

Bear

You also have to add all the wasted time of employees having to sit through those presentations and the even more wasted time on Ashley Madison

cynicalskeptic

'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations.

EVERY VP now has an 'Administrative Assistant' whose primary job is to develop PowerPoint presentations for the endless meetings that take up time - without any decisions ever being made.

Computers stop people from thinking. In ages past when you used a slide rule you had to know the order of magnitude of the end result. Now people make a mistake and come up with a ridiculous number and take it at face value because 'the computer' produced it.

Any exec worht anythign knew what a given line in their department or the total should be +or a small amount. I can't count the number of times budgets and analyses were WRONG because someone left off a few lines on a spreadsheet total.

Yes computer modeling for advanced tech and engineering is a help, CAD/CAM is great and many other applications in the tech/scientific world are a great help but letting computers loose in corporate and finance has produced endless waste AND - worsde - thigns like HFT (e.g. 'better' more effective ways to manipulate and cheat markets.

khnum

A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium

Anopheles

Consultants don't come at that much of a premium becaue the company doesn't have to pay benefits, vacation, sick days, or payroll taxes, etc. Plus it's really easy and cheap to get rid of consultants.

arrowrod

Obviously, you haven't worked as a consultant. You get paid by the hour. To clean up a mess. 100 hours a week are not uncommon. (What?, is it possible to work 100 hours a week? Yes, it is, but only for about 3 months.)

RaceToTheBottom

HP Executives are trying hard to bring the company back to its roots: The ability to fit into one garage...

PrimalScream

ALL THAT Meg Whitman needs to do ... is to FIRE EVERYBODY !! Then have all the products made in China, process all the sales orders in Hong Kong, and sub-contract the accounting and tax paperwork to India. Then HP can use all the profits for stock buybacks, except of course for Meg's salary ... which will keep rising astronomically!

Herdee

That's where education gets you in America.The Government sold out America's manufacturing base to Communist China who holds the debt of the USA.Who would ever guess that right-wing neo-cons(neo-nazis) running the government would sell out to communists just to get the money for war? Very weird.

Really20

"Communist"? The Chinese government, like that of the US, never believed in worker ownership of businesses and never believed that the commerical banking system (whether owned by the state, or private corporations which act like a state) should not control money. Both countries believe in centralization of power among a few shareholders, who take the fruits of working people's labor while contributing nothing of value themselves (money being but a token that represents a claim on real capital, not capital itself.)

Management and investors ought to be separate from each other; management should be chosen by workers by universal equal vote, while a complementary investor board should be chosen by investors much as corporate boards are now. Both of these boards should be legally independent but bound organizations; the management board should run the business while the investor board should negotiate with the management board on the terms of equity issuance. No more buybacks, no more layoffs or early retirements, unless workers as a whole see a need for it to maintain the company.

The purpose of investors is to serve the real economy, not the other way round; and in turn, the purpose of the real economy is to serve humanity, not the other way around. Humans should stop being slaves to perpetual growth.

Really20

HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it.

NoWayJose

HP - that company that sells computers and printers made in China and ink cartridges made in Thailand?

Dominus Ludificatio

Another company going down the drain because their focus is short term returns with crappy products.They will also bring down any company they buy as well.

Barnaby

HP is microcosm of what Carly will do to the US: carve it like a pumpkin and leave the shell out to bake in the sun for a few weeks. But she'll make sure and poison the seeds too! Don't want anything growing out of that pesky Palm division...

Dre4dwolf

The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance.

What does that mean

  1. Computers (atleast non-quantum ones) have hit the point where about 80-90% of the potential for the current science has been tap'd
  2. This means that the consumer is not going to be put in the position where they will have to upgrade to faster systems for atleast another 7-8 years.... (because the new computer wont be that much faster than their existing one).
  3. If no one is upgrading the only IT sectors of the economy that stand to make any money are software companies (Microsoft, Apple, and other small software developers), most software has not caught up with hardware yet.
  4. We are obviously heading for massive deflation, consumer spending levels as a % are probably around where they were in the late 70s - mid 80s, this is a very deflationary environment that is being compounded by a high debt burden (most of everyones income is going to service their debts), that signals monetary tightening is going on... people simply don't have enough discretionary income to spend on new toys.

All that to me screams SELL consumer electronics stocks because profits are GOING TO DECLINE , SALES ARE GOING TO DECLINE. There is no way , no amount of buy backs will float the stocks of corporations like HP/Dell/IBM etc... it is inevitable that these stocks will be worth 30% less over the next 5 - 8 years

But what do I know? maybe I am missing something.

In anycase a lot of pressure is being put on HP to do all it can at any cost to boost the stock valuations, because so much of its stock is institution owned, they will strip the wallpaper off the walls and sell it to a recycling plant if it would give them more money to boost stock valuations. That to me signals that most of the people pressuring the board of HP to boost the stock, want them to gut the company as much as they can to boost it some trivial % points so that the majority of shares can be dumped onto muppets.

To me it pretty much also signals something is terribly wrong at HP and no one is talking about it.

PoasterToaster

Other than die shrinks there really hasn't been a lot going on in the CPU world since Intel abandoned its Netburst architecture and went back to its (Israeli created) Pentium 3 style pipeline. After that they gave up on increasing speed and resorted to selling more cores. Now that wall has been hit, they have been selling "green" and "efficient" nonsense in place of increasing power.

x86 just needs to go, but a lot is invested in it not the least of which is that 1-2 punch of forced, contrived obsolesence carried out in a joint operation with Microsoft. 15 years ago you could watch videos with no problem on your old machine using Windows XP. Fast forward to now and their chief bragging point is still "multitasking" and the ability to process datastreams like video. It's a joke.

The future is not in the current CPU paradigm of instructions per second; it will be in terms of variables per second. It will be more along the lines of what GPU manufacturers are creating with their thousands of "engines" or "processing units" per chip, rather than the 4, 6 or 12 core monsters that Intel is pushing. They have nearly given up on their roadmap to push out to 128 cores as it is. x86 just doesn't work with all that.

Dojidog

Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others.

Think the split is going to help? Think again. Rather than taking the opportunity to fix their problems, they have just duplicated and perpetuated them into two separate entities.

HP is a company that is mired in a morass of unmanageable business processes and patchwork of antiquated applications all interconnected to the point they are petrified to try and uncouple them.

Just look at their stock price since January. The insiders know. Want to fix HP? All it would take is a savvy IT based leader with a boatload of common sense. What makes money at HP? Their printers and ink. Not thinking they can provide enterprise solutions to others when they can't even get their own house in order.

I Write Code

Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said.

yogibear

Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan.

Alma Mater: Stanford University (B.A. in medieval history and philosophy); University of Maryland (MBA); Massachusetts Institute of Technology

==================================================================

Patricia Russo: (Lucent) (Dedree in Political Science). Another lady elevated through the AA plan, Russo got her bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in political science and history in 1973. She finished the advanced management program at Harvard Business School in 1989

Both ladies steered their corporations to failure.

Clowns on Acid

It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back.

You guys don't know nuthin'.

homiegot

HP: one of the worst places you could work. Souless.

Pancho de Villa

Ladies and Gentlemen! Integrity has left the Building!

space junk

I worked there for a while and it was total garbage. There are still some great folks around, but they are getting paid less and less, and having to work longer hours for less pay while reporting to God knows who, often a foreigner with crappy engrish skills, yes likely another 'diversity hire'. People with DEEP knowledge, decades and decades, have either gotten unfairly fired or demoted, made to quit, or if they are lucky, taken some early retirement and GTFO (along with their expertise - whoopsie! who knew? unintended consequences are a bitch aren't they? )....

If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers.

Remember that Meg 'Pasty Faced' Whitman is the person who came up with the idea of a 'lights out' datacenter....that's right, it's the concept of putting all of your computers in a building, in racks, in the dark, and maybe hiring an intern to come in once a month and keep them going. This is what she actually believed. Along with her other statement to the HP workforce which says basically that the future of HP is one of total automation.....TRANSLATION: If you are a smart admin, engineer, project manager, architect, sw tester, etc.....we (HP management) think you are an IDIOT and can be replaced by a robot, a foreigner, or any other cheap worker.

Race to the bottom is like they say a space ship approaching a black hole......after a while the laws of physics and common sense, just don't apply anymore.

InnVestuhrr

An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy.

[Aug 29, 2017] New York Police scrap 36,000 Windows smartphones

The story is probably more complex and Regisr is as close to yellow press as one can get but discarding 36K smartphones in one year is something that smells incompetence. BTW Lumia 83 can be upgraded to Windows 10 so this was not a problem.
Aug 29, 2017 | www.theregister.co.uk
Bonkers buy-up by bungling billionairess By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco 28 Aug 2017 at 18:48 SHARE ▼ The New York Police Department will scrap 36,000 smartphones, thanks to a monumental purchasing cock-up by a billionaire's daughter.

The city spent millions on the phones back in October 2016 as part of its drive to bring the police force into the 21st century. And the woman behind the purchase – Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology, Jessica Tisch – praised them for their ability to quickly send 911 alerts to officers close to an incident.

There was only one problem: Tisch chose Windows-based Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL phones, and Microsoft officially ended support for Windows 8.1 in July.

Even though those two models are eligible to be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile, the NYPD will need to redesign more than a dozen custom apps it created to run on Windows 8.1. And every phone will need to be manually updated to the new operating system. In addition, Microsoft is only promising to support upgraded Windows 10 phones through to June 2019.

In other words, the phones are effectively obsolete and so, according to the New York Post , the police department has decided to scrap them altogether and go with iPhones instead.

That decision has not come as a huge surprise: even when the purchasing decision was made, Windows-based phones held just three percent of the market. In fact, back in 2016 when the program was launched, pretty much everyone applauded the idea of giving cops smartphones but were baffled as to why anyone would go with Windows phones over Android or iOS.

Tsk, tsk, Tisch

Well, according to department sources quoted by the New York Post, the procurement disaster was all down to Ms Tisch – who, it turns out, is the daughter of former Loews CEO and billionaire James S Tisch.

"She drove the whole process," one unhappy cop told the paper, name-checking Jessica. "Nobody purchases 36,000 phones based on the judgment of one person," he complained. "I don't care if you're Jesus fucking Christ, you get a panel of experts."

Which is a fair point, since we have no hesitation in saying that even an expert panel of one would have concluded that Windows phones were a turn in the wrong direction for a huge police department.

According to other sources, the reason Tisch plumbed for the Lumia was because the NYPD was using Microsoft software on its video surveillance system – a system that Tisch has closely associated herself with and, back in 2012, demonstrated and boasted about to the press, raising eyebrows .

You can see how an inexperienced IT manager might think that it made sense to go with Microsoft all the way. But then that is also why anyone who carries out IT procurement into an area they are not expert on gets a team of people to review all the possibilities before they spend huge sums of money.

"She was in charge. It was her project, no question about that," another department source told the Post.

So why has the notoriously tight-lipped NYPD decided to dump on one of its own? It may be that Ms Tisch put a few noses out of joint with her smartphone plan, first announced in 2014.

At the time, then-police commissioner Bill Bratton specifically identified Tisch as being the driving force for the plan and joked: "She's a terror if she doesn't get her way, so I usually let her get her way. So she's certainly getting her way with this technology."

Oh dear.

We have asked the NYPD for confirmation and comment on the decision to scrap the phones. We'll get back if and when they respond.

[Aug 28, 2017] Bombastic boss gave insane instructions to sensible sysadmin, with client on speakerphone

Aug 28, 2017 | www.theregister.co.uk
When data disappeared, everyone knew exactly where to point the finger By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor 25 Aug 2017 at 07:02 SHARE ▼ The Register 's weekly reader-contributed tales of workplace woe.

This week, meet "Craig," who shared a story of working for a small IT services company that hired a new "team leader".

Craig used italics because after meeting his new boss he quickly surmised the title "was an entire contradiction, as he was neither."

One fine day, Craig was given the job of sorting out an email issue at a small family owned legal firm. Craig knew the client well: he'd previously fixed their jammed printers, added new users to the company domain and lots of other mundane stuff.

On this occasion things were a bit more urgent as one of the senior partners had email issues and there was a whiff of data loss in the air. Enter the new team leader, who dispatched Craig to the client with thundered instructions to "JUST GO AND FIX IT!"

Upon arrival, Craig liaised with "Dianne", a worker at the law firm who helped him when he visited.

With Dianne's help Craig quickly figured out that senior partner's .PST file was corrupted. Craig tried his usual tricks but they didn't work, in part because "Outlook was throwing a hissy fit at every opportunity." So he called back to base to consult a colleague, but the phone was answered by the new team leader who insisted on taking control of the situation.

At this point, Craig put the call on speaker so that Dianne could hear it.

Both were treated to the new boss suggesting use of a .PST repair tool, which Craig had already tried.

"I don't care, run it again," was the response, so Craig obeyed and duly reported it had not worked.

"Delete the account and recreate it" was the next instruction, which again was hardly news to Craig and again didn't work.

So the boss got extreme and told Craig to "delete Outlook and Office from the registry."

Craig didn't like that idea and told the team leader so, while shaking his head at Dianne, making lots of bad-idea motions and telling his boss he felt this was not a sensible course of action.

"Just fucking do what I tell you" was the reply. Which got Dianne smiling as she now appreciated Craig's situation and realised the boss had no idea he was on speaker.

Craig protested that this was a dangerous course of action likely to create further problems in an already-unstable system and endanger the client's data.

To which the team leader responded that Craig was a lowly functionary and should do what he was told by his betters.

So Craig did as he was told, deleting any registry entry that mentioned Outlook while watching Dianne start to take notes about the incident.

Of course the glorious leader's idea didn't work and Craig was soon able to show Dianne that the partner's emails had gone, in all probability forever. Which is a bad look anywhere but even worse at a law firm.

Dianne was furious.

Craig was calm. He whipped out a third-party .PST repair tool he favoured, applied it to the backup of the partner's file he'd made just in case things went pear-shaped, and recovered just about all of the at-risk emails.

"Dianne hailed me as a hero," Craig recalls. And not long afterwards he was vindicated when the client sent his employer a letter saying that they'd be fired if the new team leader ever had anything to do with their IT again.

Said leader was gone two months later after other clients complained about his skills and service ethic.

"I was glad to see the back of him because he was an utter dickhead," Craig told us in his email to On-Call.

Has your boss ever asked you to do something dangerous? Write to share your story and it might be your anonymised name getting readers chuckling in a future edition of On-Call. ®

[Jul 04, 2017] A plea for bureaucratic socialism

Notable quotes:
"... As to your point on Bernie vs. "small Bernies" , I agree totally. This political system has developed corruption to the "point of know return" (my Kansas religion in summary), and cannot be changed incrementally, despite the strongest wishes of the peaceful and partial "Left" that has no unity and has too many bought "leaders" to be effective. A system that has made legitimate opposition illegal has made illegitimate opposition necessary. This, and the sudden turn of events that can occur during crises, will rule our future. ..."
Jul 04, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

UserFriendly , July 4, 2017 at 7:02 am

I'm not sure if the fact that this makes sense to me means I'm a genius or I'm totally off the deep end . but if anyone has time to kill this is interesting and at times funny and informative,

Slavoj Žižek – A plea for bureaucratic socialism (June 2017)

https://youtu.be/2OYSMWJafAI

maria gostrey , July 4, 2017 at 9:23 am

zizek was described in the most recent harpers as the "marxist philosopher gadly from slovenia." the specific nature of this description i found amusing, as if harpers needed to differentiate zizek from the "marxist philosopher gadly from albania".

amusing & hopeful, as i ponder a world of public discourse which includes so many "marxist philosopher gadflies" that this sort of description would become commonplace.

Mike , July 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm

To be honest, "socialism" was always understood to be the preparation for a LESS bureaucratic society, with some calling that communism, some naming it anarchism, the rest not thinking about it much.

The bureaucratic period was a transition, with the bureaus acting to inform the public of their rights and responsibilities, and protecting those rights during a period when capitalist and reactionary nationalist ideologies would still be prevalent among the populations. It would be a setup of new assumptions, the new unquestionables, that government was to protect, like capitalism is protected now. The problem is not the bureaus, but the power they give the the fearless leaders. Responsabilisation, s'il vous plait.

Žižek is provocative, in presentation a 60s radical a la Jerry Rubin, and loves to overstate his cases, so whatever he writes is sure to be "funny". The little communism in him is affected by his understanding of Slovenia's bad economic performance during the late stage of Titoism, and with a little German/US/English/Vatican help, that was quickly, if bloodily, settled.

Left in Wisconsin , July 4, 2017 at 2:25 pm

The point he is making in the talk is that there can be no revolution without being able to ensure that the water system, schools, hospitals, etc. function as people expect. He is criticizing the notion that fundamental change can be achieved merely by putting lots of people in the streets, that the larger the size of the protests, the closer we are to fundamental change.

And of course he is absolutely right. Here in the U.S., the vast majority of my left-ish friends have one of two mindsets. Either:

a) everything depends on electing Bernie, or the next Bernie, or some better Bernie; or

b) that view is incredibly naive; what we need to do is organize all the time (even when elections are far off!) and we need to get a lot of little Bernies elected.

The faith in democracy is touching, I guess. But the notion that having (some) politicians on our side is the extent of our strategy is a sign of how far away we are. How many accountants, bankers, engineers, etc. do we have on our side compared to how many we would need? Do we have any? I've been ranting of late that the other side has literally millions of economists on their side and we have, what, maybe 1000? Who mostly don't agree with each other? But you can probably run a society without economists. You can't without engineers.

Mike , July 4, 2017 at 3:03 pm

His talking points do come under some criticism in the comments from that web page (ignore the comments on his nervous tics – the medium is NOT the message), but he is absolutely right that we must replace the administrative roles under capitalism with a similarly effective system under socialism. My point is that this must be accompanied by a maniacal attempt at restructuring the administrative function, placing it under watch 24/7/365 (sorry, CIA haters, but we will have to use that role to watch the fox-house) even to the point of immediate recall and ankle-bracelets. Any bureaucratic position must be controlled as if a drug gang offered to help you fight off another drug gang, and had taken over your living room. How to do that without debilitating the system itself is the question anarchists repeat, and socialists answer very weakly.

As to your point on Bernie vs. "small Bernies" , I agree totally. This political system has developed corruption to the "point of know return" (my Kansas religion in summary), and cannot be changed incrementally, despite the strongest wishes of the peaceful and partial "Left" that has no unity and has too many bought "leaders" to be effective. A system that has made legitimate opposition illegal has made illegitimate opposition necessary. This, and the sudden turn of events that can occur during crises, will rule our future.

My gut feeling is that uprisings of a local or at most regional level will occur. They will be brutally put down, and maybe something will grow from that, or we are headed for a King or Queen. But the growth of opposition will be from the bottom, not the liberal-ish and reformist "Left" as it is now. If not that, then nothing.

[May 24, 2017] The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame

May 24, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Michael N. Moore , says: February 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

In my opinion the most under-reported event of the Iraq war was the suicide of military Ethicist Colonel Ted Westhusing. It was reported at the end of a Frank Rich column that appeared in the NY Times of 10-21-2007:

"The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption, not a participant, when he died at age 44 of a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq."

"Colonel Westhusing's death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who documents the case in his book "Blood Money." Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph for America's engagement in Iraq as a suicide note."

" 'I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars,' Colonel Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. 'I am sullied.' "

Michael N. Moore , says: February 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm
As per the request of James Canning for more information on Col. Ted Westhusing, please see:

http://www.correntewire.com/a_disturbing_suicide_note_from_iraq

Or the book "Blood Money" by T. Christian Miller

thefatefullightning , says: June 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm
"The tiny pink candies at the bottom of the urinals are reserved for Field Grade and Above." --sign over the urinals in the "O" Club at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, 1965.

Now that sentiment, is Officer-on-Officer. The same dynamic tension exists throughout all Branches and ranks.

My background includes a Combat Infantry Badge and a record of having made Spec Four , two times. If you don't know what that means, stop reading here.

I feel that no one should be promoted E-5 or O-4, if they are to command men in battle, unless they have had that life experience themselves. It becomes virgins instructing on sexual etiquette.

Within the ranks, there exists a disdain for officers, in general. Some officers overcome this by their actions, but the vast majority cement that assessment the same way.
What makes the thing run is the few officers who are superior human beings, and the NCOs who are of that same tribe. And there is a love there, from top to bottom and bottom to top, a brotherhood of warriors which the civilian population will forever try to discern, parse and examine to their lasting frustration and ignorance.

It is the spirit of this nation [Liberty, e pluribus unum and In God We Trust ] that is the binding filament of it all. The civilians responsible for the welfare of the armed services need to be more fully aware of that spirit and they need to bring it into the air-conditioned offices they inhabit when they make decisions about men who know sacrifice.

Terrence Zehrer , says: July 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm
But the Pentagon is excellent at what it does – extort money from the US taxpayer. I call it treason.

"Massive military budgets erode the economic foundation on which true national security is dependent."

– Dwight Eisenhower

[May 24, 2017] Rank Incompetence by William S. Lind

Notable quotes:
"... The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school. ..."
"... The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. ..."
Feb 01, 2013 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It was tragic that the career of General David Petraeus was brought down by a mere affair. It should have ended several years earlier as a consequence of his failure as our commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus, like every other theater commander in that war except Stanley McChrystal, could have been replaced by a concrete block and nothing would have changed. They all kept doing the same things while expecting a different result.

Thomas Ricks's recent book The Generals has reintroduced into the defense debate a vital factor the press and politicians collude in ignoring: military incompetence. It was a major theme of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and '80s. During those years, a friend of mine who was an aide to a Marine Corps commandant asked his boss how many Marine generals, of whom there were then 60-some, could competently fight a battle. The commandant came up with six. And the Marine Corps is the best of our services.

Military incompetence does not begin at the rank of brigadier general. An old French proverb says that the problem with the generals is that we select them from among the colonels. Nonetheless, military competence-the ability to see quickly what to do in a military situation and make it happen-is more rare at the general officer level. A curious aspect of our promotion system is that the higher the rank, the smaller the percentage of our competent officers.

Why is military incompetence so widespread at the higher levels of America's armed forces? Speaking from my own observations over almost 40 years, I can identify two factors. First, nowhere does our vast, multi-billion dollar military-education system teach military judgment. Second, above the rank of Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force captain, military ability plays essentially no role in determining who gets promoted. (It has been so long since our Navy fought another navy that, apart from the aviators, military competence does not seem to be a consideration at any level.)

Almost never do our military schools, academies, and colleges put students in situations where they have to think through how to fight a battle or a campaign, then get critiqued not on their answer but the way they think. Nor does American military training offer much free play, where the enemy can do whatever he wants and critique draws out why one side won and the other lost. Instead, training exercises are scripted as if we are training an opera company. The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school.

The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. Above the company grades, military ability does not count in determining who gets promoted. At the rank of major, officers are supposed to accept that the "real world" is the internal world of budget and promotion politics, not war. Those who "don't get it" have ever smaller chances of making general. This represents corruption of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. Its result is generals and admirals who are in effect Soviet industrial managers in ever worse-looking suits. They know little and care less about their intended product, military victory. Their expertise is in acquiring resources and playing the military courtier.

[May 24, 2017] A Condensation of Military Incompetence

Notable quotes:
"... Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time. ..."
May 24, 2017 | www.dcdave.com

What with all the glorification of our "heroes" in uniform, a glorification that seems to grow in inverse proportion to the real need for them, a person could begin to feel afraid to utter aloud the sort of jokes that people used to make. For instance, you might feel the need to look over your shoulder before you repeat the old George Carlin observation that "military intelligence" is an oxymoron.

The growing military hype and the sort of military intelligence with which I became all too familiar in my two years of service, 1966-1968, came together on this Veterans Day weekend. The picture of the U.S. Navy's finest engaged in the Sisyphean task of mopping dew off the basketball court that had been laid on the deck of the USS Yorktown said it all. That was in coastal South Carolina on Friday night, November 9, in what was to have been a big military advertisement to kick off the weekend. The same fiasco played itself out on the deck of the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Florida, except that the college basketball players there put themselves in harm's way for an entire half, attempting to play on the virtual skating rink that the very predictable condensation had made of the surface.

... ... ...

Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time.

... ... ...

Before we were to do our one dry run we had a planning meeting, presided over by the lieutenant colonel from Eighth Army Headquarters in charge of the operation, at which the action plan was handed out. Right off the bat we noticed a problem. Each of the teams was identified with a number. We were team four. Each of the islands was also assigned a number, one through four, and they were called "sites." Our team four was to go to site one, team three was to go to site two, and so on.

We wanted badly to suggest that it might be a better idea to match up the sites and the team designations, so that team one went to site one, etc., but we were told that we would have an opportunity to make suggestions for the final action plan after we had done our dry run, so we held our fire.

... ... ...

"We're implementing the action plan," said he, or words to that effect. "Move out immediately."

Patting myself on the back for the decision I had made, and in a state of rather high excitement, I pulled out the phone number of the contact in the Kimpo engineer battalion to make sure that there would be boats for us when we got to our destination.

It's a good thing the phone worked-the military phones were something of a hit-or-miss thing at that time in Korea-considering his response. "We haven't had any move-out order," he responded to me.

I immediately got back on the phone to the Eighth Army lieutenant to ask him what was up.

"Hold that first order," he said. "We've decided to give it a little more time."

Now I was thinking that it was an especially good thing that I had not taken the "immediately" part of his move-out order too literally, and I was really glad I had gotten that boatman's phone number. Considering the weather conditions, "high and dry" doesn't precisely describe the position we would have found ourselves in at the evacuation site without the boats and without even a need for them, but it comes close.

Having heard many reports of predicted river flooding on the news where the levels expected are based upon levels already recorded upstream, I inquired of the lieutenant as to the basis on which the final decision would be made. I remember his response as though it were yesterday:

"Colonel 'Geronimo' is down looking at the river."

As it turned out, no one drowned because some would-be rescue helicopter had landed at Site 3 instead of the correct Site 2 because he had received an emergency radio call from Ground 3, and we never suffered from the lack of manpower that the Korean Army might have provided at our site. None of the islands flooded that day-or that year-and the "hold" on that first call from the Eighth Army lieutenant continued into perpetuity.

... ... ...

David Martin

November 15, 2012

[Apr 06, 2017] In capitalism the inherent maladies of bureaucracies serve to discourage lower echelons and keep them in their place without directly associating the blame for hierarchal authoritarianism with top executives

Notable quotes:
"... There's a long-standing tension in organizations between innovation and bureaucracy. Excessive layers of management and byzantine processes often shoulder the blame when a promising idea fails to make it to market or a nimble start-up thwarts a mature competitor. ..."
"... In capitalism the inherent maladies of bureaucracies serve to discourage lower echelons and keep them in their place without directly associating the blame for hierarchal authoritarianism with top executives. That is to say that bureaucratic dysfunction plays a key role in the essential function of the petite bourgeoisie to maintain the bourgeois capitalist system. OTOH, bureaucratic dysfunction plays a similar key role in all hierarchal authoritarian systems. ..."
Apr 06, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Tom aka Rusty... Reply Thursday, April 06, 2017 at 07:54 AM [In his "Little Red Book" the machinations of self-serving bureaucrats was one of Chainman Mao's biggest pet peeves. ]

https://hbr.org/2005/10/bureaucracy-becomes-a-four-letter-word

"Bureaucracy" Becomes a Four-Letter Word

by William H. Starbuck

From the October 2005 Issue


There's a long-standing tension in organizations between innovation and bureaucracy. Excessive layers of management and byzantine processes often shoulder the blame when a promising idea fails to make it to market or a nimble start-up thwarts a mature competitor.

That tension can be traced back at least 340 years, to an inadvertent collaboration between two government officials in France. In 1665, with the French economy in turmoil, King Louis XIV appointed Jean-Baptiste Colbert as his comptroller general of finance. Colbert prosecuted corrupt officials and reorganized commerce and industry according to the economic principles known as mercantilism. To assure the populace that the government would act fairly in monetary disputes, he demanded that officials abide by certain rules and apply them uniformly to everyone.

Then, in 1751, Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay became France's administrator of commerce. Gournay was outraged by what Colbert had put in place and railed against the multitude of government regulations he believed were suppressing business activity. To describe a government run by insensitive creators and enforcers of rules, who neither understood nor cared about the consequences of their actions, he coined the term bureaucratie. Translation: "government by desks."

*

[There are democratic solutions to the dilemma posed by bureaucracies, but there are no republican solutions for it. Important to note, that both the little "d" in democratic and the little "r" in republican are profoundly significant to solving the dilemma of bureaucracy, or not.

Mao's brand of communism was too paranoid, paternal, and hierarchal to work any better than a common ordinary garden variety republic. It seemed like Mao actually wanted to be more democratic in governing and in the work place but could not really bring himself to do it as he was a neurotically compulsive micromanager just as any dictator would need to be.

In capitalism the inherent maladies of bureaucracies serve to discourage lower echelons and keep them in their place without directly associating the blame for hierarchal authoritarianism with top executives. That is to say that bureaucratic dysfunction plays a key role in the essential function of the petite bourgeoisie to maintain the bourgeois capitalist system. OTOH, bureaucratic dysfunction plays a similar key role in all hierarchal authoritarian systems.

... ... ...

[Feb 26, 2017] Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive reasoning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and "safe" terrain

Feb 26, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Demian : Jan 6, 2015 6:33:36 PM | 27

@Ghubar Shabih #23:
"Never ascribe to bad faith what can be explained by incompetence."
Yuri Orlov wrote an interesting post about organizational incompetence. To quote the paper he bases his post on:
Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive reasoning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and "safe" terrain . It can provide a sense of certainty that allows organizations to function smoothly. This can save the organization and its members from the frictions provoked by doubt and reflection. Functional stupidity contributes to maintaining and strengthening organizational order. It can also motivate people, help them to cultivate their careers, and subordinate them to socially acceptable forms of management and leadership. Such positive outcomes can further reinforce functional stupidity.
But clearly the destructive effects of US foreign policy are often deliberately malevolent. Orlov also has a post about that :
By Anglo-imperialists I mean the combination of Britain and the United States. The latter took over for the former as it failed, turning it into a protectorate. Now the latter is failing too, and there are no new up-and-coming Anglo-imperialists to take over for it. But throughout this process their common playbook had remained the same: pseudoliberal pseudocapitalism for the insiders and military domination and economic exploitation for everyone else. Much more specifically, their playbook always called for a certain strategem to be executed whenever their plans to dominate and exploit any given country finally fail. On their way out, they do what they can to compromise and weaken the entity they leave behind, by inflicting a permanently oozing and festering political wound. " Poison all the wells " is the last thing on their pre-departure checklist.

[Nov 19, 2016] The Democratic party lost its soul. Its time to win it back

Notable quotes:
"... For one thing, many vested interests don't want the Democratic party to change. Most of the money it raises ends up in the pockets of political consultants, pollsters, strategists, lawyers, advertising consultants and advertisers themselves, many of whom have become rich off the current arrangement. They naturally want to keep it. ..."
"... For another, the Democratic party apparatus is ingrown and entrenched. Like any old bureaucracy, it only knows how to do what it has done for years. Its state and quadrennial national conventions are opportunities for insiders to meet old friends and for aspiring politicians to make contacts among the rich and powerful. Insiders and the rich aren't going to happily relinquish their power and perquisites, and hand them to outsiders and the non-rich. ..."
"... I have been a Democrat for 50 years – I have even served in two Democratic administrations in Washington, including a stint in the cabinet and have run for the Democratic nomination for governor in one state – yet I have never voted for the chair or vice-chair of my state Democratic party. That means I, too, have had absolutely no say over who the chair of the Democratic National Committee will be. To tell you the truth, I haven't cared. And that's part of the problem. ..."
"... Finally, the party chairmanship has become a part-time sinecure for politicians on their way up or down, not a full-time position for a professional organizer. In 2011, Tim Kaine (who subsequently became Hillary Clinton's running mate in the 2016 election) left the chairmanship to run, successfully, for the Senate from Virginia. ..."
"... The chair then went to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who had co-chaired Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. This generated allegations in the 2016 race that the Democratic National Committee was siding with Clinton against Bernie Sanders – allegations substantiated by leaks of emails from the DNC. ..."
"... So what we now have is a Democratic party that has been repudiated at the polls, headed by a Democratic National Committee that has become irrelevant at best, run part-time by a series of insider politicians. It has no deep or broad-based grass-roots, no capacity for mobilizing vast numbers of people to take any action other than donate money, no visibility between elections, no ongoing activism. ..."
Nov 19, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

For one thing, many vested interests don't want the Democratic party to change. Most of the money it raises ends up in the pockets of political consultants, pollsters, strategists, lawyers, advertising consultants and advertisers themselves, many of whom have become rich off the current arrangement. They naturally want to keep it.

For another, the Democratic party apparatus is ingrown and entrenched. Like any old bureaucracy, it only knows how to do what it has done for years. Its state and quadrennial national conventions are opportunities for insiders to meet old friends and for aspiring politicians to make contacts among the rich and powerful. Insiders and the rich aren't going to happily relinquish their power and perquisites, and hand them to outsiders and the non-rich.

Most Americans who call themselves Democrats never hear from the Democratic party except when it asks for money, typically through mass mailings and recorded telephone calls in the months leading up to an election. The vast majority of Democrats don't know the name of the chair of the Democratic National Committee or of their state committee. Almost no registered Democrats have any idea how to go about electing their state Democratic chair or vice-chair, and, hence, almost none have any influence over whom the next chair of the Democratic National Committee may be.

I have been a Democrat for 50 years – I have even served in two Democratic administrations in Washington, including a stint in the cabinet and have run for the Democratic nomination for governor in one state – yet I have never voted for the chair or vice-chair of my state Democratic party. That means I, too, have had absolutely no say over who the chair of the Democratic National Committee will be. To tell you the truth, I haven't cared. And that's part of the problem.

Nor, for that matter, has Barack Obama cared. He basically ignored the Democratic National Committee during his presidency, starting his own organization called Organizing for America. It was originally intended to marshal grass-roots support for the major initiatives he sought to achieve during his presidency, but morphed into a fund-raising machine of its own.

Finally, the party chairmanship has become a part-time sinecure for politicians on their way up or down, not a full-time position for a professional organizer. In 2011, Tim Kaine (who subsequently became Hillary Clinton's running mate in the 2016 election) left the chairmanship to run, successfully, for the Senate from Virginia.

The chair then went to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who had co-chaired Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. This generated allegations in the 2016 race that the Democratic National Committee was siding with Clinton against Bernie Sanders – allegations substantiated by leaks of emails from the DNC.

So what we now have is a Democratic party that has been repudiated at the polls, headed by a Democratic National Committee that has become irrelevant at best, run part-time by a series of insider politicians. It has no deep or broad-based grass-roots, no capacity for mobilizing vast numbers of people to take any action other than donate money, no visibility between elections, no ongoing activism.

[Nov 12, 2016] Why We Hate HR

Notable quotes:
"... Strategic Human Resource Management ..."
Aug 08, 2005 | fastcompany.com

In a knowledge economy, companies with the best talent win. And finding, nurturing, and developing that talent should be one of the most important tasks in a corporation. So why does human resources do such a bad job -- and how can we fix it?

From: Issue 97 | August 2005 | Page 40 | By: Keith H. Hammonds | Illustrations by: Gary Baseman

Because let's face it: After close to 20 years of hopeful rhetoric about becoming "strategic partners" with a "seat at the table" where the business decisions that matter are made, most human-resources professionals aren't nearly there. They have no seat, and the table is locked inside a conference room to which they have no key. HR people are, for most practical purposes, neither strategic nor leaders.

I don't care for Las Vegas. And if it's not clear already, I don't like HR, either, which is why I'm here. The human-resources trade long ago proved itself, at best, a necessary evil -- and at worst, a dark bureaucratic force that blindly enforces nonsensical rules, resists creativity, and impedes constructive change. HR is the corporate function with the greatest potential -- the key driver, in theory, of business performance -- and also the one that most consistently underdelivers. And I am here to find out why.

Why are annual performance appraisals so time-consuming -- and so routinely useless? Why is HR so often a henchman for the chief financial officer, finding ever-more ingenious ways to cut benefits and hack at payroll? Why do its communications -- when we can understand them at all -- so often flout reality? Why are so many people processes duplicative and wasteful, creating a forest of paperwork for every minor transaction? And why does HR insist on sameness as a proxy for equity?

It's no wonder that we hate HR. In a 2005 survey by consultancy Hay Group, just 40% of employees commended their companies for retaining high-quality workers. Just 41% agreed that performance evaluations were fair. Only 58% rated their job training as favorable. Most said they had few opportunities for advancement -- and that they didn't know, in any case, what was required to move up. Most telling, only about half of workers below the manager level believed their companies took a genuine interest in their well-being.

None of this is explained immediately in Vegas. These HR folks, from employers across the nation, are neither evil courtiers nor thoughtless automatons. They are mostly smart, engaging people who seem genuinely interested in doing their jobs better. They speak convincingly about employee development and cultural transformation. And, over drinks, they spin some pretty funny yarns of employee weirdness. (Like the one about the guy who threatened to sue his wife's company for "enabling" her affair with a coworker. Then there was the mentally disabled worker and the hooker -- well, no, never mind. . . .)

But then the facade cracks. It happens at an afternoon presentation called "From Technicians to Consultants: How to Transform Your HR Staff into Strategic Business Partners." The speaker, Julie Muckler, is senior vice president of human resources at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. She is an enthusiastic woman with a broad smile and 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson & Johnson and General Tire. She has degrees in consumer economics and human resources and organizational development.

And I have no idea what she's talking about. There is mention of "internal action learning" and "being more planful in my approach." PowerPoint slides outline Wells Fargo Home Mortgage's initiatives in performance management, organization design, and horizontal-solutions teams. Muckler describes leveraging internal resources and involving external resources -- and she leaves her audience dazed. That evening, even the human-resources pros confide they didn't understand much of it, either.

This, friends, is the trouble with HR. In a knowledge economy, companies that have the best talent win. We all know that. Human resources execs should be making the most of our, well, human resources -- finding the best hires, nurturing the stars, fostering a productive work environment -- just as IT runs the computers and finance minds the capital. HR should be joined to business strategy at the hip.

Instead, most HR organizations have ghettoized themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence. They are competent at the administrivia of pay, benefits, and retirement, but companies increasingly are farming those functions out to contractors who can handle such routine tasks at lower expense. What's left is the more important strategic role of raising the reputational and intellectual capital of the company -- but HR is, it turns out, uniquely unsuited for that.

Here's why.

1. HR people aren't the sharpest tacks in the box. We'll be blunt: If you are an ambitious young thing newly graduated from a top college or B-school with your eye on a rewarding career in business, your first instinct is not to join the human-resources dance. (At the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, which arguably boasts the nation's top faculty for organizational issues, just 1.2% of 2004 grads did so.) Says a management professor at one leading school: "The best and the brightest don't go into HR."

Who does? Intelligent people, sometimes -- but not businesspeople. "HR doesn't tend to hire a lot of independent thinkers or people who stand up as moral compasses," says Garold L. Markle, a longtime human-resources executive at Exxon and Shell Offshore who now runs his own consultancy. Some are exiles from the corporate mainstream: They've fared poorly in meatier roles -- but not poorly enough to be fired. For them, and for their employers, HR represents a relatively low-risk parking spot.

Others enter the field by choice and with the best of intentions, but for the wrong reasons. They like working with people, and they want to be helpful -- noble motives that thoroughly tick off some HR thinkers. "When people have come to me and said, 'I want to work with people,' I say, 'Good, go be a social worker,' " says Arnold Kanarick, who has headed human resources at the Limited and, until recently, at Bear Stearns. "HR isn't about being a do-gooder. It's about how do you get the best and brightest people and raise the value of the firm."

The really scary news is that the gulf between capabilities and job requirements appears to be widening. As business and legal demands on the function intensify, staffers' educational qualifications haven't kept pace. In fact, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a considerably smaller proportion of HR professionals today have some education beyond a bachelor's degree than in 1990.

And here's one more slice of telling SHRM data: When HR professionals were asked about the worth of various academic courses toward a "successful career in HR," 83% said that classes in interpersonal communications skills had "extremely high value." Employment law and business ethics followed, at 71% and 66%, respectively. Where was change management? At 35%. Strategic management? 32%. Finance? Um, that was just 2%.

The truth? Most human-resources managers aren't particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business. And in a business, that's sort of a problem. As guardians of a company's talent, HR has to understand how people serve corporate objectives. Instead, "business acumen is the single biggest factor that HR professionals in the U.S. lack today," says Anthony J. Rucci, executive vice president at Cardinal Health Inc., a big health-care supply distributor.

Rucci is consistently mentioned by academics, consultants, and other HR leaders as an executive who actually does know business. At Baxter International, he ran both HR and corporate strategy. Before that, at Sears, he led a study of results at 800 stores over five years to assess the connection between employee commitment, customer loyalty, and profitability.

As far as Rucci is concerned, there are three questions that any decent HR person in the world should be able to answer. First, who is your company's core customer? "Have you talked to one lately? Do you know what challenges they face?" Second, who is the competition? "What do they do well and not well?" And most important, who are we? "What is a realistic assessment of what we do well and not so well vis a vis the customer and the competition?"

Does your HR pro know the answers?

2. HR pursues efficiency in lieu of value. Why? Because it's easier -- and easier to measure. Dave Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan, recalls meeting with the chairman and top HR people from a big bank. "The training person said that 80% of employees have done at least 40 hours in classes. The chairman said, 'Congratulations.' I said, 'You're talking about the activities you're doing. The question is, What are you delivering?' "

That sort of stuff drives Ulrich nuts. Over 20 years, he has become the HR trade's best-known guru (see "The Once and Future Consultant," page 48) and a leading proponent of the push to take on more-strategic roles within corporations. But human-resources managers, he acknowledges, typically undermine that effort by investing more importance in activities than in outcomes. "You're only effective if you add value," Ulrich says. "That means you're not measured by what you do but by what you deliver." By that, he refers not just to the value delivered to employees and line managers, but the benefits that accrue to investors and customers, as well.

So here's a true story: A talented young marketing exec accepts a job offer with Time Warner out of business school. She interviews for openings in several departments -- then is told by HR that only one is interested in her. In fact, she learns later, they all had been. She had been railroaded into the job, under the supervision of a widely reviled manager, because no one inside the company would take it.

You make the call: Did HR do its job? On the one hand, it filled the empty slot. "It did what was organizationally expedient," says the woman now. "Getting someone who wouldn't kick and scream about this role probably made sense to them. But I just felt angry." She left Time Warner after just a year. (A Time Warner spokesperson declined to comment on the incident.)

Part of the problem is that Time Warner's metrics likely will never catch the real cost of its HR department's action. Human resources can readily provide the number of people it hired, the percentage of performance evaluations completed, and the extent to which employees are satisfied or not with their benefits. But only rarely does it link any of those metrics to business performance.

John W. Boudreau, a professor at the University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations, likens the failing to shortcomings of the finance function before DuPont figured out how to calculate return on investment in 1912. In HR, he says, "we don't have anywhere near that kind of logical sophistication in the way of people or talent. So the decisions that get made about that resource are far less sophisticated, reliable, and consistent."

Cardinal Health's Rucci is trying to fix that. Cardinal regularly asks its employees 12 questions designed to measure engagement. Among them: Do they understand the company's strategy? Do they see the connection between that and their jobs? Are they proud to tell people where they work? Rucci correlates the results to those of a survey of 2,000 customers, as well as monthly sales data and brand-awareness scores.

"So I don't know if our HR processes are having an impact" per se, Rucci says. "But I know absolutely that employee-engagement scores have an impact on our business," accounting for between 1% and 10% of earnings, depending on the business and the employee's role. "Cardinal may not anytime soon get invited by the Conference Board to explain our world-class best practices in any area of HR -- and I couldn't care less. The real question is, Is the business effective and successful?"

3. HR isn't working for you. Want to know why you go through that asinine performance appraisal every year, really? Markle, who admits to having administered countless numbers of them over the years, is pleased to confirm your suspicions. Companies, he says "are doing it to protect themselves against their own employees," he says. "They put a piece of paper between you and employees, so if you ever have a confrontation, you can go to the file and say, 'Here, I've documented this problem.' "

There's a good reason for this defensive stance, of course. In the last two generations, government has created an immense thicket of labor regulations. Equal Employment Opportunity; Fair Labor Standards; Occupational Safety and Health; Family and Medical Leave; and the ever-popular ERISA. These are complex, serious issues requiring technical expertise, and HR has to apply reasonable caution.

But "it's easy to get sucked down into that," says Mark Royal, a senior consultant with Hay Group. "There's a tension created by HR's role as protector of corporate assets -- making sure it doesn't run afoul of the rules. That puts you in the position of saying no a lot, of playing the bad cop. You have to step out of that, see the broad possibilities, and take a more open-minded approach. You need to understand where the exceptions to broad policies can be made."

Typically, HR people can't, or won't. Instead, they pursue standardization and uniformity in the face of a workforce that is heterogeneous and complex. A manager at a large capital leasing company complains that corporate HR is trying to eliminate most vice-president titles there -- even though veeps are a dime a dozen in the finance industry. Why? Because in the company's commercial business, vice president is a rank reserved for the top officers. In its drive for bureaucratic "fairness," HR is actually threatening the reputation, and so the effectiveness, of the company's finance professionals.

The urge for one-size-fits-all, says one professor who studies the field, "is partly about compliance, but mostly because it's just easier." Bureaucrats everywhere abhor exceptions -- not just because they open up the company to charges of bias but because they require more than rote solutions. They're time-consuming and expensive to manage. Make one exception, HR fears, and the floodgates will open.

There's a contradiction here, of course: Making exceptions should be exactly what human resources does, all the time -- not because it's nice for employees, but because it drives the business. Employers keep their best people by acknowledging and rewarding their distinctive performance, not by treating them the same as everyone else. "If I'm running a business, I can tell you who's really helping to drive the business forward," says Dennis Ackley, an employee communication consultant. "HR should have the same view. We should send the message that we value our high-performing employees and we're focused on rewarding and retaining them."

Instead, human-resources departments benchmark salaries, function by function and job by job, against industry standards, keeping pay -- even that of the stars -- within a narrow band determined by competitors. They bounce performance appraisals back to managers who rate their employees too highly, unwilling to acknowledge accomplishments that would merit much more than the 4% companywide increase.

Human resources, in other words, forfeits long-term value for short-term cost efficiency. A simple test: Who does your company's vice president of human resources report to? If it's the CFO -- and chances are good it is -- then HR is headed in the wrong direction. "That's a model that cannot work," says one top HR exec who has been there. "A financial person is concerned with taking money out of the organization. HR should be concerned with putting investments in."

4. The corner office doesn't get HR (and vice versa). I'm at another rockin' party: a few dozen midlevel human-resources managers at a hotel restaurant in Mahwah, New Jersey. It is not glam in any way. (I've got to get a better travel agent.) But it is telling, in a hopeful way. Hunter Douglas, a $2.1 billion manufacturer of window coverings, has brought its HR staff here from across the United States to celebrate their accomplishments.

The company's top brass is on hand. Marvin B. Hopkins, president and CEO of North American operations, lays on the praise: "I feel fantastic about your achievements," he says. "Our business is about people. Hiring, training, and empathizing with employees is extremely important. When someone is fired or leaves, we've failed in some way. People have to feel they have a place at the company, a sense of ownership."

So, yeah, it's corporate-speak in a drab exurban office park. But you know what? The human-resources managers from Tupelo and Dallas are totally pumped up. They've been flown into headquarters, they've had their picture taken with the boss, and they're seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway that afternoon on the company's dime.

Can your HR department say it has the ear of top management? Probably not. "Sometimes," says Ulrich, "line managers just have this legacy of HR in their minds, and they can't get rid of it. I felt really badly for one HR guy. The chairman wanted someone to plan company picnics and manage the union, and every time this guy tried to be strategic, he got shot down."

Say what? Execs don't think HR matters? What about all that happy talk about employees being their most important asset? Well, that turns out to have been a small misunderstanding. In the 1990s, a group of British academics examined the relationship between what companies (among them, the UK units of Hewlett-Packard and Citibank) said about their human assets and how they actually behaved. The results were, perhaps, inevitable.

In their rhetoric, human-resources organizations embraced the language of a "soft" approach, speaking of training, development, and commitment. But "the underlying principle was invariably restricted to the improvements of bottom-line performance," the authors wrote in the resulting book, Strategic Human Resource Management (Oxford University Press, 1999). "Even if the rhetoric of HRM is soft, the reality is almost always 'hard,' with the interests of the organization prevailing over those of the individual."

In the best of worlds, says London Business School professor Lynda Gratton, one of the study's authors, "the reality should be some combination of hard and soft." That's what's going on at Hunter Douglas. Human resources can address the needs of employees because it has proven its business mettle -- and vice versa. Betty Lou Smith, the company's vice president of corporate HR, began investigating the connection between employee turnover and product quality. Divisions with the highest turnover rates, she found, were also those with damaged-goods rates of 5% or higher. And extraordinarily, 70% of employees were leaving the company within six months of being hired.

Smith's staffers learned that new employees were leaving for a variety of reasons: They didn't feel respected, they didn't have input in decisions, but mostly, they felt a lack of connection when they were first hired. "We gave them a 10-minute orientation, then they were out on the floor," Smith says. She addressed the weakness by creating a mentoring program that matched new hires with experienced workers. The latter were suspicious at first, but eventually, the mentor positions (with spiffy shirts and caps) came to be seen as prestigious. The six-month turnover rate dropped dramatically, to 16%. Attendance and productivity -- and the damaged-goods rate -- improved.

"We don't wait to hear from top management," Smith says. "You can't just sit in the corner and look at benefits. We have to know what the issues in our business are. HR has to step up and assume responsibility, not wait for management to knock on our door."

But most HR people do.

H unter Douglas gives us a glimmer of hope -- of the possibility that HR can be done right. And surely, even within ineffective human-resources organizations, there are great individual HR managers -- trustworthy, caring people with their ears to the ground, who are sensitive to cultural nuance yet also understand the business and how people fit in. Professionals who move voluntarily into HR from line positions can prove especially adroit, bringing a profit-and-loss sensibility and strong management skills.

At Yahoo, Libby Sartain, chief people officer, is building a group that may prove to be the truly effective human-resources department that employees and executives imagine. In this, Sartain enjoys two advantages. First, she arrived with a reputation as a creative maverick, won in her 13 years running HR at Southwest Airlines. And second, she had license from the top to do whatever it took to create a world-class organization.

Sartain doesn't just have a "seat at the table" at Yahoo; she actually helped build the table, instituting a weekly operations meeting that she coordinates with COO Dan Rosensweig. Talent is always at the top of the agenda -- and at the end of each meeting, the executive team mulls individual development decisions on key staffers.

That meeting, Sartain says, "sends a strong message to everyone at Yahoo that we can't do anything without HR." It also signals to HR staffers that they're responsible for more than shuffling papers and getting in the way. "We view human resources as the caretaker of the largest investment of the company," Sartain says. "If you're not nurturing that investment and watching it grow, you're not doing your job."

Yahoo, say some experts and peers at other organizations, is among a few companies -- among them Cardinal Health, Procter & Gamble, Pitney Bowes, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric -- that truly are bringing human resources into the realm of business strategy. But they are indeed the few. USC professor Edward E. Lawler III says that last year HR professionals reported spending 23% of their time "being a strategic business partner" -- no more than they reported in 1995. And line managers, he found, said HR is far less involved in strategy than HR thinks it is. "Despite great huffing and puffing about strategy," Lawler says, "there's still a long way to go." (Indeed. When I asked one midlevel HR person exactly how she was involved in business strategy for her division, she excitedly described organizing a monthly lunch for her vice president with employees.)

What's driving the strategy disconnect? London Business School's Gratton spends a lot of time training human-resources professionals to create more impact. She sees two problems: Many HR people, she says, bring strong technical expertise to the party but no "point of view about the future and how organizations are going to change." And second, "it's very difficult to align HR strategy to business strategy, because business strategy changes very fast, and it's hard to fiddle around with a compensation strategy or benefits to keep up." More than simply understanding strategy, Gratton says, truly effective executives "need to be operating out of a set of principles and personal values." And few actually do.

In the meantime, economic natural selection is, in a way, taking care of the problem for us. Some 94% of large employers surveyed this year by Hewitt Associates reported they were outsourcing at least one human-resources activity. By 2008, according to the survey, many plan to expand outsourcing to include activities such as learning and development, payroll, recruiting, health and welfare, and global mobility.

Which is to say, they will farm out pretty much everything HR does. The happy rhetoric from the HR world says this is all for the best: Outsourcing the administrative minutiae, after all, would allow human-resources professionals to focus on more important stuff that's central to the business. You know, being strategic partners.

The problem, if you're an HR person, is this: The tasks companies are outsourcing -- the administrivia -- tend to be what you're good at. And what's left isn't exactly your strong suit. Human resources is crippled by what Jay Jamrog, executive director of the Human Resource Institute, calls "educated incapacity: You're smart, and you know the way you're working today isn't going to hold 10 years from now. But you can't move to that level. You're stuck."

That's where human resources is today. Stuck. "This is a unique organization in the company," says USC's Boudreau. "It discovers things about the business through the lens of people and talent. That's an opportunity for competitive advantage." In most companies, that opportunity is utterly wasted.

And that's why I don't like HR.

Keith H. Hammonds is Fast Company's deputy editor.

[Sep 15, 2016] Satyajit Das The Business of Politics naked capitalism by Satyajit Das

Notable quotes:
"... I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics. ..."
"... "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." ..."
"... Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income. ..."
"... Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same. ..."
"... There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services. ..."
"... "The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
"... Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business. ..."
"... "…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives. ..."
"... The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations. ..."
"... "The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia ..."
"... Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary ..."
"... Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world. ..."
"... Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure. ..."
"... Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy. ..."
"... Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it. ..."
"... "Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it. ..."
"... This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors." ..."
"... Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must"). ..."
"... Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all. ..."
Sep 15, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Satyajit Das, a former banker. His latest book is 'A Banquet of Consequences ' (published in North America as The Age of Stagnation to avoid confusion as a cookbook). He is also the author of Extreme Money and Traders, Guns & Money

Electorates believe that business leaders are qualified for and likely to be effective in politics. Yet, with some notable exceptions, business people have rarely had successful political careers.

The assumption is that corporate vision, leadership skills, administrative skills and a proven record of wealth creation will translate into political success. It presupposes personal qualities such drive, ambition and ruthlessness. The allure is also grounded in the romantic belief that outsiders can fix all that is wrong with the political process. The faith is misplaced.

First, the required skills are different.

Successful business leaders generally serve a technical apprenticeship in the business, industry or a related profession giving them familiarity with the firm's activities. Political success requires party fealty, calculating partisanship, managing coalitions and networking. It requires a capacity to engage in the retail electoral process, such as inspirational public speaking and an easy familiarity with voters in a wide variety of settings. It requires formidable powers of fund raising to finance campaigns. Where individuals shift from business to politics in mid or later life, he or she is at a significant disadvantage to career political operatives who have had years to build the necessary relationships and organisation to support political aspirations.

Second, the scope of the task is different. A nation is typically larger than a business. The range of issues is broader, encompassing economics, finance, welfare, health, social policy as well as defence and international relations. Few chief executives will, during a single day, have to consider budgetary or economic issues, health policy, gender matters, privacy concerns, manage involvement in a foreign conflict in between meeting and greeting a range of visitors varying from schoolchildren to foreign dignitaries as well as attending to party political matters.

Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors. They must take into account the effect of decisions on a wide range of constituencies including many implacably opposed to their positions.

Third, business objectives, such as profit maximisation, are narrow, well defined and constant. Political objectives are amorphous and ideological. The emphasis is on living standards, security and social justice. Priorities between conflicting objectives shift constantly. The benefits of decisions by governments in infrastructure, education and welfare are frequently difficult to measure and frequently will not emerge for a long time.

Business decisions rarely focus on the societal impact. Firms can reduce workforce, shift production overseas, seek subsidies or legally minimise taxes. Politicians must deal with the side effects of individual profit maximisation decisions such as closed factories, reduced employment, welfare and retraining costs, security implications as well as social breakdown and inequality or exclusion.

Fourth, the operating environment is different. Businesses usually operate within relatively defined product-market structures. In contrast, governments operate in a complex environment shaped by domestic and foreign factors, many of which they do not control or influence. Government actions require co-operation across different layers of government or countries. Businesses can withdraw from certain activities, while government do not have the same option.

Fifth, within boundaries set by laws and regulations, business leaders enjoy great freedom and power to implement their policies. Boards of directors and shareholders exercise limited control, usually setting broad financial parameters. They do not intervene in individual decisions. Most important government actions require legislative or parliamentary support. Unlike commercial operations, government face restrictions, such as separation of powers, restraints on executive or governmental action and international obligations.

Business leaders have unrivalled authority over their organisation based on threats (termination) or rewards (remuneration or promotion). Political leaders cannot fire legislators. They face significant barriers in rewarding or replacing public servants. Policy implementation requires negotiations and consensus. It requires overcoming opposition from opposing politicians, factions within one's own party, supporters, funders and the bureaucracy. It requires overcoming passively resistance from legislators and public servants who can simply outlast the current incumbent, whose tenure is likely to be shorter than their own.

The lack of clear goals, unrivalled authority and multiple and shifting power centres means that political power is more limited than assumed Many Presidents of the United States, regarded as the most powerful position on earth, have found that they had little ability to implement their agendas.

Sixth, unless they choose to be, business leaders are rarely public figures outside business circles. Politicians cannot avoid constant public attention. Modern political debate and discourse has become increasingly tabloid in tone, with unprecedented levels of invective and ridicule. There is no separation of the public and the personal. Business leaders frequently find the focus on personal matters as well as the tone of criticism discomforting.

There are commonalities. Both fields attract a particular type of individual. In addition, paraphrasing John Ruskin, successful political and business leaders not only know what must be done but actually do what must be done and do it when it must be done. A further commonality is the ultimate fate of leaders generally. Enoch Powell, himself a long-serving Member of the British Parliament, once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders.

PlutoniumKun, September 15, 2016 at 4:27 am

I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics.

Much the same seems to apply to military leaders, although off the top of my head I can think of more successful examples of the latter than of business people (Eisenhower and De Gaulle come to mind). Berlusconi comes to mind as a 'successful' politician and businessman, but then Italy does seem to be an outlier in some respects.

One key difference I think between 'good' politicians and 'good' businesspeople is in making decisions. Good businesspeople are decisive. Good politicians never make a decision until they absolutely have to.

PhilU, September 15, 2016 at 4:40 am

This is clearly a consequence of 'The government is like a household' misinformation campaign, which I think is really conceptualized as 'government is like a small business.' So why not get a businessman to run the thing?

Yves Smith Post author, September 15, 2016 at 5:03 am

Interesting point. It also comes out of 30+ years of demonization of government as being less well run than business, when IMHO the problems of government are 1. the result of scale (think of how well run GM and Citigroup were in the mid 200s…and both are better now that they have downsized and shaped up) and 2. inevitable given that you do not want government employees making stuff as they go, i.e., overruling the legislature and courts. The latter point is that some rigidity is part of how government works, and it's necessary to protect citizens.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:06 am

Adam Smith on the businessmen you shouldn't trust:

"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

What they knew in the 18th century, we have forgotten today, but nothing has changed.

He wouldn't like today's lobbyists.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:09 am

Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income.

Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same.

We lowered taxes on the wealthy to remove free and subsidised services for those at the bottom. These costs now have to be covered by business through wages. All known and thoroughly studied in the 18th and 19th Centuries, they even came up with solutions.

There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services.

This allows lower wages and an internationally competitive economy.

Adam Smith:

"The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers."

Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business.

He sees the lazy people at the top living off "unearned" income from their land and capital.

He sees the trickle up of Capitalism:
1) Those with excess capital collect rent and interest.
2) Those with insufficient capital pay rent and interest.

He differentiates between "earned" and "unearned" income.

The UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

KYrocky , September 15, 2016 at 8:28 am

"…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:14 am

We have seen left wing revolutions before; we are now dealing with a right wing revolution.

Left wing revolutions usually involve much violence and eventually lead to tyranny, as any means are deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology. Pol Pot was the most extreme example where he decided to return to year zero by wiping out the bourgeoisie in Cambodia. When the dust has settled the revolution just leads to a new elite who maintain their ideology with force and brutality.

When Francis Fukuyama talked of the end of history, a new year zero was envisaged, this one based on a right wing ideology. A right wing revolution that could take place globally and was not confined to individual nations like left wing revolutions.

Its theories had already been tested in South America and Indonesia where extreme brutality was employed to implement their one true solution and the new ideology. The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations.

"The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia.

Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary.

Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world.

Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

Norb , September 15, 2016 at 7:27 am

Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy.

Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it.

Fighting fraud and corruption follows these same lines. Reading about the various forms of fraud and corruption here at NC daily provides the framework to address the problem. The real work begins convincing fellow citizens to not accept the criminality- the new normal. It is sometimes distressing seeing the reaction of fellow citizens to these crimes not as outrage, but more along the lines of begrudging admiration for the criminals. The subtile conditioning of the population to accept criminality needs a countervailing force.

Modern mass media projects a false picture of the world. The meme they push is that violence and corruption are so pervasive in the world, vast resources must be expended addressing the problem, and when these efforts fail, settle for apathy and avoidance. The creation of the Businessman/Politician is the perfect vehicle to move this agenda forward.

Politics controlling and driving business decisions must be reestablished, not the other way around- business driving politics and society. That truly is the distinction between authoritarianism and democracy. Small authoritarians are tolerable in society- large ones not so much.

KPL , September 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

Bang on. Especially being a political leader in a democracy is too tough and I am surprised that people want the job given the landmine they have to navigate and the compromises you have to make on a daily basis. Similarity is closest when you compare a benevolent dictator and a successful businessman, something like how Lee Kuan Yew ran Singapore.

Robert Hahl , September 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

"Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it.

RobC , September 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm

There is a mistaken assumption here that business people are responsible for their own or their organization's success. Or even that they're qualified as business people. The higher up the business ladder you go, the more it is other people making the important decisions, even deciding what you think, do and say.

In this way it's similar to politics. It's likely that neither the successful business person nor the politician is qualified for their roles, that nobody can be. Also their roles are essentially to be authorities, and likewise nobody is truly qualified nor has the justification or legitimacy for authority.

shinola , September 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors."

Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must").

Robert Coutinho , September 15, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all.

[Aug 16, 2016] Normalized Deviance

angrybearblog.com
  1. Zachary Smith August 15, 2016 3:26 pm

    To likbez August 15, 2016

    There is a new essay at Consortium News which describes the issue we're talking about.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/08/15/us-war-crimes-or-normalized-deviance/

    It's worth a look.

  2. likbez August 16, 2016 5:23 pm

    to Zachary Smith August 15, 2016 3:26 pm

    Thank you.

    This term "Normalized Deviance" reminds me Dixon's study of military incompetence which deepened the traditional observation that peacetime armies and wartime armies prefer (and promote) very different types of officers. Actually it is sycophants and "yes men" who are promoted at peace time, especially "kiss up, kick down" type.

    They gradually pervert the organization and when war strikes commit blunders.

    The same process occurs within three letter agencies, which degenerate into propaganda arms of White House. Some observers claim that this process started at full force in CIA under Bush I and State Department under Clinton.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2011/08/29/rise-of-another-cia-yes-man/

[Aug 15, 2016] Rise of Another CIA Yes Man – Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... As for Michael Morell, as with many other successful CIA careerists, his strongest suit seemed to be pleasing his boss and not antagonizing the White House. If past is precedent, his loyalty will be to Petraeus, not necessarily to the truth. ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... At the Center of the Storm, ..."
"... President's Daily Brief ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... apologia pro vita sua ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... The first is from a recently retired Senior Intelligence Service officer. ..."
"... The second comment (on the remarks above) is from Larry C Johnson, former CIA intelligence officer. ..."
"... Comment from Mary McCarthy, former Senior Intelligence Service officer and White House official. ..."
"... A schizophrenic 'Team B' element was infiltrated into the original integrity of the CIA, (billed as 'Team A'), as and soon after Bush served as Director, 1976. He is, after all, who made the CIA what it is today, who presided at the ceremony of the cornerstone for the (second) Headquarters Building and so recognized by namesake on the bronze plaque by the front door. ..."
"... The corroborating correlation I most notice is that nine-eleven is the commemorative founding date of the CIA, 1947. ..."
consortiumnews.com
August 29, 2011

Exclusive: The gross manipulation of CIA analysis under George W. Bush pushed a new generation of "yes men" into the agency's top ranks. Now one of those aspiring bureaucrats will be Gen. David Petraeus's right-hand man, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. (Also, at end of article, see special comments from several CIA insiders.)

As Gen. David Petraeus prepares to take the helm at CIA in September, he can expect unswerving loyalty from his likely deputy, Michael Morell, who has been acting director since July when Leon Panetta left to become Secretary of Defense.

Like many senior CIA officials in recent years, Morell's record is checkered, at best. He held key jobs in intelligence analysis over the past decade as the CIA often served as a handmaiden to the war propagandists.

As for Michael Morell, as with many other successful CIA careerists, his strongest suit seemed to be pleasing his boss and not antagonizing the White House. If past is precedent, his loyalty will be to Petraeus, not necessarily to the truth.

Forgive me if my thinking about loyalty to the facts seems "obsolete" or "quaint" or if it seems unfair to expect CIA analysts to put their careers on the line when politicians and ideologues are misleading the nation to war but those were the principles that analysts of my generation tried to uphold.

The recent tendency at CIA to give politicians what they want to hear rather than the hard truth is not healthy for the Republic that we were all sworn to serve.

And, if Petraeus's own past is precedent, loyalty to the four-star general will not always be synonymous with loyalty to the truth.

Burnishing an Image

However, you will get no indication of this troubling reality from the flattering, but thin, feature about Michael Morell, "Mr. Insider Will Guide Petraeus at the CIA," by Siobhan Gorman in the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 26.

Gorman is normally a solid reporter; but either she did not perform due diligence and let herself be snookered, or her editors stepped in to ensure her story was consonant with the image Petraeus and the Establishment wish to create for Morell.

Before her "rare" interview with Morell, Gorman should have taken a close look at former CIA Director George Tenet's memoir, At the Center of the Storm, to learn what Tenet says about Morell's record during the last decade's dark days of misleading and dishonest intelligence.

In Tenet's personal account of the CIA's failures around 9/11 and the Iraq War, Morell Tenet's former executive assistant is generally treated kindly, but Tenet puts Morell at the center of two key fiascoes: he "coordinated the CIA review" of Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous Feb. 5, 2003 address to the United Nations and he served as the regular CIA briefer to President George W. Bush.

Putting Access Before Honesty

So, Morell was there as Bush blew off early CIA warnings about the possibility of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden being "determined to strike in the US" and while Bush and his neoconservative inner circle were concocting intelligence to justify invading Iraq.

Tenet credits Morell with suggesting to analysts that they prepare a report on the terrorist threat, which became the President's Daily Brief that was handed to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Bush brushed aside the warning with a reported comment to the CIA briefer, "all right, you've covered your ass," and went off fishing.

Though Tenet said Morell got along well with Bush, it appears the President didn't pay much heed to any CIA information coming from Morell, at least not anything that went against what Bush wanted to hear nor did Morell seem to risk offending the President by pushing these contrary points.

After the Aug. 6 PDB was delivered, Tenet wrote that he needed to follow it up, and did so with a trip to Crawford 11 days later, when Tenet remembers Bush driving him around in a pickup truck as Tenet made "small talk about the flora and fauna."

Morell also was the CIA briefer with Bush in Florida on the morning of 9/11 when news arrived about the attacks on New York City's Twin Towers. Later, Bush told Morell "that if we [the CIA] learned anything definitive about the attack, he wanted to be the first to know," Tenet wrote, adding:

"Wiry, youthful looking, and extremely bright, Mike speaks in staccato-like bursts that get to the bottom line very quickly. He and George Bush had hit it off almost immediately. In a crisis like this, Mike was the perfect guy for us to have by the commander-in-chief's side."

However, it appears Morell was not willing to risk his rapport with Bush by challenging the President's desire to pivot from retaliatory strikes against Afghanistan to a full-scale invasion of Iraq based on false and misleading intelligence.

Tenet also described Morell's role in organizing the review of the "intelligence" that went into Powell's speech, which let slip the dogs of war by presenting a thoroughly deceptive account of the Iraqi threat, what Powell later called a "blot" on his record.

Though the CIA embraced many of Powell's misleading assertions, Tenet recounted one exchange in which Morell stood up to John Hannah, an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, regarding Iraq's alleged efforts to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger.

"Hannah asked Mike Morell, who was coordinating the review of the speech for CIA, why the Niger uranium story wasn't in the latest draft," Tenet wrote. "'Because we don't believe it,' Mike told him. 'I thought you did,' Hannah said. After much wrangling and precious time lost in explaining our doubts, Hannah understood why we believed it was inappropriate for Colin to use the Niger material in his speech."

Despite that one pushback, the CIA analysts mostly bent to pressures coming from the White House for an alarmist treatment of allegations about the "weapons of mass destruction," which turned out not to be in Iraq.

Of the CIA's finished intelligence product, it was reportedly the PDB delivered by Morell that most exaggerated the danger.

Not Mistaken, Dishonest

It is sad to have to recall that this was not "erroneous," but rather fraudulent intelligence. Announcing on June 5, 2008, the bipartisan conclusions from a five-year study by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller described the intelligence conjured up to "justify" war on Iraq as "uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent."

Rockefeller's comments call to mind what Tenet told his British counterpart, Sir Richard Dearlove, on July 20, 2002, after former Prime Minister Tony Blair sent Dearlove to the CIA to get the latest scoop on how the U.S. planned to "justify" the attack on Iraq.

According to the official British minutes of a cabinet-level planning session chaired by Blair on July 23, 2002, at 10 Downing Street, Tenet made clear to Dearlove that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" to bring "regime change" to Iraq.

Could it be that Tenet would let the British in on this dirty little secret and keep George W. Bush's personal briefer, Michael Morell, in the dark? Seems unlikely.

But even if Morell were not fully informed about the high-level scheme for war, would he have been with his prized relationship with the President the most appropriate senior official to "coordinate the CIA review" of Powell's speech?

The 'Sinister Nexus'

In the Wall Street Journal feature, reporter Gorman was assured of something else about Morell's role in preparing the intelligence on Iraq. According to Gorman, "His [Morell's] team didn't handle the analysis that erroneously concluded the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction." I guess that depends on your definition of "team."

But what about alleged ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the second bogus issue used to "justify" attacking Iraq? There Morell seemed to be on better ground, telling Gorman that his "team" had concluded that there had been earlier contacts between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda, but there were no links to al-Qaeda operations at the time.

Still, Morell didn't seem to have pressed this point very hard while coordinating the CIA's review of Powell's UN speech. If Morell had, one has to wonder why Powell was fed, and swallowed, the line about a "sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network?"

ABC's Brian Ross shot down that canard just hours after Powell spoke. Citing a BBC report from London, Ross noted that British intelligence had concluded there was no evidence to support the theory that al-Qaeda and Iraq were working together.

Virtually all intelligence analysts with no axes to grind, after sifting through thousands of reports, had long since come to that same conclusion.

Did Secretary Powell have to learn about the Iraq/al-Qaeda disconnect from the BBC? Later, Powell was livid at having been led down the garden path by the likes of Tenet, Tenet's pandering deputy John McLaughlin, and Morell, a Tenet protégé.

Tenet and McLaughlin were also co-liars-in-chief regarding those mobile biological weapons factories, a yarn spun by the infamous source called "Curveball." In his memoir, Tenet doesn't describe Morell's role in promoting, or at least acquiescing in depicting, the charlatan "Curveball" as a reliable intelligence source for a key portion of Powell's speech.

And, if you think it's unfair to expect CIA bureaucrats to risk their careers by challenging the political desires of the White House, it's worth noting the one major exception to the CIA's sorry record during George W. Bush's presidency and how honest CIA analysts helped prevent another unnecessary war.

After former chief of State Department intelligence Tom Fingar was put in charge of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), a thoroughly professional NIE in late 2007 concluded unanimously and "with high confidence" that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in mid-2003.

President Bush's own memoir leaves no doubt that this Estimate played a huge role in spiking White House plans for war on Iran. It's a pity that the Estimate on Iran should be an exception to the rule.

Much to Be Humble About

Yet, in the Wall Street Journal feature, Michael Morell lectures Gorman on the basics and the limits of intelligence analysis.

"We end up having bits of information that have a multitude of possible explanations," said Morell. "You've got to be really humble about the business we're in."

Well, yes indeed. The WSJ also ran a sidebar with a list of the following CIA failures and Morell's facile potions for cures:

–2001, Sept. 11 attacks: A failure of both intelligence collection and analysis. Lesson: A need to better penetrate U.S. adversaries.

–2003, Iraq weapons of mass destruction: Analysts erroneously concluded Iraq had WMDs. Lesson: Analysts must describe confidence levels in conclusions, consider alternate explanations.

–2009, Bombing of CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan: Doubts about the asset-turned-suicide-bomber didn't get to the right people. Lesson: Share information with the people who most need it.

Is this Morell fellow on the ball, or what?

Let's address these one by one:

–9/11 need not have happened if Tenet and his protĂ©gĂ©s simply shared the information needed by the FBI and others. See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com's " Did Tenet Hide Key 9/11 Info ?" Or, Tenet and Morell might have risked their cozy relationship with Bush by challenging his casual dismissal of the existing multiple warnings.

–The WMD not in Iraq? How about promoting and rewarding honest analysts; no "fixing" allowed. Face down White House pressure. We used to do it all the time. We used to have career protection for doing it.

–On the tragedy at Khost? Well, how about some basic training in tradecraft, including rudimentary security precautions.

And speaking of rudimentary security precautions: Morell bragged to Gorman that he had recently flown to Kabul to brief Petraeus, carrying a blue briefing book emblazoned with the CIA seal and detailing the CIA's every critical program, organization and operation.

"It was the most highly classified guide that I've ever seen in my life" was Petraeus's wow-response.

The appropriate reaction, in my professional view, would have been to fire Morell on the spot for recklessness. He should know better. They down aircraft, blow up motorcades and shoot people in Afghanistan, you know. Is it really such a great idea to carry a briefing book with the CIA's most sensitive secrets into that environment?

Moreover, bragging about this cavalier approach to protecting sensitive documents sends shivers down the backs of foreign intelligence officers, adding to their reluctance to share delicate information with us.

Loosening Leashes on Dogs of War

There is ironic serendipity in the fact that the WSJ feature on Morell appeared on Aug. 26, exactly nine years after the fraudulent speech given by Vice President Dick Cheney before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville.

And just four days before the nation's bookstores host In My Time , Cheney's apologia pro vita sua . (The advance promotion includes his personal warning that the book will have "heads exploding" all over Washington.)

There are huge lessons in what happened and what did not happen immediately after Cheney's Aug. 26, 2002, thinly disguised call for an attack on Iraq, and how those who recognized the lies could not summon enough courage to try to stop the juggernaut toward war.

The Fawning Corporate Media and the cowering careerists at CIA were among the main culprits. But there were others who, if they have a conscience and are honest with themselves, may still be finding it difficult to look in the mirror nine years later.

In his August 2002 speech, Cheney launched the virulent propaganda campaign for an aggressive war against Iraq, telling the audience in Nashville:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

This was no innocent mistake by the Vice President; it was a bald-faced lie, a falsehood that opened the gates to a hellish conflict that has ripped apart Iraq, bringing untold death and destruction.

Nine years later it is well worth recalling this lie on behalf of the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq, the many more wounded, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, and the five million displaced from their homes.

Let it be widely understood that on Aug. 26, 2002, Dick Cheney set the meretricious terms of reference for war.

Hear No Evil, Speak No Truth

Sitting on the same stage that evening was former CENTCOM commander Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, who was being honored at the VFW convention. Zinni later said he was shocked to hear Cheney's depiction of intelligence (Iraq has WMD and is amassing them to use against us) that did not square with what he knew.

Although Zinni had retired two years before, his role as consultant had enabled him to stay up to date on key intelligence findings.

"There was no solid proof that Saddam had WMD. … I heard a case being made to go to war," Zinni told Meet the Press three and a half years later .

Zinni is normally a straight shooter with a good bit of courage. And so, the question lingers: why did he not go public when he first heard Cheney's lie?

What seems operative here, I fear, is an all-too-familiar conundrum at senior levels where people have been conditioned not to rock the boat, not to risk their standing within the Washington Establishment.

Almost always, the results are bad. I would bet a tidy sum that Zinni regrets having let his reaction be shaped, as it apparently was, by a misguided kind of professional courtesy and/or slavish adherence to classification restrictions.

After all, he was one of the very few credible senior officials who might have prevented a war of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunals after World War II branded the "supreme international crime."

Zinni was not the only one taken aback by Cheney's words. Then-CIA Director George Tenet said Cheney's speech took him completely by surprise.

In his memoir, Tenet wrote, "I had the impression that the president wasn't any more aware than we were of what his number-two was going to say to the VFW until he said it." But like Br'er Fox, Tenet didn't say nothing.

Tenet claims he didn't even check it all out with either Cheney or Bush after Cheney's speech. Yet, could Cheney's twisting of the data not have been anticipated? Indeed, weren't Tenet and his CIA in on the determination to make a case for war?

In a way, that conclusion is a no-brainer. As mentioned above, just five weeks before Cheney's speech, Tenet himself had explained to his British counterpart that the President had decided to make war on Iraq for regime change and "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Cheney simply was unveiling the war rationale to the public. Several weeks later, when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Bob Graham insisted on a National Intelligence Estimate before any vote in Congress, Tenet told his folks to prepare one that dovetailed with Cheney's unsupported rhetoric.

Sadly, my former colleagues did. And where was Michael Morell in this process? Clearly, he did nothing to destroy his career or put himself too much on the outs at the White House.

The Sales Job

When Bush's senior advisers came back to town after Labor Day 2002, the next five weeks were devoted to selling the war, a major "new product" that, as then-White House chief of staff Andy Card explained, one shouldn't introduce in the month of August.

Card, too, apparently had no idea that Cheney would jump the gun as "fixer-in-chief." At that point, the Tenets, McLaughlins and Morells of this world fell right into line.

After assuring themselves that Tenet was a reliable salesman, Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld allowed him to play a supporting role in advertising bogus claims about aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment and mobile trailers for manufacturing biological warfare agents.

The hyped and bogus intelligence succeeded in scaring Congress into voting for war on Oct. 10 and 11, 2002.

In my view, it strains credulity to think that Michael Morell was unaware of the fraudulent nature of this campaign. Yet, like all too many others, he mostly kept quiet, and he got promoted. That's how it works in Washington these days.

This kind of malleability regarding twisting facts to support war has worked well for Petraeus, too.

Today, there is little chance Petraeus can be unaware of Morell's pedigree. Given Petraeus's own experience in climbing the career ladder, the general may even harbor an admiration for Morell's extraordinary willingness to please.

The two will make a fine pair for Official Washington, though not for those "quaint" folks who put a high premium on integrity.

As for Dick Cheney who was once given the well-deserved sobriquet "Vice President for Torture" in a Washington Post editorial, I just wish he would disappear so he would stop bringing out the worst in everyone.

I found my own feelings mirrored in a plaintive comment from a good friend who prays a lot. She said, "I keep praying for Dick Cheney, especially when he goes into the hospital. But he always comes out again."

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a PDB briefer of Vice President George H.W. Bush and the Secretaries of State and Defense during President Ronald Reagan's first term, and earlier in his career chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) .

Note: I sent a draft of the above article to former colleagues, intelligence officers who served in CIA more recently than I and left after clocking many years at very senior levels. The comments I received from them turned out to be so germane and incisive that I include them below for those wanting a better feel for what really goes on.

The first is from a recently retired Senior Intelligence Service officer.

Ray:

You make a good case that Morell isn't going to be the objective, unpoliticized deputy that Petraeus is going to need. He may be what Petraeus wants, but not what he needs to do a good job.

You make the case that, like McLaughlin, he's going to give the veneer of an analyst's integrity to decision making without any of the burdens (integrity, nonpoliticization, tradecraft, etc.) that make the analyst imprimatur meaningful. Like McLaughlin, he seems eager to play handmaiden to a predetermined agenda.

In fact, the case you make, correctly, is that Morell is the quintessential intelligence community bureaucrat who has survived and prospered by subscribing to a particular worldview and steering clear of the alternatives declared off-limits by the U.S. right wing.

A couple of more specific comments:

–Your use of the word "loyalty": Morell will be loyal to his boss i.e., he will not upset him the way McLaughlin was loyal to Tenet. That ignores, of course, that the deputy's job is to protect his boss from himself and from his own biases.

McLaughlin's "loyalty" to Tenet wound up screwing Tenet, and Morell's "loyalty" to Petraeus is going to do the same. A man like Petraeus shows up with HUGE blind spots, and Morell rather than help him see into those blind spots almost certainly will reinforce them.

Your use of the word "loyalty" conveys that it's a virus that will harm Petraeus. And that's what it is.

The "winds blowing from the White House" requires a little elaboration. Just as Panetta was captured, so has this White House been via the person of CIA veteran John Brennan on site. Brennan, of course, is the fellow who could not get confirmed as director because of his well known past history, so he's running things from the White House.

The number of Obama flip-flops on intelligence issues has been stunning. The "winds," you might say, have been blowing from CIA's own Tenet protégé Brennan.

I personally would say Morell, like McLaughlin, knows and accepts that the operations people and their rightwing allies in the Admin, at the Pentagon, and in the Congress (and there are many!) set the direction the wind blows; Morell will always urge his boss to tack accordingly.

In fact, the parallels with McLaughlin are strong, an analysis directorate fellow of modest capabilities, desperate for acceptance by the operations people and the rightwing downtown, jettisoning tradecraft and going with the flow.

The Gorman piece in the WSJ was disgraceful cooptation in action. The fact that she could list his many failures as "lessons learned" was amazing. It's as if the rightwing were signaling to Petreaus not to judge Morell by his repeated failures and repeated inaction; judge him by our right-wing love for him.

On the many failures, I don't have first-hand knowledge of Morell's role in the historic intelligence cook-job of WMD and the fateful State of the Union lies about yellow cake; all I know is that Alan Foley was the designated representative in that coordination.

But your sourcing of Tenet on that is compelling, and I think your sanity-check on Morell's performance is fair.

–Words like "wow-response" are also fair, and effective. The "wow" factor is used to shock and awe people to squeeze them into the tiny space in which conformity is expected and challenges rejected.

For me, particularly with a weak Administration with no policy bearings like this one, the problem is that operations are done for operations' sake sans policy, sans review.

I'm reading Joby Warrick's book, and his worship of targeters is somewhat jarring when there's no discussion of the number of innocent people killed and no discussion of why this is an "intelligence" vice military mission. We know why, but his readers don't making such worship rather cynical.

You're probably right that it "strains credulity" that Morell didn't know how fraudulent the whole National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq was. I just don't know, however, whether he was able intellectually to see what was going on.

He was so close to power and so close to their mindset and so eager to stay in their good graces that he may have believed all the horse manure.

Wrapped up as he was, he may not have fully appreciated the thing was especially because key elements of the intelligence community funneling info to him were also true-believers, as were those in charge of community analysis.

Who could ever have been giving Morell an alternative view? The most senior people were all true-believers. It was very much frowned upon to ask real questions.

So how could a man of Morell's background and capabilities ask them? If you preferred not to say outright that Morell was guilty of fraud, you could be somewhat more charitable and put it this way: He was surrounded by true-believers and didn't have the fortitude or candlepower, or even perceived space, to question the bogus intelligence he was involved in validating.

Not a good harbinger for the future.

The second comment (on the remarks above) is from Larry C Johnson, former CIA intelligence officer.

Your observations provide important context. The lies that paved the road to war in Iraq are being revived this week as part of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

We have not learned a damned thing. Meanwhile, Iraq remains a deadly place for the various Iraq factions and our actions have completely disrupted the balance of power in the Middle East. Of course, neither the media nor the majority of the pundits want to focus on that.

And a brief but important point made by first commenter in reaction:

And cranking up for Iran?

Comment from Mary McCarthy, former Senior Intelligence Service officer and White House official.

You asked if I knew Morell and what he is like. I do; you nailed it.

The only moment of discomfort is when you use Tenet as a compass point for the actual truth. Because, of course, Tenet often has his own version of the facts.

Nancy Abler, August 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

My comment is actually a question. What political person or group was most instrumental in changing the inherent integrity of the CIA to a politically obeisant CIA? And when?

  1. J. C. Murphy August 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm There is a daily compilation of news articles that appears on one of the DoD websites. I won't mention the name, but many of you are probably familiar with it. It's not classified information. I am a “non-combatant”, but I view it my duty to know what is actually going on. When you wear the 'chicken', that's kind of obligatory. Since I kind of assume that it's a “cooked” reading list, I check it out every day at lunch-time. Then, I go home in the evening and read what they say about the same stories on Alternet, TruthOut, TruthDig, CrooksandLiars, TheDailyBail, WhatReallyHappened, TheRealNews, etc.

    When I read Gorman's article, I almost fell out of my chair. Especially the part about the “Blue Book”, a hard copy of every significant intelligence initiative we have. And I swear to God, the first thing that went through my mind was, “I can't wait to hear what Ray McGovern has to say about this”. I hope that blue book had a close encounter with the nearest 'industrial strength' shredder. Better yet, the biohazardous waste incinerator at the nearest U.S. Military health facility.

    Ray, you're the best. Godspeed-

  2. Ethan Allen August 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm Though I have taken issue with Mr. McGovern on several occasions, this take on the professional veracity of Michael Morell reflects an improved awareness of honest candor and informed opinion. The concurrence of Mary McCarthy and "the retired Senior Intelligence Officer" mentioned are reassuring endorsements.
    I found this excerpt to be a particularly interesting observation:

    "Almost always, the results are bad. I would bet a tidy sum that Zinni regrets having let his reaction be shaped, as it apparently was, by a misguided kind of professional courtesy and/or slavish adherence to classification restrictions."

    It is this very "..slavish adherence to classification restrictions." that seems to continue to plague many of those who continue to be paid, even in ostensible retirement, with public largess; but none-the-less hold such nefarious pledges to secrecy in higher regard than their oath to the Constitution and the people it is designed to support and protect.

  3. Meremark August 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm –
    Ray, good man, my two senses:

    Saying, "The hyped and bogus intelligence [ foisted by media-mania in 'only' 5 weeks after Labor Day, 2002 ] succeeded in scaring Congress into voting for war on Oct. 10 and 11, 2002," does shortchange, bypass, and omit quite a bunch of conducts of equal or more importance (than 'hype and bogosity') that SCARED Congress to fear, panic, and comply at being commanded orders to self-destructively rubberstamp plans prepared for military invasion of Iraq.

    On first reading I mistook the year and thought the statement said 'between Labor Day and mid-October 2001' falsified intelligence scared Congress to make blind endorsement (of the PATRIOT Act) for Bush Admin 'throw-weight' - which truly happened then, (false claims fooled Congress), but such a brief description (as I misread it) applied to those dates in 2001, the year before, would be ignoring the scaring (and scarring) effect of the anthrax letters mailed to Congress.

    Anyway, it is all of-a-piece according to my estimation. Bush losing (to Clinton) in 1992 begat (Bush's) vendetta viciousness which begat a militaristic making of foreign policy which begat (Bush conceiving and appointing) a panel the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) to hop on a hype of Defense Quadrennial Review which begat a seeded "new Pearl Harbor" bearing for compartmentalized planners to steer toward in unison, and in parallel, which begat installing proxy Bush Junior as 'cover' misdirection overshadowing surreptitious operations which begat the inside-job obtaining in nine-eleven op which begat paralytic mortification of Congress which begat Patriot Act passage which begat destabilizing and off-balancing Middle East incusions which begat stovepipes (of 'war reporters') for massmedia distribution of the hype and bogosity scheduled to come "after August", 2002, which begat Executive war-crimes powers rubberstamped by Congress which begat oil confiscation from devastating Iraq and decapitating the House of Hussein … "to get him back," vengefully, "to finish the job" (and incidentally silence a partner confided privy in years-earlier crimes against humanity). ( Three men can keep a secret, if two are dead – Ben Franklin) In result: rule the world and control all its petroleum. or the other way 'round.

    If any segment of that plan in operation, 1993-2003, had failed then EVERYthing planned to follow on from the juncture (of the failure) would have NONE of it have happened. Most critically, if Junior had not been made Cover-Up Controller (POTUS) then nine-eleven op would not have happened. (Or if nine-eleven op had failed or been exposed truly, then taking over Iraq (oil production) would not have happened.

    Overall, my first comment is to the point that Congress's going along (obedience) for ceding war-power Authority, by its Oct. 2002 demented actions, was a longer psychological breaking-down procedure than only a 6-week public relations saturation-campaign of 'bad intelligence.'

    My second point is to crack your optimistic rose-colored glasses, Ray, through which you see the institution (of a 'secret' intelligence community, namely the CIA) as an intrinsic 'good' or good 'thing' permanently, and, transiently, the human-natured agents of the institution as individually good or bad cases, assets, apples … and if all the bad apples were taken or kept out of the institutional barrel, the provided fruits of such a cultivated institution would be good (natured) without doubt. I claim that the Tenets and McLaughlins and Morells and all the 'bad' apple-shining agents you may care to name, if they were to be cast out and departed from the intelligence community, what remained - in its very precept and principles, its conceived raison d'etre - was and evermore is inHERently 'bad' or a 'bad' thing … malevolent, malignant, a malady, undemocratic, anti-American.

    Not only is the institution of the CIA with its elite secrets and secret elites unjustified, true Justice should would and could (obviate), sanction, and sentence condemnation on its immoral purpose, motives, and practice. I kinda got this view (I share) of 'it' (discounting ordinary citizens' sensibility as unable to handle the truths of a certain privileged secret illicit and irrighteous 'license-to-kill') from Harry Truman; (versus Allen Dulles).

    Put all surveillance apertures, including orbiting-satellite views, including visual and every spectrum scanned, on the internet … as public money provides. Thus, then, all the malevolent agents and reagents in the world are objectively the seen , not the subjectively-serving seers .

    Ray, you can't make supremacism right in the CIA and USG by removing its wrongs in a process of elimination to reach its core value. You can't domesticate an antisocial tiger by changing or cleansing its stripes.

    One small note to end on for your consideration, Ray, regarding your uncertainty whether the President is riding the tiger or the tiger is riding the President, ("… Obama flip-flops on intelligence issues ???"). Consider the findings of investigation into Obama's biographic lineage, childhood, formative rearing, and deliverance achieved. Evidence (strongly and strangely suppressed) appears for conviction that he is but one specimen (the most prominent) of the MK-ULTRA human(life) experimentation, 1951-2011, making and made a (Legendary) 'manchurian candidate.' Made in USA branded brain.

    Evidenced in the original, although behind a subscription-required paywall yet soon a published book, appears here:
    http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/

    and appears in essential excerpt, here:
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/08/18/wayne-madsen-obamas-cia-connections-part-i-and-ii/

    -

    Answer to Nancy Abler , 11:08 am, questions of what person most instrumentally corrupted the integrity of the CIA?, and (maybe) when? how?

    The most explanation I have read is Chapter 16 of George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, here:
    http://tarpley.net/online-books/george-bush-the-unauthorized-biography/chapter-16-campaign-1980/

    A schizophrenic 'Team B' element was infiltrated into the original integrity of the CIA, (billed as 'Team A'), as and soon after Bush served as Director, 1976. He is, after all, who made the CIA what it is today, who presided at the ceremony of the cornerstone for the (second) Headquarters Building and so recognized by namesake on the bronze plaque by the front door.

    The corroborating correlation I most notice is that nine-eleven is the commemorative founding date of the CIA, 1947.

[May 12, 2016] Screw The Next Generation Anonymous Congressman Admits To Blithely Mortgaging The Future With A Wink A Nod

Notable quotes:
"... "Most of my colleagues are dishonest career politicians who revel in the power and special-interest money that's lavished upon them." ..."
"... "My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything." ..."
"... "Fundraising is so time consuming I seldom read any bills I vote on. Like many of my colleagues, I don't know how the legislation will be implemented, or what it'll cost." ..."
"... " Voters are incredibly ignorant and know little about our form of government and how it works." ..."
"... "It's far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification." ..."
"... "We spend money we don't have and blithely mortgage the future with a wink and a nod. Screw the next generation." ..."
"... Best line in the God Father. "Their Saps, They fight for other people". Sounds like pop talking. God damn right that's Pop talking. Come here you. ..."
"... The only function of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate the bureaucracy. ..."
"... Trump is getting so much attention because the citizenry doesn't know how the govt was designed to work, and is looking for a "leader" to fix things up. ..."
"... The power lies in Congress, by design, appropriately so, as it most closely represents the will of the People. And therein lies the eleventh-hour problem. ..."
"... This book will be exposed as a hoax. It is doubtless a compilation of quotes from multiple Congrees-critters over the years. I doubt any of these assholes would risk exposure in this manner. They don't have the guts. ..."
May 12, 2016 | Zero Hedge

A shockingly frank new book from an anonymous Democratic congressman turns yet another set of conspiracy theories into consirpacy facts as he spills the beans on the ugly reality behind the scenes in Washington. While little will surprise any regular readers, the selected quotes offered by "The Confessions Of Congressman X" book cover sheet read like they were ripped from the script of House of Cards... and yet are oh so believable...

A devastating inside look at the dark side of Congress as revealed by one of its own! No wonder Congressman X wants to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. His admissions are deeply disturbing...

"Most of my colleagues are dishonest career politicians who revel in the power and special-interest money that's lavished upon them."

"My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything."

"Fundraising is so time consuming I seldom read any bills I vote on. Like many of my colleagues, I don't know how the legislation will be implemented, or what it'll cost."

The book also takes shots at voters as disconnected idiots who let Congress abuse its power through sheer incompetence...

" Voters are incredibly ignorant and know little about our form of government and how it works."

"It's far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification."

And, as The Daily Mail so elqouently notes, the take-away message is one of resigned depression about how Congress sacrifices America's future on the altar of its collective ego...

"We spend money we don't have and blithely mortgage the future with a wink and a nod. Screw the next generation."

"It's about getting credit now, lookin' good for the upcoming election."

Simply put, it's everything that is enraging Americans about their government's dysfunction and why Trump is getting so much attention.

10mm

Best line in the God Father. "Their Saps, They fight for other people". Sounds like pop talking. God damn right that's Pop talking. Come here you.

SidSays

"My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything."

The only function of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate the bureaucracy.

chunga

The shining city on a hill is chock full of assholes like this. They've run out of other people's money for this purpose so bad, generations to come are screwed. Unless of course they are all stamped away and their bullshit repudiated.

The scummiest scum of humans go into politics.

Cabreado

"and why Trump is getting so much attention."

No, that is perilously false.

Trump is getting so much attention because the citizenry doesn't know how the govt was designed to work, and is looking for a "leader" to fix things up.

I've been pecking away for years that the attention must be on Congress. No takers here at ZH either, for the most part.

Again... a finally corrupt and defunct Congress is what must be dealt with post haste, and a "Trump" or any other will not be the answer to changing the trajectory.

The power lies in Congress, by design, appropriately so, as it most closely represents the will of the People. And therein lies the eleventh-hour problem.

financialrealist

I've said it time and again. Just today I posted "our entire system is based on subjective financial asset valuations to support the needs of today with no consideration of tomorrow". Politicians and their money grubbing corporate assholes thought of future generations don't transcend beyond their own line of sight. We do not have a government or system for the people. We have a government who's sole purpose is to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. Burn the fucker down

Captain Willard

This book will be exposed as a hoax. It is doubtless a compilation of quotes from multiple Congrees-critters over the years. I doubt any of these assholes would risk exposure in this manner. They don't have the guts.

[Sep 29, 2013] Ronald Coase A respectful dissent by David P Goldman

Sep 10, 2013 | Asia Times

I have an alternate theory of the firm, namely that large firms exist to protect mediocrity - from the lunatics and conmen on one hand, and disruptive innovators on the other. An entrepreneur, my former partner Jude Wanniski liked to say, is a fellow who walks into your office wearing a propeller beanie and carrying a perpetual-motion machine convinced that he's going to be a trillionaire. Ex ante it's hard to tell the loonies from the real thing. For every Thomas Edison there are a hundred candidates for commitment to state mental health facilities.

Most people don't like disruption. They want to acquire a skill, work reasonable hours, secure reasonable pay, watch television in the evening and play golf or whatever on the weekends. They don't look deeply into the matters that concern them and are content to do what other people in their position do. If they are diligent, reliable, well-mannered and polite, they are just the sort of folk that the human relations types at corporations prefer. Without a way to socialize, train and employ such people the world would come to a halt, because they make up the vast majority. And that is the great contribution of corporations to social welfare: they find ways to make mediocre people useful.

By training, supervising and deploying the great mediocre mass, corporations earn the trust of consumers who are equally mediocre. Consumers want reliable and predictable products that do not challenge their tastes, habits, and skills. Corporations spend most of their research and development funds ascertaining these tastes and habits and designing products that conform to them.

If they do their job properly, they prevent the supply chain from substituting anti-freeze for corn syrup or talcum for milk power. Unfortunately, corporations also do a good job of extirpating the sort of people who get bored with such products and attempt to do something new. Those people often become entrepreneurs and attempt to challenge the system.

Such challenges are not always beneficial. During the 1990s, the dot.com bubble proceeded on the unstated premise that the future of the US economy lay in downloading music and watching pornography. Innovation chased youth culture down the wrong rabbit hole.

Corporations do not innovate well, and economies die without innovation. Disruptive entrepreneurs destroy corporations who have done their job of cultivating mediocrity a bit too long, and create new corporations that, in turn, will cultivate their own sort of mediocrity.

Sometimes this goes haywire, as the US financial industry did during the 2000s. Left to its own devices, the financial industry created the sort of product that mediocre customers thought they wanted, namely AAA-rated securities. No-one needs imagination to own AAA's. Unfortunately, the financial engineers put the financial equivalent of anti-freeze into the corn syrup and poisoned the financial system. In the mediocre culture of corporations, advancement is attained by making your numbers and hoping that when a suppurating mass of toxic waste finally explodes it will do so on someone else's watch, long after you have been promoted.

Mediocrity can under special circumstances become a Petri dish for the incubation of some dangerous problems. The advent of financial engineering introduced a predator into the system against which mediocrity had no natural defenses. In the financial industry, at least, the mediocre became corrupt: millions of homeowners lied on mortgage applications, and tens of thousands of bank employees encouraged or at least countenanced the lies, both serious crimes under American law.

... ... ...

[Aug 19, 2013] DHS Whistleblower Censored from 60 minutes #N3

You should not assume that inefficiency of bureaucracies extends to the area when their vital interests are breached. They will fight tooth and nail with those who they consider dangerous for their interests.
YouTube

Oona Craig:

DHS is no different than the Cheka was in Bolshevik Russia and the Stasi in Bolshevik East Germany -- and run by the same tribe.

PlasmaBurns:

We need to start putting the constitution in every email, that way the Government will actually start reading it...

furballbear:

Julia Davis' story is completely true and she even made a documentary about it titled Top Priority: The Terror Within which shows that the United State's "war on terror" is a scam.

Support Julia Davis by purchasing her documentary and support the US Constitution by demanding that the USA PATRIOT Act be repealed.

furballbear:

No the whole intent is to make money. That's why it's finally become clear to even the average American that the 'War on Terror' is nothing more than a money grab.

Brave whistleblowers like Julia Davis and Edward Snowden need to keep speaking up so that we can finally repeal the ridiculous USA PATRIOT Act.

Funk Obama

our very own government perpetrates many of these attacks. To make money, amend laws, create new ones, and take away our civil liberties. That's all true, but the most sinister of it all has to do with occultism. This many sound ridiculous to many of you, but those that are truly in power of this planet are spirit worshipers that practice HUMAN SACRIFICE. The whole intent is to kill people.

Ken Anderson

It occurs to me that the NSA keeps Americans safe in much the same way as the Gestapo kept Germans safe in the 1930s and 1940s. Is this really what we want?

[Sep 08, 2011] The Business firm as a political coalition by James March

James March

Main point -- March sees the business firm as one complex organization that in organizational behavior resembles a political system because it has conflict systems and power struggles.

As the Modern Business firm is a large complex institution that makes decisions within a market economy. It is inadequate to just view the firm economically as an entrepreneur or politically in just the area of economic policies, so March proposes that the business firm should be seen as a political system and this would help to explain both the economic theories of the firm and the problems of political systems.

In order for us to view the business firm as a political system, we must first understand what is entailed in a political system (it is basically a conflict system) and what are the theories of resolving these conflicts.

Conflict systems

What is a conflict system?

Conflict systems can be used to describe the behavior of individuals in a learning experiment, the interaction between parties in a legislative setting or the internal dynamics of a small group when solving a problem. Basically it can be used in describing the behavior of small groups when they are setting agendas, normally two characteristics will occur.

Using the example of the business firm:

  1. There are consistent basic units-The executives at the bottom level of the power rank are independent decision-makers who will prefer one state of the company to the other possibilities that exist.
  2. There is conflict-conflict will arise in the firm when the executives' demands can not be met by the system and they do not accept any other alternative offered by the firm.

Some features of the conflict system

  1. The elementary unit of one study can be the conflict system of another.
  2. The individual can be treated as the system in some cases and as the elementary unit in other cases.
  3. Small groups can be considered as both elementary units and systems.

Theories of Conflict resolution

There are two theories of conflict resolution, the theories of political coalition states that in order to resolve conflict; a superordinate goal is imposed to which conflict can then be mediated. The second theory being theories of the business firm, conflict can be resolved using a process which avoids comparing usefulness when making decisions.

A) The imputation of a superordinate goal

Any conflict system that is observed is seen to be acting according to what is detailed by the superordinate goal, a superordinate goal can be imputed if:

  1. There is an assumption of an existing joint preference ordering for the system at any moment in time. For example in the firm, a superordinate goal can be set if there is a mutual consensus among the employees, unity in preference for the system at any one time.
  2. It is assumed that the system will choose the most preferred alternative behavior.

For example a tree would seek to be exposed to the sun as much as possible pending certain conditions that limits its goal but it is actually trying to resolve the conflict of maximizing it total exposure to the sun as that is a scarce resource.

Effective use of an imputed superordinate goal demand that the goal has to be constant and it has to be a meaningful goal. This imposition of a superordinate goal helps in making decisions about the allocation of scarce resources.

B) The description of a conflict resolution process

Any system that " behaves" can be said to be acting under a superordinate goal but it is also having a conflict resolution process. Therefore 2 conditions are needed in describing a theory for conflict resolution.

  1. The end decision is based on a simple premise.
  2. It can be assumed that there is joint consensus for elementary decisions.

But for the process of conflict resolution to be successful, the basic decision process has to be treated as basic units and there must be analytic procedures to explain the model, so that the theory can make meaningful predictions.

Studies of the Firm as an economic conflict System

The firm is treated as a part of a larger conflict system with the objective of maximizing long term profits where given a fixed set of prices the firm will set the lowest cost factor for the highest output. The economic theory of the firm is joint preference ordering which is profit maximization. Such a theory has poor predictive qualities, so profit maximization is replaced by a more general function. For the economist their definition of the firm implied that the firm represents a conflict system, in terms of superordinate goals, to be vulnerable to useful classification. Economic theories of the firm are useful only in constructing macro –economic theories of the firm but they are not useful in the micro description of the firm. To explain the firm's decision making behavior as just profit maximizing would be simply too general an approach. March goes on to give a critic of the economic theory of the business firm, (which he says is not a true reflection of the firms behavior in the actual setting.)

Studies of political conflict systems

In this theory, there are various groups with different interests therefore they make different demands on the system. The allocation of resources therefore is dependent on the coalition of interest groups and their control over the system. In these political systems there is an emphasis on "power, internal struggle and expediency: a de-emphasis of order, cooperation and problem solving." and process oriented conflict resolution method is used.

The Firm as A Political Coalition

In describing the process of conflict resolution, we assume that the firm is a political coalition, with the executive of the firm as the main actor. Nothing is set yet, no goals are given and the table is open for bargaining.

Assuming that there is also a set of potential participants who will pay the price required participating in the firm. They can be customers, employees, suppliers etc. They demand something from the firm and this will sway the results of the negotiation being made between the political broker and the firm, for it could strengthen or weaken the bargaining power of the broker. The demands do have a certain consistency. Consistency of the pairs of demands depends on external conditions, of which some pairs are complementary to the goals of the political broker and this is the marginal "cost" of any participant to the coalition. At the same time several assumptions are made.

  1. The level of demands moves in responds to experience
  2. The attention given to the demands depends on the perception of the problems.
  3. The coalitions of participants also have a certain " value " which is of use to the environment involved.

Using the example of the government coalition, where in democracy the party with more than 50% power will be able to do anything but not the party without that 50% support. In the same way in alternative business coalition, different participants are allocated different marginal value for different coalition.

March sees the executive as the lead actor whose goal is to maximize his own gains from the firm, so he needs to find a coalition that will best support his goals. But his problem is how to find one coalition that has complementary goals with his, so that he would incur a low " marginal cost" and the coalition must be powerful enough to help him succeed in his goal. That is the " marginal value " of the coalition. This whole description of the firms behavior for March resembles more of a political coalition than it is being described in economic sense, especially in the following 4 ways.

  1. The focus of attention is on the people who are actually the organizers of the coalition like stockholders. Their demands would be a form of constrains on the lead actors and would help determine future coalitions.
  2. This theory focuses on the short run solutions to the problems faced by the coalition.
  3. The theory places an importance on policy demands and payments rather than trying to meet demands.
  4. The importance of institutional constrains on the problems of the coalition are stressed.

The theory of the business firm as a political coalition is empirically supported and has face validity, as it is more in line with the observed attitudes of business decision making.

From March's vivid description of the firm as a political coalition, it shows that he is out to show that the firm's behavior resembles more of an organization than what the economist would describe the firm as, an entrepreneur.

Introduction of Computer.

With the introduction of the Computer program model, a new dimension to the process description models of conflict systems is added. These models may not best describe the business firm as a political coalition but they allow us to explore the possibility of seeing the business firm as a political coalition. The computer models being process descriptive are a natural form of theory in this particular area and their introduction makes it possible to study the business firm's behavior as a political coalition even further.

What are the implications for the study of Political Conflict Systems?

  1. The business firm can be viewed as a political conflict system; it serves as a test for which we can see how being in a non-political setting had modified the political.
  2. The computer programs models used in the analysis of political systems within the business firms were a success showing how computer language can be used for the treatment of political conflict systems generally.
  3. In theory the similarity between the political business coalition and the political government coalition implies that the behavior models of the firm could be useful as a form of comparison with the models of governmental decision making

The behavior of the firm when making decisions as a coalition suggests that it is a form of political coalition and this contributes to the development of the theory of the firm as well as to the theory of politics.

[Jul 04, 2011] The bureaucratic phenomenon

AcaWiki

Crozier's book can be seen as a response to both the rational approach to organizations and to the human relations approach. Crozier argues that organizations act as the site for conflict and politics and argues against what he argues is a simplistic Weberian account of organizations and efficient and largely rational spaces. Instead, he seems them as sites for negotiation of complex power relations. Crozier explains that:

The classic rationalists did not consider the members of an organization as human beings, but just as cogs in the machine. For them, workers were only hands. The human relations approach has shown how incomplete this rationale was. It has also made it possible to consider workers as creatures of feeling, who are moved by the impact of the so-called rational decisions taken above then, and will react to them. A human being, however, does not have only a hand a heart. He also had a head, which means that he is free to play his own game (p. 149).

The first half of his book focuses on two settings in which he has done extensive research and which he reports a long serise of detailed examples of the nature of work and management. His two examples are each located in France: "The Clerical Agency" and "The Industrial Monopoly". Crozier chose these examples not only because he was French, but also because he claims that socially and culturally France has developed in such a way that it created organizations that closely resembled the Weberian notion of an ideal bureaucracy.

His book essentially argues that bureaucracies are often dysfunctional and his analysis aims to unpack conflicts and power struggles to understand why this is.

His theory is based on the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance according to a set of impersonal and predefined rules and regulations, the only way in which people are able to gain some control over their lives is to exploit 'zones of uncertainty' where the outcomes are not already known.

Attacking both the rationalists and the human relations school for ignoring the role that such power struggles play in the shaping of an organization he argues that organizational relations are in fact a series of strategic games where the individuals attempt either to exploit any areas of discretion for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage.

The result of this is that goals are subverted and the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles. Thus, paradoxically, the result of attempting to design an efficient organization that runs on rational and impersonal lines is to create a situation where the opposite to is true.

Finally, Crozier argues that bureaucratic systems are characterized by the existence of a set of vicious circles that find their source in centralization and impersonality:

The bureaucratic phenomenon by Michel Crozier

Alibris

In "The Bureaucratic Phenomenon" Michel Croier demonstrates that bureaucratic institutions need to be understood in terms of the cultural context in which they operate. The originality of the study lies in its association of two widely different approaches: the theory of decision-making in large organizations and the cultural analysis of social patterns of action.

The book opens with a detailed examination of two forms of French public service. These studies show that professional training and distortions alone cannot ex plain the rise of routine behavior and dysfunctional "vicious circles." The role of various bureaucratic systems appears to depend on the pattern of power relation ships between groups and individuals. Croier's findings lead him to the view that bureaucratic structures form a necessary protection against the risks inherent in collective action. Since systems of protection are built around basic cultural traits, the author presents a French bureaucratic model based on centralization, strata isolation, and individual sparkle-one that that can be contrasted with an American, Russian, or Japanese model. He points out how the same patterns can be found in several areas of French life: education, industrial relations, politics, business, and the colonial policy. Bureaucracy, Croier concludes, is not a modern disease resulting from organizational progress but rather a bulwark against development. --[??? innovation -- NNB]

The breakdown of the traditional bureaucratic system in modern France offers hope for new and fruitful forms of action.

Michel Croier was the founder and director of the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations and senior research fellow of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. He is currently a member of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. He is the author or co-author of numerous books including The Stalled Society, The Crisis of Democracy, and The Trouble with America. Erhard Friedberg is professor of sociology and director of the Master of Public Affairs at Sciences Po in Paris. He is the author of numerous books including Actors and Systems (with Michel Croier) and Local Orders--Dynamics of Organized Action.

The bureaucratic phenomenon - AcaWiki

Crozier's book can be seen as a response to both the rational approach to organizations and to the human relations approach. Crozier argues that organizations act as the site for conflict and politics and argues against what he argues is a simplistic Weberian account of organizations and efficient and largely rational spaces. Instead, he seems them as sites for negotiation of complex power relations. Crozier explains that:

The classic rationalists did not consider the members of an organization as human beings, but just as cogs in the machine. For them, workers were only hands. The human relations approach has shown how incomplete this rationale was. It has also made it possible to consider workers as creatures of feeling, who are moved by the impact of the so-called rational decisions taken above then, and will react to them. A human being, however, does not have only a hand a heart. He also had a head, which means that he is free to play his own game (p. 149).

The first half of his book focuses on two settings in which he has done extensive research and which he reports a long serise of detailed examples of the nature of work and management. His two examples are each located in France: "The Clerical Agency" and "The Industrial Monopoly". Crozier chose these examples not only because he was French, but also because he claims that socially and culturally France has developed in such a way that it created organizations that closely resembled the Weberian notion of an ideal bureaucracy.

His book essentially argues that bureaucracies are often dysfunctional and his analysis aims to unpack conflicts and power struggles to understand why this is.

His theory is based on the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance according to a set of impersonal and predefined rules and regulations, the only way in which people are able to gain some control over their lives is to exploit 'zones of uncertainty' where the outcomes are not already known.

Attacking both the rationalists and the human relations school for ignoring the role that such power struggles play in the shaping of an organization he argues that organizational relations are in fact a series of strategic games where the individuals attempt either to exploit any areas of discretion for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage.

The result of this is that goals are subverted and the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles. Thus, paradoxically, the result of attempting to design an efficient organization that runs on rational and impersonal lines is to create a situation where the opposite to is true.

Finally, Crozier argues that bureaucratic systems are characterized by the existence of a set of vicious circles that find their source in centralization and impersonality:

The Bureaucratic Organization

A Theory of Bureaucratic Dysfunction - Michel Crozier (1964)

In " The Bureaucratic Phenomenon " the French Sociologist, Michel Crozier set out to re-examine Weber's concept of the efficient ideal bureaucracy in the light of the way that bureaucratic organizations had actually developed and constructed a theory of bureaucratic dysfunction based on an analysis of case studies.

The core of his theory stems from the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance, the only way for people to gain control over their lives is to exploit any remaining 'zones of uncertainty'. He argues that organizational relations become little more than strategic games that attempt to exploit such zones, either for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage. The result is that the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles - so called 'vicious circles' - that prevent it learning from its errors.

Thus, in order to be rational and egalitarian, bureaucracies attempt to come up with a set of impersonal rules to cover every event. The first result of this is that, because the outcome of such decisions are predetermined, hierarchical relationships become less important and the senior levels lose the power to govern.

Secondly, in order to maintain the impersonal nature of decision making, decisions cannot must be made by the people who might be affected. The result of this is that most problems are resolved by people who have no direct knowledge of them.

Thirdly, the elimination of opportunities for bargaining and negotiation creates an organization consisting of a series of isolated strata. The result is peer group pressure to conform to the norms of the strata regardless of individual beliefs or the wider goals of the organization.

Finally, individuals or groups that gain control the zones of uncertainty wield disproportionate power in an otherwise regulated and egalitarian organization. This leads to the creation of parallel power structures, which in turn results in decisions being made based on factors unrelated to those of the organization as a whole.

Open letter to BlackBerry bosses Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him By: Jonathan S. Geller

Jun 30, 2011

There's no question Research In Motion is in the midst of a major transitional period. The company is planning to launch a brand new product line based on a brand new operating system within the next 12 months, and even though the first device born out of RIM's new QNX OS was impressive in some ways, it was incomplete. There still is a chance for RIM to deliver some really interesting competitive products, but time is quickly running out, as we have written time and time again. The thing is, RIM has always been a company controlled by two people - Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. For all the things that have worked, they have missed the boat countless times and we're now seeing the results.

We have received an open letter to Mike and Jim from a high-level RIM employee (whose identity we have verified), and in an amazingly honest and passionate plea, this letter gives fascinating insights into what RIM must fix, and fast. RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the open letter in its entirety after the break.

P.S. If you're an employee of RIM and want to send us your thoughts and feelings on the company, you can send them to us via email or leave a comment below.

I have lost confidence.

While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone - the sentiment is widespread and it includes people within your own teams.

Mike and Jim, please take the time to really absorb and digest the content of this letter because it reflects the feeling across a huge percentage of your employee base. You have many smart employees, many that have great ideas for the future, but unfortunately the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects.

Before I get into the meat of the matter, I will say I am not part of a large group of bitter employees wishing to embarrass us. Rather, I believe these points need to be heard and I desperately want RIM to regain its position as a successful industry leader. Our carriers, distributors, alliance partners, enterprise customers, and our loyal end users all want the same thing… for BlackBerry to once again be leading the pack.

We are in the middle of major "transition" and things have never been more chaotic. Almost every project is falling further and further behind schedule at a time when we absolutely must deliver great, solid products on time. We urge you to make bold decisions about our organisational structure, about our culture and most importantly our products.

While we anxiously wait to see the details of the streamlining plan, here are some suggestions:

1) Focus on the End User experience

Let's obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice - the end user doesn't care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren't hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work. Android has a major weakness - it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control. We really have a great opportunity to build something new and "uniquely BlackBerry" with the QNX platform.

Let's start an internal innovation revival with teams focused on what users will love instead of chasing "feature parity" and feature differentiation for no good reason (Adobe Flash being a major example). When was the last time we pushed out a significant new experience or feature that wasn't already on other platforms?

Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time - yes, on Exchange! This way we can understand why our users are switching and get inspiration as to how we can build our next-gen products even better! It's incomprehensible that our top software engineers and executives aren't using or deeply familiar with our competitor's products.

2) Recruit Senior SW Leaders & enable decision-making

I'm going to say what everyone is thinking… We need some heavy hitters at RIM when it comes to software management. Teams still aren't talking together properly, no one is making or can make critical decisions, all the while everyone is working crazy hours and still far behind. We are demotivated. J