Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Here are some photos of a stop sign in Paducah, KY. The stop sign is on Hinkleville Road, in a busy area, across from a mall and adjacent to a school and a church:

Looking toward town:

Paducah stop sign 007

Up close:

Paducah stop sign 006

Looking across two roads where the stop sign is situated, you can see a church and then a school:

Paducah stop sign 005

Another view, such as it is:

Paducah stop sign 002

Paducah stop sign 001

Advertisements

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s maiden flight from Boeing’s Everett, WA assembly plant.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a case study in what happens with outsourcing and what happens when corporate management takes the view that labor is a widget that can be replaced.

Reuters reports today that a Japan Airlines Boeing Dreamliner was grounded earlier this week in Boston, due to a faulty fuel valve. Fuel shifted from the center tank to the left tank, and when the left tank filled, fuel “overflowed into a surge tank and out through a vent.” Passengers deplaned, and then the jet broke out in flames, ABC reported on Tuesday. Flames on an airplane sounds more Nightmareliner than Dreamliner.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrival in Toronto
photo by EyeNo on flickr

“The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Its variants seat 210 to 290 passengers. Boeing states that it is the company’s most fuel-efficient airliner and the world’s first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction.[4] According to Boeing, the 787 consumes 20% less fuel than the similarly-sized 767.[5] Its distinguishing features include a four-panel windshield, noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles, and a smoother nose contour. The 787 shares a common type rating with the larger 777 twinjet, allowing qualified pilots to operate both models, due to related design features.[6]” Source.

The Boeing 787 heavy jet has been years in the making. Boeing was involved in contract negotiations with the union workers at the Everett plant several years ago, but the negotiations broke down. Boeing announced a decision to build a new assembly plant and relocate to another state. Everett and Boeing’s workers feared the worst: further economic depression and job loss for the town and community. The union workers responded with a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board NLRB, alleging that Boeing’s decision to move was in retaliation to the union workers and was outside the guidelines of labor relations. There was a hearing before the NLRB. The Boeing Company claimed otherwise, citing merely economic strategy, nothing more. The NLRB ruled against the Boeing Company, and foreclosed Boeing from the move.

Boeing continued to assemble the 787 at the Everett plant. The issue became political, with, to sum as a layperson observer, the Republicans predictably accusing Obama of ‘socialism:’ corporations have the right to tell their workers to go fuck themselves because workers’ work is a ‘widget,’ and a widget is a widget, anywhere in the world. The Boeing workers are not really human, they are a resource. The company has the right to maximize profits for shareholders and if labor costs must be reduced by moving jobs and productions elsewhere, this is an ‘ethical’ obligation for the corporation. By this time, Boeing had already outsourced the job of creating the parts for the plane to other countries, so there were already many worldwide subcontractors.

So, the stuff is being produced elsewhere, and in some cases partially assembled elsewhere, and shipped back to Everett, where some remaining workers assemble the parts into a plane. Meanwhile, the company is out trying to sell the plane, and (I feel sorry for the Boeing sales reps) the plane looks really good on paper. Light composite fuselage, fuel efficient, a technological leap forward.

Poor Boeing sales reps probably never guessed just how goddamn fuel efficient a heavy jet could be, especially when all the fuel gets dumped out a vent on the left side of the plane and catches on fire. Lightest heavy jet indeed.

Customers meanwhile placed orders: ANA, JAL, United, Air India, and others. Hundreds of orders were placed, but only a few planes have been delivered. Problems have been nonstop, the beat goes on, the public relations campaign tries to put a lid on the never-ending delays and pissed off customers.

The 787 situation goes right to the heart of the idea that predatory capitalism, while it represents enormous wealth to a small group of people, it does so at great risk to the people. To pull off the spin that we are all a lot better off with outsourcing, it is a war against labor. It is a war that must ignore, in particular, that labor involves hands, fingers, eyeballs and calipers.

The people who are creating wealth are the people who are actually doing the tedious work necessary for safety in the end product, and that is the worker. The worker creates and assembles the actual thing that has value. I wonder: Are the predatory capitalists willing to fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner today?

Boeing 787 Dreamliner glitches: How serious are the problems? (+video) Christain Science Monitor

Despite an exculpatory crime lab toxicology result, I was convicted of a DUI (and other crimes dependent on the DUI) and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. This is the executive summary of a complaint that I will be filing with ASCLD/LAB (American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board) and the National Institute of Justice (A branch of US DOJ that funds these laboratories through Paul Coverdell grants), with copies to other authorities. The reference list is extensive, as is the body of the complaint. This complaint has to do with improper testimony of a crime lab analyst, in a non-DNA toxicology case that resulted in conviction and sentence. I will share the link to the full body of the complaint, once it is completed.

Exculpatory evidence hidden.

To ASCLD/LAB

This is a formal complaint, regarding the trial testimony of a Kentucky lab analyst, during a jury trial on January 22, 2008. The analyst was, and still is, employed at a lab that was at the time of the testimony, and still is, under your purview. The analyst’s name is Ryan Johnson. He works in the Toxicology section of the Central Forensic Laboratory, a division of the Kentucky State Police (KSP), in Frankfort, KY. The Kentucky State Police and its labs are a division of the Kentucky government known as the Justice and Public Safety Department. Mr. Johnson is the current supervisor for the Toxicology division of this lab, although in 2008 when he testified, I do not believe he was a supervisor. The lab Director is Ms.Laura Sudkamp.

Posing as a clinical and pharmacology ‘expert witness,’ Mr. Johnson based his under-oath statements on, in some cases, information that did not exist, regarding the prescription benzodiazepine, clonazepam. In other instances he took a drastic departure from the FDA-regulated package insert and delivered exactly the opposite information to the jury, or delivered information and represented it as accepted fact, when such information did not exist. He misled the jury by claiming by inference that this product, since it happens to be a benzodiazepine, causes nystagmus, for example. In truth, clonazepam can be and has been, according to the peer-reviewed literature (more than a few sources), used to treat and alleviate pathological nystagmus and other problems related to vision. I will provide more detail in the body of this complaint. (References will be provided in the body of the complaint).

In addition, Mr. Johnson reported that he was “familiar with this drug” and that he had “read the literature” for this drug. His extensive review of the peer-reviewed clinical literature consisted of two articles, each written at least six years prior to the drug being marketed, available and regulated in the United States, and each published in countries outside the United States. On one article he presented information that was diametrically opposed to the article summary (related to eye movements). The other article discussed only ten volunteer healthy human subjects, only four of whom were women, none of them within ten years of my age. Mr. Johnson expanded the ten-volunteer-subject findings (again, done in a laboratory setting and not a clinical one) to include all humans taking therapeutic doses of the drug.

One resource he described relying on is called Courtroom Toxicology, which is not peer-reviewed by the clinical world, and is authored by a lawyer (likely a prosecutor). I will discuss the problematic clinical bibliography for this publication in the body of the complaint. The DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) non-peer-reviewed literature that he discusses relies, in pertinent part, on a study done on primates, in 1968, on a different drug, ten years before clonazepam was invented, 27 years before the drug was available, marketed and regulated in the United States, and 37 years before Mr. Johnson represented the information in the study as accepted scientific fact for all humans taking the drug at therapeutic doses. When I attempted to contact the author of the ape study, I learned that he is retired. That study is: 9 David A. Robinson, Eye Movement Control in Primates, 161 Science 1219 (Sept. 1968). The reference document is here.

Mr. Johnson gave a technically misleading description of the chemical structure of this drug, describing it as having a unique characteristic (an attached chlorine atom) that is, in fact common to most of the drugs in this class, and misrepresented an extraction and separation process of organic chemistry as a diagnostic quantification tool. He wrongly stated that “liquid-liquid extraction is incapable of pulling clonazepam out of the blood,” when, in fact, liquid-liquid extraction has been the gold standard for extracting this drug (and about 6,000 others) from the plasma into a pH-adjusted organic layer for years. He stated,

Basically, it’s a, it’s a drug like diazepam but they put a chlor, a chlor, a chlorine atom on it, and that ends up, um, making it so that the test that we run, it’s called a liquid-liquid extraction, um, that test is incapable of pulling clonazepam out of the blood.

The chemical name for clonazepam is 5-(2-chlorophenyl)-7-nitro-2,3-dihydro-1,4-benzodiazepin-2-one, and the chemical name for diazepam is 7-chloro-1,3-dihydro-1-methyl-5-phenyl-1,4-benzodiazepin-2(3H)-one. Both structures have chlorine atoms. Clonazepam is not utterly unique for having the chlorine atom attached to the phenyl group (a group attached to the diazepine ring that is closely related to benzene) of the benzodiazepine skeleton. Ativan (lorazepam), another common benzodiazepine, is also a chlorophenyl benzodiazepine, named, (RS)-9-chloro-6-(2-chlorophenyl)-4-hydroxy-2,5-diazabicyclo[5.4.0]undeca-5,8,10,12-tetraen-3-one.

Mr. Johnson misstated the drug’s time-span of therapeutic activity as well as its’ half-life (he did not bother to explain half-life to the jury), and compared it, wrongly, in milligram-to-milligram equivalency that he termed “potency” to another drug, valium.

He misrepresented rare adverse, uncommon adverse and in some cases, non-existent adverse events as common every-day effects that are part of the well-known therapeutic profile for the drug and commonly experienced by everyone who is taking the drug as prescribed. He lied about the ‘generally accepted’ purpose of the drug, agreeing with the prosecutor that clonazepam is “specifically designed to get the user high.” Ironically, clonazepam is listed in the Bureau of Prisons formulary. As the only benzodiazepine allowed in the prison system, one of its ten off-formulary approved uses is “**04. Detoxification for substance abuse**.” In some cases, Mr. Johnson represented rare adverse events associated with extreme serum toxicity of a different benzodiazepine as common effects related to intended therapy and prescription of clonazepam.

Mr. Johnson lied by deliberate omission about not having a specific request to test for the drug by name in my case, when in fact he did have a request, to ‘test for’ clonazepam, by name. That request was verified to me by Laura Sudkamp on the telephone last month. He failed to explain to the jury that forensic lab toxicology testing takes the unknown to the known in a two-pronged approach that involves presumptive screening followed by quantification if the screen is positive and a report of “no drugs detected” if the presumptive screen is negative. He failed to explain the limits of detection for his testing purposes. He failed to explain that, generally speaking, for all of the classes of drugs that they screen for, drugs that fall below the limits of detection are not reported because they represent no issue of toxicological or therapeutic interest.

Mr. Johnson left the jury with the impression that (1) the drug was present in my blood and (2) no matter how high the level of this drug may have been, ie., even if the blood he presumptively screened had contained blood from a deceased person who had died from a toxic overdose of clonazepam and clonazepam alone, he simply would have had no way in the world to figure that out, with the equipment he had, in his toxicology laboratory at the time.

Mr. Johnson’s written lab report is unambiguous and exculpatory, and without a single notation or even asterisk explaining, “We have no idea what this drug is,” or “We can’t test for this drug because we can’t extract it in our lab,” or “not tested- clonazepam,” or “Please give us a call if you have a problem with the fact that we cannot meet your explicit request,” or “Shall we save this blood until the day when we have the right machine, and that could be years from now?” or “The principles of Organic Chemistry do not work in our lab,” or “We don’t have any money, but if you send us some, we’ll get this tested at NMS Labs in Willow Grove, PA, a third party contract lab that we typically send mysterious blood samples to.”

Mr. Johnson, when confronted with his own exculpatory lab result that lacked an asterisked notation regarding clonazepam, misrepresented the same report as inculpatory, leaving the jury with the impression that there was not only clonazepam present in the blood, but the level was likely in the higher range for prescription therapy. He discussed, as would a licensed physician or clinical pharmacologist, the “normal dosages” at “normal dosage times” for this drug, even though he has, by his own admission, never seen it before in his life.

In addition to this discussion being outside the scope of Mr. Johnson’s practice as a lab tech, Mr. Johnson’s discussion contained a dearth of information that was not bogus. He gave his name. I will assume, for the sake of argument that he told the truth about that. I was not able to verify his stated course of education, however.

Mr. Johnson’s testimony has far-reaching potential impact on the citizens of Kentucky. I was convicted of a DUI (among other things that depended on the DUI conviction) with no drugs or alcohol in my blood, and without exhibiting any unlawful driving whatsoever. I appealed and my conviction was affirmed by the Kentucky Court of Appeals in a unanimous, 26-page published opinion. The opinion has ‘facts’ in it that are based on this man’s trial testimony. In other words, there is a published and binding affirming opinion in Kentucky that not only contains science fiction, but actually obviates the need for any lab testing at all. The Kentucky published opinion affirming is based on findings of fact that are not founded in any sort of clinical reality whatsoever, and are a direct result of Mr. Johnson’s testimony. The published opinion could potentially affect any and all drivers in Kentucky who are ever pulled over for any reason. Mr. Johnson’s problematic testimony can and likely will lead to future unfortunate litigation around future no-drugs-no-alcohol-no-improper-driving DUI convictions.

Mr. Johnson appears to enjoy his deliberate, false testimony, as he smiles and giggles throughout. Part one of his testimony follows. Since he was recorded on videotape, I will include an official court-reporter transcript, for ease of review. Mr. Johnson is unsafe and unfit to work in a laboratory and make decisions about what to do with the blood samples that he receives.

Choctaw slave grave site

photo by amy_b/flickr

note: This is a true account of how a rural Missouri farming community handled death before WWII, as told by Letty Owings, age 87.

The customs and traditions pertaining to death in our community were in place prior to the Civil War and remained unchanged until after WWII. Prior to the Civil War, the land that would become our farm was multi-crop plantation territory where corn, wheat and clover grew. After the Civil War, the plantation area was divided into farms. Our farm was 160 square acres. We had no street address; we were part of a community that included a population of about 300 in the country and 600 in the nearby town.

A woman I knew named Minni had lived through the period prior to the Civil War, and I would often visit her and listen to her stories. On the way to her house, I passed a slave graveyard of about twenty graves that remained on the property. Many of the graves were simple stone markers indicating a child’s burial. In those days death was common among infants and young children in general, and it was not regarded with the same concern that it is today. It wasn’t that people were mean about it, they were just more honest. In other words, deaths of infants and children were almost expected. Causes of death among slave children in particular were never noted or studied during that time, although looking back one can speculate that tuberculosis, pneumonia, and other diseases and childbirth complications common to that era for all children may have been the cause. We must bear in mind that penicillin was not available until after WWII.

Although the Civil War ended slavery, it did not end segregation, nor did it end mindsets, attitudes or plantation thinking. There was no end to segregation until Martin Luther King came along. Minni’s aristocracy mindset was evident in her velvet curtains with beads and her velvet chair and velvet footstool, and in her marriage to a man named George. George had not hailed from the upper echelon of plantation hierarchy, and Minni never let him forget it. While George tended to the chickens, for example, Minni stayed inside on her velvet throne, reminiscing.

One day, George died. Death in those days was in the living room. There were no funeral homes before WWII, so when someone died, an embalmer, usually the local undertaker, came to the home, embalmed the body, placed it in an open casket and took the casket to the living room. The body was never removed from the house before the funeral. Death was also a community affair, so when someone died, a person rang the phone six times on a party line to spread the news. The local German Evangelical Church in the community, on receipt of news of a death, would ring the church bell one time for each year of a person’s life. This practice of ringing the bell was repeated at the funeral. As the casket was carried into the church, the bell chimed one time for each year of the person’s life. There was only one possible exception to tradition that I remember. Someone shot a man named Red in the middle of the day, in the middle of town. The news spread by word of mouth in the form of “Someone shot ‘Ole Red today,” followed by the reply indicating consensus that went something like, “Good riddance.”

After death and embalming, while the body waited in the living room, the custom at the time was never to leave the body alone. People were assigned the duty of ‘setting,’ which amounted to sitting with the body, in shifts. Death was all a part of life, and I mention these customs because most kids today have probably never seen a body. As kids in those days, we might be assigned to sit with the body for a couple of hours during the day. Night shifts were arranged among the men in the community who would ask each other, “Who is setting up tonight?” My father often took the duty. He also sat with the dying. The person doing the night duty would light a candle at each end of the coffin, and sit all night with the body.

Minni did not want to attend George’s funeral, but my father forced her to attend. My father saw no distinction in a person’s worth based on economic status or social class. He saw everyone as equal. In the end, Minni attended the funeral.

My father also took the position that all people were equal regardless of the color of their skin, which was remarkable for the time. Racism was not delineated as unacceptable in those days. Rather, it was an integral and accepted part of the culture, so much so that we had no other perspective. My father forbade the use of the n-word in any conversational utterance. That my father’s view was a dramatic departure from acceptable norms of the times became apparent many years later.

Dumpster Diving Items in the freezer
Everything in this freezer came from dumpsters. These meats include a large ham roast in the center middle aisle; we removed ice trays to make room.

Eating Out Of Dumpsters: This Year Compared To Last Year

Because site stats at my small website indicate continued interest in the subject of dumpster diving, I am writing this to inform the discussion by continuing to share some of our personal experiences.

We continue to observe a declining economy in our experiences with dumpster diving. Six or seven years ago, when I dove out of hobby more than need, I only told a few people what I was doing. Dumpster diving felt wrong, maybe not as wrong as robbing a bank, but at least as wrong as some good Southern sin like skipping church to watch football and covet the neighbor’s wife. Fast forward to 2012: we dive out of need, in the light of day, and we are not alone. Since even seasoned scrappers and dumpster divers are often reluctant to pick up food, I never thought I would see the day when there was great competition for discarded food in the United States, but that is exactly what we have observed.

Last year we joked about eating out of dumpsters and about how much we hate it when people actually put garbage into a dumpster. We asked ourselves why we had waited so long. This year, it is no longer a joke. Our competition is varied, clean and extremely thorough. We have directly observed people picking up food in the middle of the day, and we have varied our routine and reduced our food choices accordingly.

It is now harder to find thrown away fruits, vegetables, and grain products, and we believe that we are observing the direct effects of unemployment as well as…struggles. Not everyone who picks up food, and this includes ourselves, is technically below the poverty level, believe it or not. No one appears disheveled or otherwise compromised, and in some cases, people drive high-end vehicles to dive dumpsters. We believe that we share with a good many others, what one might call ‘borderline.’

Borderline is a hop-skip-and-jump thin grey line between making it, or getting by, versus totally falling apart. One does not have to be technically poor to be borderline. I suspect that a good many people with money are one flat tire and a ten minute half-life away from absolutely losing it. There is no security, no assurance, no sense anymore in this country today that we will somehow work hard and do better than our parents did before us. Borderline people thank goodness for their health and pray that no one gets sick. Borderline people dive dumpsters. They are you, me, the neighbor, the grocery store manager, the person walking next to you. This is what America looks like to us, today.

We began writing about dumpster diving with full awareness that there may be increased competition, and in fact, we quit scrapping all together because the scrap we collected was no longer sufficient to cover gas prices, which were, in the end, higher than God. A motorcycle fixed our gas problem, and there are days when I still see mouth-watering scrap, like that gigantic Shop-Vac I saw the other day, and had to just, like, leave it there in the trash. Who throws away a Shop Vac? Who does that? I’ll tell you who. It is people who cannot afford to move anything when they relocate. People are less and less able to move their things. This is yet another sad, direct observation, more noticeable this year than last year. People who are less and less able to move their things when they relocate are you, me, and us. Dumpsters are a great leveler. There is no talk of right, left, rich, or poor at a dumpster. We are there because of what we have in common.

Here are some things that I have collected from dumpsters, that people have left behind. Everything in this picture, including the glass cabinet that the display is on, was abandoned by somebody and has a history, with one exception: The blue purse hanging on the vintage mirror to the right was a gift from my son:

Dumpster Diving odds and ends

There is a lot that is not in this picture. I only show, for example, a small jar full of a giant seashell collection that I cannot bear to send to the landfill. I suspect that many of the items may have been abandoned because, for whatever reason, it was too painful to keep them.

One last miscellaneous observation has to do with the climate. It must be twenty five degrees warmer this year than it was last year. This has reduced our laundry costs. I used to dress in layers, and I went through an outfit a day. Last February, I got frostbite to my hands, and was unable to do much of anything for several weeks. This year, I honestly cannot remember wearing layers or even much more than a jacket. There was a brief period of long sleeves but that was it. This February brought the songs of frogs.

PS: Some might argue that it is the banks, and not the robbers, doing the robbing.

note: please refresh the page if you get a “web page not available” message.

Dona Nobis Pacem – ukulele and cello
-Yo-Yo Ma (cello) and Ken Middleton (tenor ukulele)

Octopoda Octopus 20004
Octopoda Octopus 20004 image by Bill and Mark Bell, creative commons, flickr.

ONCE I WAS A PRINCE
Once I Was a PPrince image by fabiogis50 (Fabio Gismondi), creative commons, flickr.

8257 Moray eel
8257 Moray Eel image byDiverKen, Ken Traub, under creative commons on flickr.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle image by Pen Waggener, creative commons, flickr.

MONUC Peacekeeper Patrols Katanga Area
MONUC Peacekeeper Patrols Katanga Area
image by United Nations Photo, creative commons, flickr.

A peacekeeper of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) with a group of children during patrols of the Katanga area.
Photo ID 163691. 01/03/2007. Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo. UN Photo/Myriam Asmani. http://www.unmultimedia.org/photo/

Today is Earth Day.

Dona Nobis Pacem
.

A polite demand.

For peace.