Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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    Archive for January, 2015

    Super Bull

    By on January 30, 2015 in See It Here

    On January 18, a football game was played in Foxborough, Massachusetts to determine whether the New England Patriots or the Indianapolis Colts was the best team in the NFL AFC conference. For those who don’t follow ice hockey–‘scuse me, I mean football–the top team in the NFC faces the top team in the AFC  in the Super Bowl.

    So, it’s obvious why this was an important game. The Patriots won 45-7.

    But the use of underinflated footballs has become the bigger story than who won the game. It turns out 11 of the 12 footballs selected by New England quarterback Tom Brady were underinflated (the proper football inflation is between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI in case you’re wondering). Of course, Brady and Patriots coach Belichick held a number of news conferences saying they have no clue why-how that happened, much less who did it.

    So NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed Manhattan attorney Ted Wells to head an investigation into how the footballs selected by Tom Brady were underinflated. Almost two weeks after the game, Mr. Wells has yet to complete an investigation into who did it.

    For the record, I am not an expert on inflated/deflated footballs. However, let me make a small point here that Tom Brady has played in the NFL for 15 years and I can only suggest one might notice a football feels different if it is under/over inflated. It has been said by those smarter than me that an underinflated football is easier to grab and easier to catch because there’s less resistance when handling it.

    Brady picked the footballs. Someone took them from him to ensure all were available for use in the game. There’s suspicion a Patriot ball handler took the footballs into a bathroom for 90 seconds which has talk show hosts–and of course the usual conspiracy theorists– saying how fast can you deflate 11 footballs in 90 seconds? I happen to think the guy had to use the bathroom and didn’t want to leave the bag of footballs outside. Not one conspiracy theorist (or talk show host) has discussed if 90 seconds is long enough to relieve oneself, instead of football “P”SI.

    Some have suggested PSI can drop as a result of changes in air temperature. In fact, there’s a way to calculate it: final air pressure (pf) =Pi X final temperature (Tf) divided by initial temperature (Ti). Yeah, I feel the same way… 

    Mr. Goodell has promised “a thorough investigation” which is to his credit. But, please we’re looking at who had access to a dozen footballs. We’re not talking about Iran Contra Who-Done-It or Benghazi What-Did-Hillary-Know? It’s just a bunch of footballs touched by no more than five people if that many.

    Thorough is good, but taking more than 2 weeks to figure it out suggests someone flunked physics or is unable to ask a simple question like “what did you do with the footballs?” Makes me think Mr. Wells and his team are being paid by the hour. 

    Looking at Keystone

    By on January 15, 2015 in See It Here

    There was a time, boys and girls, when the word “keystone” meant something having to do with Pennsylvania. Not any more.

    For the past 6 years, that word has referred to a 1,000-plus mile pipeline that would carry crude oil mined from the tar sands of Hardisty,  Alberta to oil refineries in and near Port Arthur, Texas. Proponents, and there are many, say it will create jobs to build the 36” diameter pipeline while creating revenue for a majority of the 27 US counties through which the pipeline would pass.  Opponents, and there are many as well, say there’s danger of a pipeline break that could  poison the water supply…i.e.  the proposed route crosses Nebraska’s Ogallala acquifer which supplies fresh water to the area’s farm land–hence the concern. The creating jobs claim is certainly valid but only on a short-term basis: 42,000 jobs will be created to build it but… once it’s up and running, less than 100 will be required to oversee its operation.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says approving the Keystone XL pipeline is the #1 priority. After all, it’s about jobs.

    President Obama says if the bill passes both houses of Congress, he’ll veto it. This means both the House and the Senate need 2/3rds of their members on board to override a presidential veto (67 votes in the Senate and 290 in the House). Both are short of that right now.

    This kind of debate is healthy for all of us and if you find yourself watching a CSI rerun, go to CSPAN and see a better drama (and theater) play out. There’s more one-liners there than on Kimmel. Lately, members of Congress are dragging a staff member along with poster boards to outline their talking points but this isn’t for other members because most aren’t even in the chamber. All of this is for you, watching on TV.

    The Keystone XL pipeline debate is one more example of lazy thinking. We go for the quick fix, using the mindset of “we’ve always done it this way” rather than “maybe there’s a new approach to be taken?” We’ve always used oil, we’ve built successful industries based on the use of crude so, golly, why waste time looking at another way to do it?

    Consider the time we’ve spent focused on doing the same thing with oil and cut-and-paste it to focus on solar and wind. Of course, the opponents will jump up and down–maybe with a poster board held by a staff member–saying that’s unproven technology for the large scale adding a pinch of “it will cost jobs” for those in industries dependent on oil.

    It’s always easy to talk about the way things have always been done, and doing so requires absolutely no attempt–or effort– to look at the horizon. Short-term views require little thought about where we’re headed. The Keystone will pass both houses of Congress but the veto pen remains a possibility–which means more banter about the opposite side not looking out for the American people blah, blah, blah.

    Lazy thinking provides a lot of jobs….in Washington D.C.