Monthly Archives: March 2012

Titanic: 100 Years: Fitting Out Complete

Titanic in dry dock.

On this day, one hundred years ago, March 31, 1912, the Titanic’s fitting out was complete.  The process of fitting out was delayed, however, due to a collision of Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, with a Royal Naval Cruiser.

Titanic (Left) and Olympic in dry dock together.

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Filed under History, Titanic: 100 Years

Tiger Woods Wins First PGA Tournament since 2009

Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots over Graeme McDowell. Since Tiger fell from graces in 2009, many wondered if Tiger would ever be back to his previous form. These questions were amplified when Tiger withdrew from the Cadillac Championship two weeks ago. After two weeks off, many were surprised by Tiger’s performance over the past four days.

Today’s win is his seventh at Bay Hill and proof that Tiger is indeed back. Tiger will take a week off and will play in the Masters at Augusta April 5-8. Regardless of your opinion of Tiger, his success is important to the golf community as legions of fans tune in solely to watch Tiger play. I must say, I enjoyed watching golf on a Sunday afternoon!

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New Documentary Explores MASH Units

A documentary, called The Real MASH, provides a unique perceptive of the MASH unit. Writer and director Min Sook Lee tells the story of MASH units by comparing a real MASH unit, the 8055th, with the fictional 4077th. This is achieved through a series of interviews with doctors and nurses from the 8055th and the actors from the M*A*S*H series. I will purchase this documentary and write a full review at a later date, but the documentary can be ordered on the film’s website. In the meantime, here is the trailer:

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Apple, Foxconn, and Mike Daisey

There have been alot of reports lately about Apple and its supply chain, specifically Foxconn. Nightline was granted access to Foxconn a few months ago, but the Foxconn stories began in 2010 following a series of worker suicides. The story was brought to theater by Mike Daisey in his play The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. His monologue (read the full text) has been widely popular. In it he claims to have visited Foxconn and visited with underaged workers and workers that had been disabled by their work at Foxconn. A few months ago he appeared on the Chicago show “This American Life.” They ran the story and reported his monologue as fact. They did a series of fact checks, but they did not talk with Daisey’s contact in China, known as Cathy. She was his interpreter and he lied to the show about her identity and would not provide her contact information. They were able to find her, however, and she refutes many of his claims. “This American Life” ran a retraction of their story and an interview with the interpreter. They also reinterviewed Daisey, who admitted that some of his monologue was fabricated. The retraction story delves deeper into the conditions of Foxconn, much like Nightline. It is worth the listen.

Daisey’s play has gotten the desired response. It has made many question and investigate Apple’s supply chain. Apple has been more open about their suppliers, but they have published yearly supplier reports since 2005 (read the most recent of these reports HERE). In it they detail the number of violations found (underaged workers, etc.) and they also list suppliers that they had severed ties with because they refuse to comply with Apple’s standards. Every year, they find violations and they have been criticized for not doing more to prevent violations of its own Code of Supplier Ethics. As far as I know, Apple is the only company to do this, and many other companies use Foxconn and the same supply chain as Apple. Apple has been reporting the problems in China for years, on their website for everyone to see. It has just taken us this long to see it for what it really is.

Since the investigation by “This American Life,” Daisey has changed his show so that the facts are better represented. Before being caught by “This American Life,” Daisey appeared on a number of news programs presenting his disturbing findings as fact. He has since admitted to some embellishment. While I believe it was wrong for Daisey to blatantly misrepresent his trip to China, it has called attention to working conditions in China. Conditions are not great, but one thing we have to keep in mind is that China is in the same position the United States at the turn of the century. In 1900, factory conditions in the US were not ideal and it took the Progressive Era for reforms to take place. There has not been a “Progressive Era” in China. Apple, companies and countries can apply pressure to China, but we cannot force reforms. This is side effect of industrialization and it will take time for laws to be put in place to end underage employment, low pay, long hours, and poor conditions. I hope, for the sake of the workers, that this happens sometime in the near future.

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The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012

The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (H.R.4170) was introduced in House of Representatives by Michigan Rep. Hansen Clarke earlier this month with the goal of reducing the debt of college students and slowing the rising cost of tuition. Under the plan, a student would pay the equivalent of 10% of their income per year for 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period, the remaining debt would be forgiven. IF a student works in the public sector (as a teacher for example) the debt would be forgiven after 5 years.

The bill points out the rising cost of tuition and that in 2012 the amount of student loan debt in the US will reach the $1 trillion mark. The bill suggests that forgiving this debt will give these students the extra income to buy a home, start a business, or invest. The bill argues that it is a necessity to possess at least a bachelor’s degree to earn a living wage, but the price of the degree is rising at alarming rates.

UPDATE: You can sign a petition supporting the bill HERE. You can also follow Rep. Clarke on Twitter for updates.

The following is the beginning and the findings of the bill (link to the full text HERE):

H.R.4170

Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (Introduced in House – IH)


 A BILL

To increase purchasing power, strengthen economic recovery, and restore fairness in financing higher education in the United States through student loan forgiveness, caps on interest rates on Federal student loans, and refinancing opportunities for private borrowers, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012′.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
      (1) A well-educated citizenry is critical to our Nation’s ability to compete in the global economy.
      (2) The Federal Government has a vested interest in ensuring access to higher education.
      (3) Higher education should be viewed as a public good benefitting our country rather than as a commodity solely benefitting individual students.
      (4) Total outstanding student loan debt officially surpassed total credit card debt in the United States in 2010, and is on track to exceed $1,000,000,000,000 during 2012.
      (5) Excessive student loan debt is impeding economic growth in the United States. Faced with excessive repayment burdens, many individuals are unable to start businesses, invest, or buy homes. Relieving student loan debt would give these individuals greater control over their earnings and would increase entrepreneurship and demand for goods and services.
      (6) Because of soaring tuition costs, students often have no choice but to amass significant debt to obtain an education that is widely considered a prerequisite for earning a living wage.
        (7) Amidst rising tuition rates and stagnant grant funding, many students are forced to supplement Federal loans with private loans, which frequently feature higher interest rates with fewer consumer protections.
        (8) A borrower who experiences an extended hardship for whatever reason, or a borrower who experiences a series of separate hardships over a longer period of time, will often have no choice but to default on his or her private student loans. Opportunities to put such private loans into forbearance are limited.
        (9) During the period of forbearance on private student loans, interest continues to accrue and is capitalized, and once the borrower comes out of forbearance, he or she owes significantly more on the principal of the loan than before the hardship period began.

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Back to the Future DeLorean Restoration

The group restoring the Back to the Future DeLorean have been posting images of the car to Facebook and Twitter. Some of the images are of the DeLorean used during the filming and of the car today. The so called “A” car is what has their interest, as it is the most complete. The project is being directed by BTTF writer Bob Gale. While the car looks fine, it is missing parts and other parts are beginning to fall off. The group plans to restore the car so it can be placed on display, but indoors this time.

Other images presented on the Facebook page are of a replica car built by the restoration team. The replica car shows the team’s attention to detail and is proof the group will do a great job at restoring the original car.

You can read more about the restoration in my original post or by following the restoration on Facebook or Twitter.

The gallery below has images of the “A” car and of the replica built by the restoration team. The video is the 2011 Nike ad featuring Christopher Lloyd and the replica Time Machine.

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UPDATE: A reader pointed out correctly that some of the images presented in the slideshow were of a replica Time Machine and not the “A” model from the series. I have made the necessary corrections.

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Week of Outtakes: Day 5 – M*A*S*H

To close out the week, one last video of outtakes from M*A*S*H. Having read account from the casts of M*A*S*H and Cheers, they all played jokes on each other during filming. Unfortunately, most of this was done off camera. But the outtakes we have will get us through the day!

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Week of Outtakes: Day 4 – Cheers

When you work in bar, things are bound to go wrong. When you are an actor working on a set of a bar, things did go wrong!

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