Qantas power failure on QF2:

Greg Angelo writes: Re. “QF2 power failure “less serious than first reported”. Really?” (Yesterday, item 2). I refer to the reported summation by the Air Transport Safety Board that the recent Qantas Boeing 747 QF2 power loss on approach to Bangkok airport was “less serious than first reported” as one of the 4 generators was still operational. A loss of 75% of the power generation capacity of an airliner is still a monumental systems failure bordering on catastrophe. Reliance on battery backup is the absolute last resort and virtually all flight controls are critically dependent on electrical power. If the ATSB thinks the incident is less serious than previously thought, they could only have been considering a catastrophic crash as an alternative. There are also serious questions also to be answered by Boeing. Why are all of the electrical power redundancy systems apparently concentrated at one potential point of failure? This is bad risk management by any stretch of the imagination, notwithstanding what appears to be very bad maintenance by Qantas. This question appears not to have been addressed publicly by anybody. Do we have to wait for a serious death toll before the ATSB take some serious action in relation to passenger and crew safety?

A pilot writes: This is very interesting because the OPS procedure for a military aircraft on total loss of electrical power is to aim the aircraft at something where there are no people and eject. For commercial aircraft that’s not an option so the procedure generally is to accept that you are now flying a semi-guided highly explosive object and hope that there’s somewhere soft underneath it to land.

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Peter Wotton writes: On a recent flight from San Francisco to Sydney, one of the toilets in business class in the bubble was out of service. I can remember some years ago when a simple flight to Melbourne from Sydney was delayed an hour because a fan in one of the rear toilets was not working. Earlier this week a flight from LA to Brisbane was cancelled (it should have arrived on Sunday) — 350 passengers were put into hotels for a flight the following day. What is the Qantas equivalent of “chance it with Ansett”?

Ian Parmenter writes: Are you aware of a major breakdown of a Perth-Sydney jumbo on Monday night? I hear from a passenger that it broke down before it was due to take off at 4.30pm on Monday in Perth. They had to wait till midnight for the Sydney curfew to lift, then it broke down again and they were left in the Perth airport to sleep on the floor at 2am until the Qantas Club opened again at 4.15am. Then they managed to get on a flight via Melbourne which arrived in Sydney at 5pm – 16 hours late!

Alex Mason writes: Ben Sandilands wrote: “Is this apparently gratuitous attempt to downplay an exceptionally serious and continuing investigation motivated by the same thinking that saw the ATSB decide not to investigate the pumping of lethal nitrogen gas into supplementary oxygen packs intended for use in Qantas aircraft by maintenance staff in Melbourne last October?” If you are writing about the under-exaggeration of a departments findings lets not over-exaggerate what’s going on. Nitrogen is not lethal it’s inert; the absence of oxygen is lethal. How about a report on the governments in action on DiHydrogen MonOxide or DHMO? DHMO is contained in most poisons, is a major factor in global warming and in sufficient quantities can kill a man faster than a King Brown.

Advertising standards:

Simon Drimer writes: Re. “So who gives a FCUK about advertising standards?” (Yesterday, item 20). I think one of the problems is that the Marketing Directors and CEOs of these companies don’t truly understand how much joy they bring to commuters with these witty ads that test the boundaries of what level of public grubbiness is acceptable. One of my projects for this year is to set up a sort of consumer terrorism, sorry, liberation, website, that will list the private addresses, email addies and mobile phone numbers of these corporate w-nkers so that passionate and aggrieved people can personally communicate their approval to them in SMSs, emails, and notices pasted in the windows of cars parked outside their houses etc. I have acquired quite a number of useful, highly effective, and somewhat Viet Cong-style techniques in the course of my constant warfare with banks and airlines, in particular, and I would like to spread the joy. Like the Viet Cong, this operation will be lean, wily, resourceful, inventive, and deadly. And not your typical Greenpeace amateur hour stuff – more Officer Class. My slightly rusty law school skills and knowledge will keep me and others out of trouble and the website will be domiciled offshore, as indeed I am personally. Stay tuned. And if you work for FCUK and have anything to do with that big banner on the side of the old warehouse you can see from the Bolte Bridge, on the city side of Melbourne, be afraid.

Chris Phillips writes: I can only apply my own memories of such s-xual matters when I was a child at school over 60 years ago. Of course standards where very different in those days and such things as condoms were never mentioned in polite society let alone s-xual dysfunction of any sort. However, I have often felt that it was only a hang-over from religious considerations where anything overtly s-xual was prohibited by the church whereas murder and slaughter was more acceptable because it was always mentioned in the bible. This is reflected in society’s attitudes even now where people are shot and murdered on television every night while the exposure of a breast enflames comment. At the age of eight or nine there was not much I didn’t know about the natural events involved in procreation, which I was always brought up to consider quite natural and that everyone engaged in. I have never understood what parents are sheltering their children from. We educate kids about thing like road safety yet don’t expect them to drive motor vehicles for many years. Why are normal human activities and functions any different?

Brendan Nelson: Mr 9%:

Andrew Clarke writes: Re. “More woe for Mr 9%: Liberal MPs moan about his staff” (yesterday, item 1). Again the opinion polls have failed to tell us the full story. So Brendan Nelson rates at 9% as preferred Prime Minister to Kevin Rudd on 70%. That means someone else or some other are sharing another 21% – who are they. Would any Liberal leader at the moment rate any higher? If Kevin Rudd can bounce from one political shafting to the next, ‘encouraging’ his wife to sell her business (do we know who she sold it to yet?), have his character questioned over his dealings with Brian Burke and still register record highs what can anyone do?

Avoiding political responsibility:

Rohan Leppert writes: Re. “Avoiding responsibility (1)” (yesterday, item 13). Richard Farmer’s assessment of new Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans’s decision to remove power over individual cases from the minister of the day concluded that Minister Evans was “avoiding responsibility for hard decisions” and “cop[ping] out”. This is unfair. It is a courageous move, and one that will hopefully set a precedent for any future conservative government standing on an anti-immigration and xenophobic platform. Surely the unlawful and blatantly political election-year meddling undertaken by Evans’s predecessor, Kevin Andrews, are reason enough to praise Evans’s decision; any move to prevent the Immigration Minister of the day throwing the lives of individuals into jeopardy in order to gain political mileage is a good one.

Joe Boswell writes: Richard Farmer’s comment that Federal Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans is trying to “avoid responsibility” is ludicrous and his snide remark “how decisions miraculously become more transparent and accountable if made by a public servant rather than a politician was not explained” is plain ignorant. Evans should be applauded for being one of the few Ministers of recent times to display any understanding of the separation of powers. There are decisions that should be none of his business because they properly belong to the judiciary. Matters dealt with in an open and independent court are indeed transparent and accountable.

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Avoiding responsibility (2)” (yesterday, item 13). It is wondrous watching Minister Reba Meagher waxing lyrical about holding someone accountable for something and appearing to look serious about it, while at the same time simply looking terrified. But in fairness things like Bathurst aren’t the fault of the current Minister and it is a little inconvenient that the real blame lies with the Premier. It doesn’t help that this is all occurring against the backdrop of the “clinician rebellion” where doctors want to be put in charge of the health system. This leads to nonsense about things like the hospital design should have been approved by doctors when the errors could and should have been detected by a half-way decent middle manager. NSW problems stem from the fact that there is a largely talentless frontbench. The fact that the Liberal party frontbench is equally talentless won’t save the Labor party next time. You only get one Peter Debnam in a lifetime!

IR backflip:

Geoff Tapp writes: Re. “Proustian IR backflip a first sign of Coalition cleverness” (yesterday, item 11). The growing shopping list of WorkChoices promotional items — mouse pads, booklets, pens, folders, post cards, fridge magnets and who knows what else has gone way beyond a joke and has been shown to be nothing more than profligate propaganda spending. Could Crikey publish a full (as is known) list of WorkChoices promotional items, their procurement cost, and their possible future use and value (if any)? How can it be that a government using taxpayers’ money launch into an overtly party political campaign of such unbridled expenditure of overkill on promoting a probable lost cause with no restraint from any source?

Stephanie Hogg writes: It’s rather hard to see the connection between changes in the Coalition’s industrial relations policy and the writings of Marcel Proust. Perhaps David MacCormack meant Faustian?

Tax cuts:

Jenny Morris writes: Re. “Lifting corporate tax will fix a few problems” (yesterday, item 4). Stephen Mayne writes that: “The tax cuts were Peter Costello’s attempt to not do a Jeff Kennett and leave an incoming Labor Government with a beautiful set of fiscal numbers that sets them up for years”. I thought the tax cuts were Pete’s attempt to buy government, hoping Howard would eventually go and he could take over the no.1 position. I think KRudd should have the guts to delay the tax cuts, of course laying the blame where it belongs – at Cossie’s feet. Certainly not the Placido Domingo of politics – I’m thinking more the Frank Spencer of Treasurers…

Policing the net:

Perry Gretton writes: Re. “Labor’s dream of kid-friendly internet is flawed” (yesterday, item 15). Given the volume and frequency of the spam mail most of us receive, you would expect ISPs by now to have developed a workable solution for identifying and blocking the sources of such mail. Apparently not. The spammers’ servers are too will-o’-the-ether. Like terrorists, they don’t stick around to expose themselves as targets. So what chance does the federal government have of successfully blocking kiddy p-rn? Buckley’s, by the sound of it, yet it’s determined to push ahead with such strictures on ISPs, despite the detrimental effect on online performance and convenience. It’s obvious that Senator Conroy has no idea of what he’s dealing with.


Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Goodbye El Commander, hello Cosmo Kramer. Castro quits” (yesterday, item 5). Thanks to Guy Rundle — our man in Havana — or somewhere nearby. Between Guy’s written lines the voice of Che — that of perpetual revolution — quietly persists. Guevara understood human need by embracing it, and his subsequent philosophy wrote itself into the minds of millions because of this deep association. How would Che react to today’s world? What words of advice would he give to say — Obama? How about he would say “keep your head down comrade”. If so, this would be sound advice. When men start making great speeches in America the guns invariably go off.

Tom Richman writes: Re. “News and blogwatch: Fidel Castro resigns” (yesterday, item 6). Crikey linked to the Independent’s coverage of Castro’s resignation, which wrote: “One of his pet projects was a cow called Ubre Blanca (or White Udder) that produced prodigious quantities of milk.” When I was in Cuba during the 1980’s they were crossbreeding Brahmans and Holsteins. As a nice Jewish boy it was a treat to find that the offspring were called Bernsteins.

Peter Andren:

Pattie Tancred writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 9). Crikey published this: “When the condolence speeches for Peter Andren began, while most members of the house remained, three prominent new backbenchers — Peter Costello, Alexander Downer, Mark Vaile — and one frontbencher — Tony Abbott — walked out.” Please, someone, tell me this isn’t true. I thought that with the removal of the egregious rodent and his flagitious bunch of skunks from government their power to activate my angry gene was at an end. Not so, it seems. The sooner this gang retires to the (I hope obscure and silent) enjoyment of their fat pensions the better off Australia, nay, the world, will be. Peter Andren was that rare creature: a politician who operated from principle, out of conviction and with sincerity. Probably Abbott, Costello and Downer walked out because any comparison between Andren and them, even implicit, would have glaringly highlighted their own thoroughly nasty, uncivil and repugnant practice of the political arts. And Vaile probably went just because the big boys did. Pshaw!

PM’s maiden speeches:

Victoria Collins writes: Re. “A real Labor businessman!” (Yesterday, item 13). I really am getting tired of Richard Farmer’s patrician pronouncements on the nature of various new Labor MPs maiden speeches. It’s beginning to appear to me that if any of them dare to admit a link back to the Trade Union movement then the high and mighty Richard automatically gives them a failing grade. Would he have given them even a bare passing mark and a comment of “dull but worthy” I could have more easily tolerated, and believed his pronouncements.

Rundle on MacCormack:

Guy Rundle writes: David MacCormack (yesterday, comments), in a rather silly and overemotional letter rather typical of pro-interventionists, suggests that I and the apparently monolithic siblinghood of the Left should be supporting Kosovan independence, on the grounds that “we” have supported almost every other separatist movement since WW2, such as allegedly unviable states such as East Timor and West Papua The comparison is meaningless: Timor and Papua were both, briefly, independent post-colonial states before being swallowed up by the Indonesian empire. They have a right to self-determination, whatever difficulties they may face. (Whether Australian troops should be in Timor is an entirely different question). Kosovo, by contrast, has been an integrated part of Serbia for hundreds of years, and its ultimate status – on which I have no opinion – should have been an internal Yugoslav/Serbian Federation question. Nor was the NATO involvement in response to a humanitarian crisis. To the point where NATO began bombing there had been approximately 3000 killings over five years, by both sides. In the six months or so of NATO’s involvement there were 8000. Not for the first time the West produced the violence it was purporting to prevent. I’d suggest the issue demands a little more critical thinking than David has brought to it.

The new ABC logo:

Terri Butler writes: Re. “The new ABC logo” (yesterday, comments). I don’t care so much about the logo; I’m more concerned about the lack of imagination evident in the rebadging of the old and the naming of the new. ABCs 1 and 2? Is it a deliberate echoing of the Bananas in Pyjamas? Mere corporate brand consistency? Or just intellectual laziness?

Moira Smith writes: I was watching an interesting ABC arts program (Artscape) last night about the painter Lloyd Rees. The commentator noted that Rees’s landscapes often featured a solitary figure or two to set off/emphasise the [etc etc]. Cue painting. Solitary figure at lower right almost totally obscured by new ABC 1 logo.

Abrams tanks:

Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Peter Lloyd (yesterday, comments) is correct about the through-life support of Australia’s limited number of new Abrams tanks. The tanks were completely stripped down to bare hulls before being rebuilt to as-new condition and will be fully maintained in Australia. We also run ours on diesel. Peter is, however, a bit off track with his other comments on the mobility of the Abrams. The combat weight of the M1A1 Abrams (with fuel, ammo, etc) is 63 tonnes compared to 40 for the Leopard I (1977-2006) and around 50 for the Centurion (1954-1977). In terms of their strategic mobility the Abrams can be readily deployed throughout most of Australia by standard-gauge railway, road transport (semi-trailers), ship or a combination. In our region, the Australian army has successfully operated with our own or allied tanks in New Guinea, Bougainville, Borneo (World War II and Confrontation), Korea, and Vietnam. Not having tanks means many more dead infantry, as all the operational and scientific studies of the Vietnam campaign (and Canadian experiences in Afghanistan) clearly prove. If you lazily think our army somehow does not need tanks (and we actually have only a few of them), feel free to volunteer to assault strong points on your own or to stand between our diggers and the incoming fire.

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