Can gadgets bring down a plane, the recession gang, Bakken by air, back to work at a monument that may not be finished in our lifetime and let winter begin!
It’s 2013 and we still have to turn off iPads and laptops and cellphones because otherwise the plane will crash or get lost… or something. We really don’t know; it’s a policy that we continue to live with because we don’t know the planes won’t crash unless we do these things.
Now, a big brouhaha has broken out between two fairly prominent bloggers over the issue.
A couple of days go, Nick Bilton, of the New York Times Tech blog insisted that this is an outmoded policy, noting that pilots have replaced their briefcases of charts and papers with iPads. If the pilots using tech devices won’t bring a plane down, why can’t the great unwashed in the back log on?
Dealing with the F.A.A. on this topic is like arguing with a stubborn teenager. The agency has no proof that electronic devices can harm a plane’s avionics, but it still perpetuates such claims, spreading irrational fear among millions of fliers.
A year ago, when I first asked Les Dorr, a spokesman for the F.A.A., why the rule existed, he said the agency was being cautious because there was no proof that device use was completely safe. He also said it was because passengers needed to pay attention during takeoff.
When I asked why I can read a printed book but not a digital one, the agency changed its reasoning. I was told by another F.A.A. representative that it was because an iPad or Kindle could put out enough electromagnetic emissions to disrupt the flight. Yet a few weeks later, the F.A.A. proudly announced that pilots could now use iPads in the cockpit instead of paper flight manuals.
The F.A.A. then told me that “two iPads are very different than 200.” But experts at EMT Labs, an independent testing facility in Mountain View, Calif., say there is no difference in radio output between two iPads and 200. “Electromagnetic energy doesn’t add up like that,” said Kevin Bothmann, the EMT Labs testing manager.
But Christine Negroni, who writes the Flying Lessons blog for the Seattle PI, says Bilton doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and she says it in an unusually strident way, questioning Bilton’s professionalism in writing an article that contains not a “single interview with anyone who is actually knowledgeable on the subject.”
He’s hooked into the world of technology, alright. But what he knows does not exist in isolation. Technology, aviation and safety come together in a complex junction, one this guy’s barged into after running headlong down one narrow avenue. Every time he writes, “there’s no proof electronics can harm a plane’s avionics” he displays how little he understands about safety as a system.
He might sound a little more sophisticated, if he went beyond the public relations department of the FAA. (And they must take some of the blame for providing conflicting and confusing answers to Bilton’s questions.) Where are the electrical engineers, the aeronautical engineers, the aviation safety specialists? They don’t appear in any of the Bilton-by lined stories I’ve seen.
For whatever reason, Bilton has made it his mission to get PED restrictions changed. Earlier this year the FAA requested comments on when PED use should be allowed.
With the imprimatur of the Times, Bilton could be successful. Maybe when he’s done he can start on that safety briefing my friend gets so annoyed about. Really,where’s the proof it has any effect on safety?
Which bring up an obvious question. It’s 2013. Who doesn’t know how a seat belt buckles and unbuckles?
Was your child born during a recession? You might want to start putting bail money away, a new study suggests.
Researchers focused on kids born in the early ’80s and found some of the delinquent behaviors were more common among those kids surrounded by higher unemployment during infancy.
Teens were 9 percent more likely use pot if the region where they turned 1 had a 1 percent drop in employment during the early 1980s.
More research: If being fat is unhealthy, how do we explain the fact overweight people have a lower death risk than the “normal?” A new report analyzing 100 other studies finds that those whose body mass index — BMI — classified them as overweight had less risk of dying than people of normal weight.
A Fargo photographer is capturing the changing nature of North Dakota.
(H/T: Ben Chorn)
How many of us would ever start a project knowing it could never be completed in our lifetime? NPR takes a look at the impressive Crazy Horse sculpture, being carved out of a mountain in South Dakota. The man with the idea is dead, his wife is 86 and seven of their children have taken up the project.
“He said, ‘Go slowly so you do it right.’ And, I, for one, would like to have it go faster, but there are so many things that you have to do in order to do it right that it takes the time,” Ruth Ziolkowski says.
Now that winter has finally taken hold in Minnesota, Minnesotans head for the ice.
… and sometimes under the ice.
The fiscal deal approved late Tuesday night allows income taxes to rise for individuals earning over $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000. It avoids the major spending cuts and widespread tax increases known as the “fiscal cliff.” Today’s Question: What do you think of the deal to stop the country’s fall off the fiscal cliff?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Politics of the fiscal cliff.
Second hour: Personal finance for the new year.
Third hour: Notable books
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Former Sen. and VP Walter Mondale, speaking at the Humphrey School about filibuster reform and the ways of the Senate.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – “Stand Your Ground” laws have been in the public spotlight since last year’s shooting of Trayvon Martin. Nationwide, they’ve been under the microscope of social scientists analyzing crime data. NPR will report on what a new study has found about states with Stand Your Ground laws and their unintended consequences.