Enlightened Rednecks Expose Volkswagen
Posted on 09.25.15 by Danny Glover @ 9:04 pm

Behold the power of enlightened rednecks:

Volkswagen was recently brought to its knees when scientists discovered the company had installed a device in its diesel-powered cars to fool emissions tests. Its stock price tanked, its reputation has been damaged, and its CEO resigned on Wednesday.

So who made the discovery that sent the German car giant into a tailspin? A group of scientists at West Virginia University.

Remember that the next time you read an article trashing West Virginia or hear some elitist tell a joke about those hillbillies in the Mountain State. A little redneck common sense made the researchers at my alma mater skeptical, and a little hard work on their part exposed the alleged deception of a multinational corporation.


Filed under: Business and Education and Government and News & Politics and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

What Should Have Happened To Ahmed
Posted on 09.20.15 by Danny Glover @ 7:07 am

If the Internet has taught us anything about the news, it’s that the outrage of the week (or day) isn’t always as simple as it seems on the surface.

The heroes and villains that journalists love to anoint in their coverage rarely live up to the hype or down to the demonization. The trite hashtags that the online masses parrot without contemplation seldom reflect the complexity of a situation. The conventional wisdom about winners and losers usually isn’t all that wise.

Think back to the deadly police incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore or the jailing of county clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky. Such explosive stories typically involve a chain of events where several people make bad decisions. Just one burst of wisdom could break the chain of foolishness, but no one finds the will or courage to exercise it.

As the stories play out, I often wonder what should have happened at every point along the way.

With that in mind, I’m debuting a new feature on this blog. As opportunities arise, I will compare what actually happened in a given story with “What Should Have Happened.” I won’t address the possible motives behind given decisions; I will simply explore how the various players could have changed the outcome by behaving differently.

I’m going to start with a topic that garnered significant attention last week – the arrest of Ahmed Mohammed, a 14-year-old in Texas, for taking a harmless, homemade “clock” to his school. Suspecting that it might be a hoax bomb, school officials called police, and police briefly detained Mohammed. The school suspended him a couple of days. Local news coverage fueled global outrage, much of it online with the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed.”

Here’s what should have happened:

  • Mohammed’s parents should have prevented him from taking his project to school. The incident occurred just a few days after the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, a time of heightened awareness and frazzled nerves. That is not the time to be carrying a case with a device that may look like a bomb.
  • The engineering teacher should have kept the clock until the school day ended. Mohammed took the clock to school to show it to his engineering teacher. The teacher praised the project but told Mohammed not to show it to anyone else. The teacher should have intervened more directly.
  • (more…)


Filed under: Education and Media and News & Politics and People
Comments: None

The Rocket Boy Defends The Clock Boy
Posted on 09.18.15 by Danny Glover @ 7:35 pm

Homer Hickam, the enlightened redneck from Coalwood, W.Va., who rose to rocketry and writing fame, knows exactly how 14-year-old Texan Ahmed Mohammed feels. Both were falsely accused of mischief during their scientific adventures, Hickam for allegedly starting a forest fire with an errant rocket launch and Mohammed for presumably perpetrating a bomb hoax in his school.

Hickam empathized with Mohammed in a blog post that recalled not only Hickam’s own arrest but also some of the run-ins that other brainiacs have had with authoritarian school bureaucrats and police officers:

We boys of Coalwood, West Virginia, had a very similar situation to what Ahmed is now facing. We were summarily commanded to appear at our high school principal’s office to be yelled at by the police for allegedly starting a forest fire with our amateur rockets. We were entirely innocent but that didn’t much matter.

Although we weren’t handcuffed, we were surely told in no uncertain terms that a “bomb squad” would not be allowed at school. This occurred nearly sixty years ago! The intolerance by some school authorities toward bright kids has never really stopped but, during recent years, has been exaggerated by the adoption of zero-tolerance rules.

The other examples of nonconformist geniuses being suspended for their creative pursuits included a boy who made a cardboard mockup of a rocket from a potato chip canister and a girl on the honor roll whose science experiment produced a puff of smoke on school grounds.

Hickam gave the latter student and her twin sister scholarships to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and now he is offering the same thing to Mohammed. “Space Camp is one place where really bright kids can blossom. … I’m there often enough to see how youngsters, often picked on at school for being too bright, thrive when they find themselves with other students just like them.”


Filed under: Aviation and Education and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

The Best Snake Oil Salesmen In The World
Posted on 09.10.15 by Danny Glover @ 7:14 pm

If you’re ever bitten by a venomous snake, you may be better off if it happens in Mexico. A vial of antivenin there will cost you $100-$200 versus $14,000 in the United States of Price-gouging Insurers. Money-grubbing lawyers have a hand in this racket, too:

The cost of actually making the antivenom — of R&D, animal care, plasma harvesting, bottling, and the like — added up to roughly one tenth of one percent of the total cost. Clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of the antivenom accounted for another 2 percent. Other miscellaneous costs, including licensing fees, wholesaler fees, regulatory, legal and office costs, and profit to medical providers, added up to 28 percent.

Finally, over 70 percent of the cost — responsible for most of the “sticker shock” you see in so many stories about envenomation care — comes from hospital markups that are used as instruments in negotiation with insurance providers. Depending on the hospital and the insurer, some percentage of this amount later gets discounted during the final payment process.


Filed under: Health and Human Interest and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

David McCullough Likes My Redneck Beard!
Posted on 09.04.15 by Danny Glover @ 2:59 pm

Normally I’d say the highlight of my day yesterday was meeting historian David McCullough, whose latest book “The Wright Brothers” brought him to Federal Aviation Administration headquarters. But the highlight actually was what he said when we met: “Great beard. Whoa.”


Filed under: Aviation and Books and History and People and Photography and Rednecks
Comments: 1 Comment

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