Incredible Footage of Reusable Rocket, The Future of Space Exploration

Incredible Footage of Reusable Rocket, The Future of Space Exploration

Writing about business ethics from day to day is an excruciating experience. You are constantly bombarded by some of the worst of human behavior and lots of villains. It is similar in some sense to the cop on the beat who only sees the worst of human behavior. It pushes one toward cynicism and doubt about the human condition.

Fortunately, there are counter currents of humans at their best, humans struggling to do the right thing. Here is one of them.


James Pilant

Ares I Rocket First Stage (June 2008)
Ares I Rocket First Stage (June 2008) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

From around the web.

From the web site, The Rocketry Blog. (And if you want to see more footage of this incredible vehicle – this web site has them. jp)

“SpaceX’s Grasshopper doubled its highest leap to date to rise 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet) today, hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control.  Grasshopper touched down with its most accurate precision thus far on the centermost part of the launch pad.  At touchdown, the thrust to weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one, proving a key landing algorithm for Falcon 9.  Today’s test was completed at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.” – SpaceX

This thing is huge so pulling this off is quite incredible and SpaceX continues to push this technology in its test. I looking forward to one day seeing the Falcon 9 return this way.

Is the fine a little low?

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...
English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Okay, what do you have to blow up to get in “real” trouble? Apparently, a lot. Maybe, it’s time that the “our” Congress set up a new set of penalties for blowing up stuff?


Business ethics cannot rely on word of mouth for enforcement. Some things are criminal wrongs that are punishable by jail time and fines.


What is the message when fifteen people are dead along with enormous property damage, and the proposed penalty is a little under $120,000? Isn’t the implication that breaking the rules is a matter of paying negligible costs?


Tiny fines are one way of making business ethics a topic of derision. There have to be penalties that hurt for law to be effective in its goals.


James Pilant


Fertilizer Plant That Exploded In West, Texas Faces $118,300 In Fines | ThinkProgress


West Fertilizer Co., the plant that exploded in April, killing 15 people, is facing federal fines totaling $118,300 for two dozen serious safety violations that include its lack of an emergency response plan, the Associated Press reports.


According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), violations include unsafe handling and storage of anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate, inadequately labeled storage tanks, failure to pressure-test replacement hoses, and the lack of respiratory protection or appropriate fire extinguishers.


West Fertilizer Co. has 15 days to either pay the fine or file an administrative appeal, so the penalties could be reduced. A company spokesman said its lawyers are reviewing the citations and proposed fine.


via Fertilizer Plant That Exploded In West, Texas Faces $118,300 In Fines | ThinkProgress.

From around the web.

From the web site,

In a 2002 study, the CSB called on OSHA and the EPA to expand their standards to include reactive chemicals and hazards, but to date neither agency has acted on the recommendations.  During the Senate hearing, Chairman Moure-Eraso said, “Ammonium nitrate would likely have been included, if the EPA had adopted our 2002 recommendation to cover reactive chemicals under its Risk Management Program. And OSHA has not focused extensively on ammonium nitrate storage and hadn’t inspected West since 1985.”


 The safety message goes on to describe other serious reactive chemical accidents investigated by the CSB since its 2002 study.  These include a December 19, 2007, explosion and fire at T2 Laboratories in Jacksonville, Florida; a January 31, 2006, explosion at the Synthron chemical manufacturing facility in Morganton, North Carolina; and an April 12, 2004, toxic release at MFG Chemical in Dalton, Georgia.


Neoliberal Reforms Ready to Devastate Higher Education

A construction project to repair and update th...
A construction project to repair and update the building façade at the Department of Education headquarters in 2002 resulted in the installation of structures at all of the entrances to protect employees and visitors from falling debris. ED redesigned these protective structures to promote the “No Child Left Behind Act”. The structures were temporary and were removed in 2008. Source: U.S. Department of Education, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





This is the same kind of “reform” that is devastating high school education in the United States, a reliance on testing, a emphasis on monetary results from education (“practical” education) and diminished state funding. This is education being re-defined from public good to private acquisition.


Are we who teach in academia on the verge of living in the same world as the public school teacher, that is, teaching to the test, rigidly defined course materials and funding based on test results?


That is certainly the intent of organizations like the Bill Gates Foundation and the Neoliberal movement.


Haven’t we learned enough from the NCLB disaster in the public schools to not have to do this kind of disastrous social experimentation? You’d think so but these zombie ideas just keep on staggering along, rotting and contaminating intelligent thought as they throw off empty ideas and fancy slogans like the miasma from a swamp.


James Pilant


6 ways neoliberal education reform is destroying our college system –


“An outcomes-based culture is rapidly developing amongst policymakers in the higher education sector,” declares a 2012 report sponsored by the Gates Foundation and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, “Measuring Value-Added in Higher Education.” With hardly contained delight, they add that this development “mirrors recent trends in the K-12 sector.”Like RTTT’s progenitor No Child Left Behind, much of the genetic material of higher education reform is drawn from Texas. Just as the apocryphal “Texas Miracle” became the backbone of NCLB’s testing and accountability model, college reforms propagated in Texas have captured the attention of reformers nationwide, with the Gates Foundation playing its usual capo-de-tutti-capi role.The foundation also funded Compare College TX, an accountability system, and supported—in fact helped inspire—Governor Rick Perry’s $10,000 degree plan. This initiative epitomizes the Republican higher-ed platform, defined by performance funding, value-added measurements and the likely curtailing of state funds.The foundation’s other forays into higher education—an accountability challenge, numerous nationalcollege completion initiatives, and a series of research paperswith consulting firm HCM Strategists made Gates “one of the strongest voices …


via 6 ways neoliberal education reform is destroying our college system –


From around the web.


From the web site, Sarah Kendzior.


You could say I am angry, but I don’t see that as a negative quality. Anger is a normal reaction to suffering, whether you experience it or witness it. One can be angry without being hostile or violent. One can be angry and still be respectful and polite to others.


Anger is a positive emotion, because anger acknowledges the possibility for change. The opposite of anger is acquiescence – the acceptance of suffering as normal. Anger is a form of compassion.


Corruption and inequality are man-made problems. They are not inevitable and neither is the hardship that accompanies them. But in order to fix a problem, we have to see it as a problem, not an inexorable element of human life or human behavior. Saying “this is the way things are” discourages people from imagining how things could be.


If people are angry after they read my work, I am glad. I hope they use that anger to fight on behalf of others. One of the worst feelings in the world is to suffer in the open and have no one care or raise a hand to help you. We should not take terrible conditions for granted any more than we should treat the suffering they cause as acceptable. Anger demands accountability.


As for your question as to whether I am “mentally and emotionally exhausted“ — probably. But that’s because I am the mother of two young children, not because I’m some sort of revolutionary.


Criticizing corruption is not exhausting.  It is far more exhausting to pretend everything is okay.


From the web site, New Politics.




FROM A PERSPECTIVE of teaching for social justice, a

critique of NCLB points to fundamental pitfalls and contradictions of the model which, in the end,

not only may lead to its own demise, but will deeply damage the fabric of public education as the

cornerstone of the democratic pact in the United States, and by implication, will damage peoples

and entire communities, especially people of color.




Carlos Ovando

offers eleven reasons why NCLB could be consider a fraud. 1. The massive increase in testing that

NCLB will impose on schools will hurt their educational performance, not improve it; 2. The

funding for NCLB does not come anywhere near the levels that would be needed to reach even

the narrow and dubious goals of producing 100 percent passing rates on state tests for all students

by 2014; 3. The mandate that NCLB imposes on schools to eliminate inequality in test scores

among all students within 12 years is a mandate that is placed on no other social institution, and

reflects the hypocrisy of the law; 4. The sanctions that NCLB impose on schools that don’t meet

its test score targets will hurt poor schools and poor communities most; 5. The transfer and

choice provision will crest chaos and produce greater inequality within the public system without

increasing the capacity of receiving schools to deliver better educational services; 6. These same

transfer and choice provisions will not give low-income parents any more control over school

bureaucracies than food stamps give them over the supermarkets; 7. These provisions about using

scientifically based instructional practices are neither scientifically valid nor educationally sound

and will harmfully impact classrooms in what may be the single most important instructional area,

the teaching of reading; 8. The supplemental tutorial provisions of NCLB will channel public

funds to private companies for ideological and political reasons, similar to debates about

vouchers, not sound educational ones; 9. NCLB is part of a larger political and ideological effort

to privatize social programs, reduce the public sector, and ultimately replace local control of

institutions like schools with marketplace reforms that substitute commercial relations between

customers for democratic relations between citizens; 10. NCLB moves control over curriculum

and instructional issues away from teachers, classrooms, schools and local districts where it

should be, and puts it in the hands of state and federal educational bureaucracies and politicians. It

represents the single biggest assault on local control of schools in the history of federal education

policy; 11. NCLB includes provisions that try to push prayer, military recruiters, and homophobia

into schools while pushing multiculturalism, teacher innovation, and creative curriculum reform




critique is shared by many scholars, and they are also many other voices of dissent in many school

districts and state departments of education struggling to comply with the letter and the spirit of

the law. Yet, I will argue that even the spirit of the law, based on the notion of accountability

should be carefully inspected and criticized.


Technocrats and

bureaucrats take for granted that accountability is one of those terms that cannot be challenged

because accountability refers to the process of holding actors responsible for their actions.

Nonetheless, “Operationalizing such an open-ended concept is fraught with complications,

starting with the politically and technically contested issue of assessing performance. Even if the

measurement problem were solved, the factors explaining the process have received remarkable

little research attention. For example, although political science has sought broad generalizations

to explain wars, treaties, military coups, legislation, electoral behavior, and transitions to

democracy, it has not produced empirically grounded conceptual frameworks that can explain

how public accountability is constructed across diverse institutions.” (Fox and Brown, 12)


If a discipline

such as political science has not been able to truly define what accountability is, how can one

expect to sort out those dilemmas in education? Only in the feverish imagination of technocrats

who, paraphrasing Mark Twain’s irony, can be criticized that if the only tool that they have is a

hammer, all the problems begin to look like nails. I wonder sometimes what would Rousseau,

Pestalozzi, Dewey, or Freire, to name just a few great pedagogues, would say confronted with the

theories of the lesser-known pedagogues of the Congress, the White House, and their academic

advisers and consultants who inspired the principles of NCLB.






Does Suspension Make Any Sense?


Cast from the garden?
Cast from the garden?

Does Suspension Make Any Sense?

Why do we suspend children from school? – Slate Magazine

Several schools have suspended children for joking about guns in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. A 7-year-old in Maryland was suspended for chewing a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun, while others have received the same punishment for pointing their fingers like guns or using toy guns that blow bubbles. Suspension seems like a counterintuitive disciplinary tool, since many children would prefer to stay home from school, anyway. Why is suspension such a common punishment?

Because it’s familiar, cheap, and convenient. It’s also demonstrably ineffective. Its deterrent value is low: A 2011 study showed that Texas students who were suspended or expelled at least once during middle school and high school averaged four such disciplinary actions during their academic careers. Fourteen percent of them were suspended 11 times or more. Suspensions don’t even seem to benefit the school as a whole. In recent years, while Baltimore city schools have dramatically reduced suspensions, the dropout rate has been cut nearly in half.

Still, surveys consistently show that parents support suspension, because it keeps those students perceived as bad apples away from their peers. Principals continue to rely on suspension, in part because it creates the appearance of toughness. Parents can’t complain about inaction when a principal regularly suspends or expels bad actors. Administrators may also favor suspension because it edges problem students out of school: Students who have been suspended are three times more likely to drop out. Some researchers refer to a student who gives up on school after repeated suspension as a “push out” rather than a dropout.

Why do we suspend children from school? – Slate Magazine


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Govloop Hits 60,000 Members – You should join!

Wow – this week we hit a new milestone as Santiago Hernandez of Department of Justice in Corpus Christi, Texas became the 60,000th member on GovLoop. All I can say is – that’s awesome. You rock!

It’s amazing to see what was just a simple idea to share ideas in government has turned into the largest knowledge network for government with members across the U.S. and across the globe.
Govloop is a social network for public employees, federal, state and local. If you fall into that group (for instance, like me, faculty at a state institution) maybe you should consider joining. I like the network and I am rooting for its greater success.
We live in an age where electronic networking is becoming more and more important.
Build your connections. Build your influence. Build a better life.
James Pilant
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SceneTap Controversy Discussed by the Ethics Sage

Creepy Facial Recognition App Raises Privacy Concerns – Ethics Sage

You’re single and looking for someone to meet so you go to one of the bars in your home town. You decide to use a new app to scan the faces of patrons in the bars in the downtown area to determine the ages and genders of customers in the bars. You then check your smartphone for real-time updates on the crowd size, average age and male-to-female mix to decide whether the scene is to your liking. Then, you pick out the bar that best suits your needs and off you go to mingle with the crowd. Is it fact or fiction?

It is happening right now. On May 17, the Austin, Texas-based makers of SceneTap launched an app that can do just that. The app doesn’t identify specific individuals or save personal information. SceneTap’s ability to guess how old people are and whether they’re men or women relies on advances in a field known as biometrics. A camera at the door snaps your picture, and software maps your features to a grid. By measuring distances such as the length between the nose and the eyes and the eyes and the ears, an algorithm matches your dimensions to a database of averages for age and gender.

Creepy Facial Recognition App Raises Privacy Concerns – Ethics Sage

The computer has brought us many benefits but it also provides new opportunities to lose privacy. This one is apparently being used for lounge lizards to scan their female prey, not very edifying. So, what’s next – scanners that track your visits to stores, sidewalks and communities. What kind of privacy are we going to have left?

James Pilant

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US power company abandons reactor construction (via hisatomijapan)

I am utterly astonished. I can’t figure this one out. The government is in the industry’s pocket. The American press really isn’t interested. The American public is opposed but if you have lived here any length of time, you know how little public opinion means. So, a utility is giving up builing a plant with loan guarantees from the federal government and indemnification if there were a crisis or future meltdown? I don’t get it.

Did some official in the company decided to exercise some judgment? Did somebody grow a backbone? Or did someone take out a calculator and figure out how much the building costs would increase if all the cures for the safety problems at the Fukushima plant were incorporated into the new plant’s design?

James Pilant