What will you do when your favorite gas station runs dry, this summer?

Millions of people stuck at home for more than a year are expected to hit the road for much-needed post-pandemic vacations this summer. Good luck finding gas.

Not that there’s a looming shortage of crude oil or gasoline. Rather, it’s the tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations who are in short supply.

According to the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group, somewhere between 20% to 25% of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to a paucity of qualified drivers. At this point in 2019, only 10% of trucks were sitting idle for that reason.

“We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the NTTC. “It certainly has grown exponentially.”…

Not just any truck driver is allowed to drive a tanker truck. It requires special certification, including a commercial driver’s license, and weeks of training after being hired. And while the jobs are more attractive than some long-haul trucking jobs that can keep drivers away from home for days or weeks at a time, it is strenuous, difficult work.

Holly McCormick, who runs the workforce committee for NTTC, said another problem was the shutdown of many driver schools early in the pandemic. The pipeline of new drivers those schools would have produced has yet to be filled, she said. And then there’s a new federal clearinghouse that went online in January 2020 to identify truck drivers with prior drug or alcohol violations or failed drug tests, which knocked about 40,000 to 60,000 total drivers out of the national employment pool.

Oops!

New Coppers often teamed with crap coppers. Guess what they learn?


YOU GUESSED IT! HOW TO BE CRAP COPPERS.

Police in the United States receive less initial training than their counterparts in other rich countries—about five months in a classroom and another three or so months in the field, on average. Many European nations, meanwhile, have something more akin to police universities, which can take three or four years to complete. European countries also have national standards for various elements of a police officer’s job—such as how to search a car and when to use a baton. The U.S. does not.

The 18,000 police departments in the U.S. each have their own rules and requirements. But although police reform is a contentious subject, the inadequacy of the current training provides a rare point of relative consensus: “Police officers, police chiefs, and everyone agree that we do not get enough training in a myriad of fields,” Dennis Slocumb, the legislative director of the International Union of Police Associations, told me…

…Few American officers receive much education about the history of policing or the role of police in a democratic society. “The officer coming out of one of the European training programs, he’s much more likely to have a much broader perspective on what the job is, what your role is, what your society is like, how do you fit into it,” says David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. “Those things are just not really part of what’s going on in most American police-training programs.”…

New officers are often paired with field-training officers, but many of those officers learned the wrong techniques themselves, and are passing them along to their trainees. Derek Chauvin, who was convicted on Tuesday of murder, was acting as a field-training officer when he killed George Floyd. Kim Potter, who shouted “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before fatally shooting Daunte Wright with her pistol last week, was also acting as a field-training officer at the time.

I think you get the idea. It makes a great deal of sense [to me] that folks who are actually trained to be professionals, meeting recognized standards of behavior…will turn out to be police professionals more often than not. That might even be a more useful place to spend tax dollars than urban assault tanks. Or picking up the tab for defending cops who murder civilians.

Brilliant laundry detergent ad urges men to do more housework

This ad from India for laundry detergent movingly shows how women deal with the “second shift” — working all day and coming home to even more household chores. And it shows how we could break the (laundry pun intended) cycle:

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 5.47.42 PM
Click through to the video and the article

The ad is going viral after Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg shared it on her profile, calling it “one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen.”

In the two-minute ad, a father visits his grown daughter and her family and watches her — after a day at work — juggle work calls and dinner preparations and her son’s stained shirt.

Meanwhile, her husband watches TV. “I am so proud. And I am so sorry,” her father says in voiceover. “Sorry that you have to do all this alone. Sorry that I never stopped you while you were playing house. I never told you it’s not your job alone, but your husband’s too. But how could I say it when I never helped your mom either?”

We later learn that the voiceover is a letter, and her father closes by promising to do better, starting with doing his own laundry from his trip to visit his daughter…

Own up, dudes!

Darwin Award winner of the year candidate — Suicide Bomb Instructor kills himself and 22 trainees

ISIS
Pay attention in class and follow instructions

A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives…

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara…Eight militants were arrested when they tried to escape…

The militant who was conducting the training was not identified by name, but he was described by an Iraqi Army officer as a prolific recruiter who was “able to kill the bad guys for once…”

A State Department official, Brett McGurk, said that ISIS had about 2,000 fighters in Iraq, and that its longer-term objective is to establish a base of operations in Baghdad, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been officially designated as a global terrorist by the State Department.

The dude qualifies all the way round. Especially since he took out 22 candidates with himself, wounded 15 more and survivors were arrested. Phew.

Early music lessons boost brain development

If you started piano lessons in grade one, or played the recorder in kindergarten, thank your parents and teachers. Those lessons you dreaded – or loved – helped develop your brain. The younger you started music lessons, the stronger the connections in your brain.

A study published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that musical training before the age of seven has a significant effect on the development of the brain, showing that those who began early had stronger connections between motor regions – the parts of the brain that help you plan and carry out movements.

The study provides strong evidence that the years between ages six and eight are a “sensitive period” when musical training interacts with normal brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. “Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli,” says Virginia Penhune. “Practicing an instrument before age seven likely boosts the normal maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions of the brain, creating a framework upon which ongoing training can build.”

With the help of study co-authors, PhD candidates Christopher J. Steele and Jennifer A. Bailey, Penhune and Zatorre tested 36 adult musicians on a movement task, and scanned their brains. Half of these musicians began musical training before age seven, while the other half began at a later age, but the two groups had the same number of years of musical training and experience. These two groups were also compared with individuals who had received little or no formal musical training.

When comparing a motor skill between the two groups, musicians who began before age seven showed more accurate timing, even after two days of practice. When comparing brain structure, musicians who started early showed enhanced white matter in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibres that connects the left and right motor regions of the brain. Importantly, the researchers found that the younger a musician started, the greater the connectivity.

Interestingly, the brain scans showed no difference between the non-musicians and the musicians who began their training later in life; this suggests that the brain developments under consideration happen early or not at all. Because the study tested musicians on a non-musical motor skill task, it also suggests that the benefits of early music training extend beyond the ability to play an instrument…

But, says Penhune, who is also a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development, “it’s important to remember that what we are showing is that early starters have some specific skills and differences in the brain that go along with that. But, these things don’t necessarily make them better musicians. Musical performance is about skill, but it is also about communication, enthusiasm, style, and many other things that we don’t measure. So, while starting early may help you express your genius, it probably won’t make you a genius.”

The only analysis I can offer is subjective – and in agreement with the study. Second-generation American, I grew up in a factory town, downhill and downwind from 2 of the 3 factories that dominated the New England city where I was born.

My parents taught me to read by age 4. And I started piano lessons at 5. I studied and played through elementary school – and stayed in the top of my classes through graduation.

I never became a superior pianist. I played well enough through practice – and later became part of a different music scene because I loved to sing – not for the range of skills as a well-practiced guitarist. But, rhythms and music were as much a part of my mind as the words and tales and adventures that filled the books I read.

The music helped.

US Navy has one of those expensive “Oops!” moments

Photos and video from submarine-cruiser collision off Florida coast


Click on photo to enlargeUS Navy photo by MC2 Mike DiMestico

USS MONTPELIER (SSN 765) runs on the surface Sunday, Oct. 14, a day after being hit while submerged by the cruiser SAN JACINTO. The upper vertical rudder normally visible right aft is missing.
 


Click on photo to enlargeUS Navy photo by MC2 Mike DiMestico

The cruiser SAN JACINTO underway off the northeast Florida coast on Oct. 14, a day after colliding with the submerged submarine MONTPELIER. No visible damage above the waterline. The damaged sonar dome is at the foot of the ship’s bow.

Photos of the two ships involved in Saturday’s collision off the northeast Florida coast were taken and released Oct. 14 by the U. S. Navy. Neither of the ships, the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS MONTPELIER (SSN 765) and the Aegis cruiser USS SAN JACINTO (CG 56), show any topside effects, but both ships have been damaged…

The incident is currently under investigation.

Both the submarine and the ship were conducting routine training at the time of the accident.

Like I said: Oops!

Auditors find US wasted millions on Iraqi police training facilities, billions on training!

Report from auditors finds that massive US programme to train Iraqi police was unwanted and led to ‘de-facto waste’.

More than $200m was wasted on a programme to train Iraqi police that the government in Baghdad neither needed or wanted, US auditors have found.

The Police Development Programme, which was to be the single largest programme launched by the US State Department anywhere in the world, was envisioned to be a five-year, multi-billion dollar effort to train local security forces after the US military pulled out last December.

A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, to be released today, found that the US embassy in Baghdad never received a written commitment from Iraq to participate in the programme.

Now, facing what the report called Baghdad’s “disinterest” in the project, the embassy is massively cutting what was planned to be the centrepiece of ongoing US training projects in Iraq.

According to the report, the embassy now plans to turn the $108m Baghdad Police College Annex over to Iraqis by the end of 2012, and will also stop training at a $98m site in the southern city of Basra…

“A major lesson learned from Iraq is that host country buy-in to proposed programmes is essential to the long-term success of relief and reconstruction activities”…auditors wrote in a 41-page summary of their inspection…

In ordinary English – understand we’re talking about a government made up of survivors of Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

The report concluded, “the decision to embark on a major programme absent Iraqi buy-in has been costly” and resulted in “a de-facto waste”…The findings have called into question funding needs at the US embassy in Baghdad, the largest such mission in the world…

In a July 26 letter responding to a draft of the report, Carol Z. Perez, an acting US assistant secretary of state, said that the embassy would be requesting additional funding for the police training programme in 2013…

Moreover, Perez said, the embassy had been assured by Adnan al-Asadi, the Iraqi principal deputy interior minister, that his country is committed to a streamlined version of the training programme.

The auditors, however, said that those assurances fall short of a written commitment. They quoted al-Asadi as telling US inspectors that the police training programme was “useless”.

Bush’s imperial adventure into the Middle East will go down in history as comparable to the political and military disaster that was VietNam. We weren’t wanted. We did nothing useful to improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

We convinced the few people who may have been sympathetic to the United States in the Middle East and the rest of the world – that our foreign policy is as backwards as the rules of order governing Congress. And our nation is run by liberals and/or conservatives who have learning nothing from our past – or the failures of every imperial nation that preceded us.