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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


Apologist in chief

pakistan, riots, Obama

US launches PR blitz;

Al Jazeera;20 Sep 2012 12:47

Against the tense backdrop of the Libyan embassy massacre, the US has bought time on Pakistani television stations to run a series of ads in an effort to assuage Muslim feelings of hurt.

The US hopes the ad would show that the country had no involvement with the controversial internet video.

The US embassy in Islamabad bought air time to run the announcement, which features clips of Barack Obama, the US president, and Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, underscoring US respect for religion and declaring the US government had nothing to do with the video. The 30 second ads were run on every television station throughout the country throughout the day to reach every segment of the population.

Obama is shown saying: "Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others."

Clinton then says: "Let me state very clearly, the United States has absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents. America's commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation."

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Barack Obama said, "In order to ensure we reached the largest number of Pakistanis, some 90 million as I understand it in this case with these spots, it was the judgment that this was the best way to do it."

Addressing a media briefing on the ad campaign, Victoria Nuland, state department spokeswoman, said the aim was "to make sure that the Pakistani people hear the president's messages and the secretary's messages".

The announcement aired as the US asked its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Pakistan.

Upon reading the article, I was thoroughly disgusted.

  1. The intensions of stirring more hate in Pakistan is quite evident
  2. Our apologist in Chief is notifying the Pakistani population that the video exists and that they should be offended by it; despite the fact that the video was only viewed 3 (or some low number) times and pulled off of YouTube last week.
  3. These are not the actions of a serious rational administration.
  4. The administration obviously has too much money it they feel that this is a worthwhile investment of taxpayer dollars.

What was the response to the Presidential apology?  A day of rage.

Headlines this morning:

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis are expected to take to the streets across the country after the government called an impromptu public holiday to let people protest.”

 The US embassy in Pakistan became the latest target of protesters angry at the YouTube video (prior to the Obama apology they didn't know existed: my editorial). The total number of protesters touched 5,000 yesterday with the arrival of protesters carrying the flags of anti-American Islamist groups. More are expected today.

At least 50 people were injured as police fired tear gas and live rounds towards the crowds.

The air time that Obama purchased got the desired outcome.

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