Wednesday, November 28

Soft Courses, Hard Courses and 'Fuzzy Math'

When I was in school taking graduate courses to get my MBA, we had two basic types of courses:
  • Hard Courses - Courses where there are definitive right and wrong answers.
  • Soft Courses - Subjective courses where there is not always a definitive answer.
The men tended to prefer the hard courses and the women the soft courses. The hard courses were mastered by learning (and memorizing) the rules and formulas needed to find the one right solution. Maybe the men preferred that because it was clear what was needed and you either got the problem right or you did not. And if you failed to correctly solve the problem, you could at least see what you did wrong.

The women tended to shy away from the hard classes. Perhaps this was because our first course was Quantitative Mathematics. That's a difficult enough class in your native language, I can only imagine how difficult it was for those who use English as a second language. Many of my classmates dropped the class, opting to take it later.

The soft classes tended to drive the men nuts. Many of these classes included class participation as part of your grade. In general the quality of the discussion was not an issue, you just needed to participate. Have a case concerning how to increase demand for diapers, just suggest expanding into diapering animals at zoos. (Note: This was a real suggestion.) This was partly the result of some of my classmates hunting an 'A' in every class. Points for class participation were real important for them as it was infinitely more difficult to get an A without them. Sadly, these people had lots of idiotic ideas to keep their hands in the air, so that the instructor would remember that they participated. (Note II: One idea for a group project was a business plan for developing a disposable toilet brush. That group caught no end of hell for the idea. So imagine my horror the first time I saw an advertisement for one years later. And then a second one. Who knew? Guess they saw something the rest of us did not.)

Then we started a new class (Classes were 3 hours/day for three weeks.); 'Mergers, Takeovers and acquisitions.' Class participation would compose part of our grade. Right off the bat he started interacting with the class and the hands jumped up. The first comment was one of those soft responses which the instructor immediately replied:
"You don't get points just for opening your mouth. You have to tell me something I don't know." (or something like that.)
This teacher was from California of all places and he shocked over half the class with his statement. This is understandable given that 20 percent of the course grade was for 'class participation'. The other half of the class was silently appreciative of his declaration. Most of our other teachers were of the kind that wanted to foster discussion, any sort of discussion, and those who were striving for A's knew that they needed to throw out ideas, any idea. It did not matter how idiotic. But that was not going to work with this guy. He valued quality and was going to reward it, which was why class participation counted for so much.

Most of the hands raised in the air came down. Those hands never went up again, which was good as everything that was said from that point on was worth listening to, and we all learned lots in the end.

I decided to write about this after learning about a disease infecting our elementary schools: 'Fuzzy Math'. Math of course falls into the Hard Course category. Two plus two equals four in the world of math. Any other answer is wrong. I am surprised to learn that some people have a problem with this, and it is effecting how our children are taught.
Do you know what math curriculum your child is being taught? Are you worried that your third-grader hasn’t learned simple multiplication yet? Have you been befuddled by educational jargon such as “spiraling,” which is used to explain why your kid keeps bringing home the same insipid busywork of cutting, gluing and drawing? And are you alarmed by teachers who emphasize “self-confidence” over proficiency while their students fall further and further behind? Join the club. - Michelle Malkin
Go read the rest of the story to better understand how children are not learning math.
California, ever on the cutting edge of educational reforms, enthusiastically embraced Fuzzy Math in the early nineties only to watch state math scores plummet. In 1996, California registered one of the worst scores of all 50 states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. By the end of 1997, the State Board of Education realized its mistake and produced sensible standards that encouraged more traditional math instruction. Other states that experimented with Fuzzy Math have started to see the light as well. “The pendulum is swinging back to the more traditional approach to education,” says one administrator in Massachusetts. - CITY
Now there is surely a place for soft/fuzzy courses, however it is surely a bad move to turn hard courses into soft ones. We have a modern society that is build upon technology. For us to continue to advance this technology, we will need people who are competent in the science and math fields. And as we advance, each generation's children will have more to learn. It just not make sense to all of a sudden decide that children do not have to be proficient in the basics that will enable them to contribute in the future.

The sad thing is that the children exposed to this 'experiment' will have to live with this for the rest of their life. they should not have to do it lacking math skills.

One more side note: Some of my classmates were so concerned about their transcripts in that they demanded that the plus be removed from the A pluses that they earned. You see some of the instructors from the US assigned A Pluses, even though the highest official grade was an A. They thought that future employers would view the A's in a lower regard if their was a higher 'A+' on the transcript.

Fuzzy math: A nationwide epidemic - Michelle Malkin


In my earlier post "The US Navy's 'Kobayashi Maru'" I covered the DANICA WHITE's Captain's suggestion that the action of the US Navy to stop the pirates (by destroying their boats) resulted in the hijackers holding the ship for ransom instead of just making a quick robbery as they claimed was their initial intention.
"The efficient US guns managed to hit all three boats (one large and two smaller ones), and one of the ABs was ordered to cut the towing line. This changed the whole situation", says Niels Nielsen. "The hi-jackers’ plan was that they would leave the ship at about 20 nautical miles from the shore with their loot, nothing more, according to their original plans and confirmed by their conversation during the days onboard."

The loss of three boats made the hi-jackers rather desperate as the boats were hired from somebody else, and now they had to cover the losses. So instead of leaving the Danica White they were forced to take the ship and claim a ransom to gain money to pay for the boats. - Scandinavian Shipping Gazette
Everyone is entitled to their point of view, and this certainly is heavily influenced by their experiences. Now, it seems that the captain himself is on the receiving end of some criticism, this time from Danish Authorities:
In a report, the maritime authority said the captain did not follow standard procedure and post a crew member to scout for pirates when the Danica White sailed into waters off the Somali coast, where the risk of hijackings is big.

The captain was alone on the bridge when the pirates arrived in three small boats and, unnoticed, boarded the ship from astern, the report said. - International Herald Tribune

So why was the Captain alone? (An even bigger unanswered question is why was the Captain standing a watch?) Scandinavian Shipping Gazette has more details:

Bad watch keeping on the Danica White - SSG-RINGKØBING. The outlook and watch keeping was too slack on board the Danica White, when it was on the voyage from Sharjah to Mombasa in June. That was the main reason for the capture is the conclusion from the Danish Maritime Authorities’ Investigations group. The captain had some disciplinary problems with some of the crew members on board, who did not want to take part of the watch keeping during the voyage. Instead they did maintenance and cleaning in the accommodation. No one on board discovered the hi-jacker’s before they actually was standing on the deck of Danica White and lead to a 82 days capture off the coast of Somalia.

“This is like when a thief breaks into your house. No one is responsible for the incident”, says shipowner Jørgen Folmer, H. Folmer & Co, to several newspapers in Denmark to the question if he feels guilt for what happened. Published: 22.11.07 15.42 - Scandinavian Shipping Gazette
Sounds like there are some 'sailors' that should have their documents canceled. In my limited time at sea, very rarely did I see a captain put up with problem crewmembers. Almost always, they were gone before you could even say 'goodbye', and no, being annoying was not a reason to fire someone, being incompetent or failing to do your job were. Maybe sailors on Danish-flag ships have more rights when it comes to keeping a job you don't want to do, but I cannot see how it is possible to burden a Captain with crewmembers that refuse to do their jobs. After all, watchkeeping was their job.

A ship is a self-contained unit. Each person needs to do their job for the ship to function properly. In this case, that did not happen and it cost many people time and money. The cost could have been much worse, costing lives and resulting in the total loss of the ship.

In the case of pirates, the trick is keeping them from getting aboard. To accomplish that, you need to see them first. A properly manned lookout would have spotted the approach of the pirates, enabling the ship to start evasive maneuvers, which might have permitted help to arrive in time to have stopped the pirates prior to them getting aboard and gaining control of the ship.

Note: The report by the Danish Maritime Authorities is available in Danish only at the moment, but they do promise an English translation in the near future.

The US Navy's 'Kobayashi Maru' - 11 Nov 07

Danish Maritime Authority - Homepage

Monday, November 26

Maritime Monday 86

Welcome to this Weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 36 here. (Published 4 December 2006)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photos:
This week brings a couple photos of Beluga Shipping:

The Beluga Group, with its headquarters in Bremen, Germany, operates world-wide as a specialist for project and heavy-lift cargo.

Our fleet of multipurpose heavy-lift project carriers is fully available to our customers for complex challenges in the marine transportation field. Our special-purpose vessels are young and state-of-the-art, and are distinctive for their powerful cranes, their flexibility due to adjustable tweendecks and their high service speed.

We offer you 100% reliability, safety and quality in transporting your sensitive freight, 365 days a year, and a highly qualified team at your side to provide maximum 24/7 service in every conceivable regard - because there is one thing we want more than anything else:

Totally satisfied customers who always associate Beluga with high performance. - Website

Wind Energy Plants

Huge Windmill Vanes


Powerplant Equipment

Photos found on the company's 'References' pages.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has "Stowaways on military cargo ships..."

Steeljaw Scribe has "Implementing the Maritime Strategy: New Naval Operating Concept (NOC) to be Written"

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has a story on the first black US Marines.

Marine Link has "IMO Bravery Award Presented to Searose G Seafarers"

Chaotic Synaptic Activity also Honors the Maritime World with a weekly series in his Monday Maritime Matters. Last week he covered the Story of Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez who was also honored by the US Navy which named the USNS BENAVIDEZ (T-AKR 306) after him. So go read the story. Where is the movie on this guy?

gCaptain has the Maritime Administration's initiative: "American’s Marine Highway"

gCaptain also has "History’s 10 Most Famous Oil Spills"

Clearly the story of the week is the sinking of the M/V EXPLORER

The BBC has a peek into the world of Maritime Search and Rescue in "Rescue aided from 8,000 miles away"

The BBC also has "In pictures: Antarctic ship rescue" which includes the photo below:

The BBC also has photos taken by passengers from previous voyages.

ABC News also has photos including this one:

The NY Times also has some interesting photos of the sinking, including this one:

Rescued passengers of the Explorer arriving on King George Island, Antarctica. Even its captain and chief officer, who had stayed to operate the bilge pumps in the hope of salvation, had long ago evacuated when the Chilean Navy said the little red ship had gone down. - NY Times

Go and see what became of the liferafts. (Theoretically, the crew would have pulled them up onto the ice, or at least tried...)

No fears for those looking to follow in their wake, in thinking that the opportunity is now lost. The large cruiseship STAR PRINCESS is heading off to Antarctica in January. But be warned, the ship is not Ice-classed (Class: +100A1). At least the EXPLORER was ice-classed. (Class: 1A1 ICE-A(for max draught 4.20 m) Passenger Ship). Oddly enough, the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENDEAVOUR that came to the rescue is being presented as a research vessel. It is actually a cruise ship, and is even older than the EXPLORER.

Some people might be shocked that the ship would have sunk from what was reported to be a 'fist-sized' hole. Well, the smallest hole will sink any size ship, given enough time and access to enough of the ship. Now this hole might have resulted in rapid flooding, depending on how far under the waterline it was located. Here is a flow chart for holes according to depth underwater.

Chart for Determining Flow of Water Through Holes in Gallons Per Minute (Page 15 - PDF DOC)

The other issue is watertight integrity between compartments. If only one compartment was holed, then I would suspect that the ship would have stayed afloat, provided that the listing was not too great. Seeing that it was about 90 minutes after being holed that the order to abandon ship was given, I would suspect that they managed to check the watertight integrity of the compartments. However, once the order was given to abandon ship, the available manpower to fight the flooding was surely quickly diminished as those most able to keep the ship afloat would also be those most needed to man the lifeboats. (Just my opinion, what actually happened is a story for the Captain to tell.)


Sea * Fever covers another sinking, this one the intentional sinking of the TEXAS CLIPPER in order that she can spend the rest of her days serving as an artificial reef.

Robin Storm has the development of improved radars that can see monster waves, giving ships some time to react.

Third Party Logistics covers the World Bank's 2007 Logistics Performance Index rankings. Click the map to go right to the World Bank's ranking page. The US scored 14th. Finland ranked 15th.

ABHABER.EU has an agreement between Greece and Turkey concerning illegal immigrants caught at sea.

Maritime Accident Casebook has news of opportunistic use for wine barrels that were in a container washed ashore from the MSC NAPOLI.

IMC Brokers has "Repubblica di Genova towed to drydock"

Bitter End expresses concern at how the US Coast Guard is rapidly decommissioning many aids to navigation, in effect losing a very dependable backup system for the day (if ever) GPS fails us.

I cover the possible sale of Point No Point Lighthouse offshore of Maryland. It however, will remain an active Aid to Navigation (unlike those mentioned in the Bitter End story) and the buyer will have to permit access to the light as needed. (How is that for efficiency. They used to pay lighthouse keepers. Now you get to pay for the honor, and you don't even get to touch the light. Or maybe they will leave you a spare bulb?)

What is a dead sailor worth? According to a story covered by The Monitor, $300. Go read it for the details.

There is lots of concern in the US (by some) that illegal aliens should not fear arrest for coming forward to the police to alert them about other crimes taking place and reporting when they are a victim of crime. I think that is a horrible idea. Why mention it here? Just go to Alaska Report and see what happened to Captain Jim Frary and the crew of his fishing vessel when he reported his vessel to be in distress. This is just one more example of criminalization of the seafarer. (In all fairness, he probably should have been arrested. However, they used the fact that he was a convicted criminal to search for anything they can charge them with.)

Molten Eagle covers the latest US-China incident in which the USS KITTY HAWK was denied a Thanksgiving port call in China-controlled Hong Kong.

Springbored's Springboard might have an explanation why the KITTY HAWK was denied entry into Hong Kong. Seems that the blame can be pinned on San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Never Sea Land has an image that might be helpful in solving the mermaid problem. (Never heard of it before, but then again I never gave the issue any thought.)

Shipping Times (UK) covers the delivery of Cunard Lines newest cruiseship, the QUEEN VICTORIA.

Kiwi as Sea gets some time ashore in Santa Cruz, and shockingly acts like a sailor. He even gets to play the ever-popular sailor game 'I can see the ship, but I can't get to it!' Go and read it to see what I mean. Feel free to comment below your experiences, if you have ever played this game.

Tugster proves that you can make a post out of most anything, including 'Tillers'.

THE PRIVATE ISLANDS BLOG has the sale of New York's East River's South Brother Island (the last privately held island in the river) to the City of New York.

The Pilot Boat has photos of the start of construction of a new ship

EU Observer has an update on the Norway - EU Salmon War. They also have news of the approval of public funds to save the EU's GPS Program 'Galileo', earmarking more than they do for farm aid, which is a first.

Telegraph (UK) has the crazy story concerning UK fishing vessels throwing back many times the amount of fish they catch in order to stay under their EU quotas. The rub is that the fish are already dead by the time they are 'released'. Surely this is probably happening all over the EU, in order to 'save the fish'.

UberReview has the cool story "Build Your Own Island from Plastic Bottles, The Ultimate DIY Project". Really, cool project.

National Geographic's 23 November photo of the day is a manatee:

The INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum is giving away 10 tickets to ride the ship across NY Harbor when it returns to its berth late next year:

RIDE ABOARD INTREPID DURING HER RETURN TRIP - Enter yourself for a chance to win a trip for you and a guest aboard Intrepid as she sails back to Pier 86 in Manhattan. All entries must be completed by February 28th, 2008. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Ten (10) entrants will be selected and notified via email and phone. Estimated date of Intrepid’s return trip is September 26th, 2008. - Homepage

Haight's Maritime Items has:

CBP – Hawaiian coastwise cruises - The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposes new criteria to be used to determine whether non-coastwise-qualified vessels are in violation of the Passenger Vessel Services Act when engaging in cruise itineraries in which passengers board at a US port, the vessel calls at several Hawaiian ports, and then the vessel proceeds to a foreign port for a brief period before returning the passengers to the original US port of embarkation. The proposed criteria would find such voyages to be violative of the Act unless: (1) the stop in the foreign port lasts at least 48 hours; (2) the amount of time at the foreign port is more than 50% of the total time at the US ports of call; and (3) the passengers are permitted to go ashore temporarily at the foreign port. Comments on the proposal should be submitted by December 21. 72 Fed. Reg. 65487 (November 21, 2007). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

EU threat to Croatian yards - ZAGREB 20 November – The Croatian shipbuilding industry is under threat of significant change because of the high level of subsidy it receives, according to a Bloomberg report. Subsidies, currently amounting to 2.6bn kuna ($517M), are a key issue in Croatia’s entry talks to join the European Union. Shipbuilding is an important industry in Croatia and the country boasts at least 10 sizeable yards of which six are state-owned – and of the latter only the Uljanik yard is operating without subsidy. Croatia is the world’s sixth largest shipbuilder employing 11,000 people. There are fears that yards will have to close if Croatia is successful in its entry negotiations. Earlier this month the European Commission said that Croatia needed to make substantial efforts to restructure its shipbuilding industry. With an election due on November 25, this is a very topical issue. The prime minister, Ivo Sanader, is delaying any decision on the yards until after the vote. His party aims to make each shipyard viable without subsidy and his main competing party has similar ideas, but such action only suggests major lay-offs, which would make unemployment – already 14.1% – the highest in the EU. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

Submissions for future editions:
Please submit articles for inclusion in next week' edition using the following submit form at Blog Carnival. You are also welcome to email photos for inclusion in future editions as well as suggest area of coverage.

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Sunday, November 25

Update: Hawaii Superferry to Sail

While the legal barriers preventing the Hawaii Superferry from sailing have been lifted, the company has decided to not commence sailing to Kauai, for now:

Kauai Service

A date for commencing service to and from Kaua‘i has not yet been determined. We are working with the community on Kaua‘i and listening to their concerns. We will make our decision about when we commence our Kaua‘i service once that process is completed. - HSF
They are probably most interested in avoiding the type of circus that went on the last time the ship visited the island, or at the very least, are not interested in offloading their passengers into a crowd of violent protesters. I don't blame them. Take this from a commenter left on my original post on this matter:
Why would you encourage people to get in the middle of a pitched battle?

We don't take this whale killing military project lightly. And we don't feel too friendly to anyone who rides it to our island. - FFI

So much for a civil society.

Hawaii Superferry - Homepage

Hawaii Superferry to Sail - Tickets on Sale! - Nov 17 07

Wednesday, November 21

Congressman Murtha's Treasonous Statement

Congressman Murtha is out again doing his best to sabotage our efforts in winning the War in Iraq:

"Look at all the people that have been displaced, all the [lost] oil production, unemployment, all those type of things," said Rep. John P. Murtha, chairman of Appropriations defense subcommittee. "We can't win militarily." - Washington Times


Let's take a look at each of his points above:

  • "Lost oil production" - This complaint is odd. Think about it. All of the detractors have claimed that Bush invaded Iraq for the oil. What Congressman Murtha seems to suggest was that we were better off getting our oil from Saddam. In other words, to get the oil, it would have been better not to invade Iraq, but just let Saddam pump it for us. Speaking of oil production, isn't it the Democrats in Congress who continue to ban oil exploration in almost all domestic offshore oil production. (See map below. On the bright side, by slowing production, we probably pushed back the 'Peak Oil' point, if you happen to believe in such a thing.)

  • "Unemployment" - Then I guess Congressman Murtha would have been in favor of ending sanctions against Saddam as it was sanctions that created this problem in the first place: "It noted that the breakdown of the Iraqi economy due to the sanctions has resulted in widespread unemployment, a huge increase in poverty and the collapse of the educational system." Sanctions, of course, were Saddam's fault. By the way, unemployment statistics in Iraq are highly unreliable as many people work in black market trades.

  • "All the people that have been displaced" - This one is easy. I covered this in my post "Iraq, Zimbabwe and Mexico" where I note that the displacement problem in Iraq is not as bad as it is in Zimbabwe and Mexico, two countries not undergoing a war. Also, people are returning home in Iraq. (1,000 a day according to this BBC story published today.) Can't really say that for the other two countries, especially Mexico, where their citizens are fleeing to Canada instead of returning home.

  • "We can't win militarily" - Congressman Murtha can't prove this one either. We can look back at Vietnam where the current thinking is now shifting common belief from: 'We lost the Vietnam war and therefore pulled out' to the more accurate: 'We lost the Vietnam War because we pulled out.'
As I pointed out in an earlier post about Senator Reid's treasonous statements, we, the public, have limited options in finding out what is going on in Iraq. And thanks to the distorted press coverage, we have no shortage of bad news and an almost complete blackout on any good news. (Thankfully, this is starting to change.) However, Congress has access to information that we do not concerning the current situation in Iraq. They also have the ability to visit Iraq and see for themselves what is going on. Obviously, many of them are ignoring this source of information. This is nothing new. Most of Congress didn't think it was worth the time to read the NIE about Iraq before deciding to invade the country:

Lawmakers are partly to blame for their ignorance. Congress was entitled to view the 92-page NIE about Iraq before the October 2002 vote. But, as The Washington Post reported last year, no more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page executive summary. - Seattle Times

Yet, despite not reading this report, they later complained that it was inaccurate.

Murtha's statement that "We can't win militarily" means one of two things; Either he has neglected his responsibility to review this information, instead obtaining his opinion from the evening news and his anti-war constituents, or if he has reviewed the information available to Congress, he has either just released secret information to the public (That we are in fact losing this War) or more likely is lying about the present situation as presented to congress for political gain. It is hard to say which possibility is worse, but either way, the Congressman is wrong. (And one could say, intentionally lying.)

The thought that the US might be 'losing' in Iraq as idiotic. After all, we have taken and held Iraq for over four years. The only way that those who continue to fight against us can win is if we pull out of the country, leaving it mostly undefended in our wake. The attacks against the US, the Iraqi Government and the people of Iraq take no possession of any land. There is no government that is fighting against the US in Iraq. (Except maybe Iran) Most of the attacks no longer even target the US. Instead, terrorists are simply killing for no reason, other than to instill fear in the local population and provide useful idiots, like Senator Reid, with the ammunition they need to further their own agenda. In exchange, these terrorists expect to be rewarded with a withdrawal of American troops.

This is what Congressman Murtha appears to be promising them.

His latest rant this week is in response to the Pentagon's current plans to layoff over 100,000 people working for the Pentagon, employees and contractors who are not essential to the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is in order to stretch out their available funds as the Democrats in Congress are refusing to approve any more money unless it includes a timeline for withdrawal. This is a very sensible more for the Pentagon. After all, you are not going to need the 'pencil pushers' in the rear if you lose the game at the front. Murtha, who is 'in the rear with the gear' thinks otherwise, demanding instead that the troops at the front be withdrawn.

That Murtha is speaking out about this funding issue is actually amusing considering that this Congressman is the #1 abuser of taxpayer money through the use of earmarks. Maybe he should tighten his belt and let the troop have some of the money he has been earmarking for friends and political contributors.

Also, remember that Congressman Murtha voted in favor of going to War against Iraq. He even spoke out against withdrawal in 2005:

A premature withdrawal of our troops based on a political timetable could rapidly devolve into a civil war which would leave America’s foreign policy in disarray as countries question not only America’s judgment but also its perseverance - Murtha, Wikipedia
Congressman Murtha has been wrong on a number of issues about Iraq. (Including his snap judgment of US Marines accused of killing civilians in Iraq, who were later exonerated. He has since refused to apologize.) Sure, you can change you mind about Iraq. But that does not change the fact that we are already there and already have commitments to finish the fight and win it.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. This man is simply driven by Pork projects and Politics. He is a perfect example of what is wrong with our Government. Not only that, it does not say much good about the people who continue to vote him into office. They should all get their heads examined.
(Congressman Murtha's Ethics Paint Shield)

Area in Blue off limits to oil production:

Murtha in My Pocket - 14 Aug 07
Senator Harry Reid's Treasonous Statement - 22 Apr 07
Congress Wants more info but doesn't bother to read what they got already! - 18 Nov 05
$20 billion in pork = $66 Each = AMT Fix - 18 Nov 07

Tuesday, November 20

Volvo Is Looking For Heros - Brian Tolkin is One

Here is some news to make you feel good:
Four years ago, Brian co-founded a nonprofit organization - Beams and Dreams - to take cancer patients, survivors, and their families on all-day boating excursions as a respite from their grueling medical challenges.

As captain of Beams and Dreams, Brian procures the extras for his guests, which include magic shows, live music, and barbecues. Brian relies solely on donations in order to procure vessels, crews, and other requirements. With the support of local and national cancer organizations, he has taken out over six hundred guests on shimmering Lake Washington and the bracing Puget Sound. On every cruise, Brian works tirelessly so that his guests on board experience a joyful voyage from start to finish.

Realizing that his family's boat alone could not match the mission of the organization, Brian and his brother mailed letters to more than one hundred boat dealers, marinas, and boat owners, outlining their idea. They concluded their pitch by noting, "It would be so amazing if we could bring smiles to these people who are going through such a rough time." It was, as the saying goes, rough sailing at first. Few replied. Those who did reply ususally said "no."

But Brian did land a number of important mariners who knew how to say "yes." The Olympic Yacht Center donated the use of a new fifty-eight-foot power boat for the group's first outing in August 2003. The general manager of Elliott Bay Marina followed up by recruiting ten boat owners to participate a week later. Brian has since hosted numerous events for over a thousand guests, all made possible by eighty-two thousand dollars of donated services.

Five years after its launch, Brian Tolkin continues to expand Beams and Dreams. He has brought on board over eleven national and local cancer organizations. He has also won over the local nautical community, which has donated exquisite yachts, an historical sailing vessel, wooden schooners, and luxurious cabin cruisers for the day-long voyages. One cancer patient, Claudia Martinez, calls Beams and Dreams an "inspiration," and not just a day on the water, adding that Brian and his brother set a great example: "I hope our boys will also do something good for the community." - Volvo for Life Awards

Nothing like a boat trip to bring out smiles!

All too often all we here is bad news. It is great to see that there are still some who look to recognize the heroes around us. There should be more of that.

This is a great country. There are many more people like Brian Tolkin who make this country the great country that it is. The bright thing is, you don't have to go that far out of your way to positively contribute to society. Simply following basic standards is a plus these days.

H/T to BitterEnd whose post on the subject is here.

Volvo for Life Awards - GO THERE AND VOTE!
- -

Monday, November 19

Maritime Monday 85

Welcome to this Weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 35 here. (Published 27 November 2006)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photos:
BC Ferries first 'Super C-Class' vessel, the COASTAL RENAISSANCE, is currently transiting from it's shipyard in Germany to its new home in Canada's Pacific Northwest.

In early 2008, we will welcome the Coastal Renaissance, the first of our three new Super C-class ships, to the Departure Bay - Horseshoe Bay route. By mid 2008, the Coastal Inspiration and Coastal Celebration will have joined the fleet and will operate between Tsawwassen - Duke Point and Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay, respectively.

When completed, the three Super Cs will be the largest double-ended ferries in the world, featuring two passenger decks providing an unprecedented travel experience for BC Ferries customers. Passengers will find more space, more comfortable seating and better viewing areas onboard the Coastal Renaissance, Coastal Inspiration and Coastal Celebration, as well as many enhanced food and retail services. - BC Ferries


This was the vessel that first made international headlines over claims that the propeller markings were too similar to nazi swastikas. They were changed. See for the story.

Here is the official BC Ferries page covering their newbuildings. At least two more are being constructed.

H/T to Bitter End who alerted me to this item via his post "New BC Ferry , "Coastal Renaissance"" So go read it and find a link to ever more photos including of the christening. Seems that everyone was in attendance at the ceremony in Germany, including Native Americans and Mounties!

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has "J. Peter Pham: Responding to Piracy and Other African Maritime Security Challenges". Also be sure to check out his great weekly series "Sunday Ship History: The Original LCSs"

I cover Hawaii Superferry's reopening of it's ticket sales. Service is expected to restart on 1 December.

Ocean Navigator Online has some evidence on why solo sailing races are a bad idea in "Sailing Hallucinations". Nothing like yelling for your imaginary sailing partner to relieve you at the helm!

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has the totally bizarre story "Russian Frogman Claims He Killed Real Life British 'James Bond' Placing Mine On Khruschev's Ship in UK Waters". Reading the story will only make you more confused. Than again, given the suspicious circumstances of the death of UK diver Commander Lionel 'Buster' Crabb, I guess the story is possible. This of course is what happens when Government's refuse to tell the story, others will just invent one to their liking.

Cargo Law has photos of a partial collapse of a container crane in Port Kwanyang, South Korea.

Maritime Accident Casebook has "Human Element sinks 23 ships"

Robin Storm has a great summary of recent storm action including photos of the Black Sea / Sea of Azov disasters.

gCaptain has "A Viking Ship Redesigned for Modern Use"

gCaptain also has "The Best Knives for the Pro-Mariner" just in case your wondering to get your favorite sailor. I prefer Myerchin knives as well as Gerber just to have something in my pocket. Then again, despite having a gazillion knives, I have never had a Spyderco which seems to be a favorite. Gerber also makes a great alternative to the 'Leatherman'. So go to gCaptain and add your two cents.

Aftenposten covers Norway's declaration of victory in its salmon war against the EU.

The Monitor has the story from Canada which mixes ships and politics in "Politics Warps CG Icebreakers’ Move"

The Astute Bloggers has "New finding: Arctic melting caused by change in ocean circulation"

Bitter End has "Editorial: It's time to revamp the Washington State DOT"

American Shipper has the story of possible imports to the mainland US of some fruit grown in Hawaii, provided it's irradiated.

Sea * Fever covers some ship design basics in "The 3 Dimensions of Cruise Ship Design"

Bellona has the conviction of Igor Senin, former deputy mayor of the closed military city of Zaozersk in Russia’s northern Murmansk Region, who confessed to planning to bomb an oil tanker. (Note: yes, Russia still has cities closed to outsiders. At least 42 of them.)


KCSH covers an anti-Iraq war protest at the Port of Olympia "Police Use Riot Gear, Handcuffs On War Protesters In Washington State"

Michelle Malkin also covers the protest in "Seditious anti-war protesters use kids as human shields"

Gateway Pundit has "Peace Protesters Get Unruly-- Then Get Maced"

Protesting is one thing. Blockading roads is another. Here is a suggestion, stay away from the ports. There are no decision makers there. You just risk getting hurt. Not for anything, but eventually, one of those trucks is not going to stop and he just might get away with it using the defense "I was afraid that they were going to pull me from the truck and kill me."

Cruise Bruise has "Libya Turns Away Tourists - Cruise Ship Passengers Denied Port Of Call - P & O Cruises M/V Artemis"

IMC Brokers has "Salvage Operation on ‘DenDen’ begins" and includes video of the original accident UPDATE: Link fixed

Marine Buzz has news of the US Navy sending the amphibious assault ships, USS ESSEX and USS KEARSARGEARE to Bangladesh as part of the cyclone relief effort.

Maritime Compass notes that yes, they used to flog sailors, and often.

Never Sea Land has "Japan might kill world’s only white whale". Japan is off to kill about a 1,000 whales, including 50 endangered humpbacks, all in the name of 'science'.

Alaska Report goes searching in "The wantering of the magnetic north pole" (Wandering, right?)

Tugster wonders if you can guess what was the 'first life' of the 127 year old workboat CHARLOTTE.

Many blogs announced the appearance of the HMS-SOMERSET-CO blog, but have you checked it out lately?

Engadget has "Welsh village under attack by GPS-blind drivers"

Marketplace.Org has an audio series asking "Is the Consumer Economy Sustainable?" which of course includes shipping and port productivity.

THE PRIVATE ISLANDS BLOG covers the always impressive "Bannerman's Island, New York" ruins, located in the Hudson River.

Marex Newsletter covers the recent patent award to Trailer Bridge and Malcom P. McLean (the father of container transport) for the truly imaginative and simplified loading and discharge of 53 foot containers.

Space War analyzes Russia's plans to build the world's second largest aircraft carrier fleet. (I say again, just why are we still giving the Russians almost a Billion dollars a year???)

Haight's Maritime Items has:

San Francisco – update on spill response - The US Coast Guard issued a press release updating the status of the response to the recent oil spill in San Francisco Bay. Now that the vast majority of recoverable oil has been removed from the water, efforts are being concentrated on the shorelines. A second press release links various photographs. A third press release provides background information on the Unified Command process. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a news release summarizing its efforts in support of the spill response in San Francisco Bay. The Office of the Governor of California issued a statement saying that the state has launched its own investigation into the causes of the oil spill. (11/15/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

International row over dead master - TAIPEI 14 November – Taiwan has questioned Indonesia's account of how the master of a Taiwanese fishing vessel died. Pi Chen Hsu, master of the Sheng Eng 168, died along with three of his crew after a fracas with Indonesian deckhands on 8 November. The Guam-bound vessel had reportedly left Tong Kang harbour when the Indonesian Navy received a report of piracy in its eastern province of West Papua. According to the Indonesians, a fight broke out over complaints of harassment of the Indonesian deckhands, which ended when the captain jumped overboard. Earlier reports that the deaths occurred after the Navy arrived have now been discounted. “The case is not that simple [and] it is strange,” declared Phoebe Yeh, a Taiwanese foreign affairs spokeswoman, speaking to Fairplay today. The story became more confused when the Taipei Times reported the recovery of the captain’s body on board the vessel, which is lying untouched in the Indonesian port of Jayapura to preserve evidence. The missing seamen, who were identified as Jou Hwang Jerlin, Sheu Ching Wen, Jou Hwang Ke Mong, are relatives. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)


Greens block palm oil shipments - JAKARTA 16 November – Greenpeace environmentalists are blocking a shipment of palm oil in protest at CO2 emissions from the crop’s cultivation and export. Indonesian farmers unwittingly release millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide by burning peat, which negates the environmental benefits of developing palm-based biodiesel fuel as a renewable source of energy. The stand-off is reportedly taking place at Dumai port in Sumatra where the 40,293dwt tanker Westama is being prevented from sailing out by Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior, the movement’s website says. Greenpeace officials were unavailable for comment, though the organisation claims that the Westama is carrying 30,000 tonnes of palm oil. It is believed the Rainbow Warrior is believed positioned in such a way as to prevent tugs from assisting the tanker. Palm oil, which is edible or used as cooking oil, is widely acknowledged to have acidic properties. Unlike Malaysia which buries its felled palm trees to act as fertiliser substitutes, Indonesia burns them. The smog causes health problems across Southeast Asia and is a hazard to navigation on one of the world's major shipping lanes. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

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Sunday, November 18

$20 billion in pork = $66 Each = AMT Fix

I am my favorite earmark. Unfortunately, nobody in Congress is interested in slipping an earmark into a spending bill for me. Maybe that is because I have no intention of donating money to any of them.

That doesn't mean that the process isn't costing me.
Citizens Against Government Waste, which closely monitors federal spending, is putting the finishing touches on its tally of pork projects in the pending spending bills — and the picture isn’t pretty. The group estimates that there will be at least 8,000 earmarks this year, costing U.S. taxpayers, $18 billion to $20 billion. - Politico
Figuring on 300 million Americans, that comes out to $66 each. Since I am the only wage earner in a family of four, my share comes out to $266. According to the story, the previous year's total was $29 billion. My share of that was $386. That's over $650 of my money wasted in just two years. Wasted by politicians who pip themselves out for political donations.

Just imagine what the total for next year will be if Congress passes a mortgage bailout. (Although that is not technically an earmark, it will be 'earmarked' for people who don't deserve it, just like earmarks.)

Now to put this all in perspective, take the Alternative Minimum Tax. This is a tax that each year negates tax deductions for more taxpayers, forcing them to pay a higher alternative rate instead. Congress has given us their worthless assurances that they are working on the problem, but as of yet, they have not come up with anything promising.
Congress is considering a patch that would temporarily increase income exemption levels and allow for certain personal exemptions normally disallowed in computing AMT liability.

The patch is expected cost roughly $50 billion in projected federal tax revenue over 10 years. The cost of the other 32 breaks under consideration is $21 billion. That means Congress will have to come up with a total of $71 billion in revenue raisers if they observe pay-go rules, which require lawmakers to raise as much in tax revenue as they cut, or to cut spending as much as they cut taxes. - CNN
You see, they need to figure out how to replace the revenue they would have collected by not fixing the AMT. What they are not planning on doing is cutting Government spending, which would eliminate the need to collect the money in the first place. That is unfortunate, as the amount needed to patch the AMT is only $5 billion a year according to the story above. For those not paying attention, that is only a quarter of what was wasted by Congress on earmarks this year. So, not only can Congress stop the creep of AMT onto ever-more taxpayers, but they can do it without raising anyone's taxes. There is even enough left over to cut some taxes. But our fine Congressmen are sure to need the money for earmarks. Maybe that is the secret in fixing the AMT, have someone earmark a fix.

Murtha in My Pocket - FFI 14 Aug 07

No Bailout for Homeowners in Trouble - FFI 6 Sept 07

Saturday, November 17

Hawaii Superferry to Sail - Tickets on Sale!

The Government of the State of Hawaii has passed legislation that will permit the Hawaii Superferry to sail while the (now required) environmental impact study is completed.
Hawaii Superferry Announces A New Beginning

On December 1, 2007 Hawaii Superferry’s grand catamaran, Alakai, begins daily crossings between Maui and O‘ahu.

Just in time for the holiday season, the December 1st service start date opens a whole new world of possibilities to celebrate, share and prepare for the holidays. Imagine being able to visit friends and family and not having to decide what to leave behind because it was too difficult to manage, or you were afraid it might get damaged in transit.

On Hawaii Superferry, you don’t have to be worried about packing too many gifts for the party or buying too much omiyagi to take back home; as long as it fits in (or on) your vehicle there’s no extra charge. From delivering presents to shopping for gifts, Hawaii Superferry allows you to explore new ways to celebrate the season. - Hawaii Superferry
So it seems that we will soon see if the anger of the Superferry protesters is still burning. If the recent protests at the Port of Olympia (Read the comment there from a worker at the port) are a guide, then the first sailing will probably end in massive arrests. At least we will see if the Coast Guard is prepared to enforce rules set to defend shipping. We'll also get to see if the State is going to tolerate parents who continue to endanger their children by using them as human shields.

Updated on 25 November here.

Coast Guard Threatens Hawaii Superferry Protesters with Serious Fines and Jailtime - 5 Sept 07
Econuts and Moonbats Stop Hawaii Superferry (For Now) - 31 Aug 07

Friday, November 16

Stockbrokers Caught Abusing Client's Money - Oct 2007

Here are some excerpts from the FINRA (formerly known as NASD) October, 2007 Disciplinary Actions Report where stockbrokers were caught either taking liberties with their client's accounts without permission or borrowing/stealing their client's money.

The total amount of money misused/stolen from investors listed below is $242,000. (Some entries do not list the amount taken.)

Individuals Barred or Suspended

Ramona Marie Bianchi (CRD #3126133, Registered Representative, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which she was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Without admitting or denying the findings, Bianchi consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that she obtained possession of an automatic teller machine (ATM) card for a public customer’s account and, without the customer’s knowledge or authorization, used the ATM card to make unauthorized cash withdrawals from the customer’s bank account, and unauthorized purchases totaling $68,000 for her own benefit. (FINRA Case #2007008767001)

Brandon W. Cade (CRD #5062931, Registered Representative, Chicago, Illinois) was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. The sanction was based on findings that Cade withdrew $1,300 from his teller cash drawer at a bank affiliate of his member firm without permission and used the funds for his own purposes. The findings stated that Cade failed to respond to FINRA requests for information. (FINRA Case #2006006367801)

Wayne Kenneth Campbell Jr. (CRD #4676905, Registered Representative, Dover, New Hampshire) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was fined $5,000 and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 90 days. The fine must be paid before Campbell re associates with a FINRA member following the suspension, or prior to any application or request for relief from statutory disqualification is filed. Without admitting or denying the findings, Campbell consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of findings that he signed public customers’ names to account transfer forms and to documents used in connection with the purchase of variable annuities without the customers’ knowledge, authorization or consent. The suspension in any capacity is in effect from September 17, 2007, through December 15, 2007. (FINRA Case #2006006481301)

Dale Lewis Cash (CRD #4909387, Registered Representative, Oxford, Alabama) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Without admitting or denying the findings, Cash consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that he affixed a bank financial specialist’s signature to an instrument without the specialist’s authorization, knowledge or consent in order to withdraw $5,100 from the bank for a public customer’s benefit, but failed to assign the funds to any customer account. The findings stated that Cash’s failure to assign the funds to a customer account prevented the bank from identifying the customer, thereby incurring a loss for the bank. (FINRA Case #2006006319201)

James Richard Clayborn (CRD #4844986, Registered Representative, Bristol, Indiana) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was barred from association with any FINRA member firm in any capacity and required to pay $118,287.39, plus interest, in restitution to public customers. The restitution must be paid before Clayborn re associates with a FINRA member following the suspension, or prior to the filing of any application or request for relief from statutory disqualification.

Without admitting or denying the findings, Clayborn consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of findings that he misused approximately $150,000 from public customers, for his personal expenses. The findings stated that Clayborn, in an effort to conceal his misappropriation of funds from the customers, created and distributed a false account statement that purportedly verified that $80,000 was invested with his member firm for the customers. (FINRA Case #2006005927801)

Thomas Anthony DeMarco (CRD #4608717, Registered Representative, Springfield, Illinois) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was barred from association with any FINRA member firm in any capacity. Without admitting or denying the findings, DeMarco consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that he directed that $5,000 were withdrawn from a public customer’s savings account to purchase additional shares in mutual funds, but the funds were not used as directed. The findings stated that DeMarco discovered the funds in his desk drawer six weeks later, at which time he forwarded the funds to his member firm. The findings also stated that DeMarco failed to timely respond to FINRA requests for information. (FINRA Case #2006004803301)

Carolyn Sue Everhard (CRD #2344119, Registered Representative, Cincinnati, Ohio) was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. The sanction was based on findings that Everhard received $6,400 from a public customer for investment purposes and converted the funds to her own use and benefit without the customer’s knowledge, authorization or consent. The findings stated that Everhard failed to fully respond in a timely manner to FINRA requests for information. (FINRA Case #20050025930)

Norman R. Flemens (CRD #3212865, Registered Representative, Las Vegas, Nevada) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was fined $5,000 and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 18 months. The fine must be paid immediately upon re association with a FINRA member firm following the suspension, or prior to the filing of any application or request for relief from statutory disqualification. Without admitting or denying the findings, Flemens consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of findings that he received checks and/or letters of application from public customers to transfer funds to effect the purchase of mutual fund company shares, and delayed entering the checks on his member firm’s checks-received blotter and delayed forwarding the checks and processing applications to effect the purchases, thereby failing to execute customer orders.

The suspension in any capacity is in effect from September 4, 2007, through March 3, 2009. (FINRA Case #2006005294301)

Daniel Stephan Flitt (CRD #2965169, Registered Representative, Buffalo, NewYork) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Without admitting or denying the findings, Flitt consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that he borrowed $2,660 from a public customer without his member firm’s approval and contrary to his firm’s written procedures prohibiting representatives from borrowing money from customers. The findings stated that Flitt failed to respond to FINRA requests for information. (FINRA Case #2006005734401)

Michael J. Menendez (CRD #4895632, Registered Representative, Chandler, Arizona) was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. The sanction was based on findings that Menendez misappropriated approximately $3,000 that belonged to his member firm’s affiliated bank and failed to respond to FINRA requests for information. (FINRA Case #2006005688201)

David Anthony Nagler (CRD #1190128, Registered Supervisor, Santa Fe, New Mexico) submitted an Offer of Settlement in which he was fined $10,000 and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 20 business days. The fine is due and payable either immediately upon re association with any FINRA member firm following the suspension, or prior to the filing of any application or request for relief from statutory disqualification. Without admitting or denying the allegations, Nagler consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of findings that he borrowed $3,000 from a public customer contrary to his member firm’s written procedures prohibiting its registered representatives from borrowing or lending money from or to a client under any circumstances. The findings stated that Nagler failed to request or obtain his firm’s permission to borrow money from a public customer. The findings also stated that Nagler misled another member firm during the hiring process when he failed to advise the firm that he had been permitted to resign from a previous firm for violating its policy prohibiting borrowing funds from customers.

The suspension in any capacity was in effect from September 4, 2007, through October 1, 2007. (FINRA Case 2005003406001)

Claudia Reyes (CRD #4815334, Registered Representative, Los Lunas, New Mexico) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which she was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Without admitting or denying the findings, Reyes consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that she received more than $3,000 from customers of an insurance company affiliate of her member firm. Reyes either failed to forward the full amount of the customers’ payments or did not forward any of the payments to the insurance company affiliated with her member firm. The findings stated that Reyes acted without the customers’ knowledge and consent, thereby improperly using customer funds. (FINRA Case #2006006912001)

Decisions Issued

Their Note: "The Office of Hearing Officers (OHO) issued the following decision, which has been appealed to or called for review by the NAC as of August 31, 2007. The NAC may increase, decrease, modify or reverse the findings and sanctions imposed in the decision. Initial decisions which time for appeal has not yet expired will be reported in subsequent FINRA Notices."

Brian James Kelly (CRD #2270427, Registered Representative, Severna Park, Maryland) was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. The sanction was based on findings that Kelly churned a public customer’s account and engaged in trading in the account that was unsuitable due to the quantity of trades and excessive use of margin. The findings stated that Kelly exercised discretion in the customer’s account without his member firm’s prior written approval.

This decision has been appealed to the NAC and the sanction is not in effect pending consideration of the appeal. (FINRA Case #E9A2004048801)

Joseph Andrew Zaragoza Jr. (CRD #2417735, Registered Representative, Chicago, Illinois) was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. The sanction was based on findings that Zaragoza effected discretionary transactions in a public customer’s account without the customer’s prior written authorization and his firm’s prior written acceptance of the account as discretionary. The findings stated that Zaragoza recommended and effected excessive trading in the customer’s account despite the customer’s investment objectives and financial situation. The findings also stated that Zaragoza failed to submit email correspondence to his firm for review and approval before sending it to the customer. The findings also included that Zaragoza engaged in outside business activity for compensation and failed to give his member firm prompt written notice.

This decision has been appealed to the NAC and the sanction is not in effect pending consideration of the appeal. (FINRA Case #E8A2002109804)

Source: October FINRA Report (PDF Format)

Of course, you have to wonder about how much of this activity is going on without being noticed.

NASD Monthly Disciplinary Actions 2007

Stockbrokers Caught Abusing Client's Money - Jan 2007
Stockbrokers Caught Abusing Their Client's Money - Dec 2006

Are Brokers 'Screwing' Stockholders through Short Selling? - 6 Apr 06

You should not be trading on Margin - 9 Jan 06
Do You Know If You Have A Margin Account? - 2 May 07

"the biggest global margin call in history" - 20 Aug 07

Herbie (the Love Bug) Spotted in Greece

While walking to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, I came across Herbie.

I was there for work in March and arrived a day early to do some sightseeing. I did not expect to see this. Oddly enough, this is not the first time I have run across him.

At least one Greek is a fan of VW Bugs.