21 April 2014

Fwd: teddy boys -- 4/21/14



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Begin forwarded message:

From: delanceyplace <daily@delanceyplace.com>
Date: April 21, 2014 at 3:42:04 EDT
To: mseymour@proofmark.com
Subject: teddy boys -- 4/21/14
Reply-To: daily@delanceyplace.com

delanceyplace header
Today's selection -- from Tune In by Mark Lewisohn. In Britain (as in America), as recently as the early 1950s, there was little if any fashion for teenagers -- only children's clothes and adult clothes. The Teddy Boys changed that, and with it linked the idea of teenage fashion with juvenile delinquency:

"As simplistic as it is to consider that fashion for young people didn't exist before the 1950s -- that children reached 18 and then dressed like their parents -- this was the essential truth of it. The suit-and-tie look was maintained daily in almost all walks of life by almost all men of all ages. [Fathers] sat in a shirt and tie, or something similarly smart, at home in the evenings and at weekends, and certainly when going out, and almost every man had very short hair that was brushed or combed neatly into a parting and greased.

"In London around 1948 there was a trend among upper-class Guards officers to wear handmade frock-coats with velvet collars and double-breasted waistcoats, echoing the style of royalty, politicians and businessmen in Edwardian (and previous) times. In the early 1950s, this style was taken up by gangs of working-class London youths, except they didn't ape the trend, they subverted it, extending the 'drape' jacket to the fingertips and knees in the manner of the American 'zoot suit.' In May 1952, an advert ran in the Daily Mirror for 'crepe soled shoes, in 18 different styles,' with a drawing of a young couple jiving to a jazz band and a blurb that exclaimed 'Not for him are the fashions of Grandfather's day.' These shoes, also known as 'brothel creepers,' went brilliantly with the Edwardian jackets, and the outfit was completed with tight-legged 'drainpipe' trousers (to be known in Liverpool as 'drainies'); 'Slim Jim' bootlace ties; tight waistcoats; luminescent socks; and, ever the crowning glory, a mop of hair swept back off the forehead into a piled quiff held in place with as much gunk as necessary. The hair at the back was separated and greased into two lanes, a style that took its name from what it looked like -- in Britain a 'duck's arse,' in America a 'duck's ass' or 'ducktail,' the 'DA' for short. (The American film actor Tony Curtis, very popular among British kids, was the chief influence: people called it 'the Tony Curtis style.') Finally, the 1950s Edwardian always carried a comb to keep his hair in order, and so much the better if it was steel and could double as a weapon. 



"Young Edwardians started to roam the streets in gangs rigorously demarcated into tight little districts or areas, and there were running battles with anyone who stepped in from outside. Juvenile delinquency was constantly in the news after the war but Edwardian activity was fairly low-key until January 1953, when an illiterate 19-year-old Londoner called Derek Bentley was found guilty of murdering an unarmed policeman, and was hanged for his crime. The subject was hot for a long time, and the popular press, noticing Bentley's appearance, began calling Edwardians 'Teddy Boys.' From now on, juvenile delinquents were Teddy Boys, and Teddy Boys were juvenile delinquents: the two were bootlace-tight.

"This sartorially savvy street-army instantly became the scapegoat for society's ills, a sickness of the age, the cause of all the problems. It was an unfair and illogical argument, but defending the line too strongly would obscure the fact that many a Ted enjoyed trouble, and plenty carried flick-knives, knuckle-dusters, studded belts or bicycle chains. Few were angels, no matter how much they loved their mum; if you saw even one Ted coming toward you on the street, it was always a good idea to run.

"Inevitably, the more the Teddy Boy became public enemy number one, the more many found it attractive. Adopting the fashion of the reviled was a critical adolescent statement. Teddy Boys suddenly rose up all over Britain, especially in places of social deprivation -- of which there were many"

Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years
Author: Mark Lewisohn 
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Copyright 2013 by Mark Lewisohn
Pages: 66-67 
 
If you wish to read further: Buy Now




If you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase will benefit a children's literacy project. All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity.




About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

To visit our homepage or sign up for our daily email click here
To view previous daily emails click here.
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History for the day

On 21 April 1910, author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, died in Redding, Connecticut.

BBC - Travel - Slideshow - Where sea gypsies settle

http://www.bbc.com/travel/slideshow/20140319-where-sea-gypsies-settle?ocid=global_travel_rss&ocid=global_bbccom_email_21042014_travel


mseymour@proofmark.com
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BBC News - Did removing lead from petrol spark a decline in crime?

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27067615?ocid=global_bbccom_email_21042014_magazine


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215.866.6184

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BBC News - Malaysia MH370: No trace yet after two-thirds of sub's scan

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27100087?ocid=global_bbccom_email_21042014_top+news+stories


mseymour@proofmark.com
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Teenager Survives California-to-Maui Flight in Plane’s Wheel Well | TIME.com

http://time.com/69887/teenager-survives-california-to-maui-flight-in-planes-wheel-well/


mseymour@proofmark.com
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BBC News - SpaceX launches station cargo flight

http://m.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27027200?ocid=global_bbccom_email_21042014_technology


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Mark Seymour
215.866.6184
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Fwd: teddy boys -- 4/21/14



Sent from my iPhone

Mark Seymour
215.866.6184

Begin forwarded message:

From: delanceyplace <daily@delanceyplace.com>
Date: April 21, 2014 at 3:42:04 EDT
To: mseymour@proofmark.com
Subject: teddy boys -- 4/21/14
Reply-To: daily@delanceyplace.com

delanceyplace header
Today's selection -- from Tune In by Mark Lewisohn. In Britain (as in America), as recently as the early 1950s, there was little if any fashion for teenagers -- only children's clothes and adult clothes. The Teddy Boys changed that, and with it linked the idea of teenage fashion with juvenile delinquency:

"As simplistic as it is to consider that fashion for young people didn't exist before the 1950s -- that children reached 18 and then dressed like their parents -- this was the essential truth of it. The suit-and-tie look was maintained daily in almost all walks of life by almost all men of all ages. [Fathers] sat in a shirt and tie, or something similarly smart, at home in the evenings and at weekends, and certainly when going out, and almost every man had very short hair that was brushed or combed neatly into a parting and greased.

"In London around 1948 there was a trend among upper-class Guards officers to wear handmade frock-coats with velvet collars and double-breasted waistcoats, echoing the style of royalty, politicians and businessmen in Edwardian (and previous) times. In the early 1950s, this style was taken up by gangs of working-class London youths, except they didn't ape the trend, they subverted it, extending the 'drape' jacket to the fingertips and knees in the manner of the American 'zoot suit.' In May 1952, an advert ran in the Daily Mirror for 'crepe soled shoes, in 18 different styles,' with a drawing of a young couple jiving to a jazz band and a blurb that exclaimed 'Not for him are the fashions of Grandfather's day.' These shoes, also known as 'brothel creepers,' went brilliantly with the Edwardian jackets, and the outfit was completed with tight-legged 'drainpipe' trousers (to be known in Liverpool as 'drainies'); 'Slim Jim' bootlace ties; tight waistcoats; luminescent socks; and, ever the crowning glory, a mop of hair swept back off the forehead into a piled quiff held in place with as much gunk as necessary. The hair at the back was separated and greased into two lanes, a style that took its name from what it looked like -- in Britain a 'duck's arse,' in America a 'duck's ass' or 'ducktail,' the 'DA' for short. (The American film actor Tony Curtis, very popular among British kids, was the chief influence: people called it 'the Tony Curtis style.') Finally, the 1950s Edwardian always carried a comb to keep his hair in order, and so much the better if it was steel and could double as a weapon. 



"Young Edwardians started to roam the streets in gangs rigorously demarcated into tight little districts or areas, and there were running battles with anyone who stepped in from outside. Juvenile delinquency was constantly in the news after the war but Edwardian activity was fairly low-key until January 1953, when an illiterate 19-year-old Londoner called Derek Bentley was found guilty of murdering an unarmed policeman, and was hanged for his crime. The subject was hot for a long time, and the popular press, noticing Bentley's appearance, began calling Edwardians 'Teddy Boys.' From now on, juvenile delinquents were Teddy Boys, and Teddy Boys were juvenile delinquents: the two were bootlace-tight.

"This sartorially savvy street-army instantly became the scapegoat for society's ills, a sickness of the age, the cause of all the problems. It was an unfair and illogical argument, but defending the line too strongly would obscure the fact that many a Ted enjoyed trouble, and plenty carried flick-knives, knuckle-dusters, studded belts or bicycle chains. Few were angels, no matter how much they loved their mum; if you saw even one Ted coming toward you on the street, it was always a good idea to run.

"Inevitably, the more the Teddy Boy became public enemy number one, the more many found it attractive. Adopting the fashion of the reviled was a critical adolescent statement. Teddy Boys suddenly rose up all over Britain, especially in places of social deprivation -- of which there were many"

Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years
Author: Mark Lewisohn 
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Copyright 2013 by Mark Lewisohn
Pages: 66-67 
 
If you wish to read further: Buy Now




If you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase will benefit a children's literacy project. All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity.




About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

To visit our homepage or sign up for our daily email click here
To view previous daily emails click here.
To sign up for our daily email click here.
This email was sent to mseymour@proofmark.com by daily@delanceyplace.com |  
Delanceyplace.com | 1807 Delancey Place | Philadelphia | PA | 19103

20 April 2014

That time of year again...

PHOTO
...when Rico starts his annual war against the Russians of the plant world: dandelions. (Why Russian? Because they act all meek and mild, and then annex all adjacent land, using parachute technology...)

Ferry for the day


Choe Sang-Hun and Su-Hyun Lee have an article in The New York Times about the South Korean disaster:
A 26-year-old third mate was navigating a South Korean ferry through a notoriously treacherous waterway for the first time when it tilted and sank, prosecutors said, as rescuers raced against time to find any survivors among the 252 missing passengers, many of them believed to have been trapped inside the capsized vessel.
Questions about the qualifications of the third mate, Park Han-gyeol, mounted after investigators revealed that the ship’s captain, Lee Jun-seok, 69, was in his quarters on a break, leaving Ms. Park in charge of the bridge, giving instructions to a helmsman at the wheel, when the ferry was negotiating the waterway eleven miles from Jindo Island.
For ages, the 3.7-mile-long, 2.8-mile-wide Maenggol Waterway has provided a shortcut for ships that try to save fuel or time navigating waters dotted with islets off the southwestern tip of the Korean Peninsula. But the channel also has a reputation for having one of the most rapid and unpredictable currents around the peninsula.
Photo “It was her first time commanding the steering of the ship through the Maenggol Waterway,” said Yang Joong-jin, a senior prosecutor who is part of the government’s investigation. “There is nothing legally wrong with that. But it does give us important data on how well qualified she was.”
Ms. Park ended up in command of the ship by chance. The three regular mates on the 6,825-ton car ferry, the Sewol, worked on a fixed rotation of four-hour shifts, with Ms. Park on duty at the bridge from 8 a.m. to noon. The ship had been scheduled to leave Incheon, a port west of Seoul, at 6:30 pm on Tuesday with 476 people on board, including 325 second-year high school students headed for a field trip on the southern island of Jeju. Ms. Park had been working aboard the ferry on the Incheon-Jeju route for six months.
But the ship’s departure was delayed by two and a half hours because of heavy fog. Had it left on time, the ship would have passed the spot where it foundered and sank one and a half hours before Ms. Park’s shift was to have started.
Ms. Park was unavailable for comment. She was arrested, along with the captain and the helmsman. They face criminal charges of abandoning their ship and passengers during a crisis, accidental homicide, or both. The 55-year-old helmsman said the ship was attempting a usual turn on the shipping route when it swerved more rapidly than expected.
The factors that led to Ms. Park’s being in charge while the ferry plied the Maenggol Waterway may provide another piece of the puzzle investigators are putting together. Ever since the ship capsized, investigators have worked to unravel the mysteries surrounding one of South Korea’s worst peacetime disasters, especially the question of why the ship suddenly tilted as it passed a curve in the shipping lane.
Navy divers struggled to enter the ship for a fourth straight day. Many of the survivors have said a large number of passengers were probably trapped inside the overturned and sunken ship, partly because they had been advised by the ship’s crew to stay put even while the ship was tilting dangerously. “The chances of anyone surviving in there depend on many factors, such as the water temperature and individual conditions,” said Ko Myong-seok, a senior Coast Guard officer involved in rescue operations. Three and a half days after the ship capsized, hopes have dwindled. All of the 174 survivors were found in the immediate hours after the ship’s sinking, and rescuers have since found only fifty bodies, including ten found early Sunday. Officials said that the recovery operation could take weeks.
Divers have tried to get inside the sunken ship to find bodies or passengers who might be still alive in air pockets, but they have been thwarted by strong currents and poor visibility. Even when they were able to enter the ship, they soon had to retreat, their way blocked by debris. Through a window, divers saw three bodies in life jackets floating inside, Coast Guard officials said at a briefing, and broke through a window to recover them. They were the first bodies recovered from the ship.
On Saturday night, flares illuminated the murky blue waters as divers plunged into the night sea to try again to get inside the ship. To help, officials brought in nine squid-fishing boats, which have powerful lights used to lure the creatures at night. They also hired four trawlers to catch any bodies drifting away in the strong current.
Rico says sure, blame the woman... But, since drawing and quartering has fallen out of fashion, how about a simple hanging for the stupid captain?

History for the day


On 20 April 1971, the United States Supreme Court upheld the use of busing to achieve racial desegregation in schools.

19 April 2014

Civil War for the day


Scott Hancock, an Associate Professor of History and Africana studies at Gettysburg College, has an article in the Huffington Post about the unending Civil War:
This Fourth of July, three Confederate flags appeared outside my house in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first day of the reenactment of the battle at Gettysburg a hundred and fifty years ago, and some Confederate reenactors walked down the middle of the street carrying the flags. Though they never saw me on my front porch, I was surprised how uncomfortable this display made me.
As a twenty-first-century light-skinned black college professor, I have only the dimmest inkling of how most African-Americans a hundred and fifty years ago experienced racism nearly every day. When Lee's army moved through Pennsylvania towns in 1863, free black women, men, and children confronted the ultimate racism by fighting Confederate soldiers trying to drag them south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of black American citizens were enslaved to the Confederate Army or sold to white southerners who desperately needed more labor.
During Gettysburg's hundred and fiftieth commemoration, hundreds of flags flew: planted at battlefield monuments, on a commemorative walk of Pickett's charge, at reenactments, in restaurants, and on the backs of motorcycles. And by far most of them, judging by my unscientific survey as I circled around town and battlefield roads, were Confederate battle flags.
I've always thought the display of the Confederate battle flag was understandable at reenactments that seek historically accuracy, or at the foot of battlefield monuments. While I did not intend to honor those who fought for the Confederacy, I understood the wish of their ancestors to do so.
Flags represent the community or nation for which they fly. The American flag symbolizes the country's founding ideals of freedom and independence, protected by law against tyranny. For me, seeing the American flag flying stick-straight in the wind stirs pride, yearning, and pain: pride in those who fought in battlefields, town halls, and courts of law for the ideals that flag represents; yearning for the day when those ideals will be fully realized for every American, and pain for all who suffer when we fail, sometimes purposefully, to stay true to those ideals.
As an army brat in Heidelberg in West Germany, I watched my father and other soldiers in uniform driving home around the parade ground of Campbell Barracks get out of their cars and stand at attention as the color guard glided the flag down the pole that stood just inside the barrack gates. That left an indelible impression. As did going through the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie and witnessing the stark difference between freedom in West Berlin, and the drab, oppressively gray atmosphere of communist East Berlin in the mid-1970s. For me, then and now, the American flag symbolizes some of humanity's highest aspirations: a stand for independence, and a stand against oppressive regimes that deny freedom.
What did the flags of the Confederacy stand for? The battle flag, from some "heritage, not hate" perspectives, simply represented Confederate soldiers' valor and commitment to one another. But as one historian wrote, flags "are chosen as epitomes of the sentiments prevailing at the time of their adoption." In the spring of 1863, the Confederate government debated changing the official flag in order to distinguish it more clearly from the Union flag, which represented the end of slavery. One southern writer declared that the official Confederate national flag wasn't good enough "on account of its resemblance to that of the abolition despotism against which we are fighting."
In 1863, Confederates established their new official national flag. Placing the battle flag that "was endeared to every Confederate heart" on a snow-white field to symbolize "our extreme purity and innocence," it was "a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and, sustained by the brave strong arms of the south" would soon "be hailed by the civilized world as the white man's flag". Another writer saw it as "the symbol of the white man's cause".
The harsh reality is that this flag symbolized the Confederacy's cause: the establishment of a country that depended upon maintaining the systematic denial of independence and freedom to black men, women, and children. It doesn't matter how ideologically committed Confederate soldiers were to that cause. That is the cause to which the Confederate government was committed. The history of all Confederate flags is one of treason: they represented a violent refusal to maintain a commitment to the ideals upon which the country was founded. That's why during the war many Americans called secessionists traitors, and why songs like Our Battle Flag, which was about the American flag, included the line "it e'er shall wave o'er treason's grave". That's why Confederate soldiers kidnapped free black American citizens from Gettysburg and sold them into slavery; those soldiers were simply living out the ideals that the Confederate flag symbolized.
Today, this historical reality is not reenacted. Reenactments of Gettysburg and other battles are racially sanitized. The Confederate battle flag can be perceived as simply representing the bravery and camaraderie of soldiers, instead of as symbols of white supremacy and the right to own black people and profit from their labor. The myth that separates courage in battle from the cause of racial slavery simply gets perpetuated by continuing to fly the Confederate flag at America's battlefields.
After the hundred and fiftieth commemorations, I no longer think the Confederate battle flag belongs at Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, or any other battlefields. They should be banned. Any planted at monuments should be uprooted and thrown out.
Until reenactors at Gettysburg are willing to reenact the whole story of what the Confederate soldiers did during and after the battle, so that tourists get a complete picture of what happened, including kidnapping African-Americans, no Confederate battle flags should be flown as part of any commemoration here. We should not honor or respect the symbols of any government or soldier who not only fought for ideals directly opposed to the central founding ideals of our country, but were willing to kill those who stood in their way. We do not fly the flag of traitors.
Rico says it's ugly, but it's reality...

Bodacious tatas

Rico says you thought you knew what this was going to be about, but you forgot that Tata Motors bought all the British motorcar companies: Jaguar and Rover, makers of the Land and Range Rovers:


The new song in Rico's head

Since Rico just used the phrase in Armageddon, his upcoming book, it came to mind:

Thank the government, as ever




Rico says if anyone is wondering why diesel cars haven't caught on, they should remember that, back in the 1970s when Rico bought his first vehicle (a wonderful 1967 Land Rover 88; photo, bottom), diesel was half the price of regular. Not now, of course, since the gummint figured out that, with only truckers to bitch (and the rare owner of a Mercedes diesel), they could tax the shit out of diesel fuel (photo, top).
These days, of course, there are a lot of people with diesel-powered cars, and they vote...

No ego involved there, right?


Shotgun News (of all places) has an article by Robert W. Hunnicutt on Bloomberg's plans:
Former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg (photo) told The New York Times he expects to breeze past the velvet ropes at the Pearly Gates:
“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to Heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in Heaven. It’s not even close.”
As it’s probably been many years since the Big Gulp-hating plutocrat had to wait in line for anything, it’s probably inevitable he would think he can give old St. Peter a wave and bypass the take-a-number machine at the entrance door of the afterlife.
The moneybags mayor’s detour into eschatology accompanied his announcement that he is putting up fifty million dollars to promote gun control. The Times reported that Bloomberg plans to plow his millions into building up field operations to combat the NRA.
“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’” he said of the NRA. “If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.” He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”
I think we all knew this day would come once Bloomberg relinquished his dictatorship over the nation’s largest city. A billionaire with time on his hands can get into a lot of mischief. The Times reported that Bloomberg seemed blissfully unaware that his megabucks and crusades against soft drinks and fried chicken could backfire on him in many precincts of the country outside Gotham:
“I don’t know what your perception is of our reputation, and mine, the name Bloomberg around the country,” he said. But every place he goes, he added: “You’re a rock star. People yelling out of cabs: ‘Hey, way to go!’”
Well, the NRA Annual Meetings are in Indianapolis, Indiana next week; maybe he should stop by and see how many attaboys he gets there. I’m no theologian, but Bloomberg’s estimate of his chances for eternal bliss reminds me of these two pertinent verses:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)
Rico says that Bloomberg may have a surprise coming when he dies...

Scam for the day

Rico says that somehow he doesn't think this is real:

From: Cykelkursus <cykelkursus_kbh@drk.dk>
Date: April 19, 2014 at 6:39:18 EDT
If your life is not going the way you want it and you would like to change it, If you desire WEALTH, POWER, INFLUENCE, GOOD CARS, STARDOM, and you want your dreams to come through, then you have the chance to do that, join the Illuminati today to get $25000 for membership blessing for doing what you love to do best. 
Contact the Illuminati here today to change your life for the better. 
Remember: Ignorance is bliss.

The song in Rico's head

Rico says it's appropriate for the day:

Apple for the day



Farhad Manjoo has an article in The New York Times about the smartphone wars:
Over the last couple weeks, many of my colleagues in the tech press have published reviews of the Galaxy S5, Samsung’s newest top-of-the-line smartphone. They all arrived at more or less the same conclusion: the S5 (photo, top) is a very nice device.
Although it offers no spectacular advances over the previous version, Samsung seems to have done just enough with the S5 to stay ahead of every other Android phone maker. The only plausible competition comes in the form of the HTC One, which, as my colleague Molly Wood wrote, is prettier than the S5, but not as functional. The upshot of all these reviews is that if you’re looking for the best Android phone, the Samsung is the one to buy.
But that’s not the whole story. While there are probably some people who go out to shop for the best Android phone, I suspect that most people want to know which phone is best of all, whatever operating system it runs. In other words, how does the Galaxy S5 compare to the iPhone 5S (photo, bottom), Apple’s six-month-old flagship device and the champion to beat?
The answer: not very well. I’ve been using the new Samsung for about three weeks and, while I do think it is the best Android phone you can buy, it sure isn’t the best phone on the market. By just about every major measure you’ll care about, from speed to design to ease of use to the quality of its apps, Samsung’s phone ranks behind the iPhone, sometimes far behind. If you’re looking for the best phone on the market right now, I’d recommend going with the iPhone 5S.
This is not to say you’ll hate the Galaxy; as everyone says, it’s a great phone, and if you buy it you’ll be fine. The Galaxy does have slightly longer battery life than the iPhone, and it is waterproof, an unusual feature among top-end phones.
To me, though, these two advantages are slight. Indeed, for many people, there will only be a single obvious reason to buy the Galaxy S5 over the iPhone 5S: the Samsung phone has a much bigger screen. Size isn’t an objective advantage but rather a matter of preference; some people like big phones and some people like small ones. For the next few months, for big-phone lovers, Samsung’s massive size will make it the clear winner.
Yet that points to a looming problem for Samsung. News reports and common sense suggest that Apple will almost certainly unveil a bigger iPhone later this year. If you assume that everything else about the iPhone-versus-Galaxy matchup will remain the same after the size increase, it means that Samsung will lose its single greatest advantage over Apple. And what will Samsung do then? When you compare the Galaxy to the iPhone, it’s not obvious that Samsung will have any real way to fight back once Apple makes a bigger phone.
I don’t mean to sound glib. But, in many ways, the battle for smartphone supremacy is a pretty simple fight. Apple makes at least two thirds of the profit in the smartphone business, and Samsung makes about the other third. No one else makes any money selling smartphones, so any gain for Apple is a loss for Samsung, and vice versa.
In recent years, the growth rate for iPhone sales has slowed down. This is partly because, when it comes to expensive phones, consumer preferences appear to have shifted in favor of big phones, and Samsung has been more nimble than Apple at responding to the demand. Apple highlighted this fact in a sales presentation recently disclosed as part of its patent-infringement fight against Samsung. “Consumers want what we don’t have,” the document stated, noting that most of the growth in the profitable segment of the smartphone business had been in phones with screens larger than the iPhone’s four-inch display.
But as my management-consultant friends say, the flip side of a problem is an opportunity. If Apple’s major shortcoming is a too-small phone, all it has to do is make its phone larger. Making a larger phone isn’t trivial, but it is a relatively easy fix. Apple has done it well before— two years ago, it put out the iPhone 5, which had a screen just a bit taller than its predecessor— and I suspect it can easily manage the transition once more.
Samsung’s problems, meanwhile, will be more difficult to address, as you can tell by spending some time with the S5. One of its major new features is a fingerprint-sensor meant to let you unlock your phone without typing a passcode, a feature Apple introduced on the iPhone 5S last year. I don’t fault Samsung for copying Apple’s fingerprint idea, just as I won’t fault Apple for copying Samsung when it makes a bigger phone. Fingerprint unlocking is a good idea, and more phones should have it.
But I do fault Samsung for the slipshod manner in which it introduced fingerprint scanning. I’ve been using the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor for the last six months, and it has worked about nine times out of ten for me. The Galaxy S5’s finger sensor is unusable. It has failed to recognize my finger just about every time I have tried it. It has been so terrible that the sensor feels more like a marketing gimmick than a legitimate feature. And it makes me wonder about Samsung’s capacity to keep up with Apple’s innovations.
So, too, does the Galaxy’s speed. The S5 is really fast, but the iPhone 5S is faster. While the speed won’t be a big deal to most users (you’ll mainly notice it in games and web browsing), it does point to a problem for Samsung. The rapid increase in year-by-year mobile chip performance has been a hallmark of the phone business for years. It’s unusual in this industry for a new phone to be slower than a phone released six months ago. When Samsung’s Galaxy S4 came out last year, it was much faster than the iPhone 5 that preceded it. But, this year, Samsung couldn’t keep up; as the speed-testing gurus at AnandTech showed, by just about every speed metric, the aging iPhone 5S beat the brand-new Galaxy S5.
Then there are the perennial problems for Samsung’s devices. Like the S4, the S5 has a cheap-feeling plastic body, and it’s hobbled by a proprietary software interface filled with byzantine menus and settings screens. You feel this complexity throughout the phone. Even in places where Samsung has introduced novel features that are better than Apple’s— like some of its advanced camera features— they’re buried in a user interface that makes them difficult to discover.
None of these problems are crippling for Samsung just yet. With its 5.1-inch screen, the Galaxy S5 is the best big phone you can buy, and it will be so for months. After that, though, Samsung’s smartphone ascendance may look a bit uncertain.
Rico says that Farhad Manjoo may well be a name to conjure with, but Rico still doesn't want an Android phone, though he'll save up for the bigger iPhone 6 or iPhone 7...

History for the day


On 19 April 1995, a truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (photo, left) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 people and injuring five hundred. The bomber, Timothy McVeigh (photo, right), was later convicted of Federal murder charges and executed.

Quote for the day


"The day-to-day life is very tense.
We never know what will happen."

Nima Nuru Sherpa, of the Nepal Mountaineering Association,
after twelve Sherpas were killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest.

Paranoia for the day


Soldier of Fortune has an article by Harold Hutchison about the Feds:
The United States Postal Service is seeking to purchase up to a million and a half rounds of ammunition. The request is the last from agencies like the Social Security Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to media reports and a Federal government request for proposals, these are the latest in a series of ammo purchases, including a reported effort by the Department of Homeland Security to stockpile over four hundred million rounds of ammunition. The rumors have lead to a run on ammunition, caused prices to climb, and for some stores to limit how much ammunition an individual can buy.
Other agencies reportedly making ammo purchases include the Department of Agriculture and the State Department. The purchases have been looked into, with one Republican Congressman reportedly telling Gun Owners of America that the purchases do not appear to be unusual, particularly for the Department of Homeland Security. Some Second Amendment activists are not convinced, among them Phillip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League:
"NOAA, really? They have a need? One just doesn't know why they're doing this," he told Newsmax.com. "The problem is, all these agencies have their own SWAT teams, their own police departments, which is crazy. In theory, it was supposed to be the US Marshals that was the armed branch of the federal government."
The shortage of ammunition may instead be a reflection of the upswing in firearms purchases since Barack Obama took office. Obama has come out in support of a number of anti-Second Amendment positions, and efforts to re-enact a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms have prompted purchases of those firearms.
Rico says that even paranoids have enemies...

18 April 2014

What's that blue asterisk?


Mark Vanhoenacker has a Slate article about a mysterious symbol:
The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco hotel on Nob Hill is a legend. Mark Hopkins, Jr.— abolitionist, early Republican, well-known cheapskate, the child of first cousins who went on to marry his own first cousin— sailed from New York City to San Francisco in the Gold Rush days of early 1849. Perhaps it was the long sea journey around Cape Horn that inspired him, along with Leland Stanford and others, to build the Central Pacific Railroad, part of America’s first transcontinental railway. Hopkins died before the mansion his wife-slash-cousin wanted on Nob Hill was finished (his final resting place, a 350 ton granite tomb in Sacramento, California, wasn’t ready for him, either).
His widow lived on Nob Hill for a while before moving back East to marry a guy twenty years her junior. The mansion was lost in the fires after the 1906 earthquake. In 1926, the hotel named for Hopkins opened on the site. Today the bar at the top— the Top of the Mark, formerly the hotel’s penthouse— is as famous as the central-casting fog that swirls around it. First renowned as a farewell spot for sailors heading off to war, today the bar is typically packed with dancing tourists and seated locals, and a nightly crop of guys named Mark celebrating their birthday in high San Francisco style.
Waiting to ascend to this San Francisco landmark on a recent evening, we noticed a small blue star by one of the elevators in the lobby. Surely it had something to do with medical care— just what one might need after a few of the hundred kinds of Martinis served upstairs. But what exactly does it mean?
The symbol indicates that the elevator is big enough to hold a stretcher. If you’re going to get carried out of a bar, you’ll at least want to go in horizontal comfort, right?
The blue symbol itself is modestly known as the Star of Life. Originally designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and trademarked in 1977, it’s since become the general symbol for emergency medical services. At its center is the Rod of Asclepius, the snake-and-staff symbol for medicine (just one snake— it's not a caduceus, which has two snakes). Apollo was the father of Asclepius; their names are the first two invoked in the original Hippocratic Oath. Zeus zapped Asclepius with a thunderbolt after the famed healer was caught raising the dead in exchange for cash. (Futurist Silicon Valley bioengineering execs, you’ve been warned.)
Around the staff and snake, the six points of the Star of Life signify the stages of EMS care: detection (by the general public); reporting (e.g., dialing 911); response; on-scene care; care in transit (the ambulance); and transfer to definitive care (a hospital, typically).
This symbol appears in many EMS contexts— uniforms, ambulances, and government websites. When it appears on an elevator, it typically means that that elevator is large enough to accommodate a 24” by 84” stretcher.
Brian Black, code and safety director for National Elevator Industry Inc., a trade association, told me that stringent building regulations mean that such commodious elevators, and the Stars of Life that mark them, are increasingly common: “The International Code Council’s International Building Code is the most-referenced building code in the US, and it requires an elevator that can accommodate an ambulance stretcher in all new buildings four or more stories above or below grade.”
What if you don’t see a Star of Life on any elevator in a building you live or work in? Different jurisdictions update their building codes at different times, and may amend the code when they adopt it, according to Don Zeni, a general manager at Lerch Bates, a leading building consultancy. So even a compliant elevator may not have a Star of Life on it. And in many buildings, Zeni adds, the elevator suitable for stretchers might be a service or freight elevator that isn’t visible to the general public.
Still, elevators in older buildings may not be compliant. Or there may not be an elevator at all. The National Fire Protection Association’s Robert Solomon pointed out to me that fire crews are often the first responders, and will look out for the Star of Life as carefully as EMS personnel. If there’s no elevator at all, you may find yourself leaving the building on a stair chair. “Very handy in New York City,” Solomon notes.
What if you get stuck in an elevator, and you can’t, you know, call EMS personnel, because your phone doesn’t work? Brian Black says the industry is looking at installing repeaters in elevator shafts, “but these improvements are still in the exploratory phase.” Better connections in elevators wouldn’t just make it easier to tweet the latest gossip from the bank you don’t actually work at. It’s also a safety issue on those rare occasions when someone doesn’t know you’re stuck; think of the 85-year-old nun who spent four nights in an elevator absorbed in prayer, between meals of celery sticks and cough drops, while her sisters were at an out-of-town convention.
Rico says he's glad we got that cleared up...

Year of No Sugar


L.V. Anderson has a review at Slate of Year of No Sugar:
Year of No Sugar is one of those book titles that, with its telegram-like urgency, succinctly tells you exactly what to expect beneath the cover. Eve O. Schaub, a Vermont-based writer, became convinced in 2010 that fructose— the simple carbohydrate that makes sugar sweet— was toxic, after watching a lecture by childhood obesity researcher Robert Lustig that argues that point. She decided that she, her husband, and her two daughters should swear off added fructose in all its forms (sugar, honey, juice, etc.) for the duration of 2011, and that she should blog about it; the blog resulted in a book deal. “I was a writer, after all, and I had been looking for a new project to focus on,” Schaub explains in the book, which was released earlier this month and is currently Number Fifty-Two on Amazon’s list of best-selling memoirs.
There are many good reasons to reduce or eliminate added sugars from your diet: sugar consumption is associated with diabetes and heart disease, and research indicates that sugar messes with your body’s hunger and satiety cues in a way other foods don’t. Sugar may indeed be toxic at a certain level of consumption— the dose makes the poison, as the adage goes— though it’s not yet clear at what consumption level sugar becomes dangerous. Not even sugar’s most vehement opponents, like Lustig, argue that sugar is an acute toxin. Lustig (and Schaub) liken its long-term effects to those of alcohol, a substance that healthy people have been known to use in moderation.
Moderation, though, does not get you a book deal. Year of No Sugar reads like a how-to manual for an eating disorder. Schaub becomes obsessed with eliminating trace quantities of fructose from her diet: mayonnaise, salad dressing, crackers, and deli meat are out. She frets over the fructose content of lemon juice— which she determines contains 0.53 grams per lemon— and balsamic vinegar, which she describes as “not a vinegar in the traditional sense, but rather an aged syrup made from grapes. Fruit juice! Gak!” She finds herself thinking about food more or less constantly, and finds that her project drives a wedge between her family and the community. “Turns out, at least for me, the social isolation of being on a different wavelength from the rest of the world around you was one of the most difficult parts of all.” At the same time, Schaub devises ways to sweeten foods without breaking her resolution. She improvises desserts sweetened with dates and bananas (naturally occurring fructose is okay in Schaub’s book) and with brown rice syrup and dextrose powder (sweeteners that contain glucose but not fructose).
For a project that stems from such a good idea— eat less sugar— Year of No Sugar comes across as a maddeningly arbitrary yet worryingly fanatical exercise in self-control. And yet the parts of Schaub’s journey that most resemble symptoms of orthorexia nervosa are played for laughs. She jokes that she has a 'Little Control Freak' on her shoulder. In Schaub’s world (and that of her editor and publisher, apparently), a hyper-controlling attitude toward food isn’t a reason for concern; it’s a completely normal trait. And cutting out fructose entirely seems to her not an unrealistic fantasy, but a magical solution to every conceivable health problem, “the Occam’s razor, the simplest answer, I had been waiting for” (not to mention a profitable premise for a memoir).
Year of No Sugar makes much of the fact that sugar is in practically everything, and that it’s easy to be oblivious to its ubiquity in American life. “Could it be that we were really all just addicts sucking away at our soda-straw hookahs, never making the obvious connection between our ‘drug’ of choice and our rapidly declining health?” Schaub asks. (Rhetorical restraint is not her forte.) “Most of all, the question I couldn’t let go of was: in a society as awash in sugar as ours, how do you escape from the opium den? Is it even possible?” (As Slate’s Daniel Engber noted in The New York Times Magazine earlier this year, “We’re more afraid of sugar than we’ve ever been.”)
Year of No Sugar is framed as an escape from the “opium den”, but it buys into one crucial American myth: that there is one weird trick somewhere out there that will make you healthy, skinny, and happy. Leave it to an American to take astute sociological and medical observations— that the proportion of sugar in the average American diet has increased over the past few decades, that sugar intake has been shown to correlate with chronic diseases, that sugar is increasingly added to processed foods that don’t primarily taste sweet— and turn it into a diet plan. If there’s one thing we’re more addicted to than sugar, it’s purported silver bullets. Schaub has drunk that proverbial Kool-Aid, even if she’s avoiding the literal kind.
Rico says he got diabetes from the hospital's steroids, but would've died without them, so it's a reasonable tradeoff. (Though he does miss chocolate...)

How dangerous is pee?


Laura Helmuth, Slate's science and health editor, has an article about some obscure math:
Oh, Portland. A teenager urinated into one of the city’s drinking water reservoirs the other day. That’s gross, sure, and aggravating; what a brat! But in one of the most spectacularly stupid decisions in years, the city is going to drain the reservoir. The most spectacularly stupid decision in about three years, anyway; if this sounds familiar, that’s because Portland did the same thing in 2011.
The decision seems to be based on some combination of chemophobia, homeopathy, and pee shame. The dose makes the poison, and clearly this dose is negligible. But is it possible to calculate precisely how illogical Portland’s decision is? Let’s try to put some numbers on it.
Several smart people quickly did the math and figured that a typical urination of about an eighth of a gallon in a reservoir of 38 million gallons amounts to a concentration of three parts per billion. That’s billion with a b. For comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for arsenic in drinking water— arsenic!— is ten parts per billion.
The EPA doesn’t appear to have a limit for urine in drinking water, but it does limit nitrates in drinking water to ten thousand parts per billion, and urine does contain a lot of nitrogen, so let’s use that as a proxy.
How many times would that teenager have to pee in a Portland reservoir to produce a urine concentration approaching the EPA’s limit for nitrates in drinking water? About four thousand times.
But, of course, urine is 95 percent water. (If you’re ever trapped in rubble after a natural disaster, go ahead and drink it.) Only about two percent of urine is nitrogen-rich urea. That means he’d have to urinate over a hundred and sixty thousand times for the concentration of urea to approach that of the EPA’s limit for nitrates in drinking water.
Since most animals, including idiot teenaged show-offs, take about twenty seconds to urinate, that means he’d have to urinate constantly for three and a half million seconds, or about forty days. Hopefully, he’d have friends constantly supplying him with tasty Portland microbrews.
Needless to say, this doesn’t take into account the fact that the resulting 1.3 million gallons of urine, which again is 95 percent water, would raise the volume of the reservoir. So add another day or two of peeing to really make the water unsafe to drink.
Draining the reservoir is paranoid, illogical, and expensive. But the most frustrating thing to me about the whole episode is that there is actually something Portland could do to its water supply that would have an immediate, positive, and repeatedly scientifically validated impact on public health: add fluoride. Paranoia is not healthy.
Rico says the good people of Portland should sue the city for this stupidity...

X-Men director accused of sexual abuse


Elliot Hannon has a Slate article about a pervert who should never work in Hollywood again:
Bryan Singer (photo), the director-producer behind the X-Men movie franchise, has been accused of sexually abusing an aspiring male teenage actor fifteen years ago. The allegations came in the form of a federal lawsuit filed by Michael F. Egan III, who claims in the filing that Singer offered him a role in an X-Men film “if he gave in to Singer's sexual demands, while threatening to destroy his career if he didn't,” CNN reports.
Egan, now in his thirties, said that he reported the abuse to authorities at the time it occurred, but that it was never pursued by law enforcement. Los Angeles police officials said they were investigating whether a report had been filed. According to The Associated Press, Egan “described abuse he said began when he was fifteen years old, at the hands of Singer and others. He described being plied with drugs and promises of Hollywood fame, while also enduring threats and sexual abuse in Hawai'i and Los Angeles, California over several years.
Here’s more on the civil suit via the Associated Press:
Egan sued Singer, seeking more than $75,000 on each of four accusations: intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, assault and invasion of privacy. The lawsuit was filed in Hawai'i, because of a state law that temporarily suspends the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases. Egan’s lawyer, Jeff Herman, said that he planned to file additional lawsuits in Hawai'i against other Hollywood figures he said were responsible for abusing underage teens. The attorney would not say who else he planned to sue. During a press conference, Herman said there was a pattern of sexual abuse in Hollywood. “There are these pedophile rings that exist in Hollywood. What I intend to do is draw back a curtain and shine a light on this darkness,” Herman said, according to BuzzFeed. Singer’s lawyer, Marty Singer (no relation), denied the allegations. “It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan’s new movie is about to open in a few weeks,” Marty Singer told the AP. Bryan Singer’s latest film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, is scheduled to open in theaters next month.
Rico says a severe beating would be appropriate, though chemical castration would work...

Oops is, yet again, a nautical term (in Korean)

The BBC has an article about the hapless captain of the Costa Concordia, oops, sorry, the Sewol:
The captain of the sunken ferry in South Korea was formally charged and is in custody, state-run media reported, citing prosecutors and police.
Lee Joon Seok is charged with five violations relating to his abandoning the boat, plus negligence, causing bodily injury, not seeking rescue from other ships, and violating the "seamen's law". An arrest warrant for Lee was issued the night before in connection with the accident that has left at least 29 dead and nearly 270 missing.
"Lee is charged with causing the Sewol to sink by failing to slow down while sailing the narrow route and making the turn excessively," prosecutor Lee Bong-chang told Yonhap. "Lee is also charged with failing to do the right thing to guide the passengers to escape and thereby leading to their death or injury." If convicted, Lee faces from five years to life in prison.
Two other crew members also face arrest, a spokesman for the joint prosecutor and police investigators said. The spokesman did not provide further detail.
The cause of the accident is still unknown. But a South Korean prosecutor said Lee wasn't on the bridge when the Sewol started to sink; a third mate was at the helm. "It is not clear where the captain was when the accident occurred, although it is clear that he was not on the bridge before the actual accident happened," state prosecutor Jae-Eok Park said.
The captain was one of at least 174 people rescued soon after Wednesday's sinking. "This captain violated the age-old and internationally-recognized rule that a captain must stay on the vessel," maritime law attorney Jack Hickey said. "Pretty much every law, rule, regulation, and standard throughout the world says that, yes, the captain must stay with the ship until all personnel are safely off of the ship, certainly the passengers."
As the captain left a court hearing, police led him to reporters, where he answered questions. Lee said on South Korean television that passengers initially were told to stay put because help had not arrived. He eventually gave an evacuation order, he said, but first had "everyone on standby" because of a strong current, the low water temperature, and the immediate lack of a rescue boat, he said.
Compounding the tragedy of the ship sinking, one of those rescued, a high school vice principal who was on board the ferry along with more than three hundred students, was found hanging from a tree, police said. Kang Min Kyu, 52, vice principal of Ansan Danwon High School, was among the first survivors to be rescued. Police said he apparently hanged himself with a belt from a tree near a gymnasium in Jindo, where distraught relatives of missing passengers have been camping.
Meanwhile, divers raced to reach the hundreds of people still believed to be inside the ship. They breached the hull of the sunken ferry on Friday, and two managed to enter the second deck; the cargo deck, the South Korean Coast Guard said. But rough waters forced them out. They didn't find any bodies in their brief search. "The guideline that links the sunken ship and the rescue vessel has been cut off," the Coast Guard said. "Still, the entrance into the ship is open, and we plan to resume operation to enter the ship."
It's a race against time. Hopes of finding the missing dimmed further when the entire boat became submerged. Until then, part of the ship's blue-and-white hull was still poking out of the frigid waters of the Yellow Sea. "There are heavy currents in the area. So the vessel itself is not stable in the water. So you are, by default, putting divers at risk," US Navy Captain Heidi Agle told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The Navy is assisting with the South Korean search.
The US Defense Department also is expected to announce that it is sending the USNS Safeguard, a rescue and salvage ship, to assist in what is becoming an effort to recover wreckage and retrieve any bodies, a US military official told CNN's Barbara Starr.
Relatives of passengers expressed increasing disgust and anger about the lack of explanation from the captain and the pace of the rescue effort. Some have waited for days in the cold rain at a harbor in Jindo, about twelve miles from the sunken boat. Others camped at a nearby gymnasium and auditorium, desperate to hear any news of their loved ones. Relatives overcome with emotion howled and screamed, but to no avail. "Hurry up, find it faster!" one woman wailed. Several collapsed. At least two women were taken away on stretchers.
Part of the frustration stems from the conflicting information reported by officials.
In the hours after the sinking, some analysts speculated the ferry may have veered off course and struck an object. But the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said that it had approved the boat's intended route, and the actual course did not deviate significantly.
But Kim Soo Hyeon, chief of South Korea's Yellow Sea Maritime Police Agency, later said the ship apparently deviated from its planned route, but did not appear to have hit a rock.
The Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries released a transcript of the conversation between the ferry and center that monitors vessel traffic. After alerting the center that the ferry was rolling, the Sewol stated that "the body of the ship is tilted to the left. Containers fell over, too." The control center then asked if people were hurt. Impossible to confirm because it was impossible to move, the ferry responded. The center told the ferry crew to get people ready for evacuation, and the ferry once again described how hard it was for people to move.
Adding to the pain for families, police said texts and social media messages claiming to be from missing passengers turned out to be fake. Media outlets, including CNN, shared the texts with a wide audience. "We will investigate people sending out these messages," said Lee Sung Yoon, head of the combined police and prosecution team. He said authorities will go after those behind the hoaxes and will "punish them severely."
The Coast Guard said workers continued to pump air into the hull of the submerged ship, but could not stop its descent.
Any hope for survival largely hinges on whether passengers may be in air pockets within the ship, which isn't unheard of in such cases.
In May of 2013, a tugboat capsized off West Africa. Rescuers pulled out a man from a hundred feet below the surface who survived 2½ days inside a four-square-foot air pocket.
That's one reason family members aren't ready to give up hope. "When they're in a small compartment with an air bubble, they really have to stay calm and breathe shallow and conserve the oxygen in that space," former Navy diver Bobbie Scholley said.
But in the case of the South Korean ferry, there's another challenge to contend with: time and temperature. "Absolutely, there could be areas in there where there is breathable air," said Mike Dean, the US Navy deputy director for salvage and diving. "But the trouble right now is the temperature and getting people to them."
Adding to the relatives' despair was the arrival of three four-thousand-ton seaborne cranes. They fear the cranes' presence means the mission is shifting from a search to a salvage effort. A fourth crane will arrive later.
A Coast Guard official assured families that nothing would be done to jeopardize the safety of possible survivors. "Let me be clear," Kim told journalists. "There won't be any salvage work done against the will of the bereaved families."
Rico says he doesn't know how long you hold out hope for survivors, but eventually ya gotta give up...
 

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