Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Something to Say

Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing. I can say whatever I want even if it's not true. (There are some restrictions, such as not yelling "Fire" unless there really is one.) I think sometimes we forget is that the beauty of such freedom is that it hopfully encouragess us to be interested but skeptical. For example I could tell you that grass is blue. In fact, I just did. Now, you probably wouldn't believe that one since you have likely seen grass and noticed that it is green. But what if I told you that grass is really blue (that's why they call it bluegrass after all), but our pollution has altered the atmosphere such that grass now appears green. Some of you might believe this. Some of you might start reporting this fascinating fact to others. Some of you would think it was ridiculous and stop reading my stuff because clearly I am a nut. And some of you - both skeptical and not - would do a little research. (At which point you would discover that my statement, however beautifully presented - is crap.)

As with all forms of media and communication, its accessibility makes it possible for anyone to say anything. This is great! But it does require a little vigilance from each of us. I have sufficiently annoyed a number of people who forward emails to me such that they have either started checking them or removed me from their list. (I am happy with either result). It isn't that these people were setting out to misinform me. They were quite surprised to discover the information they had passed on was incorrect. I myself forwarded something ridiculous. (I have learned the error of my ways). The same is true of things I read on professional looking websites, in newspapers, and on television. But sometimes you learn a lot in the research process to, even if it is on the way to discovering that tupperware does not cause cancer.

A few weeks ago, a gentleman uploaded a video on YouTube stating that he has serious concerns about ships that Lockheed Martin has refurbished for the Coast Guard. He states that he was assigned to the project (which Lockheed confirms) and discovered several problems. He relayed these problems to both Lockheed and the Coast Guard. He says they pushed it aside. (They state that they looked into it and found no issues.) Mr. De Kort was transferred off of the project and later laid off. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office is investigating and expects to have that completed in the next few months. Some of the ships are already in use.

The story indicates that he had contacted congressmen, but does not state which ones. But now they - or at least Rep. Bennie Thompson is interested.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I expect that we will see more of this, although it remains to be seen whether this becomes viewed as behavior of crazies or a legitimate threat. (I am also highly amused by the gentleman quoted in the story who says suing is more effective than being on YouTube. Because of course, only serious people sue.)

Link (WaPo - so registration required)