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Updated Monday, January 14, 2013 at 04:38 PM

Boeing's 787 lands on hot seat over a few 'minor' mishaps

By Ron Judd
Seattle Times staff columnist

It's almost enough to make Mr. Wrap embarrassed to be a member of the media.

Boeing, formerly of Seattle, puts a new, cutting-edge airliner on the market at great risk and great expense. And all the nation's nattering nabobs can focus on is the handful of completely expected, minor startup hiccups, like electrical storms on critical circuit boards, fuel spewing from wings and high-voltage batteries turning into molten, China Syndrome fireballs inside the fuselage.

Get a grip, folks. When you make the innovative decision to build a complicated machine in a hundred different places all over the globe, it takes some time to get all the pieces to play well together.

More smoke in the cockpit:

Hoping They Got the Extended Warranty: We're not suggesting the 787 is proving to be less than reliable. But you've got to be concerned when airlines start swapping them out for their more trustworthy MD-80s.

Role Modeling: In a guest editorial back in June, Bay Area hedge funder and Sodo Arena proponent Chris Hansen said his primary motivation in bringing the NBA back to Seattle was to inspire at-risk kids to participate in sports and stay in school. Thank goodness there are no at-risk kids in Sacramento, the city whose team he and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer are about to steal.

Gender Bender, Redefined: About one in eight U.S. women and one in five high-school girls regularly engage in binge drinking, a new study shows. A spokesman for America's women asked what in the world you expect from people who have to live with America's men.

Suggested Softball Oprah Question for Lance Armstrong: If you were a tree, what kind of illegal performance-enhancing fertilizer would you inject into your roots?

Just a Guess Here: Rather than 'ess up to his clearly documented life of fraudulent behavior, Lance will jump up on Oprah's sofa and announce that he's going after Katie Holmes.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: Responding to the last Wrap, all two proponents of Initiative 517, the Never-Ending-Initiatives Initiative, harrumphed that their measure is critically needed because the current system makes it just too difficult to put questions of great import before voters. Yet their proposed solution, an initiative about a matter of concern to virtually no one in the state who doesn't make a living off initiatives, appears destined to easily qualify for November's ballot. That's the sort of oxymoronic magic you just don't see every day.

Gotta Hand it to Them: It's the first initiative which, by its very presence on the ballot, argues against itself.

Speaking of Which: In addition to extending the signature-gathering period, the Never-Ending-Initiatives Initiative establishes criminal penalties for "pushing, shoving, touching, spitting, throwing objects, yelling, tumultuous conduct or maintaining an intimidating presence within twenty-five feet of any person gathering signatures."

By That Definition: You could be tossed in the hoosegow for frowning intensely, or worse, passing gas within a half-block of a predatory signature collector.

And Finally: The people in charge of Washington's prisons are said to be rethinking the concept of solitary confinement. What's really impressive is that they're doing it over six months in a tiny room with no windows.

Ron Judd's column appears each Sunday. Reach him at rjudd@seattletimes.com

or 206-464-8280.


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