Dennis E. Powell's View from Mudsock Heights

Dennis E. Powell is crackpot-at-large at Open for Business. Powell was a reporter in New York and elsewhere before moving to Ohio, where he has (mostly) recovered. You can reach him at dep@drippingwithirony.com.

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The Less-Famous Space Shuttle Disaster

By Dennis E. Powell | Feb 01, 2023 at 5:38 PM

Twenty year ago this morning I was having coffee when I remembered that the space shuttle was landing, so I turned on the television to watch it. Everything seemed yawningly normal. But then I was interrupted mid-yawn — a very unpleasant sensation, though not as bad as a stifled sneeze — when the commander and pilot of the shuttle failed to respond to calls from the flight controller.

The Death of a Whistleblower

By Dennis E. Powell | Feb 01, 2023 at 5:30 PM

As part of Dennis E. Powell’s twentieth anniversary remembrance of the second shuttle disaster, we are republishing this third part of Dennis E. Powell’s late 80’s and early 90’s cover stories on NASA safety practices that he wrote for TROPIC, the magazine of The Miami Herald. In this piece Powell tells the story of former NASA engineer Bill McInnis who cared too much.

Risky Business

By Dennis E. Powell | Feb 01, 2023 at 5:10 PM

As part of Dennis E. Powell’s twentieth anniversary remembrance of the second shuttle disaster, we are republishing this crucial investigation into NASA’s space shuttle safety practices that he wrote for TROPIC, the magazine of The Miami Herald, on April 9, 1989.

Obviously, a Major Malfunction

First came the bang. Then . . . silence. A story about catastrophe and coverup.

By Dennis E. Powell | Feb 01, 2023 at 5:00 PM

As part of Dennis E. Powell’s twentieth anniversary remembrance of the second shuttle disaster, we are republishing his groundbreaking piece on the earlier Challenger disaster that was the cover story for TROPIC, the magazine of The Miami Herald, on November 13, 1988.

A Quarter Century of Linux

By Dennis E. Powell | Jan 25, 2023 at 4:13 PM

The Linux operating system for Intel-architecture personal computers wasn’t exactly new when I switched to it. There were already a number of publishers — I choose the word carefully; you’ll see why — who were offering their own versions, which were similar in some ways yet mostly incompatible with each other.

Your Lyin' Eyes Go Mainstream

By Dennis E. Powell | Jan 18, 2023 at 8:09 PM

There used to be a joke — well, we said it was a joke — among photographers: when shooting family groups and weddings, put the inlaws at the ends of the line of people. It would then be easier to crop them from the picture if things didn’t work out.

Getting Nothing for Something

By Dennis E. Powell | Jan 11, 2023 at 8:21 PM

Once per generation, it seems, those who have any money at all go berserk and, soon thereafter, bankrupt. It happened in 2000, plus or minus about three years, and it’s happening again now.

Thanks for the Nudge, Apple!

By Dennis E. Powell | Jan 04, 2023 at 9:55 PM

The IOS update that killed my original iPhone SE was the last straw. I was done with Apple. They’d already skated far out onto the thin ice when they killed the excellent Dark Sky weather application and replaced it with their more-is-less Weather application, which took what was once quick, convenient, easy, and comprehensive — Dark Sky — and replaced it with a jumble of information, often not the information being sought, on a too-busy screen. It would have been forgivable if they had provided a setting that restored the look, feel, and functionality of Dark Sky. They didn’t. They never do. Apple knows best.

Bring Back Mister Magoo!

By Dennis E. Powell | Dec 28, 2022 at 5:22 PM

Something I’ve long hoped would become a family tradition may have finally begun to sprout. It goes back nearly 20 years. That was when one cold and lonely winter night I happened on a broadcast, on one of the cartoon channels, of “Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” Much to my surprise, I remembered all the words from all the songs. It had premiered in 1962 and was broadcast each year afterwards until it wasn’t anymore. It was wonderful and, as I realized as I sat there in my Connecticut home with tears in my eyes, still is.

Christmas Diluted Almost to Extinction?

By Dennis E. Powell | Dec 21, 2022 at 9:43 PM

Was it the pandemic? Or has society’s decline increased in velocity? Or is it just me? Christmas is close, but it doesn’t feel like it. Some of that has to do with the pandemic, I suppose, at least around here. The vague sense of being under siege remains, and the Christmas music doesn’t seem to have returned to stores, broadcasts, and elsewhere.

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