Por qué el PP no debe abstenerse en la investidura de Pedro Sánchez

Muchos electores creen/creemos que Rajoy es una rémora para el PP así como el PP lo es para la existencia de una derecha liberal, civilizada y que presente una batalla ideológica de la que ha desaparecido por completo.

Sin embargo, a veces incluso Rajoy puede tener razón y la tiene cuando da este argumento, tomado de la carta de respuesta a Albert Rivera, para no abstenerse en la investidura de Sánchez:

“Espero que lo entiendas”, insta Rajoy, que afirma que le sería muy difícil explicar a sus votantes que diera apoyo desde el partido más votado “a quien no ha ganado, para derogar todo lo que mi Gobierno ha hecho”.

Basta una sencilla revisión del acuerdo PSOE-Ciudadanos, es decir, el acuerdo completo y no los titulares interesados que se han ido publicando, para ver que el acuerdo pretende exactamente eso, dejando fuera la opción de la abstención por parte del PP.

Lo que sorprende en el acuerdo es, sobre todo, la disposición de Ciudadanos para tirar por la borda un capital político acumulado durante años en los que su comportamiento se ha asemejado más a una plataforma ciudadana que a un partido político y somos muchos los que creemos que así debería haber continuado: Exigiendo medidas de regeneración a aquél que tenga opciones de gobernar -sea más o menos de izquierdas o de derechas- y permitirle que gobierne con SU programa, sea éste cual sea, siempre que respete esas medidas de regeneración.

Si Ciudadanos se hubiera mantenido en sus principios fundacionales centrados en la regeneración institucional, el PP tendría difícil mantener una posición negativa, máxime cuando el propio Rajoy renunció por dos veces a la investidura. Sin embargo, Ciudadanos no ha hecho eso; Ciudadanos no ha puesto un conjunto de condiciones de regeneración a un programa elaborado por el PSOE sino que ha puesto su firma a un programa elaborado por el PSOE metiendo la pluma en algún punto de ese programa y, a cambio, renunciando a gran parte de sus principios fundacionales. Ciudadanos no debería tener nada que añadir o quitar a un programa PSOE o PP sino, simplemente, exigir como condición necesaria la toma de medidas de regeneración concretas y con fechas. En caso de incumplimiento, facilitar moción de censura. Es así de sencillo.

El PP podría e incluso debería unirse a un acuerdo centrado en la regeneración y que no hablase de nada más pero no es ése el contenido del acuerdo y, por eso, el PP no puede ni debe abstenerse.

El PP no puede -al igual que el PSOE no podría en idéntica situación- firmar un acuerdo con medidas de gobierno explícitamente opuestas a las suyas y donde se pasa de puntillas sobre temas claves como la independencia del poder judicial, se avala la acción de piquetes violentos mediante la despenalización en lugar de sacar la siempre ausente Ley de Huelga, se deja a las CC.AA. que hagan lo que quieran en lo relativo al idioma vehicular de la enseñanza, hay una tímida mención de cambio de la normativa electoral sin explicar con claridad en qué consiste, se habla de modo explícito de un “modelo federal”…y todo esto lo ha firmado Ciudadanos.

Que la política española parecía un centro de reciclaje porque dividía la basura por tipos sin dejar de ser basura ya lo sabíamos. Con este acuerdo, lo que se nos cae es el mito de un salvador que fuera a traer la regeneración. Se ha revolcado en la basura como todos los demás. Enhorabuena, Albert. Has sido una estrella fugaz; más fugaz que estrella para decir toda la verdad.

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La banda de la porra en Twitter ¿Son sólo bots?

Hace sólo unos días se publicó con pruebas irrefutables como los chicos del nazipopulismo utilizaban bots, es decir, un montón de cuentas falsas de Twitter que transmitían los mismos mensajes al mismo tiempo. Estas cuentas son utilizadas para difundir los hashtags con las consignas del momento y convertirlas en el trending topic de turno.

Esto ya es sabido pero acabo de observar algo extraño y que podría tener el mismo origen, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta que siempre he sido abiertamente crítico con el nazipopulismo:

  1. Hace unos días, una persona empieza a seguir mi cuenta de Twitter. Me sorprende que tiene miles de seguidores y sus mensajes son absolutamente inocuos sin que pueda encontrarse ninguno con la menor relación con la política.
  2. Hoy me encuentro con otra persona que empieza a seguir mi cuenta. El perfil es idéntico; tiene miles de seguidores y los mensajes no sólo son inocuos: SON LOS MISMOS.

Naturalmente, la cosa huele mal y bloqueo a las dos. ¿Alguna idea?¿Son spammers o hay otro objetivo?

Política española: La síntesis de todas las miserias

Establezcamos un punto de partida: El hoy presidente en funciones, Mariano Rajoy, es alguien difícilmente homologable en la actividad política no sólo para los ajenos sino para muchos de los propios. Posiblemente esa situación tampoco sea nueva y ha quedado de manifiesto desde el primer día de su paso por la Moncloa e incluso en su etapa de oposición.

Puesto que jamás ha dado la cara, no resulta extraño que por dos veces se haya negado a la investidura, alargando hasta la náusea el proceso post-electoral. Cierto es que el segundo partido más votado, el PSOE, se negó a hablar con él de posibilidades para una posible abstención que facilitase el gobierno.

Siendo buenistas hasta más allá de lo razonable, se podría atribuir la actitud del PSOE y su líder Pedro Sánchez a la misma consideración con la que he empezado, es decir, que Rajoy no era una persona admisible como futuro presidente tras las elecciones. Sin embargo, hay un problema para pensar eso: Que es falso.

Tras las elecciones municipales y autonómicas, el PSOE -por órdenes directas de Pedro Sánchez- se apresuró a aliarse con quien hiciera falta con el único objetivo de expulsar al PP -no a Rajoy; al PP- de los lugares en que fuera la lista más votada. No ha tenido empacho en darle el poder a Podemos en una serie de lugares en que aparecía bajo otras marcas. En el caso de Madrid, incluso declinó una oferta de Esperanza Aguirre de gobernar el Ayuntamiento con su propio programa y sin condicionantes. En suma, no se trata de una aversión a Rajoy sino de una reedición del “cordón sanitario” de Zapatero.

Puede utilizarse la corrupción como excusa pero, de nuevo, nos encontramos el mismo problema: Que la excusa es falsa. El PP puede estar corrupto hasta las cejas pero el PSOE no sólo no le va a la zaga sino que probablemente le aventaja. ¿Qué decir de los Pujol? ¿Y de los sindicatos? ¿Y de las fuentes de financiación, no ya dudosas sino absolutamente claras, de la gente de Podemos? Hay muy pocos que puedan abanderar la regeneración. El PP y Mariano Rajoy no están entre ellos pero los otros tampoco.

Captura

Gráfica tomada de Twitter por cortesía de @cecae

Podría entenderse que se tratase de sacar de la vida política a Rajoy, entre otras cosas porque su miope estrategia de tratar de dañar al PSOE primero y a Ciudadanos después ha tenido como únicos beneficiarios a los representantes del nazipopulismo y, de esta forma, poder presentarlos como única alternativa a él mismo. Jugada sucia donde las haya y, desde luego, no le faltan razones al PSOE para hacer lo que pueda para desalojar a Rajoy.

Sin embargo, puesto que los hechos demuestran que la inquina del PSOE no iba contra Rajoy sino contra el PP en su conjunto ¿es razonable que ahora busquen la abstención del PP con la excusa de que, de no hacerlo, “no les queda más remedio” que aliarse con Podemos y sus palmeros nazionalistas y otros? No; cuando se le da a alguien con la puerta en las narices no se puede esperar después ser acogido con los brazos abiertos y una sonrisa, máxime, cuando se ha dejado claro con hechos que el recambio de Rajoy por otra persona más presentable no se considera una opción válida.

Hay una salida, como ya he escrito en otro post, y es que la abstención se produzca a cambio de algo y hay dos alternativas:

  1. Lo más obvio con Pedro Sánchez como candidato a la investidura, y que sin duda sería favorable para PP y PSOE, es que el PP exija la ruptura de los pactos municipales y autonómicos del PSOE con Podemos a cambio de su abstención.
  2. En caso de fracaso de Pedro Sánchez, el PSOE se vería sometido a una prueba, teniendo que demostrar si quiere otro “cordón sanitario” o no. El PP debería comportarse como un partido democrático y quitar a Rajoy de su posición, nombrando otro líder que buscase la abstención del PSOE. También podrían establecer contrapartidas municipales y autonómicas.

Por supuesto, hay una salida más -sin necesidad de que el PSOE repita lo que ya ha hecho en las elecciones municipales y autonómicas y se condene a su propia desaparición- y está en la repetición de las elecciones. Si así fuera, el esperpento que hemos padecido durante estos meses donde las ambiciones personales han estado muy por encima de los intereses nacionales e incluso de partido, probablemente seríamos muchos los que les haríamos una petición muy sencilla a los dos partidos aún mayoritarios: Rajoy, no. Sánchez, tampoco.

Política española: ¿Una salida digna para casi todos?

La hay:

  1. El PSOE puede conseguir gobernar y, además, distanciarse de Podemos y evitar ser fagocitado ya o en unas elecciones que se convoquen porque nadie consiga la investidura.
  2. Ciudadanos, después del patinazo de la campaña, puede aparecer como quien ha logrado el gran acuerdo y, de paso, como los más razonables y los más centrados. Por añadidura, tendrían la función de vigilar al gobierno resultante en el cumplimiento de los compromisos establecidos. En caso de incumplimiento, el PP siempre podría prestar su apoyo a una moción de censura.
  3. El PP…puede hacer una jugada maestra: Abstenerse pero a cambio de algo: Que el PSOE retire inmediatamente su apoyo a los gobiernos municipales y autonómicos que le ha regalado a Podemos. En algunos casos podría significar que algunos de esos gobiernos volverían al PP y, además, el PSOE escenificaría más el distanciamiento reduciendo el riesgo.

¿Quiénes serían los perjudicados? Podemos, que está apostando a unas nuevas elecciones porque las encuestas les auguran subida de escaños y los nacionalistas, que tendrían mucho más difícil el chantaje.

Es así de fácil. Falla sólo una cosa: Rajoy. Como en la película de Amenábar, está muerto pero no lo sabe y, como le ocurrió a Stalin, nadie se atreve a decírselo dentro de su partido.

Big Aviation is still a game of two players

And one of them, Airbus,  is celebrating its birthday.

Years ago, three major players were sharing the market but, once McDonnell Douglas disappeared, big planes were made by one of them. Of course, we should not forget Antonov, whose 225 model is still the biggest plane in the world, some huge Tupolev and Lockheed Tristar but the first ones never went out of their home markets while Lockheed Tristar could be seen as a failed experiment from the manufacturer.

Airbus emphasizes its milestones in the timeline but, behind these, there is a flow marked by efficiency through I.T. use.

Airbus was the first civilian planes manufacturer having a big plane with a cockpit for only two people (A-310) and Airbus was the first civilian plane manufacturer to introduce widely fly-by-wire technology (the only previous exception was the Concorde). Finally, Airbus introduced the commonality concept allowing pilots from a model to switch very fast to a different model keeping the rating for both.

Boeing had a more conservative position: B757 and B767 appeared with only two people in the cockpit after being redesigned to compete with A-310. Despite the higher experience of Boeing in military aviation and, hence, in fly-by-wire technology, Boeing deferred for a long time the decision to include it in civilian planes and, finally, where Boeing lost the efficiency battle was when it appeared with a portfolio whose products were mainly unrelated while Airbus was immerse in its commonality model.

The only point where Boeing arrived before was in the use of twin planes for transoceanic flights through the ETOPS policy. Paradoxically the ones in the worst position were the two American companies that were manufacturing three engine planes, McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed instead of Airbus. That was the exception because, usually, Boeing was behind in the efficiency field.

Probably -and this is my personal bet- they try to build a family starting with B787. This plane should be for Boeing the A320 equivalent, that is, the starter of a new generation sharing many features.

As a proof of that more conservative position, Boeing kept some feedbacks that Airbus simply removed like, for instance, the feeling of the flight controls or the feedback from autopilot to throttle levers. Nobody questionned if this should be made and it was offered as a commercial advantage instead of a safety feature since it was not compulsory…actually, the differences among both manufacturers -accepted by the regulators as features independent of safety-  have been in the root of some events

Little-size Aviation is much more crowded and, right now, we have two new incomers from Russia and China (Sukhoi and Comac) including the possibility of an agreement among them to fight for the big planes market.

Anyway, that is still in the future. Big Aviation is still a game of two contenders and every single step in that game has been driven by efficiency. Some of us would like understability -in normal and abnormal conditions- to be among the priorities in future designs, whatever they come from the present contenders or from any newcomer.

Published in my Linkedin profile

A comment about a good reading: Air Safety Investigators by Alan E. Diehl

Some books can be considered as a privilege since they are an opportunity to have a look at an interesting mind. In this case it’s the mind of someone who was professionally involved in many of the air accidents considered as HF milestones.

The author, Alan Diehl, has worked with NTSB, FAA and U.S. Air Force. Everywhere, he tried to show that Human Factors had something important to say in the investigations. Actually, I borrowed for my first sentence something that he repeats once and again: The idea of trying to get into the mind of the pilot to know why a decision was made.

Probably, we should establish a working hypothesis about people involved in an accident: They were not dumb, nor crazy and they were not trying to kill themselves. It would work fine almost always.

Very often, as the author shows, major design and organization flaws are under a bad decision driving to an accident. He suffered some of these organization flaws in his own career by being vetoed in places where he challenged the statu quo.

One of the key cases representing a turning point for his activity but, regretfully, not for Aviation Safety in military environments happened in Gulf war: Two F15 planes shooted two American helicopters. Before that, he tried to implement CRM principles in U.S. Air Force. It was rejected by a high rank officer and, after the accident, they tried to avoid any mention of CRM issues.

 Diehl suffered the consequences of disobeying the orders about it as well as whistle-blowing some bad Safety related practices in the Air Force. Even though those practices represented a big death toll that did not make a change.

As an interesting tip, almost at the end of the book, there is a short analysis of different reporting systems, how they were created and the relationship among them. Even though, it does not pretend to be an important part in the book, it can be very clarifying for many people who can get lost in the acronyms soup.

However, the main and more important piece of the book is CRM related: Diehl fought hardly to get CRM established after a very well-known accident. It involved a United DC-8 in Portland, who crashed because it ran out of fuel while the pilot was worried about the landing gear. That made him delay the landing beyond any reasonable expectation.

It’s true that Portland case was important as well as Los Rodeos and Staines cases were also very important as major events to be used as inputs for the definition of CRM practice. However, and that is a personal opinion, something could be lost related with CRM: When Diehl had problems with Air Force, he defended CRM from a functional point of view. His point, in short, was that we cannot admit the death toll that its absence was provoking but…is CRM absence the real problem or does it have much deeper roots?

CRM principles can be hard to apply in an environment where power distance is very high. Once there, you can decide if a plane is a kind of bubble where this high power distance does not exist or there is not such a bubble and, as someone told me, as a pilot I’m in charge of the flight but the real fact is that a plane is a barracks extension and the higher rank officer inside the plane is the real captain. Nothing to be surprised if we attend to the facts under the air accident that beheaded the State in Poland. “Suggestions” by the Air Force chief are hard to be ignored by a military pilot.

Diehl points out how in many situations pilots seem to be inclined to play with their lives instead of keeping safety principles.  Again, he is right but it can be easily explained: Suppose that the pilot, in the flight that crashed with all the Polish Government onboard, rejects the “suggestion” and goes to the alternate airport. Nothing should have happened except…the outcome for the other option is not visible and everyone should find reasons to explain why the pilot should have landed in the place where he tried to do it. His career should be simply ruined because nobody would admit the real danger under the other option.

Once you decide, it’s impossible to know the outcome of the alternate decision and that makes pressure especially hard to resist. Then, even if restricted to the cockpit or a full plane, CRM principles can be hard to apply in some organizations. Furthermore, as Diehl suggests in the book, you can extend CRM concepts well beyond the cockpit trying to make of it a change management program.

CRM, in civilian and military organizations, means a way to work but we can find incompatibilities between CRM principles and organizational culture principles. Management have to deal with these contradictions but, if the organizational culture is very strong, it will prevail and management will not deal with the contradictions. They will simply decide for the statu quo ignoring any other option.

Should have CRM saved the many lost lives because of its absence? Perhaps not. There is a paradox in approaches like CRM or, more recently, SMS: They work fine in places where they should be less required and they don’t work in places where its implementation should be a matter of urgency. I’m not trying to play with words but establish a single fact and I would like to do so with an example:

Qantas, the Australian airline, has a highly regarded CRM program and many people, inside and outside that Company, should agree that CRM principles meant a real safety improvement for the Company. Nothing to oppose but let me show it in a different light:

Suppose for a moment that someone decides removing all the CRM programs in the world because of…whatever. Once done, we can ask which companies should be the most affected because of that. Should be Qantas among them? Hard to answer but probably not. Why?

CRM principles work precisely in the places where these principles were already working in the background. Then, CRM brings order and procedures to a previous situation that we could call “CRM without CRM program”, for instance, a low power distance where the subordinate is willing to voice any safety concern. In this case, the improvement is clear. If we suddenly suppress the activity, the culture should keep alive these principles because they fitted with that culture from the very first moment and before.

What happens when CRM principles are against organization culture? Let me put it in short: Make-up. They will accept CRM as well as they accept SMS since they both are mandatory but everyone will know the truth inside the organization. Will CRM save lives in this organizations, even if they are enforced to implement it?

A recent event can answer that: Asiana accident in San Francisco happened because a first officer did not dare to tell his captain that he was unable to land the plane manually (of course, as usual, many more factors were present but this was one of them and extremely important).

Diehl clearly advocates for CRM and I believe he is right and with statistical information who speaks about safety improvement. My point is that improvement is not homogeneous and it happens mainly in places that were already willing to accept CRM principles and, in a non-structured way, they were already working with them.

CRM by itself does not have the power to change the organizational culture in places that reject its principles and the approach should be different. A very good old book, Critical Path Renewal by Beer, Eisenstat and Spector explains clearly why change programs don’t work and they show a different way to get the change in organizations who reject it.

Anyone trying to make a real change should flee from change programs even if we agree with the goals but one-size-fits-all does not work. Some principles, like the ones under CRM or SMS, are valid from safety point of view but, even though everyone will pay lip service to the goals, many organizations won’t accept the changes required to get there. That is still a hard challenge to be completed.

Published originally in my Linkedin profile

Air Safety and Hacker Frame of Mind

If we ask anyone what a hacker is, we could get answers going from cyberpiracy, cyberdelincuency, cybersecurity…and any other cyberthing. However, it’s much more than that.

Hackers are classified depending of the “color of their hats”. White hat hacker means individual devoted to security, black hat hacker means cybercriminal and grey hat hacker means something in the middle. That can be interesting as a matter of curiosity but…what do they have in common? Furthermore, what do they have in common that can be relevant for Air Safety?

Simonyi, the creator of WYSIWYG, warned long ago about an abstraction scale that was adding more and more steps. Speaking about Information Technology, that means that programmers don’t program a machine. They instruct a program to make a program to be run by a machine. Higher programming levels mean longer distance from the real thing and more steps between the human action and the machine action.

Of course, Simonyi warned of this as a potential problem while he was speaking about Information Technology but…Information Technology is now ubiquitous and this problem can be found anywhere including, of course, Aviation.

We could say that any IT-intensive system has different layers and the number of layers defines how advanced the system is. So far so good, if we assume that there is a perfect correspondance between layers, that is, every layer is a symbolic representation of the former one and that representation should be perfect. That should be all…but it isn’t.

Every information layer that we put over the real thing is not a perfect copy -it should be nonsense- but, instead, it tries to improve something in safety, efficiency or, very often, it claims to be improving both. However, avoiding flaws in that process is something that is almost impossible. That is the point where problems start and when hacker-type knowledge and frame of mind should be highly desirable for a pilot.

The symbolic nature of IT-based systems makes its flaws to be hard to diagnose since their behavior can be very different to mechanic or electric systems. Hackers, good or bad, try to identify these flaws, that is, they are very conscious of this symbolic layer approach instead of assuming an enhanced but perfect representation of the reality below.

What means a hacker frame of mind as a way to improve safety? Let me show two examples:

  • From cinema: The movie “A beautiful mind”, devoted to John Nash and showing his mental health problems shows at a moment how and why he was able to control these problems: He was confusing reality and fiction until a moment where he found something that did not fit. It happened to be a little girl that, after many years, continued being a little girl instead of an adult woman. That gave him the clue to know which part of his life was created by his own brain.
  • From Air Safety: A reflection taken from the book “QF32” by Richard de Crespigny: Engine 4 was mounted to our extreme right. The fuselage separated Engine 4 from Engines 1 and 2. So how could shrapnel pass over or under the fuselage, then travel all that way and damage Engine 4? The answer is clear. It can’t. However, once arrived there, a finding appears crystal-clear: Information coming from the plane is not trustable because in any of the IT-layers the correspondance reality-representation has been lost.

Detecting these problems is not easy. It implies much more than operating knowledge and, at the same time, we know that nobody has full knowledge about the whole system but only partial knowledge. That partial knowledge should be enough to define key indicators -as it happens in the mentioned examples- to know when we work with information that should not be trusted.

The hard part of this: The indicators should not be permanent but adapted to every situation, that is, the pilot should decide about which indicator should be used in situations that are not covered by procedures. That should bring us to other issue: If a hacker frame of mind is positive for Air Safety, how to create, nurture and train it? Let’s use again the process followed by a hacker to become such a hacker:

First, hackers look actively for information. They don’t go to formal courses expecting the information to be given. Instead, they look for resources allowing them to increase their knowledge level. Then, applying this model to Aviation should suppose a wide access to information sources beyond the information provided in formal courses.

Second, hackers training is more similar to military training than academic training, that is, they fight to intrude or to defend a system and they show their skills by opposing an active enemy. To replay a model such as this, simulators should include situations that trainers can imagine. Then, the design should be much more flexible and, instead of simulators behaving as a plane is supposed to do, they should have room to include potential situations coming from information misrepresentation or from situations coming from automatic answers to defective sensors.

Asking for a full knowledge of all the information layers and their potential pitfalls can be utopic since nobody has that kind of knowledge, including designers and engineers. Everybody has a partial knowledge. Then, how can we do our best with this partial knowledge? Looking for a different frame of mind in involved people -mainly pilots- and providing the information and training resources that allow that frame of mind to be created and developed. That could mean a fully new training model.

Published originally in my Linkedin profile

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