Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Road To Rush



Yesterday, on my way to the redneck store, I decided to go through the country. Country roads are always my first choice and the only hazard is that I always feel compelled to listen to redneck radio when I travel them. Without fail, I always wind up on Rush.

You have to consider the choices. It’s either college football, preachers or Rush. Seriously, it hit me while I was driving down the road that this is pretty desperate programming. Football only lasts a few months a year -- although religion lasts forever. I just can’t ever figure out why there isn’t at least one preacher on the radio that wants you to send money to somebody else -- some other charity -- besides themselves. Take the Salvation Army for instance. They seem to do pretty good work. And they’ve been doing it for over a hundred years. Ah, but I’m getting off track again. Back to Rush.

Between the ads for shiatsu foot massagers and coco butter oil treatments Rush was in his usual form. The stimulus wasn’t “really” working because the growth in GDP wasn’t “real”. Those car salesmen probably didn’t get “real” paychecks and the real estate agents didn’t get “real” commissions in Rush’s world I guess.

Krugman deflated Rush’s argument before Rush even got on the air.

”In another piece, Bivens notes that the usual suspects are now moving the goalposts, conceding that the stimulus is producing growth but saying that it’s not “genuine” growth because … it was caused by the stimulus. Ahem. “

The one that really got me though was when Rush was “educating” one of his listeners that thought the home-buying tax credit wasn’t such a bad idea. I’m sure he provided his audience with a similar education on Boeing getting tax breaks to move to South Carolina and I just missed it. I mean, surely if Republicans think giving a tax break to a business is a good thing then Democrats giving a tax break to real, live people is an even better thing. Right ? Well, not Rush. He says you should go around and ask your neighbors for the money and see how far that gets you -- because it’s their money. He has a point. It is the taxpayers money. Reckon Boeing went around asking the the good folks of South Carolina for $170 million ?

South Carolina officials offered Boeing $170 million in tax incentives in exchange for the promise of creating up to 3,800 jobs.

No, I don’t think so either.

Anyone that has ever heard Rush has heard him rail against “The Welfare State”. I wonder how many people actually know what that is and where it comes from ?

The Welfare State

”The Welfare State of the United Kingdom was prefigured in the William Beveridge Report in 1942, which identified five "Giant Evils" in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease.

Clement Attlee's 1945 Labour government pledged to eradicate these Evils. The government undertook measures in policy to provide for the people of the United Kingdom "from the cradle to the grave."”


It might come as a surprise to you that Prime Minister Clement Attlee is considered the best Prime Minister of the 20th century -- ahead of even Winston Churchill.

One of his most enduring legacies was the National Health Service -- England’s “socialized medicine”.

Health and Welfare reforms

”In domestic policy, the party had clear aims. Attlee's first Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevan, fought against the general disapproval of the medical establishment in creating the British National Health Service. Although there are often disputes about its organisation and funding, British parties to this day must still voice their general support for the NHS in order to remain electable. “

But speaking of Churchill, here’s a quote that should give you hope.

”The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.”

Don Brown
October 31, 2009

Air Evacuation



Don’t ask me how I find these things. I just do. Anyway, it’s an interesting story about a place with current relevance for America.

Afghanistan: 80 years since the British evacuation of Kabul

”Eight decades before the Taliban-led insurgency that now sees the city again under siege, the RAF carried out the world's first major airlift and a very British evacuation.

Using only fragile biplanes the RAF saved Kabul's entire diplomatic community from the jaws of a violent tribal revolt. “


I hope -- beyond the details -- that you will consider the fact that the British Empire was involved in all the places that, currently, the American Empire is involved in. Kabul, Jalalabad, Peshawar, Baghdad. It didn’t end so well for them.

I read a book, long ago, by Niall Ferguson entitled: Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. I readily admit it has influenced my thinking on the subject. It is not an easy book to read but I am reminded of its central theme again and again as world events unfold. This is from the Amazon review of the book:

”Though the book's breadth is impressive, it is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the British Empire; rather, Ferguson seeks to glean lessons from this history for future, or present, empires--namely America. Pointing out that the U.S. is both a product of the British Empire as well as an heir to it, he asks whether America--an "empire in denial"--should "seek to shed or to shoulder the imperial load it has inherited."”

That seems a fair assessment of the decision President Obama currently faces. Do we shoulder this “imperial load” in Afghanistan or shed it ? There’s another line quoted in that review that bears repeating.

"...the difficulty with the achievements of empire is that they are much more likely to be taken for granted than the sins of empire,"

It seems harder to remember that we won World War II and the Cold War than it does to remember Vietnam and Abu Ghraib. I still think on the playground level. Every kid knows that when you’re king of the hill everyone takes a shot at you. That is just how the game is played.

There are perils involved in empire.



'Remnants of an Army' by Elizabeth Butler portraying William Brydon arriving at the gates of Jalalabad as the only survivor of a 16,500 strong evacuation from Kabul in January 1842.“



Photo by Hubert Vanes (click here for the story)

Don Brown
October 31, 2009

Old



We had some new bookcases installed to contain my ever-expanding library. I had so much “extra” room I put the encyclopedias on a shelf. The encyclopedias that every parent bought when I was growing up. I still have the ones I grew up with from 1963. I spent hours, days, weeks reading them. The ones I put up today are from when my daughter was born, in 1988. They are almost untouched.

These vessels of all knowledge do not contain the words “Internet”, “World Wide Web” or “Global Positioning System”.

That is all.

Don Brown
October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Still the Smartest Man on TV



Jon Stewart is still the smartest man on TV. Take a look as he destroys Fox News and their whining about the White House being at war with them.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
For Fox Sake!
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


I hope you’ve been keeping up. For the first few days, the pundits were siding with Fox News. “Obama can’t win this war”, etc., etc. I didn’t say anything here because...well I don’t know why. Chicken I guess. But when I read James Fallows’ piece, I knew I wasn’t the only one that felt the Obama Administration was right.

”I didn't see anything on Fox from mid-2006 through mid-2009; for better or worse, it's not carried in China. (The English TV news channels you can get there are BBC, CNN International, CNBC, sometimes Bloomberg.) I have seen it since coming back this summer. And in a way, I realize that I had been seeing it all along: except for more modern production values, it's the closest thing America offers to what it's like to be exposed to the Chinese government's 24/7 internal propaganda machine. “

The jury is still out but I think the the Obama Administration will win. I think if we come back in a year, the view will be very different. And I think the above video is just the beginning of the worm turning.

Don Brown
October 30, 2009

More on Boeing



Don’t take my word for it. Read this article from The Washington Post and see for yourself. Boeing’s move to South Carolina is about breaking unions. It’s about driving down your wages and your standard of living -- no matter where you live or what you do.

Boeing's S.C. jobs a setback for unions

It’s really simple so don’t try to make it complicated. Union members make more money. Despite all the attacks on unions since Ronald Reagan declared open season on them, their members still make more money. Every business in Washington State has to compete with Boeing for workers. That means they have to pay higher wages. Unions drive up wages for everyone -- even for those that aren’t members.

Businesses think this is bad. That is understandable. But it is also shortsighted. Boeing wouldn’t sell many airplanes to America if everyone was paid Wal-Mart wages. There would be no travel industry because no one could afford to fly.

To look at this from another angle, take a look at the current world-wide economic crisis. When American’s stop spending, the world goes broke. Look at the relative size of the economies of the world. You have to add the GDP of next three biggest economies together to get close to the U.S. And specifically for Boeing, you should look at defense spending. I’m not even going to try to add that up. The U.S. spends more than the top 10 (20 ?) combined.

”U.S. purchases account for 47 percent of world military expenditures in 2003, “

The point being, Boeing gets a hefty hunk of that money. Your money. Boeing can talk about “shareholders” all it wants. If they stop getting American’s money -- taxpayer’s money -- they go broke. Tomorrow. That gives the U.S. Government -- you and me -- tremendous leverage over them. You may not recognize it anymore than you recognize the leverage the American consumer has over the rest of the world. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

For just one idea on how that leverage can be used, do a little reading on the Davis-Bacon Act. It is your government. It is your money. Congress is fully capable of passing laws that protect the people. They’ve certainly done so for the corporations.

Don Brown
October 30, 2009

Crazy Crackers



Let’s see if you’ve been paying attention.

Boeing Selects S.C. for Dreamliner Plant

”CHICAGO—Boeing Co. on Wednesday announced it would build a second final assembly line for its troubled 787 Dreamliner jet in South Carolina, a move that spurns the powerful aircraft machinists' union that had been negotiating with Boeing to locate the work at the current factory in outside of Seattle.“

Who would you say has been Boeing’s largest customer over the years ? At least the one that is paying for all the R&D ? B-17, B29, B-47, B-52, KC-135 -- any of these ringing any bells for you ? Not to mention this one:



So, here comes South Carolina -- land of the MIA Governor, the Congressman with political Tourette’s syndrome and the Senator that thinks he’s the Republican Duke of Wellington -- and they want to throw even more tax dollars -- South Carolinian tax dollars -- at Boeing to move to Charleston. And just to seal the deal, they not only prove they’re easy but that they’re crazy too.

Bravo for bigger Boeing

”Unions have delayed production at the Boeing factories near Seattle. In contrast, unionized Boeing workers in North Charleston recently opted out of the International Association of Machinists.

But a world-class company like Boeing needs additional reasons to choose a site. Assets like quality of life, work force training programs and financial incentives are almost assuredly considerations. It is encouraging that the Lowcountry measures up on those fronts.“


I’ve been to South Carolina. As a matter of fact, I was born in South Carolina. Trust me, “quality of life” is not why Boeing is coming to South Carolina. Neither is “work force training programs.” That leaves, “almost assuredly”, “financial incentives”. Well, that and no union.

Let’s go back to the Wall Street Journal:

”On Wednesday the South Carolina legislature moved to offer Boeing a variety of tax incentives to lure the company to build a massive new factory on the site of an existing facility it owns in North Charleston. Those incentives include issuing new bonds to help Boeing defray construction costs and waiving sales tax for jet fuel on test flights and some construction materials.“

Joe Bageant -- the guy that wrote Deer Hunting with Jesus -- has seen this type of behavior before.

”For decades, Virginia has hemorrhaged manufacturing and textile jobs to foreign shores, the flow increasing after NAFTA went into effect in 1994. But long before NAFTA, we had a history of state leadership hiking its skirts and winking at any miserable Yankee sweatshop coming down the pike on its way toward Alabama or Mississippi or Latin America. The big shots make a mint selling property to the northern manufacturers, and the state and local governments make speeches about how many new jobs they delivered. “

But make no mistake about it, this isn’t the textile industry we’re talking about here. This is a company -- really an entire industry -- that was bought and paid for by the taxpayers. It’s the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about. Take a look at the example in Wikipedia.

”It is difficult to estimate the degree of dependence of the U.S. economy on its military and defense spending, but it is clearly enormous, and legislators fiercely resist defense cuts that affect their districts. In Washington State, an economist estimated in 2002 that in Western Washington 166,000 jobs, or about 15% of the workforce, depended directly or indirectly on military installations alone, not counting defense industries. In Washington State overall in FY2001, about $7.06 billion arrived in U.S. Department of Defense payroll, pensions, and procurement contracts—and Washington State was only seventh among the fifty states in this regard. Overall, U.S. spending on defense acquisitions and research is equal to 1.2% of the GDP. “

I guess they’ve decided they don’t won’t to pay union wages anymore. And they are going to use your money -- your taxes -- to make sure they don’t have to. If you’re unfortunate enough to live in South Carolina (and half my family was) you get to pay twice for the pleasure of working for low wages -- Federal taxes and State taxes. Thanks goodness your Governor wanted to turn down the Federal stimulus money. But that’s the South Carolina I know. Full of crazy crackers that will vote for politicians that will help keep them down and against a union that could help them get ahead.

Congratulations, South Carolina. You’ve replaced Mississippi and become America’s third-world country.

Don Brown
October 29, 2009

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bird On Bird



I’ve found one upside to getting older and having to visit more doctors. You get to read magazines you wouldn’t see otherwise. Like Audubon. Now before you zone out...

”“The Air Force has lost more F-16s to birdstrikes than any other aircraft,” he said.”

Got your attention didn’t it ? There is all sorts of information in the article.

”New York’s John F. Kennedy International has a resident falconer; his handful of predators keeps smaller birds at bay.“

And this:

”Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has been the primary test site for bird radar since 2006, and it recently installed a third radar system. Other airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and Dallas Fort-Worth in Texas, plan to install bird radar this year. “

I wonder if that’s “1950s-style radar technology“. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

It’s a good article. You might enjoy it.

Don Brown
October 28, 2009

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Discover Magazine Article



I’m going to chose my words really carefully here so try to read them carefully. It seems I failed to mention that I was quoted a few times in a Discover magazine article. (I could swear I did but I can’t find it.) Anyway, the article is now on the web for your reading pleasure.

A Wing and a Prayer: The U.S.'s Crumbling Air-Travel Infrastructure

”People in aviation—the pilots, the air traffic controllers, and even the CEOs—are under constant pressure to make the airplanes fly and to make sure they fly on time,” Brown says. “The pressure to fly in poor weather, to tighten up the spacing between aircraft, and to wring every last drop of efficiency out of the system is incredible. “

I assume that sounds familiar to my readers. Now, here comes the tricky part. Linda Marsa, the author of the article did a good job. She spent a lot of time talking to me and working hard to understand the complexities involved in all these issues. And she does a fine job -- up to a point. That point would be NextGen. I -- that’s me, not Ms. Marsa nor her readers -- hated to see the standard NextGen song-and-dance in the article, right down to the seemingly-obligatory “1950s-style radar technology” line.

Here’s what you, I and the controller community have to understand. That line works. There’s a reason you see “1950s-style radar technology“ -- almost verbatim -- in every story about air traffic control. There’s a reason that when confronted with today’s problems, the FAA pushes the focus onto what they will do in the future. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you’ll begin to notice that tomorrow’s solutions become today’s problems. When “tomorrow” becomes “today”, the FAA will still be talking about tomorrow. There’s always another tomorrow. The FAA knew the power of “Hope” and “Change” long before President Obama ever became a politician.

So, here’s the rub. I believe Ms. Marsa to be a good, conscientious and smart reporter. She gave me a fair hearing, as I assume she did everyone else. I believe she was genuinely interested in the subject. I wouldn’t hesitate to talk to her again. The only conclusion I can come up with is that the FAA PR folks were more believable than me. That’s my fault, not hers.

It’s a good thing all this isn’t about me.

Now go read the article and enjoy. Yes, you read about Peter Nesbitt here too. And one last thing, did the name hit you too ? I don’t think I mentioned it to her. MARSA -- in ATC -- stand for Military Assumes Responsibility for Separation of Aircraft.

Don Brown
October 28, 2009

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Redneck 101



I’ve just finished the most extraordinary book. It’s one of those things that it’s best just to say it because you can’t prepare people for it or build up to it.

Deer Hunting with Jesus

There’s a subtitle to it too. I’m not sure it does it justice but it’s Dispatches From America’s Class War. It is written by fellow redneck, Joe Bageant. In the South, Joe is what is known as a character. The South is so psychologically twisted that it has a habit of producing some very interesting characters.

The unique gift Joe possesses is his ability to explain rednecks. I’m sure many of my readers have noticed my love/hate relationship with the South and my fellow rednecks. I can’t explain it. Joe Bageant can. It’s that simple. Joe Bageant can make sense of it all.

”The lives and cultures of these, the hardest-working people, are not just stunted by the smallness of the society into which they were born. They are purposefully held in bondage by the local network of moneyed families, bankers, developers, lawyers, and businesspeople in whose interests it is to have a cheap, unquestioning and compliant labor force paying high rent and big medical bills. They invest in developing such a labor force by not investing (how’s that for making money out of thin air!) in the education and quality of life for anyone but their own. Places such as Winchester are, as they say, “investment paradise.” That means low taxes, few or no local regulations, no unions and a chamber of commerce tricked out like a gaggle of hookers, welcoming the new, nonunion, air-poisoning factory. “

Have you ever driven through a town in the South with a paper mill ? Stop and ask one of the locals what that God-awful smell is and they’ll just look at you funny and say, “What smell ? All I smell is money.” There you go.

Getting back to Joe Bageant -- that’s mighty fancy talk for a redneck. But make no mistake, Joe is a redneck.

”Frankly, the closer I get to sixty-five, the more attractive it looks to me -- not that my wife, the lawn and garden queen, will ever go for it. But to me a trailer within walking distance of a nice creek or the ocean, with no lawn to mow and a good nearby beer joint where the geezers fart and lie up a storm...I could handle that. These are the kinds of reasons many working whites who can get a traditional home financed still choose a trailer.“

And that is how this book goes. You get whipsawed between stunning social insights and the basest emotions in us all. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll learn something. Don’t let my inability to describe a book about a subject that baffles me put you off. This is a book you need to read. I will have to kick somebody off the book “carousel” (on the bottom left margin) to make room for Deer Hunting with Jesus. This book is more useful than all the others. You may not care about Islam, Global Warming or Power. But everybody has to deal with rednecks. We’re everywhere.

Don Brown
October 26, 2009

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Headcount Reductions



You’ve got to love the euphemisms.

NAV CANADA announces year end financial results

”In spite of monthly year-over-year declines in air traffic that continued during the fourth quarter, cost savings were achieved through headcount reductions, a transfer of responsibility for post-employment benefits to a union trust fund and reductions in discretionary spending without impacting safety.“

Let me see if I got this straight. They laid off some people, they ditched their employee’s pension plan and they -- a safety-related organization -- cut their non-safety related expenses.

”The Company's revenues before rate stabilization for fiscal 2009 were $ 1,163 million, compared to $ 1,228 million for the previous year. The lower revenues arose primarily from a 6.0 per cent year-over-year decline in air traffic volumes.“

I can’t explain why anyone would want to call 1.1 billion “1,163 million“ but whatever. If Canada’s traffic went down 6% you can bet America’s went down too. And right now, that’s a good thing. It will give the new guys a chance to get some experience before the traffic starts building back up. Well, for the Americans. The Canadians are laying people off. They didn’t say if they were controllers or not. Which leads me to the conclusion that they didn’t say much at all. It’s an odd state of affairs for a press release.

”This press release contains certain forward-looking statements that are subject to important risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results indicated in these statements for a number of reasons. NAV CANADA disclaims any intention to update any forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable securities legislation. “

I see the lawyer profession is alive and well in Canada too. I wonder...why is it that managers and lawyers are never "outsourced" to China ? Surely they have people that will do it cheaper ?

And while I’m wondering...is it just a coincidence that the FAA got a recession right when they needed one -- in 1981 and in 2007 ?

The sun is coming up on a pretty Fall day. I think I’ll go wonder someplace else. Someplace outside.

Don Brown
October 24, 2009

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Does This Apply to NextGen ?



My former, sort-of boss Paul Bertorelli writes a blog for AVweb. This entry is about VLJs and the disaster they have become. I like the very last line.

”For if Eclipse taught us anything, it's that in commercial aviation, progress comes in periodic increments, not giant leaps. When you hear things like "revolutionary" or "game changer," just let them flow into one ear and out the other. “


Let’s see...where have I heard those words before ? Well, that certainly wasn’t hard to find.

Marion C. Blakey , President & Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association

There is widespread agreement that NextGen is a game-changer when it comes to air travel. “
(Emphasis added)

Neither was this:

Statement of Marion C. Blakey, Administrator
Before the the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcommittee on Aviation on the Joint Planning and Development Office (Oral Testimony as Prepared for Delivery)

ADS- B is a revolutionary technology that uses GPS to transmit real-time surveillance data to controllers and pilots, substantially improving situational awareness and allowing smaller separation distances between aircraft while maintaining the highest levels of safety “
(Emphasis added)


Nor this:

Don Brown, Ex-controller and current nobody

”No one is going to reinvent air traffic control. ATC evolves. Slowly. The FAA may get their ADS-B system but it won’t replace radar. NextGen is just another sales job like URET. URET saved the airlines so much money they went broke. Did I mention it won’t replace radar ? “

I wonder if I can get people to pay attention to that last bit before Bertorelli has to write the same piece -- about NextGen -- in 10 years ?

Don Brown
October 23, 2009

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What About Otto ?



Humans make mistakes. They get distracted. They fall asleep. What I want to know about is the autopilot. What happened with that when the pilots overshot Minneapolis ?

Pilots should have had warning of airport approach

I don’t know the logic used in programming the autopilot so I’m just thinking out loud. The plane is programmed to go to MSP. The plane reaches MSP -- still at FL370 -- and....does what ? Keeps going on the same heading ? Circles ? Beeps loudly ? Disconnects ? What ????

I guess we’ll find out sooner or later.

What was I saying earlier this week ? ”Be wary of your automation. “ What was the blog about ? ””The first group had higher situation awareness far beyond those who had higher levels of automation,” she said.”

That is all.

Don Brown
October 23, 2009

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IQ



Much in life can be explained by this simple bell curve chart of IQs.



This blog entry is a simple place holder. A place I can refer back to as I make my point. And here’s the first point.

If you’re reading this blog -- more than likely -- you’re on the right side of that chart. You probably even know how far to the right. My point is that there is another human being on the left side of that very same chart -- your counterperson if you will. What is he/she reading ? Thinking, feeling, watching, listening, talking about ? Where do they fit in ? In public policy ? In the “national debate” ? In life ?

Don Brown
October 23, 2009

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ATC and Eggheads



I’m told that many of the new controllers are college graduates -- some with degrees in aviation. It shouldn’t be hard, therefore, to convince them that advanced research about air traffic control can be helpful to them and their profession. But just in case, let me point one out that popped onto to my radar yesterday.

Psychology Student Finds Less Automation Better for Air Traffic Controllers

”“The first group had higher situation awareness far beyond those who had higher levels of automation,” she said. “I thought exposure to one automation failure would make the controllers more cautious. So, I made them complete another scenario in which the automation failed. What was shocking was that even after exposure to a failure in the automation, the groups with higher levels of automation continued to have lower situation awareness and were slower to detect a subsequent failure in the automation.

“Automation technology has clear benefits when it functions correctly. But no system is 100 percent reliable. The trick to designing future air traffic automation systems will depend on coming up with the right level and types of automation. Psychology can help make these systems more user-friendly and more interactive to protect against over-reliance.” “


There are a lot of things I want you to think about here, boys and girls. First, the obvious. Be wary of your automation. Second, be aware that this type of research is out there, has always been out there and it can be useful to you. Third, be aware that bright college students are always looking for a good project to work on or write a paper on. If you so choose -- and you’re motivated -- you can drive research into areas which you consider critical.

Let me put that last point another way. You can drive the research or you can let someone else drive it. Trust me, people that are trying to sell the government $40 billion dollars worth of automation are more than willing to spend a few million on research papers.

I’d love to cover this subject in depth but it tends to bore most people. If you are one of the few that are intrigued, let me provide some suggested reading from the FAA’s own Human Factors shop.

A list of publications from Dr. Earl Stein. Dr. Stein’s work was the first I ever read in this area. I still remember my friend Brian Fallon sending it to me. “Air Traffic Controller Memory” (a .pdf file). It had a tremendous influence on me. I notice that Dr. Stein is now the Group Manager.

If you’ll take a look at the FAA’s list of publications, you’ll see Dr. Carol Manning’s name on a couple of them. I won’t try to understand the FAA’s website and filing system. Just know that there are other publications squirreled away in different places (check the URL). Like this one:

How controllers compensate for the lack of flight progress strips (a .pdf file)

I think Dr. Manning was genuinely surprised that I knew who she was and what she did when she showed up at Atlanta Center. There weren’t too many controllers out there keeping up. I hope that changes. Anyway, you might recognize me in the report’s conclusion.

”The final question pertaining to strips, in general, asked what information would need to be included on the PVD data block in order to eliminate the need for strips. Only one controller said that the strips could not be eliminated.”

Guess who ?

I believe that brings us full circle.

“The first group had higher situation awareness far beyond those who had higher levels of automation,” she said. “I thought exposure to one automation failure would make the controllers more cautious..."

We’ll see if ERAM makes controllers more cautious. For most of my career as a safety rep, I would have people that experienced an automation failure firsthand come up to me with some version of, “I hate to admit it but you were right. If it hadn’t been for the strips we would have really been in trouble.” I don’t know what happens now without paper strips. But if you’re a controller, you had better know.

Don Brown
October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rush, Sean and Government Handouts



Here I am, just rummaging around the internet for something to write about, and I find the strangest things. I’ve already toured the FAA world. Toured the “air traffic control” news. BBC. NPR. I read Kruman’s column I missed yesterday. I visited the blogs on my blog list. Nothing is really stirring me up. Until I left The Rachel Maddow Show.

She had a segment on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce being “punked”. It was mildly interesting and added to the impression that the Chamber of Commerce is taking a lot of heat these days. So I started looking at the news about them and bumped into Rush. Heaven help us. I occasionally have to listen to him to make sure he’s still talking crazy. He is.

”They are trying to destroy the Chamber.  Next in line will be the Knights of Columbus and then the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, and then they'll go off on the Shriners.  The Chamber of Commerce needs the support of every American who gives a damn about free markets, private property, and fears of creeping fascism.  This country cannot afford for the insurance industry to cave. This country cannot afford for the Chamber of Commerce to cave.  The Chamber of Commerce has been screwed by this administration's policies and now the Chamber is the enemy and a hoax that they had changed their minds and are supporting cap and trade gets reported by the  Washington Post, New York Times, Reuters and CNBC.  A hoax! From an e-mail, a single e-mail! “

Man the barricades, Comrade ! The Chamber of Commerce is under attack ! Rise up before the rich people are no longer rich ! Oh boy. Anyway, I waded through as much of that as I could stand and was about to click my mouse three times so that I might find my way back home when I noticed one of my favorite right wing-nut factories -- The Heritage Foundation. They have an ad on Rush’s website.



In case you can’t read that is says, “The Left is On the March. Ask Heritage”.

I've mentioned The Heritage Foundation here and here. They’re a big, right-wing think tank. I’ll let them define themselves.

Our Mission

To formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.“


“Free enterprise” and “limited government”. When you click on their little ad on Rush’s page it takes you here. And the first thing you notice (after Sean Hannity’s and Rush Limbaugh’s smiling faces) is this:

Join more than half a million conservatives as a member of The Heritage Foundation with your tax-deductible contribution of $25.00 or more.
(Emphasis added)

“Tax-deductible” ? You mean like a gift to charity is tax deductible ? Feed the poor, clothe the naked, heal the sick and tack another zero onto Rush’s check ? (WARNING -- That link is rated “R” for Retch.) A government handout by any other name ? “Free enterprise” ? “Limited government” ?

On the Heritage Foundation page, you’ll see this in big, bold print:

”What is the Liberal Agenda on Taxes? “

Well, gee, I don’t know but evidently the right wing believes think tanks are in the same tax category as charities and churches. Check out as much as you can stand to read about the 501(c)3 tax status and prohibited political activity. You see, that’s the problem with beating up on Rush, Sean, The Heritage Foundation and the people that fund them. There’s no good stopping point.

Don Brown
October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

One More Thing #148



There’s always one more thing. When you’re reading the article below (about the Tech Center in New Jersey) ask yourself a question: What happened to the VLJs ?

Micro Jets Debut in U.S. Airspace

”FAA chief Marion Blakey estimates that if just 2 percent of current airline passengers move to VLJs, air-traffic controllers will have to handle three times as many more take-offs and landings than they currently do.“

VLJs may still come about one year. Or decade. The “airplane in every garage” idea never did. It’s hard to predict the future. I am skeptical of people that do so with clarity and vigor. I think they’re guessing -- just like I am.

(Hat Tip to whoever mentioned the VLJs on natca.net.)

Don Brown
October 19, 2009

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Gambling in New Jersey



There was a most interesting article at PressofAtlanticCity.com about the FAA. As all FAA employees know, Atlantic City is home to the William J. Hughes Technical Center. It a nutshell, the FAA is looking to expand the Technical Center into NextGen. Along with all the contractors, of course.

Thousands of jobs linked to NextGen air traffic site in Atlantic County

”The federal government is prepared to spend more than $15 billion to overhaul the nation's air traffic control system, essentially building an "Internet in the air" to replace a costly and inefficient ground-based system.

And that could translate into creating at least 2,000 high-paying private industry engineering and technical jobs at the Next Generation Aviation Research and Technology Park, a new research center that is being developed on a 55-acre wooded parcel near the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center and the Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township.“


The local Congressman, Representative Frank LoBiondo, is only too willing to take the credit for much of this. And who knows ? He might deserve the credit. But in the article, he says something that I find absolutely stunning and I want to make sure you catch it.

”The nation is not building airports. We're not building runways. We're going to have a way to safely move larger numbers of people from point A to point B. The decision was made the NextGen project will be the way to get that done. The eyes of the nation and the world will be on us," U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd said.“

On one hand, the FAA tells the public that passenger travel is expected to double (triple !) in the coming years. Now, the good Congressman tells us that we aren’t building runways. We’ll just have to figure out how to move more people around without them. The obvious answer is bigger planes. But as we all know now, the bigger the plane, the greater the wake turbulence. So that idea has its limitations too. But NextGen is somehow going to overcome these physical limitations with computer power and pixie dust. Some NextGen technologies hold promise but all of them put together won’t allow us to double the number of passengers carried. You have to wonder of the Congressman really believes they will.

I’ll let you read the article without much more comment. It’s a fascinating look at the process of generating jobs. I hope some of the younger controllers will notice how much money and power is floating around in this deal. It’s a good thing to remember when you’re at the negotiating table.

It’s also a good thing to remember when you consider the future of your career. A lot of these people will be determining how you do you job in the future. Many (most ?) won’t have ever sat in a controller’s chair. They won’t have a clue about your job. Of the ones that have been controllers, most of them won’t have been one for long. You can change that. Or you can let the “just let me do my eight and go home” crowd define your profession. Just something to think about.

And one last thing. I think it worth noting Congressman LoBiondo’s predecessor. William J. Hughes. Yes, that William J. Hughes.

”The FAA Technical Center in southern New Jersey was renamed to the William J. Hughes Technical Center in his honor.“

Don Brown
October 19, 2009

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Georgia On My Mind



When I wrote a previous blog about my whacko Congressman, I got some good-natured ribbing from one of my friends (and a reader).

Okay. He was right and I was wrong. His Congressman is whackier than mine.



I’ll go ahead and concede to anyone in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas too. I dearly love the South but that doesn’t mean it isn’t crazy. Well, at least half crazy. And, unfortunately, that’s the loud half.

Don Brown
October 17, 2009

Delta Delays



I’ve been watching this story for a couple of days and it doesn’t look like it is going away.

Passenger Rights Advocate Claims Delta Hacked Her Email

”Hanni's computer was illegally accessed over the summer; AOL confirmed that her e-mail account had been compromised. The hacker corrupted and destroyed some files, and copied others to a still-unknown location.“

Every time I see a new story on the subject, it has another piece of confirmation from a third party.

”In a sworn affidavit, Frederick Foreman, the Metron employee, said that his superiors approached him in late September and informed him of the breach. They told him that the e-mails at issue were those between himself and Hanni, and that they were sent from his private, rather than company, e-mail account.“

You’ll need to read the whole story to get the gist of that but the important part is that Delta supposedly had emails from their private email accounts.

It’s clearer in this story from AP a few days ago.

Flyer advocate says Delta obtained hacked e-mails

You can also read Delta’s denial there.

”A spokesman for the world's biggest airline operator, Trebor Banstetter, denied that Delta hacked Hanni's e-mail account. He says Delta can't comment further on the lawsuit.

"Obviously, the idea that Delta would hack into someone's e-mail is clearly without merit," Banstetter said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.“


There is even more detailed information at The Dallas Morning News.

And the heart of all this is airline delays. Ms. Hanni was on one of those flights from hell that got delayed for hours and hours a few years back. She formed an organization to fight for a passenger “bill of rights”. Evidently, she isn’t going away. We know the delays aren’t going away. So, the only question left is; Will this story go away ? It doesn’t look like it.

Don Brown
October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

It’s the Little Things



In the greater scheme of things, this is just a mole hill. And in the FAA’s lawn, it’s not like it’s the only mole hill messing up the aesthetics -- and nobody cares, what with the weeds and trash strewn about. But it does say something about the FAA.

Every FAA building (as far as I know) has the President, Secretary of Transportation and FAA Administrator’s picture displayed in the lobby. It’s tradition. Controllers have noted that many facilities are a little slow in putting up President Obama’s photo.

I noted the same thing when I was a controller, when President Clinton was elected. Some things never change.

NATCA has a picture they can use.

Don Brown
October 16, 2009

Both My Senators Voted “Nay”



I’ve done my best to find out if this issue was one of those “gotcha” votes in the Senate. You know, the ones where it just sounds bad and the opposition forces the vote for political ammunition in the next election. The lack of coverage in the major media outlets says something I guess...but so does this from OMB Watch:

”Franken's amendment, if kept after reconciliation with the House, which it should be, will, as the senator said during floor debate, prevent defense contractors from "using fine print in their contracts to deny women like Jamie Leigh Jones their day in court." Franken and his staff's approach to this reform is smart and laudable. Taking on a specific issue or loophole by making contractors choose between cleaning up their acts or losing money is a surefire way to ensure the former. “

I’ve taken on the concept of contractors once or twice before. I mentioned KBR a long, long time ago. KBR has a long and perhaps sordid history with the U.S. Government.

But defending gang rape ? Defending the power of a corporation -- one doing business with the U.S. government -- to deny its employees access the the courts ? This can’t be true. This can’t be real.

Note that -- once again -- we’re getting the real news from the fake news program.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rape-Nuts
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview


Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) voted “Nay”.

Don Brown
October 16, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ITYS #499



I told you so. URET doesn’t have an effective backup.

”My long-time readers know that I have real issues with the system called URET that was used to replace flight progress strips. The backup to URET is flight progress strips.“

”URET doesn’t allow you to “think” non-radar (there is no fix/time displayed) nor does it allow controllers to practice the mechanical skills needed with flight progress strips, i.e. strip marking. Yet, the backup to URET is flight progress strips. “

”If you project this mess forward in time the consequences are even more frightening. As more and more senior controllers retire, there will be fewer and fewer controllers left that have even seen flight progress strips much less know how to use them effectively. “

”To sum it all up simply, the FAA has no viable backup plan. “


From the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (edited):

=======================

ACN: 823405

Date : 200902

“The user request evaluation tool (URET) computer system apparently was broken when I started my shift at XC00.”

“URET is used to trial-plan requested routes and altitudes and gives alerts on aircraft that are predicted to get too close. It has never been 100% accurate and cannot be used for separation, controllers are told it is a 'tool' only, and separation is their responsibility.“

“The problem made the conflict alerts in URET inaccurate, with erroneous alerts or no alerts at all on aircraft. Since the alerts could not be disabled, controllers were distracted by the erroneous alerts and were told to simply not use the alert system at all, which is a primary part of URET in regards to air traffic. Without the alerts functioning properly, URET becomes a crippled system which in turn becomes a distraction to controllers working. Allegedly the air traffic system has redundancy, so that when one system fails, another backup system takes its place. However, as apparently the ZMP managers decided there was no backup/replacement system for URET, they made the decision to use the system broken for the day and simply told controllers to ignore the broken part. This caused distractions to the workforce which ultimately led to a degradation of safety within the air traffic system. “

===================================

(Emphasis added)

If you don’t have a viable backup to URET (strips), you are forced into making a bad decision -- using URET even if it is crippled.

This battle has already been lost. It was all but over before I retired, three years ago. We are now simply waiting to discover what the consequences will be. I expect it to be an extremely difficult and costly education.

For new readers, here is a painfully detailed discussion on URET.

Don Brown
October 14, 2009

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Headline Double Take



While I’m certain USA Today’s average reader didn’t notice...I’m not their average reader. You probably aren’t either.

Non-radar air-traffic system debuts

It reminds me of my old safety-geek joke:

Question: What did they call non-radar before radar ?

Answer: Air Traffic Control.

But wait ! There’s more ! And it gets worse.

”Airline flights are being closely tracked and directed without radar for the first time in the nation's history as part of a new system monitoring the skies above the Colorado Rockies.“

If they weren’t tracked with radar but they weren’t tracked without radar...what ? Maybe “closely” was the operative word. Or maybe, the whole article just doesn’t make any sense.

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the “airline flights” (really, is it just me ?) were being tracked using WAM -- Wide Area Multilateration. Unbelievably, the article never even uses the term.

”The new system uses 20 sensors clustered around four airports within the Rockies. The sensors monitor radio broadcasts from planes. By measuring minute differences in the time it takes for the broadcasts to reach the various sensors — as slim as 10 billionths of a second — computers can determine a plane's location, said Ken Tollstam, vice president of Sensis, which built the devices.“

Again, not being your average reader, I have to wonder if the reporter understands radar, much less what radar means -- RAdio Detection And Ranging. There isn’t any "detection" going on with WAM but, as we all know, ATC relies on “secondary” radar for the most part now, which operates under the same principle. It sends out a coded signal and the airplane sends back a coded signal. Moving on -- before we waste billions more “billionths of a second”.


”Experts said the success of the Colorado program, which was certified for use by controllers last month, is a sign that the technology underpinning the satellite system can work. “

So many errors. So little time. Controllers certify programs ? I assume the guys at PASS are laughing now. A “sign” that NextGen “can” work ? You mean there’s a doubt about it ? A $40 billion dollar question mark about NextGen ? Oh, all right. Maybe I’m just being mean now.

”Controllers at an FAA facility in Longmont, Colo., can now monitor planes all the way to the ground at airports that previously had no radar coverage. The new system follows flights to Yampa Valley Airport in Hayden, Colo., which has large jet service from several airlines. It also covers three airports serving private planes in the towns Steamboat Springs, Craig and Rifle.“

First, it would be nice to hear about the system from some controllers at Longmont. That would be Denver ARTCC (or Denver Center) to you and me. I left a note on NATCA’s BBS about a week ago. I haven’t heard from anyone yet. As I explained earlier, that might be because controllers were cut out of the process. After 28 years (35 if you count my time as a ramp rat) of studying “air-traffic issues”, it is my “expert” opinion that cutting controllers out of the loop is a bad sign.

Secondly, you might want to check out the “Yampa Valley Airport”. It sounds like an interesting place.

As my long-time readers know, non-radar is one of my favorite subjects. I got to practice it at Atlanta Center on a regular basis. The folks at Denver Center that work the “ski country” get to do it all day, everyday. I’m sure they would be thrilled to have a radar-like system. I’m still waiting to hear how thrilled they are by WAM. Somebody email me.

Don Brown
October 13, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Attention Splitting



My attention is being split all over the place this morning it seems.

I read a great blog from Ruth Marlin last night at The FAA Follies. I was all set to build on her thoughts last night but that was last night. This morning it escapes me. Yes, this is the reason disciplined creative types will wake up in the middle of the night and write a good idea down -- before it escapes.

Anyway, Ruth’s point is a good one. Being a controller is enough. It’s more than enough. Trust me, a controller with 20 years experience has insights that a 5, 10 or 15-year controller will never have. The smart supervisors recognize this. The FAA needs more of them that do recognize this fact. Unfortunately, being scared of traffic and thinking of the job as a stepping stone isn’t a good criteria for selecting supervisors. There are many paths to take in the FAA and I don’t want to belittle any of them. The FAA needs good supervisors, managers and staff specialists -- just as they need good controllers.

Like any good blog, Ruth made more than one point. Go read it. She is and always has been an incredibly smart and motivated controller.

Paul Krugman is still doing his part to save us from ourselves. I really don’t know how he keeps at it. He warned us that the stimulus bill was too small, he warned that leaving it too small and coming back to fix it would be politically difficult and he warned us that we would have to resist the coming pressure to reign in spending too quickly.

He did it again, yesterday, in his usual unique way -- with a graph.

”If there’s one overwhelming lesson from the Great Depression, it is that putting a higher priority on stabilizing your currency than on domestic recovery is utterly disastrous. “

He did it again later in the day.

”Although I poked fun at the WSJ in my last post, the buzz about the dollar — the growing clamor to do something about its decline — is coming from a number of people. And it has me worried, because it’s part of the groundswell of demands that we begin an exit strategy from loose monetary policy now now now, even though nothing in the actual economic situation warrants such action.“

Think about it; this is a world-class mind we’re talking about here that -- almost everyday -- dumbs down his arguments so that people like me can understand them. And he makes the same arguments (albeit in unique ways) for the folks that are slow to catch on. His argument in Friday’s column is an absolute no-brainer. We all know that education set America apart and it’s the key to our future. So what are we doing ? Laying off teachers. It’s insane.

But, he too, has more than one point:

”The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered. “

Sound familiar ? More importantly, does it sound right ? Is it the truth ? I think it is.

I read a book some time ago, Mornings on Horseback
I think it was. I didn’t bother reviewing it because I didn’t like it. A great author (David McCullough). A great subject (Teddy Roosevelt). I can’t explain what happened so maybe it was just me. Anyway, in it I read about the grand estates on Long Island that fell into disuse after the Depression. No one could afford such extravagance anymore. The houses became hospitals, museums and whatnot. No individual could afford them.

This is from a story a couple of weeks ago in Time.

”But maybe that's O.K., because the Great McMansion Repurposing has begun. People are finding new uses for huge houses that were once inhabited only by nuclear families. A film collective in Seattle has taken over one behemoth, turning the wine closet into an editing room. Outside San Diego, the former residence of a husband and wife and two kids is being converted into a home for autistic adults. Architects around the world are dreaming about what they might do if they could get their hands on such massive spaces.“

History does repeat itself. Maybe not exactly, but the tune is still familiar. The signs are all around. The situation is enormously complex yet smart people need to find ways to explain it simply to busy people. Here’s my contribution.

FDR got it right.

You’ll hear a lot of people trying to rewrite that history. They’re delusional. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made a lot of mistakes and took more than one wrong turn. But in the end, his instincts were right and he saved capitalism from itself. He used the borrowing power of the Federal government to replace the private spending that had collapsed. He put people to work. He cleaned up the banks and he regulated Wall Street. He empowered workers -- unions -- knowing they would check the power of Big Business. And he was right. We went 50 years without another financial crisis. That was unheard of. If you want to know where we should go and what we should do, that’s as good a blueprint as you’ll get.

FDR got it right.

Don Brown
October 10, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

The National Naval Aviation Museum



If you need an excuse to take a vacation to the beach, you won’t find a finer one than the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Florida’s panhandle. My friend Cliff took me this week and all I can say is “Wow”. It’s huge. It’s beautiful. And it has everything you can imagine. We spent a few hours there. You could spend a few days. Seriously, it’s that big.



We toured both floors, watched an iMax movie, ate lunch at the cafe, walked around some more and didn’t even scratch the surface. We didn’t even get to the outdoor parts of the museum. Speaking of which, let me make that perfectly clear...the indoor part is air conditioned. That’s the second or third best thing about the whole experience.

I’ve been to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and I really think the Naval one is better. Seriously. At Pensacola, you can leave the wife and kids at the beach if they aren’t into aviation. But if they are, the museum is free. Yes, it surprised me too. It’s free.

But even that isn’t the best part. The best part is -- if you time it right -- that you can see these guys. (Notice the dates at that link. It’s time to go.) Again, for free.

(Museum Photo)

Don Brown
October 9, 2009

Blindsided



I did not see that coming.

Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Okay, I guess I wasn’t the only one.

"In a stunning surprise, the Nobel Committee announced Friday that it had awarded its annual peace prize to President Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Don Brown
October 9, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

More ERAM Escapades



If you keep up with aviation news on your own, you’ve probably noticed ERAM flunked its latest test at Salt Lake Center. For those just joining the story, you can search this blog for “ERAM” and read all you care to read about the subject. In short, ERAM is the next computer system for air traffic control. It’s the backbone, the brains of the system, the whole enchilada. You can’t overstate its importance and it has to work.

It doesn’t. Work that is. Here’s the best story I’ve found about it so far, from AVweb:

”She said although there was no official NATCA participation in the planning for the new system, air traffic controllers were involved in the process.“

That is probably the most important sentence you will read in the Press about the system. I know that idea will be hard to swallow for many people that aren’t controllers, but therein lies the point. No one will be more critical of this system than controllers. There is no set of controllers less susceptible to being pressured into approving the system than the members of NATCA. Not that someone won’t try mind you. That is, after all, the way of the world.

The manufacturer obviously wants the system to work and to get it finalized quickly. That’s where they make their money. The company’s project managers are obviously under the gun to make it work, as are the FAA’s managers. Then it gets a little more subtle. You’re left with the difference between union controllers and non-union controllers. The non-union ones -- as a generalization -- are interested in getting into management. The union ones -- in general -- are not. In other words, there is only one group out there that will have to live with this system on a daily basis 10 years down the road. That would be the controllers that intend to remain controllers. And the majority of them are union -- the very ones that have been cut out of the process.

It’s easy to say you want ERAM to work. That’s true of everyone in the process. But some groups want to ensure it works well more than other groups. “Payday” for most comes when ERAM is accepted. For controllers -- the ones committed to remaining air traffic controllers -- “payday” isn’t immediate. It’s stretched out over the years. Hopefully, years of service from a trouble-free and reliable system. And these are the very people -- the most committed and dependent on ERAM -- that have been cut out of the process.

It wasn’t by accident.

Don Brown
October 8, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Meet My Fellow Misfit



I guess John Carr really has taken The Main Bang down for good. It’s a shame. Even if he doesn’t ever publish another word, the archives would have been useful for many years to come.

Oh well. Such is life.

John’s decision has left me with a hole in my blog list. As many of you know, I actually believe in that orderly thing I’ve preached about all these years (Safe, Orderly and Expeditious). If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then just tell yourself I’m a stick in the mud that doesn’t like change and move along. For the rest, I try to limit the clutter on my blog. That means I only have one hole to fill -- one new blog to list -- not a dozen. There are literally thousands to choose from.

I read The Potomac Current and Undertow. Jurassic Bark. I read NAS Confusion. WWVB too. I read a lot of blogs. But I’m only going to list so many. And for right now, I only get to choose one.

It wasn’t a hard decision for me. It’s the one I miss when I don’t read it for a few days. It’s the one that makes me think and the one that makes me laugh most often. It’s Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I. I normally refer to it as Earth-Bound Misfit. But don’t let me lead you astray. If you’re kind of slow (like me), you should Google the title. (I swear I never thought of it until I was writing this.)

I thought of warning you about the language at Earth-Bound Misfit. But I never warned you about the language at The Main Bang did I ? I thought of warning you about the politics. But I don’t know why. I mean -- seriously -- how much warning do thinking adults really need ? Be sure to read the “Rules of the House” that are listed down the right side:

”Rule No. 1:

Comment if you like. I'll delete it if you piss me off. So play nice. Read this before you comment on anything. Violators will be dealt with. “


If that doesn’t clue you in -- that you’re about to read something wonderfully different, thoughtful, irreverent and witty -- then you’ve probably stumbled upon this blog by accident. Stumble on.

I hope you’ll give Earth-Bound Misfit a try. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I don’t always agree with her but she always makes me think. She’s made some serious mistakes in her choice of lifestyles...but if I refused to associate with all the cat people in the world I’d miss out on a lot in life. Nobody’s perfect.

Don Brown
October 6, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

SC Has Nothing on GA



That’s GA as in Georgia -- not General Aviation. (Distracting thought ---> That would make a nice ad campaign, huh -- GA for GA ?) South Carolina might have Joe Wilson but Georgia has my Congressman -- Lynn Westmoreland. Joe is famous for two words -- “You lie”. Lynn is famous for one word -- “uppity”. Well, that and his appearance on the The Colbert Report.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, Joe and Lynn are both white. Our President is only half white. We keep telling everyone (that will listen) that race isn’t a problem in America. Not even down here in the South. But our half white President is “black”. Not half black, mind you, but “black”. I wonder what we think that says about us. Hopefully, the fact that Barack Obama is our President speaks for our country louder than our words.

Anyway, this morning I opened up the monthly newsletter I get from my Congressman -- Lynn Westmoreland.

World's autocrats swoon for Obama

“There aren’t many calls to my office from Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District praising the policies of President Obama.”

“Sure, his leftist agenda on deficit spending, cap-and-trade, tax increases and a proposed government takeover of health care....”

“If you’re a national leader who suppresses freedom of speech, jails political opponents on trumped charges or presides over a corrupt regime, you’ve probably had some glowing remarks for our president lately.”

“Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez was equally effusive, albeit in his own unique way.”

“Chavez's buddy Fidel Castro jumped on the bandwagon to praise Obama’s strong language on addressing climate change... “

“Perhaps we can laugh off some of the bluster of Chavez and Gaddafi. On the other hand, we should look warily at any praise coming from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.”


There’s sort of a “P.S.” to this diatribe -- “Corps' handing of river saved lives “ gets three sentences.

I really wonder if there is another district in the country that gets this sort of message from their Congressman. Besides some district in South Carolina that is.

On Friday, I told you to go read Robert Reich’s blog.

”Unemployment of this magnitude and duration also translates into ugly politics, because fear and anxiety are fertile grounds for demagogues weilding the politics of resentment against immigrants, blacks, the poor, government leaders, business leaders, Jews, and other easy targets. It's already started. Next year is a mid-term election. Be prepared for worse.“

In reading some other blog and following their links, I stumbled across this little piece of history that I didn’t know about.



”A famous handbill circulated on November 21, 1963 In Dallas, Texas. One day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy.“

Read the charges on that handbill carefully and compare them to what you hear in the today’s environment. Words have consequences. I think everyone needs to take a step back, take a deep breath and choose their words a little more carefully. What do you think Congressman Westmoreland ?

Don Brown
October 5, 2009