Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Warning

I’m going to make the (safe) assumption that a world-leading economist recognizes the dangers of crying “WOLF!” when the economy is so fragile. As some of you are now piecing together, I’ve been checking Paul Krugman’s track record -- what he predicted versus what has really happened.

In my quick and dirty look -- he has been frighteningly accurate.

Let me refresh your internal clock. This is from February of 2008. It is literally the first article I looked at. Barack Obama hasn’t even sewed up the Democratic primary yet. It’s a month before Bear Stearns collapsed and 7 months before the rest of Wall Street followed them.

Don’t Rerun That ’70s Show

”If all this sounds familiar, it should. Many economists have pointed out the parallels between the current situation and the early 1990s: another real estate bubble, subprime playing more or less the same role formerly played by bad loans by savings and loan institutions, financial trouble all around.

The difference is that the problems look a lot worse this time: a much bigger bubble, more financial distress, deeper consumer indebtedness — and sky-high oil prices added to the mix. So if history is any guide, we should be looking at an extended period of economic weakness, probably extending well into 2010, and quite possibly even longer.“

I suggest that when this guy warns you of the next depression...??? You should pay attention.

The Third Depression

”We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending. “

My suggestion is to call your Congressman, tell them to borrow whatever we need to put people back to work and extend unemployment benefits. And -- most importantly -- that you’ll support them when they have to vote to raise taxes to pay for it all when times are better.

Don Brown
June 29, 2010

Blogus Interruptus

I was doing some research for another post and I ran across this editorial from Paul Krugman. Knowing what we know now about Enron and their trading frauds with names like “Death Star” and “Fat Boy”, read this opinion piece and see if you think Paul Krugman is a guy that has “the Flick”.

Reckonings; California Screaming

”How might market manipulation work? Suppose that it's a hot July, with air-conditioners across the state running full blast and the power industry near the limits of its capacity. If some of that capacity suddenly went off line for whatever reason, the resulting shortage would send wholesale electricity prices sky high. So a large producer could actually increase its profits by inventing technical problems that shut down some of its generators, thereby driving up the price it gets on its remaining output.”

Remember, this is from December of 2000. George W. Bush had just been elected -- for the first time -- and I had never even heard of Paul Krugman.

”And maybe that is the broader lesson of the debacle: Don't rush into a market solution when there are serious questions about whether the market will work. Both economic analysis and British experience should have rung warning bells about California's deregulation scheme; but those warnings were ignored -- just as similar warnings are being ignored by enthusiasts for market solutions for everything from prescription drug coverage to education.”

Oh, that we had listened more closely.

Don Brown
June 29, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

That Was Fast

It seems like only yesterday...

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport will open a fifth runway next week, easing congestion and reducing delays at the USA's busiest airport. “

So it was a little over 4 years ago -- and an economic calamity to boot. But that didn’t stop the airlines from overscheduling the new capacity. Look at today’s headline.

Delays at Hartsfield-Jackson ripple around country

”More departure delays at the nation's major airports were attributed to Hartsfield-Jackson than to any other airport, according to a study completed last month by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Hartsfield-Jackson is the world's busiest airport.“

We got 4 years of less delays out of a fifth runway at Atlanta. If it had been during economic boom times we wouldn’t have gotten that much. In that runways add real capacity and NextGen only adds fantasy capacity, how long do you think NextGen will decrease delays? It won’t be 5 months but let’s be generous and say it’s 5 years. At $50 billion dollars that would be a cost of about $10 billion a year. You could build 5 runways a year for that. (Atlanta’s fifth runway cost $1.28 billion.)

Or we could just restrict the number of landing slots at each airport like we should be doing anyway. Think of how much *that* would “reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions”...if they had to cut the number of flights. (Yes, I realize sarcasm doesn’t translate well in written communication.)

Should I say it? I might as well seeing as I’m already being snarky.

I Told You So.

”Of course “decrease delays” is really misleading. New runways increase capacity. It’s how you schedule their use that determines delays.“

”You see ? Atlanta is already old hat. In two years (assuming the economy improves), O’Hare will be back in the delay business -- just like Atlanta. “

Don Brown
June 27, 2010


Krugman vs The United Kingdom

Paul Krugman has a marvelous quote from Keynes in a recent blog entry.

”But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.”

For those paying attention, the United Kingdom has ignored Krugman and Keynes. They have made their decision and it is to cut spending and raise taxes -- exactly the opposite of what is recommended by Keynesian economics. Prime Minister Cameron has decided to go with “conventional wisdom”. Never mind that the conventional wisdom is what got us into this mess.

Cameron Warns Britons of Austerity

”Mr. Cameron said that at more than 11 percent, Britain’s budget deficit was the largest ever faced by the country in peacetime. But he warned that the structural deficit was more worrisome. Britain owes more than $1.12 trillion, he said, and in five years will owe nearly double that if nothing is done now.”

“And in five years” I’ll be doing...what? Remember when we laughed at the Communists for their five-year plans? Perhaps some of you don’t. Let me put it in air traffic terms. Controllers can (hopefully) tell two aircraft are going to be tight long before they have to take any action to separate them. It’s all about timing. If you separate them too far ahead of time you wind up chasing your tail. The plane you just vectored now needs an altitude change for the ride -- a change that would have separated him. Separating them too early is almost as bad as waiting too long. You want to take timely action.

The United Kingdom is acting early. No one really knows if it is right or wrong. We only have our opinions. I think it’s wrong. But if you think it’s the right thing to do for America -- cutting government spending and raising taxes to pay off the deficit -- you now have a test case to watch.

One final (unoriginal) thought: Elections have consequences.

Don Brown
June 27, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-27-10

A photo from last night’s sunset. All the action was actually about 45 to 90 degrees off axis from the sun. In other words, to the north. To the west, clouds were blocking out the light. So all the light was reflected. Which explains the blues.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dilbert Doings

A long, long time ago, in an internet far, far away, I wrote Scott Adams. I was shocked that he actually wrote back. He was already insanely famous but he still answered email.

I believe that reason I wrote him was over a cartoon where Dilbert’s company had installed an analog clock -- with a second hand that “swept” the clock -- and called it “radar”. So don’t be surprised if his “NextGen” is actually our “NextGen”. It might be about other organizations, but like so many “stakeholders” he skewers, it could be about the FAA.


Be sure to check his site for updates. You might even want to write him and tell him he still has the Flick.

Don Brown
June 26, 2010


Friday, June 25, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-25-10

Did you miss me? Sorry, I got called away on a last-minute vacation. Guess where?

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

We stopped at the grocery store in Clayton, GA and it was 93º. A thunderstorm blew through as we were driving through Dillard and dropped the temperature to 82º. It kept raining until we passed Scaly Mountain. It was down to 65º. For the non-Americans that is 34º to 18ºC in 25 miles...I mean 40 kilometers.

The picture is from the overlook on Highway 106, a few miles southwest of Highlands, NC. (Yes, there are more on Facebook.)

I didn’t want to leave.

Don Brown

Monday, June 21, 2010


Anybody here surprised?

FAA’s Aviation Revamp Puts Taxpayer Dollars at Risk, U.S. Says

”“NextGen may not deliver the expected long-term benefits and ultimately puts billions of taxpayer dollars at risk” unless the FAA sets expectations for the benefits to be achieved, the report said. “FAA has not yet acquired the necessary skill sets and expertise to successfully implement” the program, according to the report. “

Translation: NextGen is pie in the sky. There are no concrete objectives, only empty promises.

”FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. The FAA in a response included in the report said that it concurred with the recommendations.

“The FAA remains confident it will achieve the vision set out in the NextGen plan,” the agency said. “

The FAA is confident it can achieve a vision that it does not have and meet the objectives not listed. In other words, in a decade -- after spending $100 billion dollars (that’s my guess for today) -- they will point to whatever has “stuck to the wall” and declare success. Surely, in a decade, there will be a couple of runways built at a couple of major airports and the FAA will be able to point to a certain percentage increase in traffic (remember, they get to do the counting) and point to their victory.

Oh yeah, and there is this.

”The agency must resolve issues including the future of En Route Automation Modernization, a $2.1 billion Lockheed project to replace computers used by controllers to direct aircraft at high altitudes, according to the report. The FAA said in April it may have to delay the program after flaws were uncovered.”

Like I said, Big Yawn.

Don Brown
June 21, 2010


Today’s Photo 6-21-10

I hope this holds up through all the digitizing that takes place on the internet. I never know until it’s posted. But I’ve never seen orange “God beams” before.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Now, as far as the rest of this morning’s take, I know I really shouldn’t. Just keep in mind My Photography Rules. “A” is for amateur. The power of suggestion: Whale.

Don Brown


You’re Still Reading Krugman, Right?

Just checking. I wouldn’t want the next economic crisis to sneak up on you.

That ’30s Feeling

”In America, many self-described deficit hawks are hypocrites, pure and simple: They’re eager to slash benefits for those in need, but their concerns about red ink vanish when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthy. Thus, Senator Ben Nelson, who sanctimoniously declared that we can’t afford $77 billion in aid to the unemployed, was instrumental in passing the first Bush tax cut, which cost a cool $1.3 trillion.

German deficit hawkery seems more sincere. But it still has nothing to do with fiscal realism. Instead, it’s about moralizing and posturing. Germans tend to think of running deficits as being morally wrong, while balancing budgets is considered virtuous, never mind the circumstances or economic logic. “

Looking at the big picture, I’m with Krugman on this part. People “feel” they’re right so logic goes out the door. So do facts. I’ll be the first to tell you about the evils of debt. I don’t owe a cent to anyone. Not a single loan. But when I had to borrow for a house, I borrowed. When I had to have a car to work, I borrowed. When I needed a college education, I borrowed.

The current economic circumstances dictate that we borrow. I think a lot of people in power understand this. But they also understand that this must be followed by paying it back. In other words, taxes. And there’s the rub. Just like government, we’ve spent the last 30 years demonizing taxes.

I maintain we’ve done it before and we can do it again. And in that vein, you should read Robert Reich’s Father’s Day message. His dad remembers all this.

Don Brown
June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-20-10

A photo from last night. There are more. It was a great sunset. I must run. Enjoy.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-19-10

I got nothin’. I mean nothin’. No clouds. No “no clouds” shots. The heron took off before there was enough light. No fishermen showed up. The geese have been no-shows all week. The owl didn’t show up either. What owl? Oh, that’s right. Y’all don’t know about the owl yet. It’s a good thing I keep a few decent shots handy.

From back in May. This is the local Barred Owl. Well, we have several actually. Here's the link for the curious. Barred Owl info at Cornell.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown

Sounds Like a Threat

I wish I thought Congressman Oberstar was serious about reregulating the airlines. Unfortunately, it just sounds like a threat to me.

Congress May Bring Back Airline Regulation

”Restoring financial regulation of the airline industry will be put before Congress if the Justice Department approves a proposed merger of United and Continental airlines, two key House members said Wednesday.“

And then I think the Huffington Post got ahead of themselves.

”The legislation would impose federal regulation of airline pricing and re-establish a government gatekeeper role similar to that played by the old Civil Aeronautics Board prior to deregulation in 1978, Oberstar said.“

I’m not sure what Oberstar said but I seriously doubt that any proposed legislation would look anything like the old CAB. I don’t think it’s necessary but I seriously doubt anything like it would be politically possible.

But just to clarify my position, I’d take the old days -- CAB and all -- over what we have now. If nothing else I’d choose it for the good jobs the airlines used to provide.

Don Brown
June 19, 2010


Friday, June 18, 2010

Privatization Consequences

Listen for the phrase, “We’ve lost our ability to do for ourselves.”

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Apply this conundrum to the entire Federal Government. (I know it’s true of the FAA and feel certain it is for much of the rest of government.) Then realize that the only thing holding the entire world’s economy together is the full “faith and credit” of Government of the United States of America.

“They” didn’t do this. Not “the government”, not the liberals or the conservatives. Not the Moonies, not the socialists, the John Birchers or _____ (insert your demon of choice) or the rich or the poor. Not even “the evildoers”. We did this. Us. You and me.

And we will have to fix it.

Every single day, I bump into my fellow citizens that have no faith in their government. They don’t have any faith in any government. I can understand this. I know the narrative they have been fed for decades now. What bothers me is that they can’t take the next logical step.

If you will engage them about the subject -- instead of just nodding your head in the ”go-along-get-along” mode -- they will readily agree that government is important and it needs to work. But they can’t seem to verbalize any thought whatsoever about how to change our current circumstances. They can’t come up with a “chicken” or an “egg”. They can’t come up with a starting point -- a beginning to a different phase.

Here is a starting place. Name one person that you know. One person that would make a good mayor, councilman or Congressman. Or woman. What would it take to get them to run for office? Work it out. Step by step. Who. How to get them to run. How to get them elected. What they need to do. Keep going. Step by step. There are different paths. But they all require that you take that first step.

Don Brown
June 18, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-18-10

This is the problem with summer, see.

By the time you shoot the thunderstorms...

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

And then shoot the sunset...

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

It’s time to shoot the sunrise. There’s just not enough time between 9PM and 6AM. The sunset was fantastic light last night. There’s more at Get the Flick on Facebook. Or, there will be. As soon as I can get to it.


More from last night.

And this morning’s.

Don Brown


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Murphy’s Law (Episode 4,716)

Did you think of this one?

Honeywell Pegasus FMS displays erroneous ATC data messages

”The FAA says, that many flight crews have reported to have ATC messages displayed, that concerned the previous, but not the current flight.”

Mr. Murphy did.

Don Brown
June 17, 2010


Today’s Photo 6-17-10

Another “quiet” sunrise.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown


You’ve Got a Yard Don’t You?

Yeah, I know people don’t come here for the gardening advice. But if you’ve got a yard, you need to buy yourself one of these puppies.

I should have bought one years ago. I bought it for clearing some brush (on a very steep slope) away from a photography spot. It did that very well. But I was just trying it out in my yard. OMG.

All those little oak and hickory seedlings the squirrels plant under my azaleas? You know, the ones you can’t Roundup™? The ones you have to bend over with a pair of shears while you straddle the flowers and try not to snap off an azalea branch? Just reach over everything and snip. The cutting head on this thing ratchets so I can set it parallel to the ground. Snip.

The little suckers that come up around the cherry trees? The ones you have to duck under the branches, duck walk 10 feet and then stay bent over until you can cut them all off? Just stand back, extend the handle on this thing and reach in with it. Snip, snip, snip.

I was cruising through my stand of trees -- standing up -- and I was mowing down all the little, unwanted saplings. Snip, snip, snip. It was easier (and faster) than spraying.

Run down to the nearest Big Box and grab yourself one of these things. Oh yeah, you can probably use it to prune trees too. I’ll let you know how it works for that in the Fall...if I haven’t worn it out by then.

Don Brown
June 17, 2010

History Alert

Raise your hands. How many knew the PATCO archives were at Georgia State University?

Historic PATCO Records Now Open for Research

”The historic records of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) are available for research at Georgia State University Library’s Southern Labor Archives, one year before the 30th anniversary of the strike that broke the union. President Ronald Reagan’s confrontation with PATCO in 1981 marked a turning point in U.S. labor relations. The records at the Southern Labor Archives are the largest PATCO collection available to researchers and they provide insight into one of the most tumultuous and significant events in recent labor-management history. “

I don’t know if it ever hits controllers or not...if your profession had the power to make such bad history, you have the power to make good history.

Don Brown
June 17, 2010


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-16-10

It was W0X0F this morning. (I’m not sure I remember the METARS -- 0SM FG VV000???)

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

So I went home and photographed the flowers in my yard.

Don Brown


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Love the Way She Thinks

Regarding the drone business....

Read. Nod your head. Carry on.

Don Brown
June 15, 2010


Who Knew?

Certainly not me.

Don Brown
June 15, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-15-10

Actually , it is from last night. I finally caught some decent shots of the afternoon thunderstorms building. But the wife liked this better.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

I’ve been looking for this type of image most of the summer too. Sure it’s a photo cliché. It got to be that way because people like these type images. That’s because it’s pretty. And pretty is good enough for me.

Don Brown


Monday, June 14, 2010

And Another Thing (On Drones)

Somebody (that would mean a smart reporter) needs to ask the DOD how many mid-air collisions they’ve had with their drones. You’ll have to be smart about how you ask it. Because I assure you the DOD will be smart in how they answer it.

UAV: Manned and Unmanned Aircraft: Can They Coexist?

(Be sure to notice the date.)

Don Brown
June 14, 2010


Drones and Droning

Sometimes you have to wonder about the things you read in the paper (or on the ‘net, as the case may be.)

FAA under pressure to open US skies to drones

”Last year, the FAA promised defense officials it would have a plan this year. The agency, which has worked on this issue since 2006, has reams of safety regulations that govern every aspect of civilian aviation but is just beginning to write regulations for unmanned aircraft.”

The FAA “promised”? That was a heck of a promise (if true). Let’s think about this for two seconds (because that’s about all it takes.) Vast portions of the United States’ National Airspace uses “see and avoid” as a basis for aircraft-to-aircraft separation. (I could make a compelling case that “see and avoid” is used in all U.S. airspace. No matter.) With no other information, you’ve reached a decision point. Either drones learn to “see and avoid” or they operate only in restricted airspace.

This presents a (somewhat) technologically-amusing problem. The tech wizards that like to beat up on the FAA for its lack of technology are now trying to pressure the FAA into letting their technologically-lacking drones into the National Airspace System. Oh, I realize some of these drones (UAVs) are technological wonders. But as controllers have been trying to tell everyone for years, there is still no substitute for people.

At the risk of seeming smug -- but to make my point -- if the tech wizards are so smart, figure out a way to “see and avoid” instead of asking the FAA to change the entire NAS to meet your product’s technological shortcomings. Yeah, it will be expensive. Yes, I realize that “less expensive” is the majority of the “business model”. I’m betting that most of the life-saving operations of drones can be accomplished with restricted airspace. That means it boils down to money -- to those pesky, expensive humans.

Can’t you just imagine how Fred Smith dreams of the day he can replace the few union workers he has?

Don Brown
June 14, 2010


Today’s Photo 6-14-10

Friends will tell you that this is my “bread and butter” shot. I never get tired of watching (and photographing) the sunrise. The variations seem endless. And timeless.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

I’ve got some errands to run this morning so the other photos from this morning will have to wait. I’ll get them up on Facebook sooner or later. Hopefully later today.

Don Brown

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Congratulations Mr. Planzer

I’m just making sure you young whippersnappers are keeping up with the news.

ATCA's Glen A. Gilbert Award 2010

”The Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) board of directors has chosen the 2010 Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award winner, Neil R. Planzer, Vice President of Boeing Air Traffic Management.“

Now, if you don’t know who Nail Planzer is, what ATCA is, or who Glen A. Gilbert was -- your education in the profession of air traffic control history is incomplete. Fortunately for you, the cure for ignorance is only a couple of clicks away. You don’t even have to leave this site.

Super Geeky

”You may have noticed the name Neil Planzer in the article from CQPolitics I mentioned the other day -- the one listing potential Administrators for the FAA. Mr. Planzer worked for the FAA and now works for Boeing.

One thing always leads to another. I seem to remember that Mr. Planzer had a pretty good reputation among the controllers he worked with. That’s unusual enough in the FAA but I seem to remember someone telling me he was really smart too.“

FAA History Lesson -- March 31

”I’ve only heard the oldest of stories about ATCA (as opposed to PATCO or NATCA.) I believe it started with the same intentions -- to represent the controller profession -- but it transformed into the good-old-boy network for FAA management. Whatever the story, one look at their board tells you they aren’t controllers. “

Well, will you look at that? Just one more paragraph down and you get a 2-for-1. Mr. Planzer and ATCA both in the same post -- right here on my little ol’ bitty blog.

”I know Mr. Planzer is ex-FAA. And I recognize Mr. Washington from his recent appearance on “The Main Bang” (which is usually not a good thing for FAA management -- and it wasn’t.) You’ll probably recognize some of the companies. Harris, ITT, NAV CANADA, etc. They might be involved in air traffic control but I don’t think they’re representing controllers anymore. “

Like Meatloaf said, Two out of three ain’t bad. You’re own your own with Glen A. Gilbert. Do I have to do everything for you? Here. Just click on this and sit back.

Don Brown
June 13, 2010


Double Ugly

Times are tough everywhere.

Government seen halving NATS air traffic control stake

”The government is likely to sell half its stake in British air traffic control operator NATS and some of the group that controls NATS may also lower their stakes, the chairman of The Airline Group said on Monday.

Peter Read told Reuters on the sidelines of an aviation industry summit the government -- keen to sell assets to help pay down a record deficit -- could keep its stake at 49 percent, cut it to 25 percent, or sell it all but retain a golden share.”

My take on that? More “lemon socialism”. Private industry gets the profits, taxpayers get the risk. After all, if there were solid profits to be made the government would want the revenue, right? To “help pay down a record deficit”, right? But we all know that -- just like in America -- the taxpayer is really on the hook for anything that is “too big to fail”.

I don’t pretend to know what is behind this in U.K. politics. I can’t keep up with what is behind things in American politics. But if Her Majesty’s Government goes through with this, they’re just doubling down on a failed policy. And that just makes it double ugly.

Don Brown
June 13, 2010

Today’s Photo 6-13-10

Okay, that was officially the world’s dullest, cloudless sunrise. It’s a good thing this guy showed up.

© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today’s Photo -- 6-12-10

©Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

A fortuitous morning -- as they say. I thought it would be a bust. When the guy leaving the contrail came busting out of the cloud just when the light was getting right -- I really thought it was going to be bad. Well, it was. But there’s a lot to be said for sticking it out. I’m normally gone by the time I made the photo above.

If you want to see the rest of the morning’s take, visit my fan page on Facebook.

(This will be the chicken-and-egg thing until I figure it all out. Blog first or Facebook first? Both will get updated sooner or later.)

And by the way, I passed the 20,000 images mark -- stored in iPhoto -- this morning too.

Don Brown
June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Photography Rules

What? You didn’t think I would overthink this too? Come now. Surely you know me better than that.

A#1 rule: I am a dedicated Amateur. That is “amateur” with a capital “A”. I have no desire whatsoever to become a pro. You can not pay me to become a pro. Been there, done that -- and I didn’t like it. I shoot for fun and I’m having more fun than money can buy. Yes, every man has his price. No one has offered to pay mine yet.

I used to be a pretty serious photographer back when Kodachrome was still king. Digital is all new to me. I thought of writing about the journey from film to digital but I’m guessing most people took that journey a decade ago. I’m slow. Call me a “late adopter”.

For instance, I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll break down and get a copy of Photoshop. But for right now -- it’s thanks but no thanks. I use iPhoto and I hate it when I have to retouch dust spots. I want to spend my time outside shooting pictures -- not indoors retouching pictures.

If you just can’t help yourself and you have to educate me on digital photography, you’ll have to email me. It’s okay, I suffer from the same disease. If you just can’t help yourself and have to tell me what a great picture I posted, please feel free to email me (Once you get to the page click on the blue “Email”). I never get tired of those kind of emails.

Remember I said I was a pretty serious photographer once upon a time? The copyright laws haven’t changed. I want you to enjoy my pictures -- not steal them. If you want to share my pictures with your friends, email them the link, not the photographs, please. I would appreciate it.

(A vertical-format image from this morning so I can see what a vertical image looks like on the page.)

©Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
June 11, 2010

Moving On

I’ve been watching the traffic here at Get the Flick drop steadily for a few months. I’m not sure why (I have several theories) but I’m going to blame it on the fact that I’m increasingly absorbed by my photography. Accordingly, I’ve decided it is time to start shifting gears -- to move along.

First, to all the controllers/aviation folks, don’t panic. I still plan on writing about those things because they are still part of my life. I’m still working on the ERAM subject -- I’m just having to dig further than I would have thought. The problem is that I don’t have enough to write about because I’m not involved in ATC on a daily basis. And because I don’t put my photography here, I’m not spending the time on my blog that I should.

So I’ve decided to stop spending so much time with my photography on Facebook and to start putting it here. After all, this is a “web log” and it’s supposed to be my outlook on the world.

I, of course, hope you enjoy my photography. But if you don’t, it should be pretty easy to ignore. (How’s that for a poor choice of words?) I’m sure I’ll have to play around with formats and whatnot so things will be in a state of flux for awhile. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride. (I’ll stop talking now.)

Here is this morning’s sunrise.

©Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
June 11, 2010

The Culture at the FAA’s Core

I was listening to the Marketplace podcast (again) and this piece really blew me away.

”Monkey see, monkey do. It's not a new observation. We're all natural mimics, especially in close-knit groups. Take any bunch of journalists, senators, gangsters, truckers or Wall Street bankers, and you'll find an astonishing array of similarities -- in the way they dress, walk, think, spend money, even raise children.

It's all rather amusing until it gets out of control. That is, when a couple of really bad actors influence a whole religion or industry until "bad actor" becomes the default position. And yes, I'm talking about religious extremists. But I'm also talking about Goldman Sachs and their whole entitled ilk. How did "Bankers Behaving Badly" get to be so "normal" that people barely notice?“

Think about that oddball team in your Area of the ARTCC. Or the oddball Area in Center. Or that one facility that has always been just a little different -- forever. Then think of the culture at the FAA.

Remember -- the FAA fired most of their controllers in 1981. They pushed a bunch more out from 2006 until 2008 (when the economy went south and slowed down the rush for the door). It’s pretty obvious to me that the FAA’s “culture problem” doesn’t spring from controllers because it doesn’t change -- even though the FAA keeps changing controllers.

”It's all rather amusing until it gets out of control. That is, when a couple of really bad actors influence a whole religion or industry... “

Or a Federal Agency.

When you read (or listen to) the rest of the article and realize that this phenomenon is hard wired into our brains, you realize how tough it will be to ever change the FAA’s “culture”.

Don Brown
June 11, 2010



You guys tickle me. The books I tell you to read you ignore and the books I tell you I don’t like you buy. I don’t even bother checking my Amazon account anymore. It simply hasn’t been worth it. Imagine my surprise (when I started cleaning up the site) to find I’ve sold more of “The Limits of Software” than any other book. Almost twice as many. Hmmmm.

Don Brown
June 11, 2010


Yes, it’s time to shake things up a little. More to come. Prepare thyself.

Don Brown
June 11, 2010

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Random Act of Referral

I was in Hampton, GA, I saw a business card, I looked at the web site and I liked what I saw. It’s no more complicated than that. I don’t know a thing about Ms. Snook except to tell you she knows her way around a camera.

If that doesn’t work for you, refer to post #1:

”So, what is this blog all about ? Anything I want it to be about.“

Add to that the fact that I know a lot of folks that work in Hampton who will get married, have kids and experience other life events that they might want Ms. Snook to record.

Jennifer Snook Photography

The web site is, of course, photo intensive.

I particularly liked this one...and this one.

Don Brown
June 9, 2010


Monday, June 07, 2010

Hope Eternal

Is is a sign of a new future? Or just the same old stuff?

Airlines overpack for summer travel

”The scheduling snarls occur at the top of the hour, when research shows flights make more money, aviation consultant Darryl Jenkins said. On Thursday, for example, American Airlines scheduled 27 flights and United scheduled 39 flights between 8 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., according to FlightStats.com. That's seven more flights than the airport can handle under the best conditions.

"O'Hare can handle more than 100 departures an hour, but not 50 in a 10-minute window," Babbitt said in a phone interview.”

Yes, that was the FAA’s Randy Babbitt with a none-too-subtle smackdown of the airlines.

The article is full of some interesting numbers. You’ll want to read this one for sure. But they’re still going to make you work for it and do some math.

”O'Hare's carriers had scheduled an average of 77 arrivals and departures between 8 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. on weekdays in June. That's five planes landing or taking off per minute, and it's nearly double the 42 aircraft operations scheduled during the same 15-minute span in June 2009.

Largely as a result of United's schedule tweaks, an average of 54 flights are now planned during that time span each weekday, although the actual number will vary, FAA officials said. In good weather, O'Hare can handle only 59 flights every 15 minutes. Its capacity sinks to 48 departures and arrivals per quarter-hour when visibility is poor, according to the FAA.“

I’m too old to get excited about a few words from an Administrator -- words without regulation are worthless -- but at least he’s talking in the right direction. Hope is eternal.

Don Brown
June 7, 2010


Klein Again

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been a subscriber to Time magazine for about 25 years. I guess that makes me a dinosaur (in several ways). I was reading a back issue that was laying in the truck while I was waiting for something interesting to photograph to wonder by. The young folks can go ahead and snicker. But there wasn’t even cell phone reception where I was much less wi-fi. Besides, let’s see you fan yourself with your iPad or swat mosquitoes with your Droid.

Joe Klein is one of Time’s regular columnists. I really don’t read him that much but here I am, writing about him again.

Management 101: What the Democrats Need to Learn

It’s a pretty good article...as far as it goes.

”Democrats tend to be more interested in legislating than in managing. They come to office filled with irrational exuberance, pass giant fur balls of legislation — stuff that often sounds fabulous, in principle — and expect a stultified bureaucracy, bereft of the incentives and punishments of the private sector, to manage it all with the efficiency of a bounty hunter. This has always been the strongest conservative argument against government activism. Traditionally, Republicans were more concerned with good management than Democrats — until the Reagan era, when the "government is the problem" mantra took hold. If you don't believe in government, you don't bother much with governing efficiently. You hire political cronies for jobs that professionals should be doing. Eventually, you wind up with the former head of the Arabian Horse Association — the infamous Michael Brown — trying to organize federal aid after Hurricane Katrina. “

The problem, of course, is what to do about it. Klein hints at it but he never comes out and says it.

”Orszag learned his trade in the Congressional Budget Office, an agency known for a culture of excellence created by its first director, Alice Rivlin, and reinforced by rewards and punishments that resemble those found in the private sector. And the Obama Administration has worked hard to manage its programs well: the stunning absence of corruption in the disbursement of stimulus funds is attributable, in large part, to Vice President Joe Biden's vigilance.“

In other words, government can work and it can be well run. The difference between well run and poorly run is what it always is. It’s the people you choose to run it. From the President all the way down to the janitor -- it’s the people. People matter. Sure the technology matters. Sure the structure of an organization matters. But in the end, it is the people that matter most.

That is the reason this economic crisis is such an opportunity. There are millions out of work. There are millions more that would recognize and appreciate an organization that truly values them. An organization that lives up to its commitments of a decent living and a decent retirement. There are millions that would appreciate the opportunity to do something that matters -- something that is meaningful and would make their country a better place. Selling people on government service would be so easy right now -- now, when private industry has allowed itself to sink to such depths. Bernie Madoff. British Petroleum. Wall Street. Goldman Sachs.

It makes you wonder if that isn’t the reason some have chosen this moment in time to vilify government employees. (Be sure to notice the quote from Cato -- the libertarian side of the conservative think tank triumvirate.)

Don Brown
June 7, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

Taking Names

I finally got around to watching the unedited version of this interview today. It’s Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute being interviewed by Jon Stewart.

What is the American Enterprise Institute? I know you were paying attention.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Arthur Brooks Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

If you go on to Part 2, be sure to listen for the phrase “private sector unions”. Mr. Brooks doesn’t feel the need to take them on, probably, because his organization and the politicians it serves have pretty much neutralized private sector unions in the last 30 years. That leaves the public sector unions. Controllers -- pay attention. This all started with PATCO. You are a target. Wake up. Don’t underestimate them. Sure, Jon Stewart wipes the floor with Mr. Brooks but Jon Stewart is the smartest man on TV.

Don Brown
June 4, 2010

Properly Motivated

My wife and I were riding around the other day and we noticed a lot of new businesses had opened up. Especially small, “mom-n-pop” restaurants. A remark a friend of mine had made just a few days earlier came to mind, “A lot of people have to start their own businesses because they can’t work for anyone else.” He was referring to their attitude. Robert Reich notes that attitude isn’t the only reason anymore.

Friday’s Job Numbers, And What They Won’t Tell Us About America’s Growing Anxious Class

Have a read. It is full of some very interesting thoughts. We’ll visit the subject again soon.

Don Brown
June 4, 2010


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Familiar Names

I was listening to Marketplace last night and -- lo and behold -- I heard a couple of familiar names. If you’ve got a really good memory, they might be familiar to you too.

Brett Snyder blogs at The Cranky Flier (mentioned here at GTF) and Joe Brancatelli (mentioned here at GTF) has a column SEAT 2B at Portfolio.com.

They both had their points on airfares and whatnot but both made mention of a favorite point of mine. The fewer airplanes, the more likely your flight is to run on time. Good job guys. And congratulations to you both.

Don Brown
June 2, 2010


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

GPS Warning

Sent by an alert reader. You know who you are. Thank you.

Glitch shows how much US military relies on GPS

”DENVER — A problem that rendered as many as 10,000 U.S. military GPS receivers useless for days is a warning to safeguard a system that enemies would love to disrupt, a defense expert says. “

”James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the glitch was a warning "in the context where people are every day trying to figure out how to disrupt GPS." “

”The Air Force said it took less than two weeks for the military to identify the cause and begin devising and installing a temporary fix. It did not say how long it took to install the temporary fix everywhere it was needed, but said a permanent fix is being distributed.“

Less than two weeks to fix it, huh? The volcano in Iceland only shut down some European airspace for 6 days. That cost the airlines $1.7 billion.

Why am I reminded of a famous quote from a movie? “The more they over-think the plumbing...”

Don Brown
June 1, 2010