Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dawn Above Denver

Dawn Above Denver by Get The Flick
Dawn Above Denver, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

I'm still here. Still kickin'. You guys that have stopped me to say "thanks" are the best. Thanks to everyone for reading. I'll be back shortly. Keep reading Krugman at the link below.

Don Brown
March 29, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunrise Service -- Garden of the Gods

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."

The best church service I ever attended. Sunday sunrise at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Sorry I'm a day behind.

Don Brown
March 26, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fisher's Peak from Cokedale, Colorado

You know the drill. Click on the picture. Off to DEN.

Don Brown
March 24, 2012

Light on Prairie Schoolhouse

One night at a hotel with a broken internet connection and I'm hopelessly behind. I hope this will help make it up. Y'all behave until I get caught up.

Don Brown
March 24, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Seriously? All night long. :(

BTW, my identification of airport identifiers in Missouri is a little rusty.

Don Brown
March 21, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sniffling Along

Here’s an ugly picture with a purpose. See all that yellow stuff on the surface of the water? That’s pollen.

Atlanta set a new pollen count record today. And for Atlanta to set a pollen count record, that’s saying something.

Atlanta shatters '99 pollen count record

”Monday’s pollen count is 8,164 particles of pollen per cubic meter of air. The previous record, set April 12, 1999, was 6,013 particles of pollen per cubic meter.”

”The average high for this time of year is 66, but highs have reached the low to mid-80s for several days in a row, causing all the trees to pollinate at the same time.”

I wonder of Al Gore will ever get an apology before he dies?

Don Brown
March 19, 2012

While I Have the Chance

I don’t have a real burning issue on my mind today but I’d better take the chance to update my readers. I’m headed out on a road trip tomorrow and I don’t really know how much writing I’ll get to do. So here we go.

NATCA’s convention is in Denver next week. I’ve decided to drive out there. Slowly. Two of my favorite books from childhood were The Big Sky and Mountain Man. Both of those started with trips across the plains. I’ve never seen the Great Plains. It’s time I remedied that. Expect pictures.

The other piece of news I haven’t worked into a conversation yet is the fact that I went and got myself elected chairman of the local Democratic party. It’s sort of like being elected Safety Rep. -- nobody else wanted the job. As my longtime readers know, I live in a very Red county in a Red state. I’m not sure it will affect my blog here in any way, but I thought I ought to get it out just in case it might.

Regardless, I’ll be a little busier than I have in the past. And, of course, I’ll be delving into local politics on a much deeper level. I can’t imagine any of my readers here being interested in the details. But I’m sure that the new experience will influence what goes through my brain on a daily basis.

So, it’s time to pack. I’ll write when I can. At a minimum, there will be pictures. I hope to see some of you in Denver.

Don Brown
March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tour de Pike

Tour de Pike by Get The Flick
Tour de Pike, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

It's not my usual stuff but somebody in the race might want to see them. I hate that it was so hazy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beating Bad Timing

The difference between old people and young people is a sense of time. (Well, that and the experience thing.) 10 years to a young man of 20 is forever. 10 years to a man of 50 -- with kids that are 20 -- is just the blink of an eye. It’s the way life is. You can’t give young people a sense of time. No matter how much you wish you could. It’s like that experience thing. The only way to get it is to live it.

Now that we’ve got the hack philosophy out of the way, let’s get back to that article on re-regulating the airlines I was talking about yesterday. It was a bad day for it to come out. NATCA and the Administration announced a contract extension yesterday. That grabbed the air traffic control crowd’s attention. The resignation letter of the guy from Goldman Sachs got everyone else’s attention.

Lawyers, Thieves and Bankers -- what else is new? Firing air traffic controllers was new. As a matter of fact, if you bothered to follow that link above, you would see that -- even 30 years later -- every time air traffic controllers make the news, the ghost of Ronald Reagan rises to haunt the occasion.

Sticking with my theme of time (even bad time), you need to think of the timing. Ronald Reagan didn’t deregulate the airlines. Jimmy Carter did. It was a sign of the times -- as the article Terminal Sickness pointed out.

”In 1978, however, a group of liberals including Ralph Nader, Ted Kennedy, Kennedy’s then Senate aide Stephen Breyer, and an economist named Alfred Kahn, whom President Jimmy Carter chose to run the CAB, conjured up a plan to drive down the cost of airline fares by fostering more price competition among airlines. Though they called it “deregulation,” the practical effect of eliminating the CAB, especially after subsequent administrations abandoned antitrust enforcement as well, was to shift control of the airline industry from experts answerable to the public to corporate boardrooms and Wall Street.”

Regulation (it was thought) was bumping up against the wall. People thought it had run its course. Coupled with the laissez-faire policies of the incoming Reagan Administration, it turned into the disaster we see today.

”But now we find ourselves at a moment when nearly all the promises of the airline deregulators have clearly proved false. If you’re a member of the creative class who rarely does business in the nation’s industrial heartland or visits relatives there, you might not notice the magnitude of economic disruption being caused by lost airline service and skyrocketing fares. But if you are in the business of making and trading stuff beyond derivatives and concepts, you probably have to go to places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis, or Minneapolis, and you know firsthand how hard it has become to do business these days in such major heartland cities, which are increasingly cut off from each other and from the global economy.”

These are not insubstantial cities. Imagine if we proposed tearing up the Intestates leading into all of these cities. Yes, it is insane. That’s the point. We’ve torn up the aviation version of a six -lane interstate and left them with a two lane blacktop.

I have to admit, I missed this trend. I knew St. Louis was gone. I’d heard Pittsburgh had been cut back. But I didn’t know the trend had continued. That’s what it’s like being on the outside. You miss the details available when you’re on the inside. Which brings me to a good place to stop today.

You controllers are on the inside. You have a chance to notice these details that are important to the future of our country. You are also public servants. I think it is your duty to point out these trends which affect our country’s future. I even believe you should advocate for better public policies.

It shouldn’t be too hard of a sell to the controllers at Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Minneapolis. Just because it is their interests doesn’t mean it isn’t in the Public’s best interest. Ask the pilots that used to fly the airplanes into these places. Ask their passengers. Ask the cities’ taxpayers that are still paying for all the infrastructure. Everyone wants a better aviation system. Controllers happen to be in a unique position to offer a public policy that will give us one.

The pendulum swings. For over 30 years it has been swinging towards the deregulated disaster we currently know. It’s time to swing back the other way. Give it a shove. Advocate for regulation of the airline industry. It’s never a bad time to correct a mistake.

Don Brown
March 15, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It Starts Here -- Re-Regulation

I’ve got a million things I want to say this morning. I’m been writing blogs in my head since yesterday evening. That’s when I got an email from my friend Joe. That’s how these things start. Some guy named Joe reads something and sends it some guy like me. And now -- before I get carried away with writing all these thoughts in my head -- I going to send you off to read it.

For those that don’t have time at the moment, here are a couple of pertinent excerpts from a 5 page article you need to read.

”All these trends in the airline industry are bound to get much worse, and soon. Despite massive consolidation, steep cuts in wages and benefits, sharply rising fares, huge direct and indirect subsidies, and a slowly recovering economy, the industry remains unable to service its debt, and its executives—now serving at the whim of Wall Street— see no way out except to continue to merge and to cut capacity. U.S. airlines lost money in all but three years between 2001 and 2010, according to the industry’s trade group, for a cumulative net loss of $62.9 billion. Even before the recent bankruptcy of American Airlines, the value of all publicly traded U.S. airline stocks amounted to only $32.3 billion, less than that of Starbucks.”

”Nor can we blame the problem on the effects of the Great Recession. After decades in which the price of energy has risen and fallen and the economy has boomed and busted, the long-term trend is clear. The industry has been in turmoil and decline for more than thirty years, barely able to earn its cost of capital in the best of times and only then by cutting service and quality. It’s now evident that the industry’s problems are structural and deepening, as is the crisis faced by cities and industries that depend now more than ever on frequent, affordable air service to remain competitive in the global economy.”

”A study published in the Journal of the Transportation Research Forum in 2007 confirms that the pattern continued. Except for a period after 9/11, when airlines deeply discounted fares to attract panicked customers, real air prices have fallen more slowly since the elimination of the CAB than before. This contrast becomes even starker if one considers the continuous decline in service quality, with more overbooked planes flying to fewer places, long waits in hub airports, the lost ability to make last-minute changes in itineraries without paying exorbitant fares, and the slow strangulation of heartland cities that don’t happen to be hubs. Moreover, most if not all of the post-deregulation price declines have been due to factors that cannot be repeated, such as the busting of airline unions, the termination of pension plans, the delayed replacement of aging aircraft, the elimination of complimentary meals and checked baggage, and, finally, the diminution of seat sizes and legroom to a point approaching the limits of human endurance.”

For those pressed for time, here’s a blog at The Washington Monthly that sums up the article (which is also at The Washington Monthly .)

Is It Time to Re-Regulate the Airlines?

Here’s the link for the full article.

Terminal Sickness
How a thirty-year-old policy of deregulation is slowly killing America’s airline system—and taking down Cincinnati, Memphis, and St. Louis with it.

As soon as you are sure this article meets with your approval, I want you to share it with everybody you know. That’s how these things happen, somebody like you sends something to somebody like me. I especially want you controllers to send this article to all your FacReps and Legislative Committee members. I’ll have a lot more to say in the coming days. But for right now, READ THIS ARTICLE.

Don Brown
March 14, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daffodil -- Tahiti 3-12-12

These are from my yard.

Monday Morning Musing

I was doing the digital version of rearranging my sock drawer -- cleaning out my bookmarks -- when I checked to see if Shouting at My TV had been updated. It hadn’t. But the last post from 2010 led me to reading this:

”The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being.

There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.”

I’m just curious. Does that sound anything like me when I say that; “I don’t expect corporations to be charities. Their purpose is to make money. But their larger purpose is to serve mankind. ” Or this: “The corporations? Frankly, I don’t care what they want or need. They aren’t people. The way I see it, men form institutions to serve man. When those institutions no longer serve the cause of humanity, humanity no longer has a use for them. ”

I hope I sound like that. Even if I’m not as eloquent. Sounding like Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t be a bad thing -- even if he was a Republican.

”We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that the people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.”

Yeah, it does sound like it was written yesterday. And you have to wonder, if half-educated rednecks like me can see the wisdom in those words, why can’t the Supreme Court? Or should I say 5 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices?

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

A dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor. To emphasize his unhappiness with the majority, Stevens took the relatively rare step of reading part of his 90 page dissent from the bench.

”A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”

Teddy Roosevelt made his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas -- in 1910. Another President spoke in the same place, just over 100 years later. You might want to read what he had to say too.

This final quote might ring a bell for a few of my readers. Just as much of the rest still rings true across the century

”"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

If that remark was original with me, I should be even more strongly denounced as a Communist agitator than I shall be anyhow. It is Lincoln’s. I am only quoting it; and that is one side; that is the side the capitalist should hear. Now, let the working man hear his side.

"Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. . . . Nor should this lead to a war upon the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor; . . . property is desirable; is a positive good in the world."”

Don Brown
March 12, 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

Ranking Presidents

It seems as I can never get anything done. When I’m doing research for my various writings (no, I don’t just write here) I always run across something more interesting than what I’m writing about. Oh well.

Today’s distraction is: Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States

It’s a chart I’ve viewed many times before. I’m not going to detail all the problems with it. I’ll just tell you there are problems with it. Like ranking the guy that is still in office and the guy that just left. That isn’t very “historical”. But still, they’re on there. And it is interesting. You have to manipulate the chart to see whatever numbers you might be interested in. Each column on the chart has a little up and down arrow on it. I clicked on the “Aggr.” button (aggregate) to get an overall view from top to bottom and took a picture. (Don’t get distracted by the number. That’s their sequential number. Lincoln was the 16th President, Roosevelt the 32nd, etc.)

Franklin D. Roosevelt (my personal favorite) has moved up a notch to the #2 slot. I like that fact but I’m not sure it’s deserved. I mention it only to show that these rankings do change.

What I find most interesting at the moment is the fact that Barrack Obama is ranked just ahead of Ronald Reagan and just behind Lyndon Johnson. Johnson gave us the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 along with several other major accomplishments. Barrack Obama -- besides being the first African-American President in history -- passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- better known (at the moment) as “Obamacare”. The rest of the civilized world refers to it as universal healthcare. (Mark my words, the pejorative use of Obamacare will come back to haunt the Republicans. Imagine if we called Social Security checks “Roosevelt checks”.) I can’t remember anything Ronald Reagan did of equal historical significance -- despite his undeniable popularity.

Oh, and the guy that just left the Presidency? His ranking was off the page so I couldn’t take a picture of it. You’ll have to find it yourself I guess. But let me help you out. Look a couple of slots below Richard Nixon.

Don Brown
March 9, 2012

Saturday, March 03, 2012

I Was “Critic” and Didn’t Know It

You really don’t want to know why or how I got here. So, I promise (myself) to keep this short. Reading the Wikipedia entry on Public Administration...


”During the Clinton Administration (1993–2001), Vice President Al Gore adopted and reformed federal agencies using NPM approaches. In the 1990s, new public management became prevalent throughout the bureaucracies of the US, the UK and, to a lesser extent, in Canada.”

Most of you probably don’t remember USATS. (You won’t believe where that link takes you.) But once upon a time, NATCA supported the creation of a government-owned corporation to run the air traffic control system. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that NATCA supported the Clinton Administration and Vice President Al Gore wanted USATS. Fortunately, it didn’t happen. I seriously doubt that any of us (controllers) that fought against it carried the day. We just wound up on the winning side. Back to Wikipedia:

”Some critics argue that the New Public Management concept of treating people as "customers" rather than "citizens" is an inappropriate borrowing from the private sector model, because businesses see customers are a means to an end (profit), rather than as the proprietors of government (the owners), opposed to merely the customers of a business (the patrons). In New Public Management, people are viewed as economic units not democratic participants. Nevertheless, the model is still widely accepted at all levels of government and in many OECD nations.”

I wrote this back in 2003, for AVweb.

Say Again? #30: The Little Big Flick

”I guess I really don't have The Big Flick because I just feel confused. And nothing confuses me more than this: What's up with all this talk of "acting more like a business" and "customer service"? It makes me nervous because it sounds like someone is trying to sell something. Something we probably don't want and definitely don't need. The FAA isn't a business -- it's the government. Your government. Why would anyone willingly accept a demotion from citizen to customer?”

I always thought that was a compelling argument. I still do. I’m not a customer (and I’m not always right.) I’m a citizen. I own the joint. Along with you and 300 million other citizens.

Don Brown
March 3, 2012

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Right Face, March!

When I heard Rachel Maddow using some graphs from a political scientist at the University of Georgia, I knew I would have to come home and watch them on the internet. You should too. She does a much better job of explaining it all, so I’ll just shut up and let you watch.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If this concept intrigues you -- this shifting of the center to the right -- I’d highly recommend you read this blog post from What Would Vannevar Blog?. (BTW, I’m pretty sure I recommended this particular blog post before.)


”So let’s say you work at a think tank, and you have a Client who has a Cause. Their cause is way out of the range of what’s acceptable in public discourse. In fact, the Cause is Unthinkable.

You make a few press releases about Concept-B , of things even more extreme than the cause. You’re setting new boundaries on the spectrum. You’re talking in a way that makes people a little bit nervous. All of a sudden, people are thinking that your ideas (which were once unthinkable) are now simply radical.

You come up with an even crazier concept, Concept-C, and you get some grad students to start protesting and blogging about it. Now, they’ve defined a new extreme. Their Concept-C is Unthinkable, Concept-B is Radical, and your client’s cause is now moving into Acceptable.”

Yes, big thinking is taking place over there at WWVB. There always is.

If you would like to take a look at the source data for Rachel’s segment, I took the time to find that too. Fair warning, that site makes my head hurt more than WWVB does.

voteview blog

Don Brown
March 1, 2012