Majestic equality between Democrats and Republicans

Anatole France famously noted “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

I’m recently back from Seattle, a city controlled by and populated by righteous Trump-hating Democrats. They are fulsome in their expressions of support for the vulnerable, especially the homeless, who have literally nothing. The only thing that stops them from funding homes for these homeless individuals is their refusal to reduce their personal consumption of new cars, vacation trips, morning avocado toast, etc.

What’s the result? Next to my $325/night gleaming new hotel (Hyatt Regency), itself adjacent to the gleaming new office towers of the Amazon HQ(1?), a woman was begging on the sidewalk, a 5-year-old child in her arms, just as one might see in India. The nearest Bank of America promised safety for the LGBTQ, but couldn’t insure its own safety without a Latin American-style armed guard next to the front door (he in turn was wearing a bulletproof vest).

Walking around downtown at sunset, I passed a homeless person settling down in a building alcove every few minutes.

Given the apparent lack of any assistance other than kind words, thoughts, and prayers that these folks are getting from Democrats, is it fair to say that their life experience would be the same if everyone in Seattle were tomorrow replaced by Republicans? If so, does that show a “majestic equality” between nominally different political philosophies?


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Religious dogma of the Church of Trump Hatred

A Facebook friend’s post:

The upcoming US election is unlike any other. … This is not a normal election. This is a national emergency. It cancels the usual rules. … [some ideas for what Democrats should do] … Then, once the gross course correction is attained, away from the Trump course of authoritarian, corrupt, nationalistic, lie/propaganda/fear/polarization based government, we can go back to deciding how liberal or conservative our policies on 100 matters should be.

Right away from this coastal elite Democrat, scornful of religious Americans who accept dogma uncritically, we can see Millenarianism:

the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming fundamental transformation of society, after which “all things will be changed”

Of course, I couldn’t resist a simple question:

How has the stock market done during this 2.5-year “national emergency”?

I.e., why wouldn’t investors take 60 seconds to sell U.S. stocks and buy non-U.S. stocks, rather than stick around for the “national emergency” and see whether Dictator Trump would confiscate their assets, just as other dictators have done in the past? Why would foreigners continue to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the U.S. (some stats)?

The answer turned out to be, ultimately, that any question regarding whether Trump being in the White House constituted a “national emergency” was “off topic”.

If we regard Trump hatred as a religion, ideas that cannot be questioned or examined rationally would be part of the dogma.

Separately, the other day I photographed stickers on an aircraft mechanic’s toolbox:

I posted them on Facebook, noting that they had come from a mechanic’s toolbox, and a guy who lives in Manhattan and draws his paycheck from the refugee industry responded with “Who gives a fuck” (a good summary of Democrats with regarding to native-born guys who work hard at skilled blue collar jobs?). I think this is evidence for my Dutch friend’s observation regarding American elites, blue collar whites, and Trump’s election: “They forgot to take away their right to vote.”

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Movie: The Last Breath

Apollo 11 is an interesting way to relive the first moon landing through documentary footage (restored and organized into a 1.5-hour experience).

The Last Breath (streaming on Netflix) is the flip side of Apollo 11. The mission is equally dangerous, but the direction is down into the sea rather than up into space. Instead of certain fame and possible fortune that astronauts enjoyed, the aquanauts of The Last Breath will receive a modest paycheck at best.

The movie involves a group of people who choose to live on a small ship being tossed around in the North Sea. (No gender IDs are provided explicitly, but male pronouns are used for everyone in the film who goes onto or under the water. This page shows that 0% of people certified to do the kind of diving shown in the movie identify as “women.” Therefore I will use male pronouns in this post.)

Being part of the crew is horrible, battered regularly by 45-knot winds and 20-foot waves. But the divers must live at 100 meters of pressure (10 atm) for 28 days straight, the monotony of living in a small pressure chamber broken up only by visits to the ocean floor. For 28 days they will breathe a mixture of helium and oxygen and depend on technologies such as diving bells, diving suits, and umbilical cords.

Typical of the Scottish understatement that permeates the film… Regarding the Donald Duck voice from breathing helium: “The first thirty seconds is always quite humorous. After that, the novelty wears off.”

I don’t want to ruin the suspense by saying more, but I recommend the film and would be interested to see comments from readers who have seen it. (Folks who don’t want any spoilers can refrain from clicking on the comments.)

Readers: Obviously the pay is going to be better than what one could receive working in a supermarket, but what else motivates men to take these kinds of jobs?

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Is LGBTQIA the most popular social justice cause because it does not require giving money?

Seemingly at least half of the retail stores in Seattle have an overt expression of support for the LGBTQIA community, e.g., a rainbow flag.

Americans identifying as LGBTQIA are not half of the population, right? Why would stores managed and staffed by cisgender heterosexuals hang rainbow flags outside of Pride Month? Maybe folks in Seattle are unusually big-hearted and sympathetic to the vulnerable and victimized? Evidence against that theory is the enormous population of homeless who wander the streets and receive no assistance or attention from passersby. The good citizens of Seattle will step over a homeless person to get into a Tesla and drive to the rainbow flag shop. I didn’t see any store with a sign admonishing customers to do more or care more for the homeless or the poor.

I’m wondering if LGBTQIA is the most popular social justice cause because there is no obvious connection between saying one is passionate about supporting LGBTQIA and having to donate money. If someone says “I care about the poor” and then buys a Tesla instead of a Honda Accord, a friend might ask “Why didn’t you give $70,000 to the poor and drive a Honda rather than your fancy Tesla?”

Readers: What do you think? Is there another reason for LGBTQIA to have overtaken all other social justice issues in visual prominence?

Let’s look at some photos…

The basics:

Bank of America welcomes the LGBTQIA as long as they don’t have pets with them. (The bank also had an armed guard wearing a bulletproof vest next to the front door, just like in Guatemala.)

Speaking of pets, LGBTQIA dogs are welcome at this vet:

Hungry? LGBTQIA-friendly pizza, Mexican food, and ice cream are available:

Inspired? LGBTQIA-friendly art supplies:

Need to visit a friend? Don’t forget to stop at the government-painted rainbows:

(What if a driver is cited for failing to stop at one of these rainbowed crosswalks? Can he/she/ze/they claim that he/she/ze/they did not realize it was a crosswalk?)

The government uses tax dollars to promote LGBTQIA at the local college and police station:

Record store, indoor cycling, and pinball parlor:

Mathematical proof of LGBTQIA-ness:

A T-shirt for a Pride-filled five-year-old:

Let’s compare this to another social justice attempt. From the Seattle Art Museum gift shop:

A great collection pf literature to be sure, but someone who visited on the morning that I did might ask “If you are dedicated to racial justice, why didn’t I see any black patrons or employees?”

Finally, the obligatory departure images…

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Apollo 11 exhibit at the Museum of Flight in Seattle

Destination Moon at the Museum of Flight in Seattle is on through September 2, 2019. The exhibit is a great experience, made better by the retired engineers who serve as docents.

Feel better about your achievements at the entrance…

Ignore the awesome permanent collection:

You will be reminded that the Lunar Roving Vehicle (Moon Buggy) was built by Boeing…

There is a lot of great explanation of the Saturn V engines, some of whose core features were carried over from the German V-2.

Some of the advanced technology that each person in Mission Control had on the desktop custom-made consoles…

(For younger readers: You turn the dial to make a phone call.)

The Museum of Flight is not infected by an Oshkosh-style blind patriotism and reminds visitors that JFK may have launched the Apollo project to distract Americans from the “disastrous failure” at the Bay of Pigs (Eisenhower made the same point).

The museum’s compliance with current political orthodoxy is incomplete. On the one hand, the folks who designed and built Apollo are described as “A Diverse Workforce” because they had “many backgrounds and educational levels”. But on the other hand, Margaret Hamilton is not credited with writing the code for the Apollo Guidance Computer. Consistent with histories written in the pre-woke age, the software was written by programmers who identified as men prior to her joining the project. She “verified and installed programs,” according to the museum, which makes sense from a historical timeline point of view if not from a social justice one.

Want to be famous? Don’t be Russian. Here’s the first woman in space. Compare her fame to that of Sally Ride, an American who followed her into space 20 years later.

Want to be famous? Don’t be part of the sixth mission to land humans (some identifying as “men”?) on the moon:

How many of the above names were familiar to you?

Don’t like physics homework? There is an easier path to becoming a rocket scientist at NASA:

One of the most poignant and confusing parts of the museum is near the front entrance. A statue depicts Michael Anderson, mission specialist and then payload commander on two Shuttle flights. The plaque says “Dreams really do come true.” Yet Col. Anderson died on that second flight, of the shuttle Columbia. Surely that was not his or anyone else’s dream.

My advice: Hop a flight to Seattle, stay at the new Hyatt Regency, chow down at Din Tai Fung (I picked out some food to order there and asked a Chinese-American friend to critique: “That’s like going to Pat’s or Geno’s and ordering a hot dog”), and spend a day (before Sept 2) at the Museum of Flight.

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Software updates before a trip now take longer than packing?

I’m heading out on a trip that will involve limited Internet connectivity. My notebook computer hadn’t been turned on for 1.5 weeks. Updating that to the latest version of Windows 10 took four tries and roughly three hours (admittedly this was a bigger update than usual and there was also a Dell BIOS update). I’m taking a Sony a7F II camera and two lenses. Software updates were available for all three of these items. Downloading them required resetting my password on the Sony web site, verifying my Sony account, download three Windows applications, running three separate Windows apps, connecting and disconnecting the camera via USB to the PC, following Sony instructions to remove the battery after each lens update, etc.

Thus, I think it is fair to say that updating devices took longer than packing up for a somewhat remote trip!

What if the Internet of Things became a reality? Given the security issues around completely automatic updates, will humans eventually be reduced to full-time sysadmins just for the stuff in their apartments?

Update: arrived in Copenhagen. Here’s the hotel coffee shop electronic menu screen:

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Believing in both a benevolent God and Trump in the White House

A virtuous Facebook friend posted “Have We No Decency? A Response to President Trump” from three reverends (Right, Very, and Plain) at the National Cathedral.

The content is conventional:

The escalation of racialized rhetoric from the President of the United States has evoked responses from all sides of the political spectrum. On one side, African American leaders have led the way in rightfully expressing outrage. On the other, those aligned with the President seek to downplay the racial overtones of his attacks, or remain silent.

But the authors are presumably believers in a benevolent and omnipotent God. Here was my response:

If God hates Trump (and why wouldn’t she?), why did God allow Trump to be elected?

I’m wondering how it is possible for this trio of reverends to simultaneously believe in their powerful and benevolent God and also in the existence of President Trump.

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Aviation Non-profit idea: Great day out for one child at a time

Kids plus Aircraft plus Non-profit typically equals “ride factory.” The most familiar example of this is EAA Young Eagles. Kids line up and are packed into aircraft as efficiently as possible and lofted up with some 100LL. Maybe it will be a wonderful 10-minute memory or perhaps the smarter children will say “JetBlue was so much better!”

Some local aviation enthusiasts take a different approach with Above the Clouds. They pick some children and teens who could use a literal boost. Each child is welcomed by a big crowd, offered a delicious breakfast, and then escorted with a parent or other adult to an aircraft. The pilot meets and talks to the young person and they agree on a route to be flown, driven substantially by the child’s interests. After the flight, there is a gift bag with items picked to match the child’s passions and also a flight jacket.

I did one of these earlier this summer with a Robinson R44 from East Coast Aero Club:

After the flight:

It would be nice to see this kind of approach taken in more places. Maybe it would even warm up the hearts of the aircraft-haters in Santa Monica!


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Border Patrol flies 7-person helicopters with 1-2 people on board

Customs and Border Patrol brought one of their Airbus H125 (formerly known as a “Eurocopter” and/or “AStar”) to Oshkosh this year. The $2,000+/hour machine holds up to 7 people. Plainly the mission could not be done with a $450/hour Robinson R44, right? The Robby seats only 4.

How many people are in the AStar at any one time? Either 1 (the pilot, also acting as observer) or 2 (pilot plus observer in the front left seat). The four back seats are empty nearly all the time.

Does the AStar actually perform better? The pilots said that the A/C in the machine was nowhere near powerful enough to keep up with the sun and greenhouse effect, so it is unclear why an R44 Raven II with A/C wouldn’t be at least as good. Or, if they’re determined to burn Jet A, an R66.


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