the spin cycle continues

Kindly observe (again) another act of senseless evil by human scum.

Kindly observe (again) how said human scum will now be given a platform by the shameless media to become famous and get their message out.

Kindly observe (again) how the political, business, entertainment, and/or educational elite express the same pointless platitudes without ever proposing any concrete solutions whatsoever thus ensuring its continuation for the next few decades at least.

Kindly observe (again) as the usual rhetorical bomb throwers use this event to justify whatever proconceived notions they have on religion, terrorism, guns, culture, and/or whatever and compete to see who can shout the loudest.

Kindly observe (again) as this spin cycle continues.

Kindly observe (again) that it will happen (again).

We recommend you do as I do, which is to not pay attention.  For the average person on the street, it’s not even worth it anymore.  You can’t change it, and you’ve got problems of your own to deal with each and every day as you live your life.  This sort of thing is now as common as the changing of the seasons, and it’s not going to stop, so why bother expending your very valuable mental energy on it?

nz

Version #13 of 83 – Circa 2019

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3K chickens show humanity a potential path forward

If anybody ever tells you the game isn’t rigged, they are either:

a) Uninformed

b) Stupid

c) A member of the political, business, entertainment, and/or educational elite that rigs said game every day

Get used to it folks, it’s not going to change. For you see, the folks who the bulk of the population think are out to fix the game (usually politicians) are actually all card carrying members of (c) as outlined above. They’re like a plumber who offers to fix your water heater (for $2.3K) after he’s bashed it in with a hammer whilst on meth.

But not to worry, every once and a while the planet provides us a nugget of a potential way forward. In France, a few thousand chickens ganged up and got themselves a fox corpse. I mean it’s not like they downed a wolf or a komodo dragon, but it sure is something.

Do not doubt the power of numbers. We’re not necessarily saying that 3K or 6K or 10K peasants need to rush the mansions of Bezos or Zucky. But even their legions of Stormtrooper guards can’t possibly stand up to those numbers. Just food for thought, in case such tactics become necessary someday.

rigged game

“I want my daughter/son to get into Berkeley.”

“Why yes, ma’am, we can arrange that for a tidy application ‘fee’.”

[cluck, cluck, cluck]

“What is, what is that sound?”

[cluck, Cluck, CLUCK]

Boeing has a lot to answer for

Everybody should withhold final judgement until the Ethiopians and the American investigators have gotten a crack at the boxes.  But eyewitness reports indicating that the aircraft was breaking up in flight are troubling.

I flew yesterday on a 737-800 which looks mostly like a 737 Max and I was glad when I got aboard and realized it was an 800.  I mean I’m not trying to be too dramatic, my rental car drive to the airport was 700 times more dangerous, but I did sleep better on the flight.

It used to be that Airbus built planes that killed people with wacky failures in the electronics and systems.  Airbus hasn’t done that since Air France 447 in 2009.  Has Boeing now assumed that tragic role?  And if so, why and how?

What we do know is that the Lion Air crash in Indonesia was partly a maintenance failure, but also Boeing’s fault.  The pilots had the correct input on the controls, the airplane ignored them.  The plane killed those people.  Again, we’ll see what Ethiopia says on this latest crash.

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the plastic straw ban is futile

We’re back! We have no idea why. We’ll speak no more of it. Did you miss us? Please hold your applause [claps hands in an empty room].

So, what the most consequential recycling (“re-cy-cling”) news of the year? Is it:

a) That science still hasn’t solved replication technology thus forcing us to constantly throw away empty food packages when we want them instantly refilled with their sweet goodness?

b) That members of both American political parties still cannot be melted down to make something more useful, like office building support beams?

c) That beer brewers consistently still use glass even though much of glass isn’t recyclable and cans are 100% so, and still hold the same tasty beer? (more on this later)

d) I would hope nobody said plastic straws. But I’m sure a whole bunch of people would say plastic straws.

For you see, plastic straws were once fine. Now they are evil. For some reason.

We already wrote about this last year, but it’s gotten worse since then.

It’s now gotten to the point where the government (in Washington DC, of course) has to employ their own Brown Shirt goon equivalent to threaten your local neighborhood restaurant.

Here’s the reality check:

1) Plastic straws make up about 0.000004% of discarded non-recyclable plastic waste

2) The vast, vast, vast majority of plastic waste that gets into the ocean or into landfills is due entirely to the extremely poor basic waste collection practices of East Asian countries

3) The major recycling news of the year is not straws, but the Chinese government’s ban on the importation of high error rate recycled waste from aboard. Almost nobody is talking about this, but it’s a big deal folks. Every municipal recycling program in America is impacted, as in, yours. But because standard American news sources are terrible, you have to go bathe in an article written by Gizmodo of all places to get a good story on the issue.

Every aspect of American recycling is currently in flux. But, for some reason, in early 2019 the hate is on plastic straws.

One of the goals (cue laugh track) of this degenerate blog has always been to question the easy answer, or the lunacy of the current fad. The fallacy of being seen, or being felt, to “do good”. Often to the exclusion of larger problems, or more concrete action.

The municipal recycling planner at your local town hall (who probably makes $34K a year) will make major decisions this year that have a greater impact to the planet than any one of the rest of us will do the rest of our lives. These folks at least deserve our attention.

Fixing China’s non-existent recycling program is hard. Getting into the nitty gritty of recycling costs per ton per waste category per overall waste gathered by your local town hall is hard to get around. But banning plastic straws is easy, and refusing to use them is an instant self-check gratification for somebody who has decided (because they were told so by somebody else) that said straws are now a big problem.

But easy answers don’t save the planet. Hard work does.

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Too easy

supersonic will soon be back, but it won’t be big

Sometimes technology seems to go backwards.  For example, the US used to operate the shuttle which was a relatively advanced reusable spaceplane.  Now NASA has nothing, and the replacement vehicle in development has more in common with the Apollo or Soyuz space capsules than it does with the shuttle.

Likewise, Concorde first flew in 1976.  Here we are over 40 years later and every single commercially viable passenger plane of any size is exclusively subsonic.  I’ll save my thoughts pf NASA’s failures for another day.  Today I want to focus on supersonic.  More and more in the news you see that several companies are trying to dive back into supersonic.

But first, what happened after 1976?  In short, supersonic failed for a number of reasons:

– It was never cost effective: Concorde burned a lot of fuel, had a large maintenance footprint, and could never get the cost per seat / seat vacancy ratios correctly to turn a consistent profit.

– Development: Because of the cost considerations, nobody saw a reason to develop a successor to Concorde.  By the end of the 20th Century, Concorde was a 20 year old design and the airframes were reaching the end of usable service.

– 2000: The Air France crash was the end of the road.  Adding up the cost and service life against the reality of a full crash was the end of the program.

And there we’ve sat for decades.  But now folks are willing to try again.  Why:

a) Air travel and airline technology has become so advanced as to be scary in terms of safety. Western airlines have a safety record that’s downright miraculous. Lawnmowers kill more people each year.

b) Modern super fuel efficient engines combined with advanced computing might be close to cracking the code on the cost problem. When you add in the composites that make the newer airframes strong and lighter I think they might cross the threshold on turning a profit per flight.

c) Humanity is more obsessed with time. In the business world, seconds matter whereas when Concorde last flew perhaps only minutes mattered. Think of it, in 2000 smartphones didn’t even exist.  The world has gotten faster, and so I think folks will be far more inclined to put down the cash when they’re staring at the reality of a flight time that gets cut in half.

But will it work?  Well, let’s examine the most realistic commercial supersonic venture.

Boom Supersonic has already booked aircraft orders, 10 from Virgin, and 20 from JAL.  The expectation is they’re flying commercially by 2025.  Its jets will seat 55 passengers, go across the Atlantic in half the current time, and cost approximately $5K per ticket.  Boom claims to have cracked the code on fuel efficiency and subduing the impact of the dreaded sonic boom.

My conclusions:

1) I searched online, trying to book over two months in advance, Heathrow to JFK with a one week dwell.  The cost for an Economy seat is $400.  Boom’s jet is single aisle, single seat each side.  To me, this is an exclusively Business / First Class jet.  Economy does not apply. For a Business flight it’s all over the place.  You can go on TAP Portugal for $2.1K.  Air France is $6K.  United is $7K  To fly BA is $7.5K.

So let’s get something straight.  If Boom states that it’s $5K per seat they either mean the cost to them and/or they’re fibbing on future prices.  When all the major carriers are already charging Atlantic rides for well over $5K for subsonic, then my back of the napkin math says a Boom supersonic seat costs closer to $10K.

So right off the bat you’re looking at a ticket that’s 20 times more expensive between Economy and supersonic.  Thus, to declare that the supersonic ticket is already in the realm of the super-rich is an understatement.  Already it’s the same high-risk niche market Concorde had to struggle with.

2) I don’t care what Boom or others claim, the sonic boom problem is a major problem.  Even if Boom can produce a severely muffled boom, they still can’t break physics, there will still be a boom.   And if there’s a sonic boom, it’s going to be regulated.  If it’s regulated, it’s not going to be easy.

All supersonic has to do is lightly tap one skyscraper apartment window in Manhattan and there will be people up in arms about how the boom is giving them phantom headaches.  Then the lawyers come out of the bushes and it’s a gigantic mess.  Can Boom and other companies get around this by only going supersonic over water, sure.  But in the end as with Concorde, the sonic boom problem is not going to be a rounding error.  It’s a big problem.

3) Think about the turnover rate of a standard subsonic jet.  Take a 737 flying inside the US.  On any given day, one jet is expected to fly over half-a-dozen flights.  They have to turnover at the gate in less than an hour and get back in the air.  They have to not seriously break over hundreds of hours of constant flight.  They have to do it at the safety rate of zero crashes.  Can Boom or other companies crack the code on this, keep the aircraft available enough to fly again and again to generate profit, and do it safely every single fight?  I think they can definitely do it.  But I’m not sure they can do it and consistently make money.  New technology is hard to master.  And going supersonic on a completely new airframe isn’t going to be an easy thing to do.

You need only look at the development hell Airbus and Boeing have gone through with their latest subsonic jets to realize how hard building airplanes is.  Going supersonic is going to generate a whole new level of difficulty.  Plus, Boom is a company that doesn’t have a sustained record of success with previous aircraft models.  Look at what happened with the Bombardier CSeries.  That jet crashed out in development hell because Bombardier made too many mistakes.  They had to sell out the airframe to Airbus for like $1 to avoid bankruptcy.  And the CSeries is a pretty basic modern subsonic jet, and it still was impossible for Bombardier to succeed.  I’m not sure I think companies like Boom truly understand how hard their task will be to develop and build supersonic without going bankrupt in the process.

In closing, I think we’ll see supersonic return and soon.  But given that the passenger market is still only the exclusive rich, the remaining associated problem of profit risk, and my concerns about technology development, I think the end result is supersonic is going to be a very, very small footprint by say 2030.  Only a handful of jets will fly and the companies that run them will be scraping by paycheck to paycheck on cost.  In the end, I don’t think supersonic is going to be viable for major airlines on anything but a small scale.  It’ll be a niche market, or perhaps become a major chunk of the private jet market.  But large scale from major airlines?  I just don’t see it.

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But who knows, maybe I’m wrong?