No Formal Post; Open Discussion

I have to travel and already the difficulties have begun. Let me just ask: Where are all the personal rocket ships we have been promised? I diligently read Astounding Science Fiction when I was a boy, saw and anticipated the creations that awaited us. To think we are still at the mercy of a few measly snowflakes is galling. Too much attention has been paid to perfecting personal electronic trinkets and not enough of creating a vast, interconnected, world-wide tunnel system.

One long-time reader (who I am not certain wants to be identified) has asked what if NASA’s recent discovery is generalized, i.e., what if actual non-Earth life is found out side the solar system? What would that do to those who hold to rigid creationist theories? I mean those that hold the Earth is a mere thousands of years old.

I would say: nothing. My guess is that those kinds of beliefs are readily adaptable to such revelations, even extending to discoveries of extraterrestrial sentient life. Education is not a cure for much.

I’m off.


  1. Ceri

    I guess I can accept the lack of a worldwide tunnel system. What infuriates me is our apparent inability – perhaps declining ability – to make appropriate cost/benefit tradeoffs when it comes to preparedness for extreme conditions. So the UK is short of grit for the roads because the Met Office crystal ball said it would be warm; which dimwit or collection of dimwits concluded that because it might be warm we should hold less grit? There should be a clearly understood remit to keep things moving under all normal conditions, with normal meaning ‘stuff that happens more than once in 15 years’. Put it another way: it snows a lot in Chicago, but O’hare almost never shuts down for snow, but Gatwick was just shut for two days with a (comparatively) puny amount of snow.

  2. Speed

    The first practical personal rocket ship was the Lear Jet, developed by Bill Lear. First flight: 1963. While the quality of commercial aviation has had its ups and downs over the last few decades (prices down, availability up, quality down, safety up), the generic lear jet has become a staple of successful businesses, business owners, cashed out entrepreneurs, members of Congress, trust fund babies and once mighty General Motors executives.

    Those of us that disrobe for security, heft carry-ons into the overhead and squeeze into seating that the ASPCA would consider substandard can blame only our failure to achieve or select the right set of parents.

    Recent market reversals have forced me to cancel my order for a Gulfstream 650. But, like Jerry Brown, I’ll be baaaack.

  3. Speed

    Re: Snowflakes.
    At the height of Seattle’s recent crippling snow storm (the two or so inches that fell would go unnoticed to drivers in Detroit, Cleveland or Pittsburgh), United Airlines and the airport’s snow removal crews delivered me, on time, to the gate at SeaTac. Unfortunately the Seattle area streets authorities believe that salt is for french fries (and even there in low doses), not snow melting. The line for cabs was reported to be 200 yards long and the roads leading to and from the airport were ice covered and clotted with cars — an automotive myocardial infarction of massive proportions.

    Airlines and airports do a remarkable job of moving people and freight in all but the worst conditions. Surface streets, not so much.

  4. SteveBrooklineMA

    Haved a good trip! You are right about a non-earth life discovery. It won’t change religion much, i.e. no more than Copernicus did. Unless, of course, we are talking about little green men landing their ship on the white house lawn. And if those little green men turned out to already be Christian, that would be a game changer!

  5. DAV

    Have a nice strip — er, trip. Be good and do what the TCA people tell you.

  6. Speed,

    Since I don’t fly, privately or publicly, I was totally ignorant about your contentions. So I did what any self-respecting fool would do: I googled. And sure enough, you are right:

    TSA cancels security upgrade for private jets

    By Private Jet Daily Staff, February 12, 2010

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is canceling its plans to impose tighter security restriction for private jets in small airports.

    In 2008, TSA said that security for commercial flights improved, which forced terrorists to target private planes. The regulator then proposed tighter restrictions for general aviations.

    If the TSA proposal had continued, it would have required around 300 airports to upgrade their security programs, which would have been costly.

    However, upon hearing the proposed rules, the general aviation industry sent several complaints. Pilots and operators claimed that the risk for terrorism in private jet flights was very small. They added, private pilots said that the staff is always cautious of who boards the planes.

    “We’re going to be 10 times more successful in partnership than … being combative back and forth to each other,” commented Brian Delauter, general aviation manager of TSA.

    Delauter said that the security responsibilities will be passed on to the private jets.

    The stinking rich are not like you and me. They don’t get crotch-groped by the near-homeless. The stinking rich may FUND terrorism, and some of them (oil sheiks, Senators, and the like) certainly do, but they do not suffer the indignities of prole-hood.

  7. JH

    [W]hat if actual non-Earth life is found out side the solar system?

    I love what if questions. In this case, I’d like to volunteer to check out the non-Earth life regardless of possible risks. You know, this brings up my fantasy of becoming a scientist like Sam Carter in the show Stargate SG-1 in my next life. (Well, if people can believe that Jesus was a Zombie for three days, I can too believe that there is a next life. ^_^)

    Oh, the heroes in Stargate SG-1 fight one false god after another.

  8. Speed

    Ron Number,

    General aviation aircraft (which includes everything not airline or military) serves the stinking rich, the simply rich, the well-to-do, people who work for a companies that value their time, hobbyists that build their own airplanes and the guy down the street who would rather putter around in a 30 year old Cessna 172 than play golf or sit at the dock drinking beer.

    In the last 48 hours there have been 15 general aviation instrument departures from the Cuyahoga County Airport east of Cleveland, Ohio. None had seats for more than 10 passengers.

    If you are concerned that a passenger or crewman on one of those could be the next shoe bomber then you need to quantify that concern and balance it against the cost of staffing the airport with TSA personnel and gear, including a $130,000 “backscatter, low-level X-ray machine” and associated infrastructure. An alternative would be to close the airport leaving approximately 1,100 people without jobs.
    Sometimes it’s nice having the “filthy rich” around.

    Burke Lakefront Airport’s (a general aviation field in downtown Cleveland) recent arrivals have included two air ambulances (Lifeguard flights) with another expected this afternoon (two jets and a helicopter). These transport both patients and transplant organs. I can hear it now, “Sir, you have to show me what’s in the cooler”

  9. Ray

    The TSA is just getting started in their empire building. Next will be searches to ride the bus, train or ferry. And of course since car bombs are a favorite of the terrorists, you will have to be searched to ride in a taxi or drive your car. Soon everyone will have their own personal TSA agent to watch them.

  10. DAV

    I can see the argument for air taxi involvement with TSA but private is another matter. So what if I blow up my own plane with exploding underwear? Wouldn’t t that be a bit like carjacking my own car, though? Or a bit like the sheriff’s ultimatum in Blazing Saddles? OTOH, nobody has ever correlated intelligence (or even common sense) with the bureaucratic mind.

    Back in the beginning days of airport searches (i.e., metal detectors) I loved bypassing all that ‘security’ to get to my plane. One doesn’t have to be “filthy rich” to own a plane. You just need the appropriate priorities. I’m not “filthy rich” — well, not rich anyway.

  11. Speed


    Despite the casual operator-customer relationship implied by the designation “air taxi” passengers are usually well known and vetted, at least as to their financial condition.

    As to the other, don’t forget about Joseph A. Stack:
    A man flew his aircraft into a seven-storey office building in Texas yesterday [February 18, 2010] shortly after setting his own house on fire, killing himself and injuring at least two others.
    It would have taken a remarkable scanner to prevent that one.

  12. DAV


    I know a lot of Part 135 operators. Air taxi is exactly what it sounds like. The only vetting requirement is a non-bounced payment. Times are tough enough without throwing away offered money. Yes, there are repeat customers. Most businesses won’t survive without them. But, consider, if I was really determined, I would become a ‘vetted’ passenger. No scanner or body search is gonna catch me.

    That also goes for the full body scans we are being forced to endure. I’ll make a bet that the next attack will be by someone passing a full body scan. The body searches are silly. No determined individual will allow himself to stand out from the crowd until the time of the attack. At least one that wants to succeed.

    It’s well known that in flight collision with terrain and other obstacles results in at least an x-ray to determine the number of broken bones. High values are correlated with suicide or believed so. Mr. Stack’s ending was perhaps more spectacular than most. He wasn’t the first suicide by aircraft. Nothing new here.

  13. Exactly. Some people get rudely searched under the suspicion that they are suicidal terrorists, and some people do not. The searching is futile and will not prevent anything, but it does humiliate people and serves to remind them that they are low caste inferiors whose dignity and freedoms are nonexistent in the eyes of the Ruling Class.

    Humiliation and degradation are the whole point. It is not about “public safety” or “homeland security”. The latter is a completely puerile and Orwellian phrase in the first place. It’s a joke. But the powerful degrading the powerless is not a joke; it’s classic human behavior.

  14. max

    RE: extra-terrrestrial life

    I’m more interested in what effect it will have on those who cling to Darwinism. Since one of the primary tenants of Darwinism is that all life has a common ancestor, will they be advocating a panspermia theory like Hoyles’? Or will it finally put an end to the long discredited Darwin (“Hello, pan-genes didn’t even survive the 19th century”) and instead make mainstream more realistic beliefs like Kimuraism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *