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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Knee replacement in Mexico

It has long amazed me that the typical non-emergency medical intervention for an American does not start with a plane flight to a country in which medicine can be done efficiently.

“A Mexican Hospital, an American Surgeon, and a $5,000 Check (Yes, a Check)” (nytimes) is a story about a knee replacement that happens in the way that Econ 101 would suggest:

The hospital costs of the American medical system are so high that it made financial sense for both a highly trained orthopedist from Milwaukee and a patient from Mississippi to leave the country and meet at an upscale private Mexican hospital for the surgery.

Ms. Ferguson gets her health coverage through her husband’s employer, Ashley Furniture Industries. The cost to Ashley was less than half of what a knee replacement in the United States would have been. That’s why its employees and dependents who use this option have no out-of-pocket co-pays or deductibles for the procedure; in fact, they receive a $5,000 payment from the company, and all their travel costs are covered.

Dr. Parisi, who spent less than 24 hours in Cancún, was paid $2,700, or three times what he would have received from Medicare, the largest single payer of hospital costs in the United States. Private insurers often base their reimbursement rates on what Medicare pays.

Interesting, but it raises more questions than it answers, e.g., why aren’t all knee replacements done in a country where knee replacements can be done efficiently?

[Separately, note that the NYT informs us that Mexico is too dangerous for a caravan of Hondurans to dwell, which is why they need to continue across the southern border of the U.S. and claim asylum. But, on the other hand, the same newspaper tells us that Mexico is sufficiently safe and organized to serve as a meeting place for American surgeons and privately insured patients.]

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10: phone for landscape photographers

The latest Samsung Galaxy Note is now the top-scoring smartphone at DxOMark. It has a 7-point lead over the Apple XS Max, for example, but what’s more interesting is that the phone offers a 13mm-equivalent super wide-angle lens, useful for landscape and perhaps real estate (make an apartment look much larger!). No optical image stabilization on that super wide lens, unfortunately, so it will be best for daytime use.

As with Apple, Samsung calls a normal perspective lens (52mm equivalent) a “telephoto”.

The comparison images at DxOMark show a surprising amount of improvement over Apple, despite not having what you’d think would be required (much bigger sensor and, consequently, thicker phone).

Are we going to be entering a golden age of smartphone photography?

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Supersonic flight for (rich) civilians

One interesting panel at Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture) this year was regarding civilian supersonic aircraft (see the Supersonic Renaissance clip on YouTube).

As with most innovations in aviation, the big enabler is an innovation in engine technology. GE Aviation, currently celebrating its 100th anniversary, has a new engine that is mostly based on the latest subsonic civilian technology and three of these will drive a the Aerion AS2 plane forward at Mach 1.4 while burning roughly 2X the fuel per passenger-mile as a Gulfstream G650. The second enabler is cash and the Bass brothers are supposedly kicking in $4 billion.

So far so good if the goal is 4,200 nm over water (Gulfstream G650 range is closer to 7,000 nm).

What about going over land? After a five-year regulatory process, the U.S. effectively banned supersonic flight over land in 1973. The ban relates to speed, not to noise over the ground. An aircraft whose sonic boom was quieter than a Honda Accord driving by on the street would be banned, for example.

In a rare example of a NASA project that might have an effect on someone’s day-to-day life, NASA is currently hoping to test fly an X-59 “quiet supersonic” plane in 2021. This will supplement testing done in 2018 with a a modified F/A 18. The shape of the plane is designed to prevent shockwaves from different parts of the aircraft meeting and reinforcing each other. This may reduce the boom by 30 dBA and produce a sound like distant thunder.

NASA is currently planning do to 2-3 years of testing to gather civilian reaction and then turn numbers over to the FAA for the beginning of a regulatory process whose result will presumably be a decibel-time limit. If the regulatory process takes the same 5 years that it did from 1968-1973, that will be 7-8 years after 2021 before manufacturers such as Aerion can have any idea whether what they’re designing will be legal to operate from NY to LA (and thus ready for climate change activist Leonardo DiCaprio!). In other words, it will take longer than World War II and all of the innovation that happened in aviation during those 6 years!

(Two nights earlier, Burt Rutan had given a crusty old guy’s talk about how pathetic young Americans were with their anemic pace of innovation. The government, including today’s NASA was singled out as particularly sluggish and unambitious, thus leading to “some homebuilders in the Mojave Desert” running Americans’ only space flights with humans on board.)

One interesting thing is that an airplane can potentially fly at Mach 1.2 at 60,000′ without a sonic boom ever reaching the ground. The speed of sound is slower where the air is colder and apparently the wave will dissipate as it goes through warmer air (but what if Hillary Clinton and DiCaprio are at FL510 in a Gulfstream G650 just below? Will their Champagne glasses be rattled?)

Aerion is planning to be in service in 2026 and to meet all Stage 5 takeoff and landing noise restrictions. To keep the rabble from rioting, the company is claiming to be “carbon neutral”. Yes they will spend $4 billion (enough to plant 400 million trees?) and burn 2X the fuel of the biggest Gulfstream per seat-mile. But the fuel burned can be 100 percent biofuel (i.e., corn!).

More: watch the Supersonic Renaissance clip on YouTube.

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