Should one stay off Facebook, Instagram, et al. following the death of a parent?

Judaism requires that one refrain from attending social gatherings for a year following the death of a parent. From “Shiva and Other Mourning Observances” (Chabad):

Even as the mourner resumes his or her everyday routine after the Shivah, certain mourning practices, such as not purchasing or wearing new clothes, cutting one’s hair, enjoying music or other form of entertainment, and participating in joyous events (weddings, etc.), are continued for a period of thirty days (beginning from the day of the burial).

In the case of a person mourning the passing of a parent, these mourning practices extend for a full year.

Other sites clarify that “purely social gatherings”, “parties”, or any event in which music is played are off limits.

How do we translate this into our modern world that was increasingly anti-social even before coronapanic? What are the best examples of frivolous social activities that are incompatible with the status of mourning a relative (for a month) or parent (for a year)? My vote: Facebook and similar social networks.

Prior to my father’s precipitous decline (perhaps coincidence, but it was a week after receiving Pfizer Covid vaccine shot #2), my own Facebook presence was certainly frivolous. Some examples:

If Facebook had been around in 1599, surely Hamlet would have reproached Gertrude for posting on Facebook so soon after the death of his father:

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

might have been

Likes, Likes, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
Did go positively viral on Instagram.

Facebook makes people unhappy (New Yorker, 2013; and also a 2019 study), so we could perhaps argue that using it doesn’t violate the letter of the Jewish law against participating in joyous gatherings. I’m not an Orthodox Jew, but I think that the law makes sense and that social media is against the spirit of the law if not the letter.

Readers: What do you think? Should the mourner of a parent be on Facebook? If so, after how many months?


Fact-checking Donald Trump’s predictions regarding COVID vaccine availability

From September 18, 2020, an Unscientific American who was “without evidence” and who contradicted “experts”:

From the linked-to article

President Trump said Friday that every American would have access to a coronavirus vaccine by April, contradicting his own statement of two days earlier and sowing deeper confusion about the process and timing of vaccine approval and distribution.

When Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said earlier in the week that the general public was unlikely to get access to a vaccine until the second and third quarters of 2021, echoing other scientific leaders in the administration, Trump said he’d misspoken.

“I think he made a mistake with that statement,” Trump said Wednesday. “When he said it, I believe he was confused. I’m just telling you we’re ready to go.”

Trump then said a vaccine would be ready in weeks and swiftly made available, despite the fact that no one knows yet when sufficient data will be collected from clinical trials to show that one of the vaccines in late-stage trials is effective or safe.

What do we have from science-guided leadership (and we are assured that leadership is important in determining COVID-19 death rate)? “Biden announces April 19 deadline to make all adults eligible for Covid vaccine” (NBC):

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that all adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19 … The new deadline to expand eligibility — which is two weeks earlier than Biden had previously targeted — should not be difficult to meet since several states have already begun administering the vaccine to anyone over 16 who wants it.

“The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end in sight think we are at the finish line already,” Biden said. “Let me be deadly earnest with you, we aren’t finished. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re still in a life and death race against this virus. Until we get more people vaccinated we need everyone to wash their hands, socially distance and mask up.”

Asked why Biden was announcing the new timeframe when nearly every state has already moved up eligibility to the April date, Psaki said the president wanted to provide clarity and remind seniors to hurry to get their shots before the lines get long.

In case the “Experts say the president’s latest timeline is nearly impossible to confirm since none of the vaccines in development have been proved effective…” is cut off on mobile, here’s a screen shot from the desktop Twitter:


  • U.S. should approve a saline injection as a Covid-19 vaccine? (my idea from June 2020 that would have reassured a lot of folks)
  • “Italy Pushes Back as Health Care Workers Shun Covid Vaccines” (NYT, March 31): Prime Minister Mario Draghi issued a decree requiring that workers in health care facilities be vaccinated, a move that will test the legal limits of his government’s efforts to stem coronavirus outbreaks. … “Unfortunately there is huge part of doctors who are deeply ignorant,” said Mr. Burioni [a virologist with a Ph.D., but not a “Dr.” like Dr. Jill Biden, M.D.], who suggested that perhaps “the selection process for bringing people to gain a medical degree and then the medical license is not effective enough.” … Salvatore Giuffrida, the director of the hospital, Europe’s fourth largest, said he favored a vaccination requirement because it would also keep medical workers healthy and would strengthen defensive lines as a brutal third wave spreads through northern Italy.

How’s the Derek Chauvin trial going?

How’s State v. Chauvin going? I haven’t been paying attention to this trial because I assume that conviction is guaranteed. If nothing else, since the judge denied a change of venue to somewhere outside the city, jurors who live in Minneapolis will have to convict Chauvin or risk having their houses burned down in a wave of post-acquittal mostly peaceful demonstrations (see also the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which followed an unwelcome acquittal).

Readers: Has anything new been learned?

It is a little unclear why taxpayers must fund this trial. Mr. Chauvin has already been convicted here in Massachusetts. From the Harvard Art Museum director, in an email regarding “Anti-Asian racism”: “It feels only moments ago that I was writing to you about the murder of George Floyd and so many others and the importance of banding together in support of our black and brown communities.” From our town’s “Selectmen” (one of whom is named “Jennifer”, so don’t take the “men” part literally): “Embedded in our town vision statement is a commitment to fostering economic, racial, ethnic, and age diversity within ***Happy Valley***. This longstanding commitment was brought into sharper focus and scrutiny last spring after the murder of George Floyd.” (the 2-acre zoning minimum is the cornerstone of our commitment to economic diversity, enabling us to welcome anyone able to afford a $1 million vacant lot) From the school superintendent: “Following George Floyd’s murder you received messages from [a diversity bureaucrat], me, and recently a statement from the School Committee expressing a commitment to focusing on race, inclusion, equity, and diversity in all aspects of our schools.”

Mr. Chauvin was also quickly convicted by our best and brightest nationwide. An email received July 4, 2020: “… more than 200 years of systemic racism. And just weeks ago, the murder of George Floyd. … We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country. … Happy Fourth of July, Joe Biden.” An email received February 9, 2021: “Black History Month is a time to celebrate, reflect, and be inspired to action. … from the wrongful murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, to the treatment of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, to the attempts to diminish Black votes and Black voices in last year’s elections. … Happy Black History Month! Jaime Harrison, Chair, Democratic National Committee.”

[Regarding the unfortunate Breonna Taylor, note that a Grand Jury came to the opposite conclusion.]


  • a 2015 post in which I noted that “Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted by an impartial jury of 12 locals wearing ‘Boston Strong’ T-shirts.” (the trial judge’s and prosecution’s failure to agree to the seemingly obvious need for change of venue has now resulted in years of litigation all the way up to the Supreme Court and, 8 years after Mr. Tsarnaev’s jihad, his fate remains uncertain)

Success story for general aviation: transporting plague-ridden 2-year-olds

“Family catches private flight to Austin with pilot friend after getting booted off Southwest plane when their two-year-old couldn’t keep his mask on” (Daily Mail):

A family kicked off a Southwest flight after their two-year-old could not keep his face mask on turned to Facebook to complain and were offered a private flight by a family friend.

He said his family woke up at three in the morning to prepare for their flight out of Denver, Colorado.

‘I practiced with him at least two or three times at the house and every time he threw it off, but I figured that [Southwest] would work with us on the plane because he’s two,’ Michelle Harvey said.

FOX 7 reports that Peck flew his twin-engine airplane to Denver, picked up the family, and flew them to Austin at no charge.

There are already pilot groups for flying medical patients (Angel Flight and PALS), dogs (Pilots N Paws), sea turtles (Turtles Fly Too; see also Merry Christmas to the Sea Turtles and Merry Christmas (again) to the Sea Turtles). If we assume that coronapanic never ends and that recalcitrant toddlers remain recalcitrant, could it be time for a new volunteer pilot group for transporting families who don’t want their trip to turn into a mask fight? Light planes are at their best when some of the seats are occupied by children (reasonably low in weight despite one or more years of lockdown, unlike their adult counterparts).

Readers: What should the group be called? Winged Unmasked Brats (“WUB”)? Terrible Twos Take To The Skies (“TTTTTS”)?

As Joe Biden is discovering, sometimes it is best to put children in a cage…

And, in case anyone wants to see just how effective masks (for which we will fight to the death, if necessary), lockdowns, and vaccines are against our viral nemesis, here’s Sweden (unvaccinated, unmasked, unlocked) versus Israel (fully vaccinated (older/vulnerable), masked, and locked-until-recently; source):

From the above, applying the principles of coronascience, we can infer that masks, lockdowns, and vaccines work so well that applying these interventions in Israel stops a plague 2000+ miles away in Sweden.

Thank Karen for your double mutant coronavirus?

After seeing “‘Double Mutant’ Coronavirus Variant Detected in San Francisco” (US News) and similar headlines, I called up a medical school professor friend to ask a variant of my September question: When we wear masks, does the coronavirus thank us for our service?

In that September article, I pointed out that a non-evolving virus is better off if masks don’t work:

Coronavirus is thankful when we wear masks because our misplaced faith in masks leads us to delay taking effective action against the virus, e.g., building shade structures and holding school outdoors (changing the calendar in northern states so that the school year is during the warm months), decluttering retail stores, etc.

[Update: my new example of why faith in masks spreads coronavirus… the government having told them that a bandana (which, in fact, is not worn) is highly effective PPE, people are happy to pack themselves cheek-to-cheek in a 100% full airliner. If “scientists” hadn’t sold the public on masks, it wouldn’t be legal for airlines to operate 100% full flights (flown by non-white-males) and consumers wouldn’t want to get on such a flight. Without faith in masks, the coronanxious would stay home, which is where they can actually be safe.]

and also that coronavirus might be better off if masks do work and people wear them correctly and consistently:

Consider what happens in an unmasked “give the finger to the virus” population, such as Sweden. The virus flourishes for about three months and then fails. Compare to the slow burn of the mostly-masked U.S. and the not-fade-away of completely-masked France…

Maybe the masks protect enough people that the virus can sustain itself at a low-to-medium boil. Especially in a geographically large area in which epidemics have been on different schedules, the virus keeps finding mask-protected populations to infect. The virus stays topmost in our minds, our hearts, and our media. Shouldn’t coronavirus then thank us for our service to it?

What about an evolving coronavirus, which is what we plainly have now? If we’d let the virus rage in the spring of 2020, at this point there wouldn’t be any humans left without antibodies to the not-Chinese Wuhan edition of the virus. If we assume that shutdowns and masks work, the result is that there are always going to be pockets of humans with no resistance and among whom a mini- or maxi-plague can rage. Isn’t that situation more conducive to mutations than if we’d gotten it all over with in spring 2020 and swept up?

I ran this question by my medical school professor friend. “Your thinking would have been conventional in epidemiology through 2019,” he responded, “but is unacceptable today. Another way to look at this is that humans and the virus, without these interventions into the ecosystem, would have coevolved. Think about what happens when people try to manage forests, putting out fires as best they can. Mostly what they accomplish is preserving a tremendous amount of fuel for a fire that will far exceed their ability to control.

So… if you get infected with one of these double- or triple-mutant viruses after your vaccination, thank your nearest Shutdown Karen?

(Speaking of vaccinations, is the above irrelevant now that vaccines exist against the pre-mutation virus? I don’t think so. There are a lot of countries that are unlikely to achieve high vaccination rates. Even if the vaccines were guaranteed risk-free in a letter from God, why would people who live in countries with low COVID death rates, e.g., in Sub-Saharan Africa (map), want to go to the effort, inconvenience, and expense of getting it? Due to travel restrictions, folks from these countries have been mostly excluded from Europe and the U.S. so they wouldn’t have gotten exposure to the original non-Chinese Wuhan version of the virus. So the mutant coronavirus can always find a naïve population in which to multiply happily and we will have our travel shutdown to thank for that.)

Evidence against the above hypothesis… Brazil. The country did have a raging plague, unmitigated by orders from the president, and now is home to variants. On the third hand, Brazil was not, in fact, unmasked and open like Sweden. The president didn’t lock down the country, but the legislature and state governors were free to order masks, close schools, and generally lock things down. (example) In fact, lockdowns were so severe that researchers trying to obtain blood samples in May and June 2020 for antibody tests often couldn’t get them. (Lancet article: “By contrast with the federal government, most state governors and city mayors enforced closure of schools, shops, and non-essential services, and recommended the use of face masks.”)

Evidence for the above hypothesis… Sweden, yet again! The Swedes let the plague rage in the spring and it disappeared for the summer (i.e., the Swedes weren’t continuously incubating coronavirus) only to reappear in late November, just as the Swedish MD/PhDs said that it would. There is no “Stockholm variant” or “Swedish variant” of the coronavirus. The fearsome variants are all coming from Church of Shutdown countries: UK, South Africa, and Brazil (as noted above, a Church of Shutdown nation despite a heretic being president). From the Wikipedia page on the South Africa lockdown:

… all gatherings except for funerals were prohibited. Restaurants, taverns, bottle stores and all other stores not selling essential goods were to close during the lockdown period. [unlike in Maskachusetts where alcohol and marijuana were “essential”!] Schools, already closed a week before the lockdown period, will not reopen until after the lockdown. Non-exempt people are only allowed to leave their homes during this period to access health services, collect social grants, attend small funerals (no more than 50 people) and shop for essential goods. … South Africans were ordered not to take their dogs for a walk during the lockdown, though they may walk them around their house or apartment building

All borders of the country are closed during the lockdown, except for designated ports of entry for the transportation of fuel, cargo, and goods. International and domestic passenger flights are prohibited, except for flights authorised by the Ministry of Transport, for the evacuation of South African nationals in foreign countries, and for certain repatriations

Enforced by the military, this turned out to be the perfect environment for breeding a variant.

Separately, perhaps because I have so often used my phone from the Harvard Medical School campus, Facebook seems to think that I am a physician. Here’s an ad that the 68,000 folks at the American Medical Student Association wanted me to see:

They will teach me how to turn a “pregnant person” (remember that men can be pregnant) into a not-pregnant person via pills. As Uncle Joe Biden said, “If you don’t love abortion, you ain’t a doctor”? Separately, why does the physician have lighter skin than the patient? Isn’t this ad perpetuating stereotypes? Why not go all-in and show the darker-skinned patient with Medicaid and EBT cards?

Also in recent medical school news… “A Medical Student Questioned Microaggressions. UVA Branded Him a Threat and Banished Him from Campus.” (Reason):

“Thank you for your presentation,” said [Kieran] Bhattacharya, according to an audio recording of the event. “I had a few questions, just to clarify your definition of microaggressions. Is it a requirement, to be a victim of microaggression, that you are a member of a marginalized group?”

Adams replied that it wasn’t a requirement.

Bhattacharya suggested that this was contradictory, since a slide in her presentation had defined microaggressions as negative interactions with members of marginalized groups.

As in the former Soviet Union, at University of Virginia dissent is a sign of mental illness:

Meanwhile, the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee met to to discuss the concern card. This committee voted to send Bhattacharya a written reminder to “show mutual respect” to faculty members and “express yourself appropriately.” The committee also suggested that he get counseling.

On November 26, this suggestion became a mandate: The student was informed that he must be evaluated by psychological services before returning to classes.

The author of Medical School 2020 went through a lot of these, but wisely kept his own counsel!


Book review: Ferry Pilot

FERRY PILOT: Nine Lives Over the North Atlantic, by Kerry McCauley, is about taking transoceanic trips in planes that were engineered for $50 hamburger missions (now $500 thanks to the inflation that the government tells us does not exist…). These planes might have only one piston engine, one alternator, one battery, one attitude indicator, etc. In other words, many single points of failure and each point reasonably likely to fail during a 10-hour leg.

The book opens by quoting Marco Polo: “An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.”

Icing is a persistent enemy:

The turbulence started almost immediately. I tightened my seat belt and concentrated on the instruments in a futile attempt to keep the plane on its assigned heading and altitude. Shortly after entering the clouds, a frosty haze of ice started building up on the windshield. I looked out the side window and I saw that a layer of rime ice was building up on the leading edge of the wings and the landing gear. Picking up ice really got my attention because encountering icing conditions in a small plane like the Cessna 182 is considered an emergency situation because the anti-ice systems are almost nonexistent. They consisted of a heated pitot tube to keep the flight instruments functioning and a windshield defroster that will do next to nothing in heavy ice. I wondered if I could open the side window and scrape at it with my fingernails if the ice got too thick. As ice accumulates on the leading edge of the wings, the airflow gets disturbed, reducing their ability to produce lift. Add to that the increased weight of the ice itself accumulating on the exposed sections of the airframe and it doesn’t take long before the plane is going down, whether you like it or not. And if your windshield is still iced over when you break out of the clouds then you won’t be able to see anything as you try to pick out a place to crash. I don’t know, maybe it’s less scary that way. As I penetrated deeper into the clouds the layer of ice continued to build. Normally, the correct response to flying into icing conditions would be to immediately turn around. But I decided to keep going. I figured if the ice got too bad I could just descend to the warmer air over the Mediterranean where the ice would melt quickly. (Okay, “should” melt quickly.) It was a plan. Not a great plan, but a plan.

After being in icing conditions for fifteen or twenty minutes the wings had picked up about two inches of bumpy rime ice. The 182 had been slowed by twenty-five knots, but so far I was able to hold altitude. Suddenly, there was a sharp BANG from the front of the plane followed by intense vibration. … After landing I inspected the front of the aircraft and discovered the source of the vibration. The cone-shaped spinner attached to the propeller had a two-inch strip of metal missing around the edge of the propeller. The damage was probably caused by ice building up unevenly on the spinner, causing an imbalance. When it finally let go, it took some metal with it. I felt bad about the damage.

Flying over the maximum design weight is conventional.

At 25 percent over maximum gross weight, the heavy Cessna didn’t exactly leap into the muggy night air.

A night flight over the Sahara Desert doesn’t go as planned due to the failure of the single alternator:

I trimmed up the plane, engaged the autopilot, made a few navigation notes, then took out a Tom Clancy novel and tried to get comfortable. I was feeling fat, dumb and happy. A condition that lasted for about three hours. I was just starting to get into the groove of an all night flight when out of the corner of my eye I saw an ominous red light wink on. Curious, I leaned forward and read the words LOW VOLTAGE under the glaring red light burning on the instrument panel.

I pulled back on the yoke, climbing for a better look, and there laid out in front of me was what I’d been praying for all night, the city of Abidjan. I yelled out in joy at my luck. I’d flown 1800 miles over Africa, at night, with no electrical power and still managed to somehow find my way.

(Our hero author had been reduced to using dead reckoning, a compass heading, and a flashlight to see the attitude indicator (“artificial horizon”) for hour after hour.)

He ends up having to fly through a lot of thunderstorms, either because he’s already three-quarters across the Atlantic Ocean or because he’s over some African nations without good aviation infrastructures (GPS was new at the time that he was doing his flying and the Africans did not operate their VORs consistently).

“In reference to flying through thunderstorms; “A pilot may earn his full pay for that year in less than two minutes. At the time of incident he would gladly return the entire amount for the privilege of being elsewhere.” – Ernest K. Gann

My mood darkened as I stared out at the impressive light show laid out in front of me. I didn’t bother looking at the map for an escape path. I needed to go east and the storms were in my way. As I approached the storm wall I felt tiny and insignificant, like an ant at the base of a skyscraper. The boiling mass of dark gray towered above me, topping out at 40,000 … feet? … 50? … higher? The tops didn’t matter to me. I was heading for the middle. Tightening my seat belt I studied the flashing clouds, looking for a weakness. Not seeing any breaks in the wall I picked an area with the least amount of flashes, kicked off the autopilot and dove in. Strong turbulence slammed into the plane as soon as I penetrated the cloud wall, tossing me around like a rag doll. A strong downdraft made it feel like a trapdoor had opened beneath me. The little Cessna lost a thousand feet of altitude in just seconds. Loose items floated around the cockpit as I shoved the throttle to the stops and hauled back on the yoke trying to arrest the uncontrolled descent. In spite of my efforts I was still going down at fifteen hundred feet per minute. Then just as suddenly, an updraft grabbed the plane and pushed me down in the seat as the altimeter spun back the other way. This cycle repeated several times while lightning flashed around me like a crazy strobe light show. The sound in the cockpit was deafening as heavy rain pelted the windshield and airframe. I slowed my airspeed down as much as possible to prevent structural damage. (The words “in-flight breakup” echoed in my mind.) Holding a heading was impossible. Suddenly, I burst out of the clouds and found myself in clear air with massive thunderheads towered above me on all sides. The difference was incredible. One minute I was desperately fighting for control of the plane in severe turbulence, the next minute the air was smooth as glass.

Understanding systems is critical. When he can’t transfer fuel from the ferry tank that has replaced the back seats, he is able to figure out the problem and move 90 gallons of 100LL with lung power.

The owner was colorful:

On the leg from Bangor to Goose Bay, I heard two Canadian pilots from Quebec speaking French on the frequency Pete and I were using. The Canadian pilots were having a nice long conversation that was, I have to admit, kind of annoying. I knew if they were bugging me they had to be driving Pete crazy. One of the first things I learned about Pete was that there was a long list of things he hated: the FAA, customs officials, female pilots, stupid people, and, strangely enough for the owner of an international ferry company, foreigners, especially the French. … “Hey, why don’t you two learn to speak English?” Pete said over the radio. “FUCK YOU!” One of the French speaking pilots replied. Without missing a beat Pete replied, “Good! You’re learning!”

He describes the famous NDB approach to Narsarsuaq, Greenland:

The minimums:

Not for the faint of heart! (The GPS-based procedure is easier, but still gets one down only to 1700′ over the airport; a standard instrument approach at a flatland airport goes down to 200′ above the runway.)

Even though this was my tenth trip to Narsarsuaq, and Pete’s umpteenth, we were still slightly unsure if we’d picked the correct fjord until we saw the familiar sunken ship halfway in that marks the correct path.


After checking in to the Hotel Narsarsuaq, with its huge Polar Bear statue in the lobby, we headed to the Blue Ice Café for dinner. The food was fantastic and seeing that we were only flying about four hours to Iceland the next day, Pete and I decided to stick around and shoot a few games of pool. Meanwhile, the bar started filling up with local Inuit men and women. About ten o’clock the party started to get a little rowdy, and the Danish workers who were in the bar got up and left. The two airport employees we were talking to told us that they never stayed at the bar very late because the Eskimos who frequent the bar had a tendency to get roaring drunk, and fights broke out almost every night.

I can recommend FERRY PILOT: Nine Lives Over the North Atlantic to anyone who flies little planes (and the book is included for Kindle Unlimited subscribers). If you’re a Cirrus pilot you’ll gain a better appreciation for the redundancy that we do have: two alternators, two batteries, two or three attitude sources, a parachute.


Fly the Quota Skies

(those who identify as) White males need not apply… “United Sets New Diversity Goal: 50% of Students at New Pilot Training Academy To Be Women and People of Color”:

United Airlines, the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, will begin accepting applications today as it embarks on an ambitious plan to train 5,000 new pilots by 2030, at least half of them women and people of color. Backed by scholarship commitments from United Airlines and JPMorgan Chase, United Aviate Academy will create opportunities for thousands of students, including women and people of color to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot, one of the most lucrative careers in the industry.

In addition, for those United Aviate Academy students who may need additional financing, United has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer private student loans to ensure that no highly-qualified, highly-motivated, eligible applicants will be turned away solely because they can’t afford to enroll. United Aviate Academy expects to enroll 100 students in 2021.”Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed a job with United, after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program – and our plan is for half of them to be women and people of color,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “We’re excited that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to support our work to diversify our pilot ranks and create new opportunities for thousands of women and people of color who want to pursue a career in aviation.”To break down the financial barriers that limited access to the airline pilot career path for generations of women and people of color, United has committed to fund $1.2 million in scholarships. The airline’s credit card partner, JPMorgan Chase has also committed $1.2 million to support women and people of color who are accepted to United Aviate Academy.”We are proud to partner with United to support the Aviate Academy’s mission to enable thousands to pursue their dream as a commercial airline pilot,” said Ed Olebe, President of Chase Co-Brand Cards. “Investing in this program directly aligns with our efforts to advance racial equity by expanding career development opportunities and making tangible progress in a field where women and people of color are underrepresented.” United will leverage its long-standing relationships with a variety of organizations, including the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies, the Latino Pilots Association and the Professional Asian Pilots Association to help identify and steer highly qualified, diverse candidates to the United Aviate Academy.

Looks like those who identify as Asians are “pilots of color” who can get in under this quota-based admissions system. This is good news considering that United has a Black Lives Matter pin for employees, but not a #StopAsianHate pin:

United thought that I would be thrilled to hear about this and emailed me, a loyal Mileage Plus member, this afternoon so that I would be sure not to miss it in the media.

This photo of an executive in the office is a good reminder to wear masks, but if Jessica is concerned about contracting coronavirus, why did he/she/ze/they go to work to begin with? He/she/ze/they is not a mechanic, pilot, flight attendant, or ramp worker. Why can’t he/she/ze/they work from home and #StopTheSpread?

(photo of Boston’s Logan Airport by Tony Cammarata, May 2020, from our Robinson R44 helicopter; your humble author at the controls)


  • “Pilot Sues Airline For Emotional Distress After Mechanical Failure Led To PTSD” (Plane & Pilot): A former QantasLink pilot is suing the regional carrier to the tune of $780,000 for suffering and damages from a case of PTSD she says was caused by a 2018 mechanical failure of one of the Boeing 717’s engines, which resulted in the shutdown of the engine and an emergency landing. … The plane landed without incident, and no one was injured. … She’s the first woman of color to wear a Qantas uniform, and she has received numerous awards for her work in aviation. She said recently, acknowledging the recognition she had earned for her historic place in Australian airline history, that her advice for younger Australians was, “People still stop me to congratulate me at how proud they are to see female pilot, let alone one of colour. My response is the same ‘Action Inspires Action’—you can achieve your dreams, too. Be the best possible human you can be.”
  • Does the United Airlines incident support Cicero’s point of view regarding wage labor?
  • Commercial flights during Coronapanic: a mostly mask-free experience
  • My visual approach, and Asiana’s (explains the havoc that a newbie can wreak in airline operations)
  • once an race-based hiring program is in place, the general public may use it to explain accidents. An forum message: “I found the reason for the crash. Affirmative Action hire strikes again.” (regarding the loss of Atlas Air 3591, a Boeing 767 lost to spatial disorientation, more typically suffered by novice Private-rated pilots)
  • A simpler way for an American to obtain the spending power of an airline pilot, from the Massachusetts chapter of Real World Divorce: “There are a lot of women collecting child support from more than one man,” Nissenbaum noted. “I remember one enterprising young lady who worked as a waitress at Boston’s Logan airport. She targeted three airline pilots, had a child by each of them, and back then was collecting $25,000 in tax-free child support from each pilot. Of course, instead of serving food and beverages, she did have to care for those children.”
  • “United Airlines Fined $49m Over Fraud On Postal Service Contracts” (Simple Flying, February 27, 2021): The DOJ documents states that instead of providing USPS accurate delivery scans based on the shipment of the mail, United submitted automated delivery scans “based on aspirational delivery times.” These scans did not correspond to the actual transportation of the mail, as mandated by the contracts. Therefore, since there was no movement of the post, the Chicago-based carrier was not entitled to payment. However, it still secured payments of millions of dollars from USPS.
  • “United Found Willful in Age Discrimination” (Law Week Colorado)
  • “United Settles Charges in Case of Flight Route to Benefit Public Official” (U.S. SEC): According to the SEC’s order instituted today, United reinstated a nonstop flight between Newark, N.J., and Columbia, S.C., at the behest of David Samson, the then-chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who sought a more direct route to his home in South Carolina. … the SEC’s order finds that United officials feared Samson’s influence could jeopardize United’s business interests before the Port Authority, including the approval of a hangar project to help the airline at Newark’s airport. The company ultimately decided to initiate the route despite the poor financial projections. The same day that United’s then-CEO approved initiation of the route, the Port Authority’s board approved the lease agreement related to the hangar project. United employees were told “no proactive communications” about the new route. … The route ultimately lost approximately $945,000 before it ceased again roughly around the time of Samson’s resignation from the Port Authority.
  • database of $144 million in fines imposed by the Federales against United, divided into fraud, employment discrimination ($48.8 million, even though, as demonstrated by this new program, sometimes discrimination is good!), aviation safety violation ($22 million), aviation consumer protection violation, etc.

Is anti-racism primarily responsible for a white identity?

In a Clubhouse discussion back in February, an immigrant to the U.S. from China said that, in her opinion, our roughly nine months (so far) of #BLM and #SocialJustice was the primary driver behind people perniciously identifying as “white”. As far as she was concerned, prior to all of the efforts in “anti-racism”, people who happened to be white would primarily identify as “Italian” or “German-American” or “New Yorker” or “Dentist” or whatever. But with the constant media drumbeat of Black vs. white, Asian vs. white, and Pacific Islander vs. white, the former “Anglo-Scotch-American” now identifies as “white”.

Speaking of Pacific Islanders, how many white Americans know what a “Pacific Islander” is? Is there an organized group of white Americans who hate people from the Marquesas and Kiribati? Amazon thinks that there is. This look at my Amazon Prime app on launch, punctuated by a “We stand in solidarity with Asian and Pacific Islander communities. #StopAsianHate”, should give you a good idea of what life is like in our household….

Or maybe Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence has figured out that people who watch Foghorn Leghorn are haters of Melanesians? There are quite a few problematic Foghorn Leghorn quotes:

  • “That woman’s as cold as a nudist on an iceberg” (Cuomo after a typical meeting with voters?)
  • “He’s so dumb he thinks a Mexican border pays rent”
  • “Hmmm, bare, I say bare as a cooch dancers midriff” (Hunter Biden?)
  • “That dog’s like taxes, he just don’t know when to stop”
  • “Gal reminds me of a highway between Forth Worth and Dallas – no curves”
  • Foghorn Leghorn : Let me guess, dearie. You’re looking for a husband.” Miss Prissy : Yes! Foghorn Leghorn : “Well, you’re going about it the wrong way, sister. You don’t bat ’em on the bean with a rolling pin. That comes later.”

but none of these bash our brothers, sisters, and binary resisters spread out on the other side of the International Date Line.

(The #StopAsianHate signs have begun to sprout in the Boston suburbs, incidentally, sometimes displacing #BLM signs and LGBTQIA+ rainbow symbols.)


  • “I Am Not Ready to Reenter White Society” (The Nation): As the pandemic wanes, and I have to leave the safety of my whiteness-free castle, I know that racism is going to come roaring back into my daily life. … Going out into white society for me is a little bit like a beekeeper going to get honey. I know what I’m doing: If I put on the right protection and blow enough smoke, most of the bees will leave me alone and the ones who don’t won’t really cause me that much pain. But I’ve got to put on the suit and the hat with the mesh and carry the smoke machine and be careful every time I want some goddamn honey. … With vaccination (I get my second shot next week) comes reentry into the larger society. I’ve been the “default” skin color in my personal life for a year, but as I open back up, I’ll be thrust again into a world where I’m treated like an “other,” one where white people feel empowered to just walk around like they own the place.
  • “Captain Underpants author withdraws book over ‘passive racism'” (Guardian): The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, first published in 2010, follows two cavemen who travel to the year 2222 and meet Master Wong, a martial arts instructor. Last week, publisher Scholastic announced that it would stop distributing the book and remove all mention of it from its website, saying it had “the full support” of Pilkey. “Together, we recognise that this book perpetuates passive racism,” Scholastic said. “We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake.” (From Amazon, where the not-banned book was offered at $680, a 2017 review: “but what got to me about this book was Master Wong and his granddaughter Lan. Omg talk about drawing stereotypical Asian people! When master wong first appeared with his thin, line eyes (I’m not kidding, he literally has lines for eyes) I gritted my teeth and just continued reading. Sure, some Asians have small eyes, nothing wrong with that. But then Lan, Master Wong’s granddaughter also has the same damn line eyes! Like seriously bruh! You gonna draw Asians using this ancient ass stereotype? I would have deducted from the name Wong, the kung fu shop, and master Wong’s traditional Chinese outfit that he was Asian. I know it’s a kids book and people may say, don’t take it so seriously. But it’s micro aggressions like this that children who read this book will learn! Kids DO pick up on this stuff. Trust me, I’ve seen too many kids while I was growing up making pulling their eyes to make the slanted ‘Asian eyes.‘ It wasn’t funny then, and it’s not funny now, as it appears in this Pilkey book.” (a good barometer of social change; the book was universally acclaimed in 2011 and was too racist to sell in 2021)

Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children

During my travels around the U.S. and in conversations with people from various European nations, I’ve come to realize that COVID-19 could be considered primarily a mental condition in that the same virus has radically different effects depending on an individual’s or society’s psychology. People in Sweden, Florida, South Dakota, for example, have the same information regarding COVID-19 that everyone else has, but they process this information differently than folks in Germany, California, or Massachusetts. Given the information that life has become slightly riskier, it isn’t inevitable that a human or group of humans would choose a particular course of action.

One thing that is unusual about the U.S. is that we have the power to move among radically different social, economic, and legal environments simply by moving from state to state. Think that having sex with a high-income person such as Hunter Biden should result in higher spending power than going to college and working? Move to Massachusetts. Think that college+medical school+working as a physician should pay more than having sex with a dermatologist? Move to Texas, where child support profits are capped. Agree with Bernie Sanders that Black Lives Matter, but don’t want to live with any Black people? Move to Vermont. Want to live among Latinx and pay a total tax rate of 4 percent? Move to Puerto Rico. Love guns? Arizona.

The same situation applies with reactions to Covid-19. If you want the governor to tell you when it is legal to leave your house, California and Massachusetts are great choices (ranking). If you don’t think shutdowns and school closures are effective ways to deal with Covid-19 and/or you simply think that continuity of education, social life, and fitness are more important than avoiding Covid-19, you could move to any of the states ranked 70+ on that list: Iowa, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Idaho, South Dakota, Alaska, Utah, Florida, Tennessee, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin.

Can it make sense to move permanently in response to a temporary situation? COVID-19 will be gone soon, thanks to the vaccines, and we’ll be “back to normal”, right? My personal theory is that there is enough potential for the virus to evolve that people who want to be restricted will continue to seek restrictions going forward. I personally know quite a few people who, despite being vaccinated and/or having had actual Covid-19 (mild symptoms, but positive PCR tests) continue to be afraid to go out, wear masks even outdoors, etc.

(See also Tyler Cowen’s “Covid Has Made Where You Live Matter Even More,” Bloomberg, April 5: “Overall the Southeast would seem to be a big winner, as the psychological effects of low rates of unemployment may prove more durable than the effects of high rates of casualties.”)

It doesn’t make sense to move to a state with a state income or estate tax, however. Let’s intersect with income-tax-free states. Now we’re down to South Dakota, Alaska, Florida, and Tennessee. South Dakota is an awesome state for domestic asset protection trusts (along with Nevada, this is where America’s billionaires keep their trusts, but the ultimate protection may not work unless you live in SD or NV) and thus is a good place to preserve wealth from potential plaintiffs. It is a lovely place to spend the summer, but if you have school-age children you don’t want to be stuck there December through February. With apologies to friends in Anchorage, that goes double for Alaska! Now we’re down to Florida and Tennessee. Nashville, for example, is reasonably nice in January, with average highs of 48 degrees, but Tennessee is more of a working state than a fun/retirement state. If you’re going to move, why not move to a playground? And Miami, oddly enough, despite being much warmer in winter is actually slightly cooler in the summer than Nashville. Finally, I am not sure that the WalletHub ranking of Coronafreedom makes sense. The Tennessee governor declined the Central Tyrant job and did not order everyone to wear masks. However, unlike in Florida, where the governor forbade local tyrants from imposing mask laws with fines, the Tennessee governor simply delegated tyranny to counties: “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has not been a statewide mask mandate in place in the state of Tennessee, however, local authorities were given the authority to issue mask mandates within their own jurisdictions.” A state with empowered local tyrants is not exactly free! Thus, as so many fleeing Wall Streeters have discovered, it all comes down to Florida.

This is a report on my own January/February exploration trip to Florida in the Cirrus SR20...

Covid Olympics. If you assume that masks are effective, from a practical disease transmission point of view, Florida should have roughly the same coronaplague rate as Maskachusetts. Just as in MA, people generally wear masks when inside retail stores. Just as in MA, restaurants are open and servers wear masks, but people don’t wear masks at the tables. Florida has a higher percentage of schools that are open (100% since October), but MA has enough schools open that Covid-19 can certainly spread. It is uncommon to see someone outdoors in Florida with a mask on, but #science hasn’t established that coronaplague is among outdoors. Death rate chart from the CDC, with MA in green:

The chart shows that the denial of education to urban children, wearing masks in the forest, sitting at home next to the fridge for 12 months, etc. here un Massachusetts have not resulted in a lower death rate statistic. But if you were to point this out to someone in Florida, most likely he/she/ze/they would respond with “So what? We didn’t send a team to the COVID Olympics.” The post-Covid priorities of the typical Floridian seem to be the same as the pre-Covid priorities. If he/she/ze/they has children, the priorities are ensuring that those children get a good education and a variety of mask-free fun after-school sports. If he/she/ze/they does not have children, the priorities are gathering with friends, working, staying fit, etc. (I was there in late January and few people had been vaccinated, so those over 70 would avoid crowded indoor spaces and seek to dine at outdoor tables whenever going to a restaurant.) Where someone in Massachusetts might talk about whether he or she felt “safe” [from Covid] doing something, the Floridian will simply talk about the activity itself.

Yard Signage and Bumper Stickers. Although Florida is a swing state and it is possible that a yard sign advocating for a political candidate might change the outcome of an election, yard signs occur at only 1/100th the rate of what we have in the Boston suburbs. The same goes for bumper stickers. Would you like to know whether Black Lives Matter to your neighbor? You’ll have to ask him/her/zir/them. Driving around and wondering “In this house, what do they believe?” You’ll have to knock on the door to find out unless….

Gainesville. Beautiful campus for University of Florida, but not a beautiful or vibrant town. Apparently when the smart young people graduate they go somewhere else. Particularly unsuitable for aviation enthusiasts as the (great) airport is on the opposite side of town from the nicer real estate (tucked away in suburban developments that have a minimal relationship to Gainesville). At least with respect to Covid-19, the students seem smarter than the (cowering out of personal fear) Ivy League to whom I’ve talked recently. “We’d behave differently,” one sophomore said, “if we lived with our grandparents, but we don’t. There is no reason for us to be afraid of getting the virus and we live more than 100 miles away from our older relatives. Classes are mostly remote, so the only people that we interact with are other young people who aren’t at risk.”

Guess which department has the ugliest building? Note the students hunting for shark’s teeth in a nearby park and the selfie park at the FBO.

Sarasota. Folks with kids will want to live on the mainland rather than one of the islands (great for beach access, but the traffic can be slow getting on/off for the various services and activities that kids need). The neighborhood around the Southside Elementary School is probably the most desirable, with Camino Real being the best street and anything east of the Tamiami Trail being cheaper. Overall, however, Sarasota is more geared around the retired than those of school age. Great airport shared by air carriers and general aviation, about 13 minutes from the Southside school.

The Ringling (world’s only fine art and circus museum!) and the latest condo development for oligarchs (from my friend’s boat).

View from my friend’s apartment and his neighborhood from the air on departure…

Naples. A nice walkable downtown area. Attractive architecture. World-class restaurants at Manhattan prices (if restaurants in Manhattan were open!). There are some young people in town, but they’re apparently mostly tourists. As with Sarasota, this is a place where people go to retire. Great airport, 10 minutes from downtown, that is used only for general aviation. It was so busy in late January that jets parked on the ramp were interlaced like jets in a hangar (i.e., it wouldn’t have been possible to get one out of the middle without an hour or two of tugging).

Miami. The ultimate party town now that Los Angeles and New York have locked themselves out of the running and probably even before. “I can never get any work done here,” said one of the private equity guys I was with. KTMB is the preferred airport and it is along haul from Miami Beach (nearly 40 minutes without traffic). KOPF is a little closer, but nobody seems to like it. If you aren’t going to hit the clubs and don’t have to be in the city for work, why put up with the congestion, traffic, and high real estate prices?

The Wynwood Walls (decluttered now that they’re charging $10 to get in), breakfast cereals for the Age of Coronapanic (Franken Fat, Cap’n Corn Starch, Obesie Os from Killkidds), transportation on which it would be good to get Dr. Fauci’s opinion regarding safety, and a group of #ScienceDeniers gathering at a rooftop club.

On the way out of town, the illegal-to-operate cruise ship pier:

Key West. We went there in a Cirrus Vision Jet to visit a friend who is a passionate Massachusetts Democrat and just happens to live here for 183 days per year (that way he skips on state income tax and folks other than him can pay for the bigger government that he advocates…). In such a small place I think it would be tough to find specialized teachers, coaches, doctors, etc. for the modern-day helicopter parented child. The airport has a short-ish runway (5,000′) and is monopolized, with associated monopoly rates, by Bill Gates’s Signature Flight Support (jet fuel for those as concerned as Bill G about climate change). Fun to say that you’ve been here.

Fun fact: Pan American World Airways began here. Cuba was 90 miles away, but it is getting a little closer with every $1.9 trillion government spending bill… Found the Icon A5 on the ramp at KTMB (my flight in the A5 at Oshkosh).

Wellington Aero Club. West of Palm Beach, right up against the $25 million horse barns of America’s billionaires, you can open your garage door and taxi your twin-engine turbojet out to the 4,000′ private runway (FD38). Good public schools. Great country club for golf and tennis next door. I had a nice time here visiting a friend whose wife is a serious horse rider, but I wouldn’t want to be this far from the beach (30-40 minutes, depending on the specific beach). (See “How a Sleepy Florida Town Became the Horse Riding Capital of the World” and the 30-horse single-family stable below) My friend in Wellington (also a passionate advocate of bigger government who is careful to spend 183 days in the tax-free Land of the Deplorables!) suggested Abacoa, within Jupiter, Florida, as the best family location.

Jupiter: Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale-Miami can be thought of as a single city, completely jammed, and with the automobile as the primary means of transportation. Juno Beach and Jupiter are the first communities on the north side of this megacity (though the Census Bureau considers them still part of the Miami metro area). The smartest folks in Germany, i.e., those who run the Max Planck Institute, picked Jupiter as the location for their one and only U.S. research lab (in neuroscience). If you’re in Jupiter you’re within a 1.5-hour drive of almost anything that you might need, e.g., the Miami International Airport and a nonstop flight to Europe, but 99 percent of needs can be handled locally. (Disney World is 2:20 away by car.) A tennis coach at the Jupiter Ocean & Racquet Club, a world class facility for (unmasked!) young learners and also great for adults, echoed my friend in Wellington regarding Abacoa. “The schools for Abacoa are better than for the wealthier/closer-to-the-beach areas of Jupiter,” he said. He pointed out that many of the nation’s most successful people, who could live anywhere they chose, had chosen to live in and around Jupiter. In a state that is blessed with magnificent airports, Abacoa/Jupiter got the short end of the stick. Palm Beach International is about 20 minutes away and the prices are almost reasonable due to the fact that there are three FBOs on the field. On the other hand, nobody is ever going to build T-hangars at KPBI. The North Palm Beach airport, F45, is roughly the same driving distance and it does have T-hangars, but the runway is a little short (4,300′), there is no control tower, and it is a monopoly Signature location (Jet A at $7.21/gallon; compare to $3.70 at Fort Lauderdale Executive (KFXE))

If you didn’t think inequality was as bad as the media tells you… (on the ramp at KPBI; 1960 Debonair and a newly certified Gulfstream G600):

Just south of the airport…

Abacoa. This is a planned “new urbanism” community, a bit like what you might have seen in the Truman Show movie (Seaside, Florida). It is an artificial town in that it is possible to walk/bike to a “town center”, which does have some good restaurants and a coffee shop, but you need to get into a car and drive a mile or two to get to critical services such as a supermarket or a hardware store. Without traffic, it is an 11-minute drive to a beautiful dog-friendly beach.

That’s what I was able to learn in a two-week trip (including flying the Cirrus up and down the East Coast, which takes about 13 days, depending on the weather…). Measured by whether it is legal to walk out your door without a mask on, go to work, open the doors of your business to customers, send your children to school, let you children enjoy an unmasked after-school activity, etc., every part of Florida offers more freedom than New York, Massachusetts, or California. For someone accustomed to the suburban Northeast, the small yards and tightly packed houses seem like the biggest negative. In the parts of Florida that are reasonably near both big city services and the beach, land is extremely expensive by Yankee standards. The good news is that you’re not confined to the backyard by a governor’s order. The bad news is that you don’t have a backyard.

Readers who know more about Florida: What are your favorite places for places to live with kids down there?

From the Massachusetts COVID-19 State of Emergency page:

Governor’s COVID-19 Order #55 (issued November 2, 2020) Revised order requiring all persons to wear face-coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. 

I.e., it is illegal to step out of your front yard and onto the sidewalk at midnight unless you are wearing a mask.


Could we revive family four-seat aircraft with crummier jet engines?

As noted in Testing the first jets, the early jet engines were designed to last 25-35 hours (Germany’s) or 125 hours (England’s). Today’s jet engines rely on exotic materials and precision manufacturing so that they are almost 100% guaranteed to run 5000+ hours between major service events and the components will usually last at least 12,000 hours. Great for airlines and busy charter operators, but the typical private pilot with a family airplane flies only about 100 hours per year. Why does he/she/ze/they want to pay $500,000 to $1 million for an engine that is good for 50+ years of flying?

I wonder what would happen to the cost if we relaxed the reliability and service life specifications to be comparable to what we expect from a high-power piston engine, i.e., about 2,000 hours of operation and a failure every 50,000 hours. We can use parachutes for backup, like the Cirrus Vision Jet already does, or a second engine, if we’re making a “new Baron.”

Weekend pseudo-warriors of the sky who fly the L-39 are accustomed to overhauling the Ivchenko AI-25 engine every 1000 hours ($220,000, so about $220/hour, which would not completely change the economics of flying a Baron or a Cirrus). So that might be an example of what I’m talking about, but at a much higher level of power (blast a 10,000+ lb. aircraft to 400 knots).

I wonder if what we have now is an example of the best being the enemy of the good, leaving us with Wright Brothers-style piston engines in any aircraft that costs less than $1 million. Even a crummy turbine would have many advantages in terms of weight, smoothness, and, probably, reliability.

If the Germans could make a 35-hour jet engine at a reasonable cost in the early 1940s, with all of our modern technologies for machining, 3D printing, ceramics, etc., shouldn’t we be able to make a 2,000-hour turbine engine at a reasonable cost today?

From Oshkosh, 2003, a Sikorsky S-39, one of 21 built (1930s) and ripe for a turboprop conversion!


  • Jetcat, which makes turbojet engines for radio-controlled aircraft. The company is in Germany and the expected hours of operation between overhauls is 25 hours, same as on the Me 262! (though the hobbyists say that the engines can easily run for 100 hours)
  • Jet Central, a Mexican company that makes similar 25-hour turbines for the RC world.
  • Someone who wouldn’t like the reduced reliability goal… “Pilot Sues Airline For Emotional Distress After Mechanical Failure Led To PTSD” (Plane & Pilot): A former QantasLink pilot is suing the regional carrier to the tune of $780,000 for suffering and damages from a case of PTSD she says was caused by a 2018 mechanical failure of one of the Boeing 717’s engines, which resulted in the shutdown of the engine and an emergency landing. … The plane landed without incident, and no one was injured. … She’s the first woman of color to wear a Qantas uniform, and she has received numerous awards for her work in aviation. She said recently, acknowledging the recognition she had earned for her historic place in Australian airline history, that her advice for younger Australians was, “People still stop me to congratulate me at how proud they are to see female pilot, let alone one of colour. My response is the same ‘Action Inspires Action’—you can achieve your dreams, too. Be the best possible human you can be.”