Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Queen is Dead! Long live the...Airbus???


Friends, today we bid a tearful farewell to the Boeing 747.  This afternoon Boeing made the last commercial delivery of the aviation mainstay.  The 747 is an iconic American jet that harkens back to the late 60s, when the United States was an industrial colossus that bestrode the world.  Back in those days, men were pilots, women were stewardesses, and everyone was smoking like a chimney -- but, more to the point, our country was confident, grounded (morally, not aeronautically), and optimistic.  The world was our oyster, and the 747 was the vehicle that, more than any other, would take us wherever we wanted to go...  And look at us now: we're stuck in the economy section of an Airbus A319, paying extra for hand luggage and a Diet Coke!  How the mighty are fallen, indeed.  Godspeed, Jumbo Jet!  We had some good times together, and you'll be missed.


In other news, the constant fluctuations in the eternal battle between Trumpism and Bidenism are fascinating to watch.  To make a long story short, as long as the Dems and their media allies can get the American people to forget that Biden exists -- and to concentrate instead on the WORST PERSON EVER (you know who...) -- they can perform well in the polls and at election time.  On the other hand, Biden is, well, the President, in case anyone's forgotten, so conjuring him out of existence, in terms of public opinion, ain't easy.  Are they up to the challenge?  We'll find out in 2024. 

The privatization of our election infrastructure that happened in a big way in 2020 is by no means a thing of the past.  Big money is flowing in "philanthropic"circles to underwrite efforts to "improve access" to the vote.  Some red states have pushed back, and that's a good first step, but much more needs to be done to prevent the private infiltration of public boards of elections.


This is an interesting take on the long-term impact of A.I.  The author argues that millions of skilled professionals will soon be out of work because their jobs can be done by supercomputers, and, if that's true, it's going to create a massive new constituency for Republicans, who are the party of Americans who feel "left behind" by social and economic change.  It remains an open question which will be the bigger concern in the 21st century: a worker shortage, caused by demographic decline and the, uh, uselessness of so many modern humans, or a worker surplus, caused by automation and artificial intelligence?


What's the chief goal of the Fed right now?  To reduce the size of your paycheck -- duh!  Higher interest rates are designed to cool the increases in wages and benefits that we've seen of late, and which the Fed views as unsustainable.  So there's good news...for bankers: wage gains are now significantly below the level of inflation, meaning that real wages are trending down.  That's bad for you, Average Joe, but it's good for corporate profits, and thus for the Masters of the Universe.  See, everything works out in the end... 

Finally, I mentioned demographic collapse earlier.  Well, Italy is way out on the frontier of the baby bust.  Its birth rate is derisory, and, unlike us, it's also on the wrong end of a brain drain.  If these trends continue, Italy could find itself joining the Third World before long.  I guess there's an upside: your next getaway to the Amalfi Coast could be a steal!


  1. Dr. Waddy from Jack: I was in Seattle in '71 and from the tower there saw a new 747 float past. It was going so slow it looked like a zeppelin with wings. Well gee, it was only 52 years ago but 52 years before that we were flying Curtiss Jennies.

  2. How neat! I still marvel at how these aeronautical giants can make it off the ground... I know, of course, that planes like the A320 and 777 are marvels of engineering too, but somehow they just don't EXCITE me, and isn't that one of the purposes of the aerospace industry? Awe, majesty, beauty, and even romance ought to be in the mix. I hope Boeing is listening...

  3. Anonymous from Jack: I think many big ships are magnificent; I call many big modern commercial airliners "ships of the air". Any kind of engineering is the product of consummate skill and devotion; aero and space vehicle design and construction is exemplary of this. If I were to vote for the greatest accomplishment of engineering I'd vote for the two Voyager probes; how about yourself and other readers of this forum?

  4. Whew! That's a tough one. I suppose it depends on what you mean by "engineering", but I would say I regard our gradual decoding of DNA and genetics as the most consequential breakthrough of all, insofar as it literally gives us the capacity (soon to be realized?) of redesigning ourselves...

  5. Dr. Waddy from Jack: That's a creditable selection. If it were 400 AD I'd say the totality of Roman engineering but later on the medieval cathedral would compete.