September 20th, 2009

The last flight (edit)

Friday September 4th at 7:55 PM Yesterday Martinair departed for the last time from Miami FL using flight number MP 646 back home to Amsterdam. I never was on this flight, but I did Amsterdam – Orlando. Not a really big deal in this economic climate, but this little tribute shows the passion of the staff in Miami. As many wrote on fora: you’ll be missed.

I never knew the firebrigade hose-down was done on a last flight, it is on a first flight to an airport by an airline. So maybe it’s a bit special.

Added Sep 18th: 2 days ago it was announced / rumored that Martinair will cease all passenger operations in 2010 and Martinair Cargo will become the sole Cargo operator of  Air France-KLM. Some destinations will be axed, the others will be transferred to Transavia (another operator in the AF-KLM group) and KLM. My first flight ever to the US was over 20 years ago using Martinair in a DC-10, Seattle as port of entry and then on to Los Angeles reboarding the same aircraft.

February 2nd, 2009

What should we expect?

We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision.

They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of past.

There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers.

The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident. Inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.

—William S. Burroughs, “No More Stalins, No More Hitlers,” from Dead City Radio, Island Records, 1990; and Interzone, Viking Books, 1989.

January 30th, 2009

Dark thoughts

I just realized what has been bothering me about all the blather I’ve been listening to on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and even Air America over the past few months. All: NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC and Air America (just to name a few) have been focused on maintaining the “corporate mainstream,” as it collapses in upon itself. The news and opinion media has been using fear as its tool of choice. According to the mainstream media we should be quaking in our boots because if the investment houses and banks fail (haven’t they already?) we might loose our homes, loose our jobs, and we might not have enough food to eat. Hmmmmm. I have heard scant mention of the many alternative economic models that might prove helpful. The experts these media outlets have enlisted (NPR is by far one of the worst), are mum on anything that might change the basic configuration of our economy, even though many very successful alternative economies exist.

Why haven’t we heard about cooperatives, collectives or even community gardens from our media? Even Obama is mute on “alternative” economic models; hell why else would he offer up a $700-billion stimulus package to back up the trillion dollars plus of OUR money that Bush spent before Obama took over? Most of that money, from Bush and Obama, is being given to the folks that caused “the crisis” in the first place. Seems to me, that if times might get really bad the government should be spending my money helping people. I would suggest that the Feds start helping people by offering classes and workshops on how to successfully grow food so that we can survive hard times? Alas, there is little profit in it so why should our government bother? Ironic, no?

The folks that we are bailing out are responsible for destroying the manufacturing core of The United States and the jobs that sector used to provide; why are we rewarding them now with huge publicly funded subsidies? I have come to realize that we are being handed a bill of goods and a shitload of propaganda. It’s time to start talking about real alternatives to the systems that have failed us.

P.S. At least based on the reading I’ve done, experts on propaganda seem to agree that the purpose of propaganda has nothing to do with what you think – what you think is of little importance to the propagandist; the central focus of all propaganda is how you behave.

November 19th, 2008

Is Alaska Airlines putting lives at risk?

Monday night, 2008 November 17, at 2100h I left Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport aboard Alaska flight AS-119 bound for Anchorage, Alaska (depart at 2100h; scheduled to arrive at 2340h). About 2 hours after the plane took off from Seattle the pilot, thoughtfully and thankfully announced that he was making an unscheduled stop at Yakutak airport,northwest of Juneau, Alaska to take on fuel. The pilot, in announcements to the passengers from “the flight deck” repeatedly said that the plane was taking on fuel because of weather conditions (fog) in Anchorage. According to an April 2008 MSNBC article entitled, Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel; Cost-cutting measures create serious risk for fliers, flight crews complain,, at least some of the major carriers are flying aircraft with a fuel load below or precariously close to the FAA required minimum. It seems to me, based on my experience Monday night, that Alaska Airlines might be a guilty of flying with too little fuel. Quoting from the the MSNBC article:

“FAA regulations are precise: A plane must take off with enough primary fuel to reach its destination and then its most distant alternate airport based on conditions. It must carry a reserve of 45 minutes’ worth of fuel on top of that.”

I’d be curious to know, and will be investigating further, how many times Alaska Airlines flights en route to Anchorage have stopped in Yakutat to refuel in the recent past?

It seems to me that Alaska Airlines is being rather cavalier. After all, flying to and from Alaska is not an inexpensive proposition and now, in addition to the price of the fare, I have to worry if Alaska Air has loaded enough fuel onto the plane to get me home safely. Because Alaska Air may not have sufficiently fueled the plane I was on, I and a Boeing 737 full of passengers (there was not one empty seat on the aircraft), more than 250 souls, had to arrive at our final destination 2-hours late so that the Airline could provide us with the safe travel that we should have been guaranteed when the plane left the ground in Seattle. Seriously, the thought of a winter rescue operation, at night, somewhere between Anchorage and Fairbanks (the alternate airport) is beyond my comprehension – hmmmm. Hmmm indeed.

PS I wonder if the pilot got any flak from Alaska Airlines management for his decision to stop and take on fuel in Yakutak?

October 9th, 2008

The bankruptcy of a country (no kidding)

Ok, so banks are tumbling in the US, and here too. Dutch-Belgium Bank-Insurer Fortis has been split and the Dutch part nationalized. The invoice for the tax payer, that’s me, is 16 billion Euros (22 billion USD. On 17 million inhabitants that is, babies included). But that is not what this entry is about. You know I like to write about connections between my “old world” and the US. Literally in between is Iceland. Iceland had an exploding growth of it’s bank system in the last couple of years, using a very (simplified) two step business model:

  1. Lend out money to the credit-hungry US.
  2. Acquire that money in Europe by bidding 0.25% more interest than EVERY competitor in the market.

Easy. Until, oh what a surprise, these contracts with the US banks proved less than rock solid, no repayments were made and darn, those people we promised that 5.25% would actually like to really receive that money. The #1, #2 and #3 banks have been nationalized in the last few days. The European guarantee legislation requires the member states to ensure at least the first 20.000 Euro ($28.000) per bank per person. Guess what? The Iceland economy has collapsed and there is no way they can cough up the money. The Icelandic administration has already indicated that yes there is a treaty and no there is no money. I bet if they are arm twisted in it, they will stall the process, pay out in Icelandic krones and then implode the currency. Wikipedia:

In October 2008, the Icelandic parliament passed emergency legislation to minimize the impact of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Iceland may face national bankruptcy, because its bank assets are nine times annual gross domestic product of 14 billion Euros ($19 billion). On October 6, Prime Minister Geir Haarde gave an unprecedented address to the nation where he stated that the economy of the Icelandic banks were several times the size of Iceland’s GNP, and if they should collapse, a definite possibility, the entire nation could go bankrupt.

I have no sympathy for people who put all their apples in one basked, being a bank of a minute country that consistently promises more interest than the market. Banks can fail, d’uhhh. I have no sympathy for people who believe another countries administration will put their interests before those of their inhabitants. I have no sympathy for banks, period.

Added: An IMF delegation is on it’s way to Iceland, need I say more?

Added: From my country in this debacle alone: 1.6 billion Euro ($ 2.2 billion), 120.000 accounts

October 2nd, 2008

SCUM 74, US 25.

Good morning all. Sports scores are in (I’m backing the Cubs this year). It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here.

SCUM 74, US (as in you and me) 25.

Throwing money at the rich as the U.S. Senate is hoping to do with their 74 to 25 vote in favor of giving private investors that dorked up $$$$$ (I think Michael Moore called it ‘stealing the silverware on the way out.’) will NOT fix the financial sectors problems. The problem of confidence is between the banks; especially in overnight lending. Simple fix – PASS LEGISLATION which makes the banks accountable for what’s on their books (audit required). Once that is done lending will resume since Bank A will be confident that bank B will still be there in the morning. It’s a f__k of a lot cheaper for us, and would be far more effective. Granted the FDIC will have to cover the losses of some depositors who are using banks that hold more trash than cash, but it would not cost the $700 billion (and probably more dollars) the “crisis” bailout bill demands. I am truly amazed at the propaganda currently being generated by the corporate press – they are not covering the issue; they are just, it seems to me, trying to confuse us.

Of course there are host of other solutions available – stop limiting the short sellers, since shorts keep stocks from being over valued (ooops, the free market folks in The Bush Administration have already put their finger on the scales by limiting which companies can be traded “short” [about 900 of them] and forced the value of stocks up beyond what they are worth – Free Market my ….). Help the citizens (tax payers) with health care and education costs. After all, the number one reason for mortgage defaults is unpaid medical bills. Wake up “America.”

Have a nice day (and call your Congressional Representative NOW).