Do you feel the need for speed?

We all know that line from the first Top Gun movie, and who doesn’t admire the incredible flying scenes from it and the sequel.  But, as many know, and engineers will remind us, the energy use goes up as the square of the increase in speed.  That means if you want to travel at twice the speed, you will use about four times as much energy to do so.

It should not be surprising then that the speed limits on highways were reduced down to 55 mph during the oil embargoes in the late 1970s.  Energy use went down, and there were fewer wrecks and highway fatalities.  I found it a bit surprising that our politicians here and around the world have forgotten this lesson … I never hear anyone suggesting we “impose” on the free will of Americans to do their part by slowing down.

Well, it now surprises me even further that the idea of supersonic flight has emerged as an actual plan.  Here is the Wall Street Journal announcement:

“American Airlines has agreed to buy 20 planes from Boom Supersonic, betting on the future of an ultra-fast plane that is still years away.  American put down a nonrefundable deposit on its initial 20 aircraft, known as the Overture, and has the option to purchase 40 more, the companies said Tuesday. The companies didn’t disclose additional financial details of the transaction. Aerospace startup Boom is developing new planes capable of traveling at supersonic speeds, faster than the speed of sound. Overture is being designed to carry 65 to 80 passengers at Mach 1.7 over water, or 1.7 times the speed of sound—about twice as fast as commercial planes can fly today.

“Supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” Derek Kerr, American’s chief financial officer, said in a statement Tuesday.

Boom has said Overture will be able to fly over 600 routes in half the time those flights currently take—such as Miami to London in under five hours, and Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours—at fares comparable with current business-class prices.”  Read the full article here. 

Well, why not a single word about carbon footprint or environmental sensitivity.  The only concern is whether they can manage the sonic boom as the plane crosses the sound barrier.

Remember last week’s blog where the airlines had posted the environmental performance of the flight choices?  Doesn’t it seem that this need for speed should answer the societal question of “should” rather than “how?”

Oh, I know, the airlines will offer environmental offsets to the passengers … paying for the carbon emissions with the modern equivalent of indulgences within the Catholic church.

Are we really this tone deaf?

Greener Flights?

My wife Susan and I were getting ready to take a friend to the airport and I just wanted to check to see the exact time we should be at the airport.  You know, you must be there two hours ahead of your scheduled departure.

Upon checking, I was presented with a comparison of his flight with cheaper flights that had one stop by a competing airline.  They were cheaper… that made sense.  But what surprised me was that I was offered a carbon footprint comparison.

Really?  Did they know the fuel efficiency of the specific jets in question?  Or, did they just assume one less takeoff would reduce fuel per passenger in most cases?  Or, was the lower fuel use also associated with a direct route rather than one that stopped in Atlanta?  And, did they really think that a 6% reduction in carbon would help me justify the higher price of a nonstop flight?

I will never know because the math was not given and I assume that is because they didn’t think the average person would understand or even care?

It is unarguable that to manage anything, you must be able to measure impacts.  But, one key question is how do you measure carbon emissions at this granular level?  Then, you could question why anyone would care about incremental efficiency vs convenience?  We will never know about this event.

We do now have mechanisms for the virtue-signaling wealthy flyers to buy carbon offsets. That at least has some seemingly rightful benefit… let the wealthy support the arts… in this case, the art of deception.

Heed the Warning Light

Perhaps your car reminds you when you should change the oil.  This is certainly a helpful reminder.  But, since it is a warning, most of us wait for a convenient time to do it. Oil cleanliness is of course not a time-sensitive measure … you could wait quite a time … or even ignore the warning and extend the intervals between oil changes.  We all know that.

However, there is another way to think of warning lights like this.  The one that I remember best was a sign on my dentist’s spotlight light that read, “Only Floss the Teeth You Want to Keep!”  Flossing teeth is not fun … unless you have been eating something like corn on the cob that gets stuck in your teeth.

As a lover of the sea and a part-time captain of a large vessel, I love this story:  It is reportedly the transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October of 1995. This radio conversation transcript was released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95.

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a Collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that’s one, five, degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.

Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

Deference and humility were clearly missing in this story and perhaps the lack of these is required to heed warnings.

So, let’s ask ourselves how many warning lights we have in our lives that need our attention.

Hopefully, we will not be like one of my daughters.  I was riding with her and noticed the Change Oil light was flashing red on the dash.  I asked her how long that had been on, and she said as if noticing it for the first time, “Oh no!  Thanks for pointing that out. These pesky lights keep coming on.  I have been meaning to put tape over that one for years!”


Is the Fringe Bullying Mainstream?

The fringe is a term statisticians use to describe observable measurements that are pretty far away from the average… also called the mean.  Most measurements define variables within one standard deviation as “normal” meaning they are quite likely.  Once you get to two standard deviations you are clearly in the “abnormal” range and statisticians have to decide whether data there should be thrown out.

So, we can label anything that is in the tails of the curve as in the fringes.  When we talk about some individuals today, they will proudly be called queer.  If you didn’t know the origin of that word, it implies something quite different from normal.  But, groups who deviate from the norm now are rather proud of that term and want to be identified as that.

I am OK with their freedom to identify with whatever description that fits their concept of gender or political or religious persuasion.  We celebrate the freedom to do so in this country.  However, I am getting tired of being criticized by this vocal minority for things I do believe are normal.  For example, I am not going to list my gender preference on my email signature.  If you feel you want to, go right ahead.  I won’t criticize you for that, but do not imply I have to follow your lead and do the same.

I am not sure these individuals realize they have crossed a line from freedom of speech to bullying.  Take a close look at the definition of bullying for a moment:

Bullying is the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threat, to abuse, aggressively  dominate, or intimidate.   The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception (by the bully or by others) of an imbalance of physical or social power. 

As a leader in our company, we have a corporate responsibility to be sure nobody bullies another person.  The workplace must be safe for all employees.  Any form of harassment is disallowed and will not be tolerated.  We have an absolute “zero tolerance” for any real or perceived forms of sexual harassment, or any other interpersonal actions that make any employee or our customers uncomfortable.  That includes political conversations.

We know all of us have personal convictions and lives that deserve the freedom from fear or ridicule.  So, it does not matter what race, religion, political persuasion or gender preference an employee has … we gladly accept their differences.  We insist everyone respect each other.

Yet, what seems to be happening is the statistically uncommon perspective is being crammed down the throats of the mainstream by the minorities who now deem their point of view is to be the way for all.  They are bullying us now. And that includes the mainstream media whose messaging now takes every opportunity to celebrate the statistical minorities. In fact, some will bristle at me for even offering this mainstream perspective and try to bully me with labels of being racist or homophobic, etc.

We in the majority are now being criticized for being normal.  We in the majority do not require anyone to have their gender preference in their return email address.  Yes, we understand how some might not want to be referred to him or her, but we let each of us decide whether that is important to us.  I am guessing that 80 – 90% of us would let people simply know we are males or females.  Most of us resent all this “woke” conversation all around us … but we allow it because we want to be kind and inclusive.

It seems this fringe now wants much more than equal rights.  It seems they now want their views to be required for everyone around them.  That is bullying.

I know it is politically incorrect to speak this truth… but I am tired of letting these non-normative views impose on my free speech.

Drink Up!

Perhaps there is a new reason to add adult beverages to your diet.  The latest scientific research indicates that farm grown ethanol used to reduce the cost of gasoline is not good for the environment.  See the Washington Examiner article.

I knew there were redeeming reasons to drink moderately and now there are added benefits that should make us happy beyond the ones I have always used:

I enjoy a glass of wine each night for its health benefits. The other glasses are for my flawless dance moves and witty comebacks.

On  a more serious note, I believe this article will be followed by a series of realizations about many of the ways people think we are going to save this planet.  There is a upwelling of “blinding flashes of the obvious like this article in We the People Speaking.

All critical thinkers point to a simple fact: we are using too much and there are too many people on the planet to permit them to do the same as modern nations. We simply do not have the natural resources.  If you have not watched the free on Amazon Prime documentary, Planet of the Humans, I encourage you to do that.  It dares to say what no one will—that we are losing the battle to stop climate change by following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road—selling out the green movement to bankers and billionaires. This urgent, must-see movie is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way-before it’s too late. We have had several Watch Parties with friends to share the conclusions reached by this researcher who starts out an environmental zealot but flips to the other extreme looking at the conclusions he finds in the facts.

Another well done documentary is Cowspiracy.  Both point to the same conclusions that it’s not carbon nor forest fires nor changing temperatures that are the problem.  It’s too many people living places they should not be living.

More reason to eat, drink, and be merry!