National Aviation Day, 2016: Wave those flags, patriots!

August 19, 2016

NASA's poster for National Aviation Day 2016. A young girl looks up at some of the experimental ideas for future aviation. NASA said:

NASA’s poster for National Aviation Day 2016. A young girl looks up at some of the experimental ideas for future aviation. NASA said: “It’s an exciting time for aviation, with potential NASA X-planes on the horizon and a lot of new technologies that are making airplanes much more Earth friendly. Use National Aviation Day to excite and inspire the young people you know about exploring aeronautics as a future career. Credits: NASA / Maria C. Werries”

August 19 is National Aviation Day. In federal law, the day is designated for flying the flag (36 USC 1 § 118).

August 19 is the anniversary of the birth of Orville Wright, usually credited with being on the team with his brother Wilbur who successfully built and flew the first heavier-than-air flying machine.

Celebrate? The White House issued no proclamation for 2016, but you may fly your flag anyway.


How kids get to school: Special refugee edition, Balkans

March 11, 2016

A modest departure from the occasional series on how kids get to school, and the classrooms they get to. Perhaps more accurately, it’s a series on the struggles children face to get to school.

Photo from Dimitar Dilkoff, Agence France Presse:

Tweet from Valerio de Cesaris (@ValerioDeC):

Tweet from Valerio de Cesaris (@ValerioDeC): “#refugees. A child caught in razor wire at the Greek-Macedonia border. #StayHuman” Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff, AFP

This young boy is not on his way to school, technically; he’s trying to get to a place where there is a school to which he can safely get.

What will be the results of the education this child gets?

Does anyone know more about this boy? Where is he today?


Merchant mariners bring us the world; fly your flag for National Maritime Day, May 22

May 22, 2015

SS Savannah, first U.S. merchant steam ship to complete an Atlantic crossing, having set sail on May 22, 1819.  gCaptain image

SS Savannah, first U.S. merchant steam ship to complete an Atlantic crossing, having set sail on May 22, 1819. gCaptain image

You’ve got your flag up already? Good.

Most people don’t even know about National Maritime Day, May 22 — let alone President Obama issued a proclamation to fly the U.S. flag in honor of merchant marines.

USS Slater Color Guard member Art Dott of Colonie carries the American flag Sunday during the presentation of the colors at the start of a National Maritime Day ceremony on the boat in Albany. Dott, a culinary specialist chief, is a 350year member of the Navy Reserve. ( Philip Kamrass / Times Union)

From the Albany, New York, Times-Union, 2011: USS Slater Color Guard member Art Dott of Colonie carries the American flag Sunday during the presentation of the colors at the start of a National Maritime Day ceremony on the boat in Albany. Dott, a culinary specialist chief, is a 35-year member of the Navy Reserve. ( Philip Kamrass / Times Union)

 

National Maritime Day is a United States holiday created to recognize the maritime industry. It is observed on May 22, the date in 1819 that the American steamship Savannah set sail from Savannah, Georgia on the first ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. The holiday was created by the United States Congress on May 20, 1933.

President Obama’s proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation – National Maritime Day, 2015

NATIONAL MARITIME DAY, 2015

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

For over two centuries, proud mariners have set sail in defense of our people and in pursuit of opportunity.  Through periods of conflict and times of peace, our Nation has relied on the United States Merchant Marine to transport goods to and from our shores and deliver troops and supplies around the world.  On National Maritime Day, we honor the women and men who take to the seas to boost our economy and uphold the values we cherish.

Our Nation is forever indebted to the brave privateers who helped secure our independence, fearlessly supplying our Revolutionary forces with muskets and ammunition.  Throughout history, their legacy has been carried forward by courageous seafarers who have faithfully served our Nation as part of the United States Merchant Marine — bold individuals who emerged triumphant in the face of attacks from the British fleet in the War of 1812, and who empowered the Allied forces as they navigated perilous waters during World War II.  Today, patriots who share their spirit continue to stand ready to protect our seas and the livelihoods they support.

Ninety percent of the world’s commerce moves by sea, and businesses across our country rely on domestic and international trade every day.  Helping to protect our vital shipping routes, Merchant Mariners are critical to our effort to combat piracy and uphold the maritime security on which the global supply chain relies.  And in times of war or national emergency, they bolster our national security as a “fourth arm of defense.”  Whether transporting commercial goods or military equipment, battling tough weather or enemy fire, they strive and sacrifice to secure a brighter future for all Americans.  On this day, we reaffirm the importance of their contributions and salute all those who serve this noble cause.

The Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 20, 1933, has designated May 22 of each year as “National Maritime Day,” and has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2015, as National Maritime Day.  I call upon the people of the United States to mark this observance and to display the flag of the United States at their homes and in their communities.  I also request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on that day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

More:


Birth of hydrogen phobia: May 6, 1937, the Hindenberg crash

May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014, is the 77th anniversary of the Hindenberg tragedy. Docking at its station in New Jersey, after crossing the Atlantic, a spark ignited the aluminum-based paint on the airship, and the entire craft exploded into flame.

35 people died on the airship, and one on the ground — did you know a few survived? The Associated Press interviewed a man who was 8-years old that day, and a passenger on the airship.

Werner Doehner, an 8-year-old passenger aboard the Hindenburg, saw chairs fall across the dining room door his father had walked through moments before the disaster. He would never see his father alive again.

“Just instantly, the whole place was on fire,” said Doehner, of Parachute, Colo., who is the last surviving passenger. “My mother threw me out the window. She threw my brother out. Then she threw me, but I hit something and bounced back. She caught me and threw me the second time out. My sister was just too heavy for her. My mother jumped out and fractured her pelvis. Regardless of that, she managed to walk.”

Hindenberg on fire

Hindenberg on fire, May 6, 1937.

The disaster erroneously condemned hydrogen in the public’s mind. Despite widespread use of hydrogen gas for cooking and some transportation during World War II (including in the U.S.), use of hydrogen as a fuel beyond that has always faced the hurdle of the “Hindenberg Syndrome,” the fear that the gas would explode.

Is the fear justified?  Fact is that gasoline is much more volatile, more explosive, and generally more dangerous, than hydrogen.  We move, and use, millions of gallons of gasoline in the U.S. every day, worldwide very hour, bound by laws enforcing strict liability, in relative safety.  Most people don’t think about the explosive power of the few gallons of gasoline stored under the rear seat of their car, where the children ride.

What other technologies do we fear irrationally?  What technologies do we irrationally fail to fear so much as we should?

This is mostly an encore post.


How kids get to school, New Delhi edition

March 19, 2014

From Twitter:

From Twitter: “Another e.g. pic to show that school transport in Asia needs attention on health & safety aspects pic.twitter.com/Mn2FbSSELX”

Do you think the students have wi-fi to finish their homework on the way to school?

(This is not necessarily representative of all Indian school buses.)

One wonders at the stories behind such “buses” and their use.  It might make an interesting geography assignment, to find out how students get to school in other nations.  What is the most exotic, bizarre, dangerous or luxurious ride?

More:


Will Rogers and Wiley Post crashed in Alaska, August 15, 1935

August 15, 2013

Will Rogers, images from Will Rogers Museums, Oklahoma

Will Rogers, images from Will Rogers Museums, Oklahoma

August 15, the Ides of August, hosted several significant events through the years.  In 1935, it was a tragic day in Alaska, as an airplane crash took lives of Will Rogers and Wiley Post.  To refresh your memory, an encore post, with a few edits and additions.

After Mark Twain died, America found another great humorist, raconteur, story-teller, who tickled the nation’s funny-bone and pricked the collective social conscience at the same time. Will Rogers is most famous today for his sentiment that he never met a man he didn’t like. In 1935, he was at the height of his popularity, still performing as a lariat-twirling, Vaudeville comedian who communed with presidents, and kept his common sense. He wrote a daily newspaper column that was carried in 500 newspapers across America.  Rogers was so popular that Texas and Oklahoma have dueled over who gets the bragging rights in claiming him as a native son.

Will Rogers ready to perform.  Photo taken prior to 1900 - Wikimedia

Will Rogers ready to perform. Photo taken prior to 1900 – Wikimedia

Wiley Post was known as one of the best pilots in America. He gained fame by being the first pilot to fly solo around the world. Post was famous for his work developing new ways to fly at high altitudes. Post was born in Texas and moved to Oklahoma. He lost an eye in an oil-field accident in 1924, then used the settlement money to buy his first airplane. He befriended Will Rogers when flying Rogers to an appearance at a Rodeo, and the two kept up their friendship literally to death.

Post asked Rogers to come along on a tour of the great unknown land of Alaska, where Post was trying to map routes for mail planes to Russia. Ever adventurous, Rogers agreed — he could file his newspaper columns from Alaska by radio and telephone. On August 15, 1935, their airplane crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska, killing them both.

Wiley Post, first to fly solo around the world, in an early pressure suit for high-altitude flying - Wikimedia photo

Wiley Post, first to fly solo around the world, in an early pressure suit for high-altitude flying – Wikimedia photo

On August 15, 2008, a ceremony in Claremore, Oklahoma, honored the two men on the 73rd anniversary of their deaths. About 50 pilots from Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas will fly in to the Claremore Airport for the Will Rogers-Wiley Post Fly-In Weekend. Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Jari Askins will offer a tribute.

Rogers was 56, leaving behind his wife, Betty, and four children. Post, 36, left a widow.

Rogers’ life is really quite legendary. Historian Joseph H. Carter summed it up:

Will Rogers was first an Indian, a cowboy then a national figure. He now is a legend.

Born in 1879 on a large ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what later would become Oologah, Oklahoma, Will Rogers was taught by a freed slave how to use a lasso as a tool to work Texas Longhorn cattle on the family ranch.
As he grew older, Will Rogers’ roping skills developed so special that he was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for throwing three lassos at once: One rope caught the running horse’s neck, the other would hoop around the rider and the third swooped up under the horse to loop all four legs.

Will Rogers’ unsurpassed lariat feats were recorded in the classic movie, “The Ropin’ Fool.”

His hard-earned skills won him jobs trick roping in wild west shows and on the vaudeville stages where, soon, he started telling small jokes.

Quickly, his wise cracks and folksy observations became more prized by audiences than his expert roping. He became recognized as being a very informed and smart philosopher–telling the truth in very simple words so that everyone could understand.

After the 10th grade, Will Rogers dropped out of school to become a cowboy in a cattle drive. He always regretted that he didn’t finish school, but he made sure that he never stopped learning–reading, thinking and talking to smart people. His hard work paid off.

Will Rogers was the star of Broadway and 71 movies of the 1920s and 1930s; a popular broadcaster; besides writing more than 4,000 syndicated newspaper columns and befriending Presidents, Senators and Kings.

During his lifetime, he traveled around the globe three times– meeting people, covering wars, talking about peace and learning everything possible.

He wrote six books. In fact he published more than two million words. He was the first big time radio commentator, was a guest at the White House and his opinions were sought by the leaders of the world.

Inside himself, Will Rogers remained a simple Oklahoma cowboy. “I never met a man I didn’t like,” was his credo of genuine love and respect for humanity and all people everywhere. He gave his own money to disaster victims and raised thousands for the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Post’s legacy is significant, too. His employer, Oklahoma oil man F. C. Hall, encouraged Post to push for aviation records using Hall’s Lockheed Vega, and Post was happy to comply. Before his history-making trip around the world, he had won races and navigation contests. NASA traces the development of the space-walking suits worn by astronauts to Post’s early attempts for flight records:

For Wiley Post to achieve the altitude records he sought, he needed protection. (Pressurized aircraft cabins had not yet been developed.) Post’s solution was a suit that could be pressurized by his airplane engine’s supercharger.

First attempts at building a pressure suit failed since the suit became rigid and immobile when pressurized. Post discovered he couldn’t move inside the inflated suit, much less work airplane controls. A later version succeeded with the suit constructed already in a sitting position. This allowed Post to place his hands on the airplane controls and his feet on the rudder bars. Moving his arms and legs was difficult, but not impossible. To provide visibility, a viewing port was part of the rigid helmet placed over Post’s head. The port was small, but a larger one was unnecessary because Post had only one good eye!

Last photo of Will Rogers (in the hat) and Wiley Post, in Alaska in 1935 (from Century of Flight)

Last photo of Will Rogers (in the hat) and Wiley Post, in Alaska in 1935 (from Century of Flight)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Alaska bush advocate Pamela Bumsted.

Resources:


Millard Fillmore’s links to March 8: Hurrah! and R.I.P.

March 8, 2013

I awoke from a particularly hard sleep after a night celebrating ten Cub Scouts’ earning their Arrow of Light awards and advancing into Boy Scout troops, to a missive from Carl Cannon (RealClear Politics) wondering why I’m asleep at the switch.

Millard Fillmore died on March 8, 1874, and he expected to see some note of that here at the Bathtub.  This blog is not the chronicler of all things Millard Fillmore, but can’t we at least get the major dates right?

Carl is right.  Alas, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is avocation, and at times like these an avocation that should be far down the list of avocations.

To mark the date, here is a post out of the past that notes two key events on March 8 that Fillmore had a hand in, the second being his death.  Work continues on several fronts, and more may splash out of the tub today, even about Fillmore.  Stay tuned.

Fillmore died on March 8, 1874; exactly 20 years earlier, Commodore Matthew C. Perry landed in Japan, in the process of what may be the greatest and most overlooked legacy of Millard Fillmore’s presidency, the opening of Japan to the world.  Here’s that post:

Commodore Matthew C. Perrys squadron in Japan, 1854 - CSSVirginia.org image

The Black Ships — Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s squadron in Japan, 1854 – CSSVirginia.org image from Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, Boston, May 15, 1852 (also, see BaxleyStamps.com); obviously the drawing was published prior to the expedition’s sailing.

On March 8, 1854, Commodore Matthew C. Perry landed for the second time in Japan, having been sent on a mission a year earlier by President Millard Fillmore.  On this trip, within 30 days he concluded a treaty with Japan which opened Japan to trade with the U.S. (the Convention of Kanagawa), and which began a cascade of events that opened Japan to trade with the world.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852 photograph, Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852 photograph, Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Within 50 years Japan would come to dominate the seas of the the Western Pacific, and would become a major world power.

1854 japanese woodblock print of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Peabody Museum: The characters located across the top read from right to left, A North American Figure and Portrait of Perry. According to the Peabody Essex Museum, this print may be one of the first depictions of westerners in Japanese art, and exaggerates Perrys western features (oblong face, down-turned eyes, bushy brown eyebrows, and large nose).  But compare with photo above, right.  Peabody Museum holding, image from Library of Congress via WikiMedia

1854 japanese woodblock print of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Peabody Museum: “The characters located across the top read from right to left, ‘A North American Figure’ and ‘Portrait of Perry.’ According to the Peabody Essex Museum, ‘this print may be one of the first depictions of westerners in Japanese art, and exaggerates Perry’s western features (oblong face, down-turned eyes, bushy brown eyebrows, and large nose).'” But compare with photo above, right. Peabody Museum holding, image from Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Then, 20 years later, on March 8, 1874, Millard Fillmore died in Buffalo, New York.

The Perry expedition to Japan was the most famous, and perhaps the greatest recognized achievement of Fillmore’s presidency.  Fillmore had started the U.S. on a course of imperialistic exploitation and exploration of the world, with other expeditions of much less success to Africa and South America, according to the story of his death in The New York Times.

The general policy of his Administration was wise and liberal, and he left the country at peace with all the world and enjoying a high degree of prosperity. His Administration was distinguished by the Lopez fillibustering expeditions to Cuba, which were discountenanced by the Government, and by several important expeditions to distant lands. The expedition to Japan under Commodore Perry resulted in a favorable treaty with that country, but that dispatched under Lieut. Lynch, in search of gold in the interior of Africa, failed of its object. Exploring expeditions were also sent to the Chinese seas, and to the Valley of the Amazon.

More:


British Airways: Crazy-like-a-fox patriotism in advertising

July 13, 2012

This television advertisement is circulating among airline and travel folk:

Why would British Airways make an ad that encourages Britons to stay at home during the Olympics?

Join the conversation and see the plane on your own street at http://www.facebook.com/britishairways #HomeAdvantage

This summer, the greatest sports event on Earth comes to London. And our best sportsmen and women have a once in a lifetime opportunity, to compete at the highest level with the whole country behind them. That’s why we’re asking the nation to join together, to give our athletes the greatest home advantage we can give them. It could be the difference in seconds and millimetres, turning silver into gold. This summer, there’s nowhere else in the world to be.

Even more analysis:

Millard Fillmore traveled to London after his presidency.  One story claims that, upon meeting Fillmore, Queen Victoria proclaimed him “the handsomest man” she had ever met.

After the death of his daughter Mary, Fillmore went abroad. While touring Europe in 1855, Fillmore was offered an honorary Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) degree by the University of Oxford. Fillmore turned down the honor, explaining that he had neither the “literary nor scientific attainment” to justify the degree.[22] He is also quoted as having explained that he “lacked the benefit of a classical education” and could not, therefore, understand the Latin text of the diploma, adding that he believed “no man should accept a degree he cannot read.”[9]

Tip of the small, folding travel scrub brush to Gil Brassard, believe it or not.

More:


EU charges airlines for carbon emissions on flights to Europe; airlines, other nations rankled

January 10, 2012

Been to court once, looks like it’s going again.  The Economist reported this week:

AS OF January 1st, American, Chinese and all the world’s airlines are being billed for the carbon emissions of their flights into and out of the European Union. About time, too: airlines contribute 2-3% of global emissions, yet they were hitherto free to pollute. The European initiative, which brings airlines into the EU’s existing cap-and-trade regime, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), is a modest corrective. The hope is that it will speed the creation of a long-promised, more ambitious successor, governing all the world’s airspace.

Foreign airlines, needless to say, are unhappy. So are their governments. Because flights into the EU have been included in their entirety, not just the portion within European airspace, they detect an infringement of their sovereignty. Last month, in response to a suit from an American industry body, Airlines for America (A4A), the European Court of Justice dismissed that concern. A4A, which claims, improbably, that the scheme will cost its members more than $3 billion by 2020, may file a fresh suit in the High Court in London.

Especially hopping mad are warming denialists, who fear that charges for carbon emissions will cause emitters to reduce emissions, which might have an effect on global warming, thereby making the denialists out to be wrong.

Better not to be proven wrong than to have a cleaner planet, they reckon.


Flying abroad? Pack light

September 20, 2011

Jack Keady, my former colleague at American Airlines, sent this news item:

Airline fees reach $400 mark, USA Today survey finds — The era of the $400 airline fee has arrived. For an overweight checked bag weighing 71-100 pounds, Continental Airlines is charging $400 on most international flights, and American Airlines is charging $450 on its Asian flights. United Airlines charges $400 for checking bags weighing 71-99.9 pounds on flights to another continent. Those are the most expensive fees that airlines charge fliers, a new USA Today survey of what 13 U.S. carriers charge for services available to coach passengers has found. Gary Stoller/USA Today
Buy underwear when you get there, maybe.

 


Old-Picture.com, good resource for teachers and students

May 31, 2011

Here’s a source of high-quality photos, most at least 90 years old.  A lot of these photos would fit nicely into presentations for history classes:  Old-Picture.com.

Many of the photos don’t appear much of any place else.  There are historic maps, too.

For example:  What’s a “whistlestop tour?”

Here is President William H. Taft making such a tour, or rather, speaking during a stop on such a tour, at Redfield (what state?  South Dakota?  Iowa?  New York?):

W. H. Taft on whistlestop tour, in Redfield

W. H. Taft on whistlestop tour, in Redfield

Here’s Taft, again, at “Boutelle at Janesville;” note especially the boys climbing the pole to get a better look:

1908 Taft whistlestop tour, Boutelle at Janesville (wherever that is!)

1908 Taft whistlestop tour, Boutelle at Janesville (wherever that is!)

Janesville is probably the city in Wisconsin.

Here’s Taft at a train, again in 1908 — might we assume it’s the same trip?

W. H. Taft at a train, in 1908 - campaigning?

W. H. Taft at a train, in 1908 -- campaigning?

Here Taft and his party are pictured on a train, in Chicago.  Same train?  Same trip?  Who are the other men with him?

W. H. Taft and party on a train, 1908 presidential campaign

W. H. Taft and party on a train in Chicago, 1908 presidential campaign

For another view, here’s what Taft saw at one of his stops — the crowd assembled to listen to him speak, in 1908:

Crowd gathered to hear Taft's campaign speech, 1908 (location, "West?")

Crowd gathered to hear Taft's campaign speech, 1908 (location, "West?") -- love that Tom Mix-looking hat on the guy in the middle, no?

Put these pictures together in a different order — it’s a clear illustration of just what a “whistlestop” tour is.  These slides could complement a presentation comparing this trip with Harry Truman’s 1948 whistlestop tour, just two generations later.  Or, juxtapose these pictures with pictures of John F. Kennedy in 1960, or Richard Nixon in 1968, or Bill Clinton’s bus tours in 1992 and 1996.

I’ll wager you’ve not seen at least one of these photos before (they are all new to me).  Old-Picture.com has a great collection of stuff.  So far as I can tell, the site administrator lists no copyright restrictions (there’s got to be a story in there somewhere).

What can you do with this collection?


George Jetson come true? Maverick Flying Car at Oshkosh

April 14, 2011

Next time somebody asks ‘where’s my flying car?” you can show them this.

Steve Saint of I-TEC drove his road-legal flying car from Florida to Oshkosh this summer. Since then the FAA has also issued the Maverick a S-LSA aircraft airworthiness certificate. I-TEC hopes to be in production by EAA Oshkosh 2011.

[Because it comes with built-in autoplay from the Experimental Aircraft Association, it’s below the fold.]

Read the rest of this entry »


Geography quiz: Which Midwest city is this?

August 9, 2010

Quick quiz:  Can you identify this Midwest American city?

Mystery Midwest city from the air

Can you identify the city shown in this photo? Photo by James Darrell, flying to DFW from ATL. (Click for larger view)

Can you identify this Midwest city?  The photo was taken about an hour outside of DFW International, flying in from Atlanta Hartsfield.  North in on the right side of the photo.  My quick guess was Oklahoma City, but that was when I thought the departure city was Milwaukee (it could still be OKC).

Can you shed some light, and tell why you think it’s that city?

Night flying is cool.  While I enjoy flying any time, I really enjoy the views from an airplane at night.

Somewhere in the trunk of film-that-may-one-day-be-digitized, I have several photos of smaller cities along the Wasatch Front in Utah, taken during campaigns and business trips in the 1970s and 1980s.  At one time I had a list of the cities in the shots, but that list is long gone.  I wonder whether I could identify those cities today?

Historically, it would be interesting, since most of those small towns now are sizable suburb cities.

Chicago lays out in an orange grid of glowing citrine gemstones at night.  New York City dazzles from 2,000 feet, looking better than any movie you’ve ever seen, and glowing.  Dallas presents a colored outline against the black sky when you come in for a landing (or Fort Worth, with more white lights, if you’re on the west side of the aircraft coming in).  Salt Lake City sparkles and spreads up the mountains and canyons.  St. Louis is neat rows of lighted pathways broken by the snaking Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.  Washington, D.C. is a Shining City on a Hill spectacular when the weather is clear, coming down the Potomac River to National (now Reagan).

Which city is this one, above?

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Bill White: Texas’ best days ahead

June 26, 2010

Nice drive to Corpus Christi for the Texas Democratic Convention.  Long drive.  Very long drive.  One yearns for the days when flying inside Texas was much more affordable.

The advantage, of course, is seeing Texas.  “Miles and miles of Texas” as Asleep at the Wheel might sing. (Love those twin fiddles.) (Watch it here, from Austin City Limits in the ’80s)

Interstate 35 traffic frustrates several million people a day.  One cannot drive through Austin without a slowdown at any hour of most business days.  Once-clear country roads are congested.  Clearly that problem needs some attention.

It’s a stirring and interesting sight that greets you coming into Corpus Christi on I-37.  From a distance you’ll see the massive wind farm, huge windmills cranking out electricity, almost a vision of a cleaner future through the haze.  Closer into town the windmills can be seen through the industrial maze of oil refineries.  It probably can’t be photographed well except from the air, but it’s an interesting juxtaposition of the changes Texas lives through, and the challenges ahead.  I was reminded of the “successful labor-management negotiation” workshops:

Hope for the future, a picture of reality . . . now, what are the plans to proceed?

I missed most of the activity on Friday while driving.  Other blogs and news organizations offer good coverage.  Texas Blue carried the full advanced text.  (Also see The Austin American-Statesman, the AP story in The Dallas Morning News, and Texas Observer)

White’s speech contrasts quite starkly with Rick Perry’s a few weeks ago, in which he seemed confused by geography, “blaming” White’s “Washington ways” for Houston’s successes under White’s leadership.

Bill White’s speech pleased the crowd.  Not fire and brimstone; enough humor that most delegates smiled all the way through, but full of substantive contrasts between Rick Perry’s policies and those White wishes to pursue instead.  Parts of the speech carry the mark of brilliant speech writing, especially in the breezy, pleasant way White paints the policy differences.  Here’s the end of the speech:

Rick Perry will claim he represents Texas values. But Perry’s Texas is different than our Texas.

In Rick Perry’s Texas insurance and utility rates rise faster than in other states. In our Texas wages will go up faster because we invest in people.

In Rick Perry’s Texas we import nurses and welders and other skilled workers from abroad. In our Texas we will train more Texans to do those jobs.

In Rick Perry’s Texas the State Board of Education injects political ideology into classrooms. In our Texas we’ll put more computers in our classrooms.

In Rick Perry’s Texas state boards and agencies are pressured from the top to serve those who help the Governor’s re-election. In our Texas government will be the servant, not the master, and our customers will be ordinary Texans.

In Rick Perry’s Texas the governor threatens to leave the world’s greatest country. He is content [to] allow our state to compete with Mississippi for lack of social progress. In our Texas other states will follow Texas because we will be the leader.

In Rick Perry’s Texas citizens are stuck in traffic in big cities because the Texas Department of Transportation was doing the bidding of a foreign company promoting the land grab known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. In our Texas we will work across party lines for a new mobility plan, assisting commuters to get from home to work and all communities to get their goods to market.

In Rick Perry’s Texas the best days may be behind us. In our Texas our best days are ahead of us.

Let us go from this convention, staffing phone banks, knocking on doors, and sending emails. Lift up all who share our values, from the courthouse to the statehouse to the double-wide trailer Andrea and I will live in while the Mansion is rebuilt. Describe to friends and neighbors, from both parties, the simple choice we face in the governor’s race.

Rick Perry is in it for Rick Perry. By the grace of God and with your help, I’m in it for Texas, for you.

Bill White at Texas Democratic Convention, 6-25-2010

Bill White, after his speech at the Texas Democratic Convention - R. G. Ratcliff photo, Houston Chronicle blogs

It was one of the most positive speeches I’ve heard at conventions in a long time — takes me back to Mo Udall at the 1976 National Democratic Convention, or Ted Kennedy’s at the 1980 convention.  White came down in favor of education, roads and lower taxes, and good government in general.  Cleverly, astoundingly, each of his jabs at Rick Perry was on a substantive, policy issue, and not just a one-liner.  No lipstick on pigs, not even a silver foot-in-the-mouth (apologies to Ann Richards, but not to Sarah Palin).

You have to wonder what this guy was listening to:

“In delivering one of the most negative speeches by a nominee for Texas governor in modern history, Bill White continues to run a campaign of no substance,” said Perry campaign spokesperson Mark Miner. “Governor Perry’s proven leadership, Texas values, and priorities of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and job creation have made our state the envy of the nation.”

The race is on, and the choices are already very, very clear.

Update:


American Airlines welcomes pets, at JFK Airport

July 15, 2009

Old buddy Jack Keady writes:

I swear – I don’t make this stuff up:

Cats and Dogs Welcome (and comfortable) at JFK
American Airlines has installed a new Pet Relief Area at the JFK International Airport in New York. More»

Is this important?  Ask anyone who travels with a beloved four-legged critter.  Well, we don’t have to ask — AA vet Dennis Crosby tells the story:

I think it is a great idea.  Every time we take our dog to Ft. Myers, airport palm trees get irrigated immediately upon arrival.

Could have really used this at DFW about 3 years ago.  On the way home to Chicago via a connection, my family and I experienced an air interruption about 30 minutes out of DFW. Back at the gate in front of Dickey’s barbeque, we were advised that we would leave in 4 hours at 515 PM.  Went to the Admirals Club and tried to keep an eye on updates.  Final check revealed that the flight had left in 2 hours , 10 minutes before I checked for the third time with the folks at the reception desk. Given that it was on a January 3, our options were  few – they finally put us on a positioning 777 five hours later. Needless to say, we could not keep our pup, whose vet prescribed sedative had worn off much earlier, inside his soft sided carry on bag.  The zipper broke and out burst Marshall, our Bichon Frise.  He is a nice dog, and he eventually made friends with everyone in the Admirals Club when he slipped out of his leash.  At that point, I was beyond caring.

Anyway, about an hour before departure, I took little Marshall to the men’s room and did my best to show him what to do.  I am sure that image must be quite horrific to most of you.  Marshall elected to ignore me and make friends with the other folks there as well.

As departure time came, we realized that the zipper on Marshall’s bag was irreparably broken.  My wife Patti took the shoelace out of one of her tennis shoes and we literally “stitched” him back in.  And then we flew home to Chicago, looking at that point very much like the Clampett family.  After a missed approach in icy fog at ORD, we finally got to the claim area 16 hours after our initial flight had left FLL.  Nature being what it is, Marshall had an immediate explosive decompression of his own, right there in the claim area of my alma mater.  Luckily, most of the folks pushing through the claim area did not notice – or at least did not notice until sometime later.

Great idea at JFK.  I urge AA to build one at ORD too. I know Marshall would be grateful.

O’Hare used to have large ficus trees throughout its terminals, and small flocks of resident sparrows who blundered in through open doors or ramp doors.  One crowded winter night I watched a guy sneak his pup up into the large pot holding one of the trees to irrigate it.  When he caught me laughing he explained the dog had been cooped up for more than eight hours, four of them stranded on some runway waiting for Air Traffic Control clearance.

I pointed out to him that American had far more trees in its area than United did, and he should have been glad to be flying American.  He said he would watch for trees in other terminals.

Too bad that guy doesn’t read this blog.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Jack Keady.  Keep us posted on all the important stuff, Jack!


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