Wednesday, April 01, 2020

From Flying Tigers to Flying Dutchman

 There's another plague ship at sea, and its name should ring a bell for Flying Tiger buffs. The original Zaandam was a Dutch liner that carried 10 AVG pilots from San Francisco to Singapore in the fall of 1941, along with flight instructors and ground crew. The new Zaandam, shown above, is a cruise ship of the Holland America Line, and she is cruising aimlessly this week in the Gulf of Mexico with her sister ship Rotterdam, like Wagner's "Flying Dutchman" doomed to remain at sea. Today's curse is Covid-19.

Zaandam sailed from Buenos Aires March 7 for a trip around Cape Horn to Chile, arriving one week later. By that time, the virus had hit the fan, and passengers were supposed to fly home from the far-south city of Punta Arenas. But Chile wouldn't let them come ashore. Zaandam sailed on, looking for a port. Panama graciously allowed her to transit through the fabled Canal, but not to dock. Nor did Mexico, nor the state of Florida.

Meanwhile the China-born plague descended. As of Tuesday, 4 people are dead, 9 test positive for Covid-19, and 210 have "flu-like" symptoms. The stricken vessel was able to rendezvous at sea with Rotterdam, transferring healthy passengers out while food and medical supplies were brought aboard. Both ships now desperately need a port. Let's hope that Florida's governor knows that US Navy and Marine pilots made up a majority of the Flying Tigers, that they got their wings of gold at Pensacola Naval Air Station, and that some actually went to war aboard the original Zaandam. (Louis Hoffman, KIA January 1941, was among them.) In their memory, he should let the new "Flying Dutchman" and her sister ship make port. 

Update: Trump persuaded the governor to change his mind, and the two ships will dock at Fort Lauderdale this afternoon, April 2. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

Monday, March 30, 2020

The DMV continues its fabled tradition of helpfulness to citizens...

Here in New Hampshire we must have our vehicles inspected the month we register them, with a 10-day grace period. I got my renewal notice on March 18 and mailed off a check the same day. On March 27 I received the tags in the mail, with only four days remaining in the month. Since the grace period expires April 10, I emailed the DMV to explain that I was in the age group that has been asked to "shelter in place" (the government's way of saying "stay home") and asking if there would be an extension or waiver for such as we. A few minutes ago, I received the following gracious response from Concord:
Good Morning,
At this time, there has been no extensions for vehicle inspections. If you have any additional questions or need further assistance, please contact us at 603-227-4000.
Thank you and have a great day.
Cara F.
NH Division of Motor Vehicles

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

We're from the government, and we're here to help

Keep smiling indeed! "When you're smilin', when you're smilin' / The whole world smiles with you" was one of the songs that got American through the Great Depression of the 1930s. And now the governors of California, New York, and lesser states seem determined to bring it all back. When the store pictured above closed its doors, what do you think happened to its employees? Oh, they might stay on the payroll for a bit, but tomorrow or next week they'll be in the unemployment office, which I trust Messrs Newsome and Cuomo have deemed "essential services." You can't throw a hundred million people out of work and expect the economy to function, because it won't. Lots of luck with that grand reopening on March 28!

Blue skies! -- Dan Ford (and don't forget to keep smiling!)

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tulsi 2020

Tomorrow I'll go to the local high school and pick up a Democratic ballot and cast my vote for Tulsi Gabbard for president. Alone of the 22 candidates, she is neither a billionaire nor a nut. The establishment of course dislikes her, because she refused to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016, with the result that they kept her off the stage at the Thursday-night debate despite the fact that she polled higher than three of the candidates who did speak: Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, and Amy Klobuchar. So everybody on that stage was a person of pallor, and only one was a war veteran (and that a rather pathetic sort of war). Yet here was a Pacific Islander, a major in the US Army National Guard, and the most beautiful woman who ever ran for high office, shut out from public view to please the feckless politician who took the party down to defeat in 2016.

And wouldn't it be grand to see a Tulsi-Donald debate this fall?

Yeah, I know she won't win tomorrow, and that she won't be the candidate in November, but one must vote one's heart. Tulsi's billboards show her handsome presence with the slogan: THE HEART OF A SOLDIER. Of course, one can never tell what's in another's heart, but she has certainly succeeded in capturing mine. Not since Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan have I so adored a presidential candidate.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

We've got to discriminate against someone, so let's discriminate against the middle class!

The Times of London reports that "middle-class children will be squeezed out of  Oxbridge" as Britain's two elite universities strive to admit 6,500 more students from deprived families by 2025. That's quite a significant bulge in enrollment, but apparently neither Oxford nor Cambridge plans to expand its student body. Who'll be cut to make room for the deserving poor? Well, not the rich and famous, obviously.

To handle such tricky matters as this, the British government has -- of course! -- an Office for Students, and the OfS has -- of course! -- a Director of Access. His name is Chris Millward, and he points to the obvious outcome: "If they don’t grow, then the groups that are very highly represented in those universities will be less represented at the end of this,” he said.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Wi-fi in the sky

This is a Bombardier E-11A like the "surveillance aircraft" that went down in in Afghanistan yesterday. Four of these planes were based at Kandahar airfield for the purpose of providing communications to soldiers operating in mountainous territory where radio links aren't feasible, along with a smaller number of EQ-4B remotely piloted drones. The idea is to provide "wi-fi in the sky" for the troops needing to direct air or artillery strikes, or to call for help if they get into trouble. 

As a business jet, the Bombardier Global Express carries a four-person crew, but that probably includes one or two flight attendants. Fox News reports that two bodies were recovered from the crash site by the US military. Afghans were photographed at the crash site yesterday, but no mention has been made of Taliban fighters at the site (or responsible for the crash).

Friday, January 03, 2020

Tulsi at Hampton Beach, January 1, 2020

She's a woman, she's of color, she's a combat veteran, and she went surfing in the Gulf of Maine on New Year's Day. What's not to like? Tulsi 2020!