Chattanooga, Tennessee as an aviation stopover

We’re getting into the summer travel season. For folks in small planes fleeing South Florida, Chattanooga, Tennessee is a reasonable first overnight. KCHA is a huge airport with a great FBO:

The surrounding Appalachian Mountains are scenic, but don’t interfere with instrument approaches down to 200′ AGL.

This post has some photos from an overnight stop in Chattanooga on the way home from Oshkosh last summer (early August 2023).

Uber it to downtown and visit the Tennessee Aquarium, which takes the novel architectural approach of following a river down to the ocean:

This is what my house would look like if I were an evil billionaire. The aquarium puts a lot of effort into showing river ecosystems from around the world. In the Department of Stuff You Couldn’t Make Up, Bank of America supports the piranha exhibit:

We’ll see how many San Francisco Fed supervision failures lead to Bank of America swooping in!

Speaking of swooping in, Science says that humans crossing a border are good, but the Nile Perch crossing into Lake Victoria has been bad for native species:

Invasive Mosquitofish are also bad…

The dark River Journey building has now been augmented by a more conventional Ocean Journey building that has similar to displays to what you find in public aquariums around the world.

Puckett’s is a great Southern-style restaurant next door:

Walk along and then across the river…

Cry when you learn that Americans won’t put down their Xbox and OxyContin long enough to come in and make donuts (“Staffing Shortages” sign below):

Your kids can cool off in a fountain and then ride a carousel…

Ruby Falls is entirely underground so it is open late. You start high above the city:

You walk through a limestone cave with beautiful formations and eventually come to the falls themselves:

Downtown is a little scarier than the cave:

You probably won’t get sued for divorce or custody during your overnight in Chattanooga, however, because child support profits are capped in Tennessee (see Real World Divorce). You can finish your evening with a late-night snack inside the old train station:

All of the above can be easily accomplished if you land before 1 pm. Then fire up early the next morning and proceed to the heartland!

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Science says that vaccines prevent COVID transmission

A cousin is a Scientist (i.e., a physician). He is married to a woman with some Deplorable and Deplorable-adjacent relatives. He recently described getting into a fight with the in-laws in late 2021. He and his wife spent some time in their secure all-Democrat enclave with a filthy unvaccinated 19-year-old cousin visiting from disgusting Florida. The girl appeared to be in perfect health. Shortly afterwards, the wife came down with some symptoms consistent with COVID-19. He then waxed expansively to the Deplorable side of the family regarding his regrets that he had allowed this filthy unvaccinated girl within 100′ of his wife. The wife did not speak to her relatives for more than a year and the rift caused by this discussion remains open in 2023.

Our conversation:

  • me: “Did [wife] actually get COVID from this girl?”
  • Dr. Cousin: “No. She tested negative and it never developed into anything more than a slight cold.”
  • me: “Have you considered apologizing to the in-laws now that Science says COVID-19 vaccines don’t prevent transmission?”
  • Dr. Cousin: “It’s true that the vaccines were designed to prevent infection and transmission. They were designed to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. But if everyone had taken them as soon as they were available, they would have stopped transmission.”

In other news, Science told the Mayo Clinic to drop the masks:

At the same time, Science told the Covidcrats in New York City to keep the masks:

(The depicted young people are Following Fauci by wearing cloth masks against an aerosol virus?)

By including “thank you for keeping your fellow New Yorkers safe”, I think the Covidcrats of NYC are saying that cloth masks stop transmission, but vaccines don’t (since the requirement to wear a simple mask applies even to those who have accepted the Sacrament of Fauci).

We are informed that Scientists have reached a consensus regarding the temperature of Planet Earth on January 1, 2100, yet those who Follow the Science cannot agree on masks-on vs. masks-off?

In case the above tweet is memory-holed, a screen shot:

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ChatGPT gets mugged

An elite white Democrat told a friend about her elite white Democrat nephew who managed to get into an Ivy League college with a story about having been mugged in New York City. With some coaxing and examples, my friend managed to get the following out of GPT-4….

TITLE: Echoes of Valjean: A Tale of City Streets and Empathy

In the grandeur of New York City’s skyline, nestled between skyscrapers’ shadows and the ceaseless hum of life, I experienced an epiphany that would alter my perspective forever. This revelation did not emerge from the plush halls of an Ivy League seminar or the prestigious walls of my parents’ alma maters, but from the gritty, unromanticized underbelly of the city.

Late one evening, as the city was donning its twinkling night attire, I fell victim to a mugging. The swift, terrifying episode left me shaking, my pockets lighter, but my mind teeming with thoughts. For the first time, I began to see the city, not as a backdrop to my privileged existence, but as a complex ecosystem where survival was not guaranteed, but hard-earned.

In the days that followed, I found myself haunted by the face of the man who mugged me. He wasn’t the malevolent figure my fear had painted him to be, but a mirror of desperation, poverty, and the ruthless pursuit of survival. It was as though I was seeing the embodiment of Jean Valjean, the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” in the streets of New York. Valjean, a man condemned by society for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, was suddenly no longer a character confined to the pages of a book, but a living, breathing reality of modern capitalist society.
My upbringing, framed by the comforts provided by my Ivy League-educated parents, had shielded me from such harsh realities. I was raised in a world where success was not just expected but assured. My mugging served as a stark contrast to this cocooned existence. It forced me to confront the fact that while I was contemplating which prestigious college to attend, others were grappling with life’s fundamental questions of survival and morality.

In the grand scheme of things, the mugging was not merely an act of crime but a cry for help echoing through the city’s concrete canyons. It was a manifestation of the unequal society we inhabit, a world where some are born with silver spoons while others, in the words of Hugo, “see only a horrible, starless night.”

The incident transformed me. I found myself questioning the societal structures that pushed the marginalized into crime, the economic systems that perpetuated inequality, and my own place within these frameworks. It was a distressing but necessary introspection, one that made me realize how privilege had colored my world.

This understanding ignited a newfound determination to use my privilege not as a shield but as a tool for change. I channeled this drive into volunteering at local shelters, mentoring underprivileged students, and advocating for policies aimed at reducing income inequality. As Hugo wrote, “There are no bad plants or bad men; there are only bad cultivators.” I pledged to become a cultivator of change, to bridge the chasm between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’

My experience with the mugger on that fateful night in New York City was a turning point. It brought the harsh realities of inequality into sharp focus, compelling me to rethink my privileged existence and inspiring me to strive for a more equitable society. This transformation, I believe, is the essence of education – a profound understanding of the world around us, which instills a sense of responsibility to make it a better place. As I prepare to embark on my collegiate journey, I carry with me this sense of duty, ready to learn, ready to cultivate, and ready to change.

Note ChatGPT’s sexism. Out of the 74 gender IDs recognized by Science, ChatGPT picks a “man” as the mugger. The prompt said simply “the writer’s experience getting mugged on the streets of New York City” and did not provide ChatGPT with a gender ID for the mugger.

Separately, the have-nots sort their aluminum treasure (Manhattan, May 2023):

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The future is trans

Happy Pride Month (last year it was officially “A Proclamation on “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, And Intersex Pride Month”, according to Joe Biden).

From state-sponsored CBC… The future is trans: As Transgender Awareness Month comes to an end, what are our next steps?” (November 2018).

An important variation from TeenVogue (June 2020): “”The Future of Trans” Documentary Shows the World Transgender People Deserve”

From TIME.. “Imara Jones: Why Black Trans Women Are Essential to Our Future” (August 2020):

Black trans women are essential to creating the future, because when everything fails you, you’re more clearly able to reimagine what it would look like if things worked. This is why Black trans women are, in many cases, the most visionary and progressive leaders within social justice movements. … The future is trans because the ways we’ve gone about organizing human life have changed in really fundamental ways. Trans people, just through our existence, show the power and the resilience of change, and possibility of how we can do things differently.

From Adobe Inc.’s “50 LGBTQ Pride month social media caption ideas and Pride quotes”:

“The future is trans.”

The corporate author (no human is identified) say “The Internet serves another purpose for the queer community, which is known for its taste-making sensibilities, accepting attitudes, irreverent humor, and fun-loving vibes.” What if a person says “I agree with the Florida law that bans public school classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for K-3″? Would the queer community accept that person?

Here are some templates from Adobe:

The Future is Trans T-shirt comes in “Male Fit” and “Female Fit” (make mine 5XL please):


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The fancy new terminal at LaGuardia Airport

“Wait, La Guardia Is Nice Now? Inside New York’s $25 Billion Airport Overhaul” (New York Times, July 2022):

The first airport to be completed will be La Guardia, where Delta Air Lines has just opened a gleaming, $4 billion terminal … already won an award as the best new airport building in the world.

I was there earlier this month! Let’s check it out…

The ticketing level was mostly empty on a Sunday afternoon:

You walk around a corner, marvel at the enormous artwork (zoom in and you can see the chin diaper on the righteous New Yorker), and head upstairs…

The security line was non-existent and there is an interesting Agam-inspired illuminated artwork above it:

It’s all-Delta-all-the-time out the window:

The interior space is beautiful:

(Note cloth mask against an aerosol virus worn by the Soldier of Faucism riding the escalator.)

Does the airport terminal achieve greatness? Not for me. Nobody seems to have had any imagination for what passengers should be able to do inside. There are the usual options: shop for magazines and junk food, eat in a restaurant, drink at a bar. What if you are stuck there for 4 hours due to thunderstorms or a missed connection? (admittedly the latter is rare due to LGA not being a hub) There’s no amazing garden or aquarium or art museum or science museum inside. There are no historic aircraft hanging from the ceiling. Qatar put a lap swimming pool inside their big terminal. Maybe that’s too much to ask from the folks who gave us the New York Subway, but how about a planetarium? Why not a pinball and video arcade? A carting track? A trampoline park? (the last few ripped off from Dezerland, a vast indoor space in Orlando where almost anyone can happily spend a few hours)

I’m not sure what makes all of these airport terminals so similar in terms of what passengers can actually do while they wait. I’m going to guess that it is the desire of the airport operator to make the last possible dollar on rent, the same thing that causes American shopping malls to be so similar and dull.

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A visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art

One of the joys of New York was casual access to great art museums. Post-coronapanic, however, access is no longer so casual. They’re on the dreaded timed ticket system.

The lobby contains neon art by Eric Adams:

What other messages do we see in the Renzo Piano building who total project cost was $760 million in pre-Biden money?

In the oppressed after first investing $760 million in a fancy building?

My favorite work on display is by Josh Kline and reflects a compromise between Republicans and Democrats regarding whether it is permissible to install gas stoves in American households:

Kline predicted “mass layoffs” in a series called “Contagious Unemployment” back in 2016. He wasn’t completely wrong in that labor force participation is low, but technical “unemployment” (people who want jobs and can’t find them) is actually lower than it was in 2016. Even if the artist failed as an economic prophet, his shrink-wrapped middle managers are impressive:

The permanent collection is always worthwhile. Sailors and Floosies (Cadmus 1938) might need an update now that “US Navy hires active-duty drag queen to be face of recruitment drive” (New York Post):

(Cadmus could have painted himself in? He wasn’t famous for being straight.)

The view of the High Line is awesome:

The museum is also a good place to see the Little Island at Pier 55 (about $260 million in public and private money):

The main exhibit was by a Native American artist, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. It is uncontroversial and accurate to refer to people crossing the border without an invitation as a “European invasion”:

(Would the museum characterize the current flood of folks coming across the border as an “invasion”? If not, why not? Because they are generally not armed while the mostly-peaceful Pilgrims had rifles?)

A 2021 painting by Smith cashes in on Americans’ love of pronouns:

Her “trade canoes” are impressive. Examples:

Pilots may imagine that the FAA is everywhere in the galleries because the guards’ uniform says “Here to Help” on the back:

What’s the mask situation, you might ask? About half of the guards were masked. (If they’re worried, why don’t they switch to a job with less potential for virus transmission?) With the exception of the virtuous group, perhaps only 1 in 40 patrons was masked.

How’s the neighborhood?

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Remembering William Lewis Herndon, captain of the gold-laden SS Central America

On this Memorial Day I’d like to celebrate the memory of William Lewis Herndon, author of Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon and captain of the SS Central America, a commercial ship with a U.S. Navy captain that sank off the Carolinas during a hurricane in 1857, resulting in a loss of 425 lives, mostly people returning from the California Gold Rush. Herndon could have escaped with his life, but chose to go down with the ship after ensuring that all women and children had been evacuated (including Lucy Dawson, the only black woman on board; we are informed today that Americans in 1857 were irredeemably racist, yet white men gave up their lives so that Ms. Dawson could keep hers).

Herndon is described in Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea: The History and Discovery of the World’s Richest Shipwreck (Gary Kinder, 1998):

Married and the father of one daughter, Herndon was slight, and at forty-three balding; a red beard ran the fringe of his jaw from temple to temple. Though he looked like a professor or a banker more than a sea captain, he had been twenty-nine years at sea, in the Mexican War and the Second Seminole War, in the Atlantic and the Pacific, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean Sea. He knew sailing ships and steamers and had handled both in all weather. He was also an explorer, internationally known and greatly admired, who had seen things no other American and few white men had ever seen.

Herndon ordered Ashby and his first officer not to let a single man into the boats until all of the women and children were off. “While they were getting into the boats,” observed one man from the bailing lines, “there was the utmost coolness and self-control among the passengers; not a man attempted to get into the boats. Captain Herndon gave orders that none but the ladies and children should get into the boats, and he was obeyed to the letter.”

The ship took 30,000 lbs. of gold 8,000′ underwater, which is what led to the main story of the above book. This cargo was worth $8 million at the time and roughly 1 billion Bidies today (inflation of 125X or 12,500 percent).

If you can tolerate an old-style book in which race, gender ID, and sexual orientation are seldom mentioned, the story of engineering challenges being addressed one after another is fascinating. The hero of the book is Tommy Thompson, a self-motivated engineer who attends Ohio State, works for Key West treasure hunter Mel Fisher, and comes back to work for Batelle. While at Batelle, he comes up with the idea of salvaging wrecks in the deep ocean.

“A galleon drafted about fifteen feet,” Tommy told Bob, “so they generally hit reefs in about fifteen feet of water. It is not like men to leave gold lying in fifteen feet of water.” Most of the artifacts Fisher had found were at twelve feet, and the only reason Spanish salvage divers had not completely stripped the Atocha in 1622 is because a second, far bigger storm had hit the wreck site three weeks later.

During the three centuries following Columbus’s voyages to the New World, much of the gold and silver on earth had been transferred from the New World to the Old World, and 25 percent of it had been lost. But don’t search for it among the thousands of shallow-water shipwrecks in the Caribbean, said Tommy; the odds were too slim. Search for treasure where storms couldn’t buffet the remains, where ships were not piled on top of each other, where the bottom was hard and the currents slow, and where no government could stake a claim. Tommy told Bob he wanted to recover historic shipwrecks in the deep ocean.

A key enabler of the quest for the Central America‘s gold is Martin Klein, the inventor of practical side scan sonar, but this MIT graduate is not credited by the author. Once found, however, there is a question of how to conduct mining operations on the ocean floor with mid-1980s technology.

If you got your submersible safely into the water, your ship at the surface was rising and falling while your submersible was descending; each fall caused the cable to go slack, and each rise snapped the cable taut, like pulling a car with a chain. That load suddenly became ten times heavier than the submersible itself, and the cable often broke and you lost your submersible. That armored cable was filled with electromechanical wires that carried signals down to the sub and back again. If the snap loading didn’t break it, every time that cable passed over a pulley, the wires bent and straightened with the weight of the vehicle, and often ten times the weight of the vehicle, and the wires fatigued and parted. A replacement cable took three months to manufacture, and carrying a spare cable on board meant needing more space on a bigger ship, tended by a larger crew, for much more money. Attempting to land on the seafloor was risky and difficult for two reasons: First, the rocking of the ship would jerk the vehicle—one minute you’d be looking at the bottom, the next minute you’d see nothing, the next minute the camera would be in the mud. Second, hanging something heavy on the end of a cable twisted the cable; if you set that heavy weight on the seafloor and slackened the cable at the same time, the twisted cable tied itself in knots, like the cord on a telephone. When an armored cable with several thousand pounds on the end kinked up, and the bouncing of the ship topside jerked on those kinks, the cable again often broke, which meant you left your vehicle on the bottom and headed back to the beach for the rest of the season.

Everyone who had previously worked in this area was funded by militaries, which had essentially unlimited budgets to look for sunken submarines and similar valuable items. Tommy Thompson needed to do the job for $millions when others had failed with $1 billion budgets. There’s also an interesting legal challenge:

The Central America lay at the far reaches of the Economic Zone, almost two hundred miles offshore. No one had ever tried to recover an historic shipwreck so deep it lay beyond the three-mile boundary. Tommy could bring a piece of the Central America into the courtroom, but no one knew what would happen next.

One of the more unusual challenges was how to bring up gold coins without scratching them, which would reduce their value to collectors. The team of salvors came up with the idea of a silicone injection process that would embed gold objects in a block of the soft substance before it was all brought to the surface.

If you love engineering, I recommend Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea. Even if you don’t love engineering, I hope that you’ll join me in remember Captain Herndon and his decades of service in what was a hazardous job back then (wooden ships combined with no GPS and no weather forecasts).

(Since 1998, Mr. Thompson’s career has developed some warts. I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but let’s just say that, as in family court, a big pot of gold can lead to accusations of unfairness.)


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Cash in on Zeitgeist by selling paintings of the Ukrainian flag?

A modest-sized Jasper Johns painting of the American flag sold for $36 million in pre-Biden money (New York Post, 2014). A hedge fund billionaire might have paid $110 million for one in 2010 (NYT). Here’s a (priceless) triple-flag version at the Whitney:

Johns is 93, possibly too old to be a heavy enough Twitter and Facebook user to realize how much value there is in displaying the Ukrainian flag. Could this be an opportunity for a younger artist to step in? Imagine the above painting but with Ukraine flags instead of U.S. flags. (I mentioned this to friends and they said that it would be even better as rainbow flags.)

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Can ChatGPT save San Francisco?

I was talking to an elderly Bay Area tech industry worker at a wedding in New York City recently (see Abortion care as a wedding gift?). He said that he has switched to thicker-soled shoes for commuting via BART due to the high density of used hypodermic needles and bodily fluids on the floor. Why doesn’t he move? “OpenAI is in San Francisco and that makes the city the center of the AI industry,” he responded. “Also, for a guy like me in his 20s I have a lot more credibility here as a startup founder than I would anywhere else.” (He’s in his late 20s, which is why I characterized him as “elderly” by Silicon Valley standards.)

I wonder if this will be what saves San Francisco from suffering a “doom loop” and becoming like Baltimore and Detroit. Yes, the folks who currently live in tents and those who live at taxpayer expense in public housing will never leave (why should they?). But the opportunity to get rich quick in the AI world could keep enough workers, and the taxes that they pay, in the city.

Where else is there a competitive concentration of AI startups?

As a market enthusiast, I think we can get an estimate of the probability of San Francisco coming back, as NYC did from the 1970s nadir, by looking at residential real estate prices. Zillow says they’re down roughly 13 percent from a year ago. Adjusted for Bidenflation, therefore, they’re down 20 percent. But that only brings them back to something like pre-coronapanic values.

Let’s compare to Miami:

Owners can feel good about being 10 percent richer until they reflect that inflation in Florida has been far higher than 10 percent for almost everything!

What about the rich? With a government by the elites and for the elites let’s hope that at least the rich can get richer. Here’s Palm Beach, up by 18 percent in fake dollars;

(The recent curve looks pretty darn flat to me, however, which means that it is trending down with Bidenflation.)

So… the real estate market suggests that San Francisco isn’t going to be quite as rich as previously expected, but it will still be an in-demand place to live. On the third hand, a friend who owns a three-story building in a tent-free neighborhood has been unable to find a tenant for a vacant apartment. He has a professional agent handling the listing and the asking price is set to what the agent says is the market price, but there have been no serious inquiries in months. One area of concern that my property-owning friend raises is that he believes commercial real estate pays the majority of property taxes in the city. With office building values coming down, the city will be starved of revenue and will have to try to find a way to get it from residential property owners. I’m not sure how his scenario plays out in the Proposition 13 world. Both commercial and residential property owners are paying tax based on whatever they paid for the building some years ago. The city’s property tax receipts, therefore, shouldn’t change much even if office building values fall by 70 percent because the typical owner bought in 10+ years ago at only a fraction of the 2020 value. Even with a dramatic collapse in value, there wouldn’t be that many buildings whose property tax payments would fall after a sale and valuation-for-tax-purposes reset.

Speaking of Proposition 13, I wonder if it explains the California elites’ fondness for deficit spending and the inevitable associated inflation. Peasant renters in California are subject to the market and, except in a few rent control paradises, fully exposed to the ravages of inflation. Elite property owners, however, cannot be taxed more than 1% of whatever they paid for a house, subject to an increase for inflation not to exceed 2% per year. Elite Californians, therefore, get a tax cut in every year that inflation exceeds 2%. Who will fund their services then? While professing to be progressive, they’ve hit their peasants with a regressive 10% sales tax (varies a bit by specific location).

(For comparison, in Deplorable Florida, with no personal income tax or estate tax and nobody professing to be a progressive, sales tax is just 6-7% (depending on county).)


  • San Francisco happens to be one of the few rent control paradises in California. The economic planners allowed landlords to raise rents by 2.3% for March 2022-2023 and will allow 3.6% this year (rules). The ministers note that “A landlord must be licensed to increase rent” and “A landlord may increase a tenant’s rent by the allowed amount once a year provided they’ve obtained a current rent increase license by complying with the City’s Housing Inventory requirements.”
  • “The Biggest South Florida Housing Boom Is Near the Rail Stations” (Wall Street Journal): “While mass transit systems throughout the U.S. are suffering from decreased business as more people work from home, Brightline reported a 68% increase in ridership in March of 2023, compared with the same month last year. … Property values near the [Miami Brightline] station were up 83% in price over that period, compared with a 38% median increase for the Miami area. … Rent has also increased at a higher rate near the Brightline train stops. In Fort Lauderdale, rental premiums are up most, 28% higher than the market average, according to Tina Tsyshevska, an analyst at Green Street.”
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