How many people would spend 19 hours listening to the Mueller Report?

One of the great things about the Internet is that we can answer the question How many people would spend 19 hours listening to the Mueller Report?

The Audible version of the Mueller Report has 480 ratings!

(I recently talked to a couple of intelligent well-educated sisters. They believed that the Mueller Report proved that Donald Trump was an arch-criminal, that he would be prosecuted and imprisoned if he were not a sitting president, and that if they could only get hold of his tax returns it would prove that he was involved in “money-laundering”. Despite their passion, I don’t think that they had read every page of the report, much less invested half a work week in listening.)

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The latest glass cockpits are obsolete?

At Oshkosh this year I attended a talk by an Air Force flight instructor about how military pilots are trained. He showed slides of various USAF trainers and the panel layouts are completely different from the latest and greatest civilian panels. Here’s the avionics suite that goes into a T6C “Texan II” trainer (i.e., a Swiss-designed Pilatus):

The heads-up display is where the engineers expect the pilot to look. The switches just below the HUD are next in visual accessibility. The big TV screens that get pride of place in a modern civilian aircraft are relegated to a low “last resort” position.

As impressive as the latest Garmin G3000-equipped jets are, could it be that the whole design philosophy is wrong?


  • MyGoFlight retrofit heads-up-display (uses a BMW-style projector), which I tried at Oshkosh and it seems to work well. About $25,000 as a retrofit? (as with most things in aviation, the option for the plane (e.g., A/C) costs about the same as an entire automobile that contains the same feature!)
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Can we please have more non-profits that explicitly refrain from trying to do good?

At Oshkosh I attended a dinner for members of a “type club,” i.e., people who enjoy flying the same type of airplane. I had hoped for a talk about aviation. Maybe just someone in the club who had taken a trip to an unusual destination and had a slide show to share and a few stories. Instead, however, we were “entertained” with a PowerPoint regarding a new scholarship program that the type club had started and how we would all be better off if we donated money to this do-good cause. There were some children in the room and they were plainly not engaged by this righteous effort.

One of my favorite non-profits, on the other hand, is nearly 100 years old. The charter explicitly forbids the organization from trying to do good works. The purpose of the club is social/fellowship. Prices for gatherings are kept low so that few will be excluded due to lack of means. Nobody will feel bad that they can’t afford to donate $X to a worthy cause that is highlighted at a meeting (since a person who pitched that cause would be pitched out!).

Readers: What do you think? Do we need more non-profits that don’t try to justify themselves with attempts at charity or reform?

[Separately, a friend told me about an older rich guy who’d previously advised him “If it Flies, Floats, or F**ks, rent it.” The friend had been stunned to discover that the guy had agreed to a third marriage, after having previously been sued by Wife #1 and Wife #2. After going through all of that litigation, what was the rationale for not taking his own advice and renting? “[Johnny,]” said the old rich guy, a pillar of the non-profit in his home city, “you can’t take a hooker to a charity dinner.”

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Artificial Intelligence and commercial sex purportedly intersect

For anyone who knew Marvin, “AI pioneer accused of having sex with trafficking victim on Jeffrey Epstein’s island” is a surprise.

Apparently Jeffrey Epstein was using some of the money that he stole to run Templeton Foundation-style scientific gatherings in the Caribbean (funded with money that John Templeton earned and then skipped paying taxes on by renouncing his U.S. citizenship and relocating to the Bahamas). A woman now says that, as a 17-year-old, she was paid to have sex with the then-73-year-old Marvin Minsky at one of these gatherings. (There does not seem to be any evidence the Marvin ever left the mainland U.S. to hang out with Epstein, though.)

In the 40+ years that I saw Marvin, at his office, at his home, and at conferences, he never once took notice of a young woman or commented on the appearance of a woman. He was simply not very interested in matters of the flesh.

On a more practical level, if Marvin had wanted to have sex with 17-year-olds, he could have done so legally in Massachusetts, in which the age of consent is 16. (Prostitution per se is illegal in Massachusetts, but it wouldn’t be illegal for an older person to supply a young sex partner with gifts of jewelry, housing, transportation, vacation trips, etc. (though the real money would be in a pregnancy followed by harvesting the unlimited child support cash available under Massachusetts law)) There were also quite a few graduate students who had sexual relationships with successful academics and, lo and behold, found that the path to a tenure-track professorship was wide open. There was never any hint or rumor around Marvin of a sex-for-career-advancement exchange (or any other kind of affair).

Ever since Stormy Daniels dominated the mainstream media, I guess it isn’t surprising that people whose job is having sex in exchange for money are newsworthy. But if they’re claiming that they were paid to have sex with those who are deceased, and there is no evidence to support these claims, should reporters be broadcasting these tales? This is the first one about someone that I know personally and it rings false.


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USB-C more durable than USB-A?

When trying to charge a phone from public charging stations and power outlets on airliners, one thing that I’ve noticed is that the USB-A (traditional rectangular) ports tend to be “loose like wizard sleeve”. Unless one is willing to hold the connector and apply pressure, therefore, they are useless for charging. I’m not sure how they get like this. I can’t remember a USB-A connector failing mechanically on a home computer or charger. Is it just that if 1,000 different cables have been plugged over a one- or two-year period that the socket is stretched out to the size of the largest? Compare to at home where I might use only three or four different cables in any given socket.

What’s the prognosis for USB-C? Are the tolerances more precise such that the public connectors will remain functional?

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Cirrus adapted for a paraplegic

An aviation medical examiner recently contacted me regarding a college student interested in learning to fly, but who lacked the use of his legs. I responded with what I thought was the standard advice for this situation: train in a classic Ercoupe, which didn’t have any rudder pedals.

The August 2019 issue of Flying Magazine (print edition) carries what might be an interesting update. Grant Korgan, subject of the recent Netflix movie The Push (to the South Pole), recently earned a Private certificate in a Cirrus SR20 that he adapted for use with only his hands (i.e., the rudder and brakes had to be operated without feet/legs).

Sidenote: Despite having lost the use of his legs in a snowmobiling accident, Korgan was able to earn a Class 1 medical certificate (required to be captain of an airliner).

An inspiring story for those of us who fly older Cirruses and complain about the lack of A/C…

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Financial Planning 101, v2.0

Dan had worked 80 hours per week in the family business since finishing high school. Due to the long hours, at age 45 he was still single and still living at home with his father.

His father’s health was failing, unfortunately, and it was clear that the man did not have long to live. Dan knew that he would inherit a fortune upon the death of his father and decided he needed to learn about investing.

One evening, at an meeting run by Morgan Stanley, the presenter asked attendees to talk about what they were hoping to get out of the seminar. Dan said “In a year or two, my father will succumb to his cancer and I will inherit roughly $200 million. I’d like to figure out if index funds are the best option or if, with this size portfolio, there are higher returns available from alternative investments, such as hedge funds and direct ownership of assets.”

Sitting next to him was a beautiful woman in her 20s. She complimented him on his taste in clothing and asked for his business card. Dan was flattered that a woman two decades younger would take an interest in him.

Three weeks later, she became his stepmother.


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Encore Boston casino aerial photos

While flying Neoscape in an East Coast Aero Club helicopter on a photography mission, we were waiting for the shadow of a cloud to move away from the commercial real estate site subject. Matt Richardson decided to get some photos of Boston’s new casino, Encore:

This is some of my favorite helicopter flying and we still get to do some interesting projects despite the Rise of the Drones. Operating close to Logan Airport (Class B airspace), as this project required, is an example of when a traditional helicopter may make more sense than a drone.

Thanks to Matt and Neoscape for sharing!


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Government should sponsor video games about pandas?

As with previous generations of politicians, Donald Trump is critical of pop culture, specifically violent video games, which he says are partly to blame for recent mass shootings (e.g., in Dayton).

(typical historical example: Tipper Gore was upset about pop song lyrics while then-husband Al Gore was fighting climate change with “an environmentalist named to a prominent cabinet position by Gore when he was vice president, a sexy Hollywood actress, a gorgeous massage therapist and a Tennessee Titans cheerleader.”)

Maybe the Second Amendment can be reinterpreted into irrelevance, but we still have the First Amendment that allows video game companies to publish shooting games.

If the Federales want to promote non-violent games, should there be a fund to compensate developers of games about pandas and other anodyne subjects? If the games are free, developers/publishers can compete for funds by demonstrating how many hours per day people are playing.

Presumably the typical mass shooting perpetrator is suffering from social isolation, so the funding would be increased for games that require participants to cooperate.

(I personally would rather see the U.S. rearchitected into Latin American-style towns with public squares rather than our current inherently isolating suburban sprawl; see my non-profit ideas page for what I wish our Africa-focused billionaires would spend their money on:

Latin Americans often come up near the very top of the world’s happiest people, despite a material prosperity that is very pale compared to that we enjoy in the United States. Nearly every small town in Latin America is built around a central plaza where the citizens gather at various hours to meet friends, play chess, eat meals in restaurants, etc. Small streets radiate from the plaza and hold all of the shops that are essential to daily life, including supermarkets and hardware stores. Housing is built up to a three story height, dense enough to support businesses, but not so dense that people are isolated in concrete towers with elevators. Smaller workshops are mixed in with housing, introducing young people to the texture of business.

The U.S. offers some enjoyable walkable neighborhoods, mostly developed before the rise of the automobile. Examples include many neighborhoods within New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston. These neighborhoods, however, are small and can hold only a tiny minority of Americans. Consequently, houses within walkable neighborhoods typically cost over $1 million. As the U.S. population heads toward 500 million, these livable neighborhoods will become even more out of reach of the average citizen.

It might also help if we didn’t offer the world’s most lucrative incentives for becoming a “single parent,” thereby leading to the world’s highest rate of children reared without two parents.)


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Hotel life in Seattle, minimum wage $16/hour


The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announces that the 2019 minimum wage for all large employers (employing more than 500 workers worldwide) will be $16.00 per hour. In past years, there was a two-tier system under which large employers that contributed toward individual medical benefits paid a lower minimum wage than those that did not. This two-tier system ends in 2019. Also, beginning on January 1, 2019, small employers (with 500 or fewer employees) must pay at least $15.00 per hour.

From the Hyatt Regency, in a confirmation email:


The “housekeeping every other day” message was regarding a $300+/night stay.

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