Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Seventy-Percent Flight

I have to fly from DC to Huntsville this Wednesday.  My airline?  I'd best not give it's name, but the regularly scheduled flight....a straight shot....is noted in the airlines world for only a seventy-percent on-time record.

Years ago....no one kept statistics, and things just proceeded on.  An airline would take off late, folks would ask questions, accept stupid answers, and life was simple.

Somewhere over the years....folks finally complained to congress, and there's now an official record kept....for months and months.  Each single flight is now measured....day by day.

You'd think that an airline would just get smart, add forty-five minutes onto a regular two-hour flight, and tell everyone that it take 165 minutes to reach their destination, then surprising them by getting there forty minutes early on most occasions.  For some reason, they just won't lie like that.

So you start to see little notes on Orbitz or the other ticket-sales sites now.....telling you that a plane is eighty or ninety percent on time.  Me?  Well....I've come to notice that some airlines have bad reputations and have to absorb more discounts....so they tend to sell you a ticket for a little less.

The sad part to this story?  If you were counting on leave one airport, reaching Atlanta and having sixty minutes to reach another gate, and take the final leg of your journey.....you'd be a fool to accept a deal with a seventy-percent airline deal.  It just won't work.  But if you have only one leg.....and if they take off an hour late.....you don't really care.

The plain truth is that we haven't improved in thirty years on arrival times, and folks seem to think there's some magical way of fixing this.  There simply isn't a fix.  In the old days....we were simply happy to be at the destination point at the end of the day....with our bag. Our expectations have gone up a bit.  That's life in 2013, the seventy-percent solution.

Shut-Down of the Shut-Down

I sat and watched a dozen news channels yesterday.  Most were European (British Sky, BBC, the French version of CNN, CCTV-Chinese News, Russian RT).  A couple were business-related networks.

Of course, the chief topic is the anticipated shutdown.  The Europeans rolled the title around.....the Americans are out of money....kinda like being Greece in a way.  On the US networks, I noted this was dire, terrible, and woeful in nature.....mostly acting like it'd never happened before.

I had been in the Air Force for a year in the late 70's, when the bosses tended to note that no budget had passed Congress and we were down to two weeks before 'issues' were going to occur.  It was mentioned to some degree in the Stars and Stripes, but for the majority of folks.....nobody knew much of anything.

What we were told briefly by the Air Force.....was that when the shutdown occurred....we were to keep working.  The base bank would accept checks and pretend we had money.....even when we didn't.  Roughly seven days into this shutdown period, Congress whipped up a budget, and our checks arrived on time by the 15th.

That was my first real grasp of this whole shutdown business.  It would occur another couple times before I retired in 1999.  Generally, no one ever got peppy or upset about it.

Today?  It's odd....CNN and MSNBC act like it's the end of civilization.  The BBC acts like it's a government failure tied to the Republicans.

The script to this episode?

The President and the Administration is heavily counting on the news media (NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, etc) to put a theme message out by Friday....blasting Republicans.  The basic hope is some continuing resolution, which simply means money is being paid out but we really didn't end the problem....just prolonged it to another day. The Republicans would fall over themselves by the weekend, and by Sunday....drop their whole strategy.

It would be a good plan which would work in any of the past four years.....but there's a small issue.

There's been so many emergencies......so many fires.....so many false scandals.....that most of the public doesn't really believe the journalists, newspapers, or wannabe TV news empires.

In effect, the President has crossed a number of bridges and then burnt them to the ground.  More than half the public has noted this, and just laughs over any serious commentary by a dimwit from the Today Show or ABC Nightly News.

So, my scenario is simple....come next Monday....the President realizes now that no real changes are coming from the Republicans.  He brings in a special team to evaluate what he can do now....without any Congressional support.  Ten days into this shut-down.....plan "A" by the Administration is doomed, and plan "B" doesn't look favorable.

Around day fifteen.....the Administration tries to convince Senator Reid to find a good compromise.  By day seventeen, things have turned comical as the President has dumped his traveling schedule and is locked down in the DC because of negative polling data.

Around day eighteen....the compromise is met....with the Republicans extracting the majority of what they wanted.  The Administration has lost its favorable rating with Democratic senators....and the news dimwits have decided to avoid talking about any of the event.

Maybe I'm wrong, but half the nation just doesn't think a shut-down is a big deal.  Sequestration was supposed to be the end of the Earth, and it wasn't.  Other 'themes' by the Administration have gone in the same direction, and folks just don't react like it's a real mess or problem anymore.  It's like a vibration on your car....that you just accept...even though you know it's a bad left tire on the front.

In a way, we are waiting and anticipating....any moment now....that the Three Stooges will suddenly emerge from a side-door, and this whole fire-after-fire-after-fire situation was just a comedy skit of theirs.  Well.....it'd be nice to think that.