Wednesday, May 30, 2012

United Airlines threatens Houston again

Southwest has been approved to fly to Mexico and Central America from Hobby. As soon as it was announced, United Airlines sent out a press release saying they were cutting "planned operations at Bush Intercontinental by 10 percent and eliminating 1,300 Houston jobs, with the first buyouts, transfers or pink slips going out in the fall. It immediately canceled planned service to Auckland, New Zealand."

Uh huh. Flights from Hobby to Cancun make a daily from IAH to Auckland nonviable. Five measly gates at Hobby cripple United's massive presence at IAH. Sure, Jeff!

Two years ago I said the merger would be bad for Houston. But the merger has been very good for United. IAH is United's cash cow. In fact, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics, IAH has the second highest airfares in the country, just behind the much smaller Cincinnati market. Fares have skyrocketed for local travelers since the merger.

So to summarize: United merges with Continental, the headquarters go to Chicago and Houston loses thousands of employees, the new United utterly monopolizes IAH and ramps up airfares to nosebleed levels, then threatens the city again when a competitor says they will launch narrowbody service to Mexico and Central America from a few gates at a much smaller airport 30 miles away. United Airlines just can't compete, at least if we are to believe Smisek, and now they will punish us.

Is United's PR department staffed by retards? Smisek and his staff just cheesed off a huge part of their cash cow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Liberal Britain is a hellhole overrun by religious fanatics

I was reading a simple article on the UK Guardian site about the new dinosaur exhibit at our local science museum. I wasn't expecting anything controversial about a bunch of fossils. Lo and behold, some Guardian readers went apesh**. Why? Brace yourself: Because there is a science museum in Texas that has a fossil dinosaur exhibit!
22 May 2012 7:20PM
So the state that wants to change the elementary and high-school textbooks to elevate Creationism to the level of proven science (like evolution, climate change, gravity, etc) is going to allow the exhibition of a fossil that predates the absurd religious constructs that it is so proud of.

22 May 2012 8:41PM
Fossils were put there by God as a test. Texas is failing the test.

22 May 2012 11:49PM
This sounds like a magnificent exhibition, but it would attract larger crowds if it was hosted outside of the Bible Belt. Ultimately, if you want an exhibition to educate, you need people who are interested in learning. Education by osmosis rarely works.
Now we do have some religious nuts in Texas who want to force their views on everyone else. But if I was to judge a place based upon news headlines in select newspapers that have their own political viewpoints, I'd have to makes some assumptions about Great Britain:
Since the comments on the Guardian site are now closed, up yours, buddesatva, Faceface and imipak. And go brush your rotting teef.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are Albertans Insane?

A coworker was on vacation in BC and Alberta last week. He knows that I enjoy reading out-of-town newspapers, and brought back a copy of The Globe and Mail. (It's a good looking newspaper. They even use a glossy paper for the front section.)

Inside was a 44-page insert, New Homes. Some observations:
  • I thought Canada was on the metric system. Why are homes sizes listed in square footage?
  • I was hoping that Canadian houses would be distinct from American houses. Nope. All the houses being thrown up around Calgary are the same cookie-cutter crap shacks that sprang up in US suburbs until 5 years ago. Snout houses, postage stamp-sized lots, pretentious subdivision names.
  • Black/white and all shades in between are popular interior colors now.
  • 1900-square-foot cookie-cutters on tiny plots with almost no useable lawns miles outside of town in the middle of the prairie "starting at the mid-400's." Is there a land shortage or something? Because when I look on Google Maps it seems that Calgary is surrounded by a sea of emptiness.

View Larger Map
I thought Albertans were smarter than this. They went through the same oil patch crash Houston went through 25 years ago. Yet here they are, bubblin' up to California circa 2005 levels. This ain't gonna end well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

50 years of Bush/Clinton

2012 (campaign shakeup)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Euro Doom

Predictions for Greece tomorrow? I think some last-minute can-kicking will prolong the agony for a few more weeks.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

'Devil's Breath' plant from Columbia turns you into a zombie!

According to a breathless account in the UK Daily Mail,

The most dangerous drug in the world: 'Devil's Breath' chemical from Colombia can block free will, wipe memory and even kill

Funny, this same plant can be found throughout the southern US as an ornamental. I have some as well that I took from a neighbor's cuttings. And they sell it at Houston Garden Centers.

Many plants in our gardens are toxic if you eat them. So don't. This "threat" from the Daily Mail sounds like a load of BS to me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We're late 1981

I read this comment on Calculated Risk the other day:
creditcriminalslovetarp wrote on Wed, 5/2/2012 - 9:32 pm (in reply to...) a brother in law just moved to Gillette, Wy..left the railroad for cnc and welding job at repair-instustrial shop...all the work they want, took him 4 months to find home...
It instantly made me think of this picture from a National Geographic special edition on the energy crisis published in 1981. (I wrote about this before.)
It's captioned: For miner Ed Martinez, the answer to his T-shirt might now be "I couldn't care less." He was laid off and has since moved on.

If you're older than 40 you probably remember this time... back-to-back brutal recessions, double-digit real unemployment, small hand-held electronic gadgets were in vogue, sky-high energy prices, boom times in flyover places like Texas and Wyoming, unpopular presidents. It must have felt like "the end of the world is near" to parents at the time. Some things never change.

This National Geographic special edition is fascinating to read and I highly recommend you try to find a copy. It was big on coal, oil, uranium, solar and geothermal. Very little (if any) content on wind and tidal. One fascinating drawing on page 33 depicts what appears to be a modern Toyota Prius, with the same shape and hybrid engine.

What I said above about some things never changing: Some things do change. While families are running scared like they were 30 years ago and we are seeing boom times in places like Midland, Gillette and North Dakota, we are not seeing boom times in Big Oil centers like Houston. I just haven't seen the crazy construction boom like I did when I was a kid. The oil majors learned a hard lesson and they haven't forgotten it, even now with $100+ oil.

Tying into my previous post, I do think we entered part 2 of the Great Recession in late March of this year, similar to the short, very deep second recession seen from late-1981 through 1982. Will we be off to the races a year from now, like we were then?