You Could Like Land and Stuff
and you other dudes can like take off and stuff
The argument I’ve made here, roughly a million times, is that societies and communities that are increasingly concerned with cultural signaling and status performance become less and less able to do stuff. So I’m fascinated by a couple of recent events that speak to very basic questions of operational competence.
The worst aviation accident in history happened on a runway, at Tenerife, as a result of a series of misunderstandings and and half-completed gestures — and please click on that link if you don’t know what happened. That collision between two 747s killed nearly 600 people, and many of them burned to death in their seats. There are no pilots or air traffic controllers who don’t know this story. So there’s no mystery or ambiguity about the danger of runway conflicts, a long-understood and much-discussed topic in the aviation community. A long series of reforms have addressed the problems that led to disaster at Tenerife.
And yet we’ve had two very near misses on American runways in recent days — one at JFK, one in Austin — and the last one was pretty astonishing:
At JFK, a pilot turned onto a runway she hadn’t been cleared to cross. At Austin, it appears that an air traffic controller cleared a plane to land and a plane to take off from the same runway at the same moment, in heavy fog.
I’m not a pilot, and I claim no expertise of any kind on this topic, but I found this discussion from an experienced pilot to be incredibly compelling:
Note what he says at the end: “These sorts of incidents are increasing at an alarming rate. There’s a huge turnover in the industry, not only amongst pilots but amongst air traffic controllers, mechanics, maintainers, rampers. And with the state of hiring practices and training today, and the relentless effort to do things faster, cheaper, and more efficiently, we’re just one radio call away from having the biggest aviation disaster in history.”
This is increasingly the story of American institutions, and rail industry workers are saying similar things about the pressure to do things faster and cheaper. And by the way, as Igor Chudov just wrote, some guy named Anthony Fauci just appeared on the list of authors for a paper lamenting the obvious failure of Covid vaccines. ("Attempting to control mucosal respiratory viruses with systemically administered non-replicating vaccines has thus far been largely unsuccessful, indicating that new approaches are needed.") The malintent-vs.-incompetence debate aside, for the moment, all of our doing-stuff institutions are becoming less and less able to do stuff, and more and more committed to other agendas that make operational competence a secondary consideration.
We’re harming ourselves in completely unnecessary ways. We’re forgetting how to do things that we know how to do.
Now do doctors.
If you don't already know how thoroughly any standards for graduation from medical school have been discarded, it will scare the shit out of you, thereby saving you a potentially deadly visit to a proctologist.
That Fed Ex pilot is squared away. He knew ground control was chewed up. He saw the danger before it was such and avoided it. I would not be surprised if he were ex-military. Regardless he saved dozens of souls that day!! That being said, why do we have to do things cheaper... because we have exported all our wealth to china. A strange segue I know, but it is what’s been on my mind lately. My resolution for this year, more like a desire that I am putting more effort into, is to avoid chinese goods and if at all possible to buy American goods. (With some exceptions for luxury goods. Italian leather, French wine, German tools, etc..) Long story short the USA undoubtedly is mostly a chinese market. Don’t get me wrong. I have found some hidden gems like All American Clothing, Marc Nelson Denim, Roam Luggage, James Avery Jewelry and SAS Shoes, but most every retail outlet I have been to is loaded with chinese goods. It’s absurd, astonishing and disheartening. America is drunk on cheaply made STUFF. Just take a look at your shoe collection! If we had not been exporting our wealth and prosperity to china for the last thirty years we would have a better more robust economy to better pay the aeronautical workers. Therefore attracting better skilled personnel and greatly reducing turnover. We can help ourselves. Start paying attention to where goods are made and make a decision based purely on self-preservation. It’s really that easy. Thanks for the article Chris! Disclaimer: I have nothing against and love the Chinese people. That being said, I am gravely concerned with the people of the country I know and Love. God Bless the USA!!!