Friday, September 29, 2006

The Dollar, The Euro, and Airbus

Recently I've been doing some thinking about the decline of the dollar relative to other world currencies and the news really is not bad at all. What brought this up was a small contretemps over on where one of my correspondents, remarking on the slide of the U.S. dollar to the Canadian Loonie allowed as how the U.S. dollar was in a turd filled toilet-which, he was pleased to point out, was somehow indicative of serious moral decline here in the states.

It was a matter of a few moments to dredge out the information that showed that at different times, the loonie and the US dollar have been in the turd filled toilet, sometimes together, sometimes separately sometimes it's this, sometimes it's that over the last forty years. The take home for my young friend was that the mess will find its way to his doorstep in Canada as if by remote control or autopilot.

Now. To the subject at hand.

In the last five years, the dollar was worth 1.168 euros and it has declined to the present 0.78 euros, although it has been lower, reaching .7315 euros in late 2004. What this means to Airbus is that because it pays the suppliers, worker bees and everything else in Euros but sells a lot of its product for dollars, if it didn't hedge its transactions its costs have gone up just that much-about fifty nine percent. They could hedge their sales and probably did to index them to the exchange rate, but everything else that they buy in euros is costing a lot more than it did. It also means that its assets are that much more overpriced than they were before.

Nobody can continue to take that kind of a hit forever.

Bad Business Decisions.

At one time when McDonnell Douglas was sailing toward the shoals, it was rumored that there had been some very informal talks about Airbus taking a chunk of Long Beach, but nothing ever came of it. Perhaps it was just an idea batted around at a cocktail party. And of course, at the time, it would not have made a great deal of sense unless one had some uncommonly good insights about the course the future would take.

Now that the dollar is again in the turd filled toilet and having a grand old time while worker bees are getting by on less and less, the notion that Airbus will have a presence in the future flying gas station project for the air force is not by any means certain and I'd just bet they wish they had a pied a terre on the North American continent, a fully capable airplane factory right in the dollar zone, with a ready made labor market to draw on.

And Now, For Something Completely Different

As always, Mike Boyd, the enfant terrible and analyst deluxe of the aviation business has released some insightful commentary sure to provoke speculation and controversy.

He posits that United Airlines is fixing to merge itself with something or other, what it is is not clear, but he figures the worker bees who survived the bankruptcy are in for a real hell raising ride.

He's so interesting I've added him to da blogroll.

Have a read.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rumor Mill Reaches Warp Speed:Update.

Pending some sort of earthshaking announcement from Festung Airbus about the A380 program. Here are the hot rumors.

It is rumored that further delays will be announced and Hamburg may be getting the bum's rush here. Production could be moved to the dollar zone to glom the air tanker contracts from the USAF. The Chinese A320 factory project may go down the tube.

We'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: It is reported in the Australian this day, by way of Agencie France Presse, that CEO Christian Strieff of Airbus announced a major restructuring plan today in Amsterdam. Although no firm details have as yet emerged it is likely to include severe cost cutting measures including layoffs, outsourcing and the usual range of distasteful remedies. It's also rumored that the remedies will include cutting in half the number of A380s that are slated to be delivered next year.

It's also been revealed what people have been saying for a while. Wake turbulence off the A380 is going to require greter separation distances, according to aviation authorities in Europe and the U.S.

Stay tuned-it's a breaking story.,5942,20500818,00.html

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Reviews Are In: Long Dong Daddy Goes Limp

It's reported in the Los Angeles Times that Admiral William Fallon, top yank in charge of forces in Asia has stated that the recent launch of the North Korean Taepodong-2 and the previous launch eight years ago were flops. In Fallon's opinion before you can give a threat a credibility rating there must be some sort of track record, and there ain't no such animal.

This is heartening news, if only because North Korea is the brain trust which President Ahneedashavebad of Iran and the mullahs are depending on for the technology that makes their nuclear ambitions something of interest.

I suppose we'll see those wild and crazy guys threaten to campaign a heavily reworked Soviet ZIL limousine on the NASCAR circuit next year.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rumor Mill Active: Emirates May Cancel A380 Order

There are news reports this morning that Emirates may cancel their order for 45 Airbus A380s. Should this prove true, it might well spell the end of the program.

Here's what the AP wire report said in part:

Emirates airlines said Thursday that its order of 45 Airbus A380 jumbo jets was "up in the air," after the manufacturer announced deliveries of the plane would be delayed.
Spokeswoman Valerie Tan said officials at the Dubai-based airline were discussing whether to go forward with the order.

UPDATE: Emirates spokesperson Boutros Boutros says it ain't so. I wonder how much money this dog and pony show cost the Festung?

UPDATE 2: Valerie Tan, formerly spokeswoman for Emirates is seeking other employment. All correspondence may be addressed to Valerie Tan, under the University Avenue bridge, in the Maytag refrigerator box.

UPDATE 3: We're not the only ones who are starting to think the project is a bad idea writ large. Bernama is reporting that the Malaysia Airlines Employee's Union is urging MAS to cancel its order for six A380s as a cost saving measure. I don't know about you but when the worker bees start saying a big project is a bad idea, it is a bad one indeed.

My friend Addison Schonland seems to take the counterintuitive spin and suggests in the IAG blog that the recently announced further program delays may actually be a good thing for the gulf airlines that are signed up. I am not nearly as sanguine because I think that with da Festung, where there's this much smoke, there is the distinct odor of decomposition coming from the A380 project.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Softwood Timber Settlement Deal Likely: A Vote for Common Sense?

It looks as if Canada's Parliament will approve the recently negotiated settlement of the long simmering softwood timber ruckus that has become something of a lightning rod for left winger nutcases in el Norte, complete with all the usual allegations of

fraud! conspiracy! theft! Harper is Bush's toady! Emerson is a Republican Quisling! Bush! Bush! it is all his fault! Bush! Why did Harper not attend the 16th Annual AIDS conference! Bush! Bush!

The first vote in Parliament was split along party fault lines, with the vote going 172-116 in favor. All of the NDP and Liberals save one voted against the agreement, which will return eighty cents on the dollar in settlement to Canada.

A lot of people will bitch about this-in fact, they already are and have been, but the reality is that a settlement that yields eighty per cent of the face amount is a good day's work in the legal field, as against continuing the litigation with no end in sight and no guarantee that payday's going to be any better several years hence or that vindication will come.

It's also a good yardstick to measure exactly who in el Norte is willing to filter the incessant tirade of abuse we've come to expect from our more vocal and fractious neighbours to the north, although it does seem that politicians in Canada who are willing to say "Hey....these folks are our largest trading partner, we're all one big happy dysfunctional family, let's work on common needs and goals" are going to have to suffer just as much abuse as we hear.

What's In Your Future?

We here at the Dougloid Papers have a benign approach to the somewhat arcane subject of futures trading, except as it impinges on our daily affairs.

For the unitiated, futures trading is a vehicle where contracts for the future delivery of fungible goods are bought and sold on an exchange. such as the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), Dalien Commodity Exchange (DCE), New York Mercantile and so on. The contracts are in standard denominations: so many tons of number 2 yellow corn, so many tons of soy oil, so many barrels of crude oil, so many gallons of number 2 fuel oil, to be delivered at a place certain on a date certain some months in the future. Contracts mature at set times of the year.

There are two types of people who trade in futures-hedgers and speculators.

A hedger is an end user or a producer of the product, and the hedger will take a position in that product so as to fix future prices for his mill, processing plant, or brewery. Knowing what you're going to pay a few months down the road for jet fuel or corn is a valuable and useful tool in the world of business. A hedger-producer may also sell contracts for his future production of corn or fuel oil and thereby lock in a price he will receive, often before the corn is planted or the oil is refined. Knowing what you'll be paid for your product six months or a year down the road is also valuable information.

Speculators, on the other hand, trade in contracts, not products although hedgers often speculate as well as hedge. A speculator will buy contracts and bet that the market price will go up. If that happens, the speculator sells the contracts and pockets the difference. That's called selling long.

Short selling is the opposite. The short seller is betting that the market will go down. So what the short seller does is borrows contracts, betting that he can replace them in the future at a lower price and pocket the difference.

So. How does the speculator or trader know what direction the market's going to go? Because they're in the knowledge business. The astute speculator is like the professional bettors you see out at the track at six a.m. watching the horses train, or one who marshals the statistics and sees an edge somewhere that can be exploited.

Either way, the landscape is littered with the bleached bones of people who thought they had an inside track on where the market was going. I was acquainted with a mechanic at Garrett back in the day who'd received a settlement of about $50,000 clear from an auto accident and sunk the entire roll into a precious metals trading company that would 'buy' gold on your account and keep your book on paper-essentially you were buying not the gold itself, but a position.

Inside of a month, Mike was worth $100,000 on paper and as he came to the shop and collected his toolbox he looked over at me and a couple other fellows and said with scarcely veiled contempt "How does it feel having to work for a living?".

Well. In a series of disastrous trades in the next few months month the trading company lost Mike's roll and he went upside down big time. That was in 1980, a year that gold hit about $650 per ounce and then lost $150 in three months time. There were some pretty tough looking fellows coming around asking for Mike, and last I'd heard he'd headed for the backwoods of Vermont.

I myself was involved in some 'hedge to arrive' litigation back in the late nineties and a lot of people got their clocks cleaned permanently and are now waitresses and gas station pump jockeys. The mighty, as they say, fell.

It is a most dangerous way to make money.

Now. To the matter at hand.

Everyone remembers what happened to their heating bills last winter when the price of natural gas spiked and dragged the price of home heating oil along with it. It was pretty tough here in the midwest to heat the house at those prices. Amaranth Advisors LLC is a hedge fund-trading house that trades natural gas futures, and they bet heavily that the winter price of natural gas was going nowhere but up. They staked out a position, only to have the prices for natural gas tank on news that the winter may not be as cold as expected. As of this writing, Amaranth had lost half its $9 billion roll, and was fixing to lose most of the rest.

As for me, it'll be a welcome break knowing that my heating bill may well decline by 30 or 40 per cent this winter. I shall not lose too much sleep over this year's Enron.

Credit for the chart belongs to WTRG Economics and the NYMEX. Thanks, fellows.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Additional A380 Program Delays? Read On

Forbes is reporting that the French financial paper Les Echos is saying that a further delay in the A380 program is likely, leading to further reductions in deliveries in 2007. The Echo boys did not reveal their sources, and according to the talking head du jour, everything's peachy keen at the Festung. it is further speculated that any program announcements will come after a meeting of the EADS board scheduled for 29 September.

Now. All this is speculation, but with the information barrier at the Festung having more holes in it than a cheap Swiss cheese, something could well be brewing. These guys just can't keep anything under wraps.

Perhaps the motto at the A380 program office should be "It brews before it spews."

Stay tuned. We're on the case.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tell Me What I Say II: A Reasoned Critique

From the Manila Standard today comes a refreshing article by Teodoro Bacani Jr. which sheds new light on this controversy and if it was possible, makes Islam look all the more unreasonable. In it Mr. Bacani says that, far from being some kind of jihad igniting crusade starting unconscionable offense, what Pope Ratzi was doing was making a statement about how spreading religion through violence is unreasonable, because violence is incompatible with G-d's nature.

Thanks, Teo. Let's hope the jihadis are paying attention, but reason suggests otherwise.

Tell Me What I Say.

Once again the forces of moderate Islam have stepped to the front of the ruckus over the Pope's improvidently rendered reference to a 14th century critic of their religion. And once again, like Strachan's dog, it took little enough to provoke church burnings, street riots, and the murder of an Italian nun.

One of the mores interesting spins on the subject comes from Haaretz, in which it is suggested that the Pope meant exactly what he said and it may reflect the Pope's interest in slam dunking Turkish accession to the European Union and preservation of Europe's Christian character. They didn't like it and said it's factually wrong.

Here's what the Islamic Community is saying in the Times, no doubt in an excess of moderation.

We shall break the cross and spill the wine. ... (you will have no choice but) Islam or death," said the statement, citing a hadith (saying of the Prophet Mohammed) promising Muslims that they would "conquer Rome... as they conquered Constantinople".
"We tell the worshipper of the cross (the Pope) that you and the West will be defeated, as is the case in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya. God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the Mujahideen."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Beam Me Aboard, Scotty: No Intelligent Life Here III

It was reported in the Globe and Mail that a 32 year old woman collapsed and has since died after an incident at a marshmallow eating and talking contest.

It seems that the event required one to pop a marshmallow into the mouth and say "chubby bunny" as many times as possible until you couldn't do it any more.

I am quite sure that if the past is prologue, Canada will pass a law establishing a marshmallow registry and a statute prohibiting talking with your mouth full. There will also be many in el Norte who will blame it all on Steven Harper, lapdog of the evil Bush and the pernicious influence of all things American and imply that it has something to do with softwood lumber.

Can you imagine a Dudley Doright character interrogating a marshmallowlegger from Detroit?

Beam Me Aboard, Scotty: No Intelligent Life Here II

It's reported in yesterday's Scotsman that the work of the WHO in vaccinating kids against the dreaded polio virus is being stymied because many in Africa, particularly Nigerian Muslims, believe it is a secret western plot to sterilize their children, infect them with the HIV virus, and so on and so on and so on.

Interestingly enough, this theory has adherents among conspiracy theorists in the west, all of whom if they were as old as I am would know better than to repeat this damned infernal foolishness.

Ross Upshur, a 'medical ethicist' guessed it, quoted as saying (with respect to the issue of informed consent) "There's no point to controlling infectious diseases if you've violated communities' dignities and rights in the process." Umm, there IS a point and that is protecting the rest of us who are smart enough to have figured this out, from those who haven't or who won't because the preacher tells them different. You'd think Ross never heard of Mary Mallon, a/k/a Typhoid Mary. You control disease first whether people like it or not, and you save the arguments for later.

Lest you think me too harsh, we do have cases of polio right here in the US, primarily among the children of religious recluses who do not believe in vaccination.

You can read about Ross Upshur here:

I am going to speculate a little bit here. I am going to speculate that this is the sort of snappy one liner that will be twisted about until Dr. Upshur is asked to explain it at every occasion he gets up to speak. It also shows that Dr. Upshur grew up in the age after the grim spectre of polio was challenged and vanquished by the genius of one Dr. Jonas Salk, and therefore does not realize that the goal has to be slaying the dragon first, last, and always. Then, folks like him can natter to their heart's content.

Beam Me Aboard Scotty: No Intelligent Life Here

fatality666 is the online name of the moron who walked into a room full of strangers in Montreal and shot a bunch of them before capping himself-which, as it happens, is the only good thing he ever did with his sorry assed life.

As infamy goes this is of passing interest-I doubt whether anyone will recognize his name next week, and that is a good thing.

One can rest assured of one thing, though. There are those in Canada who will lay this at George W. Bush's door and blame everyone in the United States for the acts of a single unstable Canadian citizen. Despite the fact that this is a Canadian story from start to finish and something of a cold shower for the cultural superiority theorists in el Norte I am sure they will find a way around it and make the connection.

If you must know more about the late Kimveer Gill, you can see it all in the Los Angeles Times.,0,2140123,full.story

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A380 Program Faces More Delay Says BAE Chief

It's reported today that Mike Turner, CEO of BAE Systems, has said that he would be surprised if there were not more delays with the A380 program. BAE, you may recall is trying manfully to dump its 20 per cent chunk of Airbus, an asset which is declining in value like a popsicle on the hood of a car in midsummer declines in size-it's visible.

Of course, one of the talking heads at Festung Airbus is saying that he has no idea where Turner would have picked up that bit of information. They seem to have an unending supply of flakcatchers, don't they? Airbus, meanwhile is in the middle of a program audit, a whale of a problem with their wiring harnesses that has caused significant and adverse delays, and we haven't even gotten to the issue of what the Big Fellow weighs.

There's the smoke. How long before we see the fire extinguishers?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Memo to bin Laden: Don't Mess Around With Bashir

It is widely reported today that Syrian cops learned of a pending assault on the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, got to the scene and settled the score with the would be jihadis in a decisive manner.

What it demonstrates is that the Syrians are capable of managing affairs within their borders and aren't about to tolerate any foolishness of the 72 virgins by midnight variety-at least on their own turf. It also means that they take diplomatic security seriously and do not want to be in the position of having to cope with another Nairobi incident. As expected, the SecState and others expressed their appreciation for the prompt and efficient service. It may not be the bloom of spring, but it is at least something we can agree was a good thing, well executed.

The film tonight of the aftermath showed what looked like a group of efficient and well organized people with a real sense of purpose. It's to the credit of Syria.

It also points out the wisdom of something my old boss used to say. You never do your business too close to the water hole. Other animals may resent it and react badly.

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

As part of our continuing education, we here at the Dougloid Papers make a point of reading the Globe and Mail from Toronto and the Ottawa Citizen from that fair city.

The best newspapers of our northern neighbors offer a sobering perspective on American affairs that we here may not get with the resources that are locally available. In addition, the comments section after each article in the Globe and Mail is inhabited by as delusional a group of whackos as ever hugged a tree or made excuses for tyranny-and it offers a window into the currents of thought Northward that is entertaining and thought provoking.

But today was different because it's the day after 'the world stopped turning' in the beautiful, sad words of Alan Jackson.

Just as we here are doing a lot of hard thought about why things are the way they are and what, if anything, can or should be done, many in Canada look south to the place where the trade towers stood and perhaps are thinking 'there but for the grace of G-d go I'.

In that context, quite likely the most concise and well thought out statement of the state of things is in today's Citizen and it is an article entitled The West's Choice: Courage or Collapse by Robert Sibley, senior editor. It is, in a word, superbly written and I commend it to you as we weigh and assess what it is we stand for.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11: Slouching Toward Teheran

The papers are full of what the Boston Herald called President Khatami's Feel Good Tour which made its stop in Boston yesterday. Was it coincidence that the tour took place right smack dab in the middle of what should be a time of reflection and penance here? Was it coincidence that he gave a major speech in the National Cathedral last week, a symbol of what many of his coreligionists seek to wipe from the face of the earth? Are you as offended by this as I am?

While this self professed moderate was busy lecturing the gullible at Harvard, it was pouring rain here and a fair number of Iowans still went out to the place where some 3,000 or so flags are planted in a field to commemorate those who died, to think and reflect, to contemplate, and to consider what got us here and how it all happened.

I don't know about you, but the thing about blame is there's plenty enough to go around. I think we'd get along with the Islamic Republic a lot better if they'd tender an apology to all of us for the embassy affair and a check for the damage they caused, which might include back pay for all the people they held.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Batteries Included

Every once in a while you run across a publication that stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Such a publication is Spectrum, the publication of the IEEE. It is one which is being read by a lot of interesting people, which should tell you something right there. Although the focus of the IEEE is anything to do with electrons, of necessity they stray into a lot of interesting areas.

One of the best articles I've seen on the war in Iraq was Re-engineering Iraq by Glenn Zorpette, published in the February edition of Spectrum, and they've scored another hit recently. It's so good that I'm linking it in the blog roll. Give it up for Spectrum, people.

In the current article it is reported that a world distance record was set for people carrying aircraft powered by AA batteries. That's right. The aircraft, built in Japan by technology students and sponsored by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. a/k/a Panasonic traveled a distance of 391.4 meters under power, which is within spitting distance of 1/4 mile. The power pack comprised 160 AA batteries-Panasonic, of course.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Trust But Verify Blog

We here at the Dougloid Papers have been following the alleged doping ruckus around Floyd Landis with great interest, partly because we're great fans of the Tour and of Floyd's stellar performance in that race and because we've seen what can happen when people rush to judgment in the absence of conclusive factual information. We're also fans of justice and plain speaking here and we shall update this story periodically.

At this stage of the game, we really don't know what the facts are, who's in possession of them, or what the eventual outcome will be. We're still enmeshed in the realm of speculation, information leaks from "anonymous sources", and a continuing tirade from horse's ass del maximo Dick Pound.

All we know is that we don't know much at this point. The record's far from clear, but the only credible hypothesis that I can come up with is mistake or sabotage-although some have suggested that Floyd could have been blood doping and got the wrong pint-an outside possibility. Else, why was this the only 'positive' (whatever that means) sample taken from Floyd Landis during the entire race, before or after? This in itself tends to rule out the "wrong pint" theory.

In the world of athletes, testosterone is a long term tool for building muscle mass-not something that is used for a quick pick me up. So it doesn't make sense from that standpoint. And, truth be told, testosterone does not go away overnight as if by magic.

There's an interesting blog linked above that we shall keep an eye on for status updates.

One thing's for sure-the anti doping witch hunters are eating a lot of crow since yesterday's announcement that the doping allegations against sprinter Marion Jones turned out to be a crock of shit-there are a lot of red faces.

We have opined before that Floyd Landis got Floyd Landis across the finish line. The absolute worst that one can say if all the allegations are true is that Floyd did a classic Icarus thang and flew too near the sun. Yet people are acting as if he's the second coming of Satan.

That's one thing about the 'sport fan' mentality that's always bothered us-it's a great forum for ripping up and bashing people that are your betters in every way, without fear of retribution. People who would get winded pulling on their pants or ordering from the driveup at McDonalds can get all righteous and angry over a guy who rode his damned bicycle 2,000 plus miles in the blazing heat of summer as only the French know how to do summer. As they did over Marion Jones until yesterday.

Another interesting question is why the world insists on giving any credence to Dick Pound, head of the world anti doping agency Brain Police. He's been described as a hypocritical, blustering thug windbag and he's only gotten worse since the Washington Post weighed in back in 2004.

Good thing he spends most of his time up in Canada, we've got more than enough of our own morons here to go around.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Science from Teheran

The Iranians are getting so good at this that they've decided that the rest of us gullible folks in the west will believe they can modify a Northrop F-5 and make it into an Islamic Republic F-18 killer.

First it was reverse engineered North Korean reverse engineered Chinese reverse engineered Soviet reverse engineered German V2s, next it was "Yah-we don't need no stinkin' academics!" then it was "we're whipping up a batch of nukes out behind the mosque, just you wait and see."

This is getting funnier by the moment.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Professors? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Professors!

It seems that President Ahmadinejad-you know, that wild and crazy guy from Iran- has taken a breather from wishing the Jews into nonexistence, giving the Hezbollah boys their marching orders in Lebanon, and baiting the civilized world with his nuclear ambitions....where was I? Oh, I remember now.

He's recently teed off against the 'secular and liberal' professors and academics who apparently have been quietly undermining him and his cronies and doing all sorts of nasty stuff...well, he's taking them to task.

I wonder, who does he think is going to build all those atom bombs and guided missiles to carry them-a bunch of book toting clerics stuck in the 9th century?

Why screw around? Shut the damned universities, Mahmoud. Send everyone back to the farm. Declare the last 1,000 years a big mistake. Go for it.

The cops in Iran-you know, the ones in old army field jackets who call themselves 'students' and took over from the Shah's hated Savak-well, they're on a campaign to wipe out satellite dishes and other sources of information from the rest of the world that to paraphrase are 'drainin' off his vital national bodily fluids'.

All of which lends credence to the notion that this guy really doesn't have a good grip on reality-which may be something of a bonus to the rest of the world.

DC Court Slam Dunks Airbus Effort to Ditch Bronckers, Barshefsky

In an issue that is of interest only to folks in the legal field, the DC court has stopped (at least for now) the Airbus effort to remove two lawyers who work for Wilmer Hale from further work on behalf of its arch rival Boeing.

It was Airbus' strategy to file a request for relief in DC Superior Court based on an alleged conflict of interest. The court concluded that Airbus did not have standing to protest the activities of Barshefsky, former US Trade Representative at the WTO and that it could adjudicate the matter with respect to Marco Bronckers if and only if the WTO complaints that are at the heart of the issue look back before 1992 which essentially means, they're finished.

The folks at Wilmer Hale et al were kind enough to furnish this scribe a copy of the Airbus complaint back before anyone in the rest of the world really know what the court was thinking. My guess is that as savvy District lawyers they had a good fix on the likely outcome. Thanks, folks.

One can only wonder what Airbus was thinking in pursuing this action. Surely their counsel was as wise to the likely outcome as Wilmer Hale and were not tilting at windmills. One thing we understand here in the midwest is that there is rarely a benefit that will accrue to a litigant who spends their substance in what is essentially a sideshow.

I mean, assume that Airbus got Wilmer Hale and Barshefsky and Bronckers off the case-so what? It's not going to change the larger issues or the facts that are out there, and what it does is piss off the courts, gets everyone angry, and doesn't advance the Airbus position one iota.

Pointless litigation at high prices, anyone?

New Sheriff at the Festung?

It's widely reported today that at one and the same time that the A380 was tooling around with a full load of pseudopassengers for the first time, Charles Champion, the erstwhile head of the A380 program has been given the old heave ho by Christian Streiff, the CEO of Airbus.

Some analysts are suggesting that Champion's replacement Mario Heinen is a little mismatched for the job.

Best of luck to Super Mario. He'll need it.

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Poorly Kept Secrets in Santa Clara

By now everyone in the world except the guys in the Polaris subs sitting on the bottom in the Barents Sea watching the Russians know that Intel is set to lay off a huge number of people next week-rumors have it between 10 and 20 thousand pink slips will be handed out in an effort to do something or other. Speculation's rampant at this point.

It is also said that Intel has ramped up hiring in the past few years, and this round of cuts may bring it back to the pre hiring binge levels of 2003. Intel's also been taking a few hits in the price department from its feisty rival Advanced Micro Devices. Well, nevermind. The glory days may be over, just as they were for IBM in Armonk a number of years ago.

One thing's for sure-they know how to spoil holiday barbecues on a grand scale in the land of silicon.

The Age of the Ornithopter: Has it Arrived in the Great White North?

There's an interesting article in Flight Global that has to do with some folks at the University of Toronto who have pulled off the first sustained flight of an ornithopter.

I'm reminded of one of the protagonists in a Terry Southern story who keeps waking up with the phrase "the age of the ornithopter" running through his mind. Well, here we are. No longer a province of science fiction freaks and obscure (in these days) writers of very interesting stories, the ornithopter has arrived. Sort of.

The video that's attached to the article clarifies just what the difference between 'sustained' and 'controlled' and 'successful' is. I'm sure Terry Southern would have found it interesting.

Happy viewing.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Air Safety From the Folks Who Brought You Incredible Victory

Here's how they do it, Islamic Revolution style, according to the International Herald Tribune. At least it shows that they're equal opportunity fuckups in this line of work and don't discriminate against anyone's airplanes.

If this is the way they're going to do nuclear fission, I'm making my reservation for the live pay per view telecast. It should prove to be very interesting indeed.

- Sept. 1, 2006: An Iran Airtour Tu-154 skidded off the runway and smashed its wing as it landed in the northeastern city of Mashhad, sparking a fire that killed 29 of the 148 people aboard.
- Jan. 11, 2005: A French-made Falcon, carrying a commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards and 10 other officers, crashed while trying to make an emergency landing, killing all aboard.
- Dec. 6, 2005: A C-130 military transport carrying Iranian journalists crashed into a 10-story building in a Tehran suburb as the pilot attempted an emergency landing after developing engine trouble, killing 115 people - 94 in the plane and 21 on the ground.
- April 20, 2005: An Iranian airlines Boeing 707 carrying 157 passengers skidded off a runway at Tehran's airport and caught fire, killing three people.
- Dec. 23, 2004: A Ukrainian-built Antonov 140 aircraft, carrying aerospace scientists mostly from Russia and Ukraine, crashed in central Iran, killing all 44 aboard.
- June 25, 2003: A C-130 transport crashed near the Rudshour River, about 30 miles southwest of Tehran, killing seven people.
- Feb. 19, 2003: A Russian-made Ilyushin 76 carrying members of the elite Revolutionary Guards crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran, killing 302 people aboard.