Fly the Friendly Skies

by Brad Nelson4/12/17

You’ve probably all seen the video of the man being “bumped” from a United Airlines flight. David French has an article noting that none of the sides involved (including the passenger) look good. The consensus of the commenters to this article, which I think is a better take, goes something like this: “Yeah, that Asian guy was over-the-top. But if he hadn’t freaked out, little attention would have been brought to this practice of bumping.”

However you think or feel about this, you can’t buy bad publicity like this if you tried. The incident will fade from memory as surely as an airline crash does and people will likely forget which airline perpetrated this incident. But perhaps funniest of all, while the fun lasts, was the immediate response from (affirmative action?) CEO Oscar Munoz:

“I apologize for having re-accommodated these customers.”

As French noted, PRWeek had named him “communicator of the year” last month. From the French article you can also see (near the end at the 4:12 mark) the funny parody ad by Jimmy Kimmel.

And apparently the story is (as one commenter noted) that United didn’t over-book the flight. There were not other paying passengers waiting to board the flight. United simply wanted to fly four employees somewhere, and it’s not clear that their trip was so that they could start another shift elsewhere. One fellow noted that these employees had just finished their shift. But who knows at this point?

As others have noted, these four employees could have easily been put on another plane (from United or elsewhere) or a special flight chartered. I think this incident shows how people are thought of as cattle by these airlines and, in fact, by the entire airline process including TSA.

Yours truly would not have acted as that lunatic Asian man did, who has now hired a high-priced ambulance-chaser attorney who will surely Shylock a few million from United. But I would have demanded more compensation than apparently one of the near useless vouchers they typically offer which (from what people are saying) have way too many restriction on them to be of much value.

It’s tempting to ascribe “Don’t tread on me” motives to the passenger who freaked out. And had a man simply refused to leave and gave a good and principled reason, that would be an easier motive to ascribe. But this passenger just acted like a baby. Bad met bad, apparently by random. The only good news is that this crash-and-burn happened on the ground.

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About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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103 Responses to Fly the Friendly Skies

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Kevin Williamson opines:

    That is one major problem with heavily regulated industries in which there is insufficient competition: The managers act as though the business were organized for their benefit rather than for the customers, and that attitude seeps down to front-line workers. The typical airline employee treats the typical traveler as though he simply is in the way.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Since the flight was from Chicago to Louisville, it’s a bit of a cause célèbre here. Supposedly United needed the crew for a flight the next day out of Louisville. United obviously acted badly, but so did the customer who fought to stay on. One can’t blame him for his attitude, but legally the airlines have total authority once on the plane. This will hurt United — and perhaps most other airlines as well, who would do much the same. (Southwest did an ad parodying it, something about “beat the competition, not you” or some such.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      According to this, is was an unauthorized Photoshop job. But a good one.

      • Rosalys says:

        Well, even if Southwest didn’t come up with that ad campaign, they should adopt it! It’s too good!

        When I fly, which is not often, I like to use Southwest. They still seem to have an attitude of trying to win your patronage (two checked bags for free!) Everyone else is trying to nickel and dime you. Our daughter lives an 18 hour drive away, so flying is not only quicker, but often less expensive.

        I hate the TSA. If I believed they were actually keeping us safe, or heck, even trying to do so, I might excuse their stupid rules. But they are not! They are merely performing and elaborate ritual dance to make it look like they are doing something productive.

        Years ago, I took an elderly friend to the airport. She was flying to Philadelphia for medical reasons, and being in a wheelchair, I was allowed to accompany her to the gate. She was 83 years old and very sick. When we got to the metal detector, she couldn’t go into the booth in her chair, so they used a wand on her. She was confused, and looked at me and asked, “What are they doing?” I answered, “Oh, they just want to make sure you don’t have a gun.” The TSA agent got very stern with me and told me she could have me arrested merely for saying the “G” word!

        I behave myself only because I prefer not to be dragged off to the gulag.

        Whatever the reasons for the action taken and the behavior of the man dragged off the plane, the optics are very bad indeed. It looks like the Stazi are hauling him away to be interrogated and disposed of.

        What I really like are trains. Unfortunately, they are very expensive.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Well, even if Southwest didn’t come up with that ad campaign, they should adopt it! It’s too good!

          I totally agree, Rosalys. It always bothers me when some wimpy company (but at least SW doesn’t appear to be a thuggish one like United) so quickly disavows any connection. They would be best served to shut up and reap the rewards of someone’s great idea.

          I fly almost never. But I’ve been reading a lot of comments from people (including yours, of course) and the name “Southwest” pops up a lot in terms of a preferred airline that doesn’t treat you like a moo-cow.

          Regarding the TSA (and airport cops), the greatest take-down I read recently was that it was a make-work program for cops and others who otherwise couldn’t cut it. And throw a towel over your whole body or on your head and you’ll be whisked through airport security with hardly a second look. Like you said, TSA is only going through an elaborate ritual to make it look as if they are doing something. I mean, I’m sure the whole process with metal detectors and such is some kind of deterrent. But if I see a couple Aye-rabs boarding ahead of me, I would be motivated to take a later flight. I’ll profile even if TSA won’t.

          Your incident with the wheelchair friend shows how these guys have taken on the aspect of Nazis. There’s a lot of frustration that is being channeled now because of this one incident. Let’s hope this is a catalyst for needed reform. At the very least, hopefully United will go out of business and other airlines with better customer service will reap the benefits. In the case of the TSA, some non-wimpy Republicans need to step in and “Make airport security great again.” But I’m not going to hold my breath. Maybe if Ivanka will say something to daddy.

          I’d love to take a train ride. I didn’t know they were very expensive. Even so, one of these day, maybe just a short trip down the coast.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Southwest apparently encourages its employees to make flying a fun experience. This had interesting results a decade ago, when a stewardess got in trouble for saying, “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo, take a seat, we gotta go.” Two black women with enormous chips on their shoulder claimed that was racist because an old version of the childhood rhyme uses a forbidden word beginning with “n”, and sued the stewardess. (In reporting that in FOSFAX, I made sure to include every curse word — but never the forbidden word itself, to make a point.)

            Regarding the nickel-and-diming by the airlines, Kevin Williamson in his article mentioned that 30 years ago, an airline removed the olive they had included in salads — saving thousands of dollars.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Brazil nut. There, I said it. I hope you’re happy now!

              • Timothy Lane says:

                If it weren’t for a 1948 encyclopedia my family used to have (old enough that they included Piltdown Man as a non-hoax), I would have no idea what you meant here.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                The joke was supposed to be subtle so as not to micro-aggress too many of the Snowflakes out there. 😀

          • Rosalys says:

            Trains are expensive compared to flying. And then the trip I wanted to take from the east coast to Chicago, and I wanted a sleeper car (which are expensive.) I found too good a deal on a flight to justify the extra expense. But trains are the way to go. There is room on them and you can get up and walk around.

            My husband and I took the train to Philadelphia a few years ago, and another time I myself took the train to New Jersey. It isn’t a whole lot faster than driving a car, but it’s a lot more pleasant.

            Taking a cross country trip on a train with a sleeper car is one of the few items I’d have on a bucket list – if I had a bucket list.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Meet you in St. Louis. I’ll start from the West. You presumably start from the East (or Central). Some of my favorite movies are set in and around trains. They’re just so iconic.

              I’ve got to get off my butt and do this. It would make for a terrific travelogue.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Alfred Hitchcock relied heavily on trains as an important plot point in a number of movies, of which the best are probably The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train, and North by Northwest.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Yes, those are all good and notable movies. Another includes what I think is a hidden gem: “The Train” starring Burt Lancaster.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Welll, as long as we’re at it, one can’t forget The Great Train Robbery with Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. For that matter, The Man Who Would be King, qrih Connery and Michael Caine, starts on a train. And then there’s From Russia, With Love.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I have always enjoyed traveling by train in Europe. Japan and Taiwan.

                I don’t recall ever seeing sleeping cars in Asia except for some specialty tourist trains.

                But the overnight carriages in Europe are not what they used to be. In fact, the business has dropped so badly that I think they are almost extinct in most of Western Europe.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                All good choices. And, of course, there is “Murder on the Orient Express.” Don’t ask me who done it. 😀

                Another good train movie set in WWII is “Von Ryan’s Express.”

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Of course you like Von Ryan’s Express — it starts Frank Sinatra. Based on a novel (and the author also did an invasion of Japan novel). I’ve never seen Murder on the Orient Express, but I know the plot. Randall Garrett did a version in his Lord Darcy story, “The Napoli Express”.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                The 1974 adaption of “Murder on the Orient Express” with Albert Finney as Poirot is pretty good. I mean, the cast is amazing with Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jackie Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Tony Perkins, and Michael York. It’s worth at least one viewing.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I believe David Suchet’s version of “Murder on the Orient Express” to be the best I have ever seen, including Albert Finney’s version.

                In the final minute of this version Suchet reveals the true Perot and does it without words. It is worth watching the whole film. Suchet is fantastic.

              • Rosalys says:

                Chicago rather than St. Louis, as it seems to be a hub. Everybody hop on board and we can have a meet and greet in Chicago!

                And I agree. Train movies are great. I especially like the old trains; two bench seats per compartment, with a windowed door – and if you didn’t want anyone peeking in, you could pull down the shade.

                The old fashioned sleeper cars were pretty cool, too; basically a car filled with bunk beds that had privacy curtains. I remember seeing an old movie making good comedic use of the set up. I don’t remember the name though.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Come to think of it, one movie in which old-fashioned trans play a significant role is Cat Ballou. The brilliant ending to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is on a train.

  3. Steve Lancaster says:

    The problem, as I see it, is not so much this assholes attitude, but the quasi-government that is the American airline industry. We want to believe airlines are operating in the market, but everything from the size of the pillows to how the pilots are trained is regulated and over regulated. Thus, the aggressive behavior of the ground, and air crews. It is defacto government at its worst.

    If you fly a foreign flag airline you know you are subject to their rules, i e El Al, there are armed men and women on every flight, the flight crew are trained in countering belligerent passengers and you can be detained and cavity searched with no recourse. Thus, little trouble from assholes on the flight. However, we pretend our airlines are somehow just “public transport”. A much more honest approach would be posting a sign at the ticket counter, “you surrender all your rights by purchasing a ticket”

    The days of come fly with me are long over, about all that is left is, “pack a small bag”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That certainly reflects what Kevin Williamson has said in his latest article.

      Anyone who is really really anxious for socialized medicine should sit up and take notice. As Williamson said about anything so regulated:

      The managers act as though the business were organized for their benefit rather than for the customers, and that attitude seeps down to front-line workers.

      I’m going to offer one Timothonian “to be fair” observation: If I had to deal with the general public (my job puts me in touch with a much more specific, educated, and civilized public), I would go bonkers. To be fair to United Airlines employees, there are a lot of David Daos out there (although I’m sort of surprised to see this from an Asian).

      Do the passengers themselves act civilized or do they tend to be a bunch whiny, stressed, short-tempered, needy, picky, ungrateful human beings? I mean, how do police officers *not* shoot half of the people they run into? How do fireman continue to do their jobs when much of their job now (aid runs) deals with, frankly, the scum of the earth?

      If I were running Brad Airlines I would put the passengers in manacles and feed them through a tube. Maybe it would be better to give them knockout gas first before takeoff. My point is, the general public is not innocent in all this and is one reason there are so many god damn regulations in the first place. We either restrain our own behavior or it will be restrained for us.

      There really used to be a day when you didn’t have to lock your front door. Things have changed. We have become less civilized human beings. We are not as civilized as we need to be.

      Still, in this day of wall-to-wall cell phone cameras, it shows you the true and abundant arrogance of United and the security staff that they see no problem in dragging a grown man through the aisle of an airplane so that some United employee isn’t inconvenienced.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I gather that Southwest Airlines still treats customers decently. Of course, I haven’t been on a plane since 1992, when I went to the Worldcon in Orlando (and briefly met my mother and sister in Atlanta on the way back, with Elizabeth picking me up here in Louisville). When we attended my niece’s wedding in Maine in 2002 (which featured lobster at the wedding reception), we drove. Mostly the driving was done by Elizabeth, so I had time for reading; I think this was when I finished Duma’s D’Artagnan series. At that time, our main concern was the TSA.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s an article at American Thinker that I think gets to some of the abuses that are going on. Nice to have your own police force at your beck-and-call to cover your administrative screw-ups.

    Another aspect of this that is coming out is how United management has had problems with their unions. That first wimpy statement from the CEO was designed to make sure that he didn’t piss off the unions (and basically throwing his customers under the buss…losing billions in market capitalization in the process). And with that as a backdrop, you can see that passengers’ rights and expectations were no match when the little pampered union members needed to be transferred somewhere.

    Note that bumping is almost always done before passengers are boarded. Once boarded, who in their right mind doesn’t have an expectation that unless you pull a box knife on a stewardess that you’re a paying passenger due all rights and respect as such? But not if you’re a union employee. Screw the passengers. And it’s great that you have basically your own police force to carry out your whims.

    Like I said, I fly almost never, so I’m not on the front lines of this. But what is coming out now is a deluge of responses from frequent flyers who have been treated worse than cattle by some of the airlines and airport security.

  5. pstmct says:

    I like all of the comments here. But I think there is an aspect that is being overlooked. As, Brad I think said, in this day and age of cell phone videos, our society is just looking to cash in on this kind of abuse of false authority. Do not get me wrong, what United did sure seems horrible, and if I was put in the same situation, the union thugs might have found out just how there can and should be consequences for their action. But this wimp man-child is a product of a sick and twisted, overly emasculated and overly litigious society, and all I see, is this guy looking to get his 15 seconds of fame and use the courts to feather his pink nest.
    If we had a free market, United would pay the price by going out of business and that would teach all the other airlines that they cannot treat their customers badly and stay in business. Not here though, if they suffer financially, we will be told, they are too big to fail, so the tax payers can bail them out thus re-enforcing the idea that bad corporate behavior is just fine, especially if unions jobs are at stake.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      if I was put in the same situation, the union thugs might have found out just how there can and should be consequences for their action

      I have a very rotund friend who said, “I’d just fold my arms in front of me and then see what they could do.”

      There are two intertwined aspects of this, either having the ability to mask the other. There is the issue of this Asian man-child who has now hired a high-priced ambulance-chasing lawyer, symptomatic of our juvenile, litigious culture. And there’s the issue of the long abuse of passengers by an every-increasing Gestapo atmosphere of some of the airlines and certainly the security forces (against everyone but Muslims, of course).

      Some people have long memories and I hope frequent flyers will reward Southwest (or some other airline) and punish the union thugs and airport Gestapo tactics as (in this case) used by United so that their union Snowflake employees were not inconvenienced. (So what if they have to physically drag a paying customer down the aisle?)

      There are many people who are tending to vent against the Asian man-child. Certainly his baby-like squeals do not paint him in a good light. But the man was a paying customer, not a terrorist. Unless there was a true emergency (a heart transplant patient needed to get somewhere), you don’t do this to paying customers under any circumstances. I hope his lawyer soaks it to these United thugs.

    • Gibblet says:

      I hate United. There, I said it. I use the H word very rarely, but seriously, I’ve had several bad experiences with them overbooking flights. What really concerns me, however, is that if there were ever a situation where I needed the police to intervene due to mistreatment at the airport, such as assault by airport security or being held against my will for hours on the tarmac, I think they would not come.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One of the interesting questions a friend brought up was, “What did United tell the security personnel?” Did they tell them, for instance, that they had an unruly passenger on the plane?

        I suspect what we saw was normal operating procedure…rarely, if ever, resisted by anyone (child-man or otherwise). They believe their authority is so all-encompassing and final that, at a whim, they may replace paying passengers on a plane for the convenience of their pampered union employees. And if anyone doesn’t like it…well, we’ve seen what happens.

        Most people have become used to doing what they’re told. The implied threat is always there. Don’t even say the word “gun” or you might be arrested. And we see what happens to someone who resists.

        So I think we know that people had already been programmed into their acquiescent little boxes, afraid of doing anything to set off the security personnel. My guess is that many more stories will follow. This could be the incident that not only breaks the back of United but the back of the whole Gestapo attitude among so many in law enforcement.

        Or so I hope. It may take one momma-boy screaming Asian old man to do it. Just so long as it gets done.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Child-man Mr. Dao’s was the tantrum heard ’round the airport. You could say that he should have acquiesced to authority. And technically the law was on United’s side…the same type of laws that ban a child from running a roadside lemonade stand because of city ordinances regarding food services. Our nation is full of stupid laws serving drones masquerading as people.

    When to break the law? When does even a nitwit such as Mr. Dao become an unintended hero? Will an event like this help to break the zombie-like acquiescence people have developed for bad and stupid rules and laws? As one poster stated elsewhere:

    You are correct, the other three did not refuse [to get off the plane]. They got up and walked off like good little sheep. And that troubles me more than watching this clown act like a teen aged girl.

    It should bother anyone when a private company uses a police force to make up for its own bad scheduling. Yes, I know it’s technically legal to overbook. But this wasn’t an overbooking issue. This was 4 pampered United union employees who traipsed in after the plane had already boarded and told whomever was in charge that they needed to throw four paying passengers off the plane.

    There are many sides to this issue. You can certainly take the side that Mr. Dao over-reacted. However, I take the side that people have been frogs in a kettle of slowly-heating water. They’ve learned to too easily acquiesce to this stuff. I guess part of my disposition on this topic is that I would not have easily acquiesced. I’m stubborn when it comes to stuff like this.

    Whatever the case may be, this event was shaped by two things: One was the picture of Mr. Dao being dragged down the aisle of the airplane like a sack of potatoes. And, two, was the stupid-ass (but revealing) statement from United’s CEO that characterized that dragging as “re-accommodating.”

    That tells you all you need to know. If you’re not chilled by that, you’re not a thinking human being.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I just came back from a Monday-Thursday trip on which I flew Southwestern both ways. I am too tired to write at length, but let me say they are no great shakes either.

      They also overbooked many flights (I heard announcements asking for volunteers to give up their seats very often while waiting for my flights.)

      And my planes were also overbooked and packed like sardines. Unfortunately, I was forced to sit in the middle row next to one of two really fat sardines. I could not put the arm rest down because the man next to me was so rotund.

      I was pressed upon, literally, during the whole flight. Luckily, it was a short one.

      Let me remind readers what I wrote a few years back at ST.

      But I have noticed a sharp drop-off in the honesty of large corporations, I have encountered, since the late 1970’s. It first hit me when dealing with the airline companies. This dishonesty has been accompanied by a similar debasement of language, particularly when used for marketing purposes.

      Things have only gotten worse and in addition to lying to everyone, the airlines are not assaulting their customers. I like Brad, hope this most recent incident will wake people up, but I doubt it will.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I was hoping you’d weigh in on this. Imagine over-booking a movie theatre and then asking people to leave just as the show starts. This over-booking thing is truly odd. Still, if that’s the habit. If that’s the practice. What I object to is any private company using police offers to bully (and apparently beat up a little bit in this case) someone who believes the old-fashioned notion that you should get what you pay for. First come, first served.

        And to be required with the threat of force to give up your seat for some pampered union employees who walk in at the last moment and demand to be treated like kings? No, that doesn’t set well with me.

        We could have hoped that this perverse business practice would come to a head via more of a Clint Eastwoodian character who told those United goons, “You want this seat? Then come take it.” What we got was a strange old Asian man who freaked out like a child.

        Still, I think at the very least it highlighted the ghastly attitude that United has toward their customers. Unless there is no other carrier available, I think you’d have to be out of your head to give those Cretans your business.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Another lie which is put out is that airlines offer up to something like $1,300.oo to passengers who will get off a plane and take the next flight.

          This is not true. Airlines offer travel vouchers valued up to $1,300.oo. I wouldn’t want them. Considering how the airlines fudge and manipulate fares, who knows what such a voucher would actually be worth and what restrictions would come with it.

          But the worst thing about air travel today is TSA. This is something out of 1984. I got patted down tonight for forgetting to empty my pocket of $0.41. This type of thing is not only offensive, it is insane.

          Let’s see if Trump is going to give citizens back some of their rights and kill the Patriot Bill and TSA. Don’t hold your breath.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I’ve read a number of comments by people underneath the articles regarding this subject. It seems that vouchers are generally considered to be a crap deal because of all the restrictions.

            Maybe if Princess Ivanka is inconvenienced someday then daddy will take a look at making airport security great again.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            The $1300 limit is apparently a legal maximum. I have no idea if the law would allow actual cash (which might find more takers) rather than dubious vouchers.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              The $1300 limit is apparently a legal maximum. I have no idea if the law would allow actual cash

              A society needs fixed rules in order to function. However, a human society worth living in needs people of good character and judgment to apply those rules.

              What was most disturbing about this incident was that it was indicative of a society that knows only how to mindlessly and zealously obey rules, not the purpose of those rules (a smooth-functioning society). And we see the kind of inhuman robots that people can become when their only thought is the power that they have. And this fetish simply both loves and despises at the same time the rule-breaker. They hate the rule breaker because they’re not obeying authority. But they love them too because they get to bash some heads and thus flex their muscles. What use is power if you can’t use it?

              It is the American ideal to do one’s own thinking, especially in regards to enforcing and interpreting rules. If the point is to get someone off a plane so that pampered United union employees can take a paying customer’s spot then who in their right mind wouldn’t offer a better inducement rather than dragging someone by their legs down the center aisle? We see the Orwellian coarseness of a society beholden to rules for the sake of rules. We see a culture dead on the inside and out.

              In an interview given by Tom Peters about his book, “In Search of Excellence,” one of his anecdotes was about an employee in the then fairly new company known as “Federal Express.” He had a package to deliver to a fairly remote location. The road to this location had washed out or there was some other reason that his vehicle could not get there. So what does this low-level (in the regular perceived scheme of things) employee do? He rents a helicopter to get the package there on time.

              This is, of course, an extraordinary thing. And if memory serves, instead of being fired he was praised by the company. Now, obviously this cannot be an everyday occurrence if Federal Express is to make money. But that one incident highlighted the spirit of the company which I’m sure you’ll remember was (back then): “When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight.”

              When United uses the airport police force to forcibly eject a paying and seated passenger so that one of their own pampered union employees can take his seat, what written or unwritten slogan are they observing? And that’s part of the problem. A United employee who wasn’t a goon and a heartless drone would have figured out another way to do this…very possibly including putting one or more of those pampered union employees on another plane…or renting a damn car…maybe even a helicopter.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              The $1300 limit is apparently a legal maximum.

              I think it is the legal maximum which they “must” offer. I don’t think it precludes them from offering more if they wish.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                And…what?…is somebody going to arrest them if they did? I mean, the old saying is “Rules are made to be broken.” That would have been one of these times when dealing with a unique problem. And unique problems pop up all the time.

                But flexibility requires moral intelligence, courage, and an organization that will back you up for doing the right thing.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                You get my point.

                The people involved are petty bureaucrats who on the one hand, do not have the intelligence or moral courage to make a decision and, on the other hand, have become intoxicated with their powers.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Sounds just like the TSA — which is the reason we didn’t consider going by air on that 2002 wedding trip.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I have no argument with that, Mr. Kung.

                Hi ironic that these generations with “No fear” on their t-shirts and who were always the “rebels” bucking the establishment have become such sheep.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Cass Sunstein has an article at Bloomberg, liked to at HotAir, on the subject. He says that the maximum is $650 or $1300 depending on the length of the delay. He says that the use of vouchers rather than actual cash is not required, but also not forbidden (unfortunately).

                He had some suggested changes, most notably making those the minimum amounts (and, presumably, in cash rather than vouchers). One suggestion that has come up (and which me mentions, but doesn’t recommend) is an auction — if there are 4 volunteers needed, those passengers willing to do so could bed, with the 4 lowest bids getting what they wanted for being voluntarily bumped. The link is:


  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One suggestion that has come up (and which me mentions, but doesn’t recommend) is an auction — if there are 4 volunteers needed, those passengers willing to do so could bed, with the 4 lowest bids getting what they wanted for being voluntarily bumped.

    Hell, why not turn it into a game show, Timothy? If you televised it, people would be scrambling to play.

    There are still a couple things that bother me and I’m not going to get past them. One is…imagine you’re sitting down at a table inside McDonalds ready to take a bite of your Big Mac after having waited in line and gone through a MacStripSearch just to make sure you weren’t bringing in any contraband such as a Whopper. Imagine you’ve gone through all the onerous steps to get that Big Mac near your taste buds. You even paid for it.

    Now imagine some McDonalds employee comes up to you and says, “I’m sorry, sir, I’ll have to take that Big Mac because one of the boss’s kids just dropped by and we’re all out of Big Macs so he’s going to take yours.”

    You refuse and then McDonalds has the mall cops bloody you up a little, drag you past the McPlayhouse in front of all the kids, and throws you into McJail. It what industry would this not be utterly insane?

    Two, I run a small business. Very small business. I honest to god do not know how people manage employees in a larger business. For me, it can take as much time to manage other people as to simply do the job myself. But I realize when a business gets bigger that you can’t do it all yourself. You have to delegate. And for the life of me, I can’t imagine an employee in any business (unless working on a rote assembly line…perhaps that gives you a glimpse into the mindset of the airlines) being useful if he or she could not substantially think for themselves. I am truly flummoxed by the idea that something as simply as the idea of incentives is not grasped by an employee or manager (let alone just normal civil behavior towards customers). But instead of upping the incentives, United automatically upped the police action.

    Have we come to the point where our education is producing little but the kind of people who can only follow simple rules and can’t be trusted to draw outside the lines? I think that is entirely possible.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I was a computer programmer, so of course I had to be able to think and learn. Elizabeth operated a factory machine at PSC Fabricating, but not on an assembly line, so it was much the same for her. She had to be handle new machines or do different tasks on the old ones, just as I had to learn new languages (and, for that matter, techniques).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Computer program takes an interesting combination of logical thinking and creativity…and a very big dose of keeping order. Frankly, I’m adequate at the first two but lacking in the third. They invented the term “spaghetti code” just for me. But then, I was simply doing it as a hobby.

        It is a painful thing to look at someone else’s well-organized, well-documented code. Certainly I’ve learned a thing for two from doing that. But mostly I’m a seat-of-the-pants kind of coder which is very inefficient. But I did do quite a bit of coding in a scripting language for my business management software (created in HyperCard). It forced me to better organize and document things. Still, it would have done me a lot of good to undergo formal training. The kinds of languages I’ve used basically facilitate sloppy coding unlike, say, more structure programs such as Pascal which used to be the coding language of choice for training purposes.

        Can you tell from the way that I write that I like to free-flow? But hopefully I’ve learned a thing or two from programming. No, I never made any proper flowcharts or diagrams. But I think I’ve kinda-sorta learned to keep one in my brain. I hope what I write is clear and, although it may wander here and there, always comes back to the main trail.

        Which was…what? Oh, yeah. Beating up customers because they refuse to return the product they sold you. Good work if you can get it.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Structured programming (which I encountered back in 1978, when I was at Humana) was one of those techniques I mentioned. As soon as I learned the concept, I thought how it might have been applied to some of my previous work, though I never considered myself strictly a structured programmer. Of course, my work often tended to be older languages, such as Basic and COBOL (aka Common Bothersome Obsolete Language), as well as (more than anything else) assembly languages.

          One thing I was pretty good at was figuring out what was wrong with other people’s code; I could go into a mode in which I thought like a computer. (It’s much harder with your own code, of course, because you know what it’s supposed to do.) But what I really liked best was creating entirely new programs. That’s what they hired me for at Key Systems, and at one point I had written the entire Accounts Receivable programs and about half of Inventory. Later we did a dairy feeding system (written almost entirely by me) and then factory automation. It helped that we had a small shop, and accomplished some things that other, larger firms had failed at.

          • pstmct says:

            I cut my teeth programing in Assembly (MASM). I agree, reading someone else’s program made it easier to think like a computer, after a while I could read a programs compiled Hex code better than I could read a book. I had to take control of a robot with a CAD system GUI back in the early 90’s.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I dabbled (very lightly and briefly) with assembly programming on a 6502 (the same processor as an Atari 800 and many other computers and game consoles of the era). That’s really getting into the guts of the computer.

              The processor had 12 registers. This processor, although advanced for its time and niche, was about as easy as you get. It allows one to understand what is going on behind the curtain. And I wasn’t so much interested in practical programming as you were but seeing behind that curtain. Suffice it to say, even at this level of simplicity is was daunting to keep track of all the indexing modes. But understanding the basics gave you an idea for how creative and logical use of these registers could do something useful.

              Still, it’s amazing how many great and complex games were created for this processor on the Atari (800 and the 2600), the Apple II, and the Commodore 64 with a similar 6510. Having used higher level languages I’m amazed people could write such complex stuff given the primitive working environment. Still, it was a great processor and certainly had more than enough power to handle scheduling of flight crews although they’re much too small to beat anybody up.

              • pstmct says:

                One of the fun challenges was to figure how to do trig functions without a math co-processor. Sine, Cosine, and Tangent with only add, subtract, multiply and divide. search engines and the Internet were not much help in those days. So you figure it out.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                One program I had to do in a college course was to simulate a PDP-8. (I programmed it in Compass. the assembly language of the CDC-6500. ) I also had to take a course on computer design.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            One thing I was pretty good at was figuring out what was wrong with other people’s code; I could go into a mode in which I thought like a computer. (It’s much harder with your own code, of course, because you know what it’s supposed to do.)

            I’m not sure that coding will make a conservative of a person or else Silicon Valley wouldn’t be the limp-wristed libtard place that it is. But a programmer is quite aware of a sort of rule of unintended consequences. You can stare and stare at your code looking for the bug and just not see it (which is likely why many of us here immediately saw Trump for what he was….a bug).

            As you said, it’s hard to find the bugs of your own program because you know what it’s supposed to do. But the code does not know what it’s supposed to do. It operates much more like Nancy Pelosi: “You’ll find out what’s in it when you run it.”

            I think any coder has to enjoy puzzle solving. The dairy feeding system sounds like a fun project. Did you use COWSEL by any chance?

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Once when we were on-site at an installation, a friend was looking for a bug in his code, and came across a comment that might as well have read, “This is a bug.” He was so irritated that he kicked a chair, leaving him with a mark on his shin where a rod hit it. (It remained marked for years — but the calf was amputated a few years ago, so it no longer is.)

              The weird thing about that job is that, in a way, I got my job there through him — and he got his job there through me. Strange but true.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                You have to kick something once in a while in regards to computers or a person would go crazy.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Apparently United has revised their policy so that they’ll replace paying passengers with their crew only before paying passengers have been seated. And the crew are required to check in 60 minutes ahead of time. This is an improvement but hardly solves the egregious problem of treating paying customers like serfs.

    Here’s a new video that might help Mr. Dao get his millions from United. It shows a very calm man trying to tell these airport goons that “I’m not giving up my seat.”

    Granted, I would not have screamed like a baby as he did when being dragged from the seat. But “I’m not going” most likely would have been the words out of my mouth as well.”

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the fun challenges was to figure how to do trig functions without a math co-processor. Sine, Cosine, and Tangent with only add, subtract, multiply and divide. search engines and the Internet were not much help in those days. So you figure it out.

    That white cloud drifting in obscuring my vision is not an illusion, Pat. It’s what my eyes normally do. They fog over as soon as I hear the word “trigonometry.” But I bet that was a challenge to do these higher mathematics in assembly language.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      We never had to do that, but one version of our dairy feeding system had to do its own multiplication and division routines. Fortunately, we had access somehow to the relevant algorithms (I don’t recall the details 30 years later).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’m sure the program looked something like this, perhaps borrowing from Forth or some program like that where you can define words to be functions and such:

        If Cow is Hungry
        end if

        to Feed
        Summon Old MacDonald
        end Feed

        to Milk
        grab Nipple
        if slap-in-face then WrongNipple
        end Milk

        Of course, the obvious bug in that last routine is it doesn’t check “CowStillFull?” So it could start sucking blood, guts, or whatever until that bottle is full.

        But for the layman, that’s just a funny way to highlight the enormous complexity in even simple-looking tasks. We do the most complicated things with nary a thought.

        On the other hand, particularly considering our politics, it’s as if we have a very simple-minded algorithm:

        If OfferFreeStuff or VictimhoodStatus
        vote for
        vote against
        end if

        • Timothy Lane says:

          We had to compute the expected daily output of milk (using some formulas my boss had gotten hold of) and then feeding formulas based on that and selected by the customers. This was a lot of work, as I can definitely attest because I wrote and maintained the programs. We read of farmers saving the cost of equipment and software in improved feeding efficiency — which made me rather proud (though I doubt the cows were quite so pleased with it).

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            If the cows won’t give up their milk, did you have a subroutine in there for some dairy agents to come in and drag them out of the barn?

            • Timothy Lane says:

              We were working on a milking program for a while, but then our partners (unable to get their own programs working) gave up and got another company to do it all.

  10. pstmct says:

    If OfferFreeStuff or VictimhoodStatus
    vote for
    vote against
    end if

    I love it! The Republican program could be;
    If OfferFreeStuff or VictimhoodStatus
    Goto Democrat
    vote for
    end if

    vote against or
    If RINO
    vote against

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That same friend of mine, when we were watching Fantasia, noted that the problem in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” could be considered a programming bug: he forgot to put in the command Ff WaterVat is Full THEN STOP.

      For that matter, my first college computer programming text had a flow chart for dealing with a flat tire, with appropriate commands such as “Curse loudly” if the spare tire is missing or itself flat. The instructor mentioned some sort of video of people executing a similar flow chart for crossing a road that had a mistake — it failed to check whether nearby cars were actually moving, so that nearby parked cars prevented crossing.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s very good, Pat. I wrote a version in BASIC:

      10 ========== MAKE A LIBERAL============
      30==========MAIN LOOP
      70 ELSE
      80 EXIT
      90 END IF
      110 LET X = AGE
      140 LET KUMBAYA = (Y * E)/X
      150 IF KUMBAY > 100 THEN RETURN
      160 ELSE PUSSIFY
      170 END IF
      180 END
      200 =======SUBROUTINE PUSSIFY==========
      220 LET C = COURAGE
      230 FOR EMASCULATION = 1 TO 500
      240 WATCH TV
      250 WATCH MOVIES
      280 IF (M+X) > 4 THEN
      230 ELSE
      240 RETURN
      260 END

      Maybe Pat can write the indoctrination subroutine in assembly language so it will run faster. It seems to me taking all of 18 years to indoctrinate kids in public schools is way too slow and inefficient.

      But I know there are some bugs in this. I’ve ran it on myself and I still don’t like Hillary Clinton. Feel free to submit improvements, extend it, or whatever. I’ll replace it with your improved version and we’ll see if we can perfect this.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Das ist eine neue Sprache fuer mich. Ich habe kein einziges Wort davon verstanden. Ich brauche dringend Hilfe!

        Wo sind die 0’s und 1’s?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Of course, KUMBAY will be 0, and so will X in the PUSSIFY routine, since neither variable has been given a value. This reminds me of my teacher’s examples of typos and their effects. In one, no one in class seemed to get it; it was a DO loop with the comma missing, and she noted that the actual result would be to give the variable DO10I a value of 110.

        I read a book on programming in which the writer had noted in a lecture how you can change the value of variables in FORTRAN. One attendee jumped up and ran out, saying, “That’s what’s wrong.”

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Some versions of BASIC require you to declare variables before using them. Atari BASIC, if I recall correctly, just lets you go ahead and use them. And, of course, the GOSUB at line 40 is either irony or a bug (or just liberal overkill). I’m not sure. Note the unintended bug in regards to the variables in the Pussify subroutine. You ain’t never gettin’ out. Neither are the variables incremented. But, of course, that’s a feature, not a bug. Indoctrination forever, baby!

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Yes, I noticed that. You can’t get out of INDOCTRINATE either, but of course if you’re stuck in PUSSIFY . . .

            Incidentally, Mike Rowe has weighed in on the United incident. He defends the airline’s right to act because an airplane cabin is no place for anarchy. But he also agrees that United behaved stupidly. The link is:


            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              A weak response from Rowe. I doubt many people are against rules or policies that allow businesses to eject customers who are unruly, belligerent, or stink so bad that it’s distracting to other customers. But paying customers should not be robbed of their goods (and airline seat in this case) for poor reasons either.

              Are we really to the point that we are to be an obedient citizenry no matter what? I guess in the context of Occupy Wall Street and a string of what I would call trumped-up or phony protests, it’s easy to forget that “Don’t tread on me” are (or used to be) words that we Americans claimed to live by.

              Had Mr. Dao been belligerent in some way, or had he by accident fit the profile of a suspected outlaw or terrorist, or had there been an emergency transplant operation that needed a seat, few normal people would have any objection to “re-accommodating” a passenger.

              But Mr. Dao did nothing wrong. United had plenty of options other than “re-accommodating” a passenger. The issue here is how used to oppressive and arbitrary rules we Americans have become.

              Get it right next time, Mr. Rowe.

      • pstmct says:

        Very funny Brad, sorry but my assembly skills are laking these days and I have no desire to help this program work at all. I think the leftist programmers have done way too good of a job already.

        Mr. Zu, I may need to get my wife to translate for me, she was the one who could read German.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          //////////////Liberal Deprogramming System
          //////////////written using LISP (liberals integrating sensible philosophy), a natural-language program definitely not written in Berkeley)

          //////////////MAIN LOOP
          While [libtard = true]

          Listen to Mark Levin
          Eat Apple pie and hot dogs and wave an American flag
          Read the Constitution
          .Man Up
          Be good not “nice”

          end While

          //////////////MAN UP SUBROUTINE
          : Man Up
          GOSUB Limp-Wristed
          Repeat while [Limp-Wristed > 5]

          Scratch crotch
          Attend a NASCAR race
          Watch a John Wayne movie
          Picture Jennifer Aniston topless
          Eat bacon
          Change your own oil

          end Repeat

          //////////////DETERMINE STATE OF WRIST
          Let Limp-Wristed = 0
          If MaddowWatch = true then Limp-Wristed = [Limp-Wristed + 7]
          If name = “Buffy” then Limp-Wristed = [Limp-Wristed + 2]
          If name = “Preston” then Limp-Wristed = [Limp-Wristed + 4]
          If GlobalWarmingBelief = true then Limp-Wristed = [Limp-Wristed + 2]
          If automobile = Volt then Limp-Wristed = [Limp-Wristed + 4]

          • pstmct says:

            I love it Brad.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I think some of those commands (such as “Man up”) need to be subroutines. Recovering liberals would certainly have no idea how to execute them.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Write it and I’ll patch it in. It will then be LDS alpha 0.2.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I’m not so sure. No one who knows me now (broken-down, barely functional, and often longing for the release of death) would see me as the best exemplar of manning up. I think it would tend to be involve enduring what one must and accepting responsibility for one’s actions — or is that just maturity in general?

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Okay. I’ve added the appropriate subroutine.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Some good choices, though I’ve never attended a NASCAR race and I’ve never changed my own oil. (Where would I dispose of the old oil? Pouring the new oil in wouldn’t be a problem — we do that often enough with the power steering fluid.) But I’ve seen plenty of John Wayne movies and eaten plenty of bacon. And when I itch, I scratch.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I’d say your Man-Up rating is pretty good then. In place of going to a NASCAR race (they are regional and can be quite far away) you may either chew tobacco or discharge a firearm.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I think it would tend to be involve enduring what one must and accepting responsibility for one’s actions — or is that just maturity in general?

                Given the fact that we actually do not control much, if not most, of what happens to us in life, I think “enduring what one must” has been a good sign of “manning up” throughout history.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          It is pretty basic German, but I figured if we are all speaking in foreign tongues, I might as well get involved.

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    A pretty good piece by Michael Tanner on this incident: United Airlines’ Lesson in People Power

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      It doesn’t take a Dr. Krauthammer to explain most of life. Tanner got it right without using fifty-cent words or a convoluted argument. Tanner didn’t even have to resort to the Constitution. Amazing what common sense and normal decency can achieve.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Mr. Kung, I’m glad you found that article sensible. I must admit (and this could be a gathering flaw of mine or a sort of political enlightenment), my eyes glaze over easily now when reading the typical convoluted muck that passes for thoughtful opinion. So when I run into something like this, it’s refreshing and I want to share it.

        This character flaw now causes by eyes to glaze over at about anything that Victor Davis Hanson writes. My mind keeps yelling, “Get to the point.” And when there is a point, it’s one that could have been summarized in the first paragraph.


    • Timothy Lane says:

      Yes, that’s a real embarrassment for American. The problem is that we don’t know why the flight attendant grabbed the stroller in the first place, but it’s hard to see what could have justified that behavior. Power can go to the head, even the very modest power of a flight attendant.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Yes. Lots of possibilities in this story. The best piece of evidence seems to be that a fellow passenger (a man) was so outraged by what he saw that he came to the woman’s protection. Still….best to wait to hear more details.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Another tell is the dumbass AA employee daring the man to hit him. What an ass as in Esel.

          Bureaucracies tend to create martinets.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Listen, I couldn’t handle today’s prissy, fussy public. And I’m not saying that this particular incident is related to that. But no mere mortal human could having daily contact with the cream of Coddled Consumers and not lose it once in a while. I realize I’m rationalizing in the dark. But it is the national sport.

            Because I’ve been surrounded for much of my life by fussy complainers, I’ve tended to be the one to put up with a small bit of discomfort rather than make a fuss. And I’m the better for it. Have you seen how some people act at the smallest imperfections? It has become a national habit to be a complainer. I try hard to be the one person who compliments someone who has done a good job. Some stuff it is just better to overlook. Freaking out because you got regular fries instead of curly fries is the province of spoiled children. And I do submit that this market that caters to every need has helped to create an awful lot of spoiled children.

            I say pack ‘em in, give ‘em all knock out gas, lay them on shelves, and then you’ll have plenty of room for any late-arriving crews who need to make it to their next assignment.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              Listen, I couldn’t handle today’s prissy, fussy public. And I’m not saying that this particular incident is related to that. But no mere mortal human could having daily contact with the cream of Coddled Consumers and not lose it once in a while.

              By the time I had finished my MBA, I had worked in several retail positions. So at 23 years of age, I had already determined I did not want to work with the “public.”

              I say pack ‘em in, give ‘em all knock out gas, lay them on shelves, and then you’ll have plenty of room for any late-arriving crews who need to make it to their next assignment.

              That was my belly-laugh for the day!!!

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The best I’ve been able to gather about this incident with American Airlines is that a normal mother with two small children traveling alone (aka “Likely a little frazzled and needing all the help she could get”) was told by some nice stewardess that she could roll her babies onboard with the stroller. Normally they are not allowed but the stewardess was being extra helpful. Apparently the stroller is of the kind that folds up small so the stewardesses apparently told her that if they could find room for it, she could stow it in the cabin.

      Meanwhile, some belligerent small-dicked male jerk comes by, inserts himself, and by his belligerence inflates a minor technical matter into a full-blown crisis. And they talk about women being drama queens.

      Anyway, we do know that a real man (don’t know if he was from Texas) stood up and got in the face of the American Airlines bully. I reserve the right to change my story upon further information.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Anyway, we do know that a real man (don’t know if he was from Texas) stood up and got in the face of the American Airlines bully

        He is from Texas.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        American Airlines is claiming she disobeyed orders. Perhaps they should change the name to German Airlines.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Video doesn’t exist for the entire sequence. But it looks as if the lady was scared, not belligerent. That male jerk may have been throwing gasoline onto a fire. We’ll see how this plays out.

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