Assorted links

1. Dulles airport is becoming less popular (i.e., markets work).

2. The proliferation of drones.

3. New Cornell blog on development economics.

4. The science of hate in college football, and runners do better when they have rivalries (WSJ, google “science of hate in college football” if need be).

5. Is American household deleveraging over?

6. The new Star Wars trailer.


I fly from SFO to Dulles for work and family, its like going back in time 30 years. The security lines are always miles long, the shuttles to the actual gates means its always going to be a long day, and how many decades does it take to get a rail line to the airport? You get on this stupid Dulles Flyer for 40 minutes and you are still just at the West Falls Church Metro with another trip to actually get anywhere.

I was surprised the article didn't talk more about the comparable difficulty getting to Dulles vs. Reagan. As a visitor, Dulles is not even considered.

Dulles is great if you're flying to one of the European cities it serves directly (London, Paris, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Rome, etc.). I don't want to have to fly to Newark first. The up-once, down-once model makes it worth it to me to take the bus from West Falls Church (inconvenient though it is).

Apart from that, no reason for Dulles to exist.

I live near BWI, and the air connections from BWI to Newark are bad enough that a train from BWI rail station is often a more reasonable option.

I have to go to European cities that Dulles doesn't serve directly, like Edinburgh, and (rail) BWI-EWR, (air) EWR-EDI is often the best choice, especially if a connection out of Dulles would be near rush hour.

Pretty sure there is no direct service to Barcelona. Every time I've gone I've had to connect via JFK, Philly or Charlotte.

Yeah. I was baffled that the article never tried to explore why folks were using DCA more. They seemed to take it as given that folks would prefer DCA to Dulles. Once DCA had flights out west, people took them rather than go to Dulles. Maybe the Silver Line will help, but even then, it'll be a long-ass metro ride, so unless you get to make one fewer stop (ie, 1 less layover), it's still probably easier to fly out of National.

The single biggest reason for the shift in traffic relative to the airports doesn't have a lot to do with their appeal to locals, but in the changes in the airline industry. The various mergers over the past few years have changed the role each airport plays in their respective networks.

Part of the reason DCA is projected to see increased traffic is that it will fill more and more of a hub role for the new American Airlines, with more connecting passengers instead of strict origin and destination.

The other part of that merger is that the DOJ required that AA give up some slots at DCA as a condition of the merger, and those slots have gone to other airlines that have moved flights from IAD to DCA.

Hmm. Also part of it, touched on in the article, is that successive Congresses have allowed DCA to have more nonstop flights to places farther away than DFW. (The original law stopped just at DFW as a favor to House Speaker Jim Wright, IIRC.) While the perimeter rule still technically exists, it's had lots of holes punched in it for specific destinations.

The slots that AA gave up mostly came from extra frequencies to short destinations, and the other airlines replaced them to frequencies to places farther away. So in some ways DCA is *less* of a hub role than it used to be.

Regarding #1, it is interesting no comments have mentioned the relative safety of Dulles and National. My understanding is the takeoffs and landings at National are much steeper because of the shorter runways. The record for National is not that much worse than for Dulles (and both are good), but I can't help fearing a disaster at National is more likely than at Dulles, and not just because there is more traffic.

#5 is very encouraging. Hundreds of millions of uncoordinated micro decisions. Little by little.

I suspect this leaves those who think the economy works through top down 'leadership' a bit nonplussed.

5. Real question: Is credit becoming more available?

The NY Fed (enough said) article lumped loan charge-offs with households credit movemments. That is simply wrong. Lenders record loan charge-offs, but borrowers still owe the debts. Charge-offs should not be factored in a household deleveraging/not deleveraging analysis.

That being said, the FDIC Banking Review 3Q2014 showed total loan and lease balances rose by $50.9 billion (0.6%) to $8.2 trillion - auto loans grew by $9 billion (2.4%), balances of one- to four-family residential mortgage loans declined by $6.7 billion (0.4%). Over the last 12 months, loan and lease balances increased by 4.6%. FDIOC doesn't say how loan charge-offs fit in the analytics.

Depends what you're doing, I suspect. I recently started getting quotes for solar panel installs again, since prices change so often, and was rather stricken by the kind of financing deals they're offering. I've been told that as soon as I sign the install contract they'll be paying the equivalent of what the panels would produce until they're actually installed, and I don't have to make any payments until after I get my federal tax credits - which at this point is mid 2016. All this without a credit check.

So if you're doing solar installs, it's trivial to get 18 month 0-interest loans. Not bad for long-term capital improvements.

5. no it's not supposed to be happening. we're still supposed to be in a crisis because wealth inequality is too high, says left

The slicing and dicing of straw, very impressive.

Last time I flew out of dulles in August it took me a grand total of 3 minutes to clear tsa without unpacking anything whatsoever (beats eve the best European airports or changi) . Immigration took all of 5 minutes too in July.

Last time I flew in there early this summer SFO security was laptops stay in the bag and don't take your shoes off, but coming back Dulles was the usual procedure and much slower. Hopefully all the airports will catch on.

I am excited for a sixth Star Wars film. Though I was troubled by the guard on the sith's light saber. It serves no purpose other than to look cool, a departure from every previous incarnation, including Darth Maul's double saber. Perhaps this is symptomatic of a great light saber stagnation?

Maybe they're wising up to the whole hand losing thing

"John Scalzi’s Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design"

Yes, I know, I want one too. But I tell you what: I want one with a hand guard. Otherwise every lightsaber battle would consist of sabers clashing and then their owners sliding as quickly as possible down the shaft to lop off their opponent’s fingers. You say: Lightsabers can slice through anything but another lightsaber, so what are you going to make a hand guard out of? I say: Dude, if you have the technology to make a lightsaber, you have the technology to make a light hand guard."

Do actual swords always have hand guards?

Almost everyone I've ever seen did.

And anyone who ever played at fencing with broomsticks as a kid can attest to the fundamental usefulness of the concept.

The difference is that the handguards on swords aren't made out of blades.

I'm no expert, but Katana's did not. And they seem to have still fought hand to hand a fair deal so I guess it's not universal.

They did. The tsuba is a disk rather than a cross.

Katanas don't have a cross-guard, but do have a collar (fuchi) that might serve a similar function (also not an expert).

Of course, light saber cross-guards still have problems. Light sabers can cut through just about anything, so there's not much point in a cross-guard that has those emitters sticking out, since any sliding down the blade will just take the emitter off. Plus you have to worry about stabbing yourself with your cross-guard. Since Jedi fighting styles rely so heavily on motion, limiting your possible range of motion with the side emitters seems a bit counter productive (much like the double saber Maul used, yes).

The problem is, the light guard can be cutoff at the stem. If your opponent slides his saber down it will not meet the light guard, but the discharging mechanism, however small it is, and cut the guard, exposing the owner.

Here's a crazy thought: maybe light sabers are a terribly impossible and impractical idea.


When I lived in the DC area I would always fly out of Dulles, particularly if it was $10 cheaper. National is too small as they note and hard to get to because you have to go into the city. I guess BWI is OK. I like the mobile lounges and 1970s architecture, although they should probably reintroduce excessive alcohol on the lounges to make them more popular with alcoholics and to be consistent with the designer's vision.

Plus I heard they have a service where you can park your car free and make money when it is rented out to other people. I like it when people implement the sample business from a textbook.

When you say "go into the city," do you mean Alexandria?

I've only flown out of Dulles once, but it seemed to take ages to get to. Once I got there, security was a breeze and my flight took off on time. No real complains. The place seemed cavernous. And pretty empty.

When I lived in the DC area I would always fly out of Dulles, particularly if it was $10 cheaper.

You must have lived in VA. The difference in metro fare to travel from Columbia Heights to Dulles vs. Reagan is about $6 ($2.35 vs. $8.30) alone. I'll gladly pay the extra $4 to save 45-60 mins of my time.

Dulles subway station will be built 1150 feet from terminal.

So here is how it will work: Get on subway, arrive at Dulles station, get on bus, get off bus, go through terminal, get on mobile lounge, get off mobile lounge, get on plane.

The alternative at Reagan - designed before the subway - is get on subway, go through terminal, get on plane.

Well, the airfield at national pre-dates Metro, but the Metro station used to be a long walk to the original terminal. It wasn't until the terminal was rebuilt in the 90s (today's terminal B/C at DCA) that the Metro and terminal were united.

So, the airport was there before the subway, but the current terminal was built and designed after the subway was already there.

So I guess the solution is to tear down the Saarinen building and then build the new terminal right around the new subway station, right?

Perhaps eventually United will pony up for the permanent C/D concourse to replace the 30 year old "temporary" one. The permanent one will be right over the train system.

C/D is all United, so MWAA expects United to pay for a lot of it.

In Star Wars, the "future" is set in the past.

Dulles has never "worked." It's always been the #3 airport for Washington. National is more convenient (and on the Metro), and BWI has excellent bus and rail connections to Washington (and Baltimore too) - plus SWA. Dulles has always been hard to reach. Even the new Metro won't help that much. The few times I've used it, Dulles has always seemed rather FORLORN.

I tend to agree with you BD, but as a world traveler I think the trend with international airports is to make them big and way out in the middle of nowhere. Pace Hong Kong Int'l Airport, which (do they have a new one now?), which is a tiny airport hard to land on, most international airports have runways of 7k to 12k feet I believe, which means they have to be way out in an underpopulated part of a city where land is more plentiful and cheap. Usually the bus trip is 30 minutes to downtown. Athens, GR used to have a tiny airport in the city itself, like Hong Kong, but then built a new one outside the city; I think that's the modern trend. Exceptions are: Manila Int'l airport, which is hardly international and kind of small, and has traffic is so bad it takes 30 minutes to go anywhere, and Ciudad de Mexico is another big city that has an airport in the city itself. Other exceptions I posit are older, smaller, 'historical' airports like Reagan. I don't think you'll find a new, modern international airport in a city itself.

Ray -

Funny you should mention Hong Kong - that's where I am now (I travel a lot too). The new airport, which opened a few years ago, is really a joy; and it's way out on Lantau Island. I took the train from the airport downtown last night - the trip took 24 minutes and cost about US$8.60.

Dulles is neither new nor modern - it opened in 1962. It's shabby compared to the new airports in Munich, Denver or Hong Kong. Probably it should not have been built.

Hong Kong has been way out on Chep Lap Kok Island since 1998 (!)

Closest to city in terms of newish international airports must be Changi (Zurich is about as close but can hardly be considered to be new and is much smaller to begin with).

On Dulles: It is hard to see how this is a case "markets work". Both airports were built by the government and are run by the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority, a quasi-government body that basically collects fees and uses the funds to manage the airports.

If the government were going to try to at least mimic market forces, it would be increasing the fees for using Reagan and cutting them for using Dulles.

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