Is it normal to have latency in a Bluetooth mouse?


The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 computer that I purchased demonstrated multiple failures and defects, but I am wondering if one of the annoying behaviors was normal.

Suppose that you have a Bluetooth mouse connected to a laptop. You don’t use it for a couple of minutes because you’re typing on the keyboard. You touch the mouse. Is it normal for the mouse/computer to ignore the first second of motion/input? That was sort of the best case performance of any Bluetooth mouse and the Dell (the worst-case for Bluetooth was that the machine would ignore all mouse input after a brief functional period).

Readers: Have you ever tried a Bluetooth mouse? Does it function like a wired mouse or is there a latency period if you try to point after a minute or two of idle time?

[Separately, I continue to be awed by Dell’s strategy for avoiding handling returns. If you call their return line they put you in various loops for 20-30 minutes at a time until you give up. Eventually you might connect to a human who will then say “Oh, it has been more than 30 days since your invoice was generated so we can’t process a return.” I’m not sure how they can sustain this given that the credit card chargeback time limit is 120 days. Do they just wait to see if consumers will do a chargeback for defective goods and then issue a refund rather than fight with Visa/MC/Amex?]

Is a workaholic a bad partner?


A woman we know made the mistake of marrying a computer nerd. She complains of his performance as a husband mostly because he is a “workaholic.” I said “Well, the computer industry has been booming like crazy for most of the last 20 years so doesn’t it make sense for him to work hard and try to make money for your family before he hits 50 and nobody wants to deal with him anymore?”

It turned out that he was still inadequate, in her view. It wasn’t sufficient for him to contribute more than 90 percent of the family income and enable the family to live comfortably in one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets. She had a list of additional tasks and standards and he was falling short.

The question of whether or not she had a legitimate grievance was discussed among a group of friends and acquaintances here in the Boston area. One school of thought was that she was unreasonable. After years of marriage and kids you shouldn’t expect too much more than some barebones items such as “sober,” “goes to work,” “nice to the kids.” He should get credit for supporting the family financially. Against this idea were a few folks who pointed out that, by being married and taking care of the kids, under Massachusetts family law, she is already entitled to nearly all of this guy’s income going forward. Since she could get rid of the husband/father at any time and keep his money, the contribution of money to the household therefore doesn’t count and she can demand additional stuff if he wants to keep his position as husband.

Readers: What do you think?


Tyler Cowen says we’ve lost our mojo, but maybe it is just welfare?


The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream by Tyler Cowen describes some of the same behavior as The Redistribution Recession, but explains these behavioral changes as a massive cultural shift rather than as simple responses to changed incentives. Could this be an example of the fundamental attribution error? First, let’s look at what Cowen says…

These days Americans are less likely to switch jobs, less likely to move around the country, and, on a given day, less likely to go outside the house at all. For instance, the interstate migration rate has fallen 51 percent below its 1948 to 1971 average and has been falling steadily since the mid-1980s. There has been a decline in the number of start-ups, as a percentage of business activity, since the 1990s.

Economists see migration as a kind of investment. You give up something in the short run, namely the home, job, friends, and conveniences, in the hope of achieving something different and better somewhere else.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the residents of the United States were more geographically mobile than even those of Great Britain, which at the time was considered a very mobile society due to its political unification and relatively free labor markets. Cross-country moves were made by almost two-thirds of American men older than thirty years, whereas only a quarter of British men did the same.

Or, if we look at the rate of moving between counties within a state, it fell 31 percent. The rate of moving within a county fell 38 percent. Those are pretty steep drops for a country that has not changed its fundamental economic or political systems.

[I wish that an editor had removed every occurrence of the qualifier “pretty” from this book!]

For the most part, this decline in mobility is not fundamentally about changing demographics. Long-distance moves have declined considerably for all age groups, for homeowners and renters, and also for dual-income couples, so neither aging nor the difficulty of relocating a two-earner couple explain America’s recent lack of motion, even if those factors are driving the behavior of some specific individuals.

African Americans today have become especially immobile, and to an unprecedented degree. If we look at data on the last generation, 76 percent of African American mothers gave birth in the same state that their mothers did, whereas for white women that same figure was 65 percent, circa 2010. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the best database of its kind, it is possible to trace a subset of 4,800 African American families from a cohort born between 1952 and 1982. If we consider the progression from youth to adulthood, 69 percent of that cohort remained in the same county, 82 percent remained in the same state, and 90 percent remained in the same region of the country. A generation earlier, the comparable numbers were 50, 65, and 74 percent, all lower. Adjusting for income, homeownership, and other demographic characteristics does not fundamentally eliminate this mobility gap. African Americans have gone from being an especially mobile group to an especially rooted one.

the two groups whose job mobility has dropped the most are the young workers and the less-educated workers, and thus those groups are more vulnerable and more exposed to the likelihood of a protracted spell of unemployment. Men have lost more job mobility than women have, and that too has hurt their labor market performance, especially in response to the Great Recession. Switching jobs is often one of the best ways to get a promotion or a wage boost, and if people are less likely to switch jobs, it will be that much harder for them to get ahead. Lower geographic mobility and lower or stagnant income mobility are two sides of the same broader problem, namely, excess stasis in general, at a fundamental cultural level.23 And here is a striking way to think about some of the underlying cultural shifts, given that mobility is often down the most for the less-skilled workers. In such a setting, poverty and low incomes have flipped from being reasons to move to reasons not to move, a fundamental change from earlier American attitudes. The older notion of moving to a city, by train or bus, and staying in a flophouse, or with relatives, until one finds a decent job is harder to pull off these days.

Maybe we shouldn’t be admitting male immigrants and should be trying to perfect a technology so that mostly female babies are born:

America is creating start-ups at lower rates each decade, and a smaller percentage of those start-ups is rising to prominence, as we see in more detail in chapter 4. We’re not even managing peaceful disruptions, much less violent ones, at our earlier rates. The big losers from a lot of these trends are the unskilled men, including those with the less peaceful or more violent inclinations. The contemporary world, for all of its virtues—indeed because of those virtues—is not very well built for some chunk of males. Current service jobs, coddled class time and homework-intensive schooling, a “feminized” culture allergic to many forms of conflict, postfeminist gender relations, and egalitarian semicosmopolitanism just don’t sit well with many men, most of all those who have no real chance of joining the privileged class. Whether or not it is politically correct to admit it, I believe a lot of men have tendencies toward the brutish, but in today’s America, those tendencies are suppressed.

Female median wages have been rising pretty consistently, along with female education, but the male median wage, at least as it is measured and adjusted for inflation, was higher back in 1969 than it is today.

A lot of men did better psychologically and maybe also economically in a world where America had a greater number of tough manufacturing jobs. These men thrived under brutish conditions, including a military draft to crack some of their heads into line. Those problems of permitting and also constraining masculinity are too-often forgotten, and our neglect of those issues will help ensure that today’s complacency cannot last.

Maybe it is because we’ve all found our dream jobs?

One big reason for the decline in residential moving stems from a decline in job switching. If people are less likely to change jobs, they are also, for obvious reasons, less likely to move. And if we look at job reallocation rates—a rough measure of turnover in the labor market—they have fallen more than a quarter since 1990.

To give this some concrete numbers, in 1998, 44 percent of workers had five or more years on the job, but as of 2014, this number had increased to 51 percent. The percentage of workers with less than one year on the job had fallen from 28 to 21 percent.

But Mexicans still move…

Americans are outsourcing their mobility and capacity for economic adjustment. When there is mobility in the American labor market, it comes disproportionately from Mexicans and Mexican Americans. When a negative economic shock hits some city or region in the United States, the natural response is for some labor to leave that region and move elsewhere. Of course, not everyone needs to abandon the area, but some people should want to move on. Yet, if most Americans are less mobile than before, who is going to pick up and leave? More and more we see that mobility coming from Mexicans living in America, especially those who are relatively recent arrivals. Mexican-born Mexicans are less likely to have strong regional roots in America, and furthermore a nationwide network of Mexicans—often from the same state or region of Mexico—can help with relocation.

Our money doesn’t take chances anymore either…

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond has estimated that 61 percent of all private-sector financial liabilities are guaranteed by the federal government, either explicitly or implicitly. As recently as 1999, this figure was below 50 percent.

To look at one simple measure of both social and economic stasis, the rate at which business start-ups are forming has been declining since the 1980s. By one estimate, start-ups were 12 to 13 percent of the firms in the economy in the 1980s, but today they are only about 7 to 8 percent. That’s right; for all the talk about Silicon Valley, we are less a start-up nation than before. By the way, this overall decline in start-up frequency is true for virtually every sector and every American city, and that includes San Francisco and even the legendary tech sector. In absolute terms, the number of new tech firms (younger than five years) peaked just after 2000, and in percentage terms, new firms in the tech sector have been declining since the 1980s.

Not only are there fewer start-ups, but a smaller percentage of them are succeeding. That means young firms are a smaller part of the overall market and so American corporations are increasing in average age, just as the American people are. In the late 1980s, 18.9 percent of the employment in the American economy was at firms five years or younger. This average had fallen to 13.5 percent right before the Great Recession; in numerical terms, that is a 29 percent decline over only seventeen years, a significant and rapid drop. New firms are also down as a share of total firms and also as a share of job creation, again since the 1980s.

Time for analysis.

Cowen is a smart person so I will assume that all of his data are correct.

The tendency to stay put seems to be strongest among those with low income. But these are exactly the people who qualify for subsidized (or free) public housing, food stamps, and Medicaid or subsidized Obamacare insurance. They might get heating oil assistance or TANF-style cash payments (see Massachusetts bureaucracy gets 1 in 13 households to come in and beg). There might be a 10-year waiting list for public housing in the desired destination city. Until then, the person who had been living in a great apartment might receive nothing. Why would a person want to invest 10+ years in getting reestablished on all of these disparate state-administered welfare programs?

Cowen compares mobility before and after 1971 and says that there was a big reduction especially in the 1980s. As it happens, the 1970s were when most states adopted no-fault divorce and the percentage of children being reared by two biological parents plummeted (as noted in this chapter, from 73 percent of kids in 1960 to 46 percent today). Why might this be significant? Consider first child support and alimony. Millions of Americans collect money under court orders (see “Litigation, Alimony, and Child Support in the U.S. Economy” for the scale). They might be concerned that if they move away from the court system that put them into the check-of-the-month club it will be harder to collect or reduced in the new state’s court system gains jurisdiction. The parent who wins a custody lawsuit may yet need permission of a judge to move out of state with the kids (see “Relocation and Venue Litigation”). The biological parent who loses a custody lawsuit can move, but it may mean never seeing the former children again. The new partner of a divorced American may be similarly discouraged from moving.  It is a lot easier for an intact family of four to pick up and move to the other coast than it is for someone who is an every-other-weekend parent, the stepparent of a child with a 50/50 schedule, and vicariously collecting child support.

What about corporate welfare? If you’re a small company no state is going to build you a free factory and pay your workers for a couple of years in exchange for you agreeing to set up shop. Thus the existence of corporate welfare should discourage startup formation and reduce the chance that a new company will be successful.

Regulation can be a disguised form of corporate welfare. It might hurt big companies but it will kill small ones that might have been competitors. Hiring a full-time person to read and understand regulations is a more bearable cost when spread over a 1,000-person company compared to a 25-person company.

Why haven’t Mexicans been affected? If they’re not citizens or Green Card holders their access to welfare programs is limited and their only alternative is to move to where the jobs are. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are less likely than white Americans to sue each other for divorce (chart).

Readers: What do you think? Research psychologists say that Americans are uniquely prone to the fundamental attribution error. Can we not explain most of the above as a rational intelligent response to a changed environment?

More: read The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream

Tyler Cowen explains why rich white Democrats freely express love for immigrants and people of color


The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream by Tyler Cowen presents some interesting data. Contrary to what you might have thought, the trend in the U.S. has been toward more segregation.

Circa 2016, you can see a black president on your television or internet screen, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to see more neighbors of a different race than you would have seen a few decades ago. Or if you do, you’re much less likely to see such individuals outside of your income class, even if they are not of your race.

Segregation by income grew dramatically over the period of 1970 to 2000, with some respite in the 1990s, but then faster yet during the period of 2000 to 2007. For instance, in 1970, only about 15 percent of families lived in neighborhoods that were unambiguously “affluent” or “poor.” By 2007, 31 percent of American families were living in such neighborhoods. At the level of school districts, segregation increased as well between students eligible for free lunch and those who were not. In other words, those students who were eligible for free lunch were more likely to be grouped together than in times past.

In the South, if we consider the variable “percentage of black students in majority-white schools,” that figure peaked in 1988 at 43.5 percent; as of 2011, it had fallen dramatically, to 23.2 percent. That is slightly lower than the integration level in 1968, a time when civil rights battles were close to their peak activity

In 1980, in Maryland, 30 percent of black students were in intensely segregated schools. That same figure is now about 53 percent. If we look at the percentage of black students in what are called intensely segregated minority schools, since 1980, in Mississippi, that number has gone up 9 percentage points; in Tennessee, it has gone up 15 percentage points; in Texas, 9 percentage points; in Georgia, 16 percentage points; in Alabama, 10 percentage points; in Florida, 17 percentage points; and in Arkansas, it is up 21 percentage points. By the phrase intensely segregated schools, the literature usually is referring to white enrollment below 10 percent.21 Unfortunately, many parts of the North are failing as well, as the northern states and also California rank among the worst for many measures of educational segregation. For instance, let’s consider the variable “% black in 90–100% Minority Schools.”22 That is a measure of levels rather than changes, and by that standard, the five most segregated states are: 1.  New York 2.  Illinois 3.  Maryland 4.  Michigan 5.  New Jersey.

The future of the country looks troublingly similar on both coasts, as both New York and California perform poorly on segregation measures. In two of the three main measures of educational segregation by race, they are the worst and third-worst states in this regard, alternating those two positions. Again, the claim is not that New York and California are somehow especially racist or objectionable states but rather that segregation is being enforced by incomes, rents, home prices, building codes, how school districts are drawn, and a culture of sorting and matching.

Latinos are experiencing more significant integration problems than are African Americans. For instance, in California, only 7.8 percent of Latino students are in majority-white schools. In part that is because California has large clusters of Latinos and in part because the fanciest white neighborhoods are difficult to afford, the latter again indicating a lot of economically enforced segregation rather than racist animus. The broader data on trends in Latino segregation also are not entirely encouraging, as, for instance, in 1990 Latinos had more residential proximity with whites than they did in the period 2005 through 2009.

What if you’re a rich Silicon Valleyite paying 0 percent income tax thanks to the Qualified Small Business Stock exclusion and featuring yourself on Facebook at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser? Or maybe you’ve got tenure at a major university and therefore could keep watching those direct deposit checks flow into your checking account while you knitted a pussy hat? It turns out that you can advocate for unlimited low-skill dark-skinned immigration to the U.S. without running any risk of having one of the newcomers as a neighbor:

One implication of these measures is that the affluent and well educated in America may be especially out of touch, no matter how ostensibly progressive their politics. A high-income family, for instance, is less likely to live in a mixed-income neighborhood than is a poor family.

Florida and Mellander also find that racial segregation is positively correlated with areas that have a lot of high-tech industry, with those that have a preponderance of people in the so-called creative class, who hold jobs requiring creative skills, and with those heavily populated by college graduates. Segregation also tends to be found in places with relatively high percentages of gay and foreign-born populations—think of San Francisco as having a fair share of both, but also a lot of neighborhoods with mostly white people. Median rent in San Francisco just passed $5,000 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, and so most people, even in the upper-middle classes, feel that residence in the city involves too much financial hardship.

If we look at all metropolitan areas, rather than just the large ones, Durham–Chapel Hill, Bloomington, and Ann Arbor—all college towns—climb into the top five for segregation of the working class away from the non–working class.

many of America’s trendiest cities, including cities with quality universities, are among the most extreme for segregation by socioeconomic class.

For the folks who put up a “no matter where you’re from we’re glad you’re our neighbor” sign in Arabic and Spanish, their most likely readers are Saudi diplomats and Cemex executives.

More: Read The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.


Cisgender-normative prejudice hits the Boston streets


“Ride-Hailing Service Focused On Women — And Safety — Launches In Boston” (WBUR):

Safr officially hit Boston streets in the last couple of weeks and aims to make ride-hailing safe for women.

Safr had planned to offer a service exclusive to women, but that raised legal questions. The company says it doesn’t want to discriminate against men so men can sign up to be drivers or passengers too.

Then how is it actually different from Uber?

[Syed] Gilani said the Boston startup just wants to offer a ride-hailing option that’s majority women — and women will be its core focus.

“We want 99 percent drivers on our side as women,” Gilani said.

I’m wondering if this service isn’t inherently full of cisgender-normative prejudice as well as gender-persistence prejudice. A person who identifies as a woman uses the app to request a ride. Unless we are locked into old-style cisgender-normative and nonfluid-gender thinking, why do we assume that the person still identifies as a woman when the car shows up, e.g., 10 minutes later? Same question on the drivers. Let’s say Mr. Gilani (WBUR identifies the CEO as a man, but of course he could have changed gender ID since the interview) succeeds in getting 99 percent “women” as drivers. Unless he is assuming that gender is immutable, how does he know that 50 percent of his drivers won’t show up tomorrow morning identifying as “men”?

In a world that is free of gender-based thoughtcrime, how does it make sense to offer (or write about) a service by and/or for women?

Time to give up on New Yorker magazine?


I have been a faithful reader of New Yorker for about 40 years, but I am wonder if it is time to let my subscription lapse. They are no longer content to have ideas big enough to justify waiting a week so they email readers every day. Here are some subject lines:

  • Trump’s Sham Populism, Exposed (i.e., Donald Trump is a liar and we need to pay $100/year to understand that)
  • Scott Pruitt Rejects Climate-Change Reality, an article on planetary physics by Amy Davidson, who has a bachelor’s degree in “Social Studies”
  • Donald Trump’s Worst Deal (about a hotel in Azerbaijan that is no doubt core to the multi-billionaire’s empire; the only dollar figure mentioned is $2.8 million, less than the cost of a D-check (12-year) inspection on King Donald’s personal Boeing 757)
  • Trump Learns That Health Care Is “Complicated” (i.e., Donald Trump is a moron)
  • Can a Free Mind Survive in Trump’s White House?
  • Holding Trump Accountable (for not being Hillary Clinton?)
  • The Deep Denialism of Donald Trump (for not admitting that he is inferior to Hillary Clinton?)
  • We Need the Truth About Trump and Russia (because the Red Scare of the 1950s wasn’t sufficient)
  • Orwell’s “1984” and Trump’s America (Trump is “pure Big Brother”)
  • “Neil Gorsuch Tried to Prove His Independence — During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Gorsuch attempted to show that he is not a stooge of the Trump machine.” (A guy who gets a guaranteed hyper-technical job for life will be secretly controlled by the layperson who appointed him.)

Even if I could vote for President at some point prior to 2020 and even if I lived in a state in which my vote counted, why would any of this be interesting? The New Yorker used to publish material that people referenced 10 or 20 years later. Statistically Donald Trump will be dead and buried pretty soon. At that point who would care to read, recall, or reference any of the above?

The top story as I wrote this entry was “The G.O.P.’s Lousy Health-Care Bill,” pointing out that if it is no longer illegal to refrain from purchasing health insurance then a lot of young people will shut their checkbooks. The magazine’s bias is apparent in the subhead “Twenty-four million people stand to lose their insurance”. Clicking into the article reveals that what people are “losing” is being compelled to buy something that they don’t want, at least not at the quoted price. Isn’t almost everything regarding Obamacare and its repeal a dog-bites-man story (stop using tax dollars to give people free X and there will be fewer people with X; stop making it illegal to go without X and there will be fewer people with X)?

Presumably this strategy is working for New Yorker’s bottom line. I’m wondering if it is because of Facebook and the fact that the most-shared stories are the ones that generate outrage. So they print stuff that virtuous Trump-haters can feature to their Trump-hating friends and they can all be outraged together about how stupid, racist, and sexist their fellow citizens are. But isn’t this market niche already pretty well filled by traditional news sources such as the New York Times, the Guardian, or CNN? Is the market for Trump-hatred truly unlimited?

Other New Yorker readers here in Massachusetts, where at least Two Minutes of Trump Hatred are required every day, are pointing out the same thing: we don’t need the New Yorker to remind us that people who live in a city that got crazy fat off the status quo don’t like the candidate voted in by the non-coastal deplorables. There must be something else occurring or being created on Planet Earth that is worth writing about.

Related (some New Yorker stories that I remember liking, none having to do with the moral superiority of Democrats):

Why does a laptop power supply have a three-prong grounded power cord? (Dell XPS 13 2-in-1)


This is kind of an embarrassing question considering that I studied electrical engineering, but under the theory that “there are no stupid questions, only stupid people” here goes: Why does my laptop’s USB-C power supply have a three-prong grounded power cord? Why wouldn’t a two-prong cord work just fine?

[Separately, this Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has now racked up about 10 hours of Dell tech support time (previous post). My advice: make sure if you get one you have a phone with an extended battery life (during the latest phone call it was 38 minutes of hold time and transferring from one agent to another before a tech support person finally began work). One problem that seems to be beyond Dell’s capability to solve is that the machine cannot stay connected to a Bluetooth mouse (seems like a software problem because the severity varies). It looks slick, but it cost $2,400 with tax and has never worked properly. Who has experience with returning products to Dell that they can’t fix? (I waited for two hours on various kinds of hold with the returns department, but they eventually hung up on me. When I called back they started with an automated attendant asking basic questions and for the order ID, kept me in queue for about 20 minutes, and then dumped me back at the first menu without ever connecting me to a human. It seems like it might be a brilliant scheme to make sure that nothing ever comes back, but on the other hand how many repeat customers can they get?]

Does it make sense for the government to be responsible for health insurance given how much the government has distorted the market?


Typically I am in favor of having a larger part of the U.S. economy be market-based rather than centrally planned (right now the ratio is about 50/50). Central planning might work for some countries, but in the U.S. it seems that we aren’t very good at it. I’m wondering if health care is a legitimate exception at this point. In my 2009 health care reform piece I argued that taxpayers should fund a fixed amount per citizen per year and let the market take care of the rest. Instead we went in the opposite direction with Obamacare where (a) the cost could not be budgeted in advance, and (b) the government told insurers what to cover and how to cover. The current proposal in Congress (“Republicare”?) seems mostly ridiculous from an Econ 101 standpoint (and barely distinguishable from Obamacare), but maybe there is a rationale to the apparent madness? (New York Times offers a chart summarizing the changes; it does restore Americans’ freedom to decline to purchase the products of this massively distorted industry and, for example, fly or drive to a foreign country when they need non-emergency procedures that are expensive here)

What if we declare that, due to 50 years of heavy government intervention, there is in fact no market for health care services in the U.S. The government works with doctors to make it practically impossible for qualified foreign doctors to sell their services here and to limit the supply of U.S.-trained doctors. The government has been showering the industry with tax dollars to the point that no private individual has enough money to be a valued customer. The government helps pharma companies print money via (a) granting patent protection, (b) restricting approvals, and (c) blocking Americans from buying drugs on the world market.

An analogous situation is food stamps (SNAP). The government distorts the food market so that prices are higher than they otherwise would be. Then they have to give taxpayer-funded handouts to nearly 50 million Americans.

Americans would wet their pants in fear if either agriculture or health care were returned to the market sector of the economy. So there is really no way to get rid of food stamps or something that is the functional equivalent of Obamacare.

Congress is supposed to vote on this today? By when could the Republicare plan actually be a done deal?

Aerial Combat over Mar-a-Lago


Keeping King Donald I safe from America’s geriatric Cessnas is turning out to be a full-time job for supersonic fighter pilots: “12 Aircraft Violated Restricted Airspace Around President Trump Over the Weekend”

The sclerotic processes of aircraft certification and updates to air traffic control have left us basically with the same systems of the 1950s in a world where there is a lot less trust. Even the F-15 pilots don’t have anywhere near the advanced software of a $1,000 Chinese-designed-and-built drone.

When does it all fall apart to the point that someone is willing to ask “How would we design air traffic control if every aircraft had GPS and a digital communications capability?” (of course, with ADS-B, in theory passenger-carrying aircraft by 2020 will have this, but most aircraft are drones and they aren’t required (or even encouraged) to have ADS-B; also there doesn’t seem to have been any fundamental re-thinking prompted by ADS-B. It is just layered on top of the 1930s and 1950s stuff)

R44 overhaul story: the helicopter lasted longer than the marriage


Maria Langer has published a helicopter overhaul story that also works as autobiography, a literary achievement that I don’t expect to see replicated any time soon. Worth reading if you’re interested in the world of Robinsons.

[The Practical Tips chapter of Real World Divorce contains a subhead of “For small business owners: get a regular W-2 job”; Langer’s story lends support to the idea of avoiding showing up in family court with anything more complex than a W-2 form:

It was around 2010 that I was able to start putting aside some of Flying M Air’s revenue for the overhaul. By 2012, I’d saved up $132K, which was pretty darn close to the $150K I should have had saved by then. Not bad, huh?

Of course, it was that $132K and the helicopter that my future wasband and the desperate old whore he moved in with had their eye on in divorce court. But my legal team was smart. We brought in a helicopter flight school owner who operates a fleet of R22 and R44 helicopters as an expert witness. He testified that the money I’d saved was to cover a deferred maintenance expense — which, of course, is what the overhaul is. Fortunately, the judge understood this and I was able to keep the money.

Sadly, a portion of it went to pay for divorce legal fees. [See this post on a Guardian article for how common is this experience in countries using Common law]

For aircraft-owning Americans who face any chance of being a family court litigant (i.e., “married Americans” under our no-fault system), it might save $100,000 in legal fees to subscribe to a by-the-hour maintenance program such as Pratt ESP. This might shortcut the above-described process of expert witnesses (which lead to reports and depositions in litigation-heavy jurisdictions such as California and Massachusetts) and lawyers trying to educate judges who have never operated or flown an aircraft.]

Note that we do these “overhauls” as regular maintenance at East Coast Aero Club because we burn through the 2200-hour life limits every four years or so. Thus what Robinson calls an “overhaul” is simply done by the team of mechanics who work on the helicopters every 100 hours.



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