In the dumps

25 years ago today Spain's high speed rail wan innaugurated. I was hired to put together the commercial system, including pricing, fares, tariffis, distribution, and basically how the whole thing was sold. I was 28 when hired, in order to implement a revenue management system to overcome the prevailing mileage-price system which was static and anachronistic. I actually relocated from the US for this purpose. Well, I did my job, on time and well within budget, having a team of 187 people under my aegis. But of course, I wasn't a politician but a technocrat, and the very day in which the AVE started service, I was given my walking papers. I wasn't surprised - just about all of my workmates were political connections. Only we "technocrats" were let go once the job was done. In my case, a "manager" position was replaced by 3 "director" positions, all earning more than I did, with a fraction of responsibility, but hay, that's life. I wasn't particularly bitter about my ousting (I was relatively well repaid, though it certainly wasn't a golden handshake. But I was under 30!). What's pissed me off is that on this 25th anniversary, with lots of news stories in the national press, is that it brought me to look at what my footprint was. I didn't expect much, and saw what I expected, next to nothing. But what amazed me was a few very highbrow studies on my speciality, pricing, faring and yield management.   It appears that a bunch of PHD's have studied the pricing of Spain's AVE, down to arcane formulas to explain the range of prices and profitability. Swedes, Brits, Germans and Americans have chimed in, making some outlandish (from my POV, who actually did the work) claims. I am in shock.   The pricing of Spain's AVE were based on price elasticity and nothing more. The AVE was up against air travel, conventional rail, buses, and cars. With door-to-door travel (that is to say, from home to destination, including intermediate stops such as metros, taxis or whatnot), the AVE was in a direct tie with air transportation, so the AVE had to be cheaper than airfares. At the same time, it was far more comfortable to travel from a midcity rail station to another, so the price differential didn't have to be so great. I contributed in segmenting the market through motivational factors - a businessmen, for example, would be willing to pay more for fare flexibility while a liesure traveller would be willing to have more travel restrictions in exchange for lower fares.   Beforeand, rail pricing in Europe was based on mileage, with fixed discounts for students, family discounts and such. It was in the stone age.   What shocked me was the utter inanity of the PHD's who studied the results of the AVE without considering its origins. They have crafted many articulate and even elegant mathematical formulas that entirely miss the point. The formulas "express" the success of the idea, while obviating the basis of the same. I'm sure that Timbuk will appreciate the scientific inference here. But as a lay historian I'm almost as shocked as I am as an unappreciated "technocrat". IMHPOV, history should be the interpretation of cause and effect. "Such and such was the situation, resulting in this and that". Historians should seek this, but always be open to other interpretations. However, with regards to AVE, a piece of history of which I took a not insignificant part in, a large number of the "intelligentsia" took a sophistic view of things, completely missing the mark. I'm not too bummed out for having been fucked over after 25 years, believe me. I'm no longer the materialistic and amitious man I was back then. I'm sure that if I had continued on that course of life I'd be dead by now, and if not, far less happy... so this isn't a personal rant. For a moment I was tempted to do, in a serious way, what I'm doing here in a casual way - to show up those idiotic PHD's who were too narrow-minded or too set in their ways to look outside the box and actually INVESTIGATE instead of PONTIFICATING. That is to say, they should have gone beyond their navel. As a lay historian I've been reading Ammianus of late, the penultimate classical historian. Being a tangent part of recent history and a travesty of interpretation, I respect the bastard far more. If I extrapolate the failures of today's PHD's regarding AVE and consider what passed for journalism in today's day and age, we're truly and absolutely fucked.  
  Aside to Timbuk, as a scientist who I respect, what do you think of the works of such "scientists" that are so scholastic as to obviate personal experience and rely on theory? Is this prevalent?  
End of rant.

tRump cHumps

Read this and weep, assholes.   Needless to say, this fucks democracy, or what is left of it.   For a quote of the day:
"We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap."
Kurt Vonnegut
Which can be translated into:
"We could have had a democracy but it was too damned cheap."
Single-issue voters? You were targetted, segmented, and turned. Unhappy angry white voters looking for another way? You were offered the worst of the old (conservative/neoliberal) ways, sold as "change", and sold your own souls to maintain (nay increase) the status quo.
If you don't feel like an idiot now, I hope it doesn't take much more 'cos the world can't stand more Straussian bs at this point in time.

Manchurian candidate?

This is disturbing.   " GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added. Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said. The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance, which also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said. Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors. It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US....."

Donald Trump has jumped into a quagmire with his eyes shut

In tRump watch I noted tRumps fickle flippancy which marks him out as being singularly unfit to be considered an adult, much less a potus.   This article kinda puts things in perspective. Some pearls:   "It may be hard to believe, but Donald Trump is even more simplistic than George W Bush in matters of war. George W Bush enjoyed all the certainty of a very simple man: you were either with us or against us, good or evil, marching for democracy or plotting terrorist attacks. Yet Donald Trump contrives to make Bush look like a Baron von Metternich of complexity. He just launched military strikes against a brutal Syrian regime he used to describe as “NOT our problem.” That’s the same Syrian regime propped up by his own Russian friends.""   There are conflicting reports on the number of civilian casualties in "our" tremendously expensive and singularly inefficient strikes on Syria. What is clear is that the manfant will miss the irony of striking in response to an attack (which is by no means clear to have been made by the Syrian regime and may indeed by one of the rebel groups) that killed children, killing children in the process.   I believe that it was Washington who said "he who in a fight interpose often ends with a bloody nose". In this case tRump is, purportedly for the sake of the poor Syrian children, condemning many more Syrian children to more attacks. The only ones who benefit from tRump's intervention is ISIS, and everyone else loses.   The Ruskies aren't going to abandon Assad. In fact they're upgrading Assad's air defence capabilities. The chances of an accidental incident involving US planes and Russian missile units is putting us back on full track towards another Cold War.   And for absolutely nothing more than a gut reaction to an admittedly unfortunate event. Nothing to gain, very much to lose.   The man's not fit to be a bathroom attendant unless supervised.