The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

British Airways inaugurates an all-premium flight to Kennedy

Via the Economist's Gulliver blog, British Airways has resurrected flight BA001 as an all-business-class flight from London City to New York's Kennedy. They're using tiny Airbus 318 aircraft that have to stop in Shannon, Ireland on the westbound leg to pick up fuel. Still, for less than £4,000 round-trip, it's a lot more convenient and just a bit cheaper than flying in the same class to Heathrow:

Flying from London City means the planes need to land at a much steeper angle than normal - the Airbus A318 which is being used for the new service is approved for a five and a half degree approach slope, compared with three degrees for a normal approach.

The plane will carry only 32 passengers, in seats that recline to fully flat beds.

The airline thinks it's got a winning case for a new business service and will be hoping a resurgent banking sector will provide the custom.

London City airport is only about 15 minutes from the financial center of London, unlike Heathrow which is a good 45 minutes by car or express train. Also, passengers will be able to clear U.S. Customs in Shannon, allowing them to walk off the plane at Kennedy without any delay.

On the other hand, Kennedy is a lot farther from Manhattan than LaGuardia, and has fewer connections to U.S. destinations.

I'll be keeping an eye on this one. I'll also be flying discount to Heathrow the next time I fly to London, so it's not going to affect me much. Still, one wishes British Airways one's best, yes?

Please don't tell the TSA

I can't wait to see what they'll have us do after this:

On the evening of Aug. 28, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister — and the man in charge of the kingdom’s counterterrorism efforts — was receiving members of the public in connection with the celebration of Ramadan....

One of the highlights of the Friday gathering was supposed to be the prince’s meeting with Abdullah Hassan Taleh al-Asiri, a Saudi man who was a wanted militant from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Asiri had allegedly renounced terrorism and had requested to meet the prince in order to repent and then be accepted into the kingdom’s amnesty program. Such surrenders are not unprecedented....

But the al-Asiri case ended very differently from the al-Awfi case. Unlike al-Awfi, al-Asiri was not a genuine repentant — he was a human Trojan horse. After al-Asiri entered a small room to speak with Prince Mohammed, he activated a small improvised explosive device (IED) he had been carrying inside his anal cavity. The resulting explosion ripped al-Asiri to shreds but only lightly injured the shocked prince — the target of al-Asiri’s unsuccessful assassination attempt.

(Via Bruce Schneier.)

Discovered on cell phone

I finally got around to looking in my cell phone's photos folder and discovered St. Paul's Cathedral:

There were also a couple shots of me that a friend took. We'll skip those for now.

Another round-up post, full of links and signifying nothing

Duke will release our financial accounting exam on the 8th, and we'll have 24 hours from the time we download it to finish and hand it in. Our professor, when asked this morning for general guidance about the exam, seemed confident that someone who didn't need to look anything up (e.g., an accounting professor) could finish it in "four to five hours."

In other words, until October 8th, I will likely post link lists, like this one. Sorry.

  • The Economist's Gulliver blog highlighted the differences between Virgin America and the "legacy" carriers. Now, as a lifetime elite member of American Airlines' frequent-flyer program, I might be treated better than non-elite passengers. It still sounds like Virgin America might be on to something. (I'm still going to fly American, because I live in Chicago, which they dominate.)
  • Mark Morford outdoes himself this week tackling the problem of how to talk to a complete idiot. He explains: "The absolute best way to speak to complete idiots is, of course, not to speak to them at all. That is, you work around them, ignore them completely, disregard the rants and the spittle and the misspelled protest signs and the fervent prayers for apocalypse on Fox News. Complete refusal to take the fringe nutballs even the slightest bit seriously is the only way to make true progress."
  • The Cook County Sheriff this week broke up a dogfighting ring at a day care. The descriptions of the dogs they found turned my stomach. (The current story on the Tribune's website omits the descriptions.) That this went on in a building where 10 children spent their days added to the horror. People who inflict cruelty for sport deserve nothing less than the same inflicted on them, I think.

More later. Now, back to financial accounting....

Well, duh. Welcome to Chicago

People who live outside Chicago might find it shocking and dismaying to read a newspaper report that their city's Olympics bid will, if successful, make the mayor's friends rich. For us, it's actually comforting. I mean, we all knew someone would get rich; now we have a better idea who:

Chicago 2016 committee member Michael Scott also served as a consultant to the developer on a condominium project near the proposed athletes village, a development that would increase in value if the city wins the Olympics.

Scott, who negotiated key components of the $1.2 billion Olympic Village plan, said his business relationship with the developer, Gerald Fogelson, does not interfere with his role with the bid team. Chicago 2016 officials declined to say whether Scott's relationship with Fogelson was a problem, with Daley's Olympic team poised to spend billions of dollars in coming years.

What? You think civic pride alone would motivate the mayor to put us on the hook for $4 bn to get a sporting event?

In other news, the White Sox are officially out of the post-season, but the Cubs are still hanging on.


Between my clients and school, I have run out of free time. I hope to have some in 2011; I hope to.

But I have seen a bunch of interesting things in the past few days:

I hope to resume my normal posting frequency soon.

Will the Olympics benefit Chicago?

Perhaps we should look at Atlanta's example:

Thirteen years later, the financial legacy of the Olympics in Atlanta is harder to detect. Like many major cities, Atlanta has fallen victim to the recession, forced to lay off teachers and city workers while slashing services. The City Council recently voted to raise property taxes to cover a $56 million budget deficit.

Winning the Olympic bid catapulted Atlanta into the big leagues, giving it name recognition around the globe. Atlanta's $1.7 billion private-funded investment in hosting the games helped revitalize its sluggish downtown and poured $5 billion into the metropolitan area's economy during the next decade, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Atlanta's cost was less than half of the $4.8 billion Chicago has estimated it will need to raise if the city is awarded the 2016 Olympic Games.

In sum, no one knows. The Tribune doesn't analyze with much rigor what parts of Atlanta's economic problems come from unrelated factors. Nor do they tease out the direct economic benefits or costs of hosting the games. In short, it's one more frustratingly unhelpful piece of journalism about local politics.

I think our problems and our strengths look nothing like Atlanta's. Possibly Los Angeles might have been a better model; it's hard to say. I honestly don't know whether Chicago will benefit or lose from 2016. No one does. But I think we'll find out, whether we want to or not.

Overconfidence in management

Continuing from Saturday, here are the actual values of the items in the post. How did you do? Did you get 9 of 10, indicating you have a good handle on your ability to estimate?

Fact Units Actual
GE total revenues (2003) $ bn $134 bn
Michael Eisner's salary (2003) $ $1m
Microsoft employees worldwide (2004) thousands 57k
Starbuck's stores worldwide (2004) stores 6228
McKinsey Group annual revenue per consultant (2001) $ $500k
United Auto Workers total membership, non retired (2004) thousands 710k
Blockbuster share of U.S. video rentals (2003) % 40%
Canadian citizens per donut shop (2001) people 9,000
Ameritrade total daily trades by members (2004) thousands 135k
Berkshire-Hathaway cumulative returns (1999-2004) % 26%

Overconfidence in management

We had an interesting lecture this morning on overconfidence and decision making. Here's a quiz: guess the range that you can say, with 90% confidence, contains the correct value. So for example, if the question were "Parker's weight in kilograms," you could guess a range of 10 to 40, which means you are 90% confident that Parker weighs between 10 and 40 kilos. (You'd be right; he weighs 25 kilos.)

Here are the questions our prof hit us with today:

Fact Units Low end? High end?
GE total revenues (2003) $ bn
Michael Eisner's salary (2003) $
Microsoft employees worldwide (2004) thousands
Starbuck's stores worldwide (2004) stores
McKinsey Group annual revenue per consultant (2001) $
United Auto Workers total membership, non retired (2004) thousands
Blockbuster share of U.S. video rentals (2003) %
Canadian citizens per donut shop (2001) people
Ameritrade total daily trades by members (2004) thousands
Berkshire-Hathaway cumulative returns (1999-2004) %

Also guess how many of these you got right.

Answers tomorrow.