Barney Frank entered the lobby of the Newton Marriott in time for Friday’s wedding rehearsal dinner looking disheveled even for him.  I don’t know where he was coming from — he couldn’t possibly have become so unglued just walking from the parking lot — but in a larger sense I know exactly where he was coming from.  He was coming from a place of hopeless loneliness, first as one of the resident tutors in my college dorm 46 years ago, then in the Massachusetts legislature and beyond.

It has been an amazing journey for him, who thought he could never find love, let alone express it openly (did I mention that the ceremony was performed by the Governor of Massachusetts?) and an amazing journey for the country — a national journey that, to make this past weekend’s events all the more meaningful, Barney has done so much to guide.

Read the New York Times account here.

Not mentioned: that the groomsmen were wearing Joseph Abboud suits and Baruch Shemtov ties or that the wedding gift bags contained campaign buttons that read: “Barney & Jim for Congress” — but with “Congress” overwritten with “ever” (get it?) — or that the staff of the Marriott did a surprisingly great job or that the happy couple did a traditional “chair dance” (like this one, only with Barney and Jim in the chairs) or that the seat at Table 45 reserved for Barney’s counterpart on the House Financial Services Committee was empty.  The Alabama Republican had said he was coming and it’s a shame he did not, one of Barney’s staffers told me, because “he’s a nice guy.”

I loved that my fellow groomsmen ranged from the photo editor emeritus of Eastern Surf Magazine (Jim is an avid surfer, even in the winter in Maine) to a transgender friend to a very large, obviously straight older guy from Fall River who Barney says ran the best anti-poverty program in the nation to his equally large, equally obviously straight pal the chief of the South Boston branch of the Postal Police (who it turns out is gay) to the youngest man ever legally to serve in Congress (some younger, he explained, had long ago served in violation of the Constitutional requirement that they be 25) to a multi-centi-millionaire hedge fund manager to a high school buddy of Jimmy in a motorized wheelchair to a niche entrepreneur whose last name you would know.

It was a pretty wonderful night.


Today is the first day of the Farnborough Air Show.  Sure enough, if you click on Exhibitors and go to the ‘W’s, there we are: WheelTug.  It will be interesting to see how the industry reacts to the video posted last week.

The company asserts: “A recent study sponsored by the Wall Street Journal in conjunction with Oliver Wyman and US Airways showed industry net profit of less than $164 per flight. Thus, WheelTug’s projected net savings to airlines of over $200 per flight has the potential to dramatically increase airline profitability.”

This is of course not true.  The airline business being the worst business in the world, the airlines will soon compete away their savings.  (It’s a wonderful industry, flying millions of people literally through the air while serving them soda; but it’s a dreadful business, because with enormous fixed costs and tiny variable costs (a little more soda and a little more fuel for each additional passenger) — and with an inventory that evaporates the moment a plane takes off with empty seats — competition drives prices down to a level above variable cost (so what airline can resist the revenue?) but below true, fully-allocated cost (so what airline can afford to replace its aging equipment without first going bankrupt a couple of times?).

But that’s not a problem for WheelTug — indeed, the competitiveness of the industry makes it all the more imperative for airlines to sign up.  What short-haul carrier would want to be competing without this $200-a-flight advantage?

Here’s a rendering of WheelTug’s Farnborough booth:

The WheelTug booth at the Farnborough International Airshow July 9 - 15

As always: risky, to be speculated on only with money one can truly afford to lose.  But somewhat less risky now that we know it seems to work and that four airlines have signed letters of intent to use it.

Tomorrow: What Would Today’s Tea Party Make of Ben Franklin?



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