When I was a kid, the captain still honored the tradition of coming down the aisle and asking lucky young 'uns if they'd like to have a look at the cockpit. It's not such a thrill when you're a grown-up, but pre-9/11 on the little 12-seat puddle-jumpers I'd take from New Hampshire down to Boston and New York the pilots would keep the sliding door open for the flight and it was kind of fun to be able to watch the instrument dials and eavesdrop on their conversation. The last flight I took like that was an Air St Pierre six-seater from Miquelon to St Pierre a couple of years back where I sat right behind the pilot - no doors, no nuthin'.
For more or less everywhere other than St Pierre, it all changed after September 11th 2001. Because the terrorists had been able to access the cockpit so easily, the rules were changed, and the pilots were barricaded in behind locked doors. The idea was to keep the bad guys out.
On Germanwings Flight 9525 the mandatory locked doors kept the bad guy in - and the good guys out:
The audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.
"The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer," the investigator said. "And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer."
He said, "You can hear he is trying to smash the door down."
The French prosecutor put it bluntly: The co-pilot wanted "to destroy this plane". His name is Andreas Lubitz - that's him in the photo above, and we will learn more about him in the days ahead. The mass murder of his passengers by a pilot is not unknown, but this is the first time someone has done it to a First World airline.
~In the new Middle East, you can't tell the players even with a score card. But let's try:
In the skies over Iraq, the USAF has swung into action against ISIS in support of "our coalition partners" Iran, as part of a mission to liberate Tikrit led by Teheran's ruthless Quds Force commander General Qassem Suleimani.
To the south, meanwhile, the US military is providing support to our other ally Saudi Arabia and their Gulf allies in their incursion into Yemen to stop the Houthis, the allies of our first allies Iran.
What's the old saying? The ally of my ally is my enemy? The enemy of my ally is my ally? Who knew foreign-policy Mad Libs could be such fun?
~To our Icelandic readers, Happy Free The Nipple Day! Do they have that in Yemen yet?
~We're now in the third day of the great media freakout over the news that anti-ObamaCare candidate Ted Cruz has purchased an ObamaCare plan.
The pundit class assure us that this is "hypocritical" - while less deranged types point out that Ted Cruz believes in abolishing the IRS but will still be paying his taxes on April 15th. I think American speed limits are absurdly low, but I observe them because otherwise they'd take away my driver's license. It is obviously not hypocritical to follow the law while arguing in favor of its abolition.
But I think this overlooks the main point. Ted Cruz was previously covered by his wife's employer's plan. But his missus has quit Goldman Sachs, which in America - uniquely in the developed world - means the family is also forced to find new health care arrangements. The Cruzes are not a poor family, so, pre-ObamaCare, they would have simply chosen the private insurance plan that suited them, and paid for it.
That's how private health insurance still works in most of the rest of the functioning world: There's government health care, but if you want something a little better you can pay for a private plan. Under ObamaCare there isn't really any "private" health plan anymore: An individual is free to choose the ObamaCare plan, with the government subsidy. Or he can choose something that's as crappy as the ObamaCare plan, but without the government subsidy. In my own state, it's called "NH Pathways" - the "path" is the key bit, because it's what you'll be driving down for three hours to get to a medical professional who's part of the "network". But you can no longer say to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Racket, "Hey, show me your exciting range of plans, and I'll pick one."
So Ted Cruz has less health-care freedom than, say, Ted Scroggins in the United Kingdom. Most European countries have parallel public/private systems: A universal government health regime, plus a genuinely private insurance market. America has in effect abolished the latter without instituting the former.
Fortunately, I'm insured through my modest little company. It's a high-deductible plan. This morning the receptionist took my credit card and said the good news is that this appointment would be the last payment under the high deductible, but the bad news is that my next appointment (Monday) is the last one the insurance company will agree to cover. In Icelandic Free The Nipple Day terms, when you buy two-nipple coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Nipple, the first nipple is your co-pay and the second nipple they won't cover.
Like "university", "insurance" is one of those words that no longer means what it used to.
~I'll be keeping my weekly date with Hugh Hewitt later today - live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.