A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 28, 2018
“If you’ve never missed a plane, you’ve spent too much time in airports”

"If you’ve never missed a plane, you’ve spent too much time in airports” is a saying that means one shouldn’t be too careful to avoid all misfortune at all costs; some risk is necessary to maximize satisfaction.

Israeli economist Jacob Frenkel wrote in 1999:

“A former colleague of mine at the University of Chicago, the Nobel Laureate, Bob Lucas, once asked me how many times I had missed a plane. And when I told him that I never missed a plane, he told me “You must be wasting a lot of time at airports.” He asked me how many times I had gotten a ticket for speeding. I said, “Never.” “Well,” he replied, “you must be systematically driving under the speed limit. Well, analogies may have their limits, but there is a point in this. The point is that if you are not going to waste too much time in airports, you must be ready, maybe once or twice, to miss a plane, but also be prepared to know what to do about it. This suggests that in spite of the desire to avoid crises, we must be aware of the fact that if we avoid all crises at all cost, we are overdoing it.”

The saying appears to have originated with American economist Robert Lucas Jr., but the American economists Robert Hall and Joseph Stiglitz have also been credited.


Wikipedia: Robert Lucas, Jr.
Robert Emerson Lucas Jr. (born September 15, 1937) is an American economist at the University of Chicago, where he is currently the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics and the College. Widely regarded as the central figure in the development of the new classical approach to macroeconomics, he received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1995. He has been characterized by N. Gregory Mankiw as “the most influential macroeconomist of the last quarter of the 20th century.”

Google Books
International Finance and Financial Crises:
Essays in Honor of Robert P. Flood, Jr.

Edited by Peter Isard, Assif Razin and Andrew K. Rose
Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers
1999
Pg. 68 ("Remarks" by Jacob A. Frenkel):
A former colleague of mine at the University of Chicago, the Nobel Laureate, Bob Lucas, once asked me how many times I had missed a plane. And when I told him that I never missed a plane, he told me “You must be wasting a lot of time at airports.” He asked me how many times I had gotten a ticket for speeding. I said, “Never.” “Well,” he replied, “you must be systematically driving under the speed limit. Well, analogies may have their limits, but there is a point in this. The point is that if you are not going to waste too much time in airports, you must be ready, maybe once or twice, to miss a plane, but also be prepared to know what to do about it. This suggests that in spite of the desire to avoid crises, we must be aware of the fact that if we avoid all crises at all cost, we are overdoing it.

Google Groups: comp.software.year-2000
Truth in labelling
ra dio
12/27/99
(...)
Tate’s Law of Airports: If you haven’t missed a plane in a while , you’re spending too much time in airports.

Google Groups: comp.software.year-2000
Actual arguments that Y2K would be a dud?
ra dio
1/16/00
(...)
(programmer) Tate’s law of airports: if you haven’t missed a departure in a while, you’re spending too much time in airports; corollary:
(programmer) if you haven’t missed a meal in while, you’re storing
(onboard or external) too much food and/or spending too much time in the kitchen....

Brad DeLong’s Thoughts of the Moment on Economics, and on Other Topics as Well
July 07, 2002
More Thoughts on Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents
So I reread Globalization and Its Discontents, and I am more puzzled than ever. I cannot figure out what is going on inside Stiglitz’s head.
(...)
I do wish the IMF would make larger loans with less conditionality for longer periods of time, first because I am still unpersuaded that IMF-enabled “moral hazard” is a real issue, and second because it seems to me that the IMF’s loan collection record is so good that it *cannot* be optimizing (in the sense that I cannot be optimizing on the dash to the airport because I have never missed a plane).

Forbes
Jan 19, 2007, 12:01am
Clear For Takeoff
By Sophia Banay
Impatient travelers have long lived by the maxim: If you’ve never missed a plane, you’re spending too much time in airports.

Google Books
Discover Your Inner Economist:
Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist

By Tyler Cowen
New York, NY: A Plume Book
2008
Pg. ?:
Economist Robert Hall once said something like: “If you haven’t ever missed a plane, you spend too much time waiting around in airports.”

28 September 2013, The New Zealand Herald (Auckland, NZ), “Sticky patches the downside of risk,” pg. B14:
Nobel-winning economist George Stigler is said to have once observed, “If you’ve never missed a plane, you’ve wasted too much time in airports.” Similarly, if you’ve never had a bad investment, you’ve invested too conservatively.

Smithsonian.com
If You’ve Never Missed a Flight, You’re Probably Wasting Your Time
Do you find yourself spending endless hours waiting at the airport? Here’s what math says about the perfect time to arrive for your next flight

By Natasha Geiling
JUNE 23, 2014
If you’ve never missed a flight, you’re probably spending too much time in airports. It’s a counterintuitive idea—why would anyone want to risk missing a plane?—but it’s got some logical thinking behind it, first from Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stigler, who famously touted the idea, and more recently, from math professor Jordan Ellenberg, who breaks down the idea in his new book How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking.

Twitter
Rainier
@rainieratx
“Economist Robert Hall once said something like: ‘If you haven’t ever missed a plane, you spend too much time waiting around in airports.’” —Tyler Cowen
9:16 PM - 22 Jun 2018 from Austin, TX

twitter
Laurent Franckx
@LaurentFranckx
Replying to @a_berut
“If you have never missed a plane in your life, you have spent too much time in airports” George Stigler
12:57 PM - 25 Oct 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Friday, December 28, 2018 • Permalink