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20 November 2008

Largess ... or Large-Ass?


That's the rule in Canada after an appeals court declined to hear, and therefore let stand, a lower court ruling that forbid three Canadian airlines to charge obese persons for 2 separate seats.

In today's economic climate especially, how fortunate for those obese folks to be given such a generous gift as a second first class seat to go with their current one. One wonders, do they get a second meal too?

You heard it here before folks and it bears repeating: By giving everyone rights, pretty soon none of us have any rights.

In the United States, some airlines have a policy that looks something like this: “customers who are unable to lower the armrests (the definitive boundary between seats) and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seating should proactively book the number of seats needed.” Hear that? That's the sound of a sensible policy knockin' at the door, ay.

Anyone who has done a fair amount of business travel as I have has likely been on the receiving end of the choices of many ill-equipped air travellers such as over sized carry-on bags, spilled drinks, smelly feet and yes, Dunlap Disease. That is where their body Dun-laps over the arm rest. What about the other passenger's rights to fly in comfort, have available seats and have an able bodied passenger stationed in the emergency exit row? What concessions should we expect?

How many milliseconds will it be before a slightly built person claims claustrophobia, or odor sensitivity, or a chest cold, or a racial bias against their neighboring passenger and thereby enacts the "one-person-one-fare policy" as a reason to be granted another seat? Bets anyone?

Was this the right choice, or have we just given up and started caving in to anybody with a claim of disparity and inconvenience? Have all incentives for one to achieve rank and privilege been obliterated by the constant desire to please all people all the time?

Team, make no mistake, this is a common sense issue not an obesity issue. The largest of the three airlines, Air Canada, could only show a financial burden worth about 1% of their revenue in order to implement the new policy. Doesn't sound like much? Well, try $82 million dollars worth of additional expense in order to implement this policy and subsidize the extra seats. Okay now, take a guess who is going to pay that $82,000,000 to insure the big fella in seat 4B (and 4A) has 2 seats? Right again...YOU and ME.

Yep, our largess is going to have to pay for their large ass.

19 November 2008

Don't Drink The Kool Aid

30 years ago today the Reverend Jim Jones snookered over 900 people to drink a fatal dose of cyanide laced cherry Flavor Aid in Guyana in South America. He called the exercise "revolutionary suicide". The rest of the world called it death by Guyana Punch.

Eerily, Guyana's motto is: "One people, one nation, one destiny".

Reverend Nut Case preached that "those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment—socialism." While he's not far off on his religion statement, his brand of socialism of course proved to not be very family friendly. Like the zealots before him and since him, the Flavor Aid was a handy (and tasty) vehicle for him to have eternal power over his followers by drugging them into the afterlife. How arrogantly ironic.

"Drinking the Kool Aid" (the more popular flavored drink mix than the Flavor Aid used in this mass suicide) has crept into today's culture as a reference to "blindly following an authority even if it leads to serious harm or death." Though I would add that many charismatic 'leaders' try to influence their followers into harmful situations all the time, even if those situations don't lead to our immediate death.

You know, the auto makers, politicians, the slick salesman/woman, etc...

Have you ever been asked to drink the Kool Aid?

Or, are there any instances where you would drink the Kool Aid?

10 November 2008

Costly Bones

While most of the world closely watched the not-so-close US presidential race, who caught this news update?

"Bones are Fossett's, DNA testing shows"

Fossett refers to the millionaire daredevil Steve Fossett who took off in his private plane in the mountains of Nevada in September of 2007. On this day he was scouting a location to attempt a land speed record with a rocket car of some sort. He was never seen alive again.

In October of this year his plane was found and then earlier this month, 2 bones were found, scavenged by animals, that have been linked by DNA to Mr. Fossett. His death is now confirmed.

But there is more to to this story. In the days and weeks and months after Fossett's disappearance, a sizable effort was underway to locate the missing adventurer. And why not? He was an acclaimed dude, sportsman, friend and rich guy (with rich friends).

An organized search effort went on for nearly two months. The Civil Air Patrol (the civilian branch of the United States Air Force) searched 20,000 square miles in an effort to locate Fossett. The effort goes down as "the largest search and rescue effort ever conducted for a person within the U.S." The cost? Estimated at over $3 million dollars. Ironically, yet sometimes typically, the breakthrough initial discovery of crash debris was found - for free - by hikers who were in the area.

The Kennedy Honors

In July of 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr. attempted to fly his private plane along with his new bride, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and her sister Lauren to a wedding from New Jersey to Massachusetts.

The ground crews reportedly advised that he not attempt the flight due to weather and darkness, especially considering that the young Mr. Kennedy did not possess a IFR rating (Instrument Flight Rules) which would have been necessary - and helpful - in such inclement conditions (flying using instruments-only and under the control of the air traffic controllers).

Kennedy did not heed the warnings, nor did he file a flight plan. Once in the air, he quickly exceeded his training and therefore his ability to pilot his plane. Predictable result: he killed himself and his passengers in a violent, cold and wet death in the Atlantic Ocean when he lost control of his plane.

The Bessette family sued the bejeebers out of the Kennedy's for Carolyn's and Lauren's wrongful death after it was confirmed that the crash was 100% due to John-John's careless errors. They got paid out of court to go away.

Besides the Kennedy-sized cash settlement, how much do we suppose that search cost?

There were at least 197 other fatal plane crashes in 1999, but I doubt any of those earned the untethered services of the US Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force to come look for the missing occupants. Or had three burials at sea off the bow of the USS Briscoe, a Naval Destroyer, especially for civilians who never wore a uniform. Or had a presidential declaration for the nation's flags to be flown at half-staff to honor their passing. Holy Price Tag, Batman.

I know what some of you are thinking. Well, why not give the guy a national day of mourning and the services of the US armed forces ad nauseum? After all, his family has suffered right? And his dad did get assassinated, you know, while serving his country as President.

Perhaps, dear readers, perhaps. But not a very compelling case for John Jr. since his arrogant and negligent actions could be likened to homicide of his innocent passengers. Details, details. Sorry, but that is a tad different in the service-to-your-country category.

But perhaps even more to the point: what made Kennedy's or Fossett's disappearance more worthy of such extraordinary search measures than say, the nearly 815,000 people who were reported missing in just 2007 that go nowher near such special attention?

Dannis O. Dutro is was a creepy, 61 year old white guy from Southern California. He was a criminal who molested kids. And when he was released from the hoosegow, he didn't register his whereabouts as required but instead he went house hunting...and then disappeared. For 2 months. He was last seen at the intersection of a road and a trail. He was found deceased by trail riders less than 3 miles away on that very trail from where he was last seen.

There was no news release when he disappeared, no significant (or even insignificant) search effort to speak of and certainly no presidential declaration. He was in the news only when the coroner identified human remains (that tends to be a sexy headline).

Does he deserve any less effort in searching for him than Kennedy or Fossett? By all accounts, Dutro was actually lost and/or missing whereas Fossett, and certainly Kennedy voluntarily put themselves at risk.

Missing, But Not Forgotten

May 25th, every May 25th, is National Missing Children's Day. It was started, unfortunately, 26 years ago by then-president Reagan after 6 year old Etan Patz was abducted in New York. He's never been found. Nor have the nearly 1000 other children who are still missing too.

Etan Patz became, literally, the poster child for missing children back in 1979. He was the first child to have their picture on the back of a milk carton and in New York, he is among it's most famous children. But for all the wrong reasons.

The enduring publicity around his case provided several positive effects. What became the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was started, the child-on-the-back-of-the-milk-carton program, and of course the annual Missing Children's Day with all of the awareness, training and funding that the NCMEC gets to further its good works.

Sometimes, very bad things spawns several good things.

However, for all the attractive white kids that get abducted that the news covers, there are hundreds of shall we say, non-news worthy children that are seldom if ever covered in the news. No posters, no notices, no nothing.

And as we see when those kids grown up and go missing (Dutro v. Fossett and Kennedy), little changes.

Is there anything you can do to change that? What would you do if your family member were missing and they were not famous, pretty/handsome or white?

05 November 2008

Tourism is Absurd

"Ours has been the first, and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality."
- Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861

Didn't they say the same thing about Las Vegas?

Grand Canyon National Park is a national and international treasure spanning over 1.2 million acres. First designated as a National Park in 1919, it attracts almost five (5) million visitors each year and the annual impact of their tourism is approximately $687 million dollars per year to the local economy. For a resource that mother nature gave us for free, I suspect there is a profit somewhere in that $687 million dollars dontchathink?

Uh, Lt. Ives, you seem to be a little off in your projection. Besides, what else are you gonna do with the Grand Canyon besides gawk and sell t-shirts?

Well, actually, there's this too:

In 2007 the Hualapai Indian tribe constructed a horseshoe shaped glass walkway extending out over the Grand Canyon.

Certainly not for the weak of heart. For nearly $70 bucks per person, $20 bucks per car and a 2 hour drive from Vegas you too can peer nearly 5000 below your feet too.

Would you do this?

Of course if you did, you wouldn't have a picture to prove it (unless you bought one from their photog's) since no personal items are allowed on the walkway, cameras included. I guess they don't want anything to drop on the glass floor and shatter it. Yikes.

Nearly 1 Billion people per year hit the roads, seas, airways and yes, glass walkways, each year in pursuit of little shot glasses that commemorate the biggest ball of twine, etc. And in doing so spend $3 Billion dollars per Day, or over $1 Trillion dollars per year. Wow. Makes you want to open up a lemonade stand outside of Six Flags huh?

Speaking of sustenance, did you know that in Thailand that they call Thai Food just "food"?

But I digress....

So, why do you vacation? To get away from something (work, house, life, etc.) or to go to something (Disney, exotic locale, etc.)?


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04 November 2008

Too Smart for Politics??

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."
- Plato

You preserved your right to bitch voted didn't you?

Only 6 out of 10 Americans over age 18 voted in the last 2 national elections. That would be legal, registered-to-vote Americans to be clear.
We don't count illegal aliens, regardless from whence they came, as American voters here at D3.

Sometimes we get what we want when we vote and sometimes we get what is less scary than the alternative when we vote. But as a democracy, whom our forefathers and mothers died to create for us, we get to choose who leads us. Ain't it great?

For those that voted, what do you hope to achieve, especially if you voted for a candidate at the local, state or national level that was expected to lose?

And for those that didn't vote, what kept you from casting your ballot?

03 November 2008

Apathy is for the Apathetic

ap·a·thy [ap-uh-thee] –noun, plural -thies: lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

So, what moves you?

We hear of folks that claim to care about their country, their faith, their team, their neighbors, their whatever, but when the bright lights of public recognition dim and the dark shadows of solitude many people's flames are still a flickerin'?

"Character is what you do when nobody is watching"
- Anonymous

Man if I had a dollar every time I preached that to my kids, my students, my employees...

Voting is of course an easy and classic and yeah, measurable, way to validate one's public and private position on ( fill in the blank ) issue. Assuming of course one votes mindfully and doesn't just vote for who or what is popular.

Some issues take a bit more courage and depth of character to tackle though, eh? And while nobody I know is perfect, what a noble goal indeed.

"Moral courage and character go hand in hand... a man of real character is consistently courageous, being imbued with a basic integrity and a firm sense of principle."
- Martha Boaz

One might say they want to help the homeless, but when they are confronted with a homeless person, how many actually help versus how many look away?

As I mentioned in my diatribe against some of the Baptist Bigots the other day, the most self righteous among them boycotted the Disney Corporation because Disney allowed gay people into their business. As I said then, one might say they are against the Disney Corporation, but how many will still sneak a peek at the scores on SportsCenter or rent Cars or Wall-e on DVD?

** I actually support anyone's right to boycott, generally make arses of themselves, etc. of course. Their publicity seeking antics give me endless amounts of material from which to comment on!

One might say they are against illegal aliens, but when offered a low rate on computer repair, house cleaning, yard maintenance etc from an illegal alien, how many actually look away and hire them (cash only of course)?

One might say they are against the darkness, but how many will actually make an effort to turn on the light?

"There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion."
- Carl Jung

So, what moves you? And if you're not moved, then why not?