Open Thread 1/31

- The Florida Primary is today, and in an effort to continuously provide a counterweight to the insightful political prognostication on this website, here’s my prediction:

Mittenz: 39
Ging-rich: 35
Ricky S 14

These are pretty much just pulled outa my ass.

– The most shocking thing to me is the Starbucks.

accommodating and promoting bicycling isn’t an urban or rural thing, an eastside or westside thing, a red state or blue state thing

– HA alum Goldy truth needles the Truth Needle

– Obama fist bumps.

General Sherman


  1. 1

    rhp6033 spews:

    One of the more infuriating things about the seat selection process is that even if you pay extra to select your seat early, you still can’t do it until AFTER you have paid for the seat. So if you bought non-refundable economy seats, and find out that you and your travel companion can’t sit anywhere near one another, the airline’s answer is to bargain with your seatmates to exchange seats, or pay the additional hefty fee to change the flight and take your chances at the roulette wheel again.

    And even if you are able to book seats next to one another, there is no guarantee that the airline won’t change the type of aircraft assigned to that flight, scrambling the seat assignments so you end up in an undesirable seat anyway. The airlines are sometimes forced to do this if the aircraft assigned for the flight develops mechanical problems and they need to substitute another available aircraft. But at other times they might decide that the flight simply isn’t full enough, and less than 24 hours before flight time pull the assigned aircraft (such as a B737-800) from the flight and substitute a smaller aircraft (such as a B737-700). They save some fuel, but the passenger annoyance really doesn’t compensate for it.

    U.S. airlines (and some cut-rate European ones, like Ryan Air) figure that they can get away with this because everyone else is doing it, too. Your chances of getting a more reasonable airline policy by switching to another carrier is next to nill.

    Your best option for overseas flights is to book with a legacy foreign carrier. If heading to Australia or Asia, try one of the Asian carriers – Singapore, JAL, or ANA. ANA will be flying out of SeaTac to Narita (Tokyo) later this year, using their new 787’s.

  2. 2

    rhp6033 spews:

    in reference to the Starbucks inside the church:

    A lot of the larger churches have moved to having a latte corner somewhere in the foyer of the sanctuary. One of the reaons is that in a larger church, it’s easy for newer members to be “lost” for quite some time, unable to connect with the existing membership and make new friends. Churches with latte stands and casual seating nearby help foster those relationships. Since many members were stopping off to buy lattes on the way to church anyway, why not provide them in-house?

    But depending upon state law, this is causing some problems with respect to the property tax exemption. Churches are limited in the amount of “commercial activity” they can conduct on the premisis. Washington State has some of the strictist rules, limiting it in the amount of square footage devoted to the commercial activity, requiring the proceeds to be traceable in the direct support of tax-exempt activities, limiting the frequency of such activities. Lots of churches don’t meet all of the rules, primarily because they are unfamiliar with the details of the regulations. Some just shrug and go ahead and pay the real estate tax on the pro-rated portion of the property devoted to the activity, because compliance with the rules would be too difficult.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Business Is Dishonest Dep’t

    We live in a dishonest world. Businesses systematically swindle their customers. Among other things, they routinely lie about their prices. Consumers, of course, aren’t stupid; and they’ve learned to be wary of hidden fees and charges, deceptive prices, and ads that outright lie. They know businessmen are liars.

    Now, the federal Department of Transportation is moving against airlines that have made lying into an art form. And the airlines are complaining. Not based on some ideology of “free markets” or “free speech,” mind you; no, they’re complaining they won’t be able to sell their service if they’re not allowed to lie to customers.

    But I doubt they’ll lose much, if any, business. Airlines have dehumanized passengers and made flying such a miserable experience that no on would fly if they didn’t absolutely have to. So the airlines will still be able to gouge the flying public. The only thing that’s gonna be different is they’ll have to tell you that riding in their torture boxes will cost you $450 instead of advertising it as $19.95.

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: Who knows, this may be the start of something — the government someday may require them to tell you how narrow the seats are and how short the legroom is, too. And that the cabin air will make you sick. And that the plane is being flown by a trained chimpanzee.

  4. 4

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 3: The FAA re-authorization bill has again become a political football, with Republicans in the House demanding the rules be stacked against Unions in representation elections, and the abolishment of the recent rules requiring all fees to be disclosed up front as the “full price” of the ticket. All in exchange for another month’s temporary authorization of the FAA, after which they will demand even more concessions in exchange for another month of temporary reprieve.

    And if that doesn’t work, the industry has received the support of a Republican congressman who has sponsored a bill he entitled Transportation Transparancy Act which would, in effect, remove any such transparancy at the time you purchase the ticket. Instead, you will get a nasty surprise after your credit card has been charged with an itemized statement which contains the airline’s estimate of the amount of your ticket chargeable to “excessive government regulation and taxes”. In other words, you will click on the $99 “buy it now” ticket, go through the process of inputting your credit card, etc., and then find out afterwards that the ticket actually costs $450 including “security fees”, landing fees, excise taxes, luggage fees, etc. And it will blame it all on the government, a convenient punching-bag.

    Forgotten in all this is that government subsidies for the airline industry are what make air travel possible. They subsidize heavily the airports, air traffic control, pilot certification, maintenance inspections, etc. Without those, we couldn’t (or wouldn’t dare) to travel by air under any circumstances.

  5. 5

    rhp6033 spews:

    By the way, just about every media outlet is carrying a headline that some study shows that government workers make more money than those in private industry for the same job.

    Expect the right wing to quote that survey for the next thirty years, like the one which surfaced in the 1980’s which said that wealthy people were more likely to invest their tax savings than poor people, so tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs for poor people. (Funny, that one hasn’t worked out so well since it’s initiation).

    I haven’t read the story yet. I probably will later, but my capacity for withstanding B.S. has already reached it’s limit today. Among things to check for:

    Who did the study, and who sponsored it? Were they truly neutral, or do their connections with right-wing causes make a bias apparant?

    How did they really compare similar jobs? Many government jobs have no clear private-industry counterpart. The purpose of their job is often to provide services without preference and in adhearance to published rules and regulations, private industry’s job is to create profit and preferential treatment for any number of reasons is allowed.

    What time period is being compared? Private industry pay scales have dropped over the past three years, on average, due to the Great Recession. Are government workers making more, or are private worker making substantially less, especially when benefits are being considered?

    Given the principle of “you get what you pay for”, do you want to have sub-par people performing public service? Wouldn’t it be better as a public policy to pay above-average wages and have above-average workers doing the public’s business?

  6. 6

    ArtFart spews:

    @3 “And that the plane is being flown by a trained chimpanzee.”

    Or a Windows CE-based autopilot.

  7. 7

    rhp6033 spews:

    I’ve lost track. What primaries/caucuses will we have to endure between now and Super Tuesday? I think Missouri is one, but I’m not sure.

    For all the money being spent in Florida, and all the media attention, remember that only fifty delegates are at stake. Florida lost half of her GOP delegate count by conducting today’s primary on Jan. 31st, one day before the GOP-authorized date of Feb. 1st. If it was a calculated decision to make sure Florida got the campaigns and the media to spend lots of money in their state, I guess the loss of fifty delegates was worth it.

    Hopefully, this entire electoral contest will result in lots of right-wing millionaires and billionaires wasting a substantial amount of money in a fruitless venture to get one of their own elected President. If so, I guess that is income re-distribution of a sort.

  8. 8

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 6: Nope, Windows Vista. It’s cheaper, and airlines are always trying to cut every penny.

    Can you imagine flying on an aircraft in an pilot-less descent into Chicago O’Hare, and hearing the Windows first-screen music playing and then the robotic voice: “Re-boot failed. Press F4 to enter the configuration menu”.

  9. 9

    dv90821 spews:

    There’s a bill in Indiana to drug test welfare recipients that had an amendment added to it to include testing of lawmakers. Needless to say, it was pulled.

    In the past year Republican lawmakers have pursued welfare drug testing in more than 30 states and in Congress, and some bills have even targeted people who claim unemployment insurance and food stamps, despite scanty evidence the poor and jobless are disproportionately on drugs. Democrats in several states have countered with bills to require drug testing elected officials. Indiana state Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) introduced just such an amendment on Friday.

    “After it passed, Rep. McMillin got pretty upset and pulled his bill,” Dvorak said. “If anything, I think it points out some of the hypocrisy. … If we’re going to impose standards on drug testing, then it should apply to everybody who receives government money.”