Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Miami airport

For a long time now, people have been bitching about how horrible it is to fly through the Miami airport. Never having flown through it, I had no personal experience, and you know how people are. They often will, uh, embellish a bit.

Well, now I understand.

The wife and I had to travel through Miami while returning to the states from our St. Lucia vacation, and it was basically a nightmare.

The crew of our flight from St. Lucia didn't say anything about what to do and where to go when we got to the airport.  There were no agents meeting us after debarking.  The signage was either confusing or nonexistent.

So large clumps of passengers began wandering after getting off the plane and eventually found our way to the first of several lines we had to endure.

First, we all had to wait in line to obtain an electronic receipt after a machine scanned our passports and took a photo of us. But to get to that machine, we had to wait in a line that was easily 10,000 people and stretched as far as the eye could see. No one really knew why they were standing in line. You know how peeople are.

While we were more or less in line, there were multiple announcements of the public address system of the airport, and these were totally unintelligible. It sounded like English, sort of. A heavy Cuban-accented English. I could not understand one single announcement.

When we finally got to the front of the line and were herded to one of about 20 machines, there were no instructions on the machine. Ours appeared stuck on a previous screen. We touched here, there, nothing. After a minute or so, it finally started working. 

After obtaining this precious receipt, we were herded to a new line where we would have to pass by two humans stamping passports. Fortunately, our receipts did not have an X on them, so we went to the shorter lines (only about 1,000 people). The lines of people with an X and without an X were hard to distinguish.

Once finally past these two guys, we were told to go claim our bags to get them re-checked for the connecting flight to Houston. All around us people were missing their connecting flights. Some of them were just outright cancelled, because no one was going to get into Boston, where a blizzard was underway.

We wandered to a luggage carousel and there was a sea of bags already pulled off the belt and just stacked in piles. Almost all of them looked the same. Miraculously, we found our two bags (finally!!) and took them onward to another line where we gave them to baggage handlers to put back on planes.

Now we had to go through security again, as if we could have built a bomb at some point after we got off the plane and were making our way through the airport.  Two lines for hundreds of people; two machines shut down. Uh, hello!!

One agent tells us we don't have to take off our shoes. When we get to the front of the line, of course another agent tells us we have to take off our shoes.  Scramble, rush, rush, scramble.  I hate going through security with a ton of angry passengers breathing down my neck.

After all those lines, we finally made it to our gate just a few minutes before they began boarding our flight, and we had a 3 hr 30 minute layover!!  

No doubt thousands of people missed their connecting flights this evening. 

So, avoid Miami if at all possible, especially if you are going through customs and immigration. Horrible signage; inadequate airport personnel; a labyrinthine maze to navigate. Just absurd. And this is how they treat their own citizens!!

So, avoid American Airlines and Miami airport. I think we're going to Hawaii next. No customs or immirgation, non-stop flights, don't need American. Next?!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Samson da Barbarian

How about another dose of absurdity from the Bible? As if we need any more.

Honestly, why anyone still takes this book seriously is rather beyond me.  At this point, when I hear "a person of faith" I simply think, this person is a gullible fool.  Really.

This Dark Matter series focuses on Samson and Delilah, another truly absurd and unbelievable story in the Judges book of the Bible. 

It's no wonder that a large number of seminary students end up as atheists. This shit just does not hold up under scrutiny.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Friday, January 23, 2015

American Airlines

We are now vowing to never fly American Airlines again.

We recently traveled to St. Lucia in the Caribbean for a vacation.  St. Lucia was awesome. Unfortunately, there appeared to be only one way to get there from Houston, via American Airlines, so I booked them.

The first knock on them is that we had to catch a 5:20am flight out of Houston on Saturday morning to connect to Miami, change planes and then catch another plane to St. Lucia, but still on American.

I will also never fly that early in the morning again.  We hate to travel the Houston freeways early in the morning, because that's when all the drunks are driving and many end up going the wrong way on the freeway because they're so drunk. In the two weeks leading up to our departure, there were FIVE wrong-way crashes on Houston freeways.

So, we decided to stay at the Marriott Hotel at the Houston Intercontinental Airport (I refuse to call it "Bush".)

It was really no problem boarding the 5:20am flight. In fact, I was able to secure an upgrade to Business Class, so the flight to Miami was fine, with food and whatever else we wanted. 

Landing in Miami was smooth and we had only about a 75-minute layover.  Fortunately we were able to check our two bags all the way thru to St. Lucia, and they actually did arrive correctly in St. Lucia.

The problem began with the flight from Miami to St. Lucia.  On this leg, we were unable to upgrade, so we ended up on the 24th row, and by now we were getting hungry.

When the American flight attendant reached us with the snack and beverage cart, she was out of all the regular food. All she had left was potato chips.  She told us that she ran out of food at about the 20th row, and there were another 20 rows to the back of the plane!

The kicker was when she said, "THIS HAPPENS EVERY TIME!"  In other words, American intentionally does not pack enough food on their planes to feed every passenger. And let's not forget, the era of FREE meals is long gone. Now everyone (in Coach) has to PAY for food. But, even if you are willing to pay, if you sit beyond the 20th row or so, THERE WILL NOT BE ENOUGH FOOD FOR YOU TO PURCHASE ANY.

The flight attendant was visibly upset.  Passengers were visibly upset. It was basically the lunch hour, with another two hours to fly, and no food left. It's rather unbelievable to me that American would do this on purpose, EVERY SINGLE TIME. 

But I guess the thing is, WE HAVE  LITTLE OTHER CHOICE. The conglomeration of airlines has decreased our options, so you take what you get, or just don't go.

Lesson learned: if you want to have some food on an American Airlines flight, either:
1) pack your own food in your bags;
2) pay for Business Class (right);
3) get a seat in Coach higher than the 20th row.

Another cute move on the part of the airlines is that, after paying for your regular fare, if you want a couple of inches of extra leg room, or if you want to move towards the front of the cabin, YOU HAVE TO PAY ANOTHER FEE, anywhere from $30 to $100. This is not just American Airlines pulling this. All the majors are doing this.

Is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) paying any attention?  Is there still an FAA?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rude on SOTU

When I don't know where to turn for concise insight into the issues and events of the day, I turn to the Rude Pundit. 

He almost never disappoints. So, while I am out of pocket, Rude has a few rude things to say about the State of the Union speech.

The State of the Union Is "Shove Your Midterm Victory" 

Prior to the release of the speech, you know that most Republicans were fantasizing about President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. They wanted him to hungrily gobble their cocks. They wanted that Negro on his knees, eagerly sucking off all the Republicans to show that he knows his place after the 2014 midterm elections. "He can even spit on my dick, if he wants," Lindsey Graham thought. How could Obama not acknowledge his masters after Democratic losses that wrested control of the Senate away from them? Unless he's the most arrogant, uppity sumbitch ever, it was obvious, they believed, that deep-throated hummers were required. Obama needed to ask them what they wanted. He needed to say that he'd do anything to please and pleasure them. Their flies were unzipped, pricks of many shapes and sizes, half-tumescent, ready for purchase in the President's mouth. - See more at: 

And then Obama sauntered out, slapped all the dicks like Moe with a bunch of Curlies, and told them to shove their fellatio dreams up their pathetic asses. 

Look, almost nothing Obama proposed in his ambitious agenda is going to pass a Congress filled with more scoundrels, criminals, perverts, and rats than a pirate ship named "The Thieving Buggerer." Taxes aren't going to rise for the wealthy, even if it's through loophole-closing. Child care won't get funded. The minimum wage won't go up. And climate change? No. And Gitmo? Just forget it. For that matter, it doesn't matter that Obama didn't mention poverty, except in the most general sense. Because no matter what he proposed to help people in poverty, the Republican-controlled Congress was going to laugh in his face. And, let's be honest, a good many Democrats would be giggling, too. So the substance of the speech was fine, great, aspirational, and pretty damn safe. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

fuck the Pope

To all of those who have been saying that they really like this pope, I would agree with Brian Keith Dalton in the posted video and say, FUCK THE POPE!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

spectacularly wrong

Speaking of Republicans being wrong about everything, here's just another example. Makes you wonder how good of a businessman this guy actually is.

from the New York Times
The C.E.O. of Westgate Resorts, a Florida-based timeshare company, told his employees in 2012 that if President Obama were re-elected, that would mean “fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.” Two years in to the president’s second term, that same C.E.O. is giving raises.

In the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, David Siegel, billionaire chief of Florida timeshare company Westgate Resorts, sent an email to all employees. “Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for,” Siegel wrote, but offered “a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.” These included that re-electing Obama would “threaten your job” and result in “less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.” 
Just over two years after penning that company-wide email, Siegel informed Westgate employees that instead of layoffs, he would boost their minimum wage to $10 per hour beginning in 2015. 
In fact, according to Siegel, 2014 was a banner year. “We’re experiencing the best year in our history and I wanted to do something to show my gratitude for the employees who make that possible,” Siegel said in announcing the wage hike. He also recently told the Orlando Business Journal that “things have never been better.”

Original.  I'll bet it just kills Siegel that he feels like he needs to give raises.  You think it will stop him from being a stupid Republican?  Ha! Fat chance!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Paul Krugman

How do the Republicans deal with being so consistently wrong? Why, they simply persist.  They are unfazed, and they never admit they were wrong. I think they figure that eventually, odds are that they will be right about SOMEthing.  

Presidents and the Economy
by Paul Krugman

Suddenly, or so it seems, the U.S. economy is looking better. Things have been looking up for a while, but at this point the signs of improvement — job gains, rapidly growing G.D.P., rising public confidence — are unmistakable.

The improving economy is surely one factor in President Obama’s rising approval rating. And there’s a palpable sense of panic among Republicans, despite their victory in the midterms. They expected to run in 2016 against a record of failure; what do they do if the economy is looking pretty good?

Well, that’s their problem. What I want to ask instead is whether any of this makes sense. How much influence does the occupant of the White House have on the economy, anyway? The standard answer among economists, at least when they aren’t being political hacks, is: not much. But is this time different?

To understand why economists usually downplay the economic role of presidents, let’s revisit a much-mythologized episode in U.S. economic history: the recession and recovery of the 1980s.

On the right, of course, the 1980s are remembered as an age of miracles wrought by the blessed Reagan, who cut taxes, conjured up the magic of the marketplace and led the nation to job gains never matched before or since. In reality, the 16 million jobs America added during the Reagan years were only slightly more than the 14 million added over the previous eight years. And a later president — Bill something-or-other — presided over the creation of 22 million jobs. But who’s counting?

In any case, however, serious analyses of the Reagan-era business cycle place very little weight on Reagan, and emphasize instead the role of the Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy and is largely independent of the political process. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Fed, under the leadership of Paul Volcker, was determined to bring inflation down, even at a heavy price; it tightened policy, sending interest rates sky high, with mortgage rates going above 18 percent. What followed was a severe recession that drove unemployment to double digits but also broke the wage-price spiral.

Then the Fed decided that America had suffered enough. It loosened the reins, sending interest rates plummeting and housing starts soaring. And the economy bounced back. Reagan got the political credit for “morning in America,” but Mr. Volcker was actually responsible for both the slump and the boom.

The point is that normally the Fed, not the White House, rules the economy. Should we apply the same rule to the Obama years?

Not quite.

For one thing, the Fed has had a hard time gaining traction in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, because the aftermath of a huge housing and mortgage bubble has left private spending relatively unresponsive to interest rates. This time around, monetary policy really needed help from a temporary increase in government spending, which meant that the president could have made a big difference. And he did, for a while; politically, the Obama stimulus may have been a failure, but an overwhelming majority of economists believe that it helped mitigate the slump.

Since then, however, scorched-earth Republican opposition has more than reversed that initial effort. In fact, federal spending adjusted for inflation and population growth is lower now than it was when Mr. Obama took office; at the same point in the Reagan years, it was up more than 20 percent. So much, then, for fiscal policy.

There is, however, another sense in which Mr. Obama has arguably made a big difference. The Fed has had a hard time getting traction, but it has at least made an effort to boost the economy — and it has done so despite ferocious attacks from conservatives, who have accused it again and again of “debasing the dollar” and setting the stage for runaway inflation. Without Mr. Obama to shield its independence, the Fed might well have been bullied into raising interest rates, which would have been disastrous. So the president has indirectly aided the economy by helping to fend off the hard-money mob.

Last but not least, even if you think Mr. Obama deserves little or no credit for good economic news, the fact is his opponents have spent years claiming that his bad attitude — he has been known to suggest, now and then, that some bankers have behaved badly — is somehow responsible for the economy’s weakness. Now that he’s presiding over unexpected economic strength, they can’t just turn around and assert his irrelevance.

So is the president responsible for the accelerating recovery? No. Can we nonetheless say that we’re doing better than we would be if the other party held the White House? Yes. Do those who were blaming Mr. Obama for all our economic ills now look like knaves and fools? Yes, they do. And that’s because they are.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

community college free?!

Very-successful actor Tom Hanks recently said that he owed his success to going to Community College. As I'm sure others do too.

Tom also said this:

Unfortunately, the Republicans want to keep people away from school and as dumb as possible (watch FOX NEWS!!). An educated populace is not a conservative populace.  Education breeds liberalism, if you pay attention, that is. So good luck with Congress.

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