Saturday, April 21, 2007

captain over

walking, as one has to do for miles and miles these days, as well as waiting in lines at least 4 times (checkin, passport control, security AND boarding) in Dublin airport, i passed many, many, many white courtesy telephones

I was terribly tempted to pick one up and just say "good day to you kind sir" as a courtesy, but for some strange reason, i refrained.

meanwhile, why are there 4 lines? why can't they do all the checks in one line?
why not have the crew at the security line, check the ticket, bags, passport/photoid,

what is their problem? are the stupid or something?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

not for prophet, guns and cell phones

so with virginia tech, who needs al quaeda? as for the NRA, words fail me.

so what is weird about this is that there was no community of people txting/emailing and making cell phone calls - is there no cell phone coverage on the campus, and are there no people with laptops and wifi access?

yet again a failure to use the technology to provide _information_ in a timely way to warn each other of impending disaster and avoid it...(viz tsunami, and katrina and so on).

meanwhile, if I were a moslem in some of the poorest countries in the world, i'd ask what it is that is so great about islam (just like christianity) that it fails its believers so badly. like all religions, it is a palliative for poverty, and a poor excuse for not fixing things.

Friday, April 13, 2007

oleagenous spondoliciosity

winston v. dawkins - marvellous spectacle of taking two great men and reducing a fine argument to irrelevance - the fundamentalists must be laughing all the way to the weapons salesmen

Thursday, April 12, 2007

listen, kilgore trout's come unstuck in time

I'm surprised people didn't notice how much Douglas Adams owed to Kilgore Trout, the fictional (yet somehow real) SF writer in several of Kurt Vonnegut (RIPs) novel and short stories- quite a few of the plot outlines Vonnegut sketches are pure DNA - this is not a bad thing - Adams did fine things with his ideas (if they came from there - if not, then great minds think alike).

There is that one book "authored' by Kilgore Trout - I heard it was ghosted by Philip Jose Farmer. Nevermind, its fairly terrible (sub Bill the Galactic Hero stuff).

Vonnegut memorably deconstructed the true message of the New Testament:
"Don't sarcfice people, because you never know how important their Dad might be".

No longer punctual, Vonnegut, Like Adams is now late, and spread out over the ample memory of many people as if he too, like Winston Niles Rumfoord III had entered a Chronosynclastic Infundibulum, just to see what it was like. Thank heavens his brother didn't really discover Ice Nine.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bush's Possion d'avril on Blair was...

to reset the GPS signal from the satellites above Ira[nq] to fool the brit sailors into sailing into Iran's waters embarassingl blair into an apology/climbdown, and cunningly stabailizing the rtegion by allowing the Iranian Premier to sound sane, and humane...

would be a great consipiracy theory, but its TOO CLEVER BY HALF and no way could the Yank foot-in-mouth president pull it off....

oh well...

[for non francophones, Poisson d'avril is the french name for an April Fools joke)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Expedia (Expletive Deleted) Ripoff Artists

we booked a flight for 500 quid on a mainstream US airline
on Expedia for an aunt called (lets say)
Marie Gleeson

we then notice her given name on the passport is (lets say)
Anna-Maria Gleeson
(though everyone knows her as Marie)
and ask Expedia if they'll change the ticket.
Answer: "No: you have to cancel, no refund, and buy a new one."

We ask the US airline - someone says - that should be ok, but then later someone else says
"no its too much of a change". This is an electronic ticket.
We have not been asked for a passport number at this point,
so its not to do with security as the ticket was paid for by a third party with a completely different name their credit card.

This is simply an arbitrary Expedia "policy".
I'd happily pay some (even outrageous) admin fee for re-doing the booking, but I cannot believe this BS from both Expedia and the Airline -
in fact we are emailing (and writing to, how old fashioned)
Watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading and the Ombudsman,
as its clearly bad business practice

(yes, their web page says they won't change names, but what is a "name" ?
it is clear the main purpose is to stop arbitrage and transfer of ticket,
when its obvious we are not doing that.
It is also clear that one could risk showing up with a ticket in the name
M Smith but be called MA Smith on the passport -
why would the airline care so lloing as only 1 smith showed up?
(note I have travelled on a passport with Jonothan Smith on it,
but with tickets saying Jon Smith for donkeys years without problems -
I assume J Arthur Rank had no problem booking as J Arthur Rank,
but showing up with a passport that said John Arthur Rank...)

Frankly, we are pointing them at the watchdog programme
(and have complained to the credit card company about this)
c.f they already had a programme item about this just last week
watchdog on airline ticket name change
and its clear that it is shoddy practice, even if "legal",
which I doubt in UK fair trading law.

1. we tried to change the name _same day_
(there were still other tickets at the same price -
this is a ticket for july being booked in april.
so we just booked another ticket at that price in the right name to prove our good intent
(and to make sure aunt could travel!)

2. this is an e-ticket only and they do not have passport number,
so the name is an arbitrary thing at this point
(i.e. only later when someone shows up with the
booking reference at the airport would the actual ID matter. so "post 9/11" arguments are
nonsense, esp. given its a relatively common name.

3. the person paying is a 3rd party, so the name is arbitrary, however, why would we do all the above if we were trying to get a ticket at one price and then sell it on to someone else?

i.e. from this you can infer :
i) we are not trying to transfer the ticket
(just make the name accurate w.r.t passport)
ii) there's no security check going on so its nothing to do with that
(since they only have a name, and a relatively common one at that.
iii) these are the only reasons I can think of
(other than that perhaps their software is rubbish that a name change between now and 3 months from now would not be possible, for Expedia, or the US airline)

580 quid - if it was me I'd just turn up and blag it,
but its our 70 year old aunt, and i do not think it is fair, reasonable, and from now on I will
not use Expedia and will recommend none of my friends ever use Expedia, and will make sure that such stories about Expedia are well known. I have for example just told 100 people at
a conference we have today in Cambridge this story. They all could not believe it either. (well they could believe it but thought it extremely bad behaviour by aforesaid company). These 100 people were estemeed academics from all over Europe and the US who travel a lot. hint hint.

So long, Expedia, and thanks for all the phish.