Archive for November, 2013

Prices On The Rise

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Has anyone seen this very interesting article concerning international air travel in the 1930’s?  (Hat tip to Glenn.)

dinner in a flying boat from new york to london in the 1930's

The adverts stress the extreme luxury that air passengers experienced at the time.  Although I have little doubt that the level of service depicted was reserved for the most expensive of fares, and that there were cheaper options available, it does seem to show a level of pampering that only a present day billionaire with a private jet could match.

new york airport poster from the 1930's

The range of those old prop-driven planes was rather feeble by the standards of today, so direct flights over great distances was impossible.  The strategy was to have a great many stops along the way, with long layovers where the passengers would have to schedule lodgings and meals outside of the airlines.  That is why travel agencies were essential back in the day, while today anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can plan their own itinerary.

An example is shown in the article, where a map from 1934 shows how a passenger could travel from London to Singapore in 8 days.

from london to singapore in 8 days back in 1934

The trip consisted of 22 separate flights.  A travel agency wasn’t necessary, as everything except alcohol was included in the price.  Adjusted for inflation, that was $17,600 USD.

That got me to wondering.  How much would it cost to make the same first class trip today, stopping in the same places?

Well, it is pretty much impossible to say for sure.  I scoured the Internet for some hours, trying to find the prices for all of those flights, but had a very hard time of it.  The much greater range of modern commercial aircraft means that many direct flights of such short duration are simply no longer necessary.  And, considering how little time is spent in the air for many of these brief hops, no first class service is offered.

Still, I think I can get a ballpark figure.  Near as I can tell, using a great deal of no-doubt shaky guesswork, it would cost at least $20,000 USD to get a similar level of service for the same route, with the same number of stops.  And that is just the air fare, without any hotel rooms or extra meals included.*   So why the higher price?

Air travel back in the 1930’s was a developing technology, something that was little more than ten yeas old by the end of the decade.  New technology costs more, as bugs are worked out and new products appear on the market.  Although a modern commercial airplane might be decades old and still going strong, the planes back then were practically factory fresh.  Yet, even though those old planes could only haul a fraction of the bodies, the airlines could still afford to operate them at this price point, and upgrade their fleet every few years when better aircraft were developed.

I think the main reason is that airlines back then were heavily subsidized, more a propaganda exercise by the government than actual commercial concern.  One doesn’t need to turn a profit when propped up by tax money, after all.

Or perhaps the higher prices for present day air travelers are due to the fact that first class passengers are allowed to drink all the alcohol they want for free.  Hey, champagne and fancy whiskey isn’t cheap, you know!

tuxedo and whiskey

 

*(I was informed that modern day first class air travelers are usually treated to complimentary buffets in exclusive lounges maintained by the airline, so meal taken off the airport grounds are not necessaryI didn’t know because I have only flown a few times in my life, and that was always in the cheap seats.)

Many Guns = Terrorist?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

A bulletin jointly issued by the Dept. of Homeland Security and the FBI calls upon law enforcement to be on the lookout for people with “large amounts” of weapons or ammunition.  It seems that stockpiling “unusual amounts” of such material may indicate criminal or terrorist activity!

pile of 9mm parabellum cartridges

hard used 357 magnum and 38 snubby in seoia tones

So what does “unusual amounts” mean, anyway?  The phrase is very ill defined.

I’m a self defense instructor, and own 12 handguns in order to give my students as broad a sample as possible.  Is that unusual?  I once heard that the average handgun owner possesses five firearms of that type.  So I own an “unusual amount”, right?

I buy ammunition in bulk to keep the costs down.  I start to look around to restock when my supply gets down to the 10,000 round mark, knowing that it might be some time before the best deals appear on the market and I don’t want to be caught short.  It seems to me that 10K could be considered an unusual amount.

The author of the missive does take a stab at defining the amounts by saying that law enforcement should focus only on stockpiles which would arouse suspicion in a “reasonable person”.  The problem is that I’ve never encountered anyone in favor of gun control who thought their views were anything less than reasonable, even the woman who advocated forced castration of gun owners.  What one person considers to be the height of well considered and rational policy is nothing more than craziness incarnate to another.

Of course, the examples used in the bulletin discuss how someone in possession of tons of material would be considered suspicious.  My supply falls far short of that.  And the bulletin is careful to instruct law enforcement to avoid reporting “Constitutional activities”, which is as it should be.

But, even still, it is sobering to think that I could be considered a potential terrorist.  And all because I have the tools needed to instruct the most vulnerable members of our society on how to defend themselves.

elderly-wheelchair-160x300

Parking Out, Muddling Through

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Some years ago, I received an email from a reader with an interesting question.  My memory is a bit faulty, but I’ll try to reproduce it as accurately as possible below.

“When driving to the store, do you ever pull through the space?  That way you’d be ready to GO if the situation ever turned TACTICAL and HOT!”

What my anonymous reader was asking isn’t immediately clear for most, but I took it to be a question as to how I park my car when going about my usual daily routine.  It appears that he was interested to find out if I parked with the front bumper facing the aisle, or if I parked with the front bumper nestled against an obstruction.

cars in parking spaces

The picture above is a good illustration.  The car on the left is situated with the front against a cinderblock wall.  The driver will have to put the car into reverse, and carefully back out of the parking space before he can even think about leaving the parking lot.

The car on the right is placed so the front bumper is facing the aisle.  All the driver has to do is start the engine and put the car into gear before he can simply drive away.

It is certainly easier to avoid backing up before leaving the parking lot, but why would the author of the question be so concerned about how I park my car when buying dog food and peanut butter?  Apparently he thinks I should be constantly concerned about making a fast getaway in case a vicious gunfight should erupt in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot!

sean penn firing tommy gun in movie gangster squad

Is this a legitimate fear?  Should I worry about rival gangs shooting it out amongst the inert cars at my local shopping center?

Although it is true that violence can suddenly spring upon anyone, at any place or any time, I think it is much more likely that I will have to foil a mugging or strong armed robbery than be caught up in a full-on gun battle.  The instances where a single mugger approaching someone while armed with a Saturday Night Special are very infrequent as it is.  The chances of finding myself in a war zone here in Columbus, Ohio are even more remote.

What is the bottom line?  If my reader lives in an area where massive gun battles are relatively common, then I would suggest that he have his groceries delivered.

Zombie, Zombies Everywhere!

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Judging by popular culture, Americans seem to have zombies on the brain.  (Get it?  “Zombies on the brain!“)

walking dead season 1 promotional poster

world war z promotional poster

This popularity for chilling stories featuring animated corpses which crave living flesh is certainly understandable, as a great many people enjoy a good horror story.

But what puzzles many people who live overseas, and not a few Americans who are not part of the shooting sports culture, is how those of us who owns firearms seem to spend a great deal of time and money getting ready for the day when the dead rise.  Companies which manufacture firearms and firearm accessories have responded by branding certain of their products as “zombie ready” in an effort to attract customers preparing for the coming “Zombiepocalypse“.

zombie gun cleaning system

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The Kiss Of The Blade

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

I have just spent a delightful 11 minutes listening to this short lecture on the Schola Gladiatoria Youtube channel.  The subject was why the use of bladed weapons was extremely important for centuries after gunpowder weapons were invented.

lego soldier with flintlock pistol and musket

For the record, I agree with everything he says.  This is doubtless why I found the video so interesting!

Probably The Closest To A Real Life Wonder Woman

Monday, November 11th, 2013

samantha swords

(Picture source.)

Color Me Terrified

Monday, November 11th, 2013

terror of the toad men

Nostalgic For The Beep

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

I’m not old enough to remember the heyday of pinball parlors, but I admit to spending many hours in various video arcades.

video arcade

If you remember your youthful desire to feed the quarter-hungry boxes, then you might find this slideshow to be of interest.  It discusses the evolution of coin operated video games.