Sunday, June 30, 2002
Refer a friend to Delta
and earn miles. 500 miles for each referral that signs up for Delta's frequent flier program. What's more, they'll each get 1000 free miles with their first Delta flight. Earn a maximum of 2,500 miles this way.
A 16 year-old Georgia girl is sentenced to boot camp for having sex with her boyfriend
under an "anti-fornication law" which forbids sex outside of marriage. In an unrelated development, a Sunday school teacher is sentenced
for suggesting a boy write "What Would Jesus Do?" on his penis to ward off temptation.
Thanks to Instapundit
Friday, June 28, 2002
More underage drinking for the Bush daughters
. I think this begs the question: why is it illegal for a 20 year old to drink?
When I was a kindergartener, we used to sing a song that we most certainly didn't understand:
Marijuana, marijuana, PCP, PCP.
Rockefeller makes it, Jimmy Carter takes it.
Why can't we? Why can't we?
If it's alright for the powerful, why not for the rest of us?
I don't see any DC cops busting down the doors of the White House or the Crawford, Texas ranch to arrest Jenna and Barbara Bush. Nor should they -- and not just because they're hot.
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
I previously noted the far-out concerns of a US invasion of Denmark and Canada
. According to the London Telegraph, we no longer need to worry about the US seizing Bermuda
The Charlotte Observer reports that tobacco settlement funds are being used to subsidize tobacco farmers in North Carolina
. Read more about the tobacco settled boondoggle
at Walter Olson's excellent website. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan
for the reference.
Monday, June 24, 2002
So what are these travel links at the bottom of the page and better yet who cares?
For right now, let me call your attention to (2):
: Checking out this site may be the most important travel tip I can give you. Priceline can be a great resource for saving money on travel, but it's often too much of a hassle to be useful. Take hotels: not only don't you know how low Priceline will go, you have no idea where Priceline will put you (as long as it's within the geographic area promised). What if you knew in advance what hotel you were going to get? What if you knew that you didn't have only one chance to bid, but that if your bid was rejected you could continue bidding without choosing different areas or different quality levels? This website does just that. With the help of biddingfortravel.com
, I got the Sheraton NY Hotel and Towers on Times Sqaure for $87, the Airport Hilton in Phoenix for $36, and the Marriott Boca Raton for $55 -- just to name a few.
: One of the keys to getting good deals on airfare and hotels is checking around -- alot. Often Orbitz and Expedia don't have the best deal. Sometimes individual hotel and airline sites offer better bargains. But which ones? And who has time to check them all out? Installing the simple software available at this website will do the work for you. When you go to a website to check travel prices, Sidestep knows it -- grabs the information from your search, submits it to all of the airline and hotel sites, and displays all of the available deals on the lefthand side of your screen.
Thursday, June 20, 2002
I'm on the board of America's Future Foundation
but had to read about the AFF blogging roundtable from Eve Tushnet
, Gene Healy
, Jen Rajkowski
, Bear Droppings
, and Heather Hosford
. Man, it was popular!
Hypocrisy, thy name is Bono
. No wonder Bono is so generous with government money
. Under a special Irish law, he doesn't pay taxes
I still remember my first flight in First Class. I remember playing with the seat controls and the massage feature. I still have the menu. I can still taste the shrimp appetizer. Believe me, you never want to go back. But... first class is expensive. Fortunately, I don't pay for it. You don't have to either.
There are lots of ways to upgrade to first class from coach.
First, many airlines offer the ability to upgrade for free if you purchase a "full fare" coach ticket. These are the really expensive tickets that are refundable and don't have a fee for making changes. Other airlines allow you to upgrade such a ticket for a fee. Still, I don't buy full fare tickets. My employer won't shell out that kind of money. After all, a full fare flight to California and back costs more than my month's rent and car payment.
The next way to get into first class is to be a frequent flier and loyal customer. Lots of folks fly alot and split their flying across different airlines. If you concentrate your flying on a single airline you might travel enough to earn "status" which is rewarded with several perks - the best of which is flying mostly up in the front of the plane (other perks include priority security screening, priority boarding, priority baggage claim, waitlist priority, and bonus miles).
Most airlines require 25,000 flight miles in a calendar year to qualify as "elite." Northwest, Continental, America West, and Alaska all give automatic free domestic upgrades to their elite members. United, American, and USAirways all use certificates than can be purchased or earned by flying. 25,000 miles isn't that hard to accumulate -- a co-worker of mine took a vacation to Australia last year. That plus a domestic roundtrip and she had elite status.
American Airlines even has a fast track to elite status. It's called a challenge. With 5,000 full-fare or 10,000 discount miles in 3 months American will make you Gold (equivalent to 25,000 miles in a year). With 10,000 full-fare or 20,000 discount miles in 3 months American will make you platinum (equivalent to 50,000 miles in a year).
To sign up, contact:
ATTN: Member Services
P.O. Box 619688
DFW Airport, TX 75261-9688
Or fax (817) 963-7882
Service Center phone (800) 882-8880
Most travelers think that the only thing miles and points are good for is free tickets. Usually 25,000 miles = a domest ticket. Don't forget that a few more miles will get you a first class ticket. A couple years ago I cashed in 120,000 miles on United for a first class ticket -- which would normally cost roughly $10,000. I couldn't ever afford the kind of luxury I received -- fully reclining bed, personal VCR, Dom Perignon champagne, a concierge to carry my carryons for me
, and more.
Miles can also be used to purchase upgrades. On United, for example, you can use 10,000 miles to upgrade any flight where there's upgrade space available. What's more, you don't have to wait until close to the day of the flight to upgrade. A mileage upgrade is confirmable any time in advance. For cross country flights, I always check to see that first class is available before I book -- and I'm assured not to have to sit in coach.
Some other ideas...
* Ask your frequent traveling co-workers if they have any extra upgrade certificates. I, for instance, come across extra certificates all the time. They come from the strangest places.
* You can purchase upgrade certificates on Ebay (in violation of most programs' rules)
* You can try to talk your way up front. This isn't easy without status, but occasionally when coach is oversold an airline will need to move passengers up front to make room.
The TV program Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
required would-be contestants to call in on a touch tone telephone to qualify for the show. A federal appeals court
ruled that the touch tone telephone procedure may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act
Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Check back tomorrow... how to fly first class for the price of coach
A friend asked me today whether I knew about iDine
. Of course, I know all about it -- it's great.
Here's how it works. It's free. You sign up. You go to restaurants. You earn 10 miles for each dollar that you spend at restaurants that are on their list -- including miles for tax and tip.
You can choose to earn miles on Alaska, American, America West, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, or USAirways.
The whole system is automatic. You register your credit card, and the points post automatically when you pay your bill with that card.
The only limitation is that you are generally only able to earn miles at a particular restaurant once per month. However, there's a way around this constraint... a glitch in their system. Just sign up different credit cards to earn miles with different airlines. If you register one card with United, one with Delta, and a third with Northwest you will be able to earn miles at the same restaurant three times in a month as long as you pay with a different card each time.
The easiest 10,000 miles of my life. Northwest Airlines
' promotion: "Fly Free Faster" -- You need to click here to register.
After you register, you need to qualify. You can take a Northwest flight, sign up for MCI long distance
, or get a Northwest Visa
. Each of these activities, naturally, earns bonus points.
Now that you've qualified, you need to have activity with five partners. It can be any five -- and you can even duplicate them.
Five iDine restaurants qualify as five partners. A single towel purchased from JC Penney via the Northwest Mall
works as a partner... Transferring points from Goldpoints
count. It's easy!
You have until July 31 to complete all activity.
On Monday I noted that
the E.U. was considing banning happy hours in bars. Now they're considering banning packs of less than twenty cigarettes
Tuesday, June 18, 2002
No new content on Tuesday. I'll be out of town until mid-morning on Wednesday, at which point I promise to get heavier on the free travel and light on my own ill-informed opinions.
Monday, June 17, 2002
New reasons to dislike the European Union
The EU wants to ban coffee shops in the Netherlands in which hashish and marijuana may be legally consumed
The EU is considering banning all happy hours throughout Europe
. Seriously. Socialists in the EU parliament argue that happy hours are used by big bars to drive their smaller competitors ("who can't afford to lower prices") out of business.
The (London) Independent reports that the Venezuelan military may stage a new coup by July 5
. The Democratically-elected socialist Hugo Chavez will be hard-pressed to make a case to the world for outrage. Chavez himself staged a failed coup in 1992 before being voted-in as President in 1998.
Sunday, June 16, 2002
My very first link
. My friend Sasha over at The Volokh Conspiracy
provides the very first linking to this site
by crediting me for sending him a link. If you made it to my site from there, welcome
! I hope you come back... maybe I even warrant a bookmark?
Lloyd Grove reports on "Six Degrees of Fred Thompson"
.. Former representative Ben Jones (D-Ga.), who played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard" and is now running for Congress from Virginia, was in "Primary Colors" with John Travolta, who was in "Pulp Fiction" with Bruce Willis, who was in "Die Hard 2" with Fred Thompson. "The Price is Right" host Bob Barker lobbied for better treatment of circus elephants with Kim Basinger, the estranged wife of Alec Baldwin, who starred in "The Hunt for Red October" with Fred Thompson. Fred Thompson's web also involves Denzel Washington, Lou Diamond Phillips and Benji.
Two Sunday evening Reuters pieces caught my attention.
First, Jacques Chirac's center-right coalition won a huge landslide in parliamentary elections
. I don't know that anything will change -- these are the French, after all -- but it's still sweet to see the socialist left trounced to such a degree that the leaders of the Green and Communist parties even lost their own seats.
Second, Microsoft came out in favor of suing software companies
for bugs and other defects. The story portrays Microsoft, whose balance sheets shows $39 billion in cash and cash equivalents, as the biggest target with the most to lose. It makes no attempt to reconcile this seeming contradiction, other than to suggest that Microsoft products are pretty good and they can defend themselves well in court.
Shame on journalists who miss the hidden story here. Why would Microsoft want liability claims against software manufacturers? How do they benefit
Opening up a whole new area of litigation while create a new cost for software companies -- a fixed capital expense that's a big hurdle to overcome for new entrants into the market. Deep pockets like Microsoft can build infrastructures to test for bugs and protect themselves from litigation. They can spread the costs across their line of products and across a world of users. Small startups don't have the diversity of product or the user base to support those kind of expenses.
Microsoft likes this new liability because it's corporate protectionism -- it entrenches existing players and keeps small entrepreneurs from eventually dethroning them. When will a journalist write that story -- about corporate welfare masquerading as pro-consumer legislation
If I post too much during the day from work, my employer might have to fire me. That might be okay, because Talentology
is an online job bank which gives 500 United miles for each interview that you get from their site.
Joshua Marshall likes the Kaus piece, too
, and decides to look into the origins of the term "homeland defense." One of the earliest examples comes out of The Heritage Foundation
Saturday, June 15, 2002
ABC News reports
that even members of Congress are feeling the effects of a rule that passengers must remain seated for the first and last half hour of flights into and out of Washington-National airport.
Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop, flying from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Hartsfield Airport on Delta Flight 1717, got up to go to the bathroom after the mandatory half-hour when passengers must stay seated, but found the lavatories on the airplane occupied, his office and aviation sources said.
Sanford then asked a flight attendant for a cup, and "may" have said he intended to relieve himself, his office said.
He went to a section of the plane between the cockpit and first-class, then urinated into the cup, said Bishop spokesman Selby McCash, who described the congressman as "a very gracious and courtly gentleman."
Delta SkyMiles Shopping
offers 100 free Delta miles for signing up.
I like email
. If you need some suggestions on how to get extra miles, what airline program or hotel program to belong to, which credit card to choose, or how to go about getting award reservations, drop me a line.
Friday, June 14, 2002
Mickey Kaus has an excellent piece in Slate
in which he does a very good job explaining the problems with the phrase "homeland security." I highly recommend it.
. I've already had two contributions through Amazon. THANK YOU. Amazon hasn't told me who you are, but I appreciate it. By the way, if readers out there decide to contribute, please also drop me an e-mail. It helps lots -- I'll even acknowledge you on the site if it's alright with you. Thanks!
This Washington Post article speaks for itself
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights usually investigates discrimination complaints outside its offices. But in the case of its former staff solicitor, Emma Monroig, the agency could have stayed indoors.
Monroig was awarded $150,000 for back pay, mental duress and attorneys' fees. The EEOC also ordered that she be reinstated as solicitor.
Commission employees have filed nine recent complaints with the EEOC, commission officials said.
Three were filed by Hispanics, and the rest by black and white workers. Of those nine, at least three have been settled. In light of Monroig's award, questions about the treatment of staff, performance evaluations and other personnel issues linger, officials said.
Monroig's odyssey with the EEOC began in 1994, when she filed an informal discrimination complaint. Passman said her claim was that higher-level jobs held by a few Hispanic employees were being taken over by black workers.
Commission officials said she essentially filed the claim with herself, because she was the agency's representative to the EEOC. Shortly afterward, the commission began to contract out her responsibilities. In 1995, she filed a formal discrimination complaint. After she filed that complaint, she was demoted. And that, the EEOC ruled, constituted retaliation.
Okay, one comment just for clarification's sake. The article quotes the agency solicitor's attorney as saying "There's a need for the solicitor's position, to avoid conflicts of interest." Of course, when the solicitor filed a case against her own commission, she created a conflict of interest. The agency parceled out pieces of her job as a result. That's why she won
Thursday, June 13, 2002
Fly the Concorde for $1258.95
First, buy 21 subscriptions to Inside Flyer
magazine for a total cost of $1258.95. If you act by June 30, you'll get 2500 Starwood points per subscription
, or a total of 52500 Starwood points. (If you don't already have a Starwood account, open one here
Second, transfer the 52500 Starwood points into a Qantas account. For every 20000 points you redeem, you also get a bonus 5000 points. 52500 points becomes 62500 points. Starwood points become Quantas points at a 1:2 ration. Thus, you now have 125,000 Qantas points. (If you don't already have a Qantas account, open one here
Third, redeem 125,000 Qantas points for a roundtrip ticket with partner British Airways on the Concorde.
Availability of Concorde awards seems not to be a problem at all.
You can actually reduce the cost roughly in half if you donate the magazine subscriptions to charity... :)
Remember, the first step -- buying the magazine subscriptions -- needs to be initiated by June 30th because that's when the bonus Starwood points offer expires. The rest of it will follow quickly, but there's no time pressure involved.
Before taking a trip with either United or American, check out SeatGuru
. It has aircraft layouts and recommendations on which seats have a bit of extra room, and which seats to avoid because you'll always get hit by the flight attendants pushing the beverage cart.
Pick up 500 United miles by requesting a quote on a new car at Vehiclemiles.com
Grab 500 United miles for requesting information from the E-Loan Move Center
Request an auto insurance quote from GMAC
and receive 500 American Airlines miles.
The Los Angeles Times
covers a gaffe by The Beijing Evening News -- the Chinese paper picked up and ran a story from The Onion
which claimed that Congress was going to pick up and leave Washington, DC unless a new Capitol was built for them. The paper acknowledged their error, but fails to understand the humor:
"Some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them, with the aim of making money," the paper said. "This is what the Onion does."
It cited a recent Onion article about the U.S. government issuing life jackets to all Americans for some unexplained reason. "According to congressional workers, the Onion is a publication that never ceases making up false reports," the Evening News said.
Thanks to OpinionJournal
's "Best of the Web" for the reference.
US force in the least likely of places
The U.S. Senate voted to authorize military force against Denmark
if a U.S. citizen is held by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The C.D. Howe Institute believes that the U.S. could invade Canada
in pursuit of its war on terror.
(Thanks to Free-Market.net
for pointing these out.)
Booking American Airlines travel on the AA.com
website? Use DCAA
in the discount code box and save 5%.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Crain's Chicago Business reports
that United Airlines will seek federal loan guarantees if their employee groups agree to concessions. United CEO Jack Creighton says ``whether or not the loan guarantees are forthcoming, the survival of United Airlines is not in doubt.'' I'm confused. Why is the government making loan guarantees available to companies that can survive without them?
Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Harry Truman was known to complain when his fellow Democrats caved in and acted like Republicans: "In an election between a Republican and a Republican, a Republican is going to win." In other words, what's the point of voting for a Democrat if they're just going to vote like a Republican?
Now the flip side.
CQ Daily Monitor says that House Republican
'sponsors of a Medicare drug benefit bill plan to introduce the measure today and expect to mark it up on Thursday, a GOP aide said. In the meantime, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committee chairmen Bill Thomas, R-Calif., and Billy Tauzin, R-La., continue their "education campaign" to solidify GOP support for the legislation. A Dear Colleague letter is being drafted to explain the impact of a package of Medicare payment increases of about $20 billion over 10 years, more than half of which would go to rural health care providers.'
The Senate voted 68-29 to add $450 billion to the federal debt ceiling -- just enough to push off insolvency past election day. I'm sure that date is pure coincidence. Or happenstance. Or on purpose.
Today's CQ Daily Monitor has House Speaker Dennis Hastert announcing at the end of the week a plan to push through the House a bill that would create a homeland security department. The goal, which Dick Armey thinks is realistic, is to create the department by the first anniversary of 9/11. Call me crazy, but I can think of several better ways to honor the victims of the terrorist attack than the creation of a new 170,000 person bureaucracy.
Monday, June 10, 2002
The Bush Administration is considering privatizing the nation's air traffic control system
. Predictably, the union representing government employed air traffic controllers are unhappy. However, as airline schedules return to their pre-9/11 levels, our congested skies need help. This problem has been pretty much solved in Canada through privatization, and it will work even better here
Oenophiles are a homeland security risk!
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports
that the Rochester airport was cleared after security screeners lost track of a woman with a corkscrew in her carryon.
Of course, corkscrews can be found in airplane galleys all across the country, where they are used to open bottles of wine (in first class).
The woman had taken it from the restaurant
in the hotel she had checked out of that morning.
Instapundit makes a very simple and obvious point -- that nearly everyone seems to have missed. As the administration demands more funds, more power, and more agencies to gain the information necessary to fight terror... we learn that the real problem isn't a lack of information at all. The FBI and CIA had all the information they could ever have needed. The failure is in data analysis, not data collection
. The CIA and FBI either didn't know what to do with the information they had, or couldn't do anything with it. How bizarre to think they need to snoop around for more data
Am I the only one that gets the heebie-jeebies from this phrase? I keep hearing "Rheinland" in place of Homeland (use best German accent). I'm not making a Hitler analogy here
, but the language is frightening. We must protect the Homeland! (What was the purpose of the Defense Department before??)
To mix my metaphors, it's positively Orwellian. At least Kausfiles
is calling for a better name. I tend to think the name is right on, precisely because it's so evocative of scary things.
Bush says not to blame past government agency errors that failed to prevent 9/11. No, we just need a new agency! With lots of money!
Of course, growing the government will not solve anything
. More security at airports = long waits and crowded security lines = perfect terrorist target. So, we have to check everyone entering
the airport = long lines to get into the airport itself = perfect terrorist target.
The only way to stop terrorism is end a foreign policy whose unintended consequences
are the opposite of our goals and whose primary result is to oppress people who then want to blow us up.
Friday, June 07, 2002
Random and useless facts:
The most beer available to the public in a single place exists each July in Leipzig, Germany (the 2nd largest city in the former East Germany; pop. 560,000). Several miles
of beer tables and stands turn the area in front of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal into a giant beer garden with 900 brands from 70 countries.
Shanghai is the only city in the world to have a verb derived from its name. The term “to shanghai” someone originated in the 19th century when laborers were unwittingly roped into indentured servitude at sea. If anyone can come up with another city-cum-verb, please e-mail me
Uruguay has the largest per-capita concentration of psychologists in the world.
The tango was born in the brothels of Buenos Aires in the 19th century.
Thursday, June 06, 2002
Renting a car from Avis
? Enter D002807
in the "AWD" field and get 10-50% off... and Avis will make a donation to the Amateur Sports Assistance Program. You get a discount, they make a donation. Not bad, eh?
My very first post told you how to get complimentary Gold Status with Hilton
. I should note some additional things -- that you should get 1000 points for signing up automatically; that you can "update" your profile by changing your address/email address/etc. for another 1000 points (and do it twice per quarter for points); and that you can sign up for their no fee American Express card for 7500 bonus points and their no-fee Visa for 10000 points. That's 20,500 points instantly -- which is worth two free full weekends
of Hilton hotels. Not bad for filling out a couple of forms on-line.