Category Archives: featured

Afghanistan again leads list of world’s top 193 countries, based on alphabetical order

                                              Afghan boy delighted to learn his country again ranks at top.

BobCarriesOn.com has released its annual report of the world’s top 193 countries, based on alphabetical order. Afghanistan remains No. 1, a position it has held since 1967, when the state of Aden, on the Arabian Peninsula, became part of Yemen.

Afghanistan’s fifty consecutive years at the top of the list is impressive. Its longevity has been surpassed only by Abyssinia, which was No. 1, alphabetically, from 1137 to 1889, when it became part of modern Ethiopia.

The No. 1 standing has benefitted Afghanistan in many ways. It has helped bolster the country’s stature, for example, among Westerners who are interested in poppy growing,  goat grabbing (which is a national sport), and war-zone safety practices. It has also helped offset other rankings, such as: The Legatum Prosperity Index, 148th; World Happiness Report, 154th; Life Expectancy at birth 162nd; GDP Per Capita 175th; and Ease of doing business 181st.

Among other countries, the United States was unable, once again, to rank higher than 185th. It finished ahead of only Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. And in continental standings, the U.S. fared even worse, finishing 23rd out of the top 23 North American countries.

Looking ahead to next year, Afghanistan could find its top spot in jeopardy. Abkhazia, a tiny slice of the former Soviet Union, has been successful at getting only a handful of nations to recognize its independence from the country of Georgia. However, one of those nations is Russia. So,  Abkhazia could soon find that its breakaway aspirations — and hopes of becoming No. 1 — have the full support of the U.S. State Department.

Top finishers by continent, based on alphabetic order (world standings in parentheses)

Asia

Afghanistan (1); Armenia (8); Azerbaijan (11).

Azerbaijan has more mud volcanoes than any other country, and also the largest mud volcano. There is little evidence, however, that either fact has influenced the Azerbaijanis’ attitude toward mud wrestling, either as a sport or a political tactic.

Europe

Albania (2); Andorra (4); Austria (10).

Andorra has one of the world’s highest life expectancies and, perhaps not coincidentally, has not been to war in more than a thousand years.

Africa

Algeria (3); Angola (5); Benin (19).

Benin is home to the largest remaining population of lions in West Africa. It also ranks 162nd in life expectancy. The two seem to be unrelated.

North America

Antigua and Barbuda (6); Bahamas (12); Barbados (15).

The world’s first recorded sale of rum took place on Barbados, which is still a major producer. Despite that, Barbados has a literacy rate of 99%.

South America

Argentina (7); Bolivia (21); Brazil (24)

The Yungas Road, leading from Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, has been called the world’s most dangerous. It has been suggested that one solution to the vehicular carnage — for people dressed as zebras to help children cross the streets — does not go far enough.

Australia

Australia (9).

The once proud, boastful Australians now rank only 19th worldwide for beer consumption per capita.

Antarctica

Not rated.

BobCarriesOn.com Editor in Chief Bob Payne in on the board of the Know YourABC’s Foundation.

Bigly travel story of the week: Six really great walls

                                                                                                        John Tenniel Illustration

Really great walls are taking on a growing role in the plans of many travelers. There’s talk, of course, of a really great wall going up along the U.S. Mexico border. And some Canadians have long thought there ought to be one along their border, too. But really great walls, as we are about to show you, have long been a bigly part of the travel experience.

 

Really great wall of china
                                                                                          BigStock/Severin.stalder Photo

The Really Great Wall of China

Stretching for some 5,500 miles, the remains of the Really Great Wall of China is an early example of how a massive barrier, many feet thick and even more high, is about as effective at keeping people on one side or the other as a stern lecture from a vice-principal is at keeping high school boys from spiking the punch at a homecoming dance.

The problem was that the Really Great Wall of China had some 1,387 miles of gaps so porous that they were thought to be responsible for the enormous success of Chinese take out. No doubt the gaps were responsible, too, for the rise of such popular ice cream flavors as “Mongol Madness.”

The Really Great Wall of China was most successful as a massive infrastructure project. At its height, wall construction put millions of Chinese to work, whether they wished to be or not. Cost over-runs were a problem though, largely because developers had not yet mastered working with such modern building materials as bull excrement.

Today, the most visited part of the wall, because of its easy access to Beijing, is the Badaling section. According to many critics, though, after fighting the crowds and hassling with the taxi drivers, visitors often come away feeling that it ought to be called the Just Ok Wall of China.

 

Really Great Berlin Wall
                                                                                                      BigStock/Hanohki Photo

The Really Great Berlin Wall

From 1961 through 1989 the story surrounding the Really Great Berlin Wall, was, according to leaders of the East German government, the most bigly example of fake news ever reported.

With photos to back up their claim, East German leaders insisted that the Really Great Berlin Wall had in no way been a barrier to keep East Berlin citizens escaping to the West. Instead, they said, the 27-mile long, 11.8-foot high concrete structure had been a really great example — probably one of the greatest examples ever – of government support of the arts.

The wall was meant to be a public venue on which Berlin’s young artists — really great young artists — could showcase their talent through such time-honored media as spray paint.

The extent to which the Berlin government was willing to encourage such artistic expression was made evident, officials said, by the 20 bunkers, 302 guard towers, and uncounted other measures erected to safeguard the artists against interference by fascist and other anti-socialist Western elements.

The Really Great Berlin Wall was demolished in 1990. But commemorative pieces are still for sale. In fact, some 3.6 tons of the original 2.5 tons of concrete used in the construction can currently be purchased on e-Bay.

 

Humpty Dumpty Really great wall
                                                                                                      John Tenniel Illustration

Humpty Dumpty’s Really Great Wall 

Although parts of Humpty Dumpty’s Really Great Wall may still exist, the inspiration for the classic English nursery rhyme is a matter of dispute.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, Humpty is depicted as an egg. Or — a reader could infer — someone with an ego as fragile as an egg.

In other interpretations, the clearly wobbly character has been a stand-in for any number of kings and other powerful public figures who, because of their overreach, end up taking such a great fall that not even all their horses and all their political advisors can put them together again.

There’s even an interpretation that holds wide sway, especially among pro-growth supporters, that Humpty Dumpty was a cannon that sat atop the wall surrounding the town of Colchester, England, during the English Civil War of 1642-51. Part of the wall still exists, but the story is that return fire from opposing forces so undermined its foundation that without sufficient infrastructure-funding most of it eventually came tumbling down.

One thing most interpreters agree on, though, is that the poem stands as a cautionary tale about the disaster that can befall anyone who uses a really great wall as a podium from which to draw attention to themselves.

 

Really Great Wall Street occupy
                                                                                             BigStock/Chris Cintron Photo

The Really Great Wall Street

Among Americans who don’t get their news from traditional outlets, Wall Street is perhaps best known for its recent history of standing up to occupiers and other foreigners.

What many people don’t know, however, is that Wall Street is actually named after a really great wall, one built to keep out pirates, Native Americans, non-European Union members and, according to some sources, radical Islamic terrorists.

The original wall was a wooden palisade built at the south end of Manhattan by the Dutch in the 1600’s. Fortunately for much of America’s current population, it did not serve as a barrier for immigrants of British stock, who were able to get visa waivers.

 

Really Great Wall Mart parking lot view.
                                                                                    Wiki.southpark.cc.com Illustration

The Really Great Wall-Mart

Wall-Mart is a really great American-owned retail store featured in an episode of the public affairs program South Park. The episode looks at what could happen in America if addiction treatment is not part of basic health care coverage.

The premise of the episode is that almost everyone in South Park is so addicted to Wall-Mart’s bargain prices that they stop shopping at other South Park businesses, putting the town into such a recessionary spiral that they are desperate to try anything that might make it really great again.

What they try is listening to a politician who promises that under his winning direction they will become the next state to benefit greatly from the legalization of marijuana. Too late, though, even the politician’s most ardent South Park supporters are faced with the reality that the town is in Colorado, where marijuana has already been legal for several years.

 

BobCarriesOn editor-in-chief Bob Payne sits on the wall on a great many issues.

 

BULLETPROOF: Best Carry-on Bags For When Things Go Bad

Practically all the new carry-on bags claim to be as smart as a phone, or a watch. Some tell you how much they weigh. Some follow you through the airport. And some let you know your spouse is in Miami, not Milwaukee.

But the truly useful innovations are found in carry-on bags that are at their best when things go bad. Especially impressive, for instance, are the bags that can provide cover in case of gunfire.

A British firm, Terrapin Technology, produces bulletproof carry-on bags as part of their “Go Ballistic” line. For best results, you hold the bag up to your face and chest, as if in a cowering manner. A barrier of “military grade” ballistic-resistant material then helps protect you from 9 mm bullets, knife thrusts, and, if your day has really gotten off on to a bad start, “shrapnel from a bomb blast.”

Man riding carryon bag scooter
                                                                                     Micro Luggage Photo

Carry-on Bag Luggage Scooter

Travelers who routinely fly out of smaller, regional airports know that getting a good seat often requires a dash from the gate to the plane. Increase your odds of being first to arrive by using a luggage scooter from Micro Luggage. An extendable aluminum handle and kickboard allows you to ride your carry-on bag in a style acceptable to even the youngest teens in your party.

Woman on motorized, ride-able carry-on bag
                                                                       Modobag/Indiegogo Photo

Rideable Carry-on Bags

Need more getaway-speed than scooter-style carry-on bags can provide? What if, for instance, you have just used an emergency evacuation slide to exit an airplane you’d like to distance yourself from as quickly as possible? Then you might be ready for the Modobag. Billed as the world’s first ride-able, motorized, carry-on bag, it can reach speeds of up to 8 mph. Which is faster even than a man who has just noticed jet fuel leaking all over the tarmac can run.

Fire resistant Cardinal Bag Supplies Briefcase
                                              Cardinal Bag Supplies Photo

Fire-resistant Carry-on Bags

If you anticipate not being able to make a quick getaway, fire-resistant carry-on bags can be a good investment. Cardinal Bag Supplies makes briefcase-style carry-on bags that are fire resistant up to 2,500 degrees. It is necessary to point out, however, that if the bag is within your reach, temperatures much above 200 degrees will make the investment of interest primarily to your heirs.

Man blowing up floating carry-on bag
                                                                                       Capsula Bag Photo

Carry-on Bags That Float

What happens should your plane’s pilot misjudge, for example, the length of an aircraft carrier? You’ll want carry-on bags that are leak-resistant or, better yet, designed to float. Among the best we’ve found is the EL 22 Elite Carry-On, from Pelican, which has “passed submergence tests for an hour at a depth of one meter.” (Which is an industry standard, but, admittedly, didn’t impress us much, either.) More impressive is a line of bags from a new company, Capsula Bag, which actually float. You have to blow up an inner chamber, but we assume that given the right circumstances — such as an offshore current or circling sharks — most users would be okay with that.

Pelican submersible carry-on bag
                                                                                                Pelican Photo

Impact-resistant Carry-on Bags

Ultimately, when things go bad the best of the new carry-on bags are those that are old-fashioned tough. Among the toughest, we have already mentioned the submergible EL 22 Elite. With double walls that won’t buckle under loads of up to 1,500 pounds, you could practically drop the Elite from cruising altitude without having to look for pieces.

Which would have made it a good choice for legendary, almost mythical, hijacker D. B. Cooper when he bailed out of a Boeing 727 somewhere over the Pacific Northwest in 1971. Unfortunately for Cooper, who was never heard from again, they found some of his $200,000 in ransom money scattered along the banks of the Columbia River, suggesting that his bag, at least, did not survive the jump.

 

BobCarriesOn editor-in-chief Bob Payne has never jumped from an airplane with a carry-on bag, containing ransom money.

 

Airlines introduce Mind Your Own Business Class

 

Desperate to discourage chatty fellow passengers? At times, not even responding to every attempt at conversation with, “Want to buy my toothbrush?” is enough. But help is on the way, as airlines introduce a new category of service. Mind Your Own Business Class

The premium-tier service offers the expected amenities. Among them are eyeshades, noise-canceling headphones, and monogramed airline socks primarily meant to serve as gags to quiet offending passengers. (In the event of an emergency, apply the gags to adults first, and then to children.)

But early users of Mind Your Own Business Class say there’s one thing they most appreciate.  The peace of mind that comes with knowing that specially trained members of the cabin crew are standing by to sew shut the lips of any especially annoying seat-mate.

“For an add-on fee, the cabin crew will even perform the operation on themselves,” said Bob Payne, head of surgical procedures for Air Bob, one of the first domestic carriers to introduce the service.

Payne said Mind Your Own Business Class is proving very popular with Air Bob passengers. So much so that some have begun arranging to fly with the more loquacious among family and friends just so they can surprise them with the lip operation.

The success of Mind Your Own Business Class has been so great, said Payne, that Air Bob is looking into the possibility of creating a similar economy class service.

“The only difference would be that in order to keep costs down, as each economy class passenger who opted for the service boards the aircraft the cabin crew would be standing by in order to surgically remove the tongue of passengers sitting around them,” said Payne.

When not performing surgery for Air Bob, Bob Payne serves as the Editor in Chief of BobCarriesOn.com, the travel humor website that has been offering travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock. 

Longest flights ranked by who sits next to you

 

Airlines, for reasons most people find incomprehensible, like to boast of record-setting non-stop flights, ranked by hours in the air. The longest flights are currently claimed to be around 17 hours, although as every passenger knows, the real duration of a flight is determined by who sits next to you. The very longest flights include those on which your seatmate is:

Positive you said you would shut the oven off.

Struggling with issues of bladder control.

Louder than an accompanying child.

Returning from a wedding, with photos.

Demonstrably capable of reciting pi to 3,764 places.

Attempting to assemble an unidentifiable electronic device.

Recently retired, from sumo wrestling.

Watching an X-rated movie, you’ve already seen.

Shackled, but not gagged.

Dead.

5 coolest places in America: The Lawsuit

We learned today that BobCarriesOn.com is facing a lawsuit by an irate reader who blames us for the severe frostbite he suffered while visiting, allegedly at our recommendation, one of the places featured in a story we recently ran, “The 5 coolest places in America.”

The reader maintains the story should have warned that in none of the places were open-toed sandals appropriate winter footwear. We maintain that he, like far too many Internet users, must have read no further than the headline.

If you missed the story, below are the places we mentioned. Before making plans to visit any of them, please read the descriptions carefully.

Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska

A work settlement during the construction of the Alaska Pipeline, the now abandoned Prospect Creek Camp holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States: -80 degrees F, on January 21, 1971. Tourist attractions include the pipeline’s Pump Station 5, two still-fluttering airstrip windsocks, and what is believed to be one of the largest collections of pre-Internet pornography ever assembled.

Rogers Pass, Montana

Located in a remote wilderness area on the Continental Divide, Rogers Pass holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states: -70 degrees F, on January 20, 1954. Tourist attractions include one of the largest remaining concentrations of grizzly bears in the lower 48, and various garments belonging to previous visitors who attempted to outrun them.

Peter Sinks, Utah

A basin-shaped natural depression allegedly named for a man who would have done well to look elsewhere for a homestead site, Peter Sinks holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Utah: -69.3 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include various locations where it is speculated the would-be homesteader may have succumbed to the elements during his first and only winter at the Sinks.

Riverside Ranger Station, Montana

Pay attention here, because the town of Riverside, Wyoming, is sometimes listed as holding the record for the coldest temperature every recorded in Wyoming: -66 degrees F, on February 9, 1933. But according to the weather website wunderground.com, that temperature was actually recorded at the now non-existent Riverside Ranger Station, which in 1933 was located where the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, now stands. Tourist attractions in the Wyoming town, which has a population of 53, include anybody who can give directions to West Yellowstone, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, eight hours away.

Maybell, Colorado

Vail and Steamboat may have their après ski scenes, but the coolest place in Colorado is Maybell, population 72, which is home to the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state: −61 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include the restaurant, the gas station, the general store, and, during the spring, a depth of horse poop today found in few other American communities.