Ancient scrolls recently discovered near the base of Mount Ararat reveal that many Noah’s Ark passengers traveled as couples to avoid a discriminatory singles-supplement policy.
The supplement — reported to be 100% — was established by the travel industry as a direct response to the limited accommodations available on the Ark and the high demand for them.
“You have to understand, as God apparently didn’t, that we have to set our pricing based on double occupancy,” one member of the Ararat Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is recorded as saying.
According to the member, neither God nor Noah were details-guys and didn’t really understand that it’s not so much a room that makes the lodging and cruise ship industries viable but the extra per-person charges for necessities such as drinks, meals, and having your photo taken on every imaginable occasion.
“It’s not a flood, even one of Biblical proportions, that keeps a ship afloat; it’s the markup on pina coladas,” the member said.
Many of the singles who expressed interest in the 40-days and 40-nights Noah’s Ark cruise felt, however, that the single-supplement was discriminatory.
“We are less work for the cabin stewards and spend more time at the bar than anyone except the couples who are discovering a cruise isn’t a solution to their marital woes after all, so why should we have to pay extra?” complained a giraffe who said he had specifically looked into the Ark cruise because he’d heard that its limbo competition was more challenging than on Carnival.
In the end, in large part at the urging of the rabbits, the singles finally agreed to double up in order to avoid the supplement. And that seemed to work fine – except for the black widow spiders.
Humor travel writer Bob Payne is the editor in chief of BobCarriesOn.com, and a Biblical scholar specializing in ancient cruise ship rituals and practices.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
The once proud, boastful Australians now rank only 19th worldwide for beer consumption per capita.
BobCarriesOn.com Editor in Chief Bob Payne in on the board of the Know YourABC’s Foundation.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Following the TSA’s recent announcement of “enhanced security measures” that include a more invasive pat down, the media has responded in the strongest terms possible. Which is to say that the National Public Radio show Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me has issued an enhanced put-down.
Asked to name the next change that will make air travel even worse, a panelist on the show predicted: “Buyers of the new super saver economy no-frills tickets will have to pat down each other.”
Now, it may just be us, but we think many fliers would consider the opportunity to pat down other passengers a perk. One that might well encourage them to choose the most no-frills option over others, and more than make up for having to pay for access to an exit row in the event of an emergency.
Perv Perks, the class could be called. Which is certainly more respectable sounding, in the airline world, than Basic Economy.
Of course we also think the airlines would soon enough see Perv Perks as a new add-on fee opportunity, and start charging extra for the service. No doubt, there would be a fee scale based on the level of invasiveness allowed, perhaps with the most expensive option — Perv Premium — permitting you to keep any weapons or other objects the pat down uncovered.
What do you think? How much extra would you pay to pat down other passengers? How about if it were gloves-optional? Would you pay extra to have another passenger pat you down?
And what can you imagine as the next thing after more invasive pat-downs to make airline travel even worse?
Bob Payne, who is the editor in chief of the travel humor site BobCarriesOn, is often considered to be ahead of the curve on all travel-related issues. In fact, he has already been reprimanded twice by TSA authorities for attempting to pat down fellow passengers.
It is increasingly clear that the main role of the airline industry is no longer to provide air transportation but to identify ancillary fees that can become profit centers. The inevitable result, some industry observers believe, is that airlines will soon begin charging pilots for cockpit seat selection.
BobCarriesOn is opposed to this possibility.
By tradition, commercial airliners typically have two or three qualified pilots in the cockpit: the captain, who sits in the left-hand seat, the first officer, who sits in the right, and — if one is aboard — the flight engineer, who sits wherever is convenient should a flight attendant need help getting a malfunctioning overhead bin to close.
This seating arrangement is based on seniority, and because it clearly indicates where in the cockpit the most experienced pilot is to be found, it has long served the flying community well. However, fee-based seat selection would mean that any cockpit crewmember could claim the role of captain simply by booking early, and being willing to pay the extra fee.
We believe the safety issues that cockpit fee-based seat selection might raise far outweigh any bottom-line benefit to the airline and should be avoided except in special cases, such as when an airline’s profitability sinks below a level acceptable to its board of directors.
We have listened to the argument of supporters of cockpit seat selection. Which is that with the increasing level of aircraft automation, and the rising cost of aircraft operation, it makes economic sense to charge an ancillary fee for seats whose occupants no longer have any real role other than to act as authority figures until land-side law enforcement can arrive to remove disruptive passengers from a flight.
Our concern, though, is that if cockpit crewmembers are not treated with the respect they feel their seniority and experience have earned them, it will be disruptive pilots that law enforcement is having to remove.
Bob Payne's travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.